We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Jon Meyers is living life under the gun—-or whatever the appropriate metaphor is when your hobby is running an mp3 blog. For some time now, he’s been receiving warning notices from Google via its service Blogger, which hosts his popular blog the Vinyl District. The missives have informed him that individual posts are in violation of the federal Digital Millenium Copyright Act—-that the mp3s he’s hosting are not authorized by record labels. Blogger (whose platform also includes Blogspot) has then unpublished the posts, recategorizing them as drafts.
The D.C.-based blogger, who is an art director by day, came up with a novel solution: mystery mp3s. Take Meyer’s most recent post, in which he hypes this Sunday’s DC Record Fair (he’s an organizer). He posted several of his favorite finds from past record fairs, but he didn’t name them on the blog. You have to download them (from offsite) to find out what he’s selected. “I kind of can’t get out of my bad habits,” he says. “It’s really just a coy way of still posting music.”
He’s luckier than some bloggers, whose sites Blogger took down without warning in February. Blogger then issued a statement, clarifying its process and outlining how to contest post removals.
Meyers is happy to take down posts, he says, if they’re violating a copyright. Here’s the hitch: Most of the posts that Blogger removed from his site contained authorized mp3s.
Take the most recent Merle Haggard disc: Vanguard Records gave Meyers an mp3 to host (as well as a physical copy to give away to a lucky reader). Blogger removed the post.
Meyers spoke with his contact in marketing at Vanguard, who is now looking into the matter—-presumably, someone from the company’s legal department took issue with the Vinyl District post. Meyers says it’s a left hand/right hand problem, a symptom of the dysfunction of record companies. For marketing, “they’ve found some success with bloggers,” he says. “And now they’re sabotaging it.”
“Blogger makes it particularly hard to combat the takedown,” he says. To appeal a DMCA complaint, he says, “you literally have to prepare a legal brief in writing, mail it, and wait.”
So he says he’s had enough.
“I do actually live in fear of the thing being yanked,” he says. He’s been running the blog for three years, and it’s a labor of love—-he sells ads on it, but they’ve earned very little money. So he foresees moving the site to a new host soon.
But while dealing with Blogger is a pain, he sees his plight as having more systemic roots. “I think the real story isn’t Google,” he says, “but the inability of the [music] industry to sustain itself.”