Here’s a story, sad but true, about a blog, that I once knew:
Save The Pop Cop
“Being alive after someone has written your death certificate has its advantages.
At 20:07 on May 14, 2010, the music blog that I have been running for the past three years, The Pop Cop (http://thepopcop.blogspot.com/), was removed by Blogger, the blogging arm of Google, who hosted the site. Before I get on to why this happened, let me tell you a bit about my blog.
I write about the Scottish music scene. I do this in various ways – updating a news feed on the site called The Goss at least five days a week; writing two lengthy posts each week which contain anything from interviews to topical articles, gig reviews, rants, reader polls, quirky features, festival previews; running the Music Alliance Pact, which on the 15th of every month sees a Scottish song shared on my blog and over 30 other blogs throughout the world; holding an annual Scottish gig photography competition.
The last full post I published on The Pop Cop (May 12) before Google pulled the plug was about a Scottish independent record label called Euphonios. I had done a face-to-face interview with its founder, Jen Anderson, and when I was typing up the conversation a couple of days later, I came up with the idea of describing Jen as ‘The Kingmaker’. So I bought a crown from a fancy-dress shop and persuaded her to meet me again so that I could take photos of her with it. Those are the kind of crazy ideas I have but I like to think they added a bit of colour to the Scottish music scene. In three days, the post attracted more reader comments than any other in The Pop Cop’s history, which made me quite proud.
And then Google hit me with this:
We’d like to inform you that we’ve received another complaint regarding your blog (http://thepopcop.blogspot.com/). Upon review of your account, we’ve noted that your blog has repeatedly violated Blogger’s Terms of Service (http://www.blogger.com/terms.g). 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.
The Blogger Team
To give you a bit of background, if a blog publishes a post that contains a downloadable mp3 that allegedly infringes United States copyright laws, the record label will use the DMCA to contact Google. With no questions asked, Google will then reset your post to Draft status (allowing the blogger to remove the ‘offending’ content and republish it) and send you a Blogger DMCA Takedown Notification email which includes the following paragraph:
“If it is brought to our attention that you have republished the post without removing the content/link in question, then we will delete your post and count it as a violation on your account. Repeated violations to our Terms of Service may result in further remedial action taken against your Blogger account including deleting your blog and/or terminating your account.”
Given that the overwhelming majority of mp3s on The Pop Cop were by unsigned Scottish artists who tend to welcome the exposure, such warnings were relatively rare for me (I had 10 in three years/450 posts). But whenever I did receive a notification, I would immediately republish the flagged-up post WITHOUT any mp3 links. Therefore, according to Google’s own terms and conditions, that should not count as a violation on my account and I should therefore have NO violations.
Here’s how screwed up the system is. On March 7, 2008, I published an article about Lee Beattie, who was working in Scottish music PR. She mentioned that she liked the I’m Not There soundtrack so I decided to include two mp3s from it within the post, namely:
Cat Power – Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
Karen O and The Million Dollar Bashers – Highway 61 Revisited
Since all mp3 links on my posts become inactive within about three weeks, the links to those two songs had not been ‘live’ since 2008. Yet more than TWO YEARS later, on April 19, 2010, Google sent me three (identical) Blogger DMCA Takedown Notification for this post. I could have filed a counter-claim and argued that the links were long since dead, but instead I took the quick option of deleting all mention of the two songs from the post and republished it that same day.
However, on May 3, 2010, another Blogger DMCA Takedown Notification email arrived about the SAME post. So that’s four ‘violations’ I’ve racked up and there’s not even a single mp3 on it.
Google keeps track of all Blogger DMCA Takedown Notifications they send out and when it reaches their magic number, they shut down your blog. And that’s what has happened to The Pop Cop on May 14. Three years worth of work gone. No right of appeal.
Obviously, they’d like me to go away quietly, blaming myself for occasionally posting mp3s without permission, blaming myself for not backing up all of my archives, blaming myself for not hosting The Pop Cop on a non-Google platform. And trust me, I have done all that more than you can imagine.
But since The Pop Cop went down, a member of the band Galleries has offered to help me set up a new blog (he’s also a web designer); photographer Jessica Newell launched a Get ThePopCop back online Facebook page; another band The Morgue Party Candidate started a #savethepopcop hashtag on Twitter, fellow Scottish music blogger Peenko published a Save The Pop Cop post, as did Glasgow PodcART.
I’ve also had countless emails and messages of support and I can’t tell you how much every single one of them means to me. But there’s still something you can do for me.
Please email Google – email@example.com – and demand that The Pop Cop blog gets reinstated so I can at least get three years of my life back and move the content elsewhere. If I don’t win this fight, I’m not sure I can bring myself to start from scratch.
It feels like I’ve popped out to the shops to buy a loaf of bread and come home to discover the locks on my front door have been changed. However, my possessions are still inside and I want them back before they get torched.
Like I said, being alive after someone has written your death certificate has its advantages.
I know I can win this battle but I need your help. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and spread the word. I need you.
How sad is that. Unfortunately, this is becoming an all too regular occurrence. Another valuable marketing tool for new and unsigned bands is swept aside by another arm of the music industry, in this case an unregulated do-as-we-please American judge and jury.
It’s further proof, if ever it was needed, that America thinks it owns the internet. Newsflash, you don’t! And they wonder why people don’t want to pay for music anymore. We don’t hate the artists, we don’t want to deprive them of money, it’s YOU – the Music Industry – that we hate. Snort a few lines, comb your pony tail and fuck off you money-grabbing tosswanks. There, that feels better.
I had two blogs on Blogger and having already removed one (this one), the other won’t be far behind (it’ll probably be amalgamated into this one) and then it’ll be bye-bye Blogger. It’s your life, but I’d do the same if I were you. WordPress is much nicer and doesn’t stink of thuggery.
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