A screen shot of the Anontune site recently launched by the Anonymous hacker group.
A group of programmers from Anonymous, the infamous and rather amorphous hacker organization who in the past have claimed responsibility for hacking major governmental and corporate web sites, have banded together to create and launch a new open source music platform called Anontune. Launched in beta on April 21, the music site's goal is to provide users with a centralized place to gather, listen to, and share music they find on the web -- which at this juncture all seems legitimate.
The creator's motivations -- that the state of online music has been sabotaged by the fat hands of corporate involvement -- is summarized in this video message (below).
By avoiding direct uploads, streaming, or downloading, Anontune mitigates their own risk of legal liability. "The approach," the video's disorienting garbled Anonymous voice dictates, "should also negate most DMCA takedown notices whilst simultaneously ensuring the protection and confidentiality of users.
The group's mindful avoidance of DMCA takedowns is an apparent pivot against what the video message describes as "copy protection schemes designed to steal your freedom and safe-guard their profits," which is an obvious jab at the RIAA, calling them out as an organization that fights innovation "with lawsuits, the only way they know how."
According to Wired, it wouldn't be the first time Anonymous squared off with the record industry: when popular file-sharing site Megaupload was shuttered by the Justice Department in January, Anonymous retaliated by attacking the websites of the Recording Industry Association of America and the U.S. Department of Justice.
The distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks provided a glimpse of what Anonymous could do in a copyright battle, but if the creators of Anontune succeed, they could make something far more disruptive to the music industry.
"Anontune will never host any copyrighted music at any time," the video states. "Rather than focus on the music itself, Anontune will instead focus upon information about the music. Information like where music is being distributed, how it is being used, and how it is discovered."
By taking this stance, Anontune hopes to place itself in a position "for new research and innovations into online music." ¨The service, found at http://anontune.com, works by scraping and storing songs in playlists from around the web and by sourcing them from their original location, similar to Hypemachine or ex.fm.
One major difference from ex.fm's perspective however, as pointed out by ex.fm CEO Dan Kantor, is that "ex.fm is committed to only working with legitimate music services that allow music to be streamed and shared such as Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Official.fm, Stereogum and more."
After looking around the Anontune platform, it appears the majority of songs also seem to come from legitimate sources such as YouTube and Soundcloud. The site itself does not appear to host any kind of copyrighted content, but rather its Anontune player simply frames other widely-available music sites. According to Wired, there are plans in the works to add Yahoo Music, Myspace Music, Bandcamp and others. Once the bugs and kinks are all worked out (the site is currently in "very beta" mode), it remains to be seen if the property is able to gain enough traction to act as a serious contender in the online music space.