Web Sheriff To MP3 Bloggers: Happy Easter, Thanks For Plugging The Raconteurs

If you didn’t make the trip to Austin this year (and let’s be honest, even if you did), you probably didn’t experience any of the SXSW panel Amrit sat on called “Blog Factor.” It was about blogs. If you wanna know what you missed, it looked exactly like this:

At least according to Michael Arthur. Everybody’s having fun, right? Especially Matador’s Gerard Cosloy. But along with scribbling furiously, Gerard offered the panel’s deepest insights and best perspective. Also, he mentioned he wasn’t thrilled with Web Sheriff’s bullying tactics on behalf of Matador over the last few months. The fair use discussion spotlighted the miscommunication on the label/publicist/policing end, and it doesn’t look like the Sheriff’s actions are any better thought out since the panel, those many days ago.

This weekend while you were drinking Peeps cocktails to the big brass sounds of Jack’s “Many Shades Of Black,” Web Sheriff took some time writing misguided and creepy comments on blog posts about the early-to-arrive Consolers Of The Lonely LP. To Gerard’s point, these new blog comments by the Sheriff aren’t threatening, but let’s just note that the Sheriff’s commenting on blogs that did NOT host any tracks off the new record. A few examples of his missives can be found here, here, and here, the last of which resulted in ekko’s Open Letter in return:

Via Berkeley Place:

Dear Web Sheriff:

In the past week, I’ve heard from you twice. Both of your notices were posted in the comments section of my blog, which I assume you did as a warning to all bloggers and readers that you are out there and that you are watching. Fair enough. But please consider the following.

The first notice I received was on a review of The Kills’ “Midnight Boom.” Along with the review, I posted two live bootleg songs. You requested that I remove them. I did, because it is easier to do that than to argue about it, but I also sent you an e-mail asking you whether your view would change if you knew that I had not posted content from the album. Naturally, you did not respond.

As a result, I have deleted the album review and have deleted the album from my ongoing “Best of 2008? list. I will not consider the band for a best-of-the-year album, and I will not mention them favorably on this blog ever again. In fact, I got rid of the CD. I average 3,000 unique readers per day, and now none of them will hear about The Kills from me. It’s not a big deal, I know, just one little blogger. But I know at least one other blogger who won’t review the album based on your behavior. So congratulations, you won. The Kills will have less of a positive internet presence thanks to your involvement, and nothing you did helped stop material from the album getting illegally downloaded, because I did not offer material from the album to my readers.

The second notice I got from you was as follows:

WEB SHERIFF
Protecting Your Rights on the Internet
Tel 44-(0)208-323 8013
Fax 44-(0)208-323 8080

Hi BP,

On behalf of XL Recordings and Warner Bros Records, many thanks for plugging “Consolers Of The Lonely” and The Ranconteurs’ pioneering, ‘fans-first’ release concept … .. album officially comes-out-to-play tomorrow, so not long to wait !!

Regards & Happy Easter,

WEB SHERIFF

I was ignorant of the fact that the band had signed with a major label, so shame on me, but your message is baffling. What is the purpose of this comment? You didn’t ask me (because WB doesn’t own the copyright) to take down the live songs I’d put up, so it wasn’t a threat, but you can’t honestly expect the blog community to appreciate a comment like this, can you?

I’m probably going to delete the Raconteurs post I did, just because it doesn’t sit right to have a post on my blog about a band that Big Brother is so aggressively protecting.

But can you answer me this: What is your goal? Do you want bloggers like me to never write about bands on major labels? Because if that is your goal, fine! I can happily do that. I rarely write about such bands (at least not knowingly), and I fully understand the RIAA and related organizations desires to keep their music as a commodity, not allowing any free sharing of content, even single songs. I understand and respect it, even if I think it is a short-sighted business plan.

I just want to know, really, honestly, what is your goal with the comment you made on the Raconteurs post? Are you warning me to shut down my blog?

I don’t expect a response from you, but I’d appreciate one.

And I know you are watching.

If we can play consoler: don’t feel lonely, BP. We got one, too! Of course, this is not the first time.

It’s aggressive to jam up comment sections on blogs that are running MP3-free news stories, particularly when your duty presumably is to police illicit MP3 postings. That said, we can assume that blogs that are hosting the new tracks are getting a less friendly response. (The Raconteurs are currently Hype Machine’s Most Blogged Artist, although the only new track we could find was removed in a day.)

So, as Berkley Place said: What’s the point? It essentially amounts to a “We’re watching you…” right? Well that’s lame. Anyway it seems Web Sheriff takes joy tracking down the new stuff, but we have a feeling, rooted in his IP address, that he’ll be even faster to comment (under a fake name) if you post about a Mancunian band. Let’s just say it’s not only him watching us; we are watching each other.