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Cloud Music Piracy Your Rights Online

Ask Slashdot: How Do I Scrub Pirated Music From My Collection? 758

An anonymous reader writes "I tried out Google Music, and I liked it. Google made me swear that I won't upload any 'illegal' tracks, and apparently people fear Apple's iCloud turning into a honeypot for the RIAA. My music collection comprises about 90% 'legal' tracks now — legal meaning tracks that I paid for — but I still have some old MP3s kicking around from the original Napster. Moreover, I have a lot of MP3s that I downloaded because I was too lazy to rip the CD version that I own. I wanted to find a tool to scan my music to identify files that may be flagged as having been pirated by these cloud services; I thought such a tool would be free and easy to find. After all, my intent is to search my own computer for pirated music and to delete it — something that the RIAA wants the government to force you to do. But endless re-phrasing on Google leads to nothing but instructions for how to obtain pirated music. Does such a tool exist or does the RIAA seriously expect me to sift through 60 GB of music, remember which are pirated, and delete them by hand?"
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Ask Slashdot: How Do I Scrub Pirated Music From My Collection?

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  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @10:10AM (#36528684)

    Rerip all your CDs, this time to FLAC, since disk is now cheap as hell.
    Get rid of all the old mp3s.

    • Yes, that's certainly a productive use of someone's day. Taking all your CDs that have been ripped... and doing it again!

    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      Rerip all your CDs, this time to FLAC, since disk is now cheap as hell.
      Get rid of all the old mp3s.

      What part of "legal meaning tracks that I paid for" did you fail to understand? Or, pray, tell us how he can legally re-rip as FLAC the mp3 tracks he bought online

    • by AVee ( 557523 ) <slashdot@a v e e.org> on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @10:30AM (#36529142) Homepage
      You probably don't need to rerip everything. When it was ripped the first time the files probably followed some sort of pattern, look for naming conventions, and stuff like bitrate, encoder, genre etc in the ID3 tags. Figure out what the stuff you ripped yourself looks like and write a shell script to delete everything else. That will probably get it right 99% of the time, and for what's left you got plausible deniability because the have the exact same properties as the ones you ripped yourself.
    • by boristdog ( 133725 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @10:34AM (#36529220)

      Almost all of my original media (CDs and LPs) for about 60% of my collection were lost in a fire several years ago.

      Re-ripping isn't an option. RIAA says if I download a new copy, it is illegal and I have to buy new media, which RIAA claims is only a license to have one copy, which I already bought. Sort of like if I lost the title to my car I couldn't get a new title without buying a new car.

      So fuck them. Just upload the music you have. If you bought more than 30% of it you're probably better than most.

  • by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @10:11AM (#36528702)
    Scrap what you have and buy it all brand new. I'm sure that'll make everyone at the RIAA happy ;-)
  • Quality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Morth ( 322218 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @10:11AM (#36528712)

    From napster? A search for 128 kbit MP3 might be enough. Your legal ones are probably of higher quality.

  • by drolli ( 522659 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @10:11AM (#36528716) Journal

    A software could identify files which were downloaded. But it can never detect legally whether you have the right to listen to that file. Unless of course oly drmd files are considered to be legally ok.

    • Sure it can (Score:2, Funny)

      by elucido ( 870205 ) *

      Through an Md5 database hosted on the RIAA website or funded by the RIAA. Every legal file could be known. And then every illegal file would be among those not in the official database.

      • by TamCaP ( 900777 )
        Database of "legal" MP3s owned and administered by RIAA sounds like a great idea. And a free program that will scan your hard drive and conveniently delete any MP3s from your hard drive that are not in the database... BEST IDEA EVER!
      • Then all you have to do is rip in an unusual bit-rate or file format and you get around the MD5 checks.

      • How would they manage to detect the mp3s I've ripped myself as legal?
      • by daedae ( 1089329 )

        Through an Md5 database hosted on the RIAA website or funded by the RIAA. Every legal file could be known. And then every illegal file would be among those not in the official database.

        Won't work. From an article about whether iCloud's match could be used as a honeypot, that I thought was posted on /. a few days ago:

        Then there will be MP3s that individuals created themselves from, for example, ârippingâ(TM) their CD collections. While these are not watermarked to the individual, they appear to be unique for each âripâ(TM). To confirm this, I ran a test with fresh installations of the exact same CD ripping software on two different computers. I then had them rip the same track from the exact same CD using the unchanged system default settings on both computers. The MD5 hashes did not match.

        ( http://betweenthenumbers.net/2011/06/is-apples-icloud-music-match-a-possible-honeypot/ [betweenthenumbers.net] )

    • A software could identify files which were downloaded. But it can never detect legally whether you have the right to listen to that file. Unless of course oly drmd files are considered to be legally ok.

      I was confused about this as well. From the post it makes it sound that if you buy a CD, then download the track for it, that track is somehow now "illegal". THIS IS NOT THE CASE, and FUCK YOU to the RIAA for making people think it is.

  • Ripped music (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jdavidb ( 449077 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @10:12AM (#36528726) Homepage Journal

    Moreover, I have a lot of MP3s that I downloaded because I was too lazy to rip the CD version that I own

    How can they tell the difference between an MP3 that you ripped from a CD that you own, and an MP3 that somebody else ripped from another copy of a CD that you own?

    • Why do you think they spend millions on DRM but can't spend that kind of money to secure gamers personal informarion?

    • by jandrese ( 485 )
      The only way to tell would be if someone tossed a watermark on the file, which is unlikely.
    • I think its an issue of covering your legal backside. When they go after you for having X,Y,Z songs you can prove, yes, I've owned this CD for years.

    • He's asking for a tool that will identify downloaded files, which means he only has to sift through those instead of all of them.

      Going by my own collection (~20gb, ~7000 files), OP probably has around 20,000 songs. Even if a tool only shows half of them as definitely clean, that's 10,000 songs he doesn't have to check.
    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      Look at the ID3v1 and ID3v2 data.
      Many ripping programs add a signature there, and some even a fingerprint. And many pirates put text messages there like "RIPPED BY ZOOOMG".

      And even though you own a CD and have the right to rip it, you don't have the right to copy a rip someone else made. That's when copyrights kick in. So if two MP3s were ripped by a program that adds a unique fingerprint, you can assume that one of them is illegal, and that the other person either is the victim of a crime where someone

    • The method they *could* use to tell would be to take a hash of the file. When you rip the cd, you will get a different hash each time. With file sharing services most likely there are only 3 or 4 rips that are shared among thousands of people. Consequently, if you see someone with a copy of a particular song that has a hash of one of these commonly shared files, chances are miniscule that it isn't a pirated copy.

  • I assume the only purpose of this article is to make RIAA look dumb by trying to suggest that there is such a thing as an illegal sequence of 0s and 1s, especially when it may be exactly the same in meaning as a legal sequence.

    Couldn't agree more.

  • " I have a lot of MP3s that I downloaded because I was too lazy to rip the CD version that I own"

    Afraid of being found? Hey, let's all call the lulz hackerz and lullify your ip!
  • What's a 'legal' MP3?

    If you rip it from your own CD, how does that get flagged as 'legal'? I was always under the assumption that songs offered in Napster or IRC were just songs that someone else ripped from their CD (originally.) Would that song look any different if I ripped it myself versus someone else ripping it?

    I would think the only MP3's that are flagged as 'legal' are those purchased from an online store such as iTunes or Amazon. Then they'd have a way to 'mark' that the song is legal for tha

    • by radja ( 58949 )

      also, legality of ripped music is different in many countries. suppose you visit a friend in the Netherlands. he has a CD or DVD you like. you can sit down behind his computer and copy it, and the resulting copy is perfectly legal. it does not have to be a direct copy, mp3 or any music or video format is just fine. it's different if the friend copies it for you, in that case he's illegally spreading copyrighted material. you can take your copied CD back home, and it's still legal as far as I know, under the

  • ...if you're looking to make things appear legit, I imagine that proper tagging and song length will go a long way. If anything, that'd be what they're checking for (recording quality as well, but I imagine you've mostly MP3's so that's somewhat moot). Is there an easy way to do that? Use iTunes or WMP and sort through them manually. Beyond that? nothing I know of. There are plenty of music directories, and you can probably check the songs against their legit counterparts in various music vendors.


  • used cd's (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @10:19AM (#36528898)

    what you don't have in cd format, buy in cd format (amazon often has used cd's at ok prices. shipping is never reasonable but its their profit margin 'tax').

    advantage of used cds: 'the man' does not get paid. no riaa income on used cd's. its just the buyer and seller (and some middleman, perhaps). disadvantage: no money goes to the band (but they made their money the first time on that 'first sale').

    if you are worried (I would not be, I think you are paranoid) then make sure you have cds for every file. and like I said, used cd's deprive the riaa of any income, so that's probably your best route.

    personally, I think your first and only problem is even considering these 'cloud' services. copy enough songs to your portable to last a day (or run a random mix uploader) and what's so hard? today's portables are even big enough to hold what used to be our whole collection. many people could fit their entire collection on portables. the cloud is about 5 years too late, to be serious.

  • So he has the CDs for some of his downloaded music. Does that mean it's legal to listen to ripped versions? Wasn't it the dream of the RIAA at one point for there to be one device, one music license? Is that not the case any more? Can I buy a piece of music on CD, then play it on any of my devices? And if I have the cassette tapes, can I download for free the music and still be legal?

    And if I'm asking these questions, should I really care? The RIAA should become the MAA (no, not Missing in Action Assoc

  • Moreover, I have a lot of MP3s that I downloaded because I was too lazy to rip the CD version that I own.

    Is that really a problem?

  • by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @10:20AM (#36528938)

    Does such a tool exist or does the RIAA seriously expect me to sift through 60 GB of music, remember which are pirated, and delete them by hand?"

    No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.

    I'm sure the RIAA would prefer you to simply delete everything and buy it again. Just to be sure. Remember... these are the folks who swore it was illegal to rip your own CDs and firmly believed you should have an individually purchased copy of media for each individual player you used.

  • by Plastic Pencil ( 1258364 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @10:21AM (#36528950)
    I posted a similar comment in thread from yesterday, but I'll ask here again, hoping someone will see it.

    Basically, is the statute of limitations applicable to downloaded music? In my limited legal knowledge, it's not a felony to download music, afik, so misdemeanors typically fall under a 7-year statute of limitation, and so if you downloaded stuff from Napster's heyday, more than 10 years ago, could those mp3s even be used to legally prosecute you?

    Of course I know we're talking about the RIAA here, and they act as if the law doesn't apply to them in their dealing. But I'm curious.
  • It would be easier to scan your MP3 collection for what you know is legitimate. That giant stash of CDs sat in your attic gathering dust and your memory is the best way for you to determine what you own, rather than have a program scan for what might be ripped using what, bitrates and dodgy tags as a guide?
  • ...just kidding. Sorry, but there is *no way* to automagically determine what the license status of a file is. The only way is for you to make a list of every song you actually own and compare it against the library. But track names, file sizes, etc could all be different so an automated diff won't cut it. And don't forget that even if you own the CD it's illegal to download a copy of the songs on it, so even if it's on your list you still could be "illegal". The only way to be sure is to start from sc

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @10:24AM (#36528986) Homepage

    "Delete the ENTIRE library and re purchase all of them to be sure. It's cheaper than our lawyers raping you..."

    IF you call a RIAA office the above will be their answer. if you call any lawyer the above will be their answer. if you cant PROVE you bought it, it's pirated by default.

    • I wonder if the same would be true of physical sources of music. Quick: Prove to me that you bought that CD! Do you have a receipt or something? I don't care if you claim you bought it a decade ago, I demand to see proof of ownership. No proof? You must have stolen it from someone. *flashes badge* You need to come with me....

  • Doesn't Matter (Score:4, Insightful)

    by locallyunscene ( 1000523 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @10:24AM (#36529002)
    Seriously, it doesn't matter. The crazy lawsuits are for distributing music and only that, which you're not doing. The whole idea of these being "honeypots" is ridiculous. There's nothing you can actually be charged for even if the RIAA could influence Apple or Google or Amazon. Which is doubtful because they each make far more money than the RIAA and would have to destroy their reputations to go along with such a "trap".

    If you have some ethical issue then just buy a legal copy of the music for anything you're unsure of. Having multiple copies for personal use IS still fair use.
  • There is no way for anyone else to identify which of your music files are legal. All that is possible is to identify that certain music files are illegal (because they contain certain "watermarks" that indicate they come from a source that you could not have legal access to). And even there there is room for argument. For example, it is not clear how the courts would rule on a case where you downloaded a copy of a file that you owned on CD rather than ripping it from the CD. There is some question as to whe
  • One of my pals has regularly shopped the thrift stores (Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc.) looking for albums of the music he has downloaded. His theory is that as long as he has the album with the music - regardless of the format - he's covered.

    I think he's probably right, actually. Although it might cost hims some legal fees to get RIAA off his ass if they choose to land on him.

  • Who cares? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yarnosh ( 2055818 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @10:34AM (#36529212)
    Don't worry about it. You're being paranoid. Even if they could detect that you have some illegal music, they really don't care unless you're actively trading it. Look at how companies handle pirated software, for example. Microsoft can tell if your WIndows isn't "genuine" and yet the worst thing they do is cripple your copy and give you a rather polite message about making it genuine. That's the worst I would ever expect from a "honeypot." At worst they're going to say "Hey, we think this song is not genuine, would you like to buy a fresh copy to ensure you're legit?" They're not going to call the FBI on your ass for having an illegal copy of Twisted Sister on your hard drive. It just isn't going to happen.
  • To do such a thing you would have to define

    1: a whitelist of files that are identical to copies sold by legitimate services or "perfect" CD rips.
    2: a blacklist of files that were found on P2P networks and have sufficiant defects or other idenitifying features that it is unlikely they would match any non-pirate's copy.

    You could then go through a file collection sorting files into white, black and grey. The technical aspects of implementing such a tool are trivial.

    However the problems are

    1: it's pretty hard to find every file that is out there on legit services and basically impossible to find every file that is out there on P2P.
    2: Afaict it is also bloody hard to get a perfect rip of a track from CD (and that is before you start considering the encoding options)
    3: your CD rips will probablly not be on either the whitelist or the blacklist (see point 1), unfortunately it is likely that many pirate files won't be either (see point 1). Unfortunately not being on the tool's blacklist doesn't nessacerally mean the file isn't on the music industries blacklist.
    4: most people outside of the music industry would probablly not want to give them a helping hand by building a list of "probablly pirate" tracks and those trying to track down pirates and extort money from them are unlikely to want to release their lists either.

  • by paiute ( 550198 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @10:38AM (#36529290)

    "...does the RIAA seriously expect me to sift through 60 GB of music, remember which are pirated, and delete them by hand?"

    No, Mr. Bond, the RIAA expects you to die.

  • They can't 'get' you, it's all a fear tactic. Especially for titles you have on CD.
    Don't distribute them. There, you are fine.

  • It doesn't matter. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Urza9814 ( 883915 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @11:13AM (#36529980)

    It really doesn't matter. The only damages the RIAA can reasonably claim for you having pirated music is around $1/song. It's UPLOADING that music that they care about, because then they can pretend that your upload is providing that song illegally to 20,000 people and therefore claim that that single song is worth $20,000 in damages.

    They RIAA has NEVER sued ANYONE for merely possessing pirated music. I don't think they've ever sued anyone for downloading music either. It's all about what you upload. If you aren't uploading anything, you should be fine.

  • by Evets ( 629327 ) * on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @10:10PM (#36537894) Homepage Journal

    You can't do it because ITunes leverages napster data.

    I know this because I have some obscure tastes in music. I have a tape and a cd of an old band. I downloaded one of the songs that's only on the tape from napster. I was disappointed with the recording because of three glitches in the track. Years later, itunes pops up. I buy the song from itunes. Low and behold, same three glitches are in the itunes version.

    This happened for not just one song, but two songs from two different artists in two different genres. One was a single glitch, which I would have dismissed as chance, but four glitches at the same timestamps from two different songs in two different genres?

What ever you want is going to cost a little more than it is worth. -- The Second Law Of Thermodynamics