Friday, February 19, 2010

Confusion growing over journalistic music blogs; some blogs taken down for alleged infringement; rules seem murky!

Tim Jones has a disturbing report on Electronic Frontier Foundation about what he calls “music blogicide.” The title of the story, Feb. 16, is “Music Journalism Is the New Piracy,” link here.

Ars Technica has a detailed story by Nate Anderson about the problem, “The day the music blogs died”, link here.

Both pieces discuss the IFPI, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) as probably providing the mechanism for multiple takedown notices. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, in a story by John Soeder, detailed (on Feb. 10) the shutdown of a blog belonging to “I Rock Cleveland,” story here.

Blogger has posted “a quick note about music blog removals” which does bear careful reading. The link is here.

Apparently, sometimes just individual posts are set to draft status. But Blogger notes that misunderstandings do occur and that bloggers may have to contest takedown notices if they know their content is lawful. Blogger also sends the notices to Chilling Effects for others to review.

An example of a music blog that has been restored is Massasla, here.

The EFF story suggests that blogs focusing on reviewing new music have been shut down,. On closer examination, it seems as though the blogs did include mp3 or other video files that someone could have construed as copyright infringement. (The EFF article also mentioned mere links.) But there has even been a case where a blog from a promotional group authorized by the artists was taken down. Promotional and enforcement teams often don’t communicate too well.

The EFF article includes links to guides relating to YouTube takedowns, and general rules regarding trademark and copyright infringement., particularly in parody or criticism sites aimed at one particular company. It’s a little hard for me to believe that a blog post critical of a named company could ever be construed as committing “prospective trademark dilution”; see my trademark blog, June 2007, for the affirmative defense.

It’s natural to wonder if the same problem would exist for movie review blogs. I have wondered about embedding code from YouTube, particularly movie trailers. Now, some movie studios or production companies offer trailers with embed code, so clearly these can be used. Sometimes these companies post trailers under their own name on YouTube, and I have used these. I generally don’t post YouTube embeds from videos that don’t appear authorized by the company or a legitimate source, or that seem to be repeats of commercial broadcast material. Sometimes I can find other material related to the movie but not from the movie, such as an interview posted by the author of the book upon which the movie is based. Producers or distributors of small indie films are more likely to offer embeddable trailers than major studios, although it’s not always the case.

I often post pictures on my blogs, and if I did not take them myself, I give the source (as far as I can determine, usually most Wikipedia pictures are OK for use if attribution is given; many are stated as already in the public domain). I do not take pictures from the movies themselves, as this is illegal (people have been prosecuted for camcording in movie theaters!) ; I post pictures of my own with subject matter related to the movie.

Movie buffs who pay attention to end credits notice that professional films are very fastidious about getting permission and posting credit for even the smallest musical excerpts or the smallest excerpts from other films.

I am interested in making a film myself about some of the happenings covered on these blogs, so all of this is of great interest to me.

Update: Feb. 20, 2010

I found this op-ed on the New York Times site by Damian Kulash, Jr. from Australia, "Whose Tube", link here. EMI and perhaps other record companies have disabled embedding of videos by bloggers because supposedly they aren't making any money off them. Kulash shows how disabling embedding will result in fewer views (because you have to go to YouTube) and will probably cause record companies to lose revenue. The music companies "don't get it" and are self-destructing, hurting new artists.

I have very recently noticed that some emebddable videos do themselves feature ad banners. This may help inspire a productive new model for YouTube videos to make the content owners some money when the videos are then embedded.

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