A man has broken a restraining order by renaming his estranged wife’s Napster playlists

An Ohio man harassed his estranged wife through a shared Napster account and evaded a restraining order by changing playlist titles. Ohio Eighth District Court outlined the case in a July 29 ruling which was: highlighted on Twitter by writer and attorney Eric Goldman. It’s an example of how metadata can become a vector for harassment outside of major social platforms — echoing long-standing issues on other services like Spotify.

According to the court’s ruling, Defendant Jacob Dunn admitted to contacting his wife through a Napster account that both had access to. A court had issued a temporary protection order (TPO) against Dunn in 2018, barring him from contacting his wife in any way. But Dunn violated the injunction by renaming music playlists — one was changed to “I want us to work. Will you? I’ll do anything,” another to “I love you more than ever… do you still love me?”

Dunn did not plead aggravating threats and violating the warrant, although he later unsuccessfully attempted to back down and appeal his plea. During his sentencing hearing, he claimed that he had not understood the TPO’s rules, despite expressly agreeing to them beforehand – “Unfortunately, I found out the hard way,” he said. The court records show that he was sentenced to probation.

Napster — a streaming service formerly known as Rhapsody, different from the defunct file-sharing service — is one of many, mostly harmless, services that stalkers and harassers can exploit. As Forbes contributor Barry Collins reportedSpotify users have complained about being tracked by stalkers who can watch targets’ listening sessions and share playlists with offensive names. They have criticized Spotify for dragging its feet on privacy and blocking tools.

This case concerns a more unusual issue that most anti-harassment measures would not mitigate, as it involves two people who had agreed to share an account. (It’s not clear whether they agreed to keep sharing it after the divorce or whether Dunn’s wife simply hadn’t considered revoking his access.) It’s a clearer demonstration of how digital entanglements can have unexpected drawbacks — even with something like that. simple as a music playlist.