This week, Google’s Blogger began a systematic take-down of music blogs such as Living Ears and I Rock Cleveland, claiming that repeated copyright violations regarding songs posted to the blogs had moved them to action. The trouble, as many angry bloggers are pointing out, is that many of the songs in question weren’t in violation of copyright in the first place. Even so, Digital Millennium Copyright Act claims filed against the bloggers resulted this week in Google’s removal of their content from the Blogger host.
Gorilla Vs. Bear is one prominent music blog that has survived the take-down tempest. Although the blog’s bread-and-butter posts come in the form of streaming MP3s, founder and editor Chris Cantalini says he’s never received a DMCA take-down notice. “I make every effort to be respectful of copyrights, and work closely with bands and labels to obtain permission for every MP3 I post,” he tells Paste. “But then again, I’m sure some of the deleted blogs did that as well.”
Google responded in a post yesterday, explaining, “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; [and] send a copy of the complaint to ChillingEffects.org.”
The statement went on to say that if a DMCA claim has been filed in error, it is “imperative that you file a DMCA counter-claim so we know you have the right to the music in question.” However, it doesn’t appear that Google passed that information (or instructions for filing a counter-claim) to bloggers before removing their sites.
Many of the DMCA claims have been filed by the International Federation of Phonographic Industry, which represents over 1,400 members (including major record labels such as Columbia and Capitol) in 72 countries. And while there have indeed been real violations of copyright, many of the deleted bloggers report having received DMCA complaints in error. As Bill Lipold of I Rock Cleveland said in a bloggers’ discussion on Elbo.ws, every DMCA complaint he’s received in two years was for a label-approved MP3 posting.
The take-downs are bad news not just for bloggers, but for artist promotions as well. “Music blogging is a big part of music PR these days,” Candice Jones of Team Clermont Publicity tells Paste. “There are companies out there who solely promote to blogs and focus on social networking for bands as well. The take down of these blogs for allegedly violating copyright laws and Blogger’s terms of service is ridiculous.”
It’s unclear why Google chose to take such sweeping, drastic action, but Jones has a theory: “I think it’s just a way for Google to cover their own butt.”