Nerval's Lobster writes "Earlier in February, Tribune Company completed the $170 million acquisition of Gracenote, a deal originally set in motion in late 2013. The merger is an unusual one: Gracenote owns a massive library of media metadata, and the Tribune Company is best known as the publisher of print newspapers and tabloids, most notably its flagship paper in Chicago. Regardless of the Tribune Company's specific plans for Gracenote's datasets and technical infrastructure, it spent a hefty amount of cash on an entity devoted solely to compiling metadata about copyrightable works owned by third parties: In other words, Gracenote still commands a nine-figure price tag when its primary product, to put it bluntly, amounts to footnotes and annotations to media for which it doesn't have licenses or rights. But here's where it potentially gets a little spooky: while the titles of the songs in your playlists shouldn't be conflated with records of your phone calls, services such as Gracenote's upcoming Rhythm Internet-radio service (which leans heavily on user preferences and behavior) may help Gracenote partially convert its library of media metadata into a library of user data. 'We do have big hopes for that part of our business going forward,' Gracenote president Stephen White confirmed to Slashdot. That makes privacy advocates a little nervous. 'We're seeing, especially with the ad space, that companies are trying to get user information from all different sources, and it's not just what brands are looking for anymore,' Ari Kamdar, an activist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Slashdot. 'They're trying to get location data, financial data, habits, family so I'm not surprised that audio data could be one of the big facets.' (For his part, White insists that Gracenote is careful with data collection.) The Gracenote saga suggests that metadata — even the type that doesn't come from phones or social networks — is more valuable than ever, which is liable to get some companies really excited... and make a whole lot of people very, very nervous."
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