From Academic Kids

CDDB (which stands for Compact Disc Database) is a database for software applications to look up CD (compact disc) information over the Internet. This is performed by a client which calculates a (nearly) unique disc ID and then queries the database. As a result, the client is able to display the artist name, CD title, track list and some additional information.

The database is used primarily by media player and CD ripper software.



CDDB was invented by Ti Kan and Steve Sherf. The source code was released under the GNU General Public License, and thus many people submitted CD information believing that the contributions, too, would remain freely available to others. Later, however, the project was sold and the license conditions were changed to include certain terms that have threatened many programmers in a way they couldn't accept: If you want to access CDDB, you are not allowed to access any other CDDB-like database (such as FreeDB) and - while accessing the database - the programmer has to ensure that a CDDB logo is displayed.

In March 2001, CDDB, now owned by Gracenote, banned all unlicensed applications from accessing their database. New licenses for CDDB1 (the original version of CDDB) were not available anymore, as they wanted to force programmers to switch to CDDB2 (a new version incompatible with CDDB1 and hence with FreeDB).

After the unpopular commercialization of CDDB as Gracenote, most media player applications switched to FreeDB, but continued to refer to the service as 'CDDB' as a generic term. It is still common to see many applications refer to CDDB in their documentation when in fact the application is using FreeDB.


CDDB was designed around the task of identifying entire CDs, not merely single tracks. The identification process involves creating a 'discid', a sort of "fingerprint" of a CD created by performing calculations on the track duration information stored in the table-of-contents of the CD. This discid is used with the internet database, typically either to download song names for the whole CD or to submit song names for a newly-identified CD.

Note that, as is, if you change the order of the tracks the song names won't correspond. If you make your own compilation of songs, you can't get the information for the tracks. There is also a chance that several CDs may generate the same discid, since this is based on track lengths rather than the actual information in the tracks.


The licence change motivated a new project, FreeDB, which is intended to remain free.

An alternative project that aims to enhance CDDB beyond a mere database of CDs is called MusicBrainz. Their site also contains more information on CDDB and some database statistics of CDDB and FreeDB.

Another commercial alternative to CDDB is the AMG LASSO service. LASSO was launched by All Media Guide in late 2004 and includes recognition technology for CDs, DVDs, and digital audio files. The AMG metadata database is generally recognized to be more comprehensive and of higher quality, because of quality controls that CDDB lacks. Microsoft's Windows Media Player, Musicmatch Jukebox, and the Virgin Digital Megastore are licensees.

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