Musician sees irony in industry 'takedown' letter

Musician Dave Allen says he mistakenly posted an unauthorized music file to his blog but removed it after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from IFPI.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
2 min read
Former Gang of Four bassist Dave Allen at the MusicTech Summit Greg Sandoval

SAN FRANCISCO--Apparently nobody--not even an artist--gets a pass from the music industry when it comes to copyright laws.

After unwittingly posting an unauthorized music file on his blog, Dave Allen, former bassist for Gang of Four, said he had received a cease-and-desist letter from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), the group that represents the music industry worldwide.

"Talk about your irony of ironies," Allen said after participating in a panel discussion at the MusicTech Summit held here on Thursday. "But I understood completely. I was wrong. I removed the music."

Allen, a founding member of the post-punk British band, best known for the hit song I Love a Man in Uniform, said he believed that whomever sent him an unreleased copy of a song from the group Portishead had permission to do so. He said plenty of music acts send him their songs to post on his blog, Pampelmoose.com.

But not long after posting the song on his blog, Allen received a very long but "polite letter" from the IFPI telling him he was in violation of copyright law.

"I sent a message back apologizing," Allen said. "What I learned from this is that I have to double my efforts to find out where files come from."

Allen also said that while he never meant to pirate Portishead's music, he was still alarmed when he received the letter. "I was chilled...they are much bigger than me and could shut me down," he told the crowd.

Years ago, Allen used to say that he thought music should be given away. He has altered his stance since then.

"I don't want to take money away from artists," Allen said. "They deserve to get paid. We need some laws to protect musicians. Some copyright law is useful as long as it's not heavy-handed law. We have to find cool ways to allow fans to take their music where they want, make it available to them and at the same time protect the artist."