Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Spotify take down Skrewdriver, eventually

Quietly, the Skrewdriver album which had arrived on Spotify seems to have gone.

This seems to be something of a change of heart from the company, which last week replied to my complaint:

Dear Joseph!
I'm not called Joseph.
Our catalogue is drawn from music provided by tens-of-thousands of record labels and aggregators from all over the world and these rightsholders are responsible for the music they deliver to Spotify. As a music platform, our job is to provide our users with the choice of as much of the world's legally available music as possible and not to judge what people should and shouldn't listen to. We have over 10 million tracks, adding about 10,000 tracks per day, and as such there may be some material that people will find offensive.

As ever, Spotify users have the freedom to choose exactly what music they listen to. However, as a result of this issue, we are building a new system that will also allow users to filter out explicit material or tracks that could be deemed offensive. Advertisers on Spotify will continue to be able to filter out explicit content when running campaigns.

We want to underline that whilst we believe in freedom of expression and do not censor material that has been legally licensed to us, Spotify absolutely does not support any content that incites hatred of any kind, be that race, religion, sexuality or otherwise.

If we are informed that some music is illegal, then we will take appropriate action. However, we feel that it is not our place to actively censor or remove music that isn't illegal and leave it to individual users to choose not to listen to music that may cause offence.

Kind regards,
Perhaps they should have listened to the Skrewdriver stuff they were supporting at the time before confidently claiming the Spotify didn't support material inciting hatred. At that time, Spotify was hosting When The Boat Comes In, with the cheerful "nigger, nigger, get out of here/ nigger, nigger, go go go" chorus and the pledge to "fight them to the death". But, obviously, not in a hateful way.

It's good that the company did the right thing in the end, but it's incredibly disappointing that their first reaction was to churn out an ill-judged form lecture on free speech instead of listening to the songs they were offering.