Blues Destiny Records Sues Microsoft, Google

Blues Destiny Records Sues Microsoft, Google
December 16, 2009
Rev. Keith A. Gordon

n a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Pensacola on December 7th, the Florida-based independent blues label Blues Destiny Records has charged tech industry heavyweights Microsoft and Google, as well as the German file sharing service Rapidshare, with copyright infringement. At issue are the search functions of Google and Microsoft's Bing, which allow users to search for artist names and album titles and find websites featuring illegal downloads of Blues Destiny releases that are hosted by Rapidshare.

Doing a little online investigatory work last month, Blues Destiny found links to illegal downloads of its three most recently released CDs, from artists Ronny Sessum, Roy Powers, and Peter McGraw, and decided to file suit on this basis. However, search engines like Google and Bing are generally protected under the law as "safe havens," especially since neither seem to be linking directly to the digital files in question, but rather to websites that are linked to the files on Rapidshare. Although they are included in the Blues Destiny lawsuit, as a German company Rapidshare is not subject to U.S. copyright laws.

The Reverend has heard from several leading blues record labels about how illegal file sharing has impacted their sales, and thus their ability to sign and develop new blues talent. In the case of Blues Destiny, a small label seemingly specializing in regional talent, the potential financial impact of seeing three of their hottest new releases available online for free must be particularly galling. It's unlikely that they're going to win anything from the deep-pockets of either Google or Microsoft (the latter of which has removed the offending links from their service, anyway), but maybe they're just trying to get a little publicity for their plight.

There is no doubt that illegal file-sharing has had an impact on the music industry. The Reverend has always preached that we should support the indie labels that release the music we live for, so rather than download that album from an unauthorized source, why not buy a little something from Alligator Records, Delmark Records, Blind Pig, Telarc, Delta Groove, Blue Bella and/or the other blues labels we love?!!!
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