SoundCloud Halts Volunteer Archiving Project

"SoundCloud is not going away—not in 50 days, not in 80 days or anytime in the foreseeable future."

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Jul 21 2017, 3:58pm

Last week, a group of volunteer digital preservationists known as The Archive Team announced they would be attempting to independently archive a 123.6 million track, 900-terabyte swath of SoundCloud, the popular streaming music and audio service that recently announced mass layoffs and office closures, sparking fears of an imminent closure.

But just as the volunteer archive of SoundCloud was due to be getting started, it's been abruptly called off at the behest of the company. Thursday, Archive Team coordinator Jason Scott tweeted: "Due to a request by SoundCloud, archiving and storage of SoundCloud is ending immediately."

I emailed Scott for further explanation, but he declined to elaborate, responding: "Sadly, I can't make any comments."

I reached out to SoundCloud for more information, and a spokesperson responded with the following written statement:

"SoundCloud is dedicated to protecting the rights and content of the creators who share their work on SoundCloud. We requested the Archive Team halt their efforts as any action to take content from SoundCloud violates our Terms of Use and infringes on our users' rights.

Most importantly, everyone's music and audio is safe on SoundCloud. SoundCloud is not going away—not in 50 days, not in 80 days or anytime in the foreseeable future."

SoundCloud's Terms of Use state that all tracks users upload to the website are "owned and controlled solely by you, and not by SoundCloud."

"Any unauthorized use of copyright protected material within Your Content (including by way of reproduction, distribution, modification, adaptation, public display, public performance, preparation of derivative works, making available or otherwise communicating to the public via the Platform), independent of whether it is or becomes unauthorized at a later point, may constitute an infringement of third party rights and is strictly prohibited," it continues

The Archive Team was aware of this according to its online project listing for the prospective archive, noting that "a full grab would be too big and would raise concerns of mass copyright infringement" (in part out of speculation that some of SoundCloud's users uploaded copyrighted content without permission).

So the official archive of the streaming service is not to be. But that hasn't stopped some individuals on Reddit's r/datahoarder subreddit from attempting to gather their own personal archives of as much of SoundCloud as they want and can afford to host. SoundCloud allows uploaders to make their content available for public download, but there is no officially provided batch way of downloading the contents of your personal SoundCloud library. Instead, some have taken to writing their own third-party scripts to do it.