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2006-07-03, 06:17
I finally pulled myself out of my laziness and decided I wanted to rerip and reencode the album Ochy Curiel - Marginal, which I host the entire album and lyrics of in mp3 format on another site. I put the audio disc in the computer and realized that since I reinstalled Windows in May, I hadn't gotten around to installing the CDex (http://sourceforge.net/projects/cdexos/) program, which I use to rip the CD tracks to wav files. I then use the latest version of the LAME codec with RazorLame (http://www.dors.de/razorlame/) as the GUI program to encode the wav files to mp3 files. So I went to the CDex website and I was surprised that an update 1.70 beta 2 to the program was available. It's the first time since September 2003 that a newer version could be found of CDex.

I decided that I wanted to submit the track information of the Ochy Curiel album to a compact disc database (CDDB), because the tracks didn't show up in CDex. CDex has a way to read from the CDDB and also to submit to the CDDB. That way when you put in a CD it can actually put the names of the tracks on your mp3s or wav files. Many software CD players do that too. The way it works is that it sees how many tracks there are and the length of each track, which give the particular CD its unique characteristics that probably no other CD would have. It queries the database to find a match, and if there is a match it will list the names of each track on the CD.

CDDB was originally an open project that people voluntarily submitted information to, creating a public database that was free and non-proprietary. That changed when a company named Gracenote bought out CDDB and turned it into a proprietary subscription service. That in turn encouraged the development of freedb.org, to keep the database free as originally intended. The term "CDDB" now is used generically by some to refer to all CD identifying services including Gracenote's CDDB service, freedb.org, and MusicBrainz. CDex submits new album information to the freedb.org database, even though it lists it in the program under the "CDDB" section.

After submitting the album information to freedb.org through the CDex program, I then went to check it by trying to play the disc on my computer, but I did not find that the information was updated instantaneously. So I went to the freedb.org website to see what was going on, as I've never actually gone there before but took it for granted as a service. And there I found some problems in the works, where it appears that due to infighting the site is closing down.

I will now quote the three posts showing trouble from freedb.org which were made very recently:

Goodbye to freedb after 6 successful years
Posted by joerg on Saturday, July 01 @ 19:04:52 UTC

Today, after six long years, it is time for me to say goodbye to freedb. I started off creating database archives for download and finding ftp mirrors to host it in 2000 and ended up being responsible for basically every aspect of freedb. I feel like freedb is a part of my identity and it is ripping me apart, having to leave it now.

For almost two years now Ari and I have supported a developer from Australia, who was working on the next generation of the freedb server, which would have overcome most of our current technological problems and offered text searching. This was the biggest chance for freedb in years. Unfortunately there have been rising tensions in our team about the question, how long we should support a development project, which has not yet been made open source by the developer and which is not yet running on freedb servers. Last weekend the line was crossed by the founder of freedb, who owns the domain, when he took action against that developer without talking to the rest of the team first, while we were still trying to find a solution in everyone's interest.

With every chance gone for the developed software to become part of freedb and with the necessary basic level of trust between the owner of the domain freedb.org and me being destroyed, I see no more point in investing my spare time in this. I am not sure what me leaving will really mean for freedb, but considering my experiences from the past six years, I expect the future is not looking too bright. It is devastating for me to see that this issue could accomplish in a matter of weeks what Gracenote couldn't do for 7 long years since freedb was started.

I would like to thank the freedb community who made this service what it is today by helping out in various ways and submitting lots and lots of new database entries to us. We started with less than 200.000 database entries - today we have more than 2.000.000. YOU are the ones who made this worth doing and who make it so hard for me to leave.
I would also like to especially thank the mirror administrators for contributing their time, bandwidth and servers. Without them, freedb would not have been able to cope with the load that came with it's success. Special thanks go to Drew Streib, who has provided our master server for free for all this time, and Ari Sundholm, who has run freedb together with me for the past few years and tried to work on a solution with me till the last minute.

If you really need to contact me for some reason, use my personal e-mail address j.hevers at web.de.

I quit
Posted by megari on Saturday, July 01 @ 19:06:55 UTC

After several years of successful work I am leaving freedb along with Jörg due to the current situation being unbearable. Without Jörg most of the fun of being part of freedb is gone and I do not believe I could work successfully with Mr. Kaiser whose definition of teamwork seems to vary from day to day and whom I have lost trust in.

I thank all the users, mirror server administrators, contributors, users and lurkers who have with their interest and support made this work worth it. Because of you I leave with a heavy heart and great sorrow and anxiety over the future of freedb.

Ari Sundholm

The future of freedb
Posted by kaiser on Saturday, July 01 @ 20:18:47 UTC

freedb is not able to operate without Joerg and Ari. There are other - hopefully free - projects that will take over freedbs heritage in a better way and stay free. freedbs future did not seem to be kept free regarding the lastest developments, so I tried to steer against this as I felt it more important to stay free instead of getting fancy web 2.0 features. But unfortunately Joerg and Ari (the main doers behind freedb) disagreed with me and decided that they want to go another direction. I will refuse to comment their postings in plublic and I will thank both Ari anf Jörg for their work and their support.

Now being sick of how things turned out lately and I am not being able to run the project with the people in freedb left, I will stop this project in the forseeable future.

If somebody is interested in a pretty well-known domain, send an offer to: lurchentsafter at gmail.com

Sorry for this.

Notice how fast things developed on their site. In 74 minutes three different people managed to post calling it quits. The last post shows a worrying plan by Michael Kaiser to sell the domain name and cash in. Also from this page (http://www.freedb.org/offer.html), is an offer to sell the domain name:

we did not care about statistics but some
people requested the following information and
webalizer gave us the following numbers (just
the main server, not the mirrors):
- 11,000,000+ pageviews/month on the website
- 1,200,000+ visits/month on the website
- pagerank 6

If you want to make an offer just for the domain, please
keep theise numbers in mind

Michael Kaiser lurchentsafter at gmail.com

What has happened is a shame, because the premise of what they did making a free public database of CDs was a good thing. I don't know if these changes means that the database will be lost or if someone else will be able to pick up where they left off. The worst thing would be for them to lose the freedb.org database and all the work that people have put into it. But fortunately it appears that the database, the server, and miscellaneous other things are still downloadable from the freedb.org site here (http://www.freedb.org/modules.php?name=Sections&sop=listarticles&secid=7).

I see that there is now an article at Slashdot which discusses the closure of freedb.org:
From that article and the comments, a new site freedb2.org is mentioned that may replace FreeDB.

2006-07-08, 18:54
There a new posting at freedb.org which hopefully indicates that Michael Kaiser will not sell out FreeDB.

Posted by kaiser on Friday, July 07 @ 05:22:55 UTC

Hi everyone,

currently, there are negotiations with organisations regarding freedb's future. I am trying to find an organisation that takes the domain and ensures the following:

- they have to provide the freedb service, not only take the domain
- the service must remain free of charge for users and developers, regardless of the application
- database updates will be available on a regular schedule and will be free of charge
- the licence of the data and the software will remain under the GPL

The people I am talking to have to prove me that there is enough skill to operate the freedb service as smooth as possible. As of now, is seems very likely that freedb will operate its main services in the future just as it does now. So I am confident that freedb will find a new and probably less turbulent home.

Thank to all who send emails with kinds word or offers, I am trying to answer as fast as I can, but as you might imagine, there are LOTS of emails to be read and answerd, so it may take some time.