TechCrunch ran 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.