Thursday, 11 February 2010

News: Music Blogocide 2010

The past few days have seen the deletion of several well known music blogs from the Internet, including Pop Tarts, Masala, I Rock Cleveland, To Die By Your Side, It's a Rap and Living Ears. All were hosted on Google's Blogger service, as is edRock.net.

Blogger have been enforcing violations of the USA's Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a law set up to implement regulations on digital media file sharing set down by the World Intellectual Property Organisation, and chose to delete the blogs entirely.

However, many of these blogs were working with record label or artist approval for all the songs they published, and were not given proper explanations of which songs were in violation of this act, or how to prove their innocence. Google simply told them they were in violation of Blogger's Terms of Service and left it at that.

It should be noted at this point, that no matter where the blog claims to be based, if it is hosted on Blogger it is subject to US law, as Google is a US company and the Blogger servers are in the USA. Its not totally clear whether Blogger is enforcing this law themselves, or if they are receiving complaints from an unnamed regulatory authority.

Google/Blogger, or whoever has been making DMCA complaints to them, seems to be operating separately to the wishes of record labels. Indeed, many bloggers are encouraged to share tracks by record labels and promotions companies, especially for lesser known, up and coming or independent label artists, music blogs are a cost-free way to share new tracks with music lovers who may never have heard the band otherwise.

I Rock Cleveland had received four previous DMCA complaints for songs that they had received record label permission to publish. For at least the last two years every song they published came from the record label, the artist, or a promotions company acting on their behalf.

Masala focused on obscure genres like kuduro, Japanese dancehall and funk carioca, music that wouldn't have had any affiliation with major record labels and artists that were usually glad of the publicity. Now they have no idea which of hundreds of songs posted got them in trouble, and claim to have received only one warning from Blogger before their four years of archives were erased. They questioned which tracks were in violation of the law and never got any response.

South African psychedelic rockers BLK JKS even received a DMCA complaint for posting their own song on their own blog.

Having received complaints about the way they were handling DMCA complaints last year, Blogger announced on their own blog that their policy was to warn bloggers by email and in their dashboard, and move the offending posts to 'Draft' status, so that they could be fixed, and copy the complaint to ChillingEffects.org for archiving. But if the bloggers are to be believed, they have not kept their promise.

Pop Tarts and Living Ears have already bounced back, able to recover most of their articles from archives, and have moved to Blogger's rival blogging service, Wordpress.

The two biggest music blogs on Blogger, Gorilla vs Bear and My Old Kentucky Home, remain online for now.

Yesterday, Blogger have restated their policy, and given instructions of how to make a DMCA counter-complaint, but is this too late, as several blogs are already gone?

Update 19 May 2010: Music Blogocide strikes closer to home with Scottish music blog The Pop Cop.

Myke Hall

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