Denies Handing U2 Leak Listeners To RIAA

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David J. Prince, Billboard founder Richard Jones responded forcefully today (Feb. 23) to accusations that the company had given user data to the RIAA in order to track illegal downloads of U2's upcoming album, "No Line On the Horizon." Jones' refutation follows a similar denial made by the RIAA on Saturday.

The controversy started with the leak of U2's "No Line On The Horizon" last week. The album appeared on file-sharing sites after Universal Music's Australian arm accidentally began selling downloads two weeks early. But on Friday, the technology blog Techcrunch sparked privacy concerns when they posted a rumor claiming that, the CBS-owned music streaming and social networking site that allows registered user to keep track over their digital listening habits by "scrobbling" tracks played on computers, MP3s players and other streaming sites, had shared private user data with the RIAA that could identify individuals who had listened to the unreleased U2 tracks.

"I denied it vehemently [in] the Techcrunch article, as did several other staffers," Jones wrote today in a post on the company's blog. "We denied it in the forums, on twitter, via email. Basically we denied it to anyone that would listen, and now we're denying it on our blog."

Another staffer, Russ Garret, issued "a full and categorical denial" on's forum. "We'd never personally identify our users to a third party - that goes against everything we stand for.

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

Although Techcrunch writer Erick Schonfeld has updated the original post with's extensive denials, he has resisted calls to retract the post altogether. In an update he writes, "Despite my attempts to corroborate [the rumor], I still don't have enough information to determine whether it is absolutely true. But I still don't have enough information to determine that it is absolutely false either. What I do have are a lot of unanswered questions about how exactly shares user data with the record industry."

"We never share personally identifiable data such as email and IP addresses," founder Jones said in his post today. "The only type of data we make available to labels and artists, other than what you see on the site, is aggregate data of listeners and number of plays."

© Nielsen Business Media, Inc.

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on February 24, 2009 7:43 AM.

No hit on the horizon: For first time since 1997, a U2 single fails to hit UK top 10 was the previous entry in this blog.

'Horizon' evolves with U2's audacity, creativity, innovation is the next entry in this blog.

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