Thursday, 11 February 2010

Google Deletes Music Blogs

Never rely on something you get for nothing. That statement has had strong resonance over the last few days as Google’s free blog site Blogger has shut down a significant number of music blogs that host MP3’s including a number of high profile blogs such as Pop Tarts Suck Toasted, To Die By Your Side, I Rock Cleveland and It’s A Rap in one big sweep.

The controversy comes from Bloggers consideration that these and many other blogs had violated Bloggers DMCA agreement by posting copyright material for illegal download. This is the email that a number of bloggers received in their in box:

We'd like to inform you that we've received another complaint regarding your blog ( Upon review of your account, we've noted that your blog has repeatedly violated Blogger's Terms of Service ( Given that we've provided you with several warnings of these violations and advised you of our policy towards repeat infringers, we've been forced to remove your blog. Thank you for your understanding. Sincerely, The Blogger Team.

For many bloggers this represents months or years worth of (often) unpaid work deleted at the touch of a button by Google / Blogger.

Now of course, the obvious argument is that if the blog in question has violated the terms and conditions of the terms of service then they can only expect what they get. Putting the morality of arguments aside, the legal position is clear. If you have agreed to terms of service and then have not followed those terms then Blogger could and in some cases has pulled the plug. Here’s the Google explanation of things (click here).

However not all blogs operate in the same way. Sure, those who host whole albums illegally cannot be claiming to help recording artists and in our opinion deserve to be shut down. But what of those who just host one track, or a remix, giving the artist exposure, which may then lead to increased sales? And what of those who have hosted those tracks with consent at the time from the record label / PR company or artist direct? Some of the blogs shut down claim that they had consent to host the material they were hosting. For example see here. This is where things become grey.

Here’s a simple scenario. A band sends out free tracks to bloggers to host. Later they sign a record deal and the record label decides it doesn’t want the tracks hosted anymore as it now owns the copyright. Rather than politely emailing blogs who are hosting the tracks asking for them to be removed from the blog, it adopts a heavy handed / lazy approach and complains to Blogger that these particular blogs don’t have consent to host the tracks. Blogger then emails the blog author. This happens several times in relation to a number of tracks and then ping, the whole blog is deleted. The point here is who owns the music? Does the blogger still ‘own’ the music that was given to them at the time? The issues over intellectual property in the internet age, both legally and morally are highly complex. Ownership is a grey area.

It is for this reason that Breaking More Waves has never hosted MP3’s, even though we get sent many by PR companies who state that we have permission to host. It was something we thought about long and hard before starting this blog. We don’t particularly want to see our whole blog taken down.

Of course blogs that host MP3’s gain much bigger hit counts through sites such as Hype Machine, but we don’t write this blog to get huge hits or become a ‘status / leading light / high profile’ blog. This blog is more low-key than that, but through our reasonably regular posting and sticking to our own non-hip style we are developing a small and growing core regular readership and we are very happy with that. We’re more interested in the type of person that reads our blog than the numbers. We’re not interested in those that visit the blog for 10 seconds to find an illegal download of the La Roux album. We are interested in those who are prepared to invest time in music, who like to read about it and discuss it, as well as consume it. In a way this blog is like a clichéd old school indie band. We’re doing it not just for the love of music but for some sort of questioning ideal and philosophy / argument behind music. That’s why we publish blogs about talking at gigs, why record labels are important etc. If anyone likes or reads what we write, that’s a bonus.

We have massive sympathies for the blog authors that have had their work deleted over the last few days, particularly those who try to work with the established music industry for the benefit of the art and the artist.

We only hope that following Bloggers recent actions bridges are not fully burnt and that a sensible dialogue between bloggers and the industry can occur to ensure some workable solution. Like most solutions, some compromise may be required on both sides, and at this moment in time it’s not clear if either group is in a place to do that. We’ve read one idea about some sort of ‘blog licence’. We have strong reservations about the workability and policing of such an idea. The internet being what it is there will always be those who find a way round things.

For now though if you’re on Twitter you can follow the discussions and articles that are going up under #musicblogocide2k10


saamFG said...

The only thing of any good that could possibly come out of all this is an improved DMCA system. The current one is complete arse, lacking in transparency and clarity.

Pedram said...

very thoughtful essay on a modern media crisis. and your blog is just the way you put it into words. I also run a music/mp3 blog under blogger and feel insecure about what has been going on lately. I don't know the details about publishing copyright material but I've always tried my best not to share just everything. I'm that "only one track" kind of guy. By the way, do you think it's okay to just let the songs be streamed and not downloaded on our blogs? You know, the way Tuneage works. Please drop me a line in case you have read the policies. Thank you so much again for the post. It was really helpful.

Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Hi Pedram

Reference streaming /downloading. First of all let me just be clear that I'm not against the idea of blogs like yours - the "one track" blog. There's plenty of evidence to show that blogs like yours are helping artists (particularly new artists) get valuable exposure which can then lead to fan base development. Many of the blogs I read do this and because of this I have discovered artists that I haven't heard of and then purchased their albums. However I do think there is a case for ongoing dialogue regarding artist consent, in a wider context as well in respect of music. It is this debate that needs to be explored to examine issues such as downloading and streaming. Take radio for example. In the UK (My country) artists (or their record companies who represent them)receive payment for radio plays. Should the same apply to streaming and / or downloading from blogs ? I don't have fully formed opinions on these issues, except that there needs to be a proper discussion between those who run blogs and the rest of the industry, and a need for compromise on both sides to achieve solutions. One of the problems seems to me to be that music bloggers are a disparate bunch, and so collectively can not provide a consistent voice or enter proper dialogue with the established industry. Heavy handed approaches by Google as we have seen recently don't provide for a good basis for discussion. The worry is with Google taking down blogs, who will be next. Wordpress ? Tumblr ?

sammFG. Totally agree with your comments.

Von Pip said...

it seems f**king crazy that if the music is being given to a blog as PR
it can be regarded as an infrigement for example i received this email today from a PR company..

"Feel free to host, post and share this item across the web, or contact me for more information"

The PR companies acting for the labels WANT blogs to host these sort of freebies. Googles seemingly heavyhanded approach will make this relationship much more difficult. There's also a danger that in the future this can be used as an excuse to take down negative reviews. And what of the images you post Robin? Are they all approved ? Someone may hold the's a can of worms.

Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Yes agree Von Pip. It's an absolute can of worms. Which is why I choose not to post music downloads.

Yes and images are another issue. Again a very grey area, when anyone can search on google images and then click 'save as'. I guess anyone who hosts any image not created by themselves could run a risk, and it is something I have considered in the past but am happy to run that slight risk.

Only one occasion I have been contacted by the owner of an image, but he was cool and as he simply asked that I included his name with a copyright under the image. I would of course happily have removed the image if he had requested.

As saamFG says, hopefully something positive will come out of it, but we'll have to wait and see.

Von Pip said...

it could mean that blogs are a very grey and unappealing envronment, no music no video, no pictures...

I normally only stream music with permission and if mp3's are given freely from labels I may well state who gave them. Its an odd state of affairs as 'Big Music' actively courts blogs and asks them to host hand picked material...

Saying that I can understand if blogs are leaking full albums etc....but a blanket policy without looking into individual cases is lazy and will be seen by many as bully boy.

What worries me is the freedom of speech side of things too.

Phil said...

What saamFG says is spot on - the DMCA process is a complete waste of time. Time upon time I have had my posts deleted, even though I have had permission to post these songs. After countless e-mails to blogger did nothing but waste more of my time, I had a look at how to file a DMCA counter claim.

Needless to say, the claim includes a ridiculous sequence of steps that you must fulfill, and is blatantly designed as a mechanism to make sure that DMCA counter claims are not filed.

Although of course my sympathies lie with the blogs in question, I can't help feeling that they might have seen this coming. For years now bloggers have been complaining about the abuse of, and we were always advancing towards a stage where something like this happened. Quite simply, this is the worst thing that could have happened to, and the best thing that could have happened to people who love music and love the music blogs that they read. Surely, if this event has one consequence, it will simply be to finally drive people away from being ruled by

Pedram said...

I totally agree with your point here, but i was wondering if there's a clear line between downloading and streaming. the nuance as you know is just whether people can listen to one sample cool song from an upcoming album or they can have it on their HDD and ipod and take it everywhere without a care. let's examine two blogs: that let's you download the new Super Furry Animals forever and TuneAge that only gives you streams. Are they really doing the same thing? Thank you for your reply, anyhow.

Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Phil - I am sure you are right. Expect a mass evacuation to other platforms. Soon Breaking More Waves will be the only music blog on Blogger :)

Pedram - I don’t know what the position is legally regarding streaming. Morally, in my opinion there is a distinction as you outlined –with streaming you can only listen to the music on the device you are streaming from, whereas with downloading it can then be copied onto any form and listened to anywhere. As I'm unclear on the legal position I don't do either.

Matt Merritt said...


I agree totally. It's the reason I host my site rather than leaving it ona blogging site. It's also the reason I post the links as given by the PR rather than host (that way if they want to withdraw the link all that happens is a slightly annoying dead URL).


Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Fair play Matt. A safe approach :)

Tayo said...

My blog one neck, two chains ( was also deleted. We had over 3000 posts, 250,000 impressions and 150,000 visitors. All gone, just like that.