Is this the end of owning music?

CD is not a medium, it’s just a delivery mechanism. Vinyl has special qualities, but it’s not for everyone. As Netflix is to Broadway.

CDs do have the interesting property, as medium, of being the only mainstream format that it new enough to be digital(and hence really convenient to manipulate with your computer) while slightly predating ubiquitous DRM. Attempts have been made to tack it on; but they violate the Red Book standard and have basically failed.

It is, obviously, far from impossible to either digitize analogedia with reasonable quality or to knock over many of the DRM systems in common use; but both options are much more annoying(and the latter, in particular, chills the market considerably: CSS on DVDs, say, is pitifully broken; but overtly selling a product for ripping DVDs or based on the assumption that the user will rip DVDs is a nonstarter in ways that mean there is no DVD equivalent to the MP3 player, which essentially relies on CDs being readily rippable).

This isn’t to say that DRM-free stopped at CDs; but they are the last medium where spec required it; rather than it being the vendor’s call.


That is an interesting point. Now that I stop to think about it, DRM on DVD was not quite enough to stop me trying to rip them, but contributed to the overall hassle of doing so, along with the sheer file size, which often overwhelmed my hardware of the day. As a result, I never did it much, and anyway, how many times can you watch the same movie? (Idiocracy excepted.)

That said, there seems to be no shortage of reasonable quality video content on the torrents, where a few rip for the many.

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What’s a CD?

Seriously though I haven’t purchased a CD in 5 or more years. I’ve got boxes of old ones taking up space in the garage. I kept them after ripping their contents. At the time it seemed like a good idea to hang on to them but, now they’re just trash in line for the dumpster.

As long as the digital content is on my device(s) I feel like I own it. I’m ok with that.


I think that’s what even dinosaurs like me are coming to realize: if I have the file locally (regardless of what media it’s on), I own it; if I have to stream it from a provider (free or paid), I don’t.

Vinyl is for special occasions, a completely different form of consuming.


If you like you can take a digital playlist and have it carved it into vinyl:

Cool right? :slight_smile:


Yeah, cool! Fine print though: You have to have rights to the music. Come on over and listen to my ukulele-and-yodeling versions of public domain classics.


You can’t stop the pirates; but what a DRM-first posture can do is chill the surrounding ecosystem: there was certainly some whining about how people couldn’t possibly be filling that iPod with 100% legitimate purchases; and the goofy tax on ‘audio’ CD-Rs because they were tainted with the suspicion of piracy(conveniently the ‘data’ CD-Rs were the same in every way that mattered and not so taxed); but hardware, software; and media for doing things with music is generally treated as having a strong presumption of legality, despite touching copyrighted material, unless it really makes it obvious(eg. Napster and pals).

Because of that you can get all sorts of mp3 players, media streamers, user friendly ripping and playback software, including from assorted reputable vendors; and (critically) none of it subject to a de-facto veto by the labels.

A medium that is presumptively DRMed, by contrast, has a lot less of that available: even vendors that deliberately make their product somewhat worse in an attempt to play nice are at risk(the Kaleidescape incident was a notable example: that system specifically avoided breaking CSS and otherwise making piracy easier; plus it cost $$$$, and the copy cops still came for it). As a consequence there just isn’t as much available, especially from vendors who have a lot to lose, rather than fly-by-nights and software packages defiantly hosted out of exotic jurisdictions. You also see particularly perverse and lousy offerings that spend more time trying to mollify the right holders than actually being good or useful(Intel’s notably unlamented ‘ViiV’, say, spent more time having a nice soothing DRM architecture than even being a comprehensible thing one might actually want or use).

The streaming case is in some respects less extreme than the DVD/Blu-ray one; but in some respects more:

The genre-wide chill you get from a medium that essentially no vendor with something to lose is allowed to acknowledge ripping isn’t as visible because there are streaming service clients built into all sorts of things; but the fact that all such endpoints must have the approval of team content remains in effect(hence things like ‘offline play’ now being premium features, where available at all) and the lack of hard copies makes the risk of having something yanked during a rightsholder dispute much more immediate than previously; when such spats could scuttle future sales but not retroactively burn units already sold.


Indeed. I have been known to purchase a disc (dvd, bluray, cd) and then download the torrent because it is so much faster than ripping it myself.


Where would you say Kodi fits in that analysis? My experience (watching others do it while held down by straps, eyes propped open while the glorious 9th played in the background) was its a pain in the patootie to set up, stalls constantly, requires a VPN which slashes bandwidth, and the VPN means it usually has to be run on a cheap Android TV box with a sucky UI and crappy remote, but lordy is there a galaxy of content all sitting there twinkling at you.

We got at least 5 or more CDs for christmas. Still my preferred medium, but then again, I’m kind of a dinosaur!


The music industry has always been unhappy with the idea of customers owning what they listen to. Add in the domination of the digital world by walled gardens and it gets ugly.


Well shoot, a CD’s just a file that’s a stranger that hasn’t met a hard drive that’s a friend yet.

We do rip all our CDs, for home use, but I still prefer CDs in the car for listening to music…


I started to narrow my eyes and look sideways with the switch away from LPs. It began looking like a scam to extract more and more money for the same thing. I put up with it to various levels until Apple put all the music on my phone in the cloud for me a few years ago. That just doesn’t work if you have a limited data plan. More surcharges for stuff I already paid for. Thanks Apple! I will never buy recorded music again. Sorry musicians.


I’ve copied all my rips to a flash drive which plugs into a port in the armrest. CD slot is for the magnetic phone holder.

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Yeah, concur. However, there is a path. Look up iMazing. Costs like $35, but lets you slide files over to a Windows-style folder tree on the iDevice and has a built-in good-enough music player. You can listen to all your old-school rips, use the “phone” for what it’s good for, and avoid the iTunes horror completely. I run it on my 2nd phone, an SE, so it’s also tiny and has an 1/8" jack. Apple isn’t exactly shaking in its fancy boots over this, because like three people would be arsed to bother. But for me, it’s a great solution.

Every Ipod since the late oughts has been able to play non-DRMed MP4 video.

The real problem is that ripping music is dead simple - you feed the CD into the computer, click the “rip now” button on Itunes or whatever with default settings, and five minutes later you get a collection of files named for what they are that sound perfectly fine on most speakers to most people. MP3 files from 20 years ago play just as well on every possible device as ones made this year. Sure, VBR sounds a bit better and AAC sounds a bit better, but both of those technologies are old enough to drive if not to vote. As long as you stick with standard formats (ie, don’t use Windows Media Player or Real Player to rip your disks), you’d be hard pressed finding a device that doesn’t know how to play every audio file in your collection.

Ripping video and getting acceptable results that will play on your device is tons more technically demanding. There are several aspects to this.

  1. Standard file formats have changed so many times (there’s something like half a dozen video formats just in my mother’s digital photo archive: avi, mov, mpg, mp4, and a few others I forget. Every one was a standard video format once). Plus the most ubiquitous codec that is supported by nearly all devices made in the past decade and a half (h264) has three profiles and I count 17 levels. One device might play up to 3.1 level videos, another can handle up to 4.1, and yet today’s standard is 5.2 or something. So h264 support tells you nothing about whether a device can handle the videos you might want to feed it. Video rips made 15 years ago look like complete shit compared to ones made today, and are in a completely incompatible format compared to ones made today.

  2. The free software community that’s grown up around DVD ripping took an incredibly long time to produce a workflow that is simple enough to use without tons of fuckery. There still, today, is nothing approaching a one button solution akin to the experience of ripping CDs. At best you need two tools, and only one of those (dvd decrypter) is a one button affair, while Handbrake has an interface that is… non intuitive, to say the least. Also, for an extremely long time, things like aspect ratios, audio synch, and frames per second could screw up royally with some disks when using default or recommended settings in Handbrake. There was and to a certain extent still is no “just works” software tool for transcoding video.

  3. DVDs are far more complicated than CDs. Not just in the complexities of the content on them and the menu system for navigating through all the different kinds of things you’ll find on a DVD, but also in the underlying technology the video on the disk is encoded in. Some DVDs encode films at 24fps, and trust the player to insert duplicate frames in order to show that on 25fps and 30 fps TVs. Other disks encode the movie at 30 or 25 fps, with blank or duplicate frames inserted. Some of those disks use standard telecine. Others… don’t. WIth the same exact settings, one 30fps disk will produce a 23.75fps video that looks perfectly fine. Another disk will produce a juddery video at some insane in between frame rate that looks like crap. You have to keep two ripping profiles, one set to detelecine, and one set to not. The fuckery involved is daunting to impossible for a non-technical person, and discouraging even for moderately technical people who don’t have the time to study and read up on all the arcane details.

  4. Our eyes are a lot more fussy than our ears. To get good results with every movie in your collection requires a degree of comfort with changing arcane settings and keeping multiple profiles, then experimenting to determine which disks look best with which settings.

ETA: one more point and a conclusion I forgot to type before hitting post.

  1. There’s no database of DVD tracks like the database of CD tracks that will enable a ripping program to automatically name things for what they are. Just another tiny bit of extra work that makes ripping your video collection a lot more daunting than ripping your audio collection.

Some of the problems can be blamed on the decades long issue of not enough storage for all the video we want to have. Only very recently has storage become cheap enough that it’s possible to rip a vast video library without needing to worry about running out of disk. Which means for most of the past 20 years, video formats have been constantly changing as coders seek the holy grail of a format that looks great, doesn’t take up a lot of room, and plays on every device.

Most of the problem can be laid directly at the feet of the programmers responsible for the ripping tools, especially handbrake. They are videophiles and they are programmers, they have made a tool that pleases them but which is far too complex and intricate for an ordinary person to use.


(sorry… couldn’t resist!)