Blogger Wars Heat Up: Google Explains Its Sudden Move Against MP3 Blogs
"I get DMCA takedown notes almost every other week," Pop Tarts Suck Toasted proprietor Patrick Duffy told us on Tuesday, after Google's Blogger service, which hosted PTST, had summarily deleted the blog. "It's ridiculous, but I always remove the offending mp3's ... it seems that I hit the maximum number of complaints and they removed everything!" PTST wasn't alone, either--the roster, according to Guardian, also includes Masala, I Rock Cleveland, To Die By Your Side, It's a Rap, and Living Ears [relocated!], which we'd link to, if any of them were still extant. Now Blogger, perhaps sensing an incipient revolt, has issued a statement explaining their decision to remove the MP3 blogs from their rolls:
Earlier today, word spread about some popular music blogs that were recently removed from Blogger. While we make it a policy to not publicly discuss individual users or their accounts, we wanted to clarify a few things about how and when Blogger enforces its Terms of Service as they relate to our DMCA policy.
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.
A blogger's recourse, the post goes onto explain, is to file a DMCA counter-claim asserting that your blog did in fact have legal permission to host the offending MP3. But initial notice usually does not specify the song in question, nor does it contain instructions about how to file a counter-claim. And the very idea of legality here has a plastic definition. The Guardian quotes a Secretly Canadian publicist on the odd instance of being asked via DMCA to remove an official BLK JKS promotional MP3 from BLK JKS's own official blog. Needless to say, people feel like there is something of a witch hunt afoot.
There may well be. But it may be time to start questioning the anachronism of the MP3 blog as well, an artifact from the earlier, wild west days of the internet, when most of these websites "operated on the internet's fringes, almost exclusively posting songs without permission," as the Guardian puts it. Now, as anyone with a frequently read blog knows, artists, labels, and publicists regard the venue a bit differently--most of us are now sent MP3s to post on a regular basis, to say nothing of endless remixes and videos, etc. But the format--a mostly anonymous forum existing within the ether of the web, giving away other people's property for free--lends itself to abuses. It was only a matter of time before people with financial interest in this game moved to make it harder to operate MP3 blogs, especially those run by people at the fringes. Neither Gorilla vs Bear and My Old Kentucky Home have been served yet, though Blogger hosts them both: this may because they are so entrenched in the promotional apparatus that everyone who matters has an incentive to keep them operative. But if you're on the margins, the message seems to be: watch out.
A quick note about music blog removals [Blogger Buzz]
Update: Google Responds to Blog Takedown; Guilty Until Proven Innocent... [Daily Swarm]