RIAA Vs. Music Bloggers: The Battle Rages On, Ever So Slowly

Yesterday, we wrote about the RIAA’s new tactic of dealing with music bloggers posting unauthorized MP3s: Instead of contacting the bloggers themselves, the RIAA goes straight to the sites’ hosting providers, who then suspend the offenders’ service outright–sometimes for “infringements” that amount to just one track. We’ve heard from more bloggers who have similar tales of woe–some of which involve the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the UK’s RIAA equivalent–and we’ve also heard from a lot of people who are wondering two things: “Are they allowed to do that?” and “Isn’t that a bad idea?”

The answer to both questions: “Yes.”

Here’s a primer on how service providers are supposed to combat copyright infringement taking place on their machines; it’s taken from chillingeffects.org’s FAQ on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (thanks, Anthony):

Once notice is given to the service provider, or in circumstances where the service provider discovers the infringing material itself, it is required to expeditiously remove, or disable access to, the material. The safe harbor provisions do not require the service provider to notify the individual responsible for the allegedly infringing material before it has been removed, but they do require notification after the material is removed.

So yes, the RIAA is–unfortunately–within its rights to demand that offending files be taken down, although that whole “notify after removal” provision seems like little more than an excuse for lousy customer service to us. Still, its actions seem very short-sighted–the bloggers being targeted aren’t running Bittorrent havens. They rarely post more than two or three tracks, a sample that, while big enough to take a bite out of low-margin 99-cent downloads, is small enough to spread artist awareness and spark sales of albums–particularly in rock, where the radio charts often look like they’ve been preserved in amber. (Seriously, does anyone really think that new Kings Of Leon record is going to get a lot of airplay?)

Granted, we give music bloggers a lot of crap, but they do possess one quality that the greater populace lacks: They have an undying enthusiasm for records that goes beyond the boundaries of marketing budgets or Q4 balance sheets. What the RIAA is doing by short-circuiting bloggers, causing them to say “Hey, what the hell happened?!” is the sort of blame-the-consumer action that’s resulted in people calling for boycotts and becoming even more leery of buying music. Which, honestly, is not behavior that anyone who’s involved in the record industry should be encouraging at this point.

What are the notice and takedown procedures for web sites? [chillingeffects.org]
Earlier: RIAA Hitting Music Bloggers Right In The Bandwidth?