StationRipper: Ripping from the Radio

By Jon Newton 4/23/04

The entertainment industry is re-doubling its efforts to force digital radio listeners to listen to what the labels want, and pay for the privilege, too.

Dream on, Cary and Mitch.

And with that in mind, there's an interesting new radio app that'll get you a list of available Shoutcast stations you can record, "creating a single MP3 file for each song the station plays".

It'll also allow you to record up to 300 streams at one time while its 'Memory Recording' tracks the songs you download, copying the final song file to your music library. If that song gets re-recorded in the future, it'll skip it so if you end up deleting it, it won't record, "bloating your collection with music you don't want".

The Archos AV320 digital audio/video recorder is available on Amazon

You can schedule it to allow and disallow recordings for off hours, not to speak of telling it to re-launch rips of up to 100 of the last stations you've recorded with a single mouse click.

It's Greg Ratajik's StationRipper.

Ratajik has been writing software since 1993 and you'll find a list of some of his creations - games, utilities, server stuff, and so on - here. "Most of the things I've written over the years I wanted or needed for myself, but weren't really available," he told p2pnet.

And when it came to digital radio, he'd been using StreamRipper32, but, "I just wasn't very happy with it. It was a pain to find stations to listen to, you couldn't rip more than one without a new copy of the app running, etc.

"So, I decided to write my own, which is how I ended up with StationRipper. I also worked on a P2P app a couple of years ago that was never released, but with the insane lawsuits flying around against those kind of apps, decided to stop working on it."

Ratajik says there are now a lot of mirrors out there, making it difficult for him to give an accurate tally of downloads, but he's guessing there have been more than 350,000 so far.

"The site will be getting around 1.5 million page views this month - which is starting to become a bit of a bandwidth issue, LOL."

Right now StationRipper is zeroed to Shoutcast stations and although Ratajik woud like to open it up, "I'm not sure if I'll ever get time to do it," he says. "I use the StreamRipper libs to do the actual rip. If I can get my hands on something like that for other stream types, I'd just integrate it in. If I've got to write it from scratch, then I don't see it happening any time soon.

"If any open source developers out there want to do it, drop me a line :P"

He says he hasn't heard from Big Music in the shape of the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and hopes he never does.

"StationRipper is, I believe, an application that has lots of non-infringing uses," he told us.

"I've always been a big believer in going after the people actually breaking the laws, not software developers that write software that MIGHT be misused - so let the people alone that are just recording for their personal use, and go after those sharing with others. One interpretation of Fair Use would seem to indicate sharing with 'friends' is ok. But that's another argument).

"I always thought going after Napster was kinda like suing the phone company for releasing the yellow pages - I have no doubt there's a lot of things in those listings that might be shady or breaking the law, but it'd be crazy to hold the phone book company responsible."

Ratajik says he's trying to sell music from StationRipper via Amazon): "if users click the 'Buy' button they can buy the music being ripped.

"As a lot of the rips aren't really perfect - cut odd, cross fades, DJ's talking, etc - I personally find I've been buying the music I like a lot, just to get a clean copy. The problem with that now is Amazon doesn't do single songs, usually. If iTunes ever gets an associates program going, I think that will be an easier sell to users.

"The type and amount of music I listen to has grown an amazing amount the last few years - there's stuff I listen to no that I wouldn't have ever even know about without Shoutcast music (and when it was still around). I can't imagine a world where we just get music via CD's, any more."

As for the webcasting community, some like iStationRipper, thinking it's a good way for people to listen to their station and, "Some hate it and want it to go away."

Most, however, seem ambivalent, he says, going on:

"I've tried finding a middle ground several times, but can't seem to get anyone to talk about it without yelling. I'd like to get a repository of info together that indicates what a streams rules are for ripping. Like, max songs/megs per day, hours that people can rip, don't allow ripping, etc. I actually started working on a web service to do that - that StationRipper would hook into to - but couldn't get any broadcasters to actually talk about it.

"They just kinda screamed and were generally upset.

"I personally started using rippers, and still do use rippers, because listening to a stream can be a pain, with disconnects, lag, etc. Once the song has been ripped, you can actually listen to it without any of those problems. And all the ad's and station ID's are also ripped, so I usually end up listening to the entire program as it was originally broadcast."

Stay tuned ...


Jon Newton is the editor of and is a regular contributer to MP3 Newswire. Jon's site is devoted to the politics of digital music and his insights as well as those of his co-writers can be read there. We urge you to explore it.


The iPod Mini can be purchased on Amazon


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