MP3: nothing to do with piracy

MP3: nothing to do with piracy


Messing with MP3 files is, for some people, a synonym for illegal use of copyrighted music. Well, actually it's not.

When I bought my car last year, I bought an MP3-enabled car stereo with it. I can use it to play standard music CDs, as well as MP3 CDs that I can master myself. Therefore I started to convert my CDs to MP3s so that I could play them both at home and in the car, and I don't have to carry dozens of disks with me.

Unfortunately, my car stereo proved itself to be a bit fussy about how CDs are mastered and how MP3s are encoded. So when I burnt a CD with some Toto albums I have, it turned out that it didn't like the way I encoded them (320kbits, variable bitrate). And I couldn't stand hearing their songs playing for a second, then stopping for another second, then playing again for another one and so on.

Now you would say that it was not a big problem: I could simply put my CDs into my laptop and encode the files differently; the problem is that I lent the CDs to a friend that lives in Rome, and now all I had were those MP3s... oops! My only chance was to find a way to re-encode them.

Encoding them would be quite easy if I had .wav files: I'd just pass them to lame; but since I had MP3s, I had to find a way to get a plain wav from them. The way was mp3-decoder, a tool from the mpg123 suite.

Now that I had all the tools it was time to go through the files and do the job. I fired up a shell window, created a directory under /tmp and put the "corrupted" files in it. Then I typed these:

for DIR in /tmp/corrupted/*
do
  echo "$DIR"
  DEST="$HOME/mp3/toto/$DIR"
  mkdir -p "$DEST"
  ( cd "$DIR" && \
    for FILE in *.mp3 ; do echo "  > $FILE" ; \
      mp3-decoder -w - "$FILE" | lame -b 256 - "$DEST/$FILE" ;\
    done )
done

Here I am cycling over the two directories I copied into /tmp/corrupted, each one of them containing the MP3s of a single album. I have echo telling me what directory we are processing, then set the destination directory into the variable DEST and creating it; if the whole path is not there, the "-p" option of mkdir allows me to make the whole path at once. After that I get into a subshell (using the left parenthesis), get into the directory and process each file, one by one. Again, echo tells me which file we are processing, then mp3-decoder will read the MP3 file we are processing, and output it to the standard output (the "-" in the command line) in WAV format (option "-w"). The standard output of mp3-decoder is then piped into the standard input of lame (in this case the "-" in the lame's command line means the standard input), which will encode it at 256 kilobit, fixed, to the file "$DEST/$FILE". Once both the cycles are over, I had my CDs correctly encoded and sitting in the my home's mp3/toto subdirectory.

Neat, huh?

Seems the world needs a change in its attitudeIt doesn't seem like there's much that a man can doThey try to sell the earth on a wild crusadeThen complain about not bein' paid -- "Never Enough", in "Kingdom of Desire", Toto ©1992

Category: 

Comments

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on


> Messing with MP3 files is, for some people, a synonym for illegal use of copyrighted music. Well, actually it's not.
>...
>the problem is that I lent the CDs to a friend that lives in Rome, and now all I had were those MP3s... oops!

Well, actually it is.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

If you can play it at your car and your friend at his then it is illegal.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Messing with MP3 files is, for some people, a synonym for illegal use of copyrighted music. Well, actually it's not. and ...the problem is that I lent the CDs to a friend that lives in Rome...

I don't know Italian copyright law but don't you think there's a big moral difference between copying a CD for use in your car when you have the original at home and copying a CD then lending the original out? Depends on how permanent the loan is, whether the loanee makes a copy and all sorts of other things but still...

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I'm not sure what the first paragraph has to do with the rest of the article, actually.

Marco Marongiu's picture

I understand your perplexity, so all this is worth an explaination. With the help of a friend of mine I'll try to clarify the subject in my forthcoming blog entries.

He will write in Italian but don't worry: I'll translate for him!

Ciao
--bronto

PS1: His website is in Italian, as well, but I can't do anything about it :)
PS2: why everybody's playing Anonymous Coward here?

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

>PS2: why everybody's playing Anonymous Coward here?
Because we can

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

If you keep copies if the music that you loaned to a friend, how is that not piracy?
Your friend should legally buy his/her own music or else you can transfer the music to him/her without keeping any copies.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

let's look at this backwards, is his friend held accountable for piracy too?

Author information

Marco Marongiu's picture

Biography

Born in 1971, Marongiu graduated in applied mathematics in 1997; he's now a full-time system administrator for a well known software company in Oslo, Norway. He's also a Perl programmer and technical author and lecturer by passion.
Marongiu has been a Debian User since version 1.1.10 and he helped found the GULCh Linux Users Group (Gruppo Utenti Linux Cagliari), the first one in Sardinia.