February 5, 2009

Why Fuel/Friends fled Blogger


Several months ago, good friends of mine who have passionately and thoughtfully blogged about music alongside me for the last few years started receiving notices that posts alleged to contain “illegal” music were being completely deleted from their Blogger sites. Gone. No warning, no chance to remove music or contest the deletion.

Many of the songs were originally posted with label or promo company permission, even encouragement. Many of the illegal posts were old, and thus contained dead links, so it was all a bit pointless. One guy had even posted a long and well-written interview with a band that had provided some free demos to fans. They went on to get signed to the majors; he went on to find the post vanished into the ether, along with all his hard work and creative writing.

This isn’t okay with me. I truly pour myself into this site and writing genuine words about the music I love,  in what I hope is a thoughtful and engaging way. The thought that I could wake up to find parts of it totally gone – well, it freaked me out.

My friend Jeff Weiss (from Passion Of The Weiss) wrote an exhaustive article for the LA Weekly that ran yesterday, all about Google’s censorship tactics. It seems a bit like the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, and oft-well-intentioned bloggers losing their work in the crosshairs. I’m happy now here, in my own fifedom (with the irreplaceable help of the guys from DayJob), and on my own server. I feel regretful that Google has taken to these tactics without a full understanding of how not all music bloggers are 13-year-old kids posting links to the full new pirated Fall Out Boy album. I watch with curiosity to see how long it takes all facets of the industry to get whatever new paradigm we are crafting here together.

(In the meantime, when we go to jail, um… can we share a cell?)

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  • I basically gave up on my blogger site for that same reason. I would periodically get e-mails informing me that my posts were deleted. It’s the worst kind of censorship.

    Bravo for dumping Blogger!

    Adrian Ernesto — February 6, 2009 @ 12:31 am

  • nice post. let’s hope it doesn’t get deleted.

    Hanan — February 6, 2009 @ 12:40 am

  • I’m so glad I read this. I got an email from Blogger the other day about my own (very tiny) music blog with probably five readers. Two of my posts had been completely deleted, including one major one that I had probably spent a couple days writing and revising. If they had given me a warning, I could have easily removed the music links or edited the post but no such luck. I am in the process of moving to WordPress; hopefully I’ll have better luck over there. :)

    allison — February 6, 2009 @ 7:04 am

  • I wrote a whole big piece on music blog takedowns in my magazine Modern Acoustic. You can read the full article on my blog.

    rich k. — February 6, 2009 @ 8:24 am

  • I used to have a mini-player (Playlist.com) on my blog but removed it because I felt guilty. My 15-year old keeps bugging me to let him download Lime Wire. (I haven’t yet, there’s that guilt again.) Do artists lose a lot of income over such things? I’d like to know the hard facts. Do you know how I might find out?

    TC — February 6, 2009 @ 8:33 am

  • I also write on Blogger and had a post removed, scary legal phrased e-mail and all. This incident has encouraged me to change my focus a bit, going even more indie, as it were, than before. So now I double and triple check each artist and track, get permission when I can, and basically trying to evolve a legal mind of my own (how sad to come to this…). Also, I save my posts on a backup file.
    Still, writing in fear and uncertainty is not what I had in mind when I started the blog.

    Oded — February 6, 2009 @ 9:56 am

  • I’ve been using Blogger just because of its ease of use, but I have to admit that the possibility of censorship does make me want to drop them.
    I actually have my own domain name and server space, but don’t know how to emulate blog posts with comments. Is there a template or something? Can you recommend a solid method for someone with only a rudimentary knowledge of HTML to get a blog running from their own space?

    Krëg — February 6, 2009 @ 9:59 am

  • I left Blogger after a four month battle with them over their deleting reviews from my legal blog (I obtain permission for every mp3 I post) due to erroneous claims from IFPI (see my own posts about it here & here as well as my comments on the Wire Tap article).

    I was one of the few who successfully filed a counter claim and had my posts reinstated. The process was frightening considering the threat of legal action even though I’d followed copyright laws. Not to mention that the prolonged battle (and subsequent transfer to a new domain) drastically reduced my traffic, which has resulted in a great loss of ad revenue. Thanks to Blogger, my almost decade old music site has been reset in rankings as if it were a new blog. And despite their acknowledgement that the claims against me were unjustified, Blogger continues to censor blogs without verifying the claims they receive.

    muruch — February 6, 2009 @ 10:02 am

  • Great article by Jeff. Thanks for posting that.

    Lindsay — February 6, 2009 @ 10:34 am

  • Thanks for the heads-up. I have a small music blog on blogger, as well as a personal blog. I don’t post MP3s, but I do link to YouTune videos and tracks via imeem. I assume this is still okay, as I haven’t had anything deleted yet. (At least not that I know of.)

    Kathy — February 6, 2009 @ 11:30 am

  • I’ve had Blogger spike two of my posts because of questionable reports to the legality of the posted music. There was no notice – nada. One moment, you call up the blog and the post has vanished. It is very distressing. Anyway, I am now saving copies of the post in case another bee gets in Blogger bonnet.

    marty — February 6, 2009 @ 6:32 pm

  • Nice post and I agree that you made the right decision. I started directly with a separate hosted server and on my own site, it has been great (knock on wood), and the thought of just showing up one day and having material (more or less original copyrighted material that you could sue for) simply gone.

    While Google may have changed the landscape of the internet in general, the right and left hands must work in unison. I am glad a great blog like this has moved and we will hopefully not worry about showing up one day to a removed Fuel/Friends blog (happened to a friend of mine, and I simply had to remove him from the blogroll…unfortunately and unceremoniously).


    Smansmith — February 6, 2009 @ 7:51 pm

  • Basically, Google is the new Microsoft. Booooooo. Like, there’s a Billy Bragg video (Sexuality) on YouTube that’s got the audio track deleted because of copyright issues. Seriously, WTF? He’s the last person to have a problem with that!

    Djimi — February 6, 2009 @ 9:02 pm

  • Is this the same Jeff Weiss that used to run Miles of Music?

    If so he should really spend whatever money he makes writing for various newspapers and whatnot paying back the bands that got jacked when MoM closed shop if he hasn’t done so already. Or at least get all of their merch back to them.

    If not…well carry on pointing out injustices that affect the state of “independent” music.

    WhiskeyTango — February 7, 2009 @ 12:37 am

  • While my blog doesn’t have MP3′s, I’ve seriously thought about leaving Blogger just coz so many of my friends have been hit. Same with You Tube, it’s a mess over there. But like anything else, solidarity is hard to fashion, especially in these economic times.

    Paula — February 7, 2009 @ 8:51 am

  • [...] I am Fuel, You Are Friends posted on her position of the (soon to take over) blogger crisis and that she made the change for the better (with extra [...]

    Slowcoustic » New on the ‘Nets this Week — February 7, 2009 @ 10:40 am

  • Bravo to you, Heather. I had exactly the same experience with my own, small music blog and also fled Blogger. I was both disturbed and infuriated by the email notifications I received from Blogger. I can only add to the chorus here, after losing one post that was the product of my writing and thought, and another that was almost a year old, with not a single active link.

    Ironically, I was able to “rescue” these posts by grabbing them from Google’s own cached versions, but that certainly not the point and no consolation. Talk about the right hand not knowing what the left is doing!

    For those looking to move (Krëg), I have found WordPress to be easy to set up for my own domain. Just keep it simple.

    Rick — February 9, 2009 @ 11:52 am

  • Great — now I’m feeling compelled to go though my site and make sure I haven’t lost anything important. Thanks RIAA! As if I don’t have enough to worry about…

    LMS — February 9, 2009 @ 10:03 pm

  • [...] de música no mesmo balaio, como disse Heather Browne em sua explicação da saída de seu blog, o I Am Fuel, you are Friends da plataforma Blogger para o WordPress.org, caminho este feito por dúzias de outros blogs, que se [...]

    O Google e a saga a favor da livre divulgação | O Crepúsculo — February 12, 2009 @ 10:38 am

  • Just made it to the new digs for the first time…I have so very little internet time these days.

    Congrats on the new site, sorry that it was forced on you…

    JJ — February 25, 2009 @ 3:33 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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