Update: 5:47 p.m. It's back. After our story and your queries, MySpace.com has put back the Stevens song. This after saying that deleted accounts “cannot be reinstated.” The song is here.
The mystery of what happened to the “Ted Stevens Internet Fan Club” song that had been posted to MySpace.com, but disappeared after three days, has been solved. The song's author, Andrew Raff, wrote that the song had been pulled down after a complaint had been filed against it on the Murdoch-owned site.
Stevens' comments at the June 28 markup have spread throughout the Internet — and beyond. Last night's Daily Show got into the act with a piece about Stevens and the Internet, as I mentioned in the previous post. Stevens has been a show favorite, with host Jon Stewart occasionally showing scenes of Stevens on the Senate floor during some of his more rambunctious moments.
Raff said he posted his song Saturday, July 8, after hearing Stevens' comments about the Internet. He sent a note about it to the popular site BoingBoing, and eventually 2,500 people heard the song, which Raff described as “marginally funny” and not sounding all that great. Our intern Tim Schneider liked it, though, calling it a “haunting melody.” Then it was gone. On his site, Raff said he got a message on Tuesday, July 11, from MySpace.com:
“MySpace has deleted your profile because we received a credible complaint of your violation of the MySpace Terms of Services.”
Prohibited activity includes, but is not limited to:
-Any automated use of the system, such as using scripts and/or bots to add friends, send messages, etc.
-For band and filmmaker profiles, MySpace prohibits sexually suggestive imagery or any other unfair, misleading or deceptive content intended to draw traffic to the profile.
-MySpace also investigates credible complaints of copyright/trademark infringement and will delete any materials that infringe upon the intellectual property rights of third parties.
For a more thorough list of prohibited content/activity, please refer to the MySpace Terms of Service located at the bottom of MySpace.com.
If we delete your account, it cannot be reinstated.”
The MySpace terms of service are quite lengthy. There are 27 separate items on their terms of service, and those constitute only a “partial list” of what can't be done. Frankly, we don't see how a little song about Ted Stevens fits into any of them, but in that case, there's always the catchall:
“MySpace.com reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to reject, refuse to post or remove any posting (including private messages) by you, or to restrict, suspend, or terminate your access to all or any part of the MySpace Services at any time, for any or no reason, with or without prior notice, and without liability.”
But Raff's situation is different, in no small part because MySpace.com is now part of the Murdoch empire, and because this is a particularly sensitive time for both MySpace and for Murdoch. The Web site is the target of a bill, HR 5319, the “Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006,” that would cut off E-rate funds to schools and libraries that allow access to social networking Web sites. The House Telecom Subcommittee just held a hearing on the bill, with law enforcement authorities testifying in favor. The bill came about, in part, because of all of the bad publicity about MySpace.com as a possible haven for child pornographers and predators.
In addition, there is the matter of the telecommunications legislation that Stevens' committee approved. There's a lot in the bill that NewsCorp wants. Fox has been the chief proponent of the broadcast flag, which is included. DirecTV would benefit from provisions allowing satellite carriers to file complaints with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in order to get access to regional sports programming now carried by cable.
We don't know who filed the complaint, and we don't have any official explanation from MySpace.com on why Raff's account was cancelled. It could have been a low-level employee making a spuir-of-the-moment judgment.
Frankly, though, it boggles the mind to think that of all the material posted on MySpace, one complaint against one semi-obscure song, is enough to get tossed off the site. It had to be more than a simple complaint filed by the complaint form on the site, because MySpace “will not honor delete requests” sent with the form.
This is a very crucial time for the fate of the Senate telecom legislation. The Stevens staff is putting pressure on those who have items in the bill they want to work to make sure that Stevens can get the 60 votes needed to proceed on the Senate floor and to overcome a filibuster.
Telephone companies large and small (particularly the politically potent rural companies), movie studios, record companies, municipal wi-fi providers and groups representing municipalities all have something in the bill. That's a formidable group. At the same time, Stevens has said he might try to pass a slimmed-down bill, so the heat is on those with items in the current, big bill, to make sure that they keep their gains for fear that some of the measures could be dropped are theirs.
Raff's song apparently hit the wrong notes with someone.