Published Feb 06, 2009Watch yourself, bloggers, there's a new Web Sheriff in town, and his name is Google. Or at least that's the accusation many music bloggers are making after their archived posts have begun vanishing into thin air.
In a new L.A. Weekly article, bloggers said they have been noticing posts that featured copyright material mysteriously disappearing in recent months but only those blog posts hosted by the Google-owned platform Blogger. Those interviewed accused Google of quietly changing the way it enforces the company's user agreement, opting to suddenly delete offending posts rather than its old method of giving out warnings that a post must be removed. To add insult to injury, the bloggers claim they aren't breaking any laws or leaking entire albums.
Ryan Spaulding of Boston-based Ryan's Smashing Life told L.A. Weekly: "I'd received the label's press releases and followed their directions, spending my time and energy to promote their albums. By pulling down my post, they destroyed my intellectual creativity, the very same thing they're erroneously accusing me of doing. Say someone had linked to that post, or [blog aggregator] Hype Machine - it's gone completely. If I go into my Blogger table of contents, it's gone. Not de-published - gone."
Like several of the bloggers interviewed, Spaulding said he understood the rules and was just doing what thousands of other music bloggers are doing. "I'm not leaking albums, not putting up three MP3s. Just the one they wanted. And they start erasing everything, with the threat of a lawsuit. People are afraid."
And, as the newspaper points outs, perhaps they should be. The U.K.-based Web Sheriff (aka the internet's own personal leak patrol) will soon open its first U.S. office, and by Google's comments to the newspaper it doesn't plan to change its post-deleting ways anytime soon.
"When we are notified of content that may violate our terms of service, including clear notices of alleged copyright infringement, we act quickly to review it, and our response may include removing allegedly infringing material," a Google spokesperson told the paper, adding that nowhere in the user agreement does it say that Google must notify bloggers the company has deleted posts.
Perhaps blogger Ashley Jex of Rock Insider sums up the situation best when saying: "Blogs will never die, but the golden age of the guerrilla blogger posting whatever they want is coming to an end.
"There will be arrangements for ad-sponsored content that you can put on your blog, in the vein of sites like Hulu. Eventually there will be software in place within all the major blog platforms - Movable Type, WordPress and Blogger - where if you're trying to post an infringing content, you won't be able to publish. At least, that's the direction it seems to be heading."