Dennis Cooper vs. Google: Battle for the Blog

Dennis Cooper
Source: Smirnov

Since 2002, Dennis Cooper, author of Frisk and The Sluts, has kept a blog hosted on the Blogger platform. In addition to giving updates on his own work and hosting online based projects, he also used it to discuss and promote avant-garde art, film, and literature. Because of how extensively he discussed them, it was an excellent news and reference point for art that might have received little to no attention otherwise. In 2007, Cooper even edited an anthology entitled Userlands which showcased some new authors he had met through the comments on the blog.

On June 27th, Cooper logged into his Google account only to find that both his email and blog had been terminated without warning. The only explanation he had been given was a “terms of service violation.” Despite Cooper’s attempt to contact Google’s technical support through email and over the phone, the blog and email remain down. Cooper says that Google launched an investigation which proved to be fruitless.

If the blog has been completely erased, then Dennis Cooper has lost over a decade of artistic output. He told Artforum that he had been working on another “GIF novel” (they’re more like pieces of net art than novels in my opinion) in the same vein as the previous two, Zac’s Haunted House and Zac’s Control Panel, released through Kiddiepunk and it had stored it on the blog. Even worse, the loss of his email has impeded his other work.

“I have three projects I’m working on right now,” Dennis Cooper told me when I reached out to him, “and I’m continuing to work on them as best I can. They’re theater and film projects, and the blog has nothing really to do with them. The main problem in that regard is losing all of my correspondence and contacts because of the email account disablement.”

Because of Google’s lack of cooperation in the matter, Cooper has enlisted a lawyer. The discussions with Google’s legal team so far have lead to no avail and Cooper may have to file a lawsuit. PEN America and The Guardian have both denounced Google’s handling of the situation, and Cooper hopes that mounting pressure will prevent him from having to sue. I reached out to Google’s press team for comment and was told, “We’re aware of this matter and not able to comment on specific user accounts.”


Some of the comments of Dennis Cooper’s Facebook have speculated that the “male escort” series was the reason for the termination. On the blog, Cooper had a project where he republished sections of ads from male escorts as sort of literary readymades. Cooper’s blog was already labeled as an 18+ site due to the often risque content. It is possible that the escort ads, a legal gray area, pushed Google into deleting it. Still, others have speculated that this is a technical mistake that has been slow to be remedied due to poor customer service.

Whatever the reason, it’s a cause for concern for anyone who uses Google’s services. Gmail is one of the most popular email services and the handling of the loss of Cooper’s account does little to inspire faith in it. I myself have used blogger since 2008 and have a good amount of work stored on it. It’s not very comforting to know that all could disappear overnight with no help from Google in getting it back. It’s something of a wake up call not to rely entirely on cloud services and to keep work backed up offline.

This isn’t the first time Dennis Cooper had problems with Blogger. Back in 2006, the original incarnation of his blog was hacked. He was able to take back control of the blog, but it had caused enough problems that he restarted it with the old one left up as an archive.

When I asked him of his plans if he can get the blog back, Cooper told me, “If I can get the blog back intact, or even if I’m just allowed to enter it privately and export/save the work there, I’m pretty sure I will migrate the blog to a far safer domain and continue.” And if he’s unable to get it back? “If the ten years of work is lost forever, I honestly don’t know if I’ll continue or restart.“

It would be a damn shame if it all ends up irretrievable. Not just for Dennis Cooper, but for modern independent literature as a whole. His blog was a major center for news on recent releases and information on older, lesser known writers. It gave exposure to writers who may have not gotten attention elsewhere and was a valuable reference tool. I wish Cooper the best of luck in getting it back.

In my next review, I’ll be taking a look a Userlands. A book whose existence can be entirely credited to Dennis Cooper’s now (hopefully only temporarily) removed blog.

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