My portable music player only plays MP3 and WMA format files, so I rip CD's into MP3. I hadn't ripped a CD since installing Debian, so coming across this post on the Debian forum, I checked and found that MP3 in Audio CD Extractor was not enabled. Following the instructions in the post, I was able to enable ripping into MP3.
For various legal reasons (Zzzz*) Debian doesn't come with the ability to rip CD's to MP3. The issue is discussed on the Debian forum (before drifting off into a more interesting discussion of football). Ripping CD's requires an encoder. LAME is the MP3 encoder used by Debian, and gstreamer0.10-lame is the package required. It can be installed by adding the Debian Multimedia repository.
*Here's the legal stuff, as far as I can work it out.
An MP3 encoder can be downloaded for personal use.
...no license is needed for private, non-commercial activities (e.g., home-entertainment, receiving broadcasts and creating a personal music library), not generating revenue or other consideration of any kind or for entities with associated annual gross revenue less than US$ 100 000.00. mp3licensing.comThe legal stipulation here is that it can only be distributed in countries not covered by software patents.
Distributing compiled binaries of LAME, its libraries, or programs which are derivative works of LAME in countries which recognize those patents, may be considered infringing on the relevant patents. Wikipedia.orgBut this does not affect the end-user, because it is the responsibility of the distributor to comply with local laws.
The legality of ripping CD's varies from country to country.
In the United Kingdom, making a private copy of copyrighted media without the copyright owner's consent is illegal: this includes ripping music from a CD to a computer or digital music player. The UK government has made proposals to allow people to make copies of music for personal use. According to one survey, 55% of British consumers believed ripping a CD to be legal, and 59% admitted to doing it. Wikipedia(Cough.)