Can we prevent the defamation of musicians on the internet?

August 7, 2009 at 03:09 PM ·

An esteemed group of musicians performs Brahms Sextet beautifully and it is posted on youtube.  Check is out.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdGtj2eBzGo   Some jerk posted a sick, hateful, vitriolic tirade about one of the musicians.  I won't bother repeating what was said since you all can see it for yourself.  How is this allowed to be done with impunity?  Is there any kind of recourse, legal or otherwise one can take when this kind of thing happens? 

Replies (24)

August 7, 2009 at 03:13 PM ·

Just don't ever allow commenting if you post something on Youtube. It's not a community, despite the fact that they have some community-like software that allows people to make "friends," etc.

Here's the blog I wrote about it a while back.

August 7, 2009 at 05:20 PM ·

I always hate it when that happens. People on youtube can be so rude and vulgar. The person posting the videos always has the freedom to delete or disable comments. Also, there's usually a nice bunch of people that flag the mean/inappropriate comments and just show how out of line they are. 

August 7, 2009 at 06:05 PM ·

Well, this may be a little off-topic, but here in Brazil we had this great, great site about classical music, with tons of information and a really good forum for discussions. And then someone criticized some artists (I don't remember who, actually). The criticisms were very harsh and non-constructive, though, and the artist happened to read it and decided to sue the site. The manager of the great, great site decided to shut down the site permanently, so he didn't need to worry about these things anymore. It was a great loss for all of the readers!

These people with nothing to do but with loads of non-constructive criticism can, therefore, cause not "only" problems for whom they criticize, but also for everyone who happens to be there, even not sharing the same thoughts.

August 7, 2009 at 06:20 PM ·

Wow.  As my mom says:

"It takes all kinds [of people] to make the world go round."

August 7, 2009 at 06:30 PM ·

It's amazing how cruel people can be under the veil of anonimity. They would never have enough courage to say those things to the musician in person. I think if it were me, I would disable the "comments" function on YouTube. If I want feedback on my playing, I'll ask a musician that I trust to listen to me, rather than open myself to possibly hurtful and irrelevant posts from strangers.

I don't know much about law, but I do know from experience that it's not so easy to legally prove someone has harmed you by their words or actions. A few years ago, my company discovered that a competitor had somehow gotten a copy of our demo reel and was playing it on their website, claiming they had done the work. Our attorney sent the competitor a "cease and desist" letter and they did quickly remove the video from their website (and fired the employee responsible for the deception). However, since we couldn't "prove" that we had lost business as a result of the other company's action, we were advised not to bring a lawsuit against them.

August 7, 2009 at 06:52 PM ·

Just wanted to let everyone know that the vulgar comments  from the youtube video in question were removed.  I'm not quite sure how it happened but am grateful.  Thanks Laurie for referring me to your blog. 

August 7, 2009 at 07:47 PM ·

I loath the abuse of 'Free Speach'..... so many people these days (maybe it's always been the case) that some people feel entitled to act without license never looking to history's lessons that abuse of words and deeds has contributed to many of a great downfall...

August 7, 2009 at 09:10 PM ·

 

Just wanted to let everyone know that the vulgar comments  from the youtube video in question were removed.  I'm not quite sure how it happened but am grateful.  Thanks Laurie for referring me to your blog. 

 

The account owner deleted the offensive posts. As an account owner you can control your settings for "no comments" as Laurie prefers, or you can manually delete offensive comments. My daughter has a YouTube site that attracts a lot of comments. She deletes anything obscene, but leaves up negative comments. Often a negative remark will be disputed by the next commentator. That's fun to watch. I've noticed that other viewers will mark nasty comments as "spam" so that they disappear from the page until we come in an manually delete them. It's a personal choice about whether or not to allow comments, and I totally understand Laurie's position. My daughter gets a lot of comments that are positive (maybe even more positive than they should be) and some are useful, constructive criticism. She's also had some pointed, mean-spirited negative comments, but part of being a public performer is developing a tough skin.

 

August 7, 2009 at 11:29 PM ·

Although not getting to read the coments in question, I did get to hear a beautiful performance of one of my favorite pieces. So thank you for the link!

August 8, 2009 at 07:30 AM ·

There's no shortage of idiots on YouTube who feel the need to attack every single performance when possible. Many times it's under the guise of criticism "well, they really sound terrible at [insert time here] but overall it's not a bad attempt, perhaps some day you'll make it as a musician!" (comment on a video of Heifetz, Szeryng, or someone of equal reknown). Sadder still are the legions of Internet users who do not understand the concept that compressing video and audio cause parts of the original signal to be lost, and that their streaming video is never completely faithful to the live performance, tonally.

Just as I do not feel the need to read the supermarket trash tabloids on display when I walk to the checkout counter at the store, I can assume that most of the commentary, especially regarding artistic criticism behind the veil of anonymity on YouTube, is equally rubbish.

August 8, 2009 at 10:38 AM ·

The greatest thing about the Internet is that everyone is free to say whatever they want to.
The worst thing about the Internet is that everyone is free to say whatever they want to.
So how do we achieve a civilized balance? Not an easy question to answer. Perhaps, in the final analysis, the answer -  not only for this problem but for most of civilization's social ills -is education (meaning knowledge, understanding, appreciation, empathy, constructive honesty, wisdom, openness, and so forth).
Sandy

August 8, 2009 at 01:28 PM ·

I can't read comments on youtube.  I get too depressed.  I'm so grateful to be able to watch film of so many wonderful artists, but the comments section is too much.  I just don't scroll down there.  Read no evil...

August 8, 2009 at 03:36 PM ·

Yeah good point Sander.  It's a double edged sword.

August 8, 2009 at 05:49 PM ·

 We can't prevent people from saying things. We can make them responsible for what they say but defamation and libel are necessarily very hard to prove. The hurdle has to be high or totalitarians and authoritarians could keep us from expressing ourselves with threats of civil or criminal action.

The ability to speak anonymously is worth far more than the risk of being hurt. If you have control of a web site you can feel free to control what is posted on it. Youtube allows this privilege to account posters.

August 8, 2009 at 09:30 PM ·

One of the disadvantages of the YT interface is that you can't "quote" others, such that their text then belongs to your post and can't be edited or deleted.  On this occasion, the miscreant has bottled it and deleted the hateful, injurious content - but I quite agree, there ought to be a means of proscription and litigation for cases such as these.

And one other thing - the Chink at the beginning describes the Brahms IVtet as one of the most {whatever} pieces in "Western music" - well what other sort of music is there, you slitty-eyed git?

August 8, 2009 at 09:41 PM ·

Regarding deleting comments to ones videos, I found a rendition of Scherzo Tarantelle last w/e where the musicla line suffered clearly though going for all-out speed, as some people do, and I pointed it out.  Then I saw a rendition of Zapateado from the same lady which I thought was fabulous, and commented along these lines.

When I came back later, the first critical comment had been removed, but hte second flattering one remained.  So I deleted that one too.

August 8, 2009 at 09:47 PM ·

>>>>And one other thing - the Chink at the beginning describes the Brahms IVtet as one of the most {whatever} pieces in "Western music" - well what other sort of music is there, you slitty-eyed git?<<

Major traditions, offhand - Carnatic, Hindustani, Persian, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, a few dozen south Asian traditions, and equal number of African traditions many of which have had strong influences on Western music. Probably missed over half of the major systems, not to mention hundreds of minor musical traditions.

If you are joking, it wasn't funny.  If you are really a round-eyed bigot, it's even less funny.

August 9, 2009 at 01:52 PM ·

Since most of you hadn't read  comments that stimulated me to create this post I feel compelled to reveal the nature of the post . It wasn't  ordinary thoughtless and insensitive  critiscism.  One of the musicians was singled out as being "retarded" and "scum".  There were multible expletives that can't be printed on this site about what he would like to  on that persons face.  The attack was random and gratuitous.  This might go beyond what should be protected by the constitution.  It is the type of personal attack and verbal assault that can do harm because it is only designed to debase and destroy another human being. It should not be tolerated. 

August 9, 2009 at 02:22 PM ·

Character Assasination!

August 9, 2009 at 03:30 PM ·

The Internet has really complicated things when it comes to the legal issues of slander and libel. I would assume that there are different laws in different countries. So how does one handle the complexities of the technology? And whom does one sue and in which court? Indeed, what controls and protections does an individual have? And if someone does engage in improper and even illegal character assassination, and isn't subject legal or procedural sanctions, what can be done?

August 9, 2009 at 04:01 PM ·

"This might go beyond what should be protected by the constitution." 

 

Good God! My friend, I hope you are joking!

August 9, 2009 at 10:41 PM ·

 One of the disadvantages of the YT interface is that you can't "quote" others, such that their text then belongs to your post and can't be edited or deleted.  On this occasion, the miscreant has bottled it and deleted the hateful, injurious content - but I quite agree, there ought to be a means of proscription and litigation for cases such as these.

And one other thing - the Chink at the beginning describes the Brahms IVtet as one of the most {whatever} pieces in "Western music" - well what other sort of music is there, you slitty-eyed git?

Is the second paragraph of this comment intended as some kind of meta-post to give example of hateful commentary?  As for the first paragraph-- the owner of the site is free to delete the nasty comments any time. I hate nasty comments as much as any of you, but I don't see how they can be injurious to anyone but the person who posts them.

August 10, 2009 at 01:18 AM ·

One thing we can do, is to do our best to not sink to such low levels.

August 10, 2009 at 02:15 AM ·

I agree with Royce. I tend to believe that most of the horrible comments made by people are people under the age of 18. I have a hard time believing that a mature person would have any desire to speak in such a manner...of course, times have changed...

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