Stop lying

Prince has sued YouTube and the Pirate Bay for copyright infringement. This is yet another example of how the U.S. Congress is forcing artists and copyright owners to do the Justice Department’s job for them and take on the biggest company in the world in court to get respect for their rights.

“Most content owners understand that we respect copyrights, we work every day to help them manage their content, and we are developing state-of-the-art tools to let them do that even better,” said YouTube chief counsel Zahavah Levine.”


This, of course, is the fallacy of equivocation as she left out the bit about how the copyrights got into YouTube’s grubby little paws in the first place. YouTube could filter, won’t filter. It would be very easy for YouTube to do what iTunes does–don’t use music (or any other copyrighted work) for which they don’t have a license.

And don’t forget that the leader of the Pirate Bay (a/k/a “co-defendant”) was recently honored with a speaking engagement (and honorarium?) at the Leland Stanford Junior Google Law School by Lester Lawrence Lessig III’s Fair Use Project (recipient of a significant grant from Google). These are the facts and they are undisputed.

But the biggest company in the world doesn’t have to bother with licensing from these little companies and most decidely from these even littler artists, you see. They can just take it, for in the words of Lester Lawrence Lessig III, “We’re bigger than them”. Which is why they’re down there with the Pirate Bay in the estimation of artists like Prince.

But Google, like Enron, is a public company and with public companies there are different spanks for different ranks. As I often say, Ken Lay must be looking down (or up) and shaking his head as it would appear that his biggest crime is that he just stole from the wrong people. The SEC clearly has zero interest in protecting artists from unbridled power. But why would they? God forbid that anyone in our government should think of massive copyright theft as a law enforcement problem.

Corynne McSherry of the Electronic Frontier Foundation summed it up recently: “Seattle and San Francisco don’t want to be told what to do by Hollywood.” Ah yes, as long as the big dogs are stealing from those funny Hollywood people, they can get away with it. As a songwriter friend of mine wrote “Americans are freedom loving people, and nothing says ‘freedom’ like getting away with it.” Well what about Minneapolis? Austin? Atlanta? Boston? Paris? London? Bangalore? Can they dare to tell Seattle and San Francisco what to do with their artists works?

You see, the thing about the Googles is that they want to get their hands on our work and they could pay for it, but they won’t pay for it. These people define the “can buy, won’t buy” crowd.

They don’t want us to own houses, they don’t want us to earn royalties and they don’t want us to marry their daughters. We’ve seen this movie before.

No dogs or actors (or musicians) allowed.

The Man 2.0.

I asked Dr. Eric Twit of Goggle what he thought about the Prince lawsuit. “Of course he’s suing them. He wouldn’t take getting stiffed by a mafia club owner, why should he take getting stiffed by this mob?” As usual, penetrating insights from Dr. Twit.

On reflection, I would imagine that Google actually does allow dogs into their center for the study of the arrested development complex a/k/a the “Googleplex” like most groovy Internet companies. It’s just the actors and musicians who have to stay out. And songwriters? Forget about it.

(I can’t help but notice that the name “Google” is nowhere to be seen in these responses to the many lawsuits against YouTube. No more chestbeating from the two Gulfstream family members?)

One thought on “Stop lying

  1. Hi Chris,Really enjoyed reading yoiur post this morning. Good to see soemone stil has abrain out here.I find my buddy Prince to be both hightly intelligent and highly talented. YouTube’s coments are insulting. When do you think Google might realize that every intelligent human being on the planet doen’t eat gourmet lunches in their cafeterias and give each other massages in the hallway?Thought you might like the “generic” response I sent out to a few of the tech “journalists” earlier today.GeorgeWhat do the Internet Pirates call it … “Purple Rain”? This is an interesting debate for sure. And one we are beginning to address on our new web site and blogs on a regular basis as well. But I must say, as one who has been employing artists, designers, cartoonists, illustrators, and digitizers ever since the days when “Prince” was only “Prince”, none of us fall within your broad generalization of an “already wealthy yesterday’s pop star”.This is not a battle between an ultra rich “copyright” minority and the “creative” masses who are all homeless and starving. Let’s at least explain the true story behind this debate accurately. Google has decided unilaterally that it is up to their culture to do what is fair and just for all the rest of us. We stand by and watch while they give each other massages and eat free gourmet meals. They distribute our copyrighted materials, keep all the advertising fess for themselves, and invest $20 million in moon rockets. Fact is, we have had to lay off dozens of very hard working, creative, and dedicated people due to flagrant Internet piracy within our ranks over the years. These folks have a hard time making ends meet when their hard work is stolen from them and freely distributed without attribution or fair compensation. I am sure these “pirates” think they are doing us some kind of huge favor by freely distributing “free samples” of our work. “Creating a market for us”, in your words. It doesn’t work the way those of you without direct experience seem to think it should. People who become accustomed to getting their music, artwork, software or movies for free (stolen or not stolen) over the Internet continue to “shop” that way. If a copyright holder tries to “shift them” to a paid subscription service or pay-per-download service, the vast majority tend to bolt with the first sign of someone asking them to actually pay a fair price. They’ll simply find something else to be loyal to if it’s free. I don’t think it is good journalism for you to throw out socialistic or free market “theories” to your readers without one shred of evidence. Seeding a market with stolen goods does not work! Copyright protection, and choices for the artists (not simply greedy distributors like YouTube and Google), have been around for over 200 years in this country. They work. As long as we can keep the crooks out of the game. We have a larger user base of newly copyrighted material than the rest of the world put together from what I have read. There’s a huge difference here that I don’t believe many of you in the “tech media” field seem to understand. Don’t you think the choice should be made by the individual artist (copyright owner), not someone creating very little original material themselves (sorry, Google) and simply leading the herds? You see, the vast majority of copyright holders (my estimate is well over 90%) in this country are actually individual creative people and small development companies like mine. Not Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or Eric Schmidt. We depend on copyright protection for survival. Some of us may decide that creating a new market with free distribution of our copyrighted works is a smart choice, and some of us may not. But the Constitution (and our current copyright laws in this country) give this choice to us, not you. Let the free market decide whether it wants to support Prince’s way of doing business, and creating useful art, or it wants to put him out to pasture. Nothing says a legitimate copyright holder cannot choose to give all of his/her work to YouTube for free if they choose to do so. YouTube deciding this for them, however, is pure and simple “stealing”. There’s no intelligent debate on that issue. You are right on one point … the 80’s were simpler times … but nowhere near as exciting as things are today! What exactly do you expect Prince to do here … cry for “Purple Rain”? George P. Riddick, IIIChairman/CEOImageline,


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