Google found itself at the centre of a lot of criticism when it shut down seven popular music blogs without warning last week. The blogs in question Pop Tarts Suck Toasted, I Rock Cleveland, Masala, To Die By Your Side, It’s a Rap, Ryan’s Smashing Life, and Living Ears had in some cases, up to five years of music writing dumped from Google’s Blogger servers without notification for alleged US copyright infringement.
Maddeningly, many of the offending MP3s in question on these blogs were actually approved by bands and record labels. Miscommunication between some tiers in the music industry led to legal reps for these labels issuing Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notices to Google despite the fact that marketing and PR wings of the same company had sent the bloggers the tracks in the first place. In one bizarre case, a DMCA notice requested that the band BLK JKS remove their own song from their official site.
To complicate things further, the correspondence the bloggers received from Google didn’t specify what songs were the cause of the infringement making it very difficult, as suggested by Google to file a counter-claim. If you don’t know what you did wrong exactly, how can you correct it?
The other frustrating aspect of this comes from a sudden reversal of policy from Google who promised back in August they would not delete posts at all but would notify bloggers and let them deal with the copyright infringement. In the above seven cases, Google claimed it had received enough repeated notices that it had no choice but to delete the blogs in question.
These enthusiastic music bloggers who, by and large, legitimately respect the industry and are actively courted by PR companies, are being lumped in with the people who post full albums for free download and blatantly ignore copyright law in the process. Many of these illegal blogs continue to exist on Google’s Blogger service and are actively doing more damage than the seven blogs mentioned here.
There’s an argument that placing your content in the hands of one of the biggest companies in the world is asking for trouble and these bloggers and many more have now surely learned that hard lesson. It was obviously a bad PR move for Google (whose informal motto is ‘Don’t Be Evil’ let us not forget), as many supporters, readers and bloggers took to Twitter and blogs to chastise the company.
At the time of writing, Google had reinstated Masala as they realised notices were never sent to the blog owner in the first place “due to a processing error”. For everyone else, it’s a reminder to backup your content, move to a self-hosted service, get wise to counter-claims and be mindful of the actions of an erratic and sometimes schizophrenic industry.