May 25th, 2009
Last.fm stand accused of allowing their parent company, CBS, to pass data about what tracks Last.fm's users have been playing to the RIAA.
Last.fm have flatly denied doing any such thing, but appear to be hamstrung by the fact that their corporate masters have yet to issue a statement backing up their denials.
- It's quite possible that Last.fm are sincere in their denials, but will be hung out to dry by CBS. That's the drawback of selling your company to a conglomerate with fingers in several pies.
- If I read one more comment to the effect that "If CBS/Last.fm don't sue Techcrunch for libel then we can only assume that the allegations are correct" I'll scream. Lawsuits are expensive and can take a long time to resolve; it's quite possible that some CBS executive will conclude that the cost/benefit analysis favours letting the story die down for lack of further evidence one way or the other and waiting to see if Last.fm haemorrhages users. The priorities of the management of CBS are not necessary aligned with yours. Or mine. Or those of Last.fm's management. And they're under no obligation to explain themselves to us, unless and until they find themselves in court.
- My favourite take on all this came courtesy of MeFi user verb:
My theory? A service that deals with streaming music on the Internet today is balancing between two very tricky groups. The RIAA wants them to die in a fire, and has the ability to make life difficult. The general Stuff Wants To Be Free crowd wants the RIAA to die in a fire, and views music sharing services as either 'Friends in the struggle' or 'Collaborators with the RIAA.'
Most services survive by dancing carefully between these two constituencies and NOT being drawn into a fight that pits them with one and against the other. Deny, deny, deny, and keep your head low whenever you can. That's the way you (hope to) survive long enough to develop a working business model.
I'm not planning to delete my Last.fm profile just yet, but I'll be watching for future developments.
May 27th, 2008
Further to the previous post, it looks as if having your PDA confiscated could become a commonplace occurrence if the RIAA get their way:
A TOP-SECRET DEAL being ironed out by G8 nations will give the Music and film industry a state-paid force of copyright cops with the same powers of customs officials.
The copyright police can seize your mp3 player or laptop to see if it contains pirated content and can order ISPs to turn over personal data without the need for proof.
G8 members, at the request of those wonderful examples of humanity at the RIAA, are agreeing to turn tax-payer paid customs officers into boot boys for the record and music business.
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), will be discussed at the next G8 meeting in Tokyo, in July. [...]
Just one small, practical question: if I hand my iPod over to a customs officer, how exactly will he or she be able to tell which tracks I downloaded from iTunes and which ones I ripped from my CD collection? On my (fairly old) iPod, there's no way to tell at a glance, since the software doesn't visibly distinguish between AACs and MP3s. There is a 'Purchased' playlist, but that only shows files purchased on my current Mac; it doesn't pick up purchases made on my previous Mac and transferred over to this one. Will I be OK as long as I refrain from setting up a playlist called 'Illegal copies', or do I have to start carrying copies of my invoice emails from iTunes around with me if I want to leave the country?
[Via Memex 1.1]