Regardless of the outcome of the copyright battle between Roxio and Gracenote, one lesson applies to all who supply free information to Internet sites: Don't assume that the data you provide will remain free unless that's clearly spelled out by the site's rules.
By allowing users to augment a huge online database of music information and then claiming that information as its own property, Gracenote may have acted deceptively, but not necessarily illegally. On the other hand, the users who provided that information were naive if they expected Gracenote not to try to profit from the user-enhanced database.
We are now entering what Gartner terms the era of the "personal media server." The convergence of MP3 technology with the PC and the Internet has enabled individuals to acquire music and store it in personal music repositories, which can feed various stationary and portable playing devices in the home, office or automobile.
A database like Gracenote's is valuable because it provides a great deal of ancillary information about media--in this case, data about music recordings, such as the names of artists and songs--thus saving users the trouble of entering that information.
See news story:
Access denied: A copyright battle
The question is, who "owns" the data entered by users? Many users who helped build Gracenote's online database feel they should have unrestricted access to it. Gracenote, on the other hand, says since it created the technology that makes the online database possible, it owns the information and should be able to profit from those efforts.
(For related commentary on how to profit from your copyrighted material, see TechRepublic.com--free registration required.)
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