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Last.fm User Data Was Sent To RIAA By CBS 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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Last.fm User Data Was Sent To RIAA By CBS

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 23, 2009 @09:48PM (#28071153)

    Media companies lie! Film at 11.

    • Re:Breaking News (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FredFredrickson ( 1177871 ) * on Saturday May 23, 2009 @09:54PM (#28071175) Homepage Journal
      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 (Score:5, Informative)

        by Daengbo ( 523424 ) <daengbo AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday May 23, 2009 @10:22PM (#28071317) Homepage Journal

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

  • by qpawn ( 1507885 ) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @09:53PM (#28071171)

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

  • by alienunknown ( 1279178 ) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @09:56PM (#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.

    • by Tanman ( 90298 ) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @10:09PM (#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.

      • by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @10:15PM (#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.
        • by Tanman ( 90298 ) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @11:04PM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MikeBabcock ( 65886 )

          I'm not the least bit skeptical of last.fm after this. First off, I don't care if they reveal my listening habits, that's already on my profile. If I didn't want my music habits known, I'd not scrobble them.

          Also, I use last.fm for its ability to introduce me to artists listened to by people with similar taste to mine in music, which is very handy for finding interesting new artists, and sometimes to use their radio functionality.

    • 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rm999 ( 775449 )

      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.


      • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @03:30AM (#28072817) Journal

        You think the RIAA is going to let a silly little thing like possibly mistagged music stop it? Hasn't stopped them before, won't stop them next time.

        And it is not about winning from the RIAA in a court case, it is about being able to afford to win. US legal system means you got to have the money to pay the lawyer up front and I am fairly sure the RIAA got more money then you.

        Last.fm commited a major error in judgement and CBS showed its colors. Anyone who is smart is going to stop the service. No wait, anyone who is smart NEVER used the service. Giving your music data to a media company in bed with the RIAA? Exactly what part of that sounds like a good idea?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If the story is false, who will read TechCrunch again?
      Actually, quite a few people, I guess. The attraction of this sort of thing for certain people is a "well known fact" as they say. It is relatively easy to post things and enjoy the notority they bring. I'm not saying it would ever happen on /., but you never know where else this might happen.

      I'm not sure that using a TechCrunch story to verify a TechCrunch story is any sort of unbiased confirmation. Also, a picture of an email is not the type of

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      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?

      It hardly matters whether the music is pirated or legitimate, all they care about is money, plain and simple. The Righteous Inquisition Army of Autocrats has made statements in the past that indicate that if they had their way, you would have to pay for every time you listen to any piece of music, regardless that you purchased it already. They always want more money, and they won't rest until the day where they can bill you for having a copy of that song burned into your brain neural patterns as an "all-you

  • Why the outrage? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jason8 ( 917879 ) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @09:57PM (#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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by glwtta ( 532858 )
      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).
  • Wait (Score:5, Interesting)

    by portforward ( 313061 ) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @09:58PM (#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 (Score:5, Informative)

      by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @10:06PM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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.


    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by pankkake ( 877909 )
      They requested info on who played a leaked album, which at the time could only be acquired through piracy.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        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 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ubernostrum ( 219442 ) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @11:09PM (#28071585) Homepage

      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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 23, 2009 @10:01PM (#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.


    • 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.
      • "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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Howitzer86 ( 964585 )

      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.

    • by RiotingPacifist ( 1228016 ) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @10:53PM (#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)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by KlaymenDK ( 713149 )

        Initial impressions:

        Jamendo - Horrible web interface, wants to use full-window m-player plugin instead of embedded player so you can see the rest of the page (artist info, etc). Half a minute of buffering between tracks, no thanks.

        Magnatune - seems all right, haven't tried searching in depth yet, but insists on "you have been listening to X from the album Y on Magnatune" between tracks, plus 4 seconds lead-in silence on every track. Meh.

        Libre.fm - oddly home-drawn look to it, can't see much without register

    • Stop buying CDs and movies.

      Slow down there Jimmy! Stop buying major-label CDs and records. Consider it an opportunity to explore the wonderful independent scene.

  • by physicsphairy ( 720718 ) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @10:11PM (#28071243) Homepage

    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.

    • by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @10:13PM (#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.
    • 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.

    • by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

      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.

    • (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: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Starayo ( 989319 )
        Bullshit. Universal Australia was the one who sold the album accidentally for two hours.

        Most, but not all would be illegal.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CSMatt ( 1175471 )

      (1) Unless of course you were listening to a leaked album, where the likelihood of you having a legal copy before the release date is extremely low.
      (2) Perhaps not, but it's pretty unlikely that tracks from an unreleased album appear because you borrowed a legit CD from a friend before it even went on sale.
      (3) Still true

      From what I recall, the reason for the data release was to see who was listening to the leaked U2 album. While that may not have proved that the listener was the one who acquired the tracks

  • I don't get it (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

        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.

    • Probable cause for a search, possibly?
  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Saturday May 23, 2009 @10:13PM (#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.

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

      • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by justinlee37 ( 993373 )
        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: (Score:3, Informative)

        by RudeIota ( 1131331 )
        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."

      • by Trepidity ( 597 )

        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.

    • by Dan541 ( 1032000 ) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @11:10PM (#28071597) Homepage

      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.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    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? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by _Shorty-dammit ( 555739 ) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @10:17PM (#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? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @10:21PM (#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.
    • by Zordak ( 123132 ) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @11:35PM (#28071759) Homepage Journal

      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.

  • 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.

    • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @02:05AM (#28072461)

      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.

      Talk about over-reacting. Don't you think you should give it a few more days or weeks to see how it really plays out?

      I cancelled the day they announced the CBS buyout myself. But you waited through the buyout and the first variation of this story, maybe its true, maybe its false, but since you gave them the benefit of the doubt then, why are you cancelling now when there is really no new evidence, just a new variation on an old story?

  • 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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.
  • by xXShadowstormXx ( 939073 ) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @10:41PM (#28071407)

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

  • by eddy ( 18759 ) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @10:43PM (#28071419) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by s0litaire ( 1205168 ) * on Saturday May 23, 2009 @10:54PM (#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...

    • by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Sunday May 24, 2009 @06:17AM (#28073381) Homepage
      I was thinking along those lines, but it is even easier than that - you just need to make a complaint to the Data Protection Registrar and get him to do it. I don't even know if you really need to know of the exact facts -- get the DPR to investigate.

      What could they be got on:

      • Using data for purposes other than for which it was obtained -- and told the Data Subject (ie you & me) what it was being collected for
      • Copying personal data overseas. Last.fm is a UK organisation, CBS is in the USA
      • It would be interesting to view the Data Protection Act application, in that they need to state what they will do with data

      It might be worth doing even if Last.fm is innocent - it may be high profile enough to make other organisations think twice before doing this sort of thing.

  • Last.fm Terms of Use (Score:5, Informative)

    by waveformwafflehouse ( 1221950 ) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @10:54PM (#28071477) Homepage
    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."
  • 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.

  • by shark72 ( 702619 ) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @11:53PM (#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.

    • by RegularFry ( 137639 ) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @03:42AM (#28072853)

      Oh, for mod points.

      The one thing that surprises me is that Russ Garrett says that legal action isn't possible. That surprises me. You have an entity suffering real, quantifiable damage (count the "I'm unsubscribing RIGHT NOW" posts upthread) as a direct result of libellous, allegedly incorrect information being published, when that entity exists in a country with some of the most plaintiff-friendly libel laws in the world.


    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      "responsible journalism"! Ha ha, is that one of those oxymorons like "military intelligence" or "jumbo shrimp"?
    • by pbhj ( 607776 )

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

      Russ' rebuttal is here [www.last.fm].

      I don't personally know the folk involved, I'll assume that "Russ" is a Last.fm guy. Last.fm didn't know that the parent company, CBS, had sold them out to RIAA in contravention of the user agreement. If you read the TechCrunch info you'll note that a spokesman for CBS said that they didn't know the info was being passed on to the RIAA - then the spokesman called to say "that statement was on behalf of last.fm, not CBS". Dead giveaway.

  • by whiledo ( 1515553 ) * on Sunday May 24, 2009 @12:04AM (#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.

  • by Aurisor ( 932566 ) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @02:36AM (#28072609) Homepage

    Giving any company a window into your day-to-day activities is very dangerous. The possibility of this kind of thing happening must run through the mind of any vaguely security-conscious person who considers their business model. Honestly, it's one of the reasons I never signed up.

    That being said, however, there are a couple things to remember, though.

    1) You give much more information to Google. If you have done ANYTHING illegal in the last couple years, Google could be used to help convict you.

    Think about it. All of your searches, page views, chats and emails can be tied to a single account. You could probably establish where I've been every day with hour resolution just by examining the IP addresses I access email and search from, to say nothing of actually reading the contents.

    2) Last.fm's innocence or guilt has no bearing on this issue

    The problem is that this accusation plays perfectly to the fears a user might have about sending such detailed information to Last.fm. Whereas there are endless accusations about Google being in bed with the FBI and so forth, I'd imagine nearly every user of Last.fm considers the RIAA a credible threat. It's plausible that the RIAA would ask for the data, and it's plausible that a big company like CBS would be willing to side with the cartels on this one. They're being tried in the court of public opinion, and as far as I can see, they are losing.

    Bottom line, if I had a bone to pick with Last.fm, this would be the perfect way to take them down.

    3) This is only going to get worse

    As the number of online services we use on a daily basis increases, our exposures are only going to multiply. Until we demand *true* anonymous use of internet resources (as distinguished from services that offer the illusion of privacy but are still subject to subpoenas, backroom deals, compromised network admins, etc), the misuse of our private information will only worsen.

  • Facts (Score:5, Informative)

    by MasterOfBurn ( 1561067 ) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @03:09AM (#28072725)

    http://www.last.fm/forum/21717/_/535934/_/9521312 [www.last.fm]

    Russ, a founder of last.fm and much more reliable than that National Enquirer-wannabe TechCrunch, has denied everything.

    Showing nothing to hide, you'll see in that thread noone ever had a post deleted there, no matter how irate or against last.fm it was.

    http://www.last.fm/forum/21717/_/535934/_/9522388 [www.last.fm]

    Starting there, and continuing reading a couple pages, you'll see the truth about TechCrunch. Every message at TC in response that was against Michael Arrington's (shoddy) reporting has been summarily deleted. Several screenshots were even posted of people's responses that were deleted.

    Now, who is more trustworthy again, a site that allows open discussion, or one that whittles down the discussion to make it look like everyone agrees with them?

    Anyone believing this drivel... I got some 419 e-mails for you.

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire