It's really funny to watch the old record labels try to understand the whole music blogging culture. The folks in the promotions department send music bloggers mp3s and encourage them to post them, knowing that it'll get the musician attention. That's a good thing. But the folks on the legal side go the other way... often sending takedowns to the very same bloggers. Rafi Kam
points us to a ridiculous situation involving Warner Music Group, who hired a firm called Gray Zone to help "deal with" unauthorized tracks being shared online. Apparently Gray Zone tracked down a song by Gucci Mane that was on well-known music reviewer Andrew Noz's website and sent an angry cease-and-desist to both Noz and his hosting company using all capital letters
, including the phrase: "IMMEDIATELY REMOVE ALL LINKS, REFERENCES, DOWNLOADS, VIDEOS, STREAMING AUDIO, AND MP3 FILES ASSOCIATED WITH GUCCI MANE."
Noz didn't see the email, which his filter assumed as spam, but his hosting company did and suspended his entire site. Nice of them. When Noz contacted them, they told him that, based on the above sentence, he needed to go through his blog and remove every reference to Gucci Mane (after all, that's what letter said). Apparently, Noz had written about Gucci Mane quite a bit, so that was a lot of work. Of course, the letter is wrong. While there may be a copyright issue with downloads, it's difficult to see where there would be any copyright claim at all when it came to links, embedded videos (hosted elsewhere) or references. That's actually copyfraud by Gray Zone, on behalf of Warner Music Group, by claiming copyright on things that it does not have rights over.
Either way Noz scrambled and spent hours deleting everything
on his site about this particular artist. After
all of that, he spoke with a VP at Gray Zone who said that Gray Zone and Warner were really only demanding that he take down a single track. But, of course, that's not what the takedown notice said. Noz points his anger at Warner Music, asking why folks from Warner Music email him tracks all the time... but then get his entire site taken down for those very same songs? This isn't just the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, it's the right hand shaking someone's hand, and the left hand smacking that guy in the face for shaking the right hand. And people wonder why the big labels are so hated?
I actually spoke with both Warner Music Group and Noz to try to find out more about this. Noz says that he's not sure if the one particular song was actually sent by someone from WMG, but that he gets hundreds of songs a week, many of which come from WMG, and he helps promote many of those tracks, so he finds it pretty ridiculous that rather than just contact him and politely ask him to take down the song, they had his entire site taken down. WMG noted that it, as a corporate entity, wasn't directly involved with this, but that it was handled by a subsidiary, Asylum Records. Asylum then sent over a statement:
Apparently, unauthorized copies of the unfinished and unreleased track "I Got All Of That" by Gucci Mane have been stolen and sent out to certain websites by parties unknown to us. In cooperation with the artist and his manager, we instructed our third-party vendor to notify websites to take down the unauthorized track from their sites immediately. We appreciate the cooperation of sites that recognize that this unfinished song does not represent the artist's complete vision and may have been obtained illegally.
Of course, that doesn't really address the issue. The complaint from Gray Zone didn't just target that one song, but all
content related to this artist, and because of that, it forced the guy's blog offline -- all the while he's receiving plenty of songs directly from the record label. You can understand where there might be some confusion there. At the very least, someone should have just contacted the guy directly with a friendly request, rather than sending the immediate ALL CAPITALS cease-and-desist threat.