Is Google the new Web Sheriff? That's the accusation coming from many music bloggers after archived posts started disappearing from their respective sites. L.A. Weekly talked to one blogger, Ryan Spaulding of Boston-based Ryan's Smashing Life, who noticed that archived blog posts that featured copyright material were mysteriously vanishing. Spaulding talked to others in the blogging community that experienced a similar problem, and then they realized what they had in common: they were all using Google's Blogger platform.
In the past, whenever Google had an issue with some copywritten material that was posted on one of their blogs, the company would send a letter of warning to the blog's proprietor. Now, Spaulding and other bloggers say, Google is deleting pages without warning or notification. To make things worse, Spaudling says he wasn't breaking the law or posting an entire album for the benefit of illegal downloaders. "I'd received the label's press releases and followed their directions, spending my time and energy to promote their albums," Spaulding told the LA Weekly. "By pulling down my post, they destroyed my intellectual creativity, the very same thing they're erroneously accusing me of doing. Say someone had linked to that post, or [blog aggregator] Hype Machine — it's gone completely. If I go into my Blogger table of contents, it's gone. Not de-published — gone."
"When we are notified of content that may violate our terms of service, including clear notices of alleged copyright infringement, we act quickly to review it, and our response may include removing allegedly infringing material," a Google spokesperson told the paper, adding that nowhere in the fine print does it say that the company has to notify bloggers of deleted posts.
Google isn't the only thing bloggers need to be worried about in 2009: L.A. Weekly reports that the U.K.-based Web Sheriff will also open an office here in the States soon, which means the next Animal Collective album will take even longer to leak.