Home Your IT Entertainment Amazon AutoRip - the devil's in the detail
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Amazon has launched a new service with provides customers with MP3 copies of CD purchases. AutoRip drops digital copies of the discs into Cloud Player libraries - and while it's retrospective, Amazon has a strange idea of what the phrase "all of our customers" means.

Some people still prefer buying music on CD. Maybe they can hear the difference between CD and MP3 or AAC content, or perhaps they like the idea of a physical collection.

But even then there are times that CDs are impractical. You can still buy a Sony CD Walkman, for example, but listening conditions are far from ideal when you're out and about, and an iPod or smartphone is far more convenient.

So Amazon has introduced a new service called Amazon AutoRip which populates its customers' Cloud Player libraries with 256Kbps MP3 copies of CDs they buy or have bought from Amazon right back to 1998.

From there, the tracks can be played on smartphones, tablets, certain Internet-enabled home entertainment devices (e.g. Samsung TVs or Sonos audio gear) and by web browsers, or downloaded for use on MP3 players. AutoRip albums do not count against Cloud Player storage quotas.

Not all albums are covered by the scheme, but according to Amazon officials "More than 50,000 albums, including titles from every major record label, are available for AutoRip, and more titles are added all the time".

When we checked Amazon's list of eligible CDs, it contained just over 37,500 results rather than more than 50,000.

In some cases AutoRip CDs are priced lower than the same album in MP3 format.

But there's a snag.

Although Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO, introduced AutoRip by saying "starting today, it's available to all of our customers - past, present, and future - at no cost", the AutoRip terms and conditions state "AutoRip is available only to customers with billing addresses in the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia who have a U.S. bank-issued credit card associated with their Amazon.com account."

That's not surprising given the way the music industry operates, but Amazon should have been upfront about this limitation rather than hiding it in the terms and conditions.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences, a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies, and is a senior member of the Australian Computer Society.