T Bone Burnett on Google’s Nashville Charm Offensive Coming Soon to a City Near You — Artist Rights Watch

September 26, 2016 Leave a comment

But for music creators, Google’s charm offensive in Nashville is all a sideshow, a corporate feel good effort designed to yank our gaze away from the basic facts – Google is putting all its power and might into killing legal reforms artists and songwriters need to survive.

via T Bone Burnett on Google’s Nashville Charm Offensive Coming Soon to a City Near You — Artist Rights Watch

Must Read: T Bone Burnett’s Keynote Address at AmericanaFest — The Trichordist

September 25, 2016 Leave a comment

T-Bone Burnett’s keynote at Americana Fest Nashville TN Thursday Sept 22nd. Reprinted with permission of the author. Technology is turning over every ten years. Their technologies don’t and won’t last. Our art-if we do it right- will. I have come here today first to bring you love. I have come here to express my deep […]

via Must Read: T Bone Burnett’s Keynote Address at AmericanaFest — The Trichordist

Google Shills and Pandora’s MIC Coalition Want DOJ to Appeal BMI Ruling–Soviet Style

September 21, 2016 Leave a comment

Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K., he knew he had done nothing wrong but, one morning, he was arrested….”And why am I under arrest?” he then asked. “That’s something we’re not allowed to tell you. Go into your room and wait there. Proceedings are underway and you’ll learn about everything all in good time….”

From The Trial, by Franz Kafka.

Right on cue, one Google Shill after another is floating the idea that the U.S. Department of Justice should appeal their latest oopsie to the Second Circuit.  Talk about ungrateful–Judge Stanton, the BMI Rate Court judge was also the judge in Viacom v. YouTube and the accompanying artist-oriented class action against Google.  In the YouTube case, Judge Stanton ruled for YouTube.  Back then he was hailed by Google Shills everywhere as a great jurist, the peoples’ judge and hero of the disruptive class, because he poked a finger in the eye of bourgeois artists.

Talk about your sore losers–Judge Stanton went from #hero to #goat in record time as CCIA’s Matt Schruers told Bloomberg:

Matthew Schruers, vice president of law and policy at the Computer and Communications Industry Association [CCIA], which represents technology companies like Pandora and Google, said he expects the department to appeal the decision.

“Today’s decision will increase uncertainty for music licensees and threatens to complicate an already opaque licensing landscape,” he said in an e-mail.

The CCIA is an OS–Original Shill, which is of course what they get paid to be.

As is Public Knowledge, who we heard from next:


Here’s a press release from the Chief Gloater at Google Shill Lister Public Knowledge, which can be summed up in the well-known edict from Miniature, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH:

The following be attributed to Raza Panjwani, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“We are deeply disappointed by Judge Stanton’s summary dismissal of the Department of Justice’s carefully-considered interpretation of the BMI consent decree. The plain language of the consent decree, BMI’s statements to the DOJ, BMI’s marketing language about its licenses, and appellate precedent all support the DOJ’s interpretation. Fractional licensing threatens to deprive the public of access to music by undermining a licensing marketplace that generates over a billion dollars in revenue annually for BMI alone, and which hundreds of thousands of business and outlets rely on to use and play music. This decision introduces uncertainty for users, opens the door to anticompetitive behavior, and should be appealed and reversed.”

Good thing they never asked a songwriter what they thought.  Because if this fake problem actually exists, it’s existed for decades–which, as every songwriter knows, it hasn’t.

And then of course, there’s the MIC Coalition which is how all this got started from the way I read the tea leaves.

The MIC Coalition is the supergroup of astroturf, a bottomless pit of money and venom built around Pandora, Google, Clear Channel (aka iHeart), the National Association of Broadcasters, and some other smarminess:


MIC Coalition Members

CCIA is a member of the MIC Coalition, as you can see.

Never heard of the MIC Coalition?  You only think you haven’t, which is astroturf done right.  If you attended SXSW this year (or last year) you may have attended a panel moderated by the long-time Washington lobbyist Maura Corbett pushing the astroturf Berklee-ICE “transparency for thee but not for me” proposals from one Panos Panay and wondered to yourself–who is that person and why is she here?  Lobbyist for the MIC Coalition, silly.  Naturally she disclosed that…no, wait, she didn’t.  I know, I sat through the entire panel (Unlocking the Future of Music with Transparency)–the only transparency on that panel was from Alex Ebert (Magnetic Zeros) who pretty clearly was not in on it.

So the MIC Coaltion has an interesting website–they seem to be a major client…sorry…outlet…for Public Knowledge’s recent work product attacking the Copyright Office.  That website has this post about the BMI ruling:

MIC Coalition Urges DOJ to Appeal Judge’s BMI Consent Decree Decision

The MIC Coalition released the following statement in response to Judge Stanton’s recent declaratory judgment in the BMI consent decree case:

“Judge Stanton’s abrupt judgment hurts music lovers across America. By overturning DOJ’s correct and necessary affirmation that the BMI consent decree requires full-work licensing, this ruling undermines the decades-old efficiencies provided by the BMI license, ignores the consent decree’s explicit requirement—affirmed by the Supreme Court—that it indemnify the public performance of works in the BMI repertoire, and turns a blind eye to BMI’s own contracts and statements that make unambiguously clear they have, and continue to, recognize the consent decree’s longstanding requirement to license works in their entirety. All of this, while robbing both the Justice Department and interested parties of their due process, since this declaratory ruling was issued off-the-cuff at a pre-motion conference.

“If left to stand, this decision eviscerates the entire purpose of the BMI blanket license, hurting every restaurant, bar, hotel, winery, local broadcaster, digital music service, retailer and other venue that plays music. This judgment does nothing short of create the exact kind of anti-competitive music marketplace our antitrust laws guard against, causing immeasurable harm to these local establishments and services, their many millions of customers, and to the songwriters and musicians to whom their royalty dollars are paid.

“The mission of the Antitrust Division is to promote economic competition. The DOJ staff took this important responsibility seriously, and should vigorously defend their work of more than two years to fully investigate, listen to all parties, and then take appropriate action under the antitrust laws. We urge DOJ to expeditiously appeal.”


Judge Stanton was “robbing the Justice Department and interested parties of their due process”.   Really?  Funny, that’s just what the songwriters are suing the DOJ about.

“The DOJ staff took this important responsibility seriously”.  Really?  Here’s what they took seriously:



So once again–Google and Pandora are behind yet another blatant attack on songwriters.  What’s different this time is that songwriters are fighting back, thanks to Songwriters of North America and songwriters Michelle Lewis, Thomas Kelly and Pamela Sheyne who are suing the Department of Justice, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the acting head of the Antitrust Division Renata B. Hesse.

Google and Pandora are doing what multinational corporations always do in litigation–they bring out their shills to talk to the press about an issue that neither the press nor the shills really have any visceral understanding, but which is absolutely clear to songwriters.

Mr. Kafka kind of summed it up:

They’re talking about things of which they don’t have the slightest understanding, anyway.

Franz Kafka, The Trial

YouTube Censors “YouTube Star” Who Google Invited to Interview European Commission President — Artist Rights Watch

September 19, 2016 Leave a comment

Reuters reports that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker gave a series of live interviews on YouTube last Thursday to young social media celebrities, including French vlogger Laetitia Birbes who said that “YouTube’s idea was to do in Europe what they’re already doing in the U.S. with President Barack Obama.” But Birbes got an hidden camera recording of a YouTube employee threatening her career on YouTube if she asked tough questions–and Reuters left out the fact that the EC has three open multi-billion Euro antitrust investigations against Google.  That’s three more than the U.S. has.

via YouTube Censors “YouTube Star” Who Google Invited to Interview European Commission President — Artist Rights Watch

Original Sin and Obama’s Missed Opportunity: What’s Next for the ASCAP and BMI Consent Decrees? — Music Tech Solutions

September 19, 2016 Leave a comment

For the moment, songwriters are in a holding pattern but with the wind at their backs. I’m still looking forward to an explanation of why Google, Pandora, Clear Channel and a host of other giant multinational corporations with hundreds if not thousands of lobbyists need the awesome power of the U.S. Government to protect them from…songwriters.

via Original Sin and Obama’s Missed Opportunity: What’s Next for the ASCAP and BMI Consent Decrees? — Music Tech Solutions

The Harder They Fall: Kafka 1 DOJ 0

September 16, 2016 Leave a comment

Details to follow, but the BMI rate court judge ruled against the Department of Justice on 100% licensing.  Here’s the important part of the ruling:

Nothing in the Consent Decree gives support to the Division’s views.

That’s what I call the ontological definition of losing.  You know…gloating is so unbecoming but sometimes it’s really hard not to.

Here’s the BMI press release:

NEW YORK – September 16, 2016 — Today, federal Judge Louis Stanton issued an order rejecting the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) recent interpretation of the BMI consent decree, and concluded that BMI is free to engage in the fractional licensing of musical works.  This decision immediately followed oral arguments heard today from both parties. Judge Stanton’s ruling is now the controlling interpretation of the BMI consent decree, and a copy can be found HERE.
Below is a statement from BMI President & CEO Mike O’Neill on today’s decision:
“As we have said from the very beginning, we believed our consent decree allowed for the decades-long practice of fractional licensing and today we are gratified that Judge Stanton confirmed that belief.  Our mission has always been to protect the interests of our songwriters, composers and publishers, and we feel we have done just that.  Today’s decision is a victory for the entire music community.”
ASCAP CEO Beth Matthews said:
“This is terrific news for all of us in the songwriting community as we continue to work on modernizing the consent decrees to reflect the real world.”
And Mr. Kafka said, no shit.

Complaint in SONA vs. Department of Justice

September 14, 2016 Leave a comment

More to come, but here is a copy of the complaint in the Songwriters of North America, Michelle Lewis, Thomas Kelly and Pamela Sheyne  case against the Department of Justice, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former Google lawyer Renata Hesse asking for declaratory relief on the DOJ’s violation of songwriter Constitutional rights with 100% licensing ruling.

For more background, listen to the MTP Podcast with Michelle Lewis, Kay Hanley, David Lowery and Chris Castle.  Kay and Michelle talk about many of the events that are described in the complaint.

Also read Chris’s post “How Google Took Over the Justice Department: Renata Hesse’s Timeline” and David and Chris interviewed by Portia Sabin on the Future of What?





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