Amazon AutoRip adds free MP3s of your CDs past and present on Thursday announced the launch of AutoRip, a new service that gives customers free MP3 versions of audio CDs they’ve already purchased. The tracks are available for download through Amazon’s Cloud Player service. What’s more, this applies to CDs you’ve bought through Amazon as far back as 1998.

The files are presented in MP3 format, encoded at 256 Kbps. If you’re concerned with your Cloud Player library suddenly being populated over capacity, don’t worry – Amazon says the new files don’t count against Cloud Player storage limits. The new files should be visible immediately the next time you log into your Amazon Cloud Player account.

Not all audio CDs purchased from are eligible for the AutoRip treatment. The company counts the number now in the thousands. A new graphical embellishment is used on catalog pages to signify whether the CD is eligible for AutoRip.

Amazon also used the opportunity to take a swipe at Apple. “In many cases, customers can buy an AutoRip CD, including the free digital copy, for less than they would pay for only the digital album at iTunes,” the company said in a statement.

[Editor’s note: A quick check of my own Cloud Player account shows hundreds of new tracks in the “recently added” section, including many that for whatever reason, I haven’t ripped to my iTunes library. Nifty!]