Saturday, August 19, 2006

DMCA Issues, Legal Stuff, etc

Have a copyright complaint or an issue with something posted here, and you would like an item removed based on DMCA?

PLEASE DON’T BE AN ---HOLE!

DMCA letters and threats are unnecessary. We remove items voluntarily if there is a copyright issue. Before beginning DMCA takedown procedures to have an item removed, please contact me - the blog author/editor-in-chief - directly with a simple, normal, friendly e-mail (not a DMCA notice) and I will remove the item or page immediately upon receipt of the request, no questions asked. Please describe the exact item under copyright, who controls the copyright, and provide the blog link…so that I know what to remove. Email: WebsterU2006 at yahoo.com

(this will be faster and easier than going through the headache of DMCA "takedown" procedures).

For photographers - we try to avoid using portrait photos and artwork. We prefer to use stock photos, and photos widely available online from news services that won’t send me threatening letters. I don’t like the threats, and I don’t want the trouble of dealing with copyright issues or legal nonsense. My life is problematic enough as is. I have enough problems to last 10 lifetimes. But sometimes something may get posted that might be under copyright, or that may be questionable or objectionable. This is not done intentionally for the purpose of stealing someone else’s work. It is often impossible to know the source of every photo on the web or to know which item will cause a copyright problem.

This blog is strictly non-commercial. Photos, interviews, wire reports, etc are used for non-commercial, informational, review & educational purposes only. I don’t make any money from this blog.

We will also try to avoid using MPAA covered material.


Background


Al Capone - also known as The Recording Industry

The recording industry is well known for its campaign against illegal file sharers and file sharing networks, particularly on college campuses across the U.S. To wage its battle, the recording industry cartel, aka the RIAA (representing 90% of commercial music made in the U.S.) has used the DMCA of 1998 - The Digital Millennium Copyright Act - Legislation largely written by recording industry lobbyists and attorneys. In the last few years, the cartel has stepped up its efforts to control how Americans (and people around the World) use media by going after average citizens.

The recording industry cartel, with cooperation from Google and other web hosts, has now launched a war against bloggers and podcasters (in my opinion). This appears to be a new, much more aggressive phase of its campaign to control media and generate more revenue for the record companies by playing gate-keeper/troll for the use of music. The recording industry cartel seems to believe that they will make more money and will remain viable long-term by attacking their customers, and by restricting access to music. They are effectively making sure older music will die, since new audiences won’t be introduced to it. By doing this, they are in a way pinning their hopes for viability on the newer cookie cutter music…which often ends up being a flash in the pan. Yes, I know….all of this appears backwards and counterproductive. They are working against themselves. Their thinking and their business model are illogical and outdated. The recording industry actually reminds me of the American car companies, which have (because of greed and a lack of foresight) worked against their own interests for the last decade….by not responding and adapting to the macro business environment- and now they find themselves in trouble. The recording industry is facing the same problems with their internal business culture. In my business school, these kinds of companies were held up as models for how not to run an organization.

There have also been efforts by partisan political groups to use the DMCA to control speech, stifle dissent and debate, and to intimidate. No one is immune from the cartel. Absolutely no one. Not even innocent toddlers. See more on the UMG vs. Lenz case. (complete insanity). With the slow economy and with CD sales slumping, the recording industry is desperately seeking new ways to generate revenue. If that means attacking their customers and destroying human lives, then so be it. They have children of CEO’s to feed and to keep clothed. These efforts, in my opinion, appear to be part of the recording industry’s business model. But the recording industry (which is supposed to be looking out for the artists) is actually looking out for the record companies and their executives, who actually control many of the copyrights.

Complicating matters for consumers is the fact that they have almost no protection from the industry. There is no government oversight of the recording industry cartel. They have extraordinary powers & they are allowed to act with impunity. There used to be a doctrine known as “Fair Use”, but that is now largely defunct (although it‘s still on paper). “Fair Use” has basically been eliminated little by little. Bloggers battle this industry at their own risk.

A similar situation is emerging with newspapers. With sales falling, newspapers are struggling to stay afloat. They too are lashing out at blogs.

But the point of all this is to inform readers that bloggers and podcasters are the new targets of a much more aggressive recording industry (and other media). Bloggers are being targeted with DMCA action, and face the removal of their blogs. The aim seems to be to get rid of all music blogs and music podcasters. Somehow this effort has gone under the radar of major news media. Within the next year or two… there probably won’t be many music bloggers or podcasters left… definitely not as many as there are now (as of Fall 2008). Bloggers are even being targeted with legal threats for posting items in flashplayer format, where no downloadable files are being offered whatsoever. Posting music using a flashplayer is no different than the music posted to Youtube (which is also flashplayer based). Even if you encourage listeners to purchase the music that they can’t download (essentially becoming a salesperson for the artists), you still get threatened. In some cases, the cartel is threatening bloggers who actually have permission to post the items on their blogs…. Sometimes the recording industry demands removal of items which they have no copyright for. In some cases, the recording industry has used questionable practices, such as frightening & intimidating their targets into paying money (often average citizens...and people who they know can't afford attorneys).... practices akin to extortion, just like the old Mafia would do. And it's all legal. Remember... as I mentioned, they can do almost whatever they want.

I will admit, there are some bloggers and podcasters who operate irresponsibly…by offering pirated material, individual song files and other kinds of files, instead of posting playlists and album/artist reviews, interviews and using posting methods that protect the actual material.

But is eliminating all music blogs and podcasts really the way to go…or could there be a new protocol created so that music blogging/podcasting could be done more responsibly? Why not get rid of the bad apples who are using filesharing services to post songs and in some cases entire albums? How about shutting these sites down completely and banning IP addresses of the pirates at the host level, as opposed to the peace-meal removal of individual posts? Why not allow streaming or limited streaming (as opposed to downloadable files)? It seems like there are almost endless possibilities in terms of a sensible compromise. But the recording industry isn't interested in compromise or solutions. Their aim is to shut down all music...all sound..online where they don't have absolute control. (Basically silencing the internet).

Well, this is an issue that I won’t have to worry about… since this blog will not be posting music.

Policy on Music, Videos and other Media

This blog has a policy of not posting music files of any kind. No songs, no snippets, and no playlists, and there will be no Mp3 downloading or filesharing. That includes music from independent record companies, unsigned groups or anyone claiming to control the rights to their own material. I don’t have the time to deal with the legal headache and trying to figure out what I can and cannot post. So to Hell with it….and to Hell with the current commercial recording industry & its trade groups.

The only exceptions to this rule will be:

Music and artist interviews presented on Public radio, and Public TV (PBS, NPR, Pacifica, PRI, and so forth). I will continue to link to these stories. Thank God for Public Radio. I'll also use the occasional Youtube video.

No Solicitations

Occasionally I get e-mails from book authors, columnists, and others who would like me to post their material, give a book review, etc. Somehow they think this blog is really that important.
Mirror On America does not seek or accept such solicitations, largely due to the issues surrounding DMCA. I won’t deal with you, even if you claim to control your own copyrights. I don’t have a legal department and I don’t want to burden myself with copyright issues. To put it more bluntly- I don’t want to be bothered with your bull---- and the potential headaches and complications that may come with it. So please save it. Don’t bother sending unsolicited materials, book passages, requests for reviews, etc.

But if I come across something on my own…and I take a liking to it… I may write something about it. And if you get an appearance on public TV or public radio, and I like your work, I may indeed write a post on it… or post a link to the story. Again, that would be my choice.

One of the reasons for this policy is because often you have a situation where the writer or artist does not control the rights to their own work- instead, their management or publishing companies control such rights, which will give the industry representatives a reason to harass me about what I’m posting.

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