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musicblogocide 2010
February 11, 2010 9:52 AM   Subscribe

Google shuts down music blogs without warning for "violating terms of service". In what critics are calling "musicblogocide 2010", Google has deleted at least six popular music blogs that it claims violated copyright law. These sites, hosted by Google's Blogger and Blogspot services, received notices only after their sites – and years of archives – were wiped from the internet.
posted by meadowlark lime (96 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Don't be evil1.

1as per definition in sub-paragraph c of BigCorp Owns You contract
posted by DU at 9:56 AM on February 11, 2010 [10 favorites]


.

Too bad. Some of those blogs were a great resource.
posted by vhsiv at 9:56 AM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ironic
posted by smackfu at 9:57 AM on February 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Surely they have current backups.
posted by BeerFilter at 9:58 AM on February 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was just reading about this in Pitchfork. It seems like an ok thing to do if your mp3 music blog has gotten several DMCA notices over a long time period for Google to cut their losses and drop you from the index. Of course, that could mean people would try to shut down more of them by sending DMCA notices, but it sounds like only repeat offenders were being dropped.
posted by mathowie at 9:58 AM on February 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Seconding the need for backups. Cloud storage is great, but redundancy is even better. Host it in multiple places.
posted by exlotuseater at 10:00 AM on February 11, 2010


From the article:
"We'd like to inform you that we've received another complaint regarding your blog," begins the cheerful letter "Upon review of your account, we've noted that your blog has repeatedly violated Blogger's Terms of Service ... [and] we've been forced to remove your blog. Thank you for your understanding."
In other words, "we've warned you repeatedly, but you kept on violating the TOS." I fail to see how repeated warning then deletion is evil. It actually sounds downright logical to me.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:02 AM on February 11, 2010 [16 favorites]


Musicblogocide? Critics need to try harder.
posted by notmydesk at 10:02 AM on February 11, 2010 [3 favorites]




just to be clear, because I don't know the details here:

were these guys guilty of sharing music on the blogs, or what? what particular Term Of Service did they repeatedly violate?
posted by shmegegge at 10:03 AM on February 11, 2010


How about MusicBlogocalypse? MusicBlogamageddon?
posted by Mister_A at 10:03 AM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Day the Music Died?
posted by alasdair at 10:04 AM on February 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Even when the DMCA notices are served erroneously (or maliciously, who knows?) even though the songs being posted are perfectly legal?

FTA: Despite the de facto alliance between labels and blogs, not all of the record companies' legal teams have received the message. In a complaint posted to Google Support, Bill Lipold, the owner of I Rock Cleveland, cited four cases in the past year when he had received copyright violation notices for songs he was legally entitled to post. Tracks by Jay Reatard, Nadja, BLK JKS and Spindrift all attracted complaints under the USA's Digital Millennium Copyright Act, even when the respective MP3s were official promo tracks. As a publicist for BLK JKS' label, Secretly Canadian, told Lipold: "Apparently DMCA operate on their own set of odd rules, as they even requested that the BLK JKS' official blog remove the song." It's not clear who "DMCA" is in this case, as the act does not defend itself.
posted by yiftach at 10:04 AM on February 11, 2010 [9 favorites]


It seems like an ok thing to do if your mp3 music blog has gotten several DMCA notices over a long time period for Google to cut their losses and drop you from the index.

The Guardian points out that some of the DMCA notices were for promo tracks. I understand Google's choice to cut their losses, although some notice would have been nice. But why in the name of $DEITY are the labels sending DMCA notices for promo tracks?
posted by immlass at 10:05 AM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Music blogs have been a pretty excellent source for me of out-of-print or impossible-to-find items for quite a while now. Especially beloved are the "ripped from vinyl" sites which provide a huge amount of my most amusing and entertaining material. It will be a shame of this puts a damper on the existence of blogs which are filling the void of distribution for what is basically abandoned material and keeping it alive for modern audiences.
posted by hippybear at 10:05 AM on February 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Due process.
posted by DU at 10:05 AM on February 11, 2010


what particular Term Of Service did they repeatedly violate?

Blogger Content Policy, which bans a lot.
Blogger DMCA Policy.
posted by smackfu at 10:07 AM on February 11, 2010


So, at the end of the day, Google are getting all the flak for the root cause - that record labels still refuse to believe that promotion is a good thing?

I think it's a real shame that Google are willing to back down on these issues, considering how big they are, and what a great opportunity it would be to team up with the EFF and other advocacy groups and persuade everyone that current copyright law is bullshit and doesn't even help the people who insist on it thinking it helps them!
posted by opsin at 10:09 AM on February 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


Solution: blogorate personhood.
posted by dhartung at 10:10 AM on February 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


Blogger Content Policy, which bans a lot.
Blogger DMCA Policy.


I meant, "what are the specific things these blogs did wrong?" I don't doubt that Google are within their RIGHTS to close the blogs, I just want to know the specific context.
posted by shmegegge at 10:11 AM on February 11, 2010


Don't be evil - as per definition in sub-paragraph c of BigCorp Owns You contract

That's sort of lazy and stupid - if you don't want to be beholden to the draconian rules BigCorp (Boo! Hiss!) don't use their resource.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:13 AM on February 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Music blogs have been a pretty excellent source for me of out-of-print or impossible-to-find items for quite a while now.

These all seem to be new music sites. I'd think that labels would only request a take-down of material if it were currently or soon-to-be available, but I may be naive.

I think DMCA take-down notices have been followed on pretty thin authority, in the simple notion of avoiding further issues, but Google notes that a mis-filed takedown request could cost the requester:
To file a notice of infringement with us, you must provide a written communication (by fax or regular mail -- not by email, except by prior agreement) that sets forth the items specified below. Please note that you will be liable for damages (including costs and attorneys' fees) if you materially misrepresent that a product or activity is infringing your copyrights. Indeed, in a recent case (please see http://www.onlinepolicy.org/action/legpolicy/opg_v_diebold/ for more information), a company that sent an infringement notification seeking removal of online materials that were protected by the fair use doctrine was ordered to pay such costs and attorneys fees. The company agreed to pay over $100,000. Accordingly, if you are not sure whether material available online infringes your copyright, we suggest that you first contact an attorney.
That means BLK JKS have to clear with their label and/or whoever filed the DMCA request through legal means, at the cost to all respective parties.

Also, Google provide the option for Counter Notification, following which Google "may reinstate the material in question."
posted by filthy light thief at 10:14 AM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Day the easy access to copyrighted Music Died?

Perhaps there was an unspoken HAMBURGER, but I clarified all the same.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:16 AM on February 11, 2010


I meant, "what are the specific things these blogs did wrong?"

They violated the #1 rule of Using Someone Else's Free Service, namely, "Don't Cause the Gift Horse To Get a Lot of Legal Notices With Your Name On It."

This is, unfortunately, about par for the course when you're taking advantage of a service with TOS written so broadly, the operator can basically yank it out from under you at any minute.

A much better solution would be just about any old blog package on top of hosting by Nearly Free Speech or some other web host who actually promises to have your back when you start taking DMCA notices. Google — and every other free service I've ever seen — doesn't do that. If you rock the free-hosting boat, you'd better learn how to swim.

The DMCA process (not to mention the DMCA in general, as law) is horribly broken, but if you're using a free service to do something that attracts any sort of legal attention, your days are numbered. To do that and not keep backups? That's just irresponsible.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:18 AM on February 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


Even as someone whose hard drive contains several thousand hours of copyright-infringing audio files downloaded from links obtained through blogspot.com blogs, I'm neither outraged nor particularly worried by this news.

Google seems to be doing what it is legally required to do. Anyone - especially a music blogger - who trusts all their stuff with one host is asking to be wiped out. And the deletion of archived posts isn't as large a loss as it might seem; if it's more than a year old, in a lot of cases, the actual audio files have already been deleted by the hosting service.

The enemy hasn't surrendered. But in the ongoing war, this represents no more than their winning a small skirmish.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:18 AM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Filthy light thief:

The text mentioned that the blog in question "repeatedly violated" the terms; I don't see where you can reasonably infer that the blog was "repeatedly warned".

I read it as Google saying there were multiple violations, by which I mean multiple mp3s linked or hosted. And, for that reason, thus fell the banhammer. My feeling from the outrage that has been elicited is that this action was, besides coordinated, also sudden.
posted by moz at 10:18 AM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I fail to see how repeated warning then deletion is evil.

For all I know, maybe they were warned by Google, but that's not what "your blog has repeatedly violated Blogger's Terms of Service" means. Instead, it looks like lawyers at recording companies repeatedly sent cease and desist letters (if that's what they're called) to lawyers at Google, and Google's lawyers kept track of these things, but Google's lawyers didn't pass the warnings on to the bloggers until after Google shut down and deleted the blogs.
posted by pracowity at 10:20 AM on February 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can I complain here about google's recent extremely abrupt ending of letting blogger users upload via ftp? They've decided to insist that users instead host their websites on their servers. I've said no thanks and am currently scrambling to set up a wordpress blog instead within the month or so before they discontinue the service.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:22 AM on February 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


google.com + ' "Band Name" + rapidshare' + rapidshare/megaupload/mediafire/sendspace/etc. = Napster.
posted by ennui.bz at 10:24 AM on February 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


> Don't be evil - as per definition in sub-paragraph c of BigCorp Owns You contract

> That's sort of lazy and stupid - if you don't want to be beholden to the draconian rules BigCorp (Boo! Hiss!) don't use their resource.


Mr. Ampersand, do you always read those 6 pages + of legalese before you click the accept terms service button? How about when when a support tech sends you a new software release and is talking you through a debug session when you were on hold for 20 minutes to get through to the tech? The reason the lawyers make it so difficult to read is so the consumer will not read it.

I remember my parents telling me when I was a little kid to never sign anything you haven't read but that was a complete generation of legal innovation ago.
posted by bukvich at 10:25 AM on February 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Any critic who used the term musicblogocide should have their hosting revoked in perpetuity.

Don't Be Evil != Always Be Magnanimous
posted by Babblesort at 10:25 AM on February 11, 2010


I hate modern terms of service. It's like they're designed to be impossible to follow 100% and always "allow" whatever corporation to screw you over.

Not that that's necessarily what happened here, but if you've ever read a terms of service document you know that they often contain the impossible.
posted by ODiV at 10:28 AM on February 11, 2010


Can't help but feel that this is google showing off how big their dick is.

'Oh look we can shut your shit down if we want to.
What's that you say? Pretty much all your mp3's were legit?
Well fuck that was pretty stupid of me wasn't it, Iill give you back your stuff eventually.
Not like I wanted to send a message out or anything.
My dick's still pretty big tho amirite!'
posted by litleozy at 10:31 AM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mr. Ampersand, do you always read those 6 pages + of legalese before you click the accept terms service button?

Nope, but I have brains enough to know that if I'm using something I don't have proprietary control of to distribute something that I did not make or am sanctioned to distribute, there is a good chance someone in the food chain could get pissed off and take action that I will have very little recourse against.

I remember my parents telling me when I was a little kid to never sign anything you haven't read but that was a complete generation of legal innovation ago.

Mine told me there was no such thing as a free lunch. Then they gave me a bill and burped me.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:37 AM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the article: "The trouble with filing a formal, legal DMCA counter-claim is, that most bloggers don't know how."

C'mon, that's pretty weak. If your blog means that much to you, you can do some research and figure out how to send a simple counter-claim e-mail. Not only that, after you file, if the copyright owner does not bring a lawsuit in district court within 14 days, the service provider is then required to restore the material to its location on its network. [512(g)(2)(C)]
posted by naju at 10:43 AM on February 11, 2010


Oop, on non-preview, litleozy's link contends that at least one of the blogs' content has been"[L]et's say, the past two years... provided by a promotional company, came directly from the record label, or came directly from the artist."

Regardless, if you don't want Google getting on your case for annoying the neighbors, do like Kadin said and drop a couple of bucks for hosting and set up your own house.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:47 AM on February 11, 2010


received notices only after their sites – and years of archives – were wiped from the internet.

If you can't be bothered to kick out $10 a month for some hosting and be responsible about doing backups, then my sympathy isn't with you.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:47 AM on February 11, 2010


Huh. I started reading it with the same viewpoint as several: "They shouldn't have posted stuff they didn't own the rights to." Then I saw that some of the "offenders" DID own the rights to what they were shut down for.

Oh, Google. I'd be surprised, but that's impossible at this point.
posted by batmonkey at 10:51 AM on February 11, 2010


The problem isn't Google (although they could have handled it better); the problem is the DMCA.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:53 AM on February 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Alvy Ampersand: ...if you don't want to be beholden to the draconian rules BigCorp (Boo! Hiss!) don't use their resource.
If we believe the net-based media revolution is real and important, then the obvious question is: how can one run a tiny media operation with a global reach (like a blog) without being utterly under the thumb of several layers of corporate entities, none of which would bat an eye at cutting you off from the net the second you become the slightest bit bothersome? I don't know everything, but I can't see any way.
posted by Western Infidels at 10:56 AM on February 11, 2010


Exactly. Google is just trying to make sure they remain exempt from liability. You'd do the same in their position.
posted by naju at 10:57 AM on February 11, 2010


were these guys guilty of sharing music on the blogs, or what?

Each post on the blog consists of the artist and album title, cover art, and something like an AMG review. Then, usually added as a comment to the post, the author provides a link to download the album from RapidShare or a similar site. So yes, these blogs were distributing copyrighted recordings.

Music blogs have been a pretty excellent source for me of out-of-print or impossible-to-find items for quite a while now. Especially beloved are the "ripped from vinyl" sites...

Yup. This is where the conversation about copyright gets tricky (pirating the latest Jay-Z album is not tricky). There are/were a bunch of jazz blogs doing exactly this: digitizing old, forgotten vinyl albums and uploading them into cyberspace. These were albums that had long since gone out of print and which there is no existing commercial market for. (Some, there never was.) It is fair to say that the labels that "own" these recordings' copyrights have forgotten about them and have zero intention of digitizing most of them for sale on iTunes, ever—which means, they fall precisely within the purpose of the constitutional "public domain," but not its statutory definition.
posted by cribcage at 11:01 AM on February 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


The text mentioned that the blog in question "repeatedly violated" the terms; I don't see where you can reasonably infer that the blog was "repeatedly warned".

I read it as Google saying there were multiple violations, by which I mean multiple mp3s linked or hosted. And, for that reason, thus fell the banhammer. My feeling from the outrage that has been elicited is that this action was, besides coordinated, also sudden.


The Daily Swarm has good summary with original text, including the official Blogger Buzz:
Last summer, we updated our enforcement of the DMCA. Our current policy is that when we receive a DMCA complaint, we:

* Notify the blogger about the complaint by e-mail and on the Blogger dashboard.
* Reset the offending post to 'draft' status, allowing the blogger to remove the offending content.
* Send a copy of the complaint to ChillingEffects.org.

When we receive multiple DMCA complaints about the same blog, and have no indication that the offending content is being used in an authorized manner, we will remove the blog.
And that article goes on to note that if you are indeed allowed to share the material, it's up to you to file a counter claim. And that is indeed the same Chilling Effects Clearinghouse that is a joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, University of Maine, George Washington School of Law, and Santa Clara University School of Law clinics.

In the end, it sounds like a lot of hype over the Everything Is Free generation/party and the We Still Own The Rights generation/party, and Google/Blogger is doing it's part to play in the middle. They aren't fighting The Man, but they aren't deleting blogs on the first DMCA request.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:04 AM on February 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


person a does something illegal at person b's house. person b throws them out. Yep, blame person b.
posted by HuronBob at 11:05 AM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Checks to see whether his current favorite is still online.

Whew.

No. Find one of your own.
posted by squalor at 11:11 AM on February 11, 2010


I've only received one take-down notice in two and half years but then I mostly post out-of-print obscurities.
That said, I still don't get how attacking hipster blogs (which post single songs) is gonna help the record labels.
posted by jeffen at 11:22 AM on February 11, 2010


Last week a friend of mine picked up over 300GB of music via sneakernet for giving a dude a haircut.

Beating up a few bloggers in an alley != winning the war.
posted by mullingitover at 11:24 AM on February 11, 2010


This is where the conversation about copyright gets tricky (pirating the latest Jay-Z album is not tricky). There are/were a bunch of jazz blogs doing exactly this: digitizing old, forgotten vinyl albums and uploading them into cyberspace. These were albums that had long since gone out of print and which there is no existing commercial market for. (Some, there never was.) It is fair to say that the labels that "own" these recordings' copyrights have forgotten about them and have zero intention of digitizing most of them for sale on iTunes, ever—which means, they fall precisely within the purpose of the constitutional "public domain," but not its statutory definition.

There seems to be a growing interest in this kind of thing in the BitTorrent world as well. Although they might not necessarily only have "abandoned" content, there are plenty of communities based around sharing old TV shows, rare films, obsolete video games, and other content that isn't easy to find through legitimate channels. Sharing that content is still not legal in most places though, so those kinds of sites generally have to stay underground to survive.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:33 AM on February 11, 2010


Mister_A: How about MusicBlogocalypse? MusicBlogamageddon?
How about Blogtorious B.I.G*?

* Blogs in Google
posted by hincandenza at 11:44 AM on February 11, 2010


A handful of notes from the guy who runs "I Rock Cleveland," which might be pertinent to the discussion.

Basically, he outlines how he only posts specific tracks for which he has explicit permission, but his blog was deleted anyway.
posted by god hates math at 11:45 AM on February 11, 2010


Don't forget, there's a not-insignificant market dedicated to reissuing out-of-print/obscure stuff. The copyrights exist and are sometimes relevant. Bloggers are sort of deciding on their own whether a given copyright will have future economic value.
posted by naju at 11:48 AM on February 11, 2010


cribcage: "Each post on the blog consists of the artist and album title, cover art, and something like an AMG review. Then, usually added as a comment to the post, the author provides a link to download the album from RapidShare or a similar site. So yes, these blogs were distributing copyrighted recordings."

If I tell you about a diner around the corner that serves great hamburgers and you go there to eat lunch, I have not served you food.

The blogs are not distributing copyrighted material. The file hosting services* are.

* Which are under some attacks of their own, but that's a different story.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:53 AM on February 11, 2010


To me there are two kinds of music blogs: the ones that post download links where you can acquire one or more tracks (usually the whole album) and those that embed Youtube videos or streaming audio, the latter typically being single tracks that have already been offered in similar form on the artist or label's official site. I've been known to utilize both but I also recognize that claiming something is out of print and thus should be fair game to upload is also a half assed excuse at best.

Sure, as of the exact moment an individual downloads that album there is no financial infringement, since the downloader did not have the opportunity to legally purchase it at that time, but to assume that a record label allowing an album to go out of print means that they've relinquished all future rights to that material is to betray a complete ignorance of copyright law, not to mention just the general concept of intellectual property.

Yes, it could be argued that physical music containers such as compact discs are clearly on the way out and that there's no reason for something offered digitally to ever go out of print, but the fact is that the majority of all recorded music is owned by a handful of massive music publishers who only have an inkling of a minute fraction of what they own off the top of their heads, so it's likely to be years if not decades before many historical obscurities are offered up for legal sale. By the same token, that's also why it's easier to escape legal ramifications offering rare and out-of-print material than if you were, say, uploading a leak of the new Kanye or some shit (which I would think you'd just go to the torrents or Soulseek anyway), and it's also why labels such as Wounded Bird, One Way and Rhino have managed to exist even though they almost exclusively put out reissues.
posted by squeakyfromme at 11:54 AM on February 11, 2010


OK, let's be pragmatic here.

Sure, it would have been nice (not to mention much more in line with that lofty philosophy Google mentioned they'd be following, that wonderfully reassuring mantra just oozing a higher ethos... what was it again?) to allow these people to grab their data and go play elsewhere. I don't know, send them a notice with an ultimatum, set an autodelete for X days later, done. Or whatever, really; there could have been many better ways to handle it. I have no sympathy for kneejerk blame-the-victimist interpretations of news like this, particularly when the parties involved are SuperMegaCorp vs. some blog I've never heard of. Also, this happened under DMCA, which is fucked up in countless ways, etc.

Having said that, haven't people learned by now that companies like Google do this type of thing all the time? One might think "it's never going to happen to me", and that might be justified for a while, but if your site is successful the likelihood of trouble increases faster and faster. This is why those who care about such things for whatever reason should get their data out of Google and stop using their services. Even if it made sense to feel entitled to a better treatment (dubious) it's foolish to expect it and useless to demand it. Get out, move on and figure out better alternatives. It might be harder than using Blogger but, if more people were doing it, the Internet just might be a better place in the long run.

(On preview, I grant that filthy light thief makes a good point: at least they didn't take the sites down on the first complaint, which I believe the DMCA allows for.)
posted by mindwarp at 11:54 AM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Basically, he outlines how he only posts specific tracks for which he has explicit permission, but his blog was deleted anyway.

Sounds like he should check on whoever's sending in DMCA complaints against his blog, then. Not google's responsibility to investigate every claim, it's the blog's. Google claims they forward claims to the blog; hopefully this is true. Otherwise, I can't see how this is their fault at all. 100% DMCA and the labels sending takedown notices, plus people posting stuff online they don't have the rights to (even though it helps the labels, in my opinion), in my book.
posted by inigo2 at 11:59 AM on February 11, 2010


On preview, I grant that filthy light thief makes a good point: at least they didn't take the sites down on the first complaint, which I believe the DMCA allows for

While there seems to be some confusion as to what extent Google is nixing perfectly legitimate music blogs (I have to believe that's just a small minority at best, though), I would think that if there is a definite legal violation then, yes, their TOS would absolutely allow them to take down the site with even one complaint. In fact, I would think it would allow them to take down the site for legal violations regardless of whether the copyright owner had filed even one complaint, although this would require Google expending resources to preemptively monitor their blogs and, hence, is unlikely to ever happen.

Now I'm not a blogger myself so I'm a little fuzzy on the ins and outs here, but if you were truly operating an illegal blog would it do you that much good to set up your own domain? Wouldn't the complaints just go to the site host in that case and they would shut you down instead of Google?
posted by squeakyfromme at 12:09 PM on February 11, 2010


The trouble with filing a formal, legal DMCA counter-claim is, that most bloggers don't know how

Can't speak for Blogger, but on YouTube we have info about this (which I'm pretty sure is sent with every notice of a DMCA claim against you): http://www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=59826
posted by wildcrdj at 12:11 PM on February 11, 2010




Everyone should read wildcrdj's link. DMCA counter-notification takes 5 minutes out of your day, srsly.
posted by naju at 12:14 PM on February 11, 2010


Don't forget, there's a not-insignificant market dedicated to reissuing out-of-print/obscure stuff.

I can pretty much assure you, 80s New Wave bands which only released two albums, neither of which had a hit... or small-release children's music from before the time of Barney... or 40 year old quadraphonic mixes of albums... none of these have a potential market. And any market that they DO have is being kept alive by the blogs that carry the material, which will not at all dilute any potential future sales upon theoretical (and infinitesimally small likelihood) of commercial re-release.
posted by hippybear at 12:16 PM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


none of these have a potential market.

Should we let the bloggers make this judgment, or the copyright owners?
posted by naju at 12:18 PM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


(And how can we have a legal, statutory distinction between "80s New Wave bands which only released two albums, neither of which had a hit..." and, say, New Order?)
posted by naju at 12:22 PM on February 11, 2010


squeakyfromme: First of all, I don't know that I would assume illegality on the part of anybody just yet. See this snippet from the linked article:

Although such sites once operated on the internet's fringes, almost exclusively posting songs without permission, many blogs are now wined, dined and even paid (via advertising) by record labels. [...] Despite the de facto alliance between labels and blogs, not all of the record companies' legal teams have received the message.

As far as setting up your own domain versus using Blogger, my point was more about finding a reliable host which would perhaps not delete all your stuff before even letting you know you had been taken offline, for example. You know, more of a customer-provider relationship than this "I'm giving you bandwidth for free so I can capitalize on your content, but should any controversy arise you'll be wiped out with a smile and no appeal".

I wasn't really talking about being able to run an illegal blog and ignore the complaints, although that too would certainly be easier if you were using hosts other than Google. As Motoko Kusanagi would say, "the net is vast and infinite"... or at least bigger than US netspace.
posted by mindwarp at 12:26 PM on February 11, 2010


Solution: Get a real blogging platform.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:40 PM on February 11, 2010


Should we let the bloggers make this judgment, or the copyright owners?

How about if we restore the public domain?
When the copyright expires, the work enters the public domain. It is estimated that currently, of all the books found in the world's libraries, only about 15% are in the public domain, even though only 10% of all books are still in print; the remaining 75% are books which remain unavailable because they are still under copyright protection. [from Wikipedia]
We are losing vast chunks of our cultural history because a corporation (perhaps rightfully) doesn't see the percentage is putting songs from the 1930s on CD (much less iTunes) or issuing old movies on DVD. (Or even preserving them.) That's why we are supposed to have a public domain. As it is, nothing will be added to the public domain for another 9 years (if then).
posted by entropicamericana at 12:45 PM on February 11, 2010


Practical question: Won't it be fairly simple for these people to simply create a new blogspot.com blog and continue their "malfeasance" from there?
posted by Joe Beese at 12:49 PM on February 11, 2010


none of these have a potential market.

Should we let the bloggers make this judgment, or the copyright owners?


If there is a dispute, why should either side make the decision? Legal issues should be decided in court. But the copyright holders know that the cost of legal fees is going to be higher than it's worth to get the site taken down. So they just send out DMCA takedown requests and cease and desist orders to try to scare the site owner (or host) into removing the content without having to prove that any actual copyright infringement occurred.

As a result, in most cases either the copyright holder gets to decide because they can bully people into removing the content, or the site owner gets to decide because they ignore the request and don't end up getting sued. Since the legal system isn't involved and existing laws don't really reflect modern realities of digital content anyway, the current system isn't setup in a way that is fair to everyone or makes logical distinctions about what kinds of content can be shared and what restrictions there should be around sharing.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:50 PM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


If there is a dispute, why should either side make the decision? Legal issues should be decided in court.

Well, the dispute needs to hinge on some statutory law, presumably. Do we allow bloggers to post whatever's not currently in print? This would raise all kinds of havoc. I definitely believe copyright laws need heavy revision, and I'm a supporter of restoring the public domain. We just need to be smart about it. And in the meantime, it doesn't help the cause to try to excuse bloggers who are unambiguously infringing.
posted by naju at 1:01 PM on February 11, 2010


We are losing vast chunks of our cultural history because a corporation (perhaps rightfully) doesn't see the percentage is putting songs from the 1930s on CD (much less iTunes) or issuing old movies on DVD.

I agree, but I also think that today it's more common to write off things that would have netted cries of sell out and crass profiteering 20 years ago as simply providing for one's family, at least when looked at in terms of individual millionaires (as opposed to faceless corporations). So I assume that if there were any real groundswell to scale back the life of a copyright the obvious counter ploy would be to couch the rebuke in terms of taking the food out of their kids' mouth.

Also it bears mentioning that a great deal of out-of-print material is unavailable because the rights issues are a mess and no one is 100% sure who legally owns it.
posted by squeakyfromme at 1:10 PM on February 11, 2010


naju: Should we let the bloggers make this judgment [of the potential market of the copyrighted material], or the copyright owners?
In the case of out-of-print works, I'd say the copyright owners did make that judgement.
posted by Western Infidels at 1:23 PM on February 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Practical question: Won't it be fairly simple for these people to simply create a new blogspot.com blog and continue their "malfeasance" from there?

Not if they wanted to maintain any sort of regular following it wouldn't. Really if you're just a "the info wants to be free" sort of person it seems like it would be much easier to just take your record collection to the file sharing networks, where anyone that wants to hassle you about legalities will have to do a bit more digging to figure out who to prosecute.

People who set up mp3 blogs for the purpose of sharing music tend to like to do write ups on the material and share their knowledge on the subject as well, so presumably they wouldn't get much out of the experience if they were constantly jumping around from one URL to another to stay ahead of the law.
posted by squeakyfromme at 1:28 PM on February 11, 2010


In the case of out-of-print works, I'd say the copyright owners did make that judgement.

Are you really arguing that anything that's not currently in print should be in the public domain? This seems absurd to me. Imagine the hell small labels would go through.
posted by naju at 1:32 PM on February 11, 2010


Is it really that hard to keep something in print in these days of electronic distribution?
posted by entropicamericana at 1:34 PM on February 11, 2010


If we want to practically require MP3 distribution. I like vinyl, CD-R, cassette labels. Should we make this new law apply to books as well? Mandate e-book distribution? What about all intellectual property?
posted by naju at 1:40 PM on February 11, 2010


Is it really that hard to keep something in print in these days of electronic distribution?

In the case of a vinyl-only release from the late 70s which had a run of about 2000 copies to begin with? Yes, it is.

naju -- your point is made. Do you feel the need to Be Right in this thread, or can you let your statements stand on their own merit and let others disagree with you?
posted by hippybear at 1:48 PM on February 11, 2010


If you want to get overly simplistic about it... Yes, more or less.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:50 PM on February 11, 2010


Just trying to clarify my point. Went a little overboard, sorry!
posted by naju at 1:51 PM on February 11, 2010


god hates math: "Basically, he outlines how he only posts specific tracks for which he has explicit permission, but his blog was deleted anyway."

The thing about this, and I think a few others have mentioned it, is that under the DMCA Google has no recourse at all. They must act on any DMCA notice regardless of merit or they can be liable for any infringement. In your link the guy posts some of the DMCA take down notices and tries to state his case, when in the notice itself it clearly states the action he needs to take if he believes the notice is in error.

It looks like he responded to the label, and they said they'd look in to it, but that doesn't help Google. He has to file a counter notification, exactly as stated in the original notice. Google may have its faults, but its DMCA process is probably the most transparent one out there.
posted by markr at 1:51 PM on February 11, 2010


hippybear: if it's not worth the effort and cost to rerelease it in any way, shape, or form, then it surely wouldn't hurt their bottom line if it were in the public domain.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:52 PM on February 11, 2010


In the case of out-of-print works, I'd say the copyright owners did make that judgement.

Come on, now. I have literally 4-5TB of MP3s sitting around between DVD-Rs and multiple hard drives. Obviously I did not pay for much of that, so I'm certainly not attempting to position myself from the moral high ground when I say that this argument is ludicrous and flies in the face of not just copyright law but also the entire American system of marketing and distribution.

It costs a lot of money to have product sitting in a warehouse as opposed to store shelves, so for items that are not groceries or everyday sundries it's not uncommon for the producer to let existing stock run out altogether before manufacturing more goods. In the case of something like an album where sales generally slow to a trickle long before it goes out of print, sure, the record label is very likely to let demand build back up over a period of time before they invest in any kind of reissue (all the more true since for the last 15-20 years it's become more and more expected that any reissues will be accompanied by remastered sound, new liner notes and even unreleased bonus tracks).

So even if you're arguing for copyright reform and not asserting that existing law leaves out-of-print material up for grabs, as Western Infidels implies here, what reasonable justification is there for stripping someone of a copyright the moment they let a work fall out of print? How does one even determine exactly when something falls out of print, when it's between pressings or merely when the distributors for the particular store that can't seem to get it for you just no longer offer it for sale? These are just the most obvious, off-the-top-of-the-head objections.

A better question to ask is: why must the acquisition of music be positioned as either doing the right thing or the wrong thing? Why can't people just admit that their thirst for music exceeds their budget and that they take a few risks from time to time to slake that thirst? When you go 10 mph over the speed limit to get home a little faster, does that also create a moral quandary that results in campaigning for the speed limit to be raised? No, you look around, see that everyone else is also exceeding the speed limit, so even if a cop does show up the odds of you getting singled out for ticketing is fairly low, and you take the chance. Everyone lives happily ever after.
posted by squeakyfromme at 1:54 PM on February 11, 2010


The real question is: why is a 12-year-old copyright bill -- created by people who could never have possibly anticipated a future with well-intended music blogs, blog platform ToS's and PR firms welcoming and advocating digital distribution -- still being used?
posted by Menomena at 1:56 PM on February 11, 2010


Everyone should read wildcrdj's link. DMCA counter-notification takes 5 minutes out of your day, srsly.

True, but by filing one you're saying you're willing to go to court over the matter, which will take considerably longer, regardless of outcome.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:08 PM on February 11, 2010


naju: Are you really arguing that anything that's not currently in print should be in the public domain?
No, I'm making a specific response to a specific question, and I intend nothing more. It honestly didn't occur to me that perhaps it was a rhetorical question.

Are you arguing that works go out of print for reasons besides the judgment of the copyright holders?
posted by Western Infidels at 2:11 PM on February 11, 2010


Are you arguing that works go out of print for reasons besides the judgment of the copyright holders?

Absolutely. Even if you want to write my above marketing/distro example as a "judgment call" on the record label's part, which invites a file sharing free-for-all, there is also the situation of smaller labels who simply cannot afford to keep every one of their releases in print at all times.

iTunes, Rhapsody and the like should largely negate this problem as time goes on, but meanwhile you've got artists and labels that are still attempting to negotiate better royalties before they commit, you have long standing labels with deep catalogs that are going to need some time to clean up, digitize, and offer up online... not to mention that from a business standpoint you'd make a lot more money slowly rolling out catalog reissues backed with advertising campaigns than you would just uploading thousands of albums unannounced overnight.

So, again, take what you can grab and be happy to have it, but isn't pretending the rightful owners of that material have no legitimate recourse to try and stop you a little facetious?
posted by squeakyfromme at 2:24 PM on February 11, 2010


squeakyfromme: "[[ Won't it be fairly simple for these people to simply create a new blogspot.com blog and continue their "malfeasance" from there?]]

Not if they wanted to maintain any sort of regular following it wouldn't. Really if you're just a "the info wants to be free" sort of person it seems like it would be much easier to just take your record collection to the file sharing networks, where anyone that wants to hassle you about legalities will have to do a bit more digging to figure out who to prosecute.
"

I see your point. Egos do seem to get involved - judging from the number of "goodbye cruel world" blog closure posts I've seen from people who apparently felt their efforts weren't being properly appreciated.

Still, to my mind, someone truly serious about distributing the music as widely as possible will stick to the blogs. Almost none of the stuff I've collected from there has been available in torrents. [At least torrents I could locate.]
posted by Joe Beese at 3:03 PM on February 11, 2010


squeakyfromme: So, again, take what you can grab and be happy to have it, but isn't pretending the rightful owners of that material have no legitimate recourse to try and stop you a little facetious?
Have you confused me with another poster, perhaps?
posted by Western Infidels at 3:04 PM on February 11, 2010


I've learned that many music links on YouTube have a half-life of a couple of months before you get the little pink box sternly designating the removed video as a copyright violation. But the very same song, frequently the very same video can almost always be found immediately under a different URL. Have the copyright martinets been apprised of the concept of "futility"?
posted by telstar at 4:26 PM on February 11, 2010


Okay I see that Google is just doing proper CYA but I love music blogs. They expose me to tunes I would not other wise ever hear.

BTW you guys can bail me out when they come to arrest me for uploading mp3's to my secondary website because I don't intend to stop.
posted by bjgeiger at 5:04 PM on February 11, 2010


Partial solutions for some of the problem:
http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://masalacism.blogspot.com/
http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://irockcleveland.blogspot.com/
http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://todiebyyourside.blogspot.com/

Complete solution to all of the problem:
Back that ass up and shake it all over the internet.
posted by eccnineten at 5:28 PM on February 11, 2010


Have you confused me with another poster, perhaps?

QUOTE: Are you arguing that works go out of print for reasons besides the judgment of the copyright holders?

Were you perhaps trying to make a different point than you actually did?
posted by squeakyfromme at 7:05 PM on February 11, 2010


"C'mon, that's pretty weak. If your blog means that much to you, you can do some research and figure out how to send a simple counter-claim e-mail. Not only that, after you file, if the copyright owner does not bring a lawsuit in district court within 14 days, the service provider is then required to restore the material to its location on its network. [512(g)(2)(C)]"

Y'know, tell that to LiveJournal. I had a guy who, because I made fun of him on some dumb community, decided to file DCMA takedown notices over a couple of my profile pictures. These were pictures that I shot of me, that LiveJournal was demanding that I prove that I had the rights to. Not only did they start out by deleting and locking my journal, it then turned into a kiddie Kafka exercise in filing the counter-claims and dealing with the moronic admins, and they only undeleted my LiveJournal, like, three months later (after I'd well moved on). It was a pain in the ass, entirely meritless and easy as pie for the jackass who filed the claim. And sure, I could have sued him, had I wanted to waste my money on court claims, but as it wasn't a commercial journal, there'd be no real damages outside of time spent dicking around with this bullshit.

So, yeah, color me skeptical of the ability of folks with legitimate rights to the content to be able to prevail over the byzantine stupidity of content platforms trying to cover their asses even from specious and spurious claims.
posted by klangklangston at 7:39 PM on February 11, 2010


So, yeah, color me skeptical of the ability of folks with legitimate rights to the content to be able to prevail over the byzantine stupidity of content platforms trying to cover their asses even from specious and spurious claims.

That does suck and I never meant to imply that bullshit doesn't happen to unworthy people... but as someone who is only interested in this thread to begin with because I've been planning on starting a music blog myself, the delay of implementation owing solely to the desire to play fair and learn the rules ahead of time... what am I to gather from your argument aside from "don't bother to start a blog in the first place because eventually someone may desire to fuck you over and it won't be worth defending yourself at that point?"
posted by squeakyfromme at 7:56 PM on February 11, 2010


Sorry to hear that, klangklangston. In that case it sounds like LJ went from "cover our asses" all the way over to "make our asses especially vulnerable by violating DMCA procedure." Considering their consistently poor treatment of their users, this isn't so surprising. I do have faith that Google is slightly smarter and more careful than that, though maybe I'm being naive.
posted by naju at 7:58 PM on February 11, 2010


Has Google offered an official response to this yet? If not, will they make a public statement at all? The Guardian article notes Google said it wouldn't be doing stuff like this in a press release last August. Did Google in this instance follow the procedure they promised to follow at the bottom of that post? Does anyone here know yet? If not, posting statements like this:

Not google's responsibility to investigate every claim, it's the blog's.

is more than a little silly.
posted by mediareport at 9:23 PM on February 11, 2010


Just saw the response at Daily Swarm. Google still doesn't seem to have followed its policy; it says it had to act when it gets "multiple DMCA complaints about the same blog," but it appears likely that those "multiple" complaints came in one batch, and Google erased whole archives in response without warning.

If that's true, and it seems to be what happened to the I Rock Cleveland blog, then Google did *not* follow the procedure it promised to follow last August.
posted by mediareport at 9:28 PM on February 11, 2010


"what am I to gather from your argument aside from "don't bother to start a blog in the first place because eventually someone may desire to fuck you over and it won't be worth defending yourself at that point?""

That concluding that these music bloggers are at fault or are being punished justly may not be supported by the facts and that just because something happens, doesn't mean it should.
posted by klangklangston at 9:49 PM on February 11, 2010


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