On Wednesday Anonymous announced the launch of a Pastebin alternative. Now the hactivist group is reportedly putting together a social music platform that will surely ruffle the RIAA's feathers. The project is called Anontune, and is designed to pull songs from third-party sources like YouTube. Users can throw the songs into playlists and share them with friends.
For years the project was nothing more than an idea floating around in the collective. But in December 2011, one member decided to make it happen. A working prototype caught the attention of additional Anonymous members, enough so that they "formed a team that day and stopped hacking." Since then, the team has been hammering away at the service, intent on improving the way music is played online.
"It has come to our attention that the state of online music has been sabotaged by the fat hands of corporate involvement," Anonymous states in a release video, seen below. "These changes have led to a world in which your enjoyment of music is controlled and billed by the minute."
According to Wired, the Anontune service relies on executing a Java applet. "Unless you are extremely trusting or using VMWare, you should think very carefully about running code on your machine that was written by members of Anonymous," the site states.
For those willing to test the service, users simply create an account and build playlists by typing in the names of songs they want to hear. The "engine" -- which is browser-based -- then scans YouTube and SoundCloud for the desired music. The team says that there are plans to add Yahoo Music, Myspace Music, Bandcamp and others in the near future. Even more, it's all done anonymously.
"The idea is that if all songs were easily accessible and centralized on one user-friendly platform that it would be possible to hijack all current users of music piracy solutions," Anonymous describes in an Anontune white paper (pdf). "For the first time in history, the legal alternative would actually be better. There would no longer be any reason for music piracy. It would become redundant. Not to necessarily suggest such a service need provide for download of its music. Making music accessible for online listening would be enough. Internal mechanisms of sharing and embedding could further make the platform popular, and around the platform new innovations in musical listening could take place. One such a platform exists."
But even if there's no real "stealing" involved, the new service will surely bring in lots of attention from the RIAA and other music services. Even more, it could fuel the likes of SOPA and CISPA that are out to demolish pirates and anyone linking to copyright material, on purpose and accidental.
"What we’re seeing here is a situation where the government is getting much more involved in enforcement, and we know that the U.S. government doesn’t like Anonymous all that much anyway," Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Corynne McSherry said in an interview. "I think content owners, if they feel like the site is a really viable site, they’re going to be pretty nervous [about this]. Because they like to have people that they can make deals with, and there’s no one to make a deal with in this situation."
So far the team has created around 20-percent of the overall service. "We have a lot of plans regarding this,” the Anontune co-creator told Wired. "The development of software to assist in achieving musical peak experiences, illumination of the functions and roles of music, psychometric testing based on music preference. It’s all there and this is possibly the most interesting part of the whole project."
Anonymous influential? Most certainly. Anonymous made TIME's top 100 influential list.