In which last.fm hands over scrobble data to the RIAA. Maybe.
February 20, 2009 3:20 PM   Subscribe

In which last.fm hands over listening data about leaked albums to the RIAA. Maybe.
posted by NoraReed (81 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
"I heard from an irate friend who works at CBS..."

Apparently an anonymous tip is enough evidence to write an entire story. I doubt any of this is true.
posted by knguyen at 3:23 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wondered whether something like this might happen, but... damn, do all the cool websites I use have to start being evil?
Next thing we know mathowie's going to be reporting all our tales of youthful indiscretion to the appropriate authorities, for a fee of course.

(not at all a U2 fan)
posted by dunkadunc at 3:25 PM on February 20, 2009


I don't get it. Anyone can see who listened to a particular track.

I don't know why the RIAA even needs to talk to last.fm to get this info. Telling anyone and everyone who cares to know what must you've been listening to is the whole point of last.fm.
posted by aubilenon at 3:26 PM on February 20, 2009 [8 favorites]


er, what music you've been listening to
posted by aubilenon at 3:27 PM on February 20, 2009


"As a result, word is going around that the RIAA asked social music service Last.fm for data about its user’s listening habits to find people with unreleased tracks on their computers."

How does that work, exactly?
posted by jabberjaw at 3:28 PM on February 20, 2009


Scrobblers who listen to unreleased albums? Every last one of 'em is a college radio DJ and/or music reviewer.
posted by carsonb at 3:28 PM on February 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wait, I thought RIAA was abandoning the mass lawsuits.
posted by naju at 3:29 PM on February 20, 2009


I'm inclined to take this with the same grain of salt as knguyen, but, true or not, a story of this nature can really hurt the service's popularity. A lot of my friends won't join me on Last.fm for fear of this exact thing.
posted by churl at 3:30 PM on February 20, 2009


I don't get it. Anyone can see who listened to a particular track.
Anyone can see that user trainwreck43 listened to a particular track.

Not everyone can correlate that username to an IP address somewhere in Midland, Texas.
posted by Flunkie at 3:30 PM on February 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Last.fm is helping the RIAA?

BRB, deleting last.fm account.
posted by mullingitover at 3:30 PM on February 20, 2009


I'm sad that I'm not interested in listening to the new U2 album - even for free.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:33 PM on February 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Guys, it's a "maybe". Give it, like, 30 seconds to get confirmation before you go baleeting everything.
posted by NoraReed at 3:34 PM on February 20, 2009


Eh, after last week's Facebook snafu, my last name is Murderface just in case.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:35 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


But most probably never even considered it a possibility that individually identifiable information about their listening habits (legal, illegal, or otherwise) could be handed over to an organization known for taking consumers to court for file-sharing.

Illegal listening habits.
Illegal touching habits.
Illegal tasting habits.
Illegal watching habits.
Illegal smelling habits.
Illegal thinking habits.
posted by carsonb at 3:36 PM on February 20, 2009 [12 favorites]


NoraReedPoster: "Guys, it's a "maybe". Give it, like, 30 seconds to get confirmation before you go baleeting everything."

Give it 30 minutes for some confirmation before you go posting everything.
posted by Science! at 3:38 PM on February 20, 2009 [9 favorites]


Non-issue for me, because: 1) I don't use Last.fm, and 2) I don't have any pirated songs.
posted by orthogonality at 3:40 PM on February 20, 2009


Yeah, their scrobbler software has annoyed me for a while (especially because of its unintended side effect of making me embarrassed to listen to lame '80s metal), so I keep turning it off. Now I'll just uninstall it. Not a very useful service anyway, except for showing off, I guess.
posted by nasreddin at 3:40 PM on February 20, 2009


My friend was telling me about how he signed up for some similar service back in the pre-Audioscrobbler days that would put your recently listened tracks in your forum signatures or somesuch. The problem with this software was that if you were watching a video called "XXX Extra Hot Nipple Snakes Banned in New York" that's what would show up in said forum signatures.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:44 PM on February 20, 2009


There's no way that this could be considered proof though, amirite? If I'm listening to song X that is tagged as song Y, it's song Y that goes up on Last.fm.
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:44 PM on February 20, 2009


@Science!
Fair point.
posted by NoraReed at 3:44 PM on February 20, 2009


Is this something you'd need to break the law to understand?
posted by netbros at 3:45 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


ARREST THEM ALL!
posted by zsazsa at 3:45 PM on February 20, 2009


netbros: "Is this something you'd need to break the law to understand?"

Yes. If you have nothing to hide, why would you need privacy?
posted by mullingitover at 3:48 PM on February 20, 2009 [7 favorites]


Um, last.fm is owned by CBS. They're not "helping" the RIAA; they are the RIAA.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:52 PM on February 20, 2009 [8 favorites]


Lemurrhea brings up a great point. Last year, I pulled off an April Fools' prank by retagging mp3s and "leaking" a fake version of Death Cab's new album. (MTV article/video on the prank -- having my blog called out by John Norris was pretty neat.)

The last.fm page for the intro track lit up, and this was a couple months before the album actually came out. I guess they'd have to have the timing of tracks down, but even then it's privy to questionable evidence.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 4:09 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sys Rq - are you sure? No CBS, but there are a few Columbias listed on their Members list. RIAA Radar has mixed results.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:11 PM on February 20, 2009


There's a kinda-official denial up in the comments for the Techcrunch story as well as on the last.fm forum thread about this, but it's somewhat a moot point as Sys Rq points out.
posted by mullingitover at 4:13 PM on February 20, 2009


Since U2 probably leaked the album themselves, would they be sued by the RIAA?
posted by chococat at 4:18 PM on February 20, 2009


People getting arrested for listening to U2? What's wrong with that?
posted by tapeguy at 4:19 PM on February 20, 2009 [11 favorites]


I say they release the names, so we can shame those who still listen to U2.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 4:19 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's no way that this could be considered proof though, amirite? .

No, Mr. ARRRRRRR I-A-A lawyer, you've got it all (chuckle) wrong. See, I regularly tag (hahaha) my songs as pirated music. ARRRRR.


---
Sure, it's plausible either way, but do you think the RIAA cares? Like they say, it's still innocent until proven guilty, but the innocent are being treated a lot differently these days. The RIAA can cause a lot of trouble without much "evidence".
Assuming, of course, any of this happened.
posted by niles at 4:21 PM on February 20, 2009


"Typically, I avoid RIAA material, stuff that can violate copyright laws," Holeyman added. "And I plan on doing a joke like this every year, because people will continually fall for it."

CWAH: well played. It reminded me of the Boards of Canada fake leak, and all those atrociously renamed tracks credited to Moby or Aphex Twin that float around (the latter spoofed the fakes in his Drukqs press release), but more interesting.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:22 PM on February 20, 2009


Writing demonizing articles based on rumors, which are themselves "gotten" from anonymous sources, is damn irresponsible journalism.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:27 PM on February 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


They played that U2 crap all day on XRT, who cares? Last gasps of a dying industry.

They should find a real job.
posted by Max Power at 4:33 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Post on the Techcrunch site from RJ, one of the founders of Last.fm.

Crossrefrenced here to confirm identity.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:35 PM on February 20, 2009


All that AudioScrobbler for Winamp passes, as far as the log indicates, is title and track. Hardly proof of anything, especially compared to the song signatures they were using for positive identification in the P2P suits.
posted by VulcanMike at 4:37 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


knguyen: ""I heard from an irate friend who works at CBS..."

Apparently an anonymous tip is enough evidence to write an entire story. I doubt any of this is true.
"

Or at least that anyone will be prosecuted because of it. It's really, really vague evidence and would never hold up in a court. Last.fm doesn't even validate tracks based on MD5 signatures or anything of the sort. The policy of its tracking system is basically: "if the tag fits!"
posted by tybeet at 4:56 PM on February 20, 2009


Last.fm says this is totally untrue.
posted by Pants! at 4:57 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


filthy light thief: You may be right! First there was Columbia Records, then its offshoot CBS Records, both of which were taken over by Sony. Just recently the real CBS (formerly Viacom) "revived" the CBS Records name. So, it seems the CBS that owns last.fm may indeed not be an RIAA member. Still, the accusations in the article shouldn't come as much of a surprise.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:02 PM on February 20, 2009


"Non-issue for me, because: 1) I don't use Last.fm, and 2) I don't have any pirated songs."

Dude, you're totally missing out.

On pirated music. It's pretty sweet.

Last.Fm is OK too, but it's not a perfect listen log.
posted by klangklangston at 5:09 PM on February 20, 2009


klangklangston: ""Dude, you're totally missing out."


- Hey, Lisa... "Racing From Belmont"? Horsies!

- Sorry, I'd rather go to heaven.

posted by Joe Beese at 5:14 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


From the post by RJ @: "Techcrunch is full of shit, film at 11."

Heh. Most accurate statement in this entire thread. Any time I see a Techcrunch article about "rumors" related to companies I work / have worked for, it's wrong.
posted by wildcrdj at 5:30 PM on February 20, 2009


I've used last.fm for ages to track my listening habits. It is getting less and less useful for me. Local Events no longer work (for some reason those London boys have decided that Wolverhampton is Birmingham - not something I think either city is in favour of). I haven't been able to get the new install Mediamonkey on my new desktop to scrobble and of course as with any interface between two pieces of software the fault is always with "the other". The recommendations haven't led me to any new music in more than a year.

All in all, Last.fm is quickly sliding into the "can't be bothered" category for me. It just doesn't provide me with any value in exchange for my data and setup time. It's a shame because it has a lot of potential but i think they are focused on ordinary users rather than people who want statistically driven behaviour based recommendations of new music that not just conform to my tastes but also shift my tastes.
posted by srboisvert at 5:34 PM on February 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Dude, you're totally missing out.

On pirated music. It's pretty sweet.


3 hours to download some songs with W3iRd sP3lL1nGz
5 hours to rename them all and fix the ID3 tags
20 minutes deleting 90% of it that turned out to be crap that someone misnamed for giggles

Pirated music is a waste of time. I don't mind spending money to get the actual tracks as advertised and not end up with 40 gig of hardcore thrash polka instead of something to which I'd actually like to listen. I don't have eleventy million gig of music that way, it's true, but I know that every track is exactly what was advertised.

Lawn, kids, etc.
posted by winna at 5:38 PM on February 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Which is fucking stupider, scrobbler/scrobbling or memeosphere?
posted by fixedgear at 5:46 PM on February 20, 2009


srb: Over in the MM beta forums there's a release of 3.1 and a scrobbler extension.
posted by flatluigi at 5:48 PM on February 20, 2009


"Pirated music is a waste of time."

Private trackers with standards, etc. Most of the music for sale online is inferior in quality to what's available for free.
posted by mullingitover at 5:52 PM on February 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


Cool. Last.fm does have a "Delete account" button.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:54 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Since this has been debunked can we remove this post? It seems unfair to have a FPP that is, in essence, a false accusation, especially since many Metafilter users read the link and then don't read the comments debunking it.

kthxbi
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:07 PM on February 20, 2009 [7 favorites]


srb: Over in the MM beta forums there's a release of 3.1 and a scrobbler extension.

I saw that last week. Didn't help and like I said - last.fm isn't worth my effort anymore. I don't even care if they are giving out my data (I already give it away and see that as half the point of last.fm so what do I care?). What I won't give away anymore is my time without getting something in return.

BTW mediamonkey's support forums are like XBMC forums. Useful if you are one of the developers or are willing to devote a long time getting to understand how the software is designed but not useful for people who just want to set something up and ignore it.

The words "support forum" cause a shiver of fear similar to a phone call from my parents that starts with "We are having trouble with out computer". Those words mean my enjoyable life span just got shortened.
posted by srboisvert at 6:14 PM on February 20, 2009


I don't mind spending money to get the actual tracks as advertised and not end up with 40 gig of hardcore thrash polka instead

winna, I will gladly take any and all hardcore thrash polka off your hands. Please let me know next time you download some.

... oom-pa-pa oom-pa-pa muthafuckin'-oom-pa-pa oom-pa-pa ...
posted by barnacles at 6:16 PM on February 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wait, where do I download hardcore thrash polka?
posted by giraffe at 6:17 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


The RIAA might sue more people? THERE'S NO REASON TO LIVE!
posted by ALongDecember at 6:20 PM on February 20, 2009


3 hours to download some songs with W3iRd sP3lL1nGz
5 hours to rename them all and fix the ID3 tags
20 minutes deleting 90% of it that turned out to be crap that someone misnamed for giggles


hahahaha what kind of crazy thing that isn't the internet are you on
posted by fleetmouse at 6:21 PM on February 20, 2009 [23 favorites]


For what it's worth, the 'TechCrunch is full of shit' line spiced up with some rather more fruity observations is what's rattling through the CBS intrawebz, if sources are to be believed. And they are.

Looks like they bought 'emselves some bad karma.
posted by Devonian at 6:31 PM on February 20, 2009


3 hours to download some songs with W3iRd sP3lL1nGz
5 hours to rename them all and fix the ID3 tags
20 minutes deleting 90% of it that turned out to be crap that someone misnamed for giggles


She must still be using Napster.
posted by alligatorman at 6:34 PM on February 20, 2009


OK! *pant* I wiped all my hard drives, flushed my mp3 player *gasp* down the toilet and smashed my dsl modem! *cough* Now what?!


this may not be real? say what?
posted by orme at 6:38 PM on February 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


But most probably never even considered it a possibility that individually identifiable information about their listening habits (legal, illegal, or otherwise) could be handed over to an organization known for taking consumers to court for file-sharing.

To be fair, most people are morons.
posted by dhammond at 6:46 PM on February 20, 2009


Apparently I was using limewire in the wrong way, then. Alack! I am too old to learn new tricks.

I was thinking of klezmer (which is not really 'hardcore') when I wrote that, but you might enjoy Slavic Soul Party, or one of my favorite klezmer ensembles, Isle of Klezbos.
posted by winna at 6:53 PM on February 20, 2009


Any way you use limewire is the wrong way.
posted by flatluigi at 7:10 PM on February 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Winna, if you like Slavic Soul Party you should check out Fishtank Ensemble.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 7:32 PM on February 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


U2 is not this stupid.
posted by R. Mutt at 7:37 PM on February 20, 2009


Any time I see a Techcrunch article about "rumors" related to companies I work / have worked for, it's wrong.

Same here. Nearly always wrong about my company unless it's explicitly sourced.
posted by flaterik at 7:43 PM on February 20, 2009


Apparently an anonymous tip is enough evidence to write an entire story.

An anonymous tip is better sourcing than half of the crap Techcrunch writes. Seriously, that site is taken way more seriously than it should be. Some of their stories are good inside information that comes out early via rumour. Some are totally wrong or the product of someone's personal agenda. The problem is, as a reader, you can't tell which are which. I fear the editors of Techcrunch can't, either.

Techcrunch is pretty clear that what they do isn't journalism. OK, fine, but the site is the worst example of what it means for a blog to be confused by its readers with actual journalism. I wonder if Techcrunch even considered contacting last.fm for their side before running the blog post.
posted by Nelson at 7:47 PM on February 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


anyone leaking U2 records deserves to be nailed against the wall.
i mean, can't you wait to be disappointed? didn't you have step-parents?
posted by es_de_bah at 8:07 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Which is fucking stupider, scrobbler/scrobbling or memeosphere?

Scrobbling reminds me of the sound that crustaceans make against the side of a pot of boiling water, which makes me think that lobsters and crabs could be renamed scrobblers. "Memeopshere" reminds me of a ball of old blue-inked junior high-school social studies exams. So definitely "memeosphere" is way fucking stupider and much less delicious.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:22 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Where's Negativeland when you need them?
posted by jonp72 at 8:25 PM on February 20, 2009


Secretly the RIAA are just looking to punish people who listen to U2. Which I support.
posted by opsin at 8:28 PM on February 20, 2009


Sadly, "Get On Your Boots" sucks. It's like "Zooropa" all over again. Can't imagine trying to seek out the rest of the album.
posted by jbickers at 9:18 PM on February 20, 2009


Apparently an anonymous tip is enough evidence to write an entire story. I doubt any of this is true.

You and Richard Nixon. Do you have any idea how journalism actually works? The use of anonymous sources, often single ones is endemic. That's how most information about the government's activities gets out. The tipster isn't anonymous to the reporter, they make a judgment about the trustworthiness of the source, and then run with it. You have to judge the trustworthiness of the source, and Techcrunch may not be that great.

3 hours to download some songs with W3iRd sP3lL1nGz
5 hours to rename them all and fix the ID3 tags
20 minutes deleting 90% of it that turned out to be crap that someone misnamed for giggles


Uh, you're doin' it wrong.
posted by delmoi at 11:24 PM on February 20, 2009


God this U2 Album sounds like someone somehow took all their other albums and averaged them together.
posted by delmoi at 12:20 AM on February 21, 2009


Techcrunch posted an unsubstantiated rumour which looks like it's a complete load of horseshit. What's worse it that they deliberately posted after closing time Friday London time, potentially giving the rumour two whole days to run without any official statement from the company.

Instead, the Last.FM boys end up having to start debunking at 11pm on a friday night. That's just dirty pool, man.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:21 AM on February 21, 2009


delmoi: "You and Richard Nixon. Do you have any idea how journalism actually works? The use of anonymous sources, often single ones is endemic. That's how most information about the government's activities gets out. The tipster isn't anonymous to the reporter, they make a judgment about the trustworthiness of the source, and then run with it. You have to judge the trustworthiness of the source, and Techcrunch may not be that great."

You're missing out the whole "fact check, investigate, look for corroboration, question those implicated for their side" process before publication...

Dropping out of college halfway though a Journalism 101 course doesn't qualify you to start sentences with "Do you have any idea..?" on the Internet...
posted by benzo8 at 12:55 AM on February 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


OK! *pant* I wiped all my hard drives, flushed my mp3 player *gasp* down the toilet and smashed my dsl modem! *cough* Now what?!

You must now smash your laptop into pieces small enough to be consumed.

Proceed with consumption.

It is also advisable that you murder any human beings close enough to have overheard previously mentioned smashy smashy.
posted by mannequito at 7:49 AM on February 21, 2009


MTV is in the RIAA, and both last.fm and MTV are owned by Sumner Redstone.

But no, this probably isn't true.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:57 AM on February 21, 2009


3 hours to cruise downtown looking for hookers.
5 hours to wake up in the alley with all my money gone.
20 hours waiting in the hospital to get some stitches.

Sex is a waste of time.
posted by pyramid termite at 9:33 AM on February 21, 2009 [6 favorites]


3 hours to cruise downtown looking for hookers.
5 hours to wake up in the alley with all my money gone.
20 hours waiting in the hospital to get some stitches.


Home delivery: priceless.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:36 AM on February 21, 2009



Wait, where do I download hardcore thrash polka?

Go get yourself some Finntroll!
posted by Dark Messiah at 11:58 AM on February 21, 2009


Last.fm's official blog response: Techcrunch are full of shit.
posted by Nelson at 9:33 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nelson: Last.fm's official blog response: Techcrunch are full of shit.

I was just coming here to post this. Great response and I love the graph.
posted by flatluigi at 10:29 AM on February 23, 2009


Techcrunch is so amazingly full of shit that there's nothing left. Just a big pile of shit, and a web server.
posted by Pants! at 6:45 AM on February 25, 2009


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