Google Removes Six Music Blogs Without Warning

BlogHer Original Post

In an action the Twitterverse is calling #Musicblogocide2k10, Google removed several blogspot.com music blogs and all their archives from the Internet without warning the blog owners that it was about to happen.

An article at PaidContent explains what the after-the-fact letter from Google to the blog owners' said.

“We’d like to inform you that we’ve received another complaint regarding your blog,” begins the cheerful letter received by each of the owners of Pop Tarts, Masala, I Rock Cleveland, To Die By Your Side, It’s a Rap and Living Ears. All of these are music blogs – sites that write about music and post MP3s of what they are discussing. “Upon review of your account, we’ve noted that your blog has repeatedly violated Blogger’s Terms of Service ... [and] we’ve been forced to remove your blog. Thank you for your understanding.”

The problem stems from a combination of DMCA rules and the way in which Google is responding to those rules. Google received complains about DMCA copyright violations and responded by removing the sites and all their archives from the Internet. Apparently, some of the complains were about music that site owners had permission to post.

Laura at rare pattern asks who actually owns your blog content.

If it isn't in your possession, is it really yours? . . . All that content is presumably gone. If the site owners want to get at it, they have to convince Google to let them. That doesn't sound much like ownership to me.

This happened last year, too. After the complaints about that incident, Google announced a new DMCA policy that was supposed to change the way they treated content they decided to remove. According to Techdirt,

Rather than just deleting whole blog posts, it would move them to draft mode, and then try to alert the bloggers via email and through the Blogger dashboard. This definitely seemed like a step in the right direction, but I still thought the company fell short on not having a clear counternotice procedure. Instead, it seemed to default to assuming the DMCA takedown was accurate, and moving a post to draft would be enough to get the blogger to "remove" the offending content? But what if the content wasn't actually infringing?

Either way, unfortunately, it looks like the new policy isn't working. Today, the stories started popping up again, claiming that music blogs were being deleted.

Google's response to the kerfluffle over the take-down notices said, yes, they were enforcing the new rules, but

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.

Inevitably, we occasionally receive DMCA complaints even though the blogger does have the legal right to link to the music in question. Whether this is the result of miscommunication by staff at the record label, or confusion over which MP3s are "official," it happens. If this happens to you, it is imperative that you file a DMCA counter-claim so we know you have the right to the music in question. Otherwise, if we receive multiple DMCA complaints for your blog, this could very well constitute repeat offenses, compelling us to take action.

Google also provided a link to instructions for filing a counter claim.

This reads, to me, like Google decided that more than one complaint was justification enough for a take-down, with no regard for the previously mentioned rules about changing everything over to draft status until the issue could be resolved.

At the SFCritic Music Blog, the statement was made

This is scary folks. If SFCritic is down in the next few weeks, know this, we're moving to WordPress. Any readers who have Web 2.0 knowledge and would be willing/able to share advice/help would be greatly appreciated.

I'm not clear on why moving to Wordpress would save a blog from DMCA complaints. Perhaps it has to do with the way Wordpress handles DMCA complaints. Wordpress Support has a couple of articles about DMCA, but they deal with someone stealing content from a Wordpress blog, rather than with a blogger who is posting content that (may) violate copyright law.

You can make backups of a blog's archives and database, and store that backup on your own computer. So, in theory at least, blogspot blog owners who had a backup in place might be able to resurrect the blog at some future time, assuming the issues about songs that were in question by the DMCA were resolved. But, without a backup, there may be years of work on a music site that is just gone.

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Virginia DeBolt
BlogHer Contributing Editor|Web Teacher|First 50 Words

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