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Last.fm User Data Was Sent To RIAA By CBS

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the doing-their-bidding dept.

The Internet 334

suraj.sun sends in an update from TechCrunch on a story that generated a lot of controversy a few months back, "Did Last.fm Just Hand Over User Listening Data To the RIAA?" "Now we've located another source for the story, someone who's very close to Last.fm. And it turns out Last.fm was telling the truth, sorta... Last.fm didn't hand user data over to the RIAA. According to our source, it was their parent company, CBS, that did it. Here's what we believe happened: CBS requested user data from Last.fm, including user name and IP address. CBS wanted the data to comply with a RIAA request but told Last.fm the data was going to be used for 'internal use only.' It was only after the data was sent to CBS that Last.fm discovered the real reason for the request. Last.fm staffers were outraged, say our sources, but the data had already been sent to the RIAA. We believe CBS lied to us when they denied sending the data to the RIAA, and that they subsequently asked us to attribute the quote to Last.fm to make the statement defensible. Last.fm's denials were strictly speaking correct, but they ignored the underlying truth of the situation, that their parent company supplied user data to the RIAA, and that the data could possibly be used in civil and criminal actions against those users."

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Breaking News (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071153)

Media companies lie! Film at 11.

Re:Breaking News (5, Insightful)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071175)

And another nail in the coffin for last.fm.

Guess what guys. What you did was basic. You remembered my song history. Along with twitter, I consider you to be one of the most simple web "2.0" tools on the net today. You have a crowd, but not a complex or clever execution.

And now your users don't trust you...

Re:Breaking News (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071247)

Umm, who cares what happens to a bunch of pirates? Squandered trust is what happens when your Firefox extension comes bundled with malware, designed to silently disable another one of your extensions.

Re:Breaking News (4, Interesting)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071343)

It's the pirates first, but when will it be "Dear Ol Auntie" who gets bit with malware or extreme mistrust by a company (surprise). An attack on "Dear Ol Auntie" has already been done by Sony with little to no real punishment.

We'd like to think that a music recommendation engine would be impartial and fair. The engine is, but the people arent. And aside from that, they most likely broke laws when they handed out identifying information to their corporate owner. There's a lot of laws regarding data security in places like California and throughout the EC.

Re:Breaking News (5, Insightful)

mftb (1522365) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071567)

So now everyone on last.fm who has a diverse music collection is a pirate? While I disagree with the handing over of information, I fail to see what the RIAA will be able to prove with it.

Re:Breaking News (4, Informative)

number11 (129686) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071961)

While I disagree with the handing over of information, I fail to see what the RIAA will be able to prove with it.

Prove? They don't need to be able to prove anything except that they have the filing fee, just to file a lawsuit. If you don't show up in court, they win. But probably first they'll offer to cut you a deal for a thousand bucks or so.

Good luck with your court case. If you hire a lawyer, you might even win. But more likely, if it looks like you might win, they'll drop the suit. Oh, you'll still need to pay that lawyer.

Re:Breaking News (5, Informative)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071317)

Libre.fm [libre.fm] for the win. It's compatible with Last.fm.

Re:Breaking News (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071373)

Why do people connect to the version local to the Federated States of Micronesia? I doubt they have much bandwidth over there. Shouldn't people go to Last.com?

Re:Breaking News (1)

TerribleNews (1195393) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071747)

Guess what guys. What you did was basic. You remembered my song history.

Not so: they remembered your song history and then recommended / played you music which they thought you might like. Less like twitter, more like Cinematch [netflixprize.com] . It worked quite well, IMO.

And now your users don't trust you...

Yeah, also, if you don't live in the US, the UK or Germany it costs you money to use the good part of their service. This means that, from Canada, I can still send them my musical habits, which they will apparently send along the RIAA, but I can't benefit from doing so by learning about cool new music from them.

I hope they go down. This kind of behaviour is just stupid.

Last.fm denying this (again) (4, Informative)

Esteanil (710082) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071159)

Re:Last.fm denying this (again) (1)

Daas (620469) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071245)

They also stopped providing free radio to Canadian users.

Goodbye, Last.Fm

/I just dumped the App in the Trash Bin.

Re:Last.fm denying this (again) (1)

norz (921296) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071769)

I you want free music, Spotify is great, and integrates well with Last.fm. However, 3â/month (or $3) isn't much, if you get to listen to the whole Last.fm catalog, refined with recommendations and tags added by the users.

Ask. (2, Insightful)

Xenex (97062) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071851)

Why doesn't someone ask CBS and the RIAA if this happened?

They'll either say no, or no comment. Then we'll know.

Ain't Just a River in Egypt (4, Funny)

qpawn (1507885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071171)

I promise I didn't tell on you!... my mom did.

The death of Last.fm? (5, Interesting)

alienunknown (1279178) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071187)

If this does turn out to be true, who is going to use their service ever again? Even if someone doesn't have any pirated music on their computer, who wants their music collection data sent to the RIAA? What about legitimate purchased songs being flagged as being pirated?

I guess one could simple turn off scrobbling, but that is one of the main features of the service.

Re:The death of Last.fm? (5, Insightful)

Tanman (90298) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071235)

Who will use their service?

Probably the 90-99% of their users who don't and will never know anything about this or even care if they do.

Re:The death of Last.fm? (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071271)

Most Last.fm users are both music lovers and computer literate. Most care about this sort of thing, and even if most didn't, many would hear about this and become more skeptical.

Re:The death of Last.fm? (4, Insightful)

Tanman (90298) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071541)

Do you have some sort of list of last.fm users I could look over to confirm your statement? sorry, j/k

In all seriousness, though, my assumption is that the average last.fm user is no different than the average facebook user. Which is to say completely following the bell curve with only the top 2% or so being 1) savvy computer users with 2) an opinion about the RIAA who 3) care about the privacy of their use of a free online radio service.

But that's just my thoughts on it. If you have some statistics that somehow demonstrate that the users of THIS online service are somehow superior power users, feel free to post'em.

Re:The death of Last.fm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071803)

They care about it, just not enough to see it coming (which seemed obvious) or stop using Last.fm.

Re:The death of Last.fm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071239)

They're already making your playing habits public... The RIAA could get it if they wanted it.

Re:The death of Last.fm? (2, Informative)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071413)

I believe last.fm gets file hash information along with the tags of the song you're listening to so they can ID untagged songs with the same signature or something. Combine with watermarking and you have a serious concern.

Re:The death of Last.fm? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071499)

No they don't, I implemented a last.fm plugin, so I know what I'm talking about.
The only data sent are : title, artist, album, length and track number.
And of course, the data we send doesn't prove anything, as we can put whatever data we want.

Re:The death of Last.fm? (4, Informative)

enosys (705759) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071857)

The official last.fm Scrobbler can fingerprint music [blog.last.fm] . This feature analyzes the way the music sounds to help identify untagged and inaccurately tagged tracks. Presumably it only allows one to identify what music is in the file, not what file you have, so for example they shouldn't be able to tell the difference between an MP3 you ripped and encoded yourself and one that came from a release group.

Re:The death of Last.fm? (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071845)

What about legitimate purchased songs being flagged as being pirated?

According to the RIAA they only are planning on searching the data for an unreleased album.

Believe it or not but if it was limited to this case, there is no worry about legitimate songs.

Re:The death of Last.fm? (3, Insightful)

rm999 (775449) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071909)

I use the service, and will continue to. I, like most other users, publicly let anyone see what I listen to. In fact, that's the main functionality of the service as far as I am concerned (that and the recommendations). I find Last.fm very useful, and hey, it's free. Also, this information was supposedly leaked by people in Last.fm themselves - if so, I get the feeling they feel empowered against CBS from all this; they probably won't let CBS break contracts like this again. CBS has egg on their face.

While I'm uncomfortable with my IP address given out, I don't consider it the biggest breach of confidentiality; IP addresses should not be considered a secret. I visit 100s of sites, and they all know my IP. I use bit torrent, where 100s of other people know my IP. Anyway, the RIAA cannot use my IP to incriminate me, because the tags my scrobbler send to them are not proof that I listened to that music because plenty of music is mistagged.

I realize people here may not care for my disregard for my privacy online, but I'd counter that you are insane if you think you actually have privacy on free online sites.

Why the outrage? (5, Insightful)

jason8 (917879) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071191)

If last.fm sold out to CBS for 140 million pounds, why should anyone be outraged if CBS is using the last.fm user info like this? CBS is one of the major labels controlling the RIAA actions. Why wouldn't they do this? Or to put it another way, why would a user stick with last.fm after it sold out to a CBS?

Re:Why the outrage? (1)

bem (1977) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071287)

Wrong.

Columbia Records is not part of CBS any more: they are owned by Sony.

CBS owns TV and Radio stations and networks, and a variety of websites.

But not records.

Re:Why the outrage? (1)

jason8 (917879) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071451)

Ah... I know I have lots of records on CBS (UK/Japan) and Columbia (US), but I guess those are mostly older.

It looks like [wikipedia.org] there's an effort to revive the CBS music brand, though there are so few artists that I don't see why they would go to the trouble of checking out last.fm users' logs.

Still, I would be suspicious on principle. I can imagine CBS being friendly with other big media companies, including RIAA music companies...

Re:Why the outrage? (2, Informative)

RudeIota (1131331) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071505)

Wrong. Columbia Records is not part of CBS any more: they are owned by Sony.

Sony [riaaradar.com] , well that fixes everything. ;)

Re:Why the outrage? (1)

enosys (705759) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071911)

Thanks for letting people know about riaaradar.com. Here's a link to a CBS Records search [riaaradar.com] . Yep, they're part of RIAA.

Re:Why the outrage? (1, Insightful)

glwtta (532858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071425)

Why wouldn't they do this? Or to put it another way, why would a user stick with last.fm after it sold out to a CBS?

That's not "putting in another way", it's two completely different points.

I use - and quite enjoy - last.fm, and I fully expected shit like this to start happening once they were taken over by CBS, and you know what? I couldn't care less.

If the RIAA is that curious to know how much Gogol Bordello I listen to, they are welcome to it (especially if that helps CBS keep the service free). The suggestion that someone could get sued over something like this is laughable.

So yeah, until a better (or equally good and Free) service comes along, I'm fine with last.fm

Re:Why the outrage? (1)

jason8 (917879) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071611)

That's not "putting in another way", it's two completely different points.

OK, I thought the reason for the "outrage" was that people were listening to stuff that the RIAA didn't want them listening to (a leaked U2 album), and CBS was able to identify these people via their last.fm logs. My point is, why would these people do such a dangerous thing when they know that last.fm is owned by a major media company? I could see it being not too unreasonable if last.fm was independent, but as things are, it seems to be just asking for trouble. Similarly, for CBS to not pursue this would be troublesome for them, since I'm sure they don't want their last.fm property to get a reputation as a hangout for pirates/downloaders/etc.

Wait (4, Interesting)

portforward (313061) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071195)

So it is not "legal" to listen to music on last.fm? Can I get sued by the RIAA if I listen to songs on last.fm? If it is "illegal" to have music on last.fm, then why doesn't the RIAA send a cease and desist to CBS/last.fm? If it is legal, then why would CBS release that information? Is it so that the RIAA can have a list of IPs with names to go after if they think someone is pirating music?

Re:Wait (4, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071215)

No, its perfectly legal to listen to Last.Fm, they are simply a radio service. Thats the reason why you can't listen to certain artists too many times, etc. The problem is if you use the Scrobbling (sp?) feature and that data gets sent to the RIAA. For example, it might say that you have a large music collection that includes various RIAA affiliated artists. They then figure out what IP you have been using, and could put it under increased scrutiny.

Re:Wait (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071885)

That won tell them much, the real issue is how many times have you scrobbled that you're listening to a track that is not yet released?

Every pre-release mp3 you ever scrobbled is tied to your account, which is owned by cbs.

Sucks.

Re:Wait (2, Informative)

pankkake (877909) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071219)

They requested info on who played a leaked album, which at the time could only be acquired through piracy.

Re:Wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071333)

They requested info on who played a leaked album, which at the time could only be acquired through piracy.

"In post-Soviet Russia, you listen to radio. In post-9/11 America..."

(I'm old enough to remember when Yakov Smirnov was a comedian, not a prophet.)

Re:Wait (2, Funny)

gringofrijolero (1489395) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071435)

So the Somalis are hijacking music now, eh?

Everybody listen to me
And return me, my ship
I'm Your Captain
I'm Your Captain

Re:Wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071607)

I downloaded and listened to an album by one of my favorite artists the day before it came out. I foolishly forgot to turn off scrobbling, so now there is a record of it on last.fm.

I liked what I heard and bought the $100 deluxe edition of the album, therefore supporting the band way more than I would have by just buying the CD.

But I'm a criminal, I guess.

Uh, no. Legal aquisition WAS the source of the lea (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071859)

Sorry, guy, but legal acquisition of U2's No Line on the Horizon WAS THE SOURCE OF THE LEAK.

Universal Australia flipped the buy switch two weeks early. A buyer leaked the MP3s. Universal Australia stopped buyers 2 hours later, but they couldn't revoke MP3s already sold.

However, since they were MP3s, there is no way to tell a legal customer from someone who pirated.

Re:Wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071265)

One of the main features of Last.fm is a recommendations engine, that uses what you've previously listened to.

That data comes from Last.fm radio streams (which songs did you like, etc) - and also from your own local music collection, via plugins for popular desktop MP3 players like iTunes, WinAmp, etc.

The concern here is if you tell Last.fm what you've played locally (in order to find new music), who else sees that data?

I would expect the same privacy concerns with any comparable software. Such as the iTunes "Genius" recommendation feature, for example.

Re:Wait (-1, Troll)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071527)

If you listen to music you must be a theft.

Re:Wait (5, Interesting)

ubernostrum (219442) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071585)

You're looking at it the wrong way.

User listening data is not really that useful as a tool for filing lawsuits. It is useful as a tool for tracking and potentially identifying leaks. For example: suppose User X listened to a new album ten days before it was actually released, and is friends (on the site) with User Y who listened to it twelve days before the release date, and User Y is friends with User Z whose profile matches up with an intern at the studio. Odds are that User Z -- the intern -- is the source of the leak.

Risks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071203)

Trust no one.

Captcha for this post is embezzle

Don't support corrupt organisations (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071205)

Stop buying CDs and movies. It's the only way to stop RIAA and MPAA abusing our rights. Fund the artists, not these corrupt organisations.

Artists: Go direct to the public via the web.
RIAA/MPAA: Evolve or die. Stop attacking and threatening potential customers, or like me, they will stop buying your product.

AC

Re:Don't support corrupt organisations (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071233)

That works for every other business except monopolies. The RIAA thinks like this, low sales + increased internet usage by the masses + the fact the internet can be used to download music illegally = increased piracy! They have been a virtual monopoly for so long that they don't understand market forces that every other business does. For every CD you don't buy, the RIAA believes that it is one more CD downloaded off of TPB.

Don't support bad excuses. (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071623)

"That works for every other business except monopolies. "

Well except for the fact that four-letter organizations don't have a monopoly on content.

There are independents that create everything from music, to books, to games. One can't blame four-letter organizations for the public's lack of will to step outside the mainstream. Even if these organizations believed as you think they do, that doesn't in any way, shape, or form take away your right to enter into a reciprocal agreement with anyone you want to.

Re:Don't support corrupt organisations (2, Insightful)

Howitzer86 (964585) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071277)

What's more likely to happen is the RIAA/MPAA will not only survive, but they will get further legislation passed to gain further control over what you do with the internet and your computer.

I'm glad I never registered at last.fm. I always felt that it and similar sites were being used by the RIAA to create a catalog of people to sue.

Re:Don't support corrupt organisations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071519)

Let them. Things have to get worse before they will get better.

Re:Don't support corrupt organisations (5, Informative)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071469)

links ftw
http://www.jamendo.com/en/ [jamendo.com] (integrated with amarok2)
http://www.magnatune.com/ [magnatune.com] (integrated with amarok, found brad suck's here)
http://blip.tv/ [blip.tv] (out of office [blip.tv] )
http://libre.fm/ [libre.fm] (pretty meh atm, but i appreciate the fact its agpl)

Little use as legal evidence (4, Insightful)

physicsphairy (720718) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071243)

the data could possibly be used in civil and criminal actions against those users

Except that
(1) There is no way to tell whether music on last.fm is from legal or illegal copies.
(2) "Listening" to music you don't own is in no way illegal. Even if the RIAA can prove you are listening to music you didn't purchase, they have presented no evidence that a crime has occurred.
(3) The tag data sent to last.fm is self-reported and unverified. Basically, there is no more evidence that you actually listened to the music than if you said you listened to it on facebook. In fact, due to incorrect tags, I'm quite sure that I have reported listening to music not in my collection on a number of occasions.

So while the RIAA may have a bit of a tip-off in looking at high-volume listeners, I don't think they could even get a warrant for more information, since they distinctly lack evidence of any kind of crime.

Re:Little use as legal evidence (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071257)

That is assuming that the RIAA is interested in using legal tactics. From their prior history, and various convictions that were based on nothing more then a shred of (easily faked or spoofed) evidence, I'd say it doesn't matter to the RIAA.

Re:Little use as legal evidence (3, Interesting)

stiggle (649614) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071439)

But seeing as the last.fm data was obtained in an underhand manner and then released to an unrelated 3rd party, does that mean that the RIAA pirated the data? :-)

Probable cause for a search warrant (2, Interesting)

acb (2797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071359)

Track listings of unreleased albums, along with accurate track length information (which the Audioscrobbler protocol provides), could be used as probable cause for a search warrant.

Re:Probable cause for a search warrant (1)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071433)

Downloading copyrighted material is not illegal. Uploading it is. Every person the RIAA has ever sued was doing uploading along with their downloading.

Re:Probable cause for a search warrant (3, Insightful)

Zordak (123132) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071707)

This is absolutely not true. Any unauthorized copy is a copyright violation, whether or not you upload or download, whether or not you knew it was an illegal copy, and even whether or not the person you got it from purported to give you a license. Civil copyright infringement is a strict liability offense. That means they don't care what you were thinking. The fact that the copyright owner has to prove is that you copied protected elements of their copyrighted work.

I see this theory on Slashdot a lot, and while I can see why it's so popular, that doesn't make it true. If any of you are sued for copyright infringement, please don't go in and tell the judge, "I wasn't infringing. I was just downloading!" In fact, don't say anything. As soon as you get served, hire a lawyer.

Re:Little use as legal evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071361)

Advanced copies can be detected pretty easily.

If a song was registered at a time when it had not been released to the public, it's pretty clear that it was probably illegal.

But then again, there are advance copies out there too.

Re:Little use as legal evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071385)

I'm glad I'm not the only one that thought this when reading that stupid inaccurate, unverified and over tantalized, and as yet still un-retracted "article" on TechCrunch.

I was beginning to think I was the only one able to think for my self here.

Re:Little use as legal evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071411)

i dont think you understood what they "allegedly" handed over. scrobbler records all the music you listen to on your pc (winamp, WMP, etc). it then provides that information to last.fm so they can recommend more music. therefore if scrobbler returned the information that you listened to an album before it is even released (in this case the new U2 album) then indeed it is evidence that you are in possession of stolen material.

why anyone would use such an invasive service is beyond me.

Re:Little use as legal evidence (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071561)

All they have to do is file a lawsuit against you.

If they filed against me they would win by default because I am too busy to attend court.

Leaked Album (1)

J_Omega (709711) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071729)

(1), (2) and (3) are irrelevant if the music is from a leaked album.

This goes back to the U2 album that popped up on torrent sites a couple of weeks before its official release.
If you scrobbled those tracks, you had them illegally. Period.

Re:Little use as legal evidence (1)

omglolbah (731566) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071737)

As stated many times in the various posts here the data in question were playback information that identifies that a user/ip listened to an album that was not released yet.
Since there was no legal way to acquire the album they could make the claim that anyone who listened to song X by artist Y would have had to pirate the album.

With the current legal stupidity this could be enough to go after someone...

I don't get it (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071255)

Last.fm collects listening data from the ID tags of mp3-files and the likes, right? ID tags can be modified to say anything. It's even possible to send completely bogus information to Last.fm without listening to any music files at all. So what does the collected data actually prove?

Re:I don't get it (2, Insightful)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071347)

The question is not what does it prove, the question is does a Judge know all that? Now the RIAA can use Last.fm data to subpoena users, convince a judge to give them a warrant to find the IPs of these "John Does", then sue you. You have no defense against that stage, and afterwards your computer is evidence and can be seized & searched.

Re:I don't get it (2, Insightful)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071581)

That's why people must start using whole drive encryption. Encryption is not just for criminal use but is also to protect innocent people from having their rights violated, we need laws to prevent computers from being used as evidence.

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071877)

do you use whole drive encryption?

Re:I don't get it (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071427)

Probable cause for a search, possibly?

Re:I don't get it (1)

whiledo (1515553) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071863)

Wasn't this a topic on slashdot a while back? Basically along the lines of a lawyer telling slashdot users (or just internet posters in general) that the law didn't buy those kinds of "well there's a convoluted way that the thing you think is clearcut evidence against me is really not, so there!" arguments simply do not fly in an actual courtroom. Basically they follow Occam's razor, and unless you can actually prove that this more complicated and less likely thing happened to make the evidence invalid, they'll assume it is valid.

that's what happens when you sell out (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071259)

There's a reason Craigslist, for example, has never gone public or sold a controlling stake to a major media company: because Craig Newmark knows exactly what would happen to the site if he did. He could get more money, sure, but he's very wealthy as it is, so he doesn't need more money. Not enough to sell out the site he spent so many years building, anyway.

Remember, folks, free-market capitalism is about your right to control your own business, taking responsibility for it and running it as you see fit. If you sell out to some large, bureaucratic entity, greedy bastards with no vision will run your life's work right into the ground. Is the payout worth it? Maybe it is, but at least make sure you realize what you're doing: you cannot both sell out to CBS and retain your integrity. The freedom to choose not to sell something is as important as free access to markets is.

Re:that's what happens when you sell out (1)

basementman (1475159) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071393)

Is he rich from craigslist or some other venture? I have trouble believing craigslist is raking in a huge amount of cash.

Re:that's what happens when you sell out (1, Offtopic)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071465)

Craigslist charges listing fees for real estate ads and job offer ads in major metropolitan centers. I'm pretty sure they are raking in a huge amount of cash.

Re:that's what happens when you sell out (2, Informative)

RudeIota (1131331) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071583)

He's no Bill Gates, but I'm sure he's doing pretty well.

"Last year, the company took in $25 million in revenue [forbes.com] , but it has the page views to earn much more. Craigslist is the seventh-most-viewed site online, according to Comcscore, yet it only makes money from fees for posting some apartment listings in New York and job listings in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York."

Re:that's what happens when you sell out (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071589)

Craigslist is doing pretty well for itself. Fortune estimated [cnn.com] that its 2005 profit was over $15 million (revenues of $20 million and expenses of under $5 million), and it's probably considerably higher now.

Re:that's what happens when you sell out (4, Insightful)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071597)

There's a reason Craigslist, for example, has never gone public or sold a controlling stake to a major media company: because Craig Newmark knows exactly what would happen to the site if he did. He could get more money, sure, but he's very wealthy as it is, so he doesn't need more money.

It's called "Integrity" and unfortunately it is in short supply.

Re:that's what happens when you sell out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071629)

Reading that made me want to quit my job.

Advertising $ (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071269)

Boy howdy techcrunch are going to make a lot of ad $ from hits on this unsubstantiated story from scared last.fm users who have one or two dodgy mp3s though - of course - there's no chance that that consideration entered into their decision to publish it.

What data? (3, Interesting)

_Shorty-dammit (555739) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071285)

How could anyone be sued for last.fm data? The only data you supply to last.fm when using their 'scrobbling' client is the tags of the currently playing song. Tags can be anything. I can take any song by any artist, or even just random noise, and give it any tags I wish. That doesn't magically make that song the song that I've tagged it as. I seem to recall data about U2's then-unreleased album being spoken about when the last.fm data news story came about. The album wasn't released yet, so anybody listening to it obviously got it through unofficial channels. The problem with that line of thinking is, getting a hold of the track names before its release wouldn't exactly be rocket science. I'm sure a tracklist would have been made public long before its release. It's a trivial matter to take any random songs and give them tags that correspond to the upcoming release and then play them back in your media player. And since you're running the last.fm 'scrobbling' client those tag names would be uploaded to your last.fm account as what you're currently listening to. That doesn't mean that the tags your files have are actually what your tags claim them to be. They're just tags. Tags that can be set to any arbitrary value by anyone, anytime. How anyone could possibly think this could be used as evidence of being in possession of officially unreleased material ahead of the official release is beyond me. It makes absolutely no sense at all. And the people that think this data could be used for anything to do with the legal system is downright hilarious.

Re:What data? (3, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071313)

Its not necessarily that they can convict purely on that, its the fact they can profile you. For example, they can have suspicions that IP XXXXX is associated with Last.fm username XXXXXX, they figure out that the last FM user was playing songs tagged with the leaked song titles, they then watch the IP address with the help of various ISPs. If they ever see any P2P activity they can then move in and see if they are any RIAA titles, if they are, they can sue for outrageous amounts.

If thats legal or not, who knows, the RIAA isn't exactly known for having legal convictions based on solid evidence.

Re:What data? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071453)

and how would you explain away why you would rename some other music the same track names as the new U2 album? seems like a ridiculous thing to do.

besides that they do get to tie you up in court and cost you legal fees to tell that whopper.

Re:What data? (1)

omglolbah (731566) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071749)

The RIAA has not really been all that interested in using decent and logical lines of reasoning.

This information would be more than enough for them to move if you look at their track record.

Hell, they've sued people without the hardware required to do what they're accused of :-p
(run kazaa on an old apple-II for instance.. riiiight)

Re:What data? (3, Funny)

Zordak (123132) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071759)

Yes, I can just see the stunning, Law & Order-inspired jury argument. "Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Shorty did not illegally download U2's then-unreleased album. In fact, he had a legally-obtained copy of the Joshua Tree album, and he renamed all the tracks to the names of the tracks of the upcoming albums so he could fantasize about listening to the new album.

I don't think I could even pull it off with a straight face.

que? (1)

indi0144 (1264518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071329)

wow now the RIAA is coming after me because I don't like the mainstream music?. I have always wondered why the artists always hush when this crap happens. As I say every time this guys make another outrageous thing.. >Boycott the artist under that labels not the RIAA itself<. You can't hate the RIAA and still drool to the artists that are OK with that. Put your shit together.

No more Last.fm for me (2, Interesting)

Rah'Dick (976472) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071377)

I cancelled my Last.fm account immediately after I read this article. Fu** them for this.

I shouldn't have done this from the start. I feel stupid. I should've seen something like this coming.

Re:No more Last.fm for me (1)

Kashell (896893) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071775)

Last.fm has lost me, and my family.

I also sent a mass email to about 100 friends warning them to avoid last.fm because of this.

Big mistake, CNN / last.fm.

TechCrunch was basically right the 1st time (3, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071401)

This news shows that TechCrunch was basically correct with its first article. I recall that many people were ready to believe the denials of last.fm and of CBS; I don't know why. Those who dumped all over TC last time owe it an apology. Last.fm is unsafe. Period.

Re:TechCrunch was basically right the 1st time (3, Insightful)

fotosdelviaje (1415077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071447)

The story shows nothing. It's true last.fm is being slow and should come back suing them if this is really made up. But meanwhile, TechCrunch and Arrington haven't shown to be exactly great examples of journalism [techcrunch.com] , so I won't lose any sleep over what they write.

I can't help but wonder (4, Interesting)

xXShadowstormXx (939073) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071407)

... If this has anything to do with the fact that Tech Crunch is sponsored by a competitor of Last.fm.

They should come after me for the new Eminem track (3, Funny)

eddy (18759) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071419)

I'm currently listening to a future Eminem track. I got it by running bittorrent through a time-machine. The evidence is plain for all to see [www.last.fm] (or my playedlist [www.last.fm] )

Good grief.

Re:They should come after me for the new Eminem tr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071489)

Interesting point....I wonder if it would be possible to arrange for mass groups of people to retag collections of music with RIAA abuse and start playing it through last.fm.

Corrupt the data and abuse the RIAA at the same time!

I hope this did happen... (5, Interesting)

s0litaire (1205168) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071473)

...Think about it (well people in the UK anyway). We could all club together and take CBS, Last.FM and hopefully the RIAA to court over breaking of the: Data Protection Act of 1998.

Take them through Criminal Courts rather than Civil courts...

Last.fm Terms of Use (5, Informative)

waveformwafflehouse (1221950) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071477)

If you read the Terms of Use when uploading, you basically give Last.fm the right to do ANYTHING:

"When you upload Your Upload Information via the Website, you irrevocably grant to Last.fm, its parent, subsidiaries, affiliates, and partners, without any credit or compensation to you, a non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual, unrestricted, irrevocable, royalty-free and fully transferable, assignable and sub-licensable right and licence to use, reuse, modify, adapt, alter, display, archive, publish, sub-license, perform, copy, reproduce, disclose, transmit, communicate to the public, post, sell, translate, create derivative works of, distribute, make and export Your Upload Information (in whole or in part), or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, software or technology of any kind now known or developed in the future, for any purposes whatsoever including, without limitation, for advertising, marketing, publicity and promotional purposes, such as developing, manufacturing and marketing products and targeted advertisements using such Uploaded Information. You hereby waive any moral rights (or any similar rights in any jurisdiction) you may have in and to any of Your Upload Information, even if such material is altered or changed in a manner not agreeable to you."

uhhh, hello? ENTRAPMENT? (0, Troll)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071503)

they give you a place to upload music files.

then they decide to prosecute you for uploading music files?

This has a fishy smell all over it.

Re:uhhh, hello? ENTRAPMENT? (2, Informative)

Aerynvala (1109505) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071667)

You're not uploading music files unless you're a musician. Users are primarily 'uploading' the song play data that their media player generates. This is not entrapment.

Playlists are copyrighted data (1)

stiggle (649614) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071659)

A playlist is copyrighted information. Small and generally insignificant, but still copyrighted by the original creator.

If you select a number of unrelated tracks together into a playlist, then that data is copyrighted to yourself. Slap Last.fm, CBS & RIAA with copyright infringement notices if you were crazy enough to use Scrobbler.

Can you trust TechCrunch's story? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071727)

I'd like to know why everyone is blindly accepting TechCrunch's story. They use unnamed sources and a screenshot of an email with all identifying information blacked out (geez, that could never be forged) as hard evidence that this happened. I'm not saying last.fm didn't release data, but in my book TechCrunch hasn't produced any credible evidence.

I'd also like to know why TechCrunch has been deleting all comments that attempt to discuss issues with their reporting on this story. Let the truth come out!

Re:Can you trust TechCrunch's story? (1)

norz (921296) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071831)

With Techcrunch censoring the comments, I lost any faith I could have in this website. If they deal with constructive criticism by deleting and filtering the comments, how can they be trusted?

For those who want examples, check the related last.fm thread: http://www.last.fm/forum/21717/_/535934/7#f9522786 [www.last.fm]

Since following this story, I haven't seen any signs of last.fm censoring the discussions on their site.

Why tell the truth when a Lie will do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28071833)

This ladies and gentlemen is why one always uses a fake id [fakenamegenerator.com] and a throw away [mailinator.com] email account when any Internet service requires login.

It comes down to this: (5, Informative)

shark72 (702619) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071839)

Who do you trust more... Michael Arrington, or Russ Garrett?

Russ' rebuttal is here [www.last.fm] . He's no PR flack... he's one of the founders and one of the original developers of Audioscrobbler.

It's very interesting that so many Slashdotters are taking the Techcrunch report at face value. Given Mr. Arrington's history with regard to responsible journalism, I'm with Russ on this one.

Arrington has last.fm in his sights for some reason. Somebody pointed out that TechCrunch takes advertising money from a last.fm competitor. I don't think it's as simple as that, but Arrington has an agenda here, and I don't think it's the noble pursuit of truth.

Does it really matter? (3, Insightful)

whiledo (1515553) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071899)

Does it really matter if it was CBS, the owner of last.fm, that did it, even though the people who run last.fm might not have done it if asked? They're still the same company, just a different level. If my boss decides to put some DRM in our new game that sniffs around on your machine and sends it back your data to our servers, do you really give a crap that the Jeff the leader coder thought it was a sucky idea?

This whole idea that they're not the same thing is a farce. It's just sleight of hand to get you to feel good about a company that you would never have given a chance if it was directly marketed by parent company Evil, Incorporated.

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