Acoustic fingerprints: Is closed source OK?

Ever since my post about TRM hitting its limits, I’ve been in discussions with a reputable company who has offered to let the MusicBrainz community use their fingerprint server in exchange to a free license to the MusicBrainz live-data feed. While I am not ready to reveal who this company is, I do feel that I can trust these folks — this is not the first time we’ve chatted.

The straw-man deal that we’ve put together makes sense for MusicBrainz and this company. Unlike MusicBrainz’ relationship with Relatable, this relationship would be more balanced. Plus, we would not have to maintain the server ourselves. All around I feel good about this proposed deal. There is just one little snag.

They are uncomfortable with open sourcing their client.

While I am not an open source license Nazi, I have received tons of complaints about MusicBrainz using a technology that is not fully open. As a matter of fact, my most unpleasant dealings with the general public have been on this point (that the TRM server is closed source). And I’ve had unreasonable people shout unreasonable things at me over this point. Quite frankly I am not really interested in having to defend my position on this any further, but I fear that not having a working fingerprint solution may be more of a hassle than having to defend a closed source solution.

So, my question to you is this:

  1. Do you value having access to a fingerprint solution as part of MusicBrainz more than MusicBrainz being an end-to-end open solution?
  2. What arguments can we make for having this company open source their client, as Relatable did? I’ve argued the standard open source arguments and I think that there is still a small chance that we can persuade this company to open up. I need to construct a better argument and perhaps meet with them in person to hash this out further. What things should I argue?

Please keep your idealistic everything needs to be open arguments to yourself. I simply won’t bother reading them or responding to them. I really care to see if we can find a balance where we can maximize the value that MusicBrainz presents, even if it means compromising our values slightly. If you’re not ready to make a balanced argument, then please don’t.

NOTE: If we were to start using a closed source fingerprint solution, nothing else would change. None of the existing licenses for MusicBrainz would change. So, keep your pants on and stop frothing at the mouth.

MetaBrainz milestone: My first paycheck!

About a month ago, the MetaBrainz Foundation signed up its second customer (let’s call that customer Mystery Customer #2). In light of this and our current finances our Board of Directors approved for me to make this payment my very first paycheck.

Early today the first payment from this customer hit our PayPal account and I cut myself the very first MetaBrainz paycheck ever! While this check for $2400 is measly pay for a years worth of work, its a start. With more customers on the horizon I can hope for a reasonable paycheck in the next year. And me getting paid is good since I can stop hunting for contract work to pay the bills — this will allow me to focus more of my time on MusicBrainz. And everyone knows that we need to implement more features, right?

A new Picard, a new libmusicbrainz, a new libtunepimp and now a paycheck! What a week, and its only tuesday!

P.S. I can’t reveal who our customers are, since they are building new services based on our data. These services have not been announced yet and us talking about who these customers are, would tip their hands. As soon as these companies go public with their services, I’ll be sure to tell everyone who they are.

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Picard 0.5.0 released!

After too many months of tinkering the latest stable release of Picard has been released:

Big thanks goes out to Lukas Lalinsky for fixing many bugs and creating the Windows installer. Also, many thanks to everyone who helped work on the Norwegian, German, French, Russian and Slovak translations!

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libtunepimp 0.4.0 released

libtunepimp 0.4.0 has also been released! Long overdue since there hasn’t been a libtunepimp release in over a year. This version of libtunepimp supports a complete plug in architecture for different media formats, is fully UTF-8 compliant, supports ID3v2.3 & ID3v2.4 tags and fixes a number of old bugs. Version 0.4.0 is not compatible with libtunepimp 0.3.0 — so, if you have an application that uses libtunepimp 0.3.0 you may want to wait to install the 0.4.0 version. This release contains the following files:

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libmusicbrainz 2.1.2 released

I just released version 2.1.2 of the MusicBrainz client library. This release includes the following files:

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libmusicbrainz and libtunepimp test releases

On the excessively long road to the next stable Picard release I need to do a stable release of libmusicbrainz and libtunepimp. Both of those are now complete with all the bug fixes that I want to get into these before the next release. If you run Linux or Mac OS X, please take a moment to download, compile, test and install these two tarballs:

  1. libmusicbrainz-2.1.2-pre1.tar.gz (Changelog)
  2. libtunepimp-0.4.0-pre6.tar.gz (Changelog)

Please note that the independent python bindings for libmusicbrainz have been wrapped back into libmusicbrainz itself and can be found in the python directory of the tarball. libmusicbrainz has a new example program called getrels that shows how to retrieve AR links via the web service. libtunepimp has undergone major changes and now sports a plug in system that will make it easier to add more formats.

Unless these tarballs have major issues, I plan to update the version numbers to 2.1.2 and 0.4.0, respectively, and release them in the coming days. Then I’ll focus on getting stable release of Picard out the door.

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