DEAR WEB SHERIFF: Open Letter to a Watchdog

Posted: March 24, 2008 by dillion in Uncategorized

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.

Comments
  1. elliot says:

    I don’t know why anybody would write about a band on Warner anyway, dipshit. Boycott the Raconteurs! Boycott the Kills!

  2. heather says:

    The Web Sheriff can, politely, go to hell. I will continue to delete all comments he or she leaves on my blog because I find their methods cowardly and despicable. If they are REAL they can a) contact bloggers privately, b) respond to emails and c) know what the hell they are talking about before they clutter my comments with their advanced spook-spam. They “got” me once before, for posting a Black Crowes mp3 that I had specific permission from the label to post. I wrote back, told him he needed to check his facts better before he came a-threatenin’, and left the mp3 up. I never heard from him again. With this Raconteurs post, the tracks were live recordings, as you see, so no way in hell am I going to let his comment(s) stay up. If I were you, I would not have modified my Kills post and I would not give this guy much thought. Whatever he’s doing, there doesn’t seem to be any teeth, or well-informed knowledge, behind it.

    Just my two cents.

  3. Leslie says:

    Very interesting entry. I have been contacted a few times over the past year by Web Sheriff….for comments I made on forums with regards to not yet released material. Not links to leaks or any such stuff, just review type posts. Honestly, I blame Web Sheriff and their tactics, perhaps even the record companies for employing them, I don’t however blame the band. I am still going to support and pass good word for those bands that I love. As for the Raconteurs being on Warner Bros and XL, I believe this album is on Jack White’s label: Third Man Records and is being marketed and distributed by Warner Bros. BTW, it’s a great GREAT album.🙂

  4. Lucas says:

    It’s highly unprofessional/uncool for Web Sheriff (and others) to use harassment and intimidation as a means of “protecting” the artists they represent. Thanks for bringing attention to this matter, Ekko!

  5. Miss Shuganah says:

    The self-appointed, so-called Web Sheriff obviously has a lot of time on his hands. Such is the case when you are a shut-in and can’t pass the simple entrance exams for the police academy. Kind of reminds me of that character Wormwood from Lord Of The Rings – a measly little twit that only has purpose through serving an evil, much stronger master. Kind of like a little yappy dog.

  6. Aaron says:

    What a great idea — stop writing positively about or promoting artists the RIAA and Web Sheriff attack bloggers over.

    I wish I’d thought of it! Good work!

  7. robb says:

    What authority/power does “web sherrif” actually have? All the sherrif can probably do is potentially report you onward to hosts & copyright holders. Why don’t u wait to deal with them to take down your posts, and ijust gnore the erzatz vigilante in the meantime? Why remove non-covered material because of one guy’s make believe? If I called myself “Cyber Sgt,” set up a site, got a couple of testamonials, & starting targeting your blog’s posts of favorite bands, would you shutter everything because I sound officious enough? Ignore the guy until somebody real shows up. Or I am missing the point & Web Sherrif is more malicious than that?

  8. Anne says:

    It does make a difference that you and other bloggers write about music (or do not write about them). Most of the music I buy now comes from reading a recommendation from a blogger, downloading the sample MP3 and listening to it a bit. And that is a growing trend.

  9. ekko says:

    Robb-I don’t know whether WS has a contract with record companies, which, if he does, means that he could forward me for legal action. Also, if he does report me to WordPress, I will probably lose this blog. So it’s just easier to comply than to fight it. I don’t get paid to blog, and I don’t have insurance. It’s just my poor sickly self shut up in a room alone. So it’s easier not to fight him.

    Plus, I really don’t want to help promote music on a label that may have authorized a guy like WS to comment on a blog about an album review that in no way shape or form leaked music or encouraged leaking music. I get letters/e-mails from major labels and their promoters all the time, but they let their agent treat me with this kind of disrespect?

    Screw them and their artists. I’ll stay indie. I think all bloggers should. Yet instead of taking a stand, they continue to promote these label products, which in the long run will only hurt our community. Getting more hits by posting on big names is just not worth it. I’ll let my traffic dwindle before I’ll do that.

  10. Jeff says:

    Major labels have had the wrong attitude about sharing music since day one. They’re not finding a way to make digital music work for them, instead, they’re fighting their own customers. That’s a pretty shitty way to go about doing business.

  11. blogboy says:

    If bloggers are not doing anything illegal, then they should not fear artists/record companies/websherriff.

    It’s time for artists to stand up against bootleggers and illegal bloggers. Everyone needs to start supporting artists and not piracy.

    Stop whining.

  12. ekko says:

    Wow, Blogboy. I don’t think I described my having done anything illegal. Do you honestly believe that only people who do illegal things are chilled by overzealous prosecutions? Or are victims of this type of behavior?

    Wow.

    If you think what I do is illegal, and you’ve downloaded songs from my site (or any blog), then YOU’VE done something illegal, too, you know.

  13. ekko says:

    Maybe it doesn’t make sense to you, but every time I listen to it I just feel depressed by it. Kinda the same as when I listen to Michael Jackson or watch Roman Polanski films

  14. Joe says:

    The RIAA sucks

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