Let’s get one thing straight: the followers of this blog and the many fans who have written to me in the comments section of my last post will be happy, I hope, to know that the blog is going to continue. To be honest, I decided this about five minutes ago after a painful and dispiriting weekend debating the whole thing with myself (bless dear Louise, my wife, as she’s never heard of the DMCA and probably had no idea what I was ranting about, but put up with it all the same-and , as you can see from the picture on the left, she means business). I don’t quite know what tipped the scales, but certainly I have caused Ed in Scotland and Adam in Turkey, to name but two, no small anguish by threatening to close down (sorry, guys). Looking back over the past year’s achievements, it seems a travesty and a shame to let it all go to hell over strong-arm tactics by the very people who should be supporting me, namely Blogger.
Yet, having done a lot of reading over this matter, I have learned that it’s more complex than it appears. Blogger being a US based company, it is bound by American law, and the Digital Millenium Copyright Act is a bastard offspring of that country’s legal system. I quote from Wikipedia’s digest of Title II:
DMCA Title II, the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act (“OCILLA”), creates a safe harbor for online service providers (OSPs, including ISPs) against copyright liability if they adhere to and qualify for certain prescribed safe harbor guidelines and promptly block access to allegedly infringing material (or remove such material from their systems) if they receive a notification claiming infringement from a copyright holder or the copyright holder’s agent.
So, in a nutshell, if Blogger receives a DMCA takedown notice from the artist, the artist’s representative, his cleaning lady or his goldfish, they have a shotgun levelled at their heads: TAKE THIS DOWN NOW OR WE”LL FUCKING SUE YOU. That such blatant fascism is even a part of the US legal system can be laid directly at the door of the Clinton administration, whose Senate unanimously voted it into law ten years ago. We are thus celebrating the first decade of Big Brother, Millenium style. And they’ve already put into place a contingency for such action, without even committing themselves to due notice. For those who have not reviewed the terms of service they signed up to, Google state:
Google reserves the right at all times to remove or refuse to distribute any content on the Service, such as content which violates the terms of this Agreement. Google also reserves the right to access, read, preserve and disclose any information as it reasonably believes is necessary to (a) satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or governmental request, (b) enforce this Agreement, including investigation of potential violations hereof, (c) detect, prevent or otherwise address fraud, security or technical issues, (d) reply to user support requests or (e) protect the rights, property or safety of Google, its users and the public. Google will not be responsible or liable for the exercise or non-exercise of its rights under this Agreement.
Why, then, are we seeing this put into such draconian effect at this time in particular? My friends, I have concluded that it is all down to a show of strength on the part of the gorgon record companies who can afford to pay people to enforce it. At a time of dwindling CD sales and the disproportionate expansion of the download system, they are grabbing at straws to try and effect no less than a complete dismantling of the mp3 blog phenomenon. That would explain its random, scattergun appearance. As Whiteray has pointed out, it doesn’t seem to matter what you post: one of his takedown notices concerned a Demis Roussos duet, scarcely one of the enduring moments of the last millenium. Moreover, it doesn’t appear to even be a blanket tactic, but purely aimed at the minnows of the system to make an example of them and make the much more widely read blogs think, ‘Shit! Better not post any more music’. My DMCA notice concerned the Beatles, and I cannot imagine it was aimed at anything other than the mp3s I had posted (well, I’m guessing here. I kept no backup of what I had written, not remotely dreaming I would need it, having posted large quantities of Pavement and Jam music with no trouble, so I’m relying on my memory). Well, would Paul McCartney or Ringo Starr really be that pissed off at me saying I didn’t like Hey Jude, or suggesting that the Beatles may have been forced to record together when they didn’t want to?
No, I am convinced it was the music, which is still selling in large quantities. Never mind the fact that it was limited to the terms of my remit (Festive Fifty and nothing more), or that I religiously take everything down after two weeks, or that it was isolated songs from three different albums, or even that a cursory search on the Hype Machine will reveal scads of blogs hosting free mp3s of their tracks as you read this, and are apparently free from persecution. In fact, I would suggest that far more worthy of their attention would be those who post entire LPs either before or immediately post-release. THIS is what gives blogging a bad name, and it is THIS which is damaging their profits, not an attempt at a historical document with aural illustrations, which is what I am attempting to do here.
To turn to another matter: I indicated that I am dismayed at the lack of comments relative to the number of downloads. Well, to follow up London Lee’s point, I should perhaps be concentrating more on pleasing myself than others, yet it irks me to think that a certain track can gain 112 downloads and get only two comments. Yes, Gary (Onion Terror), I agree that you have suffered in this respect far more than I, but it is still galling that I can spend the best part of a day scratching around for information and trawling through my Peel collection for otherwise unavailable sessions (such as the recent Action Pact post) and yet not even get a thanks from the people who chose to add it to their collection. A little less silence would mean a lot.
Finally, what’s going on with the Peel sessions poll? Over 100 downloads of the entry form and only five entries? For those of you who may be under a misapprehension, it is NOT a list of any sort. IT IS AN ENTRY FORM. Therefore, if you’re not intending to vote, I suggest it would be a waste of your time downloading it.
The rant ends here. Thank you very much to all the people who responded to my heartfelt cry of anguish, and I vow to continue, as the bots scanning for mp3 links have probably moved on to Bruce Springsteen (bugger, I haven’t posted Born To Run yet…). And cheers to David in Italy for suggestions as to how to avoid this kind of bollocks in the future: I intend to put this into practice (straight away: see comments). Peace, love, and thanks for listening.