You'll recall the spat a few weeks back when Techcrunch claimed that Last FM user data was being passed to the RIAA. Last FM described Techcrunch as being "full of shit".
And, indeed, Techcrunch have now conceded their story was wrong. In one detail:
Last.fm didn’t hand user data over to the RIAA. According to our source, it was their parent company, CBS, that did it. That corresponds to what our original source said in conversations we had after our initial post and before CBS lawyers became involved. But we didn’t want to update until we had an independent source for that information, too.
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.
The reason CBS were happy to pass the data was, according to Techcrunch's original source, fear:
We provided the data to the RIAA yesterday because we know from experience that they can negatively impact our streaming rates with publishers.
That source was apparently sacked by CBS for the original leak.
Last FM have again issued a denial. Russ Garrett at Last FM says it couldn't have happened without his say-so:
The exact nature of the data that was allegedly transferred is still not clear. It’s implied that the data linked scrobbles to IP addresses. That particular data is controlled tightly inside Last.fm and is only stored for a short period of time. Any request for such data would have to be approved by myself first. The suggestion that CBS’s ops team provided this data is just not possible - Last.fm operates as a separate entity and their operations staff do not have access to our system.
As Arrington points out, transferring personally identifiable data (i.e. IP addresses) from the UK to the US is against data protection laws. We wouldn’t risk a lawsuit to pander to the RIAA’s requests.
If you read the response conspiracy-theorist close, you'd be struck that Garrett doesn't ever deny that anyone asked for the data, just that such requests have never been granted - which may or may not mean anything, but you'd have thought in a situation like this 'nobody has asked for anything, nothing has been given' would be the obvious response.
Last FM believe that the stories are as a result of "someone" slandering them. It doesn't suggest whom.