I'm so excited, guess this means I've hit the big time, at last!
Well, OK, maybe not. But certainly receiving one of these copyright-infringement letters has placed anew my opinions about the whole downloaded music thing into sharp relief. And I say "anew," of course, because all of these kinds of things were considered at great length before I decided to write my first post.
The post that had attracted the unwanted attention from the legal types was the one I had written about the three versions of "Rocks Off", featuring the Stones, Pussy Galore, and Phish, back in November.
The letter didn't actually tell me which of the three versions had elicited the complaint. You'd have to guess that it was the lawyers who handle the Stones' catalog who fired the salvo. But did they take exception to my having posted the original, or to my having posted the Pussy Galore cover?
The Phish video from which I ripped their audio is still up on Youtube, so I imagine that its was not the offending file. But it's certainly possible that StonesCorp.© has more issues with my extending the vector of contagion for the Pussy Galore cover (which I believe might be of tenuous legality itself) than for posting the original.
But a detailed analysis on the status, legal and otherwise, of the Pussy Galore cover album doesn't seem to be available on the net, so I really can't do more than guess.
Anyway, I took all three tracks down, for completion's sake, if nothing else. Not taking them down never occurred to me. All you gotta do is ask, that's what I say. With the way things are set up, with the way the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is written, with the way Google chooses to deal with things, it is in the interest of any blogger so presented not to challenge a Takedown letter, as Wikipedia says, "even if it is not clear if infringement is taking place, because if the potentially infringing content is taken down the website will not be held liable."
I'm not even claiming infringement wasn't taking place; I'm just saying that either way, it was a no-brainer for me to take the files down. I certainly feel no need to be belligerent; shit, I didn't write the fucking song, and there's no reason for me to be anything but accomodating.
The funny--if that's the word--thing about all this is that I own not one, but two, copies of the Stones' Exile on Main Street. I bought a new copy on CD in the early '90's, and Melanie bought me used vinyl at an estate sale a few years back.
Somehow, although I've paid for the vinyl, and though I've paid for the aluminum-on-polycarbonate, I'm still not allowed to do what I please with even 1/18th of the thing that I own--twice.
I am not unaware of the larger issues involved in music filesharing, either through blogs such as mine or through peer-to-peer. It's just that I sort of thought I might successfully sidestep them if I remained committed to 1) never posting complete albums and 2) never posting anything less than 2 years old.
Listen, let me be blunt: much of the music blogosphere sucks. 85% of it is dedicated to uploading albums in their entirety, with no commentary. I won't, and shouldn't, pass judgement on this common practice as far as its intellectual dishonesty, but I will say it sure does fail for intellectual laziness.
La Historia was conceived to be the exact opposite of this standard: all commentary and no files.
But at a certain point, I looked up and saw that most of the blog aggregators wouldn't even list you if you didn't upload music. So what was I gonna do?
I figured that it might be alright if I posted most often one mp3 song file, or perhaps occasionally a few, and made sure to feature a link to an Amazon page for the complete work. Perhaps this way I might be able to attract readers without also falling on the wrong side of the terminator that separates sharer from thief.
I still don't think I fell on the nefarious side of that line. I see myself as a friend to the musician, and to the industry. I see myself not as a criminal, but as a promoter of the music and the purchase of it, serving those who have been looking for a little buyers' guidance of a certain less common ilk.
It seems apparent however that some folks don't see me in the same way I see myself.