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Gracenote, Inc., formerly called CDDB (Compact Disc Data Base), is a company that maintains and licenses an Internet-accessible database containing information about the contents of audio compact discs and vinyl records. It provides software and metadata to businesses that enable their customers to manage and search digital media. Gracenote provides its media management technology and global media database of digital entertainment information to the mobile, automobile, portable, home, and PC markets. Several computer software applications that are capable of playing CDs, such as Winamp, Media Go, and iTunes, use Gracenote's CDDB technology. Gracenote’s database was originally created from and continues to receive voluntary contributions from users. This led to a licensing controversy when Gracenote became commercialized.
It received its one billionth piece of data on September 9, 2010, with a submission about the Compact Disc release of Swans' My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky.
In addition to its CD track-identification system, Gracenote operates a digital file identification service which allows digital music files (such as MP3s) to be identified, and a media management service for the generation of playlists, and recommendation of music.
On April 22, 2008, Sony announced that it would acquire Gracenote for US$260 million. The acquisition was completed on June 2, 2008.
Gracenote offers a number of products, including MusicID, Mobile MusicID, Music Enrichment, Discover, Playlist, Playlist Plus, Media VOCS, Classical Music Initiative, and Link. In April 2007, Gracenote launched the first legal lyrics offering in the U.S.
iTunes, Media Go and Sonicstage all use Gracenote's CD track identification services.
In addition, Gracenote provides its products to a number of other services, including
- Online services from Yahoo! Music Jukebox, AOL, AmazonMP3, Spotify, Winamp, MetroLyrics, Pandora, Google Music, and Tuneup Media;
- Home and automotive products from Alpine, Bose, Panasonic, Philips, and Sony;
- Mobile music applications from Samsung, Sony Mobile Communication(TrackID), KDDI (Japan), KTF (Korea), Musicwave (Europe).
In 1998, CDDB was purchased by Escient, a consumer electronics manufacturer, and operated as a business unit within the Indiana-based company. CDDB was then spun out of Escient and in July 2000 was renamed Gracenote. The CDDB database license was later changed to include new terms. For instance, any programs using a CDDB lookup had to display a CDDB logo while performing the lookup. Then, in March 2001, only licensed applications were provided access to the Gracenote database. New licenses for CDDB1 (the original version of CDDB) were no longer available, so programmers using Gracenote services were required to switch to CDDB2 (a new version incompatible with CDDB1).
This has been controversial, as the original CDDB database was created out of anonymous contributions, initially via the Open Source xmcd CD player program. Many listing contributors believed that the database was open-source as well, because in 1997, cddb.com's download and support pages had said it was released under the GPL. CDDB claims that license grant was an error.
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