Proposal for "Redacted" Cover Art Type

Tags: #<Tag:0x00007f4d568de000> #<Tag:0x00007f4d568dde70>

Continuing the discussion from Piracy on release in MB:


  • @reosarevok expressed Musicbrainz’ preference for an altered cover rather than the original containing a piracy site’s URL:
  • For use with cover art images that needed to be modified to be permitted on the Cover Art Archive, I suggested that if such images are added, it should be clearly marked that they were redacted.
  • @thwaller stressed that it should not encourage modification of cover art as a normal practice.
  • @IvanDobsky suggested that the phrasing be changed to specify this as for use with pirate releases rather than bootlegs.
  • I argued that this was confusing as a “pirated” release is not defined in Musicbrainz, and
  • @thwaller seemed to agree that the recording in question was a “bootleg” recording being distributed on a piracy site, but not pirated itself, as there was no original recording.

My current proposal

A cover-art type addition, named “redacted” with the following as its description:


The image has has been modified because it could not otherwise be uploaded to the Cover Art Archive. This is because the original image included watermark links to pirate, pornographic, or otherwise sketchy sites.

For use only with bootleg releases where other artwork does not exist.

I think this would make it clear that some information was redacted from the cover art, and sufficiently stresses that this is something to be done only in specific, limited situations.



I like the proposal, but I have concern over allowing editing of images ‘in writing’. I am just thinking here, but what about requiring something like this: (EDIT: Meaning the content is blurred):

Where the content is filtered/censored, but it is also clear as to what was done. The edit is subtle, does the job and still shows there was an edit and where it was. I do not mean to get picky or dig too far into this, but I fear that allowing normal editing will leave the door open too far.

I know there is a factor of how things look, but if MB is really documenting the release, proper censorship would be, in my opinion, to block out the portion in question. This seems like the best compromise between removing unwanted content and preservation of original content/material.

Otherwise, I like what you have proposed, even if left as-is. Just adding my concern.

1 Like

A small concern could be that, however well limited and stressed the purpose the proposed type, it may ‘invite’ squared fronts.

In the vicinity, there is a ticket [STYLE-939] Cover art attribute: Suboptimal that perhaps could cover things.

1 Like

I haven’t read up on the whole thread so pardon me if this question is stupid, but; Wouldn’t showing pirated cover art absolutely be covered by fair use as long as it’s made clear that the release is illegal? Like a newspaper printing a picture of a counterfeit painting in an article about art forgery?

1 Like

@Moebeus the blurring is about not advertising the actual name of the pirate release site. Avoid promotion for them. (To be honest, this thread made me go look at the site. Something MB would be trying to avoid)

@thwaller I agree with you that blurring the text is the best option as that clearly shows that something has been censored.


This is sort of what I ended with in my thoughts.

  1. Do not advertise or promote piracy
  2. Do not encourage changes to images

So blur the censored area, so it is not really a changed image, but a censored one. This is removing the piracy promotion and \also not promoting changes to artwork as few will think of wanting to blur things out vs changing things and trying to pass it as official or real artwork.


ah, then I understand. I thought this was about old-timey bootlegs (that Discogs now actively removes btw), where the cover art can often be quite beautiful/interesting/creative. Thx for the clarification!

What about something like having to be logged in* and click to view certain images?
rateyourmusic already does this with offensive imagery, and I think it would allow us to keep the image, not have to somehow make sure people consistently edit images themselves (assuming they have the inclination or tools to do so), and it would not ‘advertise’ the website as most of our browsers wont be logged in.
If the text makes it clear that you will be viewing an image that promotes piracy I think it will also allow the browser to make an informed choice.
The code may be useful for other things later (eg swastika laws in Germany)
I would be fine with Picard not tagging with these images at all. People can still manually do it.

*not sure about the logged in part actually, might be enough to have to click.

@aerozol Personally I think your “login to see certain images” suggestion is overkill. This discussion is just about blurring one advert to a pirate site. This is not a conversation about censorship. Censorship rules are very different in many countries so it is hard to come up with a simple solution to fit all. This is why I don’t believe any cover should be censored. Just like the rude words in album titles and tracks are not censored.

Wikipedia’s list of “controversial” artwork shows the can of worms you’d be opening. Your suggestion would also cause havoc for the API as you’d then need to include some kind of censored flag there too.


Did you read my footnote?
And how is this not a suggestion about censorship? Removing parts of images so that no user can ever see them, even if they want to, is far heavier censorship than giving them the choice to.

Yes, I saw the footnote. Please also look back up at what the OP was suggesting. One suggestion was to still put the original artwork up as an alternative, but the blurred one becomes default.

Which actually hits your “click a button to see it” suggestion rather well. :slight_smile:

MB is a database of music releases and the artwork that goes with them. Everywhere else in MB’s rules there is a drive for accuracy on those entries. From that I would want to continue across the artwork and not see anything changed.

There is an issue here with editing the cover. Picard users. Imagine if I had a copy of this album, with the embedded artwork and the original cover. If MB is to have a censored cover then by me running Picard it will pass the censored copy into my version of the album on my hard disk, replacing that original artwork.

Usually I’d assume Picard is going to improve the artwork quality of my releases. If censorship gets too wide then Picard will start damaging my collection. So that then heads to needing a “ignore censorship” option in Picard…

This is what I mean about digging a hole :wink:

(Yeah - I know I am now arguing more on the side of “leave the artwork alone”, but that is due to less wine today)

1 Like

It seems like the direction has been settled on previously already anyway, but I will just say that I’m still not comfortable with this.
The decision to permanently alter and censor images with links to piracy websites over, say, links to hate speech sites, or rape and snuff imagery, seems like a very strong editorial decision.
That is why I would like to see the brakes put on a little bit, and a solution that allows free and informed access to information instead of selective censorship - as IvanDobsky says, that’s a can of worms that’s being opened.

1 Like

@aerozol - totally agree that this needs to be kept to minimum. I’d rather have zero censorship. I’m a Brit and the creeping censorship of the web that is going on here is not good.

This is why if censorship has to be done, then using a blur to make it VERY obvious that is has been censored is better than a fancy Photoshop job where the edit is invisible.

It is also why I don’t like the way this thread has been confusing terms like “Pirate” and “Bootleg”. Make me nervous that it can set someone off on a crusade through the database deleting stuff they don’t like.

Comically the very first thing I added data to on MB was a bootleg. There is a very expensive Pink Floyd boxset of 16 CDs called Discovery. I found a Chinese Bootleg version of this on Ebay. Turns out so did many other people. The handy thing is MusicBrainz have documented the differences with this set. So I was happy to add in all the discIDs as some of my first data here at MB. Now other people who have the bootleg can know it is a dodgy copy. Importantly nothing on that page is advertising the source.

1 Like

links to piracy websites over, say, links to hate speech sites, or rape and snuff imagery, seems like a very strong editorial decision.

This is not an editorial decision.

First and foremost is it to legally protect our projects – in the US (and we are under US jurisdiction) links to pirate content make us potentially liable. The US copyright laws are quite aggressive, so if we don’t remove links we stand to lose what we’ve worked on for so many years.

Second, we should not be promoting piracy – I’ve always felts that MusicBrainz should rise above that and contribute to improving the music world. I personally would like to see MusicBrainz have an impact in artists lives; I believe that the world can support a middle class of musicians and by making more data and tools available. Many tools are only available to a few select companies right now and contain hidden biases towards the incumbent players. I think we can help create this middle class of artists with our efforts. Promoting piracy is not compatible with some of these loftier goals.


And I’m sure none of us believe in promoting extreme right-wing groups.
In any case, my argument is definitely not that we should be promoting piracy, but that I believe there is a better solution than haphazardly editing some images, and that at some point it should be given some thought.

Sounds like it would be best to reserve “redacted” only for images that cannot legally be stored in CAA.

In which case, the redacted cover art would exist purely as a tool to help users disambiguate releases more readily.
As long as it’s not marked as “front” as well, Picard shouldn’t replace the image anyway, right? Perhaps Picard could even be modified to specifically never overwrite with a “redacted” image?

I guess it comes down to whether we should store redacted artwork or nothing at all. If the latter, it should definitely be mentioned in the release annotation. Otherwise people will keep re-adding the artwork, not understanding why it was removed.

Either way, there should probably be a documentation page about what to do in this sort of situation.

1 Like