Google Vs. Music Bloggers: Blogger Service Annihilating Copyright Infringers

Categories: Off the Chain
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Google's vast stretch of the blogosphere is going silent. The search giant, who owns the popular Blogger service and blogspot.com domain has been destroying content from music bloggers deemed to be copyright infringes. Google has owned up to it on its Buzz blogger: "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."

Sites like Pop Tarts Suck Toasted and I Rock Cleveland were hard hit, as the blog lost almost all it's content, some of which was backed up. You can read a note from the editor here, which contains the following passage:

Sorry for the mass nature of this little note, but as you may have noticed my blog - http://poptartssucktoasted.blogspot.com - was murdered by the villainous conglomerate known as Goggle (Blogger) yesterday morning. due to copyright infringement or however they want to spin.

Question: Does anyone really feel sorry for music bloggers who regularly mock copyright law with their posted Mp3s?

Answer: Sorta.

I'm really torn about this one. On one hand I am a music blogger (sorta, though for a villainous conglomerate of sorts, Village Voice Media) and I hate to see Our People suffer at the hands of a giant corporation who seems to be making good on an Onion story by destroying all information it can't index.

On the other hand, its obvious music bloggers have paid little attention to copyrights over the years and they have benefited from that. Every blog I read has one of those little "If you request we take it down, we will" disclaimers but -- and I do have a law degree folks, even though I write about music -- that ain't how the Digital Millennium Copyright Act works. Maybe it's how it should work, but it's not how it does work. Copyright holders are not burdened with the role of enforcing their rights on a case-by-case basis -- the government and large corporations do it for them. Bottom line: You don't have the right to infringe on something unless you get busted, as so many music bloggers seem to think.

I'm not some holier than thou RIAA goon either, obviously. I'm sure I've violated copyrights many, many times in my career, often inadvertently. And, yes my hard drive would possibly suggest someone (who knows who all has access to my computer) has downloaded music illegally from time to time. But when it comes to posting Mp3s with our blog posts, the good folks at PHXmusic.com play by the rules and either use a service like Lala.com or get permission from a PR person.

That's why I can't get too weepy over the plight of the Pop Tarts Suck Toasted dude: Old Media losers like me -- and our compatriots at the mega-blogs like Pitchfork -- have always had to use fucking Lala.com and risk our samples ending after 30 seconds, thus pissing of our readers. These damned anarchists on the small-potatoes music blogs could do what they want. Until Papa Google destroyed years of their work in one fell swoop.

Here's the chilling part though:

Inevitably, we occasionally receive DMCA complaints even though the blogger does have the legal right to link to the music in question. Whether this is the result of miscommunication by staff at the record label, or confusion over which MP3s are "official," it happens. If this happens to you, it is imperative that you file a DMCA counter-claim so we know you have the right to the music in question. Otherwise, if we receive multiple DMCA complaints for your blog, this could very well constitute repeat offenses, compelling us to take action.

In a future age this part could be the important part. Could record companies abuse this to handle bloggers they don't like? Sure could. I know it's a stretch, but I can imagine a situation where a group of labels would blackball an especially snide critic by denying access to photos or music and thus making that person sort of a pariah without the bells and whistles readers want. I know it sounds a little far-fetched, but who knows how marketing and PR will evolve. That would be a serious abuse of copyright law to impede free speech and it would be very, very scary. Even to corporate henchmen like me.


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