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In the early days of computer CD-ROM drives and audio compression mechanisms (such as MP2), CD ripping was considered undesirable by copyright holders, with some attempting to retrofit copy protection into the simple ISO9660 standard. As time progressed, most music publishers became more open to the idea that since individuals had bought the music, they should be able to create a copy for their own personal use on their own computer. This is not yet entirely true; even with some current digital music delivery mechanisms, there are considerable restrictions on what an end user can do with their paid for (and therefore personally licensed) audio. Windows Media Player's default behaviour is to add copy protection measures to ripped music, with a disclaimer that if this is not done, the end user is held entirely accountable for what is done with their music. This suits most users who simply want to store their music on a memory stick, MP3 player or portable hard disk and listen to it on any PC or compatible device.
The first CD ripper was CD-GRAB, written by A.L. Digital Ltd. some time before 1992. It ran on MS-DOS.
The Jargon File entry for rip notes that the term originated in Amiga slang, where it referred to the extraction of multimedia content from program data. Another term used for the process of ripping Audio-CDs is Digital Audio Extraction (DAE).
As an intermediate step, some ripping programs save the extracted audio in a lossless format such as WAV, FLAC, or even raw PCM audio. The extracted audio can then be encoded with a lossy codec like MP3, Vorbis, WMA or AAC. The encoded files are more compact and are suitable for playback on digital audio players. They may also be played back in a media player program on a computer.
Most ripping programs will assist in tagging the encoded files with metadata. The MP3 file format, for example, allows tags with title, artist, album and track number information. Some will try to identify the disc being ripped by looking up network services like AMG's LASSO, FreeDB, Gracenote's CDDB, GD3  or MusicBrainz, or attempt text extraction if CD-Text has been stored.
Some all-in-one ripping programs can simplify the entire process by ripping and burning the audio to disc in one step, possibly re-encoding the audio on-the-fly in the process.
Optical drive properties
Properties of an optical drive helping in achieving a perfect rip are a small sample-offset (at best zero), no jitter, no or deactivateable caching, and a correct implementation and feed-back of the C1 and C2 error-states. There are databases listing these features for multiple brands and versions of optical drives. Also, EAC has the ability to autodetect some of these features by a test-rip of a known reference CD.
- Exact Audio Copy
- fre:ac (formerly BonkEnc)
- Media Center (JRiver Media Center)
- Musicmatch Jukebox
- VLC media player
- Windows Media Player
- www.daefeatures.co.uk/, database about the DAE properties of optical drives