Online e-commerce giant Amazon.com just announced a new service this morning, which looks to be one of the biggest moves the company has made in digital music recently: it is now automatically providing MP3 format tracks for CDs sold on its site, including every single CD a user has purchased since 1998. Amazon said its new AutoRip service will automatically load a MP3 version of CDs purchase on the site, for immediate streaming or download by users. Plus, Amazon said it will dig into its archives of CD purchases and provide the same tracks to users automatically based on what they previously purchased from the company.
The service is suprisingly close to AnywhereCD, the now defunct San Diego startup started by MP3.com pioneer Michael Robertson, which had offered pretty much the identical functionality back in 2007. AnywhereCD had offered up physical CDs for sale to users, and automatically offered up MP3 albums for online streaming and download at the same time. AnywhereCD was actually forced out of business in late 2007 after it failed to persuade record labels to support the effort; the firm had only managed to eke out a few months of life due to an earlier legal settlement with Warner Music which allowed a brief window of selling both physical and MP3 versions of albums.
Robertson has had a knack of coming up with innovations in music, getting sued out of existence by the major music labels, only to have those innovations later adopted by the big players; he was also behind San Diego's MP3Tunes, an online music locker service which essentially operated like Amazon's Cloud Lockers and Google's music lockers, but was also put out of business due to legal battles with EMI.