By now it’s common knowledge that nearly all content on the Internet can easily be removed or censored by filing a single DMCA notice. For some reason, however, this doesn’t seem to apply to most mainstream music stores. When The Flashbulb, aka Benn Jordan, found out that another artist was selling a “copy” of his music, he learned that it is pretty much impossible to get it removed. According to Jordan the mainstream music industry only cares about profits, not the actual artists.
In 2008 Benn Jordan was one of the first artists to publicly revolt against Apple, after the company sold his album on iTunes without sharing any of the revenue.
In a counter move Jordan decided to share all of his music on BitTorrent for free. This worked out pretty well for him, and more than four years later Jordan still doesn’t mind when people download his work.
However, it’s a different story when other artists rip off his music for profit.
Jordan recently discovered that an unknown musician named “Inventor” had released a “copy” of his most popular track and put it up for sale in nearly every digital music store. The track is labeled as a remix, but Inventor did nothing more than adding some bird sounds in the background (spotify: Inventor versus Flashbulb).
To resolve the issue, Jordan contacted Inventor’s record label “Foul Play,” but without any luck.
Not a problem, Jordan thought, because nowadays most Internet ventures are quick to respond to takedown requests. In fact, The Flashbulb himself has quite a bit of experience with DMCA notices, as he details on his blog.
“Google has previously sent me copyright infringement warnings for my own material on YouTube, pertaining to, hilariously, the exact same song mentioned above. I’ve responded with proof that I own every possible right to the music, only to get another DMCA notice a week later,” he explains.
Having your own content censored by mistake is problematic of course, but for once strict copyright regimes could now become of use. Jordan is suing “Inventor” for the unauthorized use of his work, and in the meantime has decided to ask all digital music stores to take the pirated songs offline.
Surprisingly, this was easier said than done.
Jordan contacted iTunes, Google, Microsoft, Rhapsody, Emusic, Junodownload, Spotify and other music stores, but they all failed to respond, or claim to be working on it. Talking to TorrentFreak the frustrated artist says that these companies care very little about the artists they make their money off.
“They care about profit, and being the #1 music retailer. I assume that to them, a salary to an artist representative is a salary that could pay someone to do development or marketing,” Jordan says.
Meanwhile, Inventor blatantly continues to generate revenue from The Flashbulb’s work.
Jordan had hoped that nearly half a decade after his initial row with iTunes, things would have changed for the better. But judging from his recent experience it’s still the same old song.
“At the end of the day, I look back 5 years to my last brush against iTunes, and realize that nothing has changed. None of these music stores have a department, or even an employee to deal with artists directly. When they sell my music, they make money, and lots of it,” Jordan notes.
Jordan was never too keen on the big money side of the music industry, and after this most recent debacle he wonders whether he should just give up on it again.
“I have made these companies 6 figures over my career, yet there’s not one person I can contact to resolve a simple issue such as this. It is sad to say, as a precedent, I simply can’t justify my agreement with any of these companies at this time, and it makes me question if and how I will release albums in the future.”
It’s a grim conclusion, but Jordan believes that only the big labels have the power to get anything done. Not with the interests of artists in mind, but to secure their own profits.
“So the next time you get a letter from your ISP threatening you about illegally downloading music, or the next time your YouTube account gets banned for using a clip of Megadeth behind your video of a squirrel eating Chex Mix, remember that on the other side of the transaction, all of that bullying amounts to nothing unless you’re a RIAA partner.”
“These companies are willing to shove 1,000 attorneys down your throat if you share music, but won’t even respond to a legal order about actual music theft and piracy,” Jordan concludes.