After carrying a bag full of my CDs to work a couple times, I decided to rip the music into digital formats to make them more portable. But after all the hype about digital piracy and illegal music, I found myself with a basic question...how do I do it?
First, I tried Windows Media Player which has an option for saving digital tracks. I tried a couple of songs which it put into the WMA format, and liked it. Until I tried to move it. Turns out the WMA automatically makes a license that's required to play it. I was willing to try it to stay on the legal end of things. I made copies at work and thought it was cool, then made more copies at home and took them to my computer at work, which refused to play them because I needed to copy the licenses. Too much like iTunes for me.
I tried Winamp, which also has an option to save music, but you have to pay for an upgrade to save in mP3 format. I knew there were lots of programs that do that for sale, but I needed a free version. So I tried RealPlayer. Turns out the free version of Realplayer rips CDs onto mP3 with the push of a button. Heck, I put in my CD and it brought up a prompt that basically said, "Hey, you don't have this in digital format. Want it?" I clicked "yes," selected the tracks, hit "save," and within minutes had all my music in a portable, license-free, technically-illegal format.
If I'd known it was this easy to make illegal copies of my music, I would've done it years ago.