Paul Haig Day
You know, it’s fucking ridiculous, but I am not sure what the overwhelming emotion of this post is for me. It’s either warm appreciation of Paul Haig for his support and attitude towards a good friend of mine, or it’s sheer frustrated annoyance that this kind of thing is necessary in the first place. Sadly, I think it might be the latter.
To explain, a while back my friend JC from the Vinyl Villain posted about Paul Haig, former Josef K frontman, and possibly the coolest individual from the last time Edinburgh had anything like this vibrant a music scene. JC is a big fan, and was absolutely delighted that Paul and his management got in touch to thank him for his post. Then, the next day, he was absolutely gutted to find that his post had been deleted by Google after three Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaints had been made against it within about five minutes.
Now, given that the only people with any right to make that complaint had already been in touch with JC to thank him for the post, who the fuck made these infringement complaints? Over-zealous legal interns at some obscure distribution company in the States? Someone with a personal grudge against JC filing nuisance complaints? Of course, this is very reason why the DMCA is such comically bad law. Which corrupt clowns drew it up and then signed it into fucking law I don’t know, but they should really be made to walk the streets of the world in nothing but a fucking frilly tutu for their craven idiocy.
Google, when they receive these complaints are obliged to remove the allegedly infringing material immediately. They are then legally not liable for any damage caused to the victim of the complaint’s business by virtue of a potentially frivolous complaint. Now, Google don’t merely revert the offending post to ‘draft’ mode or something sensible like that, or lock it, or anything, so that the actual merits of the complaint can be ascertained. No, they just delete it forever, and getting a response from a counter-claim is like pulling fucking teeth, despite what their terms and conditions would seem to suggest. They presumably have no desire to actually examine the veracity of these complaints because it could potentially cost them a fucking fortune. As it is, this job has been outsourced to Chilling Effects, which is basically run by a team of volunteers – their backlog may be as bad as a year at the moment.
This is a fucking disgrace, and it is something we should all be very worried about, because it signifies a very powerful and very scary change in how the law works: guilt by accusation. In this situation the actual factual accuracy of the accusation is irrelevant – a blogger’s work can be destroyed simply by someone making an accusation, irrespective of the truth. Remind you of anything? Yes, another fucking diabolical piece of legislation which the big media companies are trying to jam up our arses at the moment: three strikes and you’re out internet disconnections. The European Court has ruled against this nonsense on the basis that the internet is becoming a fundamental utility in the Twenty-First Century, but they didn’t mention the simple fact that accusation does not mean guilt, and that this is supposed to be the very cornerstone of a civillised legal system. And the French government is pressing ahead with their plans to implement it nevertheless.
So what are we left with? Feudalism, basically. Guilty unless you are prepared to take on a massive corporation in the courts of law and risk total ruin and bankruptcy. Justice by might, rather than right. Brilliant. Vic from Muruch is the only person I know of so far who has been brave enough to actually fight any of this, primarily because she knew for absolute certainty that she was in the right, because Muruch is a 100% legal music blog, but for most people they simply submit to the legal hatchet jobs and either soldier on or end up quitting. I can’t stress how brave Vic’s actions were, however. People with houses and families don’t want to be on the receiving end of the music industry’s famously ludicrous damages claims, recently upheld by Barack fucking Obama thank you very much. And once law becomes about accusation rather than guilt the world could become a very scary place indeed. It is already happening in other fields, and we should be very, very worried about this.
So a big thank you to Paul Haig and his management for their support during this bloody nonsense. Please show your appreciation for their efforts in putting out a press release highlighting this silliness, as well as making Reason available for free download as a statement of intent. Feel free to show it by buying something from here, for instance. Once the artists and the fans turn on this fucking rotten law who are we left with who will speak up for it? Ah yes, the grasping whores who made a merry living for years fleecing both of us. Never let anyone tell you that this is about encouraging art or protecting artists. It’s just another major industry trying to throw their weight around as their self-importance and onanistic sense of personal entitlement consistently fail to be matched by reality.
Paul Haig – Reason
Paul Haig – Let’s Face the Music and Dance