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Last.fm Strongly Denies Sharing Data With RIAA 122

Posted by kdawson
from the he-said-she-said dept.
bonch writes "Last.fm and CBS vehemently deny sharing any user data with the RIAA, contrary to previous reports. One anonymous party calls it 'irresponsible journalism,' and Last.fm goes so far as to suggest it is a target of slander. Carla Duckworth of the RIAA confirmed, 'We've made no such request for this information.'"
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Last.fm Strongly Denies Sharing Data With RIAA

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @12:56PM (#28185187)

    "Thanks for the good idea!"

  • From the Article: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by InMSWeAntitrust (994158) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @12:58PM (#28185205)

    This all leaves us in the same place we were in Februaryâ"with a slew of accusations, a handful of denials, and zero evidence.

    That's what happens when you believe rumors.

    • by SomeJoel (1061138) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @01:01PM (#28185243)
      Rumors are almost always more entertaining than the truth. And that's why we read slashdot, right?
      • by InMSWeAntitrust (994158) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @01:20PM (#28185501)
        I read slashdot to stay informed of current events in the tech world, and I want the articles to which it links to have factual accuracy and to be researched. This accusation sounds a lot like the wrong person twittered the right thing and now the people involved are knocking some sense into us.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by cbiltcliffe (186293)

          Not to mention that the RIAA's wording "We've made no such request for this information." means precisely squat as to whether they have that information.

          Sure....they didn't ask for it. But that doesn't mean they didn't receive it.

          Don't think about what PR departments say; think about what they _don't_ say. Why exactly did the RIAA word it that way? If they didn't have that information, they would say: "We don't have that information, and never did."

          Yes, I'm cynical. But with an organization like the RIAA

          • The original story was that they had requested the info, so them saying they have not actually has significance in this case.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Don't think about what PR departments say; think about what they _don't_ say. Why exactly did the RIAA word it that way?

            -Exactly-! Why would the RIAA say "We've made no such request for this information." when they could have said "We've made no such request for this information, and neither has the Unified Reptoid Conspiracy which controls us." As it stands now, they've pretty clearly used their carefully crafted lawyer speak to completely leave out any mention of the vast network of cold-blooded alien masters lurking in the shadows. Frankly, that makes me a little suspicious.

            • Ok, I may be cynical, but you're just downright paranoid....

            • by khchung (462899)

              No, what RIAA did not say is "We did not receive such information from CBS nor Last.fm". Which would be a clear answer that any PR person would know can absolute stop any rumors.

              "made no such request" could mean they have made other kind of request but only received the data given, or it could mean they did not request but CBS volunteered the data to them.

              The fact that RIAA PR did not opt for a crystal clear answer is a good indication that they have received something from CBS/Last.fm.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            They also didn't say they didn't ask for any information. What if they asked for less, last.fm gave them more, and they proceeded to do evil with the information? The statement would still be factual, yet they would have every bit of data.

            • Re:From the Article: (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Allicorn (175921) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @08:18PM (#28190547) Homepage
              Whilst I must salute some quality semantic pedantry there - hats off! - if you read the extensive statements, blog posts and forum messages of the Last.fm team in response to this issue you'll see that there is no "wiggle room" in their wording. They have emphatically denied this in absolutely every sense that some data might have gone somewhere.

              So, Last.fm have denied it. CBS have denied it. The RIAA have denied it.

              TechCrunch have provided no evidence of any kind. What they have come out with is a long-running stream of unsupported, often transparently vitriolic whinges, whines and allegations about Last.fm with never a scrap of evidence or a hint at how they'd have access to it if there ever were any.

              Add to that the fact that the original allegation makes no sense anyway since scrobbler data (containing a list of the track- & artist-name ID3 tags of the media files you've played... tags which are freely editable) would seem to be of no value as either evidence of "theft" or probable cause for further discovery of evidence. This data doesn't say where the track name came from - only that you played a media file with that label. Bought/resold/leant/borrowed/mislabelled... the genuine explanations are endless and nothing in the data should be grounds for any suspicion of "piracy".

              What you end up with is a picture that seems to suggest there's whilst there's definitely a lying douchebag of RIAA-standard involved in this story... it's probably not the RIAA for once.
              • TechCrunch have provided no evidence of any kind. What they have come out with is a long-running stream of unsupported, often transparently vitriolic whinges, whines and allegations about Last.fm with never a scrap of evidence or a hint at how they'd have access to it if there ever were any.

                Completely agree.

                Add to that the fact that the original allegation makes no sense anyway since scrobbler data (containing a list of the track- & artist-name ID3 tags of the media files you've played... tags which are freely editable) would seem to be of no value as either evidence of "theft" or probable cause for further discovery of evidence. This data doesn't say where the track name came from - only that you played a media file with that label. Bought/resold/leant/borrowed/mislabelled... the genuine explanations are endless and nothing in the data should be grounds for any suspicion of "piracy".

                Completely disagree.

                Anyone with scrobbler data for music that hadn't been officially released (GnR Chinese Democracy for about 6 months prior to publication) or has only leaked in limited quantities (such as the U2 album that was actually sold something like 16 times online before the store realized their error) is going to be highly suspicious. In the US at least the MAFIAA has been able to get even more laws passed regarding the piracy of unpublished works - they really came down hard on

                • That only proves that I know what the names of the tracks are. That's hardly a crime.

                  Having Jean Sibelius - Symphony No. 8 [wikipedia.org] scrobbled on my account does not mean I've mysteriously found an intact version of the manuscript and singlehandedly recorded the lost symphony. It means I know how to edit ID3 tags.

                  • by johny42 (1087173)

                    That only proves that I know what the names of the tracks are. That's hardly a crime.

                    Of course. But if the RIAA is deciding who to investigate (and hopefully sue) next, guess who they'll choose—a guy (who seems to be) listening to ten old albums periodically, or a guy with a new album twice a day, usually a few weeks before the album's release.

                    Of course nothing of this proves anything, but it is a valuable information for RIAA nonetheles.

              • by Alsee (515537)

                scrobbler data [] would seem to be of no value as either evidence of "theft" or probable cause for further discovery of evidence.

                You are wrong about the law. You are confusing "beyond reasonable doubt evidence in CRIMINAL court" with the infinitely lower "51% probable standard to win a civil case", and the even lower standard of "we are suing someone and we have reason to SUSPECT they MIGHT have information relevant to the case in their possession, so the judge is issuing a subpoena for that information for

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

            As to Last.fm's statements that they've given that information to noone?

            Today the RIAA announced that Richard Noone Esq. has been promoted to head of the copyright enforcement division.

          • by bonch (38532)

            Not to mention that the RIAA's wording "We've made no such request for this information." means precisely squat as to whether they have that information.

            The original story said that they requested the information, so it is relevant.

            Sure....they didn't ask for it. But that doesn't mean they didn't receive it.

            By that logic, there isn't any proof that the Obama administration isn't the puppet of an evil race of reptilian aliens living deep beneath the earth's crust.

            • By that logic, there isn't any proof that the Obama administration isn't the puppet of an evil race of reptilian aliens living deep beneath the earth's crust.

              That's the difference between not saying something in a specific context, and not saying anything at all.

              Me not saying "I'm not from Pluto" doesn't mean I'm probably from Pluto.

              But a lawyer/PR drone for a corporation not saying "We don't have that information" in response to a specific situation where they've been accused of asking for and receiving that information, speaks volumes.

    • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @01:12PM (#28185389)
      This all leaves us in the same place we were in February—"with a slew of accusations, a handful of denials, and zero evidence.

      Wait a second. Are we talking about the TechCrunch accusations or the RIAA's lawsuits here?
    • by luk3Z (1009143)
      I think this last.fm reply after so "long" time is too overall and suspicious.
  • by Tanktalus (794810) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @01:01PM (#28185239) Journal

    I wasn't so sure before, but when the RIAA denies even making the request, well, now I'm paranoid. Methinks [they] doth protest too much.

    • Oh, come on. Why would they go through the trouble and risk causing a public stir while they can just continue to sit on P2P networks and go fishin'? And before anybody cries "MediaSentry", remember that one need not hack your box to get your i.p. address.
      • Oh, come on. Why would they go through the trouble and risk causing a public stir while they can just continue to sit on P2P networks and go fishin'? And before anybody cries "MediaSentry", remember that one need not hack your box to get your i.p. address.

        1) They want a public stir. That's the point of their anti-piracy campaign. Scaring 10000 file sharers doesn't do much when there are a fifty million other sharers in the same country who don't notice the stir.

        2) The lawsuits haven't slowed piracy.

        3) Even if they had slowed piracy, the only metric by which the recording industry measures anti-piracy success is through their sales. Yes, they've been ridiculously high during the recession, but that doesn't mean they think they're high enough.

  • Sure! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @01:03PM (#28185257)

    Like the company is going to come right out and tell people.... "we fuckin sold you out to make a quick buck! hahahahaha!"

    Is it logical that the RIAA would want that data? Yup. Would CBS really cooperate with them? Yup.

    I have no problem believing they really did it. And have no problem believing that they would LIE about it. Both are really in their best intrests.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      What exactly do you want Last.fm to do? TechCrunch accused them of sharing data, they denied doing such a thing. It's up to TechCrunch to prove it (and no, anonymous emails are not proof) Until TC comes up with some real proof I'm siding with Last.fm on this one
    • Re:Sure! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @03:00PM (#28186865)

      Suddenly, everyone accused of rape fits the bill too!

      Is it logical that Tom would rape the supermodel Tina? Yup. Would her friend Sheri cooperate with the police? Yup.

      I have no problem believing Tom really did it. And have no problem believing he would LIE about it. It's really in his best interest.

      With your logic there's no way for Last.fm to win. Simply because they were accused of it, and because the accusation was plausible, they are guilty. I know these are liberal times and all, but let's not jump the gun.

    • Can the RIAA ever be said to have "confirmed" anything when we pretty much assume that everything they say is a lie?

  • by Renderer of Evil (604742) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @01:03PM (#28185259) Homepage

    From TechCrunch? I refuse to believe that.

  • Uhm... (Score:4, Funny)

    by agnosticanarch (105861) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @01:06PM (#28185283) Homepage

    What's a Duckworth?

  • Even consider "sharing" info with the Recording Arse of America?

    Stuff the RIArseA & others, I don't buy retail music anymore, haven't for about 6 years. I have an extensive vinyl, tape & CD library - some in triplicate, i.e. the same album on tape, vinyl & CD (yep, I'm an idiot) but I stopped buying new when the labels started taking legal action against their own customers.

    I do still buy 2nd hand at flea markets & boot sales, but that's by the by.

    Stuff 'em I say, tossers they are, to
    • Why would last.fm, a UK based site

      Which was bought by CBS, an American company, 2 years ago.

      • Oops, sorry, should have checked first. Foot meet mouth.

        Still, my second point is still valid (until someone else points out more of my failings) :^)
    • by selven (1556643)
      It's the "Recording Industry Ass. of America". Learn your abbreviations, you M$ shill.
      • Can't think for yourself eh sonny? You've just cribbed directly from El Reg.

        Recording industry donkey (equus asinas)
        Recording industry rectum

        I prefer mine :-)
  • ...Industrial Espionage?

    Many users may not trust Last.fm after this, regardless of its validity. And we know that many more people have no trust for the RIAA. All things considered, this may have driven much traffic to other similar sites (even with the Streisand Effect) thus providing other sites a chance to increase revenue.

    While this may not be the most likely cause, it is something to consider and contemplate, while making sure one doesn't go too far down the tinfoil hat road.

    For further reading
    • I think the general masses won't really care. They will see this and wonder what if any damage would be done if they did share the info. They will continue to use last.fm because they know it and it is familiar.
    • by DieNadel (550271)

      Screw Last.fm. Grooveshark [grooveshark.com] has a much better offer, is less anal-retentive and is much more accessible than Last.fm. If only they would provide a plugin for Songbird [getsongbird.com] (or a decent API so someone could make it), they would have a killer internet radio.

      • weird, I entered 10 artists I listen to regularly and none of them showed up on GrooveShark, none. So much for "... any song in the world. For free". I'll take last.fm with access to all ten of those artists, thanks
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @01:12PM (#28185391)

    The RIAA says that they didn't request the data, but note that there is no denial that they received it.

    • by putch (469506) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @01:53PM (#28185965) Homepage

      yeah also note that cbs/last.fm only deny handing over "user info" which is seems like a carefully constructed statement. how exactly do they define "user info?" it implies that they have handed over some info.

      • by spyka (1127127)
        Well TechCrunch said they handed over IPs, so that would be classed as user info would it not? Hence, if they are denying sending user info they are denying the allegations made against them Last.fm DO, and OPENLY admit to sharing some data with record companies - just read their blog posts - nothing personal of course, just statistical information
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Nova77 (613150)

        http://www.last.fm/forum/21717/_/535934/8#f9525592 [www.last.fm]

        * We've been in communication with CBS and they deny that they gave any third party any of our user data.

        Also note that a lot of "user info" has always been available through feeds.

      • by HTH NE1 (675604)

        Spokespeople talk at carefully constructed cross purposes.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by bonch (38532)

        The original stories accused them of handing over user data, or personally identifiable data, to the RIAA, so that is what they are denying handing over. Nothing about it "implies that they have handed over some info." You're the one making that assumption for your own reasons. Only on Slashdot could an emphatic denial of something that nobody had any proof of in the first place somehow "imply" that it's in some way true. Sigh.

    • by dotgain (630123)
      They actually did say more that wasn't quoted in the blurb. See here [arstechnica.com]

      "[We're] not sure where that rumor came from," RIAA spokesperson Cara Duckworth told Ars on Saturday. "It's not true."

    • Nor did RIAA receive the data from Last.fm. They received it from the intermediary that received it from Last.fm.
    • by bonch (38532)

      Other than Last.fm strongly denying that they shared anything, of course. But let's ignore that part and continue spreading the rumor through anonymous coward posts on Slashdot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @01:23PM (#28185541)

    I'm an ex-Slashdot employee, ex-astronaut, and ex-president of the Hair Club for Men, and two weeks ago CmdrTaco gave Microsoft the posting history along with IPs, email addresses, favorite colors, your FICO score, and if you like pouring hot grits down your pants for the Bing search engine.

    I'm anonymous, on the Internet, and have no actually proof, so it has to be 100% true! Now is the time to over-react and proclaim you are quitting Slashdot.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by machine321 (458769)

      I'm quitting Slashdot.

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by geekboy642 (799087)

      Not only am I quitting Slashdot, I'm forming a massive and poorly-written network of interlinking blogs all supporting this exact story!

    • by MikeURL (890801)
      Before we get too worked up about "poor CBS" or "poor RIAA" we might want to remember why people are so willing to believe this anonymous Techcrunch story in the first place.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The reason this story is so hurtful to them is because the ONLY thing keeping your privacy safe is them deciding whether or not to violate it.

    They do not deny having all of this information, or being owned by someone you dont want to have this information. Whether or not they've yet to breach that tiny little divide is irrelevant as long as the potential is there.

  • ... I can't help but to wonder if the RIAA is scraping the data and Last.fm is letting it slide.
  • "Share"! As if Last.fm would give such valuable data away for free.

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @01:48PM (#28185885) Homepage

    So, who do I trust more:

    1. The RIAA PR person, the CBS PR person, and the Last.fm PR person.
    -- or --
    2. A completely unverifiable source who may have an axe to grind or other nefarious motive for completely fabricating the story.

    Frankly, it's a tough call.

    • ... They claim that they can't distinguish between streamed music and music from your collection. That would make sense unless they planned to rat out users with illegal collections. It seems a lot of trouble to go through and makes little sense to me...
    • by pbhj (607776)

      So, who do I trust more:

      1. The RIAA PR person, the CBS PR person, and the Last.fm PR person.
      -- or --
      2. A completely unverifiable source who may have an axe to grind or other nefarious motive for completely fabricating the story.

      Frankly, it's a tough call.

      Well at least now CBS have started libel proceedings against TC the truth will come out in court. Oh wait.

      Now what possible reason might the CBS have for believing they could fail in court, after all TC is all just scurrilous lies ....

  • by meehawl (73285) <meehawl@spam.gmail@com> on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @03:40PM (#28187445) Homepage Journal

    Pandora's main competition for mindshare is Last.FM. There's also a bit of a US/EU rivalry, with Pandora so strongly identified with the US and, with the Valley in particular, while Last.FM came out of a Euro milieu. I think I've noticed a very pro-Pandora coverage pattern at TechCrunch. Lots of the "Web 2 - Me Too" AdSense spam sites, sorry, gadget/tech blogs, take cues from TechCrunch, and among the iPhone-toting, US-centric crowd, Pandora is a darling.

    Before I'd believe anything TechCrunch said about Last.FM, I'd want to know more about the personal and financial connections between the people running TechCrunch and the people running Pandora.

    Personally, I've tried Pandora every years and it fails, epically, to even know about many of the artists I am interested in hearing [www.last.fm]. Plus, Pandora's Flash interface is just aggravating, user-hostile, and screams hipster-designer-marketroid-douchbags-in-control.

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      I'll admit, I don't follow this sort of crap any more, Last.FM seems really silly to me, but to each his own, it makes FAR more sense than twitter.

      But ... WTF is Pandora? I'm an American and I know what last.fm is, I have no clue what Pandora is off the top of my head. I do now of course because of what I can infer from your comment and the quick google I did, but my point to all this rambling is that I don't think Pandora is more well known in the US than last.fm. Of course, I am but one man and hardly

    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @05:07PM (#28188707) Journal
      FWIW, the Valley is a small place. One of Arrington's first interviews was Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora.

      There doesn't need to be any fiduciary interest on Arrington's part, familiarity with Pandora might be all it takes to make him favor Pandora.

      And also, not sure where you're getting the concept of a big rivalry between Pandora and Last.fm. I've observed no such thing... just that people use what they are comfortable with. Maybe there're fanboys sprouting up, but I think you're overanalyzing.

      IMO, Arrington's just a twit. Twits exist independently of financial arrangements.
      • Maybe incipient twittery could enable a person to be easily swayed by a "source" that has twice failed to produce anything beyond stern denials. I'd love to see this story go somewhere else because, if true, it would be juicy. But so far *nobody* else has managed to verify anything of what TechCrunch has claimed. Given the leakage quotient in SV, the lack of confirmation weighs heavily against the veracity of the story. It's making me file this TechCrunch "exclusive" in the same slushpile that I use for any [google.com]

    • IIRC.. wasn't Pandora blocked for non US-IPs? Would explain the rivalry. Or rather the ignorance.

    • Pandora's main competition for mindshare is Last.FM. There's also a bit of a US/EU rivalry, with Pandora so strongly identified with the US and...

      There isn't much of a rivalry at all. Firstly, anyone can use Last.fm, Pandora is restricted to the US. But tthat aside, they aren't really even similar services at all.

      • they aren't really even similar services at all

        I know they use different approaches to personalisation. Last uses collaborative filtering, a "bottom-up" approach, whereas Pandora uses parametrised affinity allocations, a "top-down" approach. But for their users, both services promote personalised music selection, adaptive and iterative improvement of personalisation, streaming, and social networking between affinity groups.

        How are they *not* similar?

  • last.fm is an English company, with its servers located in London. Complying to such a request for user data would be illegal under UK data protection laws, as best as I can tell.

    Not saying that proves much either way, but for what it's worth I've always found last.fm fairly open and engaged with its users. I rather doubt they would knowingly give away user's data, especially given its illegality.

    • by pbhj (607776)

      Which is why the RIAA would ask the CBS for the info. If such a situation were true.

  • I have a bad taste in my mouth after finding out that lastfm (corporate whore) was owned or someways affiliated with cbs. I'll stick with soma.fm spank you very much.
  • 'I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinski.' You can say you didn't until you're blue in the face but if we believe you did it.... Look at it this way, remember when you said we were guilty of illegal file sharing and we said we didn't do it? Maybe you see my point, now?

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