Sunday, February 15, 2015

Yahoo adds download button to Tumblr; adds trouble to users

As Yahoo struggles to remember why it bought Tumblr, and shakes it to see if the previous owners left any money down the back of it, it's tried a new idea: since the start of the month, it's popped a little download button on audio posts, to allow visitors to not merely enjoy audio on the page, but to take it away with them, and put it on their devices.

Hey, that's wonderful functionality. Right?

There's a bit of a problem, though. The music industry has never been happy with people posting copyrighted stuff to Tumblr; adding a download button has turned a small transgression into a major problem.

Sure, it's always been a violation of the terms and conditions, and posting music you don't hold a licence too has carried a threat of account deletion, but apparently not coincidentally linked to the download button appearance, the music industry has started to get militant with Tumblr abuses. Stewardessme sums up the situation:

For years, Tumblr allowed us to upload music (up to five audio posts a day) because it substantially increased Tumblr’s user base and user “activity,” therefore increasing Tumblr’s value to its eventual buyer, Yahoo, and to the advertisers Yahoo is so eager to court. Now Yahoo/Tumblr is letting us take the DMCA fall for it, reminding us yet again that we aren’t the customers, but the product being sold to advertisers.
And, of course, because the music industry is using an automated machine, the sort of mistakes we've seen all over the internet are happening:

If Tumblr is good at anything, though, it's good at forming support groups. And the community is coming together to help people who might be worried that having stuck a couple of Imagine Dragon tracks onto their blog could result in their entire Tumblr existence being wiped out. So there's a lot of activity like this going on:

The lack of clarity about what's happening from Yahoo has generated a massive rumour mill, making things worse - people whose blogs are based on song titles or lyrics are panicking that they might be wiped as a result. That seems unlikely - a douchebag too far even for the copyright industry - but it'd be nice to see someone confirm that. Because, ah, it would be no rock and roll fun if that happened.

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