I had hoped to post about my victorious counter claim in two days when my Joey+Rory review is scheduled to be reinstated. But I just received another bogus infringement claim on mp3s I had permission to post, so instead this entry is to notify readers that Muruch will probably be moving soon.
I’m hoping to move Muruch to its own domain, but it will depend on whether a free hosting deal I’ve been offered works out and if I can get some help setting it up. If not, I’ll transfer to a another free blogging service. Either way, it shouldn’t effect feed subscribers, just bookmarks and blogrolls that use the url of the actual blog.
Following is a recap of my counter claim saga for anyone who hasn’t kept up along with some updates:
A few months ago, Blogger began deleting posts on several music blogs due to copyright infringement claims (many of which were unverified). My Joey+Rory review (re-posted here) was deleted in October without any advanced warning or notice afterward, despite my having permission from Sugar Hill Records (the copyright holder of the recording) to post the mp3 in the review. I could only assume this was due to a false infringement claim, so I mailed a counter claim to Blogger in November documenting what happened and showing that my authorization from the label for the mp3. It was a frightening process, as I had to take responsibility for any legal fees, but Sugar Hill’s support gave me courage.
Weeks went by with no response from Blogger, so I emailed them at the beginning of December asking for the status of the counter claim. Coincidentally, after I commented on WireTap Magazine‘s article regarding this matter, I finally received an email from Blogger. They initially said that they hadn’t received my counter claim, then they said they really didn’t know if they had received it due to a backlog of counter claims. They requested that I email a copy of my counter claim to them, which I did.
Blogger responded again saying that they would forward my counter claim to the complainant, and that the deleted post would be reinstated if said complainant did not take legal action within 14 days. Sugar Hill assured me that their authorization would prevent such legal action, so I was relieved that my counter claim seemed to have been successful and have since been waiting for the review to be reinstated
After several requests and finally a strongly worded demand from me, Blogger finally revealed that it was the IFPI that filed the infringement claim against me. I informed my contacts at Sugar Hill, and it would seem the complaint was due to breakdown in communication between Sugar Hill Records (who gave me authorization), the U.S. licensing company (Welk), and their UK distributor (EMI), who is represented by IFPI. Sadly, even the record label admits they have less power than the enforcement organizations. So while their authorization protects me from legal action, it didn’t prevent IFPI from filing another claim against me or Blogger from deleting another review.
I emailed IFPI directly and offered my full cooperation in hopes of preventing future conflicts, but have so far received no response. Instead, I received a second takedown notice today from Blogger due to another complaint filed by IFPI regarding the two Sam Phillips mp3s I posted this week (Blogger also deleted that post without warning). The mp3s weren’t even hosted on my server, they were on the website of the PR firm Toolshed, who represent Nonesuch Records (Phillips label) and gave me permission to post the mp3 links. Both Toolshed and Nonesuch Records were apologetic, but they seem as powerless as Sugar Hill against EMI (their distributor) and IFPI. So I don’t think I’ll be able to file another counter claim.
I personally don’t think it’s right to boycott artists over mp3 issues, so none of this will change who or what I review on Muruch. Regular readers are already accustomed to my publishing major label reviews without music, and I will continue to post mp3s by independent artists who are free to do what they want with their own music. However, I will no longer post mp3s by artists represented by Sugar Hill Records, Toolshed, Nonesuch Records, or any other artist, label, or company involved in these Blogger deletions until they can give me some assurance that I will be protected from IFPI infringement claims.
I urge any music bloggers who have had legal posts (containing mp3s with permission from the record label or other copyright holder) deleted by Blogger to file a counter claim (instructions here). The language of Blogger’s content policy is intimidating, but all you need is to include a copy of your authorization email from the label. At least one other blog (Patch Arcadia) has had a post reinstated after filing a counter claim, so it is definitely worth fighting when you have a clear case. But my days as the legal blogging poster child for this Blogger battle are over, and I’m moving on.
I had originally planned to stick it out with Blogger, because Muruch has been hosted by them for seven years and I really feel the fault here lies with the music industry. But since Blogger’s content policy states that repeat claims may result in the entire blog being deleted, I feel I have no choice but to move Muruch elsewhere. As I said, it will either be transferred to another free blogging service or its own domain. Stay tuned.