How the RIAA tracks downloaders

CNN has a story today on how RIAA tracks downloaders. There are some pretty interesting details. We all know that they could run down your IP address and track your username, but what else does the RIAA do?

…the industry disclosed its use of a library of digital fingerprints, called “hashes,” that it said can uniquely identify MP3 music files that had been traded on the Napster service as far back as May 2000. Examining hashes is commonly used by the FBI and other computer investigators in hacker cases.

By comparing the fingerprints of music files on a person’s computer against its library, the RIAA believes it can determine in some cases whether someone recorded a song from a legally purchased CD or downloaded it from someone else over the Internet.

The recording industry also disclosed that it is examining so-called “metadata” tags, hidden snippets of information embedded within many MP3 music files. In this case, lawyers wrote, they found evidence that others had recorded the music files and that some songs had been downloaded from known pirate Web sites.

5 Comments on “How the RIAA tracks downloaders”

  1. Is it just me, or does this sound like a massive invasion of privacy? I’m all about paying for your music, but I really, really, really think that this is setting a dangerous precedent.

  2. The good thing is that MD5 hashes are easy to change, simple run your mp3s as a batch and a character or something to the comment filed of the id3 tag, now you have a new hash.

    Of course this doesn’t effect me as I have boxs and boxs of CD’s to prove my mp3’s are mine. This also isn’t a foolproof method since lots of people rip cds the exact same way pulling the exact same data from CDDB and incoding there files. 2 files could have the same hash, so that can only take them so far.

    I do think this whole thing is way out of hand.

  3. I really think the RIAA is better off getting some new initials or something. They’re ruining the potential for the record industry. Their lawsuits are analagous to rats gathering on the keel as the bow goes down.

  4. I think nf0 has some good points. While most of the time I imagine this pretty shaky evidence gets people to cease and desist; it could probably be challenged in court pretty easily by someone good at explaining technology. Just my 1.5 cents.

  5. I think the RIAA needs to disappear. They ruin everything they touch. The internet has brought the largest collection of music in history to our fingertips. Shame to see it end because a bunch of greedy lawyers, big corporate record executives, and ultra rich artists are pissed off because they see tiny dent in their paycheck. Of course nevermind the economy! What upsetes me the most is not these pathetic whiners, but what will happen to all the terrific artists you run across when searching for music. The ones that are truley passionate about their music. These are the people truley robbed by the RIAA. I just hate to see the spirit of music tagged as a whore by the RIAA. Keep dowloading, lets bury the RIAA!!!