This is the first I’ve heard of this, but it is a scary proposition and certainly not exactly net neutral – a stance that Google supposedly prides itself on.
Posts containing music files have been disappearing from Google’s search index, but all relates to the Google owned Blogger platform. Many music blogs began on this platform before Google owned it. The article is slightly misleading, since Jeff Weiss makes it seem that the posts are being removed entirely from websites and not just the search index. I would think Google wouldn’t just outright delete posts, but then again, I’m not exactly willing to give Big Brother the benefit of the doubt.
But none of this explains why Blogger is deleting year-old Elliott Smith songs that can be legally accessed elsewhere. All arrows, however, point to an unacknowledged switch in Google’s corporate policy. Though its corporate brass declined an interview with L.A. Weekly, Andrew Pederson, a spokesperson for the Mountain View–based company, explained via e-mail, “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. If material is removed, we make a good-faith effort to contact affected bloggers using the e-mail address they set up when they signed up for Blogger. This is in compliance with the DMCA, which requires that users receive notification after material has been removed.”
Indeed, nowhere in the fine print of the DMCA does it state that any agency is required to notify bloggers prior to the deletion of their posts. Meaning that in the five years since purchasing Blogger’s parent company, Pyra Labs, Google has been extending warnings as a common courtesy. Now, it just sends an obituary notice. Which raises the question: Did Google finally get fed up dealing with unruly bloggers? Was there some sort of back-office conversation with the RIAA? Does it just really hate MGMT?
Whatever the answer, a lot of bloggers are jumping platforms. “I’m switching to WordPress immediately. The RIAA, or Google, obviously doesn’t seem to know what the labels are doing,” says Heather Browne, the writer of the popular I Am Fuel, You Are Friends, which was recently named one of the U.S.’s five best music blogs in a Stereogum poll. “Most of the tracks posted are provided to bloggers, and nearly all are willing to take a track down if contacted. Sometimes, people just make a mistake. Cracking down on a couple blogs will never stem the problem of illegal downloading. This is how things have worked since blogs started five years ago. The labels just need to embrace it at some point.”