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FreeDB is a database of compact disc track listings where all the content is under the GNU General Public License. It was originally based on the, now commercial, CDDB (compact disc database). As of May 2003 the database holds over 978,000 CDs. To look up CD information over the Internet a client calulates a (nearly) unique disc ID and then queries the database. As a result, the client displays the artist, CD-title, tracklist and some additional info.


The initial CDDB license was the GNU General Public License, and many people who submitted CD information without charging anybody and thinking their help would remain free. However the license was later changed and some programmers complained that the new licence included certain terms that threatened them 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).

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

An alternative project that aims to enhance CDDB or FreeBD beyond a mere database of CDs is called MusicBrainz.

FreeDB is used primarily by media player and CD ripper software.

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