MP3 Blogging Controversy

Pitchfork Media, a top indie music review site (profiled in this month’s Wired) of which I’ve been a fan since 1999, is embroiled in a shake-up concerning the posting of MP3’s and the etiquette inherent to linking through to said files.

On Tuesday, Pitchfork secured an exclusive right to post “Summer Song,” from the upcoming Decemberists record.

According to Stereogum:

…[T]here are a number of tacit rules that the music blogging community seems to agree upon. Most are pretty obvious (e.g., if a label asks you to take an MP3 down, you take it down!)…. Don’t deeplink to other bloggers’ MP3, right? I think we can all agree that if some blogger takes the time to share a song, and put it in an editorial context, one must link to his/her post (not the file) as a courtesy…. Ah, but there are exceptions: we all freely deeplink to songs on official band websites, MySpace, corporate sites…

Pitchfork, clearly NOT a corporate site, was forced to shut down its download hub after many corporate media music sites — including AOL, USA Today, and Rolling Stone) went ahead and deep-linked to the file (not Pitchfork’s site/post), in effect circumventing Capitol’s exclusive licensing to Pitchfork and offering the file as if it were licensed to them.

Personally, I’m not so comfortable with deeplinking thru to even corporate sites, however, I do often post MP3 files that I have downloaded myself (legally) and host on my own server for others to stream (by RIAA definition — illegally).

For example, click here to visit AOL Video’s exclusive on Bob Dylan’s new video starring Scarlett Johanssen.

Click below to listen to Leonard Cohen performing “Tower of Song” with U2, from the I’m Your Man soundtrack (I own this, but even streaming it without paying royalties is considered illegal).

Finally, there’s Live365, on which I’ve broadcasted (WOOZradio) for 7 years. Early in the Napster/RIAA controversy, they worked out a sweet deal to ensure that the proper royalties were being paid and that all broadcasters were producing legal ‘casts.

The main issue with the Pitchfork controversy from my p.o.v. is that — it should be just as illegal for AOL, Rolling Stone, etc to provide access to Pitchfork’s licensed MP3 posting (without linking through to the page on which the file is posted) as it would be to host said file without proper permission / license.

Dave @ Rawkblog has more on Pitchfork’s legal & “illegal” MP3 hosting, its implications, as well as aural evidence of the soon-to-drop Joanna Newsom bombshell, Y’s.

Free Josh Wolf

free joshua wolfEarlier this week, Joshua Wolf, a 24-year-old freelance journalist and blogger, became the first journalist to be jailed for refusing to disclose information in a court of law since Judith Miller. These are hardly the “Scooter” Libby “Flame” top secrets revealed over a snazzy Georgetown meal, however, as Wolf would be the first to proclaim that he is no friend of the administration.Wolf had been blogging his experience here, until the 1st of August, when, as his mother wrote: “Although the July 20th hearing seemed promising, today the judge, Judge Alsop ruled against all motions including 5th amendment rights, rights coming under freedom of the press, against bail or a stay. Josh is in Dublin federal prison, in the East Bay area of the San Francisco Bay.”

It makes no difference that the video he withheld was of self-proclaimed anarchists at an anti-G8 summit — the “crime” it supposedly captured was a “riot” that grew out of the protest. Surely, one would think there were other camerapeople documenting the event.

This is a direct attack on freedom of speech and the expression of dissent that one often hears about in countries with extensively repressive governments such as China. Surely an appeal will be filed and the case will go to the 9th Circuit, but it may not be until next summer.

The SF Chronicle attests to these journalistic freedoms in an editorial titled “Free Josh Wolf.”