the right to play

Korea Times: Google Bans Music Uploads From Blogs

Google has banned subscribers to its Korean blogging platform, Textcube (www.textcube.org), from uploading songs onto their blogs, citing the country’s new anti-file sharing provisions aimed at thwarting online piracy. This is the first time that the U.S. giant has disabled its bloggers from posting music files on their personal Web pages.

Predictably, the move is touching off fierce criticism from Internet users who are accusing Google of clipping their freedom to use copyrighted content.

The problem is not the freedom to use copyrighted content. I don’t know of any such freedom. The problem is the right to play.

A guitar teacher will be unable to post lessons, and a guitar student will be unable to post homework. Two musicians working together at a distance will be unable to share unfinished multitracks. An unsigned classical quartet will be unable to post samples of their work. Only the tiny few who work on commercially published recordings will still be able to be heard, and even only the small proportion of their recordings that are completed commercial works will be heard.

Most musicians are amateurs with no financial interest in copyright. The proportion of amateurs to professionals is so overwhelming that the word “musician” is a synonym for “amateur.” Whenever copyright is wielded on behalf of the professionals in a way that makes it harder for amateurs to make music, it is hurting musicians.