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 Technical information and FAQ for the CDDB project
 
[General] [Contacting Us] [Server Sites] [FAQ]


General Information

CDDB was created for the enjoyment of Internet users everywhere.

Use of the servers is free for private purposes. The server source code (cddbd copyright © CDDB) is freeware, and is distributed under the GNU General Public License. The CDDB specification (Copyright © CDDB) is also freeware, but is not released under the GNU GPL. To get a copy of either of these packages, see the Downloads page.

By using CDDB, users agree to the following:

Use of CDDB is solely at the risk of the user. This service is offered without any warranty, as CDDB cannot warrant the quality or reliability of service you may experience using CDDB. In no event will CDDB be liable for any damages incurred as a consequence of using CDDB. We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone at our discretion. Many of our system resources are donated, and their abuse will not be tolerated.

Database entries submitted to CDDB become the property of the CDDB project. Users of CDDB are granted permission only for private use of CDDB services and data. Repackaging or redistribution of CDDB data is prohibited. If you wish to make use of CDDB in a commercial product, please contact us at our support email address.

If you would like to receive periodic mailings pertaining to CDDB, you can join the cddb-info mailing list by sending email to cddb-info@cddb.cddb.com with the word "subscribe" in the subject.


Contacting Us

If you have any questions or comments at all about CDDB, we can be reached via email at:

cddb-support@cddb.cddb.com

Should you experience any trouble accessing any of the the CDDB servers, please read the section on server problems in the FAQ Page before contacting us. If after reading the FAQ you still believe there is a legitimate problem with any of the public CDDB servers, please send us mail to let us know. Include as much information as possible about your problem.

If you are a software developer who would like to support CDDB in your application, you may also contact us at the support email address. We like to work with freeware and shareware developers to help them any way we can. We also welcome commercial developers who wish to use CDDB; please contact us for more information.


List of CDDB server sites
While our web pages are being restructuired, go here for the list of cddb servers that you may need for your CD players. The same page has some server statistics on how much CDDB is being used.


CDDB Project FAQ




What is CDDB?
CDDB is the "CD Database". It is simply a huge collection of files, each of which contains a disc name, song titles and other information for a particular CD. The concept was created by Ti Kan for the users of his Unix-based CD player xmcd, and it quickly became popular. Users of xmcd were able to download copies of CDDB to their computers and access it while playing CDs. CDDB is now somewhat of a standard, and is widely used by many CD player software packages in addition to xmcd.

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What are CDDB servers?
The CD database has grown rapidly and is now too big to be practical for users to download. Ti came up with the idea of putting the database on sites around the world and providing access to it via the Internet on an as-needed basis. He recruited Steve Scherf to create software to allow users to access the database over the internet quickly and easily, and the CDDB server (also known as cddbd) was born. The CDDB server software is now running on many publically available sites worldwide. These sites have all donated their resources to allow us to run the public servers, and access to them is free and unrestricted to all.

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How do I use the CDDB servers?
If you've got a CD player program that supports CDDB, and you're connected to the Internet, that's pretty much all you need. Each CD player program is different, and may provide access to CDDB somewhat differently. Most have either a button to initiate a query and/or some way to configure automatic queries of the database. When you put a music CD (or data CD for that matter) in your CD ROM drive, your CD player program can then query one of the global CDDB servers for information about that disc. If the database contains information for your CD (and it usually does), your CD player downloads the disc data for you and displays it.

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Can I develop an application that uses CDDB? Where do I get information on how to do this?
There are no restrictions on the use of CDDB in non-commercial applications. The CDDB specification is open to all, and can be found in the downloads section. We gladly provide technical assistance to non-commercial developers (i.e. freeware and shareware).

If you wish to develop an application that uses CDDB, please let us know. We are interested in hearing a bit about your application. We'd also like to follow your progress and assist you in any way we can. Send us mail at cddb-support@cddb.cddb.com for questions or to tell us about your application.

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What should I do if I have problems accessing the CDDB servers?
Did you just install new CD player software? If so, RTFM! (Read the documentation that came with the program.) It's possible you're not doing things correctly.

If it used to work, but now it doesn't after changing some program settings, RTFM again! It's likely that you messed something up.

If you're still not sure whether you're doing everything right, send email to the author of your CD player. Don't send us mail, we didn't write the program!

If you're sure you aren't doing anything wrong, it could be that your little corner of the Internet is experiencing difficulty. That's not unusual. Try using more than one server site. See the stats page for a list of sites to try if your program doesn't show you what your choices are. Rarely, a server site will become unavailable, which is why there is more than one to choose from. If you're able to talk to at least one, chances are it's just a network problem and there's nothing you can do about it. Just wait it out. This sort of thing happens all the time and usually sorts itself out. If you can't contact any of the servers, you could have a local network problem. Contact your ISP or system administrator for help.

If all else fails, go ahead and send us email. Make sure to explain your problem thoroughly and completely. We can't help you if you don't help us.

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How do I access CDDB if I'm not on the Internet?
Since we no longer distribute the database itself, your only option is to find some way to use the CDDB servers. Most CD players that support CDDB now also support HTTP-mode access to the servers, so even users behind firewalls can usually access them. Most CD players also support "caching" CDDB entries on your hard disk, so you shouldn't have to access the servers every time you play a disc.

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Can you add a new category to the database?
Occasionally we get requests to add more music categories to the CD database. We choose to keep things the way they are for the following reasons:

  1. We designed the existing categories to be very general, broad-based categories. This is to minimize confusion over categorization. With the current scheme, it should be fairly obvious what category most CD titles fall under. There are still some CDs that may fit under multiple categories, but if there were more categories to choose from, the problem would quickly become unmanageable.
  2. We get requests to add categories that are usually fairly specific (e.g., "vocals", "rap", "Hawaiian", etc.). Some of these seem like legitimate categories, but if we were to add these, we would have to add disco, grunge, heavy metal, soft rock, industrial, techno, rave, 60s-rock, 70s-rock, new wave, progressive, pop, top-40, dance, easy listening, instrumentals, and these just to sub-categorize the "rock" category. The classical cateory could be further broken up into modern, romantic, classic, baroque, medieval, chants... As to something like "Hawaiian", you can imagine that if we add that then we should also have a category for every culture or ethnicity in the world. An "international" category may be better, but what's "international" to one country may be local to another.

    Category proliferation is what we don't want to have.

  3. The xmcd CD database is now shared by a number of applications running on several different platforms. Some of these applications have a hardwired knowledge of the categories. Changing this would break existing applications, and would also require these apps to be modified and re-released. This is not an easy thing to do. Also, even after all apps have been converted to use the new categorization, we would have no control over all the older versions of the apps still in use around the world.
  4. If we add a new category, many entries in existing categories may need to be moved into the new category to make it "right". This is a task that we, or anyone else maintaining the CD database, are not prepared to do. There is no automated way to do this and it will be a very time consuming, manual chore. Moreover, we don't claim to have enough knowledge about all artists and titles to know what categories they fit under best.
  5. If you really have a CD that doesn't fit in one of the existing categories, then perhaps the "misc" category is where it belongs.

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Can I add new entries to the database?
Yes, this is encouraged. The database has grown large due to the many entries submitted by users. Almost all of the CD player programs that support CDDB also support submitting new entries to the database. If you have a disc that does not have a corresponding entry in the database, please feel free to create one and submit it.

Submissions are sent via a specially formatted email message. Your CD player program does this for you when you submit the entry. Please note that if your entry is accepted, you will not receive any sort of notification. Entries that fail to meet the required criteria for acceptance are rejected, and an email rejection notice will be sent to you.

We currently receive over 200 new submissions every day from dedicated users. We greatly appreciate the effort!

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What are the guidelines for adding entries to the database?
Please use the following conventions when submitting entries to this database:

  1. Use the "Artist / Disc Title" format for the disc title. Note that artist name or group name comes first, and is separated from the disc title with a slash character. Please do not use other characters for this purpose. Also, put a space before and after the slash.

    Never use more than one slash in the disc title. For example, if you have a disc with "Jorge Bolet" performing "Franz Liszt" called "Liszt - The Piano Works Disc 1", do not enter it like:

    "Franz Liszt / Jorge Bolet / Liszt The Piano Works Disc 1"

    Since there should only be a slash between the artist and the disc title, do it something like this:

    "Franz Liszt - Jorge Bolet / Liszt - The Piano Works Disc 1"

    Alternately, you could just remove the composer altogether, because it's redundant:

    "Jorge Bolet / Liszt - The Piano Works Disc 1"

    If the artist is more than one word, do not separate the words with a comma. For example, if the artist is "Louis Armstrong", do not enter it as "Armstrong, Louis".

    If the artist name and disc title are the same, or if there is no artist name or disc title, then you should only enter the one unique title with no separating slash. For example, the album "Led Zeppelin" by "Led Zeppelin" should simply appear as "Led Zeppelin", not "Led Zeppelin / Led Zeppelin" or "Led Zeppelin /".

    If there are more than one artist appearing on a CD, such as on compilations, the individual artists' names should appear in the "Artist / Song Title" format in each track title. For example, If the song "Another Brick in the Wall, Part II" by "Pink Floyd" is on track 1 of a disc, and "Stairway to Heaven" by "Led Zeppelin" is on track two, then the data for track 1 should look like this:

    Pink Floyd / Another Brick in the Wall, Part II

    and the data for track 2 should look like this:

    Led Zeppelin / Stairway to Heaven

    If you want to add more information than the artist name for a particular track, you should use the "extended data" fields for this. Such information might include the artist, composer, recording date, movement name (in the case of classical), et cetera. If your CD player software does not support the extended data fields, you should get a copy of one that does!

  2. Capitalize the first letter of each word only. Do not use upper case for whole words unless it's absolutely necessary.
  3. Please verify that all spelling is correct before submitting an entry.
  4. Submit to the appropriate category. Currently the following categories are recognized by the CDDB server:


  5. blues(self explanatory)
    classical(self explanatory)
    country(self explanatory)
    data(ISO9660 and other data CDs)
    folk(self explanatory)
    jazz(self explanatory)
    newage(self explanatory)
    reggae(self explanatory)
    rock(incl. funk, soul, rap, pop, industrial, metal, etc.)
    soundtrack(movies, shows)
    misc(others that do not fit the above categories)

  6. Do not send entries that are not completely filled-out (i.e., empty track titles, etc.).
  7. Send an entry only after you verify that it isn't already in the database. The server will discard duplicate entries.

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Can I edit entries that are already in the database?
Yes, you can. Most CD player programs allow you to edit entries that you've downloaded from the database. When you resubmit such entries, the server compares them to the existing entry and takes the best parts of each. Feel free to edit existing entries if you see things that need correcting, or if you want to add more information.

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I submitted an entry to the database, but I got an email notice saying it was rejected. Why?
Normally, your CD player program handles all of the details of submitting a proper entry. Occasionally, however, a bad entry will slip though. Such entries are rejected by the server, and you will receive an email rejection notice when this happens. This happens very rarely.

When it does happen, the rejection email will contain a short explanation for the rejection. If you correct the problem and resubmit the entry, it should then be accepted (providing there are no further errors).

The most common reason for a rejection is if your submission contains illegal characters. Entries must not contain control characters, unprintable characters such as ^L (control-L), binary images, or non-ASCII or non-ISO-8859-1 characters. Some CD players check for these things for you before submitting entries, but not all of them do. In this case, it's up to you to make sure your submissions are "clean".

If you've tried everything and your submission is still rejected, check with the author of your CD player software. There have been cases in which bugs in CD player programs have resulted in bad submissions being generated. In such cases, the only solution is for you to get a fixed copy of the program. If you check, you may find that your problem has already been fixed in the newest version of your program.

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When I submit entries to the database, they always get rejected with an error message saying my charset is unsupported. What's wrong?
The database specification technically only allows for two character sets: US-ASCII and ISO-8859-1. In the interest of being flexible, we also allow certain other character sets which are very close to these. Any submissions to the database that have a different character set specified in the email MIME header are rejected because we can't allow entries with incorrect character sets into the database. If your mailer does not specify the character set in the MIME header, the server ususally detects non-ISO character sets through other means. In both cases, you will receive a rejection notice of some sort from the server stating that your character set is unsupported or that there were illegal characters in your submission.

If you get such a rejection when you submit an entry to the database, but you know for a fact that your submission is in a valid character set, then there are two common reasons for this. First, it's possible that you accidentally typed in garbage characters when entering the disc data. Check your submission to ensure that you didn't enter any disallowed characters such as control characters. Failing this, it is possible that your CD player software is specifying the wrong character set in the MIME header. Your CD player application may allow you to specify this information (if not, send mail to the author), and if so, you should try setting it to the correct value. If you have tried everything else, ask your network administrator to check the settings on your local SMTP server.

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Why does CDDB only support the US-ASCII and ISO-8859-1 character sets?
There are two main reasons for this.

First, most graphical interfaces allow the user to set an alternate font for display purposes, but as far as I know all the ones used by the popular CD player programs that support CDDB don't allow the application to easily change the font on the fly. Also, with X, not every font style and size is supported by all X displays. Some applications like Netscape do this but you will notice that it doesn't let you change to just any font. It gives you only a limited set to choose from, and limited range of sizes too. Perhaps it queries the X server to see what fonts are available. But there may not be an available font for some international character sets...

Some X font names have a form that contains the charset info element, Here is an example:

-adobe-courier-medium-o-normal--25-180-100-100-m-150-iso8859-1

But, at least on my X display, there are very few charsets supported other than iso8859-1.

To allow many charsets would assume that the user's X display contains support for these fonts, or use a font server on the network that does. Probably not a good assumption.

Even if it were feasible for applications to dynamically change fonts, it raises the question of how to map a charset to the appropriate font. For example, if a particular CDDB entry contains characters in the ISO-8859-9 character set, what fonts are capable of displaying those characters? For applications to know what fonts to choose from, there would have to be some sort of mapping table for each OS that CDDB applications may run on. I don't relish the idea of creating and maintaining such a set of mappings for multiple OSes, each currently having uncountable numbers of standard and custom fonts (with new ones constantly being added).

If we were to dispense with the idea of charset-to-font mapping tables, it would require that the user try viewing database entries with different fonts manually until he found one that looked right. This would become tiresome quite quickly, and violates our intent that use of CDDB be simple and automatic.

The second reason is that the text needs to be easily read. The CDDB server needs to parse the text of database entries for maintenance purposes, and this would essentially become impossible if different character sets were allowed.

Also, we periodically go through and hand-edit the database. I can't imagine trying to visually inspect entries if there were numerous character sets in the database. It would be totally impossible to inspect entries with multiple-byte character sets such as katakana.

Because of these reasons, we were forced to choose a single character set for the database. We chose ISO-8859-1 because it covers the vast majority of submissions that we expect to receive. We also allow a few other charsets that are very close to ISO-8859-1, or that are subsets of it. So far, it appears that this covers well over 99% of all attempted submissions. Supporting more than one character set would require a huge amount of work for very little benefit.

If developments arise in the computer world that make it easier to entertain the possibility of multiple character sets, we might consider doing so. Until then one will have to do.

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How long does it take for my submissions to make it into the database?
When you submit an entry, it's sent to the master database at amb.org. It is generally processed within an hour and added to the master database. It's then sent onwards to the the master distribution hub at cddb.cddb.com, where it's immediately spooled and later transmitted to all of the public server sites. New entries usually reach all of the sites within 24 hours, sometimes less, barring network difficulties.

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I'm stuck behind a firewall. How can I access the CDDB servers?
The CDDB servers support access through HTTP. Since most firewalls allow access to port 80 (the standard HTTP port) either directly or through a proxy server, your CD player can get to the servers by "pretending" to be a web browser. Most of the programs that support CDDB also support HTTP access of the servers, and hopefully they all will soon.

If your firewall doesn't allow web access through, your only option is to convince your network administrator to configure the firewall to enable Internet web access. If this isn't possible, you can always put a copy of the database on your hard disk. See the section on how to access CDDB if you're not on the Internet if you want to do this.

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I put in an AC/DC disc, but the database says it's ABBA!
This happens sometimes, albeit rarely. There are several reasons why.

The main reason this used to happen is because the 32-bit disc ID the server uses to identify CDs is not always unique, and sometimes two discs in different categories share the same disc ID. Version 1.4 of the server fixes this problem, so you shouldn't see this happen on the public servers.

Another reason this may happen is that two discs may share the same disc ID and also have similar TOCs (or "table of contents", which is essentially an array of track timings stored on the disc itself). This should be an exceedingly rare event, but because there is no other way to identify CDs there's little that can be done about it.

The least common reason this happens is that two different discs may share the exact same table of contents, which makes the two indistinguishable to the server. The good news is that the more tracks a disc has, the less likely it is to share the same TOC with another CD somewhere in the universe. So, for discs with two or more tracks, this probably (cross your fingers) never happens. (I've never seen it happen, at any rate.) It does happen sometimes for discs with only one track, because there are a relatively small number of possible TOCs for such discs.

Since the main problem has been addressed, you will probably never see this happen. If you do, bear in mind that there's really nothing that can be done about it.

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How come when I get a close match for a CD, it lists more than one entry for the same disc?
This is because there are often multiple database entries for the same disc. For some reason, when record companies reprint a CD that is already on the market, they make a new CD master instead of using the original. These new masters inexplicably have slightly different track timings than previous masters for the same disc. Since the database server uses the numbers in the table of contents to identify the CD, different pressings of the same CD end up with different disc IDs.

For example, Led Zeppelin IV currently has 5 different entries in the database. Over the years, it has been reprinted numerous times, and many if not all of these have differing TOCs. If you insert your own copy of this disc and it's not found in the database, the server uses a "fuzzy match" algorithm to find a disc that is likely to be the correct one. The resulting list of matches from the search will include all 5 of these entries.

We have the capability to merge different entries for the same disc, but currently this is a time-consuming, mostly manual task. The next version of the server will automatically merge similar entries, so you will not see multiple entries for the same disc very often.

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Can I run a CDDB server on my site?
You can run a server on your site, but not an "official" one. Official CDDB servers are maintained by us, and are carefully chosen so as to be as evenly spread across the planet as possible. Chances are that we already have a server running near your geographical location, so it would probably be redundant to have one on your site.

You are certainly free to run your own copy of the server, and we will provide you with support in doing so. We also provide free daily feeds of new database entries for private, non-commercial use. We are currently providing as many free feeds as we can, but we will sometimes make exceptions for sites that can't use the existing servers for some reason. For a fee, we will provide CDDB feeds and support to commercial customers.

Copies of the server source code are available on the Downloads page, and the package includes detailed instructions on how to compile and install it.

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Can you add a new keyword to the CDDB specification?
We've had this question a lot, and we invariably have to say no. The reason for this is threefold:

  1. Adding a new keyword would break existing applications. They've come to expect that database entries will only contain currently existing keywords. For obvious reasons, this would be bad.
  2. While it might be possible to add new keywords in some backward-compatible way, doing so would make managing the database a complicated task. Also, the database would initially need to be edited by hand to place existing, miscategorized information that might already exist into the correct field(s). This would be a herculean task.
  3. CDDB was designed to be rather generic, and we believe the existing design allows for just about any sort of information. Adding new keywords would just add complication and clutter. For example, the most common request has been to add keywords for composer/author information, but the extended data fields already exist for this purpose. If we were to add keywords for this, where would we stop? There are many other seemingly valid reasons for additional specific keywords, but we've chosen to have more generic, freeform data fields.

    Also, since we already have generic information fields for just about anything you might want to add, there would likely be overlapping purpose for any new keywords.

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It would be nice if CDDB could also include gifs or other images related to the disc. Is this possible?
For several reasons, no. The foremost reason is that we don't want to infringe on copyrights held by those who created the image. I suspect that people would scan in album covers and such for inclusion in the database, and this would clearly be a copyright infringement. The other reason is the problem of size. Even simple images are very large in size relative to the average database entry (about 1k). It's not unusual for a small image to be around 20k, and a large high-quality image might be 1 megabye or more. It would not take many such images to increase the current size of the database by one or two orders of magnitude. Not to mention, the additional data would tax our donated system storage and network bandwidth.

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I found a disc I've been looking for with your search engine. Can I purchase it through you?
We don't sell CDs, but you may be able to purchase the disc you're looking for from our list of other sites. Please note that we are in no way affiliated with any of the sites we've listed here. This list is simply provided for your convenience.

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I've been looking everywhere for a particular CD that's in your database, but I can't find it in any stores. Can you tell me where I can buy it?
Since most of the entries in the database have been added by users (just like you!) who we've never met, we have no way of knowing where those users acquired their copies of particular discs. Also, we have no ties to any record company or music seller, so we must rely on the same means as any other person if we need to locate a particular disc. If you are trying to find a CD but have been unable to, we undoubtedly can't find it for you. You probably know more about the disc than we do.

You might be able to find what you're looking for on our list of other sites. Some of the sites listed there sell discs found in their listings. Please note that we are in no way affiliated with any of the sites we've listed here. This list is simply provided for your convenience.

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Do you own all the discs in the database?
Certainly not! We only have as many CDs as the average person. I think I personally own only 300 or so. Though we maintain the database, most of the entries have been added by the thousands of users who use CDDB every day.

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I make my own compilation discs. Can I add these to the database?
Please do not do this! It's all right to save them in your own local database, of course, but it's not a good idea to submit them for inclusion in the main database. If you submit entries for discs you've made yourself, nobody else will be able to use those entries. They needlessly increase the size of the database, and just add clutter.

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I submitted entries to CDDB, but they haven't showed up in the search engine. What gives?
The search engine is indexed by Lycos, and they index new entries at their convenience. New entries can probably take several weeks to show up in the search engine, depending on how often they run their reindexing.

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I found a CD listing that I was looking for with your search engine, but when I clicked on it, it just sent me back to the Lycos search page. Why?
All the search function does is list the CDs that contain the string that you clicked on, so if you find yourself in a loop of going to the search page and back to the CD over and over again it's because that string probably only occurs once in all our listings, and you've already found it.

The web pages don't claim to offer any fancy data or sophisticated searching - it's a simple interface that just helps you find who sang what piece, or get a discography of all the CDs that a person made. If you can't find anything else it's because there's nothing else to be found.

If you have questions about how the search engine works, you can ask Graham Toal. He's the one who put it together and maintains it.

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How come I have to give my email address when I submit new entries to the database?
When you submit new entries to CDDB, they are transmitted to the master site at amb.org via email. Although your CD player software is submitting the entry on your behalf, the entry is nonetheless sent by you, and must have your valid return address. This information is needed in case there is some sort of error and the server must return your rejected entry to you for correction.

We do keep a record of the email address from which each database entry was submitted, but we consider this information to be private and do not distribute it. We require this information if we need to contact a user in case of problems, and for the security of the database.

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Is my use of the CDDB servers private?
Yes. All specific user information is kept private. Each server keeps a log of all transactions made during the course of operation, but the log is circular and old data simply disappears over time. Access to the logs is restricted to us alone, and user data is only used for solving client and server software bugs and for protecting server security.

We do not provide server usage data to anyone, other than the statistics shown on our server activity pages.

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When I try to download an entry, I get a funny error that looks like this:
Error connecting to [server name]. Command Action = Socket_Connect failed
This problem is reportedly caused by a nonstandard or outdated WINSOCK.DLL file. You should verify that your copy of this file is the correct version. Here's how:

  1. Start Windows Explorer.
  2. Go to the WINDOWS directory.
  3. Locate WINSOCK.DLL. If it's not in this directory, to go WINDOWS\SYSTEM
  4. Right click on the file and choose Properties from the popup menu. You see the Properties for WINSOCK.DLL dialog box.
  5. Click on the Version tab.
  6. Check the File version. It should be 4.00.950 or higher and be copyrighed by Microsoft.

NOTE! If you need to install another winsock version, please backup the existing version (rename it to WINSOCK.OLD or copy it to a diskette)!

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