Autorip – “free” music from Amazon

Autorip – “free” music from Amazon

Recently, Amazon launched Autorip. It’s a service that automatically gives you Amazon Cloud based MP3s of any supported album you buy on CD. This is great, in theory, but even better is that they’ve applied the system retrospectively. That means that any CD you have previously bought from them, ever, which is supported by Autorip, will automatically appear in MP3 form in your Amazon Cloud player.

Which is fantastic, yes?

Yes! Even more so when you realise something else…

I don’t buy any CDs on Amazon. I don’t buy many CDs, truth be told, but when I do they’re rarely from Amazon. Imagine my surprise then when Amazon Autoripped 19 albums for me. Turns out that 17 of those aren’t albums I actually own – I bought them all as gifts for other people. Which means I don’t have them. But I’ve still been given them as MP3s. Amazon have pirated them all for me. How kind!

I emailed them to ask what this means. Am I a pirate? Are they pirates? Do I have to pass these MP3s on to the people I gave the CDs to? Do I have to delete the MP3s? AM I GOING TO JAIL!?

Amazon replied with:

AutoRip enables customers who purchase a physical music album to have both the digital and the physical copy of the music they own. That is why when you buy a physical music album and mark it as a gift for someone else, it is not eligible for AutoRip.

Since you have purchased CDs using your account, your credit card and did not mark them as a gift we have given you MP3 copies of your purchases. You have decided to give away physical copy however MP3 copy remains yours. I understand your concern about that being piracy but I can assure that it isn’t.

If one of your friends who has been given your CD would have call us and request MP3 AutoRip copy we would deny it as those CDs have been purchased by you and using your account.

Which, if I’m reading it correctly, means that I had to mark every CD I bought as a gift. Why would I do that? I didn’t want it gift wrapped and I wasn’t dispatching it elsewhere, so why did Amazon need to know it was a gift unless they had planned this waaaaay back in 1998.

More interesting than this, though, is the second paragraph. Specifically: “You have decided to give away physical copy however MP3 copy remains yours.”. Mine! The MP3 remains mine. And it isn’t piracy. See how they specifically say that? It’s legal.

Do you see what this means? It means Amazon will now allow you to buy a CD, get the MP3 version of it for free, and then give away (or sell) the physical copy but retain the legal right to have and to own the MP3s. Buy CD, sell CD. Buy CD, sell CD. And a virtually free MP3 collection ensues.


  1. The funny part is that you can just randomly “purchase” the album, download all the album’s tracks, and then CANCEL THE ORDER only seconds later.

    You have (legally?) been allowed to download the entire digital album for FREE- not having to ever make any actual purchases.
    I do it all the time.

    My long list of totally free and crystal-clear quality mp3 downloads are rapidly growing everyday, thanks to this amazing amazon trick. 😉

    Jamey Lee
  2. @Jamey Lee:

    In the terms and conditions, it clearly states that you will be charged if you download any of the music files for any ordered CDs that you then go and cancel your order of afterwards.What’s more, it says you’ll be billed at the digital download price — which is often more expensive than if you’d just gone ahead and purchased the CD outright and gotten the autorips thrown in for free, at least then you could at least sell the CD on if you didn’t want it or you were giving it to someone as a present (all the tracks in my autorip amazon player account are all from CDs I’ve brought over the last ten years or so for other people as gifts, which is pretty neat really! Not that I buy that many but…free music, and it’s nice you can download the proper mp3 files easily onto your desktop sans any silly restrictions or DRM or someother anti-thing to limit your enjoyment in life. Rare that is, these days~).

    How have you gotten around this or if you check your bank/cc statement is there a nasty surprise waiting there for you?


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