Thursday, October 30, 2008
War on bloggers
[Reinstated post after The Man deleted it for defiantly featuring songs by the Doobie Brothers, Rosie Thomas, Barry White, Melanie and Rage Against The Machine]
Even when you know it’s coming, when it does it is disturbing. Blogger deleted four posts of mine, The Originals Volumes 6, 7 and 8, and one from the dormant CD rated blog. Happily I backed up the Any Major Dude blog on Monday night after reading Whiteray’s post on Echoes In The Wind. In my comments to whiteray’s post I was defiantly bolshie. The essence of my response was “fuck them, we should not be bullied”. And I won’t be. I expect the arbitrary deletion campaign a passing phenomenon. And the fewer disheartened bloggers throw the towel, the sooner it will pass.
Of course I’m angry. I’m angry with those who demanded that Blogger remove pages, and I’m angry with Blogger. Of course, we music bloggers must acknowledge that we do play loose with intellectual property. Most of us, at least those of us who post music as a companion to a narrative, don’t seek to profit from doing so (no Google Ads here, nor pleas for donations. And the measure of glory we get is not going to inflate our egos unduly). Indeed, I think most of us post music to promote the artists and their music, to attract notice to lesser known or half-forgotten artists. In short, we do what we do in service to music. Many professionals in the music industry know that. Some contact us with a view to having their clients featured on blogs.
The post on CD Rated that was zapped by Blogger was a review of Brandi Carlile’s excellent The Story album. The review was glowing, encouraging the reader to buy the CD. Does it benefit Ms Carlile that my words of acclamation have been removed from the public domain? Most music blogs run a caveat asking copyright owners to tell us what links to remove, so that undisputed content can remain undisturbed. But why was the post on CD Rated (which nobody reads anyway) removed and not the post on this blog, much more popular and googlable than CD Rated, from which it borrowed the link? Maybe that will still happen. But if it doesn’t, then I should assume that this exercise is random and arbitrary. And if it is so, then this campaign has a purpose unrelated to copyright protection. But we cannot discern that purpose if we do not know who our accusers are. W can only guess at it. My guess is that those behind this campaign seek to obliterate the arena of music blogging with all the subtlety of Sarah Palin in a library and all the common sense of Dick, Don & Dubya before invading Iraq.
I understand Blogger’s dilemma. I am grateful to Google for providing bloggers like myself with a platform on which to communicate our thoughts. I accept that Google/Blogger must protect themselves from legal difficulties. My anger at Blogger is not directed at their self-protective action. My anger relates to the fact that Blogger did not notify me who told them to remove my words. Is it the RIAA, and individual record company, a private saboteur who gets his kick out of this? I understand that it would be a lot of work – and Google is a struggling small business which presumably cannot muster the required manpower – but my expectations might have been to communicate to the bloggers which links are being objected to, with an instruction (it needn’t even be polite) to remove the link in question.
I have pledged to continue blogging. I might change platforms – perhaps finding a host in a country where US copyright laws do not have force – or try to double-guess what Blogger will and will not zap. At the same time, I’m feeling a sense of blogging burnout and diminished time. If the rate of my updates decreases, then it will not because I have submitted to The Man, but because I am facing new challenges. Apart from the job which pays me my monthly salary and being engaged in an NGO I helped found*, I have taken on the editorship of a book project, revising another book, and plan to write one myself. And my family would like to remember my face as well. Which means I will not devote as much time to this labour of love as I have previously. But I won’t go.
* If anyone is interested in knowing about it, e-mail me.
Posted by CTV at 18:41