terre thaemlitz writings

Social Media Content Removal Fail
YouTube videos "no longer available due to a copyright claim by Terre Thaemlitz"
- Terre Thaemlitz

September 24, 2013 (comatonse.com).



    The nature of modern communication systems is that anything can be said, any context is equivalent to any other context, so that things can be placed in many different contexts at the same time, like photography. But there's something profoundly compromising about that situation. Of course, it allows for a liberty of action and consciousness that people have never had before. But it means that you can't keep original or profound meanings intact because inevitably they're disappointed, adulterated, transformed, and transmuted. So, when you launch an idea for a fantasy or a theme or an image to the world, it has this tremendous career that you can't possibly control or limit. You want to share things with other people, but on the other hand you don't want to just feed the machine that needs millions of fantasies and objects and products and opinions to be fed into it every day in order to keep on going. And that's perhaps a reason one is tempted to be silent sometimes.
    Susan Sontag, interview in Rolling Stone, 1979.

It's difficult to believe Sontag's comments were made almost 35 years ago, in an era predating the advent of HTML and the modern internet, because she seems to have summarized contemporary online culture so acutely. Her critique of mainstream media and information distribution also resonates with the reasoning behind my own interest in offline digital culture. And yet, while her comments have become all the more relevant with the passage of time, I fear online culture has pushed most people's ability to hear her words further out of range.

As of May 1, 2013, some of you may have noticed that several uploads of my tracks in YouTube have been removed, and replaced with a statement that they are "no longer available due to a copyright claim by Terre Thaemlitz." I did, in fact, file the takedown requests. However, it was not for the usual reasons, such as a fear of lost royalties, or a legal reassertion of authorship rights. For the moment, I will let you try to imagine what other motives I might have possibly had - because for many people, imagining other motives might prove difficult. Sadly, the institutionalized policies and practices of mainstream media portals like YouTube and SoundCloud have nurtured this widespread cultural inability to conceive of other reasons for content removal. On a procedural level, they do not even give unregistered users such as myself other options for requesting content removal. Part of the blame also lays with copyleft, which uses near fundamentalist fervor to argue that "sharing" only exists outside of the realm of copyright. As a result, copyright has been all but abandoned as the exclusive domain of exploitative corporations. Defenseless and abandoned by copyleft, "fair use" - which determines our ability to use and react to the inescapable copyrighted media incessantly forced upon us - is gasping its last breaths.

Not all applications of copyright are inherently tyrranical. In fact, as an independent audio producer, I first began copyrighting my compositions and recordings in the early 1990s as a means of protecting them from unauthorized release by record labels. At the same time, I have always voiced active criticism of notions of authorship, authenticity, creativity, etc. I have also defended the fair use of sampling as a means of cultural commentary, asking repeatedly why audio producers are not free to use samples as "audio footnotes" in the same way writers are free to reference texts by other writers with footnotes. Despite this vocality, over the years I have been cancelled from performing at copyleft festivals solely due to the fact I do not release all of my works using copyleft. I have also had arguments with staff at Germany's Wikipedia, who persistently requested that I issue a copyleft image of myself for use in their website. I repeatedly responded that I did not have time to make them a new image, but that they had my explicit permission to use existing press images for which I controlled the copyright. After going back and forth several times, both baffled and miffed, they declined the use of my existing images. Surprisingly, their only real concern was that any content in Wikipedia must be usable for free throughout perpetuity... but in the realm of copyright, aren't 'perpetuity clauses' the first sign of a bad contract? Doesn't the very concept of perpetuity bely one party's desire to unfairly control, and an absence of trust? And so my German Wikipedia profile has no images. Similarly, my English Wikipedia page used to have images, until they were suddenly removed after the people who constructed it had an internal debate over proper usage (in particular, a Wire magazine cover featuring a photo of me). Ironically, almost all of the text on that page was copied verbatim from a slightly older version of my profile as it used to appear on this (copyrighted) Comatonse Recordings website. (I am okay with this... but, given their fuss over the use of copyrighted images, I don't understand how they are okay with it.)

Of course, if we look at Wikipedia pages for any major label producer, movie, television show, etc., we see that they almost all feature copyrighted images. I imagine this inconsitency has to do with cultural differences between the types of people inclined to create an entry about people such as myself, and those making entries about mainstream topics - the former being more festidious about things such as copyleft. Still, I find much of the the copyleft movement's moralistic insistence that they alone define what is right and wrong both alienating and infuriating. Copyleft activists can be as unwilling to address their hypocrisies as copyright-wielding lawyers - and in that way they unwittingly sabotage themselves. Meanwhile, in my own authorial practices, I attempt to be openly hypocritical. I speak openly about how my hypocrisy is unavoidable - even forced upon me - given how both copyright and copyleft revolve around the same faulty premises (ref. track 4 of The Laurence Rassel Show, "Whereas the party of the first part...").

Within this awkward and unsavory cultural climate of copyleft and copyright moralities, it is inevitable that people quickly misread my intentions. For example, during my recent tour in Australia, someone told me about their attempts to convince a friend to attend a lecture I was giving in Melbourne. The friend responded that she had searched on my name in YouTube, and upon seeing multiple results for videos that were "no longer available due to a copyright claim by Terre Thaemlitz," was sure I was not the type of person she would be interested in seeing speak or perform. (To YouTube I ask, why aren't search results limited to active videos? What possible reason could there be for continuing to list pages of removed content months after the fact?) The person then referred their friend to a recent interview I had done for Pulse Radio, in which I discussed my reasons behind the takedowns:

    ...People upload my projects into those shopping mall archive sites [like YouTube and SoundCloud] without thinking twice.... People don't think about how there might actually be a reason behind my not using any of those sites.... I actually wish people would remove their uploads of my tracks from YouTube and SoundCloud. Not because I want to enforce claims of authorship, or worry about lost royalties, but because my projects were not intended for such broad and indiscriminate distribution. I strongly believe that, in the face of today's dominant internet strategies which emphasize populism, there is a real necessity to cultivate offline forms of digital culture. This means sharing information in more controlled and precise ways than generic upload-archiving, such as through hard formats or direct and encrypted file transfer between known persons. People become so indoctrinated in dominant cultural nonsense about information's value only being determined by the breadth of its distribution, that we have culturally lost skills for understanding secrets, and their protective power. This is even happening in queer and transgendered communities, which historically rely on strategies that step in and out of closets...

    Someone may think they're a fan showing support for my work by uploading it into YouTube or SoundCloud, and they might even think far ahead enough to write something like, "Dear Artist, please let me know if you want this taken down." Yet they never think so far as to realize YouTube and similar sites will not allow non-registered users such as myself to contact the uploaders directly. Nor will those sites' support staff or copyright claim staff forward a friendly message from a non-registered user such as myself to their registered user/uploader. In practice, all of those companies that everyone thinks have redefined global democracy are insisting that all people must register with their service - even if only to ask for content to be removed. If not, the only option is to file an official takedown request based on copyright infringement. But my reasons for wanting the takedown are not about copyright. I don't want to have YouTube send some nasty legal letter to the uploader, maybe suspending their account, yet ultimately pinning their company's nasty attitude on me. YouTube knows this kind of aggressive removal is a PR disaster, which is why they try to downplay their responsibility in content removal by replacing removed videos with a statement like, "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Terre Thaemlitz." YouTube and the rest are such corporate zombies that they can't imagine there being any other basis for someone wanting content removed, and they refuse to implement any other interfaces for communication between their users and someone like myself. I know, because I've argued with them about it. So once a video is removed, that nasty message about me flexing my copyright muscles is what appears in all the archived fan blogs and press reviews who linked into those videos over the years, which, again, I had nothing to do with putting online in the first place. It's horrible....

    Meanwhile, the uploaders - who are by this time pissed off by aggressive messages from YouTube's legal department - write me angry emails about what an ass I am for having the video removed - and it's only at that point that we are at last in direct contact, and I can attempt to converse with them. Nice to meet you. I really wish uploaders would think about what it means for them to choose to express their interest in my work by placing it in corporate-run archives whose very policies prohibit any sociable interaction between them and I. Is that acceptable to them? Is that their preferred model of information sharing? Maybe it's even their idea of revolution? They should take the time to think this shit through and re-evaluate their actions. I've said it a million times, and I'll say it again: there is an enormous difference between randomly posting shit online, and personally handing a data disc to a friend whose intentions you trust. Randomly uploading things for anyone, anywhere - including homophobes, transphobes and religious fundamentalists - does not make them the all-giving sweethearts they imagine themselves to be.

The friend said she didn't realize people were even thinking about these issues. As a result, I am happy to say she attended my talk and performance. From my perspective, the process behind her decision to attend is so much more gratifying than if she had simply decided to attend after hearing an awful 96k/bit upload of one of my tracks, visually accompanied by some random stock photo. And I can honestly say it was her story which has given me the confidence to finally post a text on this seemingly hopeless subject. I had written it back on May 1 - the day I first saw YouTube's takedown notifications naming me as the claimant - as a form of damage control. I originally withheld the text because it was written in such an emotional fit of anger and shame that I did not know if it was even legible. I was also in the midst of exhausting email exchanges with the copyright divisions of both YouTube and SoundCloud, and wanted to better understand the situation before posting my text.

After all was said and done, I would describe my interactions with YouTube as typical of an asshole American conglomerate. They were unpleasant to both myself and, as I later found out, to their registered users. The users who had posted my tracks were sent aggressively worded legal letters that left the impression I was the one behind their angry tone. Some users had their accounts cancelled. Others had to take an online test on copyright rules in order to reaccess their accounts. As for my own troubles, when I asked YouTube why they didn't simply delete the pages, but actually replaced the removed content with a statement of copyright claim in which I was personally named, they insisted their process of removal pages clearly stated that anyone requesting a removal would be publicly named and I had been warned. (Of course, they never explained why this was their policy to begin with.) In other words, it was my fault for not reading the fine print... only it wasn't my fault. I presented them with all of the links on their website that I had followed when filing my removal request, proving that there was no mention anywhere about claimants being publicly named - which they duly ignored. I asked if they could at least remove my name from the copyright claim notices (ie., editing it down to just "no longer available" or "no longer available due to a copyright claim"), but they said they could not. I was told my only option was to provide them with legal proof of another name sharing copyright control on my works, which they could then substitute for my own. (Apparently most removals are attributed to the name of a record label or other such agency). This, of course, was no resolution to my concerns, and only further perpetuated the false notion that YouTube was not responsible for its own rules of removal for their hosted content. Content which I had absolutely nothing to do with putting online. The entire experience was symptomatic of conservative, self-serving and overly moralistic US business culture.

The German-based company SoundCloud was, as one might expect, far more friendly. They engaged me in a rudimentary dialogue on the possiblity of developing means for non-registered users such as myself to communicate with their registered other than filing a formal removal claim based on copyright. At this point I sincerely doubt they will implement any changes, but it was a very different experience in tone than YouTube. Also, unlike YouTube, SoundCloud replaces links to removed content with a simple 404 "content unavailable" message. Despite this difference, I am still unhappy with the current prospect of only being able to communicate with registered SoundCloud users via the filing of a formal copyright claim. I was also disturbed by SoundCloud's suggestion that I "do what anti-piracy agents do" and create an account with a name that does not immediately betray my identity - to which I responded that I did not wish to act like an anti-piracy agent, and the very nature of their suggestion further underlined my concerns with their removal policies. Therefore, for the time being I have decided to refrain from filing removal claims with SoundCloud, in the hope that discussing these issues publically may catch the eyes of uploaders who might assume responsibility for removing the files on their own, or contact me with questions, etc. (I would ask the same of YouTube users as well. As one would expect, much of the content removed from YouTube in May has already been reuploaded through other user accounts.) However, I may change my mind and file removal requests with SoundCloud in the future.

And so, without further ado, here is my original text of May 1... Due to lazy editing, some bits may at times repeat what has already been said thus far in this preface, but maybe that's necessary to drive certain points home. As you read, I ask you to keep in mind Sontag's quote from 1979, and remind yourself these are old issues in a long and ongoing cultural discussion.


Original text written on May 1, 2013:

Have you ever been driving in a car, saw the trip odometer, and felt compelled to push the button setting it back to zero, even though you know it's going to keep right on turning? Okay, now imagine the numbers on that dial are counting all of the uploads of my tracks into mainstream social media sites like YouTube or SoundCloud, and... I pushed the reset button. That's pretty much the short and the tall of it. I was not out to make some grandiose statement about copyright control. I did not flip out and scream, "Take it all down!" I just pushed the reset button. At the time I thought it would be a relatively unnoticeable act, yet here I am writing a public statement on the matter, because it was only after the fact that I realized anyone clicking an old YouTube link embedded into a cool fan blog, press interview, profile, or event announcement, will now see this brazenly aggressive message:


How embarrassing.

Fuck. Too late now, but holy shit... That reads very unfriendly. I'm really embarrassed. Like, this could all be really funny if people out there have a sense of humor and give me the benefit of the doubt before assuming I acted with the worst of corporate-minded intentions. But in my gut I don't have a good feeling about this. Literally... I now have nervous diarrhoea.

So what did I think would happen? I naïvely thought YouTube would just show a very general message saying, "content unavailable." I certainly didn't think they would singularly put the blame of removal on me. I can only see that as YouTube's calculated attempt to preserve their own image by feigning they are not responsible for the construction and implementation of their own takedown policies. The issue of dead embedded links in all those fan and press sites never entered my mind. "How can that be?" you ask? Because I don't use social media. Hell, I don't even have a cell phone. (True!) I am not a registered member of YouTube, SoundCloud, Facebook, etc. (That's right, over all these years, none of the uploads on those sites were done by me. I upload free soundfiles here; and you are presumably reading this in the Writings section of my website, where almost all text and images related to my projects are freely available.) As a result, while I understand how social media functions culturally, there are clearly procedural aspects about which my knowledge is lacking.

Rest assured I am not suing anyone, nor am I taking legal action against anyone, etc. The thought never entered my mind. Furthermore, I did not request that every upload about me be removed. I only requested the removal of those I considered to be "patently generic file sharing" (ie., simple uploads of tracks as-is, not uploaded for any purpose other than just to have them online). I left everything else alone - including some videos I really wish would disappear. One such example is this truly horrible audience recording of a performance of "Meditation on Wage Labor and the Death of the Album" at the Secession, in Vienna, which is of such poor quality that it truly misrepresents the piece:


Despite the mood given off by the YouTube takedown notice, I am not and have never been angry with the uploaders. True, I do find it disappointing when I work hard to negotiate things with record labels such as vinyl-only releases, only to have people upload digital rips within a single day of release. Too soon, bitches. I realize the uploaders were likely just trying to express their enthusiasm for music. And I cannot expect everyone - even those who consider themselves fans - to be familiar with my perhaps unusual stance on file sharing... Although it is apparently known enough that someone saw fit to make it part of the "one does not simply" meme:


However, I have discussed my views in detail several times over the years. One recent example was in a letter to the editor of Electronic Beats magazine written in response to a statement Chris Bohn made in his review of Soulnessless. Bohn had mistakenly reframed my advocacy of offline digital culture in stereotypical music press terms as "an act of resistance to the digital world's filesharers whose belief that all music should be free has made the musician/composer's labor worth next to nothing." The following is an excerpt of my response:

    I do have concerns with file sharing, but they are not about economics, nor authorship rights. Rather, they are about an eradication of any specificity of context and audience that occurs when information is shared through populist models of making all information available to everyone. This is particularly true with regard to minor projects developed on very specific themes, from a particularly non-populist perspective, for an audience that is likely disenfranchised on more than one level. As stated in the "about.pdf" from Soulnessless: "Unfortunately, an uploaded file's online lifespan and distribution path quickly become uncontrollable through 'spider' and 'robot' applications, as well as the actions of certain end users, that indiscriminately seek to copy and archive any and all materials found online without regard for context." Certain information, in the wrong hands, quickly lends itself to undesirable misinterpretations. These can in turn damage the very people and communities such information is intended to assist. (As an extreme example of misinterpretation, think of Salmon Rushdie being forced into hiding after fundamentalist reactions to "The Satanic Verses.")

    I find something valuable about the offline exchange of information in this online era. For example, socially speaking, there is a huge difference between the direct physical act of giving a CDR copy of a CD to a friend in order to share relevant information, and uploading a CD to a file sharing site for strangers of unknown politic. It is this notion of personal responsibility in the transfer of information that I find lacking among blanket file sharers who upload anything and everything for anyone and everyone. Unfortunately, the ramifications of this irresponsibility can end up betraying the initial good intentions underlying their simple desire to share information. As an audience, how willing are we to take responsibility for the care of "underground" information's distribution and cultural movement?

Some of you may be wondering, if my concerns are not with authorship or economics, why did I file a copyright violation claim with YouTube in order to have the content removed? Quite simply, this was the only option offered by the social media website. At the time, I didn't think the hypocrisy of my actions was any different or greater than that of the registered members who had formally agreed to YouTube's terms and conditions on copyright, only to immediatley violate those terms. However, upon seeing YouTube's takedown notice, I immediately realized there is a difference in that YouTube has ensured I appear to be the "bad guy." Although I am not entirely sure, it seems I could possibly contact individual uploaders and ask them to remove the files on their own if I were willing to become a registered member of YouTube. However, as I have no interest in becoming a member of a social media website - particularly if the sole purpose of that membership is only to initiate a takedown request - I have absolutely no way of contacting the uploaders. This is unfortunate, because I noticed some uploaders had messages on their pages saying thinks like, "Hey, artists, if you want this file taken down just let me know." Sorry, I couldn't. In fact, as a non-member, these websites do not even give me access to the standard online takedown request webforms... again trying to push me to register as a user. This is such needless bureaucracy, and although most people consider mindless registration to be harmless, this entire circumstance shows how tightly social media sucks us in and limits our relationships to content as either owner or pirate, author or plagarist. It refuses to give us any language or space for understanding it as something else. And at no point does it allow us to freely communicate with one another outside of their prescribed terms of membership.

After a bit of searching, I stumbled upon the rather buried page on YouTube providing numbered instructions for how non-members may request the removal of content by email. (It goes without saying that this page, as well as every email interaction I had with YouTube, emphasized how much easier the request process is for registered members using a webform.) I copied and pasted the numbered instructions into the body of an email, listed up the URLs of links to be removed, and mailed it off. The result was the embarrassingly bold graphic proclamation of my copyright claims, pissed all over the internet like a dog branding trees. No subtlety. No playfulness. From the lack of options for dialogue offered us by social media companies, I am all the more convinced that the hallucinatory freedom felt by social media users is precisely the hallucinatory freedom felt by consumers relishing in the prescribed choices offered in a shopping mall. Ironically, it seems that even people who hate shopping mall culture are increasingly happy to centralize, browse and store all of their information in social media websites hosted by major corporations of unknown or hidden politic. To flip something I said earlier, this could all be really funny, if I had a sense of humor and gave those corporations the benefit of the doubt before assuming they had the worst of corporate-minded intentions. But in my gut I don't have a good feeling about this. Maybe because, as a result of the climate they have created, these days my website is to their social media what the 'mom and pop shop' is to the shopping mall.

My mood to reset the upload odometer, as it were, was the culmination of several incidents this past year. First was the release of Soulnessless, my +32 hour album of digital audio, text and video specifically designed for offline distribution in the form of a 16GB microSD card. As mentioned in my rebuttal to Bohn above, the album contains a "Read Me" file explaining why I and other parties involved in the project ask that it not be uploaded. For reference purposes, I will include the short statement here in its entirety:

    A Personal Request from Terre Thaemlitz

    Dear Listeners, Viewers & Readers,

    This project deals with a number of precarious themes and relationships which, if taken out of context, could lead to misinterpretations with potentially harmful - even dangerous - consequences for the parties involved. In order to minimize these risks, I am personally asking for your help in seeing that these files are used responsibly. Because of this project's completely digital format, I specifically ask that you please do not upload or share these files online - even if you feel a website or forum is sympathetic to the themes in this project. Unfortunately, an uploaded file's online lifespan and distribution path quickly become uncontrollable through "spider" and "robot" applications, as well as the actions of certain end users, that indiscriminately seek to copy and archive any and all materials found online without regard for context. Your assistance in helping this digital project retain a specificity of context and audience that can only occur offline is both greatly needed and greatly appreciated.

    Love, Terre

As you can see, contrary to Bohn's statement, the reasons are not economic-based, but are primarily concerned with certain collaborators' safety and risk of exposure as non-believers within the conservative religious regions in which they live

Despite (or perhaps punkishly because of) this request, in less than two weeks of the album's release there were complete torrents and even a publically accessible open directory on someone's server that came up at the top of Google searches, offering the raw files for immediate download directly from Google search result links. (In other words, users did not even need to leave the Google search results page to download the files. They simply clicked the Google search result link and the files began directly downloading to their desktops.) I eventually managed to get the raw files deleted, and I understand at least one torrent was eventually reduced to just the MP3 audio files. However, this is obviously still not to my liking. In fact, the only reason the video and text files were removed from the torrent was because the host site was exclusively dedicated to the sharing of audio files, and some super-nerds decided the non-audio files were a violation of their user agreement. (Yet the unauthorized upload of those audio files was somehow not a violation?) Needless to say, I was deeply disheartened by these events. Honestly, I have not had the courage to search for additional uploads of the Soulnessless project since then, out of fear for what I will find. Meanwhile, there were the standard, shit quality uploads of rips from vinyl only releases consistently flowing into YouTube, SoundCloud, and other sites. This online atmosphere has entered clubs as well, as people on dancefloors use a smart phone app to identify each and every track a DJ plays. They obnoxiously come up to the booth, directing the phone display to me, showing each successful identification. Yay! Good for you, assholes! I call them assholes, because whenever I play a track they cannot identify they insist I tell them what it is - and get really angry when I refuse... which invariably means as soon as their app identifies another track they are back in my face, smugly, like, "How ya like me now, bitch? Thought you lost me there for a minute, didn't you?" There are no kudos for a DJ finding a special offline track to share with the dancers in that moment. Club goers have increasingly little desire to process the club experience in reality - only via online devices. It's social-media-online-app-smart-phone-always-online-fuck-you-I-own-this-world culture at its most annoying, and ultimately most meaningless.

Then, while doing a rare bit of DJ-ing on the West coast of the US this past February, I had two antithetical experiences that helped crystalize my desire to downsize unauthorized social media uploads of my projects. The first happened in Seattle, where - despite a very gracious and unexpected on-stage plug by Matmos, who were performing that same night at a venue down the street, asking people to come hear me play after their event finished - I played to a rather empty room. During the evening, two separate dancers came up to me in the DJ booth, introduced themselves, then asked my name and how often I span at that venue. It was clear they did not know who I was, and they were not specifically there to hear me play. One was an older queen who got all of my set's old track references. The other was a young person who said it was his birthday, and his first time dancing in a club. Contrary to what some might expect, these anonymous exchanges are my usual experiences when DJ-ing. I really like the fact that there are a significant number of people in any crowd who do not know who I am, and didn't come to hear me play, but just showed up and got into the music (or didn't get into it). Such anonymity clearly resonates with my love of house music as a non-individualist, sample based medium. The following night, in LA, I was standing in line at the bar to get a drink before my set when a young person - maybe 20 years old - recognized me from online photos. He enthusiastically started talking about how he hadn't heard of me before that morning, but he spent the entire day listening to my releases on SoundCloud and decided to come. That sounds nice enough, and I could appreciate his enthusiasm, but he was really into SoundCloud. Reallllllly into SoundCloud - asking me about specific upload pages, etc. When I said I didn't use SoundCloud, and that I didn't know exactly what was online there, he went into a fervered sales pitch: "Oh, man! You've gotta get onto SoundCloud! It's amazing! They have all your stuff there! Tons of it! Hours and hours! I was listening to it all day! You've gotta get on, man! You've gotta check out all the stuff they have of yours on there!" I could only think of the night before, and how wonderful it would have been to meet someone that excited and curious because they couldn't find any sound examples online, and positioned that absence in relation to something being "underground."

So here we are, a few months later. I tried to playfully and quietly interact with the uploaders' realm by asking YouTube to remove some files. And, although the files came down, it seems I failed in other ways. This is actually the third time I have made a public fool of myself by interacting with social media. The first time was several years back on Facebook. I discovered someone had created a fan page, which people had mistakenly assumed I had created, and upon which they were leaving both personal and business related messages. (Who the fuck does that?) I decided to create a personal Facebook account simply to tell people I was not affiliated with the fan page, and that they could contact me directly through the Comatonse Recordings website. As you can imagine, the result was my receiving a series of friend requests. Then the fan page creator (with whom I had no previous contact) publically announced that I had arrived and would be formally taking control of his fan page, etc., etc., etc. I immediately cancelled my account, tucked my tail, and ran. The second time was in 2010, when I sent a press release to a select handful of journalists about the Mille Plateaux back-catalog being once again uploaded without permission - this time into Beatport. The next day, I was surprised to discover that robot sites had mirrored my letter by the hundreds, or possibly thousands. This was my first real awakening to the meaning of "viral." I had mentally still been operating on a model of paper magazines, in which most letters to the press never went into publication. Fortunately, in this instance things worked in my favor, and the back-catalog was removed within four days - whereas it had previously taken me four years to get the same materials removed from iTunes, Juno and other online distributors. In any case, it should be obvious to all that my attempts to keep myself distanced from social media, yet active in other types of online information presentation (such as this rather archaic and maze-like website), have left me dumb. It is like when someone lends me their cell phone to make a call and, despite having used regular phones for decades, my eyes glaze over and I become noticeably disoriented.

Despite the whole "copyright claim" pronouncement confronting people in YouTube (and therefore also in countless online articles referencing those links), my actual reasons for wanting to reset my presence in social media - even just a little bit - are quite simple. In my ongoing quest to subvert standard growth economics, I feel my tracks are too hyped, too easily accessible, too visible (too audible?), and open to more attention than they deserve. They are certianly open to types of attention that they were not intended for. This is especially true of tracks produced prior to the emergence of current online trends. And while I do not want to officially dictate how my projects are used, I wish to make things a bit more low profile, and encourage listeners to experiement with other, more personally responsible, controlled, contextual and meaningful forms of distribution and support. In other words, I wished to quietly keep the music acting queerly. Sadly, my actions, which were in some way intended as a gesture of humility and smallness, were transformed into arrogant property claims. If anyone has been offended, or felt under attack, I assure you that was not my intention. I would also ask you to try and laugh along with me, and even share responsibility for your part in this mess as participants - nay, registered members - in social media sites that afford us no other direct means of communicating on this topic. In the end, we're both "busted" and misrepresented by the situation. Who knows, depending on how fun, or miserable, or productive, or inconsequential this blunder proves to be - and once my stomach settles - I might get tempted to push the reset button again some day. Maybe it can become an annual May Day tradition! Will you push it with me, sisters?

- Terre Thaemlitz, May 1, 2013

March 18, 2014 Update: The button has been pressed again. Although I was waiting for May 1 to came around again, my hand was forced to act sooner because a self-described 'fan' uploaded the complete Soulnessless video for Cantos I-IV into YouTube. So depressing...