Google versus the Music Blogs?

#Musicblogocide. I’ll have to look more into this story [1], but suffice to say, if Google has been taking down music-related Blogger sites without clear justification, it is unwarranted censorship and a big problem.

Google recently took down several music blogs due to copyright violations, yet the owner of at least one site in particular says that “all the MP3s served up on his Rock Cleveland blog [2] in the past two years were either publicly released promotional tracks or provided by the labels or artists.” Meaning, he was providing an alternative information resource to connect artists with their fans and presumably doing nothing wrong.

What I am most disturbed about is Google’s official response [3] to the public uproar that quickly ensued [4]:

“When we receive multiple DMCA [5] 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.”

That sounds like presumption of guilt. Google continues:

“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.”

So any coordinated challenge by one or more big music entities into the activities of a small music entity, say a personal blog, can result in Google requiring that small entity to prove they are doing nothing wrong, with all the associated stress, time and cost? Hand-to-hand combat between a solitary blogger and Warner / Sony / EMI / Universal / RIAA / etc. / lawyers with Google riding shotgun… Hmmm, I wonder who’s going to win that fight?

None of this is about music piracy in my opinion. It’s about distribution. Alternative channels that bypass the music industry’s big pipes and connect artists directly with fans are a threat to the industry and must be shut down at any cost. Frankly, harassing independent bloggers in this manner with full support from Google must be a very low cost for them.

This story merits continued public scrutiny. Both as an artist and on principle I am against music piracy and support Google’s actions if this has in fact happened. But I’m also a big fan of presumption of innocence, as I hope Google proves to be too.

References

  1. Google shuts down music blogs without warning
  2. I Rock Cleveland is shut down by Google’s Blogger service
  3. A quick note about music blog removals
  4. #Musicblogocide2k10 on Twitter
  5. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act

For more information about individual rights in the digital world, I encourage folks to visit the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

One Response to “Google versus the Music Blogs?”

  1. Interesting indeed, thanks for capturing this one!

    Too bad the mega-record industry players didn’t pay attention years ago and embrace the new wave of musicians and fans. Instead they lag behind, whine and gripe, and prefer to be a road block to innovation rather than fostering it.

    And, the fact that Google is involved… Well, I think they are just waiting to sell all of us out at some point or another.

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