The violence, riots, and burning buildings in London have been a difficult scenario to understand for those outside of that country, especially in the US where our own financial catastrophe overwhelmed the meager coverage (though I have to give the insidious Fox News that today at least, they’ve given the story its due, while CNN covers a failed ocean swimmer). If you’re still not up on what’s happening this is a good place to start, and take a look at this Google Map to get an idea of the scale of it. Last but not least, check out the CHUD message board thread, where several friends of the site have a bit more insight and local knowledge to offer.

If this seems merely like the work of a bunch of assholes breaking windows and torching cop cars, then check out this video of a massive Sony warehouse burning to the ground…

Unfortunately that video is also showing you the destruction of thousands and thousands of pieces of inventory from independent labels and media companies, as the Sony lot includes space used by 150  record labels and DVD distributors, many of which are small indie outfits. Already, dozens of artists have taken to twitter to express how devastating and crippling this fire will be for them. In fact, filmmaker Gary Hustwit has tweeted about the loss of 20,000 DVDs of his films– the independent documentaries Helvetica and Objectified. I’ve written about Hustwit’s fantastic films before, and published a huge Q&A with the director. I think he’s an extraordinary mind that has gone all over the world to harvest footage of designers to create films that will change the way you look at the world around you. And Gary is just one artist who has lost out from this fire– imagine the even smaller artists and labels, some of which may be forced to shut down completely.

There’s a full report of the incident here.

Fortunately for Gary, the nature of his subjects have lent themselves to digital distribution and he’ll likely be able to fall back on that. It’s a generally good thing that we live in a day and age when many of the companies affected by this particular fire will be able to continue doing business online, reaching their audiences and serving their artists. There are some that wont be able to do that though, and it’s a goddamn shame that many of the assholes looting and destroying have negatively impacted some of the very artists they’d be likely to appreciate.

UPDATED: Brendon Connelly is a Bleeding-Cool writer from Oxford that is taking note of this crappy situation, and he has started putting together a compendium of links to digital versions of some of the affected company’s films. You can support them by checking out their movies digitally. Check out the continuously updating list right here.

I’m in no position to commentate with any authority, but I hope London gets its shit together, and ends up a better place for it. My thoughts are out there for anyone that has been unfairly impacted, and for all the stories that will go untold over here, while we try and pick up the pieces of our increasingly shattered economy and have little attention to devote elsewhere (until a Kardashian says something silly, of course).

Let me know your thoughts – twitter, comments, or boards.