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CBS to Pirate Bay: 'You're ok by us'

BitTorrent site can use Last.fm API

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Last.fm, the music recommendation site owned by US media conglomerate CBS, has today given Pirate Bay the thumbs up to use its servers to add radio streams to BitTorrent searches.

The Swedish anti-copyright site has added a Last.fm widget to results pages as part of a new drop-down of extra information on artists (blog post here).

A spokesman for London-based Last.fm told The Reg that while it would not seek to endorse Pirate Bay, it has no control over who uses its API.

Even if it did, to stop Pirate Bay wouldn't be "in the spirit of" the API, he said.

Last.fm's main service is providing music recommendations which it does by matching similar users' tastes, and creating bespoke radio streams around them. The use of its servers by Pirate Bay marks an interesting test of the trend for websites to offer their own API.

The API acquiescence is unlikely to win fans in the beleaguered record industry. The site spent months itself courting labels to assure its own legal status, while its parent company CBS is a major owner of US music radio stations.

Pirate Bay's outspoken stance against rights holders meanwhile, as well as publicity-seeking antics, have marked it out for special resentment from record industry bodies such as the Recording Industry Ass. of America. Servers were seized by Swedish authorities following US pressure last year, but the site quickly reemerged.

The UK's BPI wasn't immediately available for comment.

As well as its main network station, CBS also runs a TV channel with Warner Brothers Entertainment in the US called The CW. Warner sits on the board of the Motion Picture Ass. of America, which has alleged that the operators of the Pirate Bay are profiteering criminals.

CBS paid $280m for Last.fm in May this year, but these are choppy waters for the site to navigate.

At the time of the CBS takeover its founders pledged to continue under its original principles of openness and sharing music. They also welcomed the massive cash injection. ®

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