Meet the Web Sheriff - 2008-12-10
So here's the newest soldier in the other Bush-era war with no end in sight: the arbitrary and unseemly battle over music piracy. What began with Metallica calling out Napster (and the Recording Industry Association of America suing a 12-year-old for illegal downloading) has now led here, to a London-based organization of "Internet policing specialists" whose website claims to combat everything from libel to pornography. But the Sheriff has become most notorious for unusual efforts to prevent album leaks, which, until recently, mostly involved leaving ominous comments on personal blogs.
John Giacobbi says he started Web Sheriff—now boasting a 20-member "core team" with two U.K. offices and plans to open a third stateside—as a means to "take care of online-rights management for artists, managers, and labels, entailing everything from managing album leaks and manufacturing watermarked CDs and DVDs, right through to building and managing websites and YouTube channels, and actually filming and editing content for them," adding that the concept came about "through my long-standing representation of the Village People and the increasing amount of online issues that started to arise." Feel free to read that again.
I'd had my own run-in with his company. In June, I scratched out a list of my favorite early 2008 albums for my blog, including Hold Steady's Stay Positive, then rushed to iTunes several weeks before it hit stores due to early leaks. I didn't post any MP3s or really write a review, but I still received this message in the comments section: