Sunday, December 30, 2012

Challenges with Digital Music Matching Services

Many reports have recently surfaced about the new scan-and-match feature for Google Music. According to a Daily Mail article: “Scan-and-match is a free service that scans a user’s computer, giving them online access to the songs it finds, provided Google can match those songs on its servers. The service saves you the time of manually uploading your music to Google Music by scanning the files in your library and comparing them to songs in the Google Music library.”

An article from The Verge describes how some American users have been experiencing problems with this matching service: “explicit” songs are being replaced by “clean” versions in some cases, and others are findings that “clean” songs are replaced by “explicit” versions. Users are able to use a “Fix Incorrect Match” feature as a way to restore the original version of their songs.

Though some are criticizing Google for censorship because of the “explicit” for “clean” version swapping, the Verge reports that “Whether this challenge is simply inherent to music matching services or something else is at play remains unclear.” As previously stated, the service does seem to be swapping “clean” for “explicit” in some instances so the problems are not simply censorship. However, it is interesting nevertheless to consider how censorship affects users of online services such as music matching. Similar problems have been reported in the past for the matching services provided through iTunes Match and Amazon Cloud.

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