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Update: Should there be a rating system for “red flag” knowledge: Are Five Million DMCA notices too many?

December 27, 2011 3 comments

[3/31/13 Update by Editor Charlie:  We now know courtesy of Google’s DMCA Transparency Report that Google processes roughly 10,000,000 DMCA notices a month for search alone which Google acknowledges to be 97% accurate.  It also seems likely that the Google lobbyist had some idea or actually knew of this level of infringement in Google search at the time she testified.  And Google sends traffic to pirate sites where it also sells advertising on a CPM basis–profiting from the theft.  When will someone call this out for what it is–a criminal agreement to profit from massive infringement?

12/27/11 Update by Chris Castle:  In written testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on November 16, Google’s lobbyist acknowledged that “During 2010, we processed DMCA takedown notices for approximately three million items across all of our products. Already in 2011 we have processed takedown notices for nearly five million items, and we have done so more quickly and efficiently than ever before.” 

Interesting, because of a couple things:  First, that’s a 166% increase year over year.  Second, in her oral testimony, she left out the 3 million in 2010 part.  Maybe that was just an editorial decision, but if the members had not read her written testimony (highly likely) and didn’t focus on that part, they probably would not–and didn’t–raise the rather startling growth of DMCA notices “processed”.  And finally that word “processed”–how many of you reading that statement thought she meant “taken down”?  If you have had any experience with Google (see www.popuppirates.com) you would know that there is a very, very long way between “processed” and “taken down”.

We were also treated to many recitations about how much money the tech companies make off of the Internet and the DMCA.  The implication is that’s all magically new money.  How much of it is more income transfer than profit from innovation?

The following piece written by Chris Castle first appeared in MTP in 2006.]

In a recent conversation I had with an attorney who has represented YouTube, I asked him a question that I now feel very safe in asking—does a million notice and takedowns sent to one service in 12-18 months constitute “red flag” knowledge? This isn’t speculation anymore–YouTube must have received at least a million DMCA notices by now.  Even if the site has a repeat infringer policy, should they still get a safe harbor if they seem to attract significant numbers of repeat infringers?

Realize that if a million notices constitutes “red flag” knowledge of infringing activity, the recipient infringer may be denied the protection of the safe harbors in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

His reply? Well, you see, it depends on how large the service is.

Ah, I see. So if the “service” does a really good job of creating lots and lots of infringement but only gets caught a small percentage of the time, then that doesn’t mean that they “knew or should have known” that infringing activity was going on. Even if that small percentage was over a million copyright owners who decided to send notices. (Realize that at least 10% of that hypothetical million was the Viacom lawsuit alone, and another 5% was JASRAC alone, etc.)

So if your average “citizen of the 21st century” happens to run across their work on YouTube but doesn’t know what to do to take it down, phrases their notice incorrectly–what then?

Or what if the artist “citizen of the 21st century” can’t afford a lawyer “citizen of the 21st century” to tell them whether the use involved is “fair use” or whether the artist’s unschooled consideration of whether the infringer’s use is subject to a “fair use” affirmative defense was accomplished with sufficient “good faith”, yet another new wrinkle courtesy of The Leland Stanford Junior Google Law School lecturer and U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel (who essentially codified what we understand to be the DMCA practice of Stanford benefactor Google in his ruling in the Lenz case)?

Nothing will happen. Nothing. And these artists who throw up their hands out of economic desperation will also make their contribution to the $1.65 billion of free rider profits that the YouTubes put in their pocket from the work product of others that they can’t hold a candle to.

So how does the average “citizen of the 21st century” decide how to spend their time monitoring the Internet for infringements of their works? Google and its amen corner continually tell us that was the deal that copyright owners made in the DMCA—catch us if you can. Democracy guided by the hand of the Almighty.  Not true, of course, and bad advice, most certainly, but that’s what a Google might say.

Wouldn’t it be more efficient for an artist “citizen of the 21st century“–who wishes to enjoy all the extraordinary benefits the first decade of the 21st century is bringing to them–if there were some kind of ranking system for the really bad guys? A ranking system for copyright infringers based on DMCA notices sent? (Or at least “potential” copyright infringers, if you want to continue the charade of the wilfully blind.)

What if there were a website that maintained an informal ranking of which online service received the most notices, and also gave time to response, and time to takedown? Kind of like an Alexa.com meets Good Housekeeping for infringers? Which “digital native” amongst us could possibly object to consumer information being made available to “citizens of the 21st century” ? Maybe the site could also post a picture of the DMCA agents who failed to respond, kind of like johns.com? (Maybe conveniently available on Google Street View.)

There’s actually nothing that would stop artists from developing such a service–aside from money, of course, and time taken away from diligently monitoring the Internet for other “citizens of the 21st century” who are infringing their work. You would think that the Copyright Office would want to maintain it, too, so they could see how effectively the DMCA notice and takedown system was working. Or maybe even the Congress might be interested?

In Los Angeles, the city health department gives restaurants a rating card that is posted on the front door of the establishment. If you don’t have an “A” on that card, expect to do some explaining to your customers.

It’s amazing how much of an effect a rating can have on the failure to comply with the law.

Top 20 Posts of 2011

December 22, 2011 Comments off

Why not have another year-end chart?  These are the 20 most-read MTP blog posts of 2011:

The MTP Interview: Bob Ludwig of Gateway Mastering

Clutching Forks and Knives to Eat Their Bacon: Sirius now wants to gut SoundExchange

Book Review: “Free Ride: How Digital Parasites Are Destroying the Culture Business and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back” by Robert Levine

Twenty More Questions for Artists: Record producer agreements, Part 1

The Unelected: Lessig taking shots at artists again

Google’s Pill Problem: “Google Drugs” Pays Record $500 million fine to avoid jail…for now

Reader questions: Digital Aggregator Deals–Is the New Boss Worse than the Old Boss?

Adword Search: How Many People are Searching for Free Movies?

Please help UK indie labels harmed in PIAS warehouse fire

Creative Commons Corporation: Because it sure seems to cost a lot of money to give things away for free

Update: Should there be a rating system for “red flag” knowledge: Are Five Million DMCA notices too many?

Eternal Vigilance: Why copyright owners should protect their metadata in digital retailer agreements

The Triumph of the Middleman: How not to monetize file sharing (in Sweden or elsewhere)

Artist Rights are Human Rights

Did Mr. La Rue Miss the Elephant in the Room? A Critique of the Report of the Special Rapporteur to the U.N. Human Rights Council 

It gets you a meeting: How Google Music Failed to Deliver

Amazon the Destroyer

GAO Still Stonewalling on Sources for “Stealing is Good” Report

How Do They Sleep At Night: Another Demonstration of Google’s Counternotification Scam

Independent Austin Artists Speak Out Against Rogue Sites: It’s not victimless

New Music Monday: Lavinia Greenlaw, Raleigh Moncrief, Seeking Empire, Emeli Sande, Liam Bailey

December 19, 2011 Comments off

Staff picks from Semaphore Music, Digital Distribution and Music Supervision

1.  Lavinia Greenlaw (London), Audio Obscura (“fragments of individual narratives, glimpses of interior worlds drawn from monologues that glance off one another, hovering between speech and unconscious thought”)  @laviniagreenlaw

2.  Raleigh Moncrief (Sacramento) “Cast Out For Days” @raleighmoncrief

3.  Seeking Empire (San Francisco) “Caving In” @seekingempire

4.  Emeli Sandé (London) “Daddy” @emelisande

5. Liam Bailey (Nottingham) “You Better Leave Me” @liambailey

RIP: Christopher Hitchens

December 16, 2011 Comments off

I was just reading the foreward to his latest book, Arguably last night and had made a feed to his www.dailyhitchens.com blog earlier in the week so I could follow his writings more closely.  After finishing the forward, I looked to his blog with enthusiasm but it had not been updated.

It is hard to imagine a more gifted writer or someone who loved the language more than he did.

As Stalky would say, a great man.

Intermission in the First Act of The Fetishism and Cognitive Dissonance of the Singularity

December 16, 2011 Comments off

I have been waiting for years for both the final collision of the cognitive dissonance produced by the Lessig anti-copyright movement with the rule of law, and rejection of the hive minder’s innovation fetish in collision with the nation state.  While it wasn’t the final collision or the ultimate rejection (by definition), yesterday’s House Judiciary Committee “mark up” hearing on the Stop Online Piracy Act had attributes of both.

These manifestations were combined with the sneaking suspicion on the part of Google and Googlers that while the party is not over, the band is beginning to pack up.  And the combination of all these things will extend the rather astonishing denial and blaming behavior we see in their public messaging about complying with the rule of law, and more importantly–resistance to complying.  In the second act, we may well see the first encounter by a vast multinational corporation with a decision that all of its corporate predecessors have backed away from–the decision to defy government.  Not a government, but government altogether.

At the core of any good fetish voodoo is a magical object, especially an inanimate object like the Internet, that is revered because it is believed to have magical powers or be animated by a spirit that produces an excessive or extravagant attachment or regard in the devotee.

No one likes to believe they have a fetish, but I would suggest to you that the talismanic “innovation” is being waived like an aspergillum dipped in the aspersorium of venture capital and sprinkled seven times on the unwashed and unholy apostates of “Hollywood” (otherwise known as the Ninth Circle of Hell).  This is the hallmark of the messaging from the Google Press (and you know who you are), was on display at the recent drum circle held by Google at its law school at Stanford University, and was prominently featured by certain members at the House Judiciary Committee.

As Jaron Lanier wrote of hive mind collectivism, “It’s not hard to see why the fallacy of collectivism has become so popular in big organizations: If the principle is correct, then individuals should not be required to take on risks or responsibilities. We live in times of tremendous uncertainties coupled with infinite liability phobia, and we must function within institutions that are loyal to no executive, much less to any lower level member. Every individual who is afraid to say the wrong thing within his or her organization is safer when hiding behind a wiki or some other Meta aggregation ritual [such as the dreaded “comments”]….What I’ve seen is a loss of insight and subtlety, a disregard for the nuances of considered opinions, and an increased tendency to enshrine the official or normative beliefs of an organization. Why isn’t everyone screaming about the recent epidemic of inappropriate uses of the collective? It seems to me the reason is that bad old ideas look confusingly fresh when they are packaged as technology.”

And, I would add, when they become shrouded in the “innovation” fetish of fighting censorship, which as we have seen from the anti-copyright organizers manual Winning the Web, is a messaging ploy to avoid discussing harm to artists as the result of theft.  The contempt with which the writer of this Open Society Institute publication expresses toward artists is palpable and calculated:

“…[A] small but vocal minority of entrenched corporate interests -the rightsholder lobby [-blocks changing international and national law to undermine property rights]. Wedded to business models that pre-date the age of networked digital technology, they exploit their position as incumbents to influence legislators. Often representing the world’s biggest multinational  corporations, they hijack a narrative that belongs to poor artists struggling in garrets and use the considerable profits they have made from exploiting these artists in the twentieth century to access the corridors of power and make their case.”

How often have you heard this one?  “Poor artists struggling in garrets”.  This is similar to Lessig’s “Starving Artist Canard“.  The contempt for professional artists drips from these words.  We don’t see any similar concern for nonunion coders abused by the sainted innovators.

But also look what happened:  By trying to message any efforts by record companies or movie studios to represent the interests of their artists to the extent they coincide with their own, the fetishist seeks to diminish both company and artist.  But most important is what is omitted–professional artists are represented by unions, not by the record companies and movie studios.  These artists stand up for themselves through collective bargaining and lobbying of their own.  You know you are in the presence of a fetishist when these facts are conveniently ignored.

And nowhere is evidence of both the organization of artists through their unions and the contempt for those unions of the anti-copyright groups led by Google more present than at the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Stop Online Piracy Act.  This is also one of the points of cognitive dissonance that is at the heart of Lessigism.

While Lessig has set out certain protective barricades in his books to insulate himself from documented confession of a yearning for theft, if you follow his public speeches and statements you will begin to wonder just how disingenuous this really is.  If you watch the following YouTube video, you will not only begin to get the idea, but you will hear many of the same themes echoed by the innovation fetishists regarding the Stop Online Piracy Act.

For at the core of the anxiety about rogue sites legislation is this realization: A majority of Congress believes believes that major corporations in the U.S. are profiting from the massive theft of property from their fellow citizens, while at the same time raising money to keep stealing by selling stock in the public markets.  All the lip service paid to “the problem” of theft online for a decade is now being shown for what it is.  Google really did pay $500,000,000 to avoid being indicted–not for promoting “Internet freedom” (whatever that is) but for promoting the sale of drugs, controlled and counterfeit, to unsuspecting consumers.  Also known as profiting from human misery.

And it all stinks to high heaven.

Did Mr. La Rue Miss the Elephant in the Room? A Critique of the Report of the Special Rapporteur to the U.N. Human Rights Council (Complete Post)

December 12, 2011 Comments off

UPDATE:  Frank La Rue, the former U.N. Special Rapporteur for Human Rights who wrote the only human rights document to mention an American multinational corporation by name (Google) now works for that same American multinational corporation (Google): https://www.google.com/advisorycouncil/#bio-larue

In honor of International Human Rights Day (December 10) let us revisit this post.

It is not lost on professional creators and those who care about them that an already tough business has  gotten tougher in the last decade.  These creators watched—sometimes literally—their works being parlayed into billions for everyone in the distribution chain.  Except the original creator, of course.  (Yes, billions—if recent disclosures about the size of the rogue site advertising revenues are a guide.)  Given the amount of bunk that is being spread about how prosecuting online theft violates human rights–a strange one if I’ve ever heard it–it’s important to understand whose rights are being gored here.  (To write your Member of Congress about this, try Music Rights Now.)

Now comes the Special Rapporteur for the UN Human Rights Council to deny artists their human rights while attempting to enshrine “intermediaries” who profit from the losses of creators. (Note that this report is not a declaration of the UN General Assembly, it is merely a report by an employee of the Human Rights Council–albeit an important document, but not one with the provenance of the United Nations Member States.)

Who Are These People?

The “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue” will no doubt get much play by the anti-copyright crowd in coming days.

Mr. La Rue, the Special Rapporteur, is Guatemalan and is well-respected in the human rights community but to my knowledge is unknown to the creators’ rights world—but why let that get in the way.  For the moment, suffice it to say that there are some very strange interpretations of artist rights and intellectual property rights in the “international community.”

So this is an odd bunch to be writing a human rights report about free expression.  But I would say cynically that what is not at all odd about the report is that it largely focuses on that principle that is the epitoma suprema of all international jurisprudence on the value of human life, that cherished bulwark of centuries of law and tradition on protecting human rights—yes, I’m talking about intermediary liability of distributors for copyright infringement.

A joke, you say?  Unfortunately not.

Tell the Artists to get a Court Order

Yes, this intermediary liability of distributors issue is very important—so important, it cannot be left to artists to deal with directly.  No, “[t]he Special Rapporteur welcomes initiatives taken in other countries to protect intermediaries, such as the bill adopted in Chile, which provides that intermediaries are not required to prevent or remove access to user-generated content that infringes copyright laws until they are notified by a court order.”  (My emphasis.)  Also known as getting “home towned” in the litigation trade.

It will come as welcome news to artists that their human rights are so precious that the Special Rapporteur wants to be sure that these rights are thoroughly litigated.  The Special Rapporteur would have artists bear the expense of prevailing in national litigation all over the world to obtain a court order to protect their rights—link by link, intermediary by intermediary, country by country—probably through the final appeal in the International Court of Justice.  Just in case they were wrong about who is stealing their life’s work because it’s so easy to make a mistake about that kind of thing. And of course, pending appeal the ad-supported thievery would continue.   Actually–maybe that news is not so welcome?

The Special Rapporteur tells us that “[w]hile blocking and filtering measures deny access to certain content on the Internet, States have also taken measures to cut off access to the Internet entirely….[The Special Rapporteur] is alarmed by proposals to disconnect users from Internet access if they violate intellectual property rights. This also includes legislation based on the concept of “graduated response”, which imposes a series of penalties on copyright infringers that could lead to suspension of Internet service, such as the so-called “threestrikes-law” in France and the Digital Economy Act 2010 of the United Kingdom.”

So artists have to get a court order, but Internet access to thieves cannot be cut off no matter how many times they offend.  So much for the repeat offender doctrine at the heart of the Google v. Viacom case.

He goes on: “[I]ntermediary liability is imposed through privacy and data protection laws. For example, a court in Italy convicted three Google executives for violating the Italian data protection code after a video depicting cruelty to a disabled teenager was posted by a user on the Google video service. Even though the video was taken down within hours of notification by Italian law enforcers, the judge found the Google executives guilty.”

It has never been the law that once a criminal is caught, there is no punishment if the criminal promises to never to do it again.  Except at the Human Rights Council, apparently.  Mr. Gaddafi will be so pleased.

Yet within this complex discussion of human rights in the context of copyright infringement by intermediaries and specifically Google, why is there no mention of the human rights of artists?  How did they get disappeared?

From the Sublime to the Mundane

No one—certainly no artist–is going to argue that it is important to preserve the human rights of free expression and opinion, including on the Internet.  And neither should anyone miss the point that the Internet is a tool that is ready-made for suppression of those very rights.  But I would hope that I could persuade you that a report that appears to be a discussion of the international law of human rights that ends up talking about national laws establishing the liability of Internet intermediaries—such as Google, curiously mentioned in the report by name a few times—trivializes an extraordinarily important issue.

I would also suggest that the report poorly argues its case for a number of reasons.  One is because the argumentation shifts focus back and forth between a narrow category of fundamental human rights laws and a broad category of unrelated and more mundane national laws, attempting to draw a conclusion about the former by reference to the latter.  And it also is poorly argued because it simply ignores the elephant in the room that we will now consider.

Artist Rights Are Human Rights

There are many UN human rights documents that establish the human rights of artists.  Artists’ human rights are transcendent and timeless expressions of fundamental entitlements of humanity that safeguard the personal link between authors and their creations as well as their basic material interests.   They are obviously more important than Google’s intermediary liability for copyright infringement—an affirmative defense to a national law.  Surely that’s further down the food chain that the fundamental human rights of artists?

The Special Rapporteur cites to several human rights documents in the report, and focuses his attention on the freedom of expression and opinion.  Surely it is not lost on him that the end result of the protection of artist rights is in fact the expression in their artistic works of the opinions of these very artists?  Is it really necessary to give examples from ancient to contemporary cultures? (“The line between the informing and the entertaining is too elusive for the protection of that basic right.” Winters v. New York, 333 U.S. 507, 510 (1948).)

That is why the human rights of these artists are expressly protected in one of the very documents cited by the Rapporteur: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  He cites to article 19 (“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”);   I would ask him to read a little further and to show the world how he distinguishes article 27, paragraph 2: “Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author”.    The Rapporteur may well be able to make a convincing case for how to parse opinion and expression from artistic expression and for why the former is superior to the latter—but he didn’t even try.

He relies, unduly so in my view, on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a document that is vital as far as it goes.  However, it has little to do with the individual’s rights the Rapporteur glosses over at the human rights level, but then elevates on the level of national intellectual property laws in part to protect corporate intermediaries.  His lack of argument is not saved by according to corporate intermediaries the human rights protection from national law claims for copyright infringement reserved to people.

To be clear:  Censorship is anathema to artists—artists taking action to protect their rights is not censorship, and neither are laws allowing them to do so, all of which are aimed at protecting artistic expression and the “protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any…artistic production….”

The Missing Straw Man

It appears that the report has already engaged in an a priori balancing of human rights and has determined—without elucidating the argument—that the rights the Rapporteur was charged with investigating are so superior to the human rights of artists that it is not even necessary to make the justifying argument. But surely that willful neglect cannot be defended by instead arguing to protect corporate intermediaries from claims of copyright infringement. Perhaps I simply prefer not to imagine an Android with the Four Freedoms tattooed on its backside.

These human rights of artists are not easy to miss without trying pretty hard. They resonate in a number of international and national documents. As referenced above, the human rights of authors are also recognized in article 27, paragraph 2, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948: “Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author”; article 13, paragraph 2, of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man of 1948 (“Every person has the right…to the protection of his moral and material interests as regards his inventions or any literary, scientific or artistic works of which he is the author”); article 14, paragraph 1 (c), of the Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1988 (the Protocol of San Salvador) (“The States Parties to this Protocol recognize the right of everyone…[t]o benefit from the protection of moral and material interests deriving from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author”); and indirectly in article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of 1952 (the European Convention on Human Rights).

Another good international agreement to consider is the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that was ratified by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966. The Covenant recognizes everyone’s right—as a human right–to the protection and the benefits from the protection of the moral and material interests derived from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he or she is the author. This human right itself derives from the inherent dignity and worth of all persons. The Covenant recognizes these rights of artists (in article 15, paragraph 1 (c):“The right of everyone to benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he or she is the author”). The Covenant is in harmony with the right to own property (recognized in article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) and workers’ rights to adequate remuneration. The “material interests” protected by the Covenant are protected under the right to an adequate standard of living.

These precedents clearly enunciate the goals of the international community and use nearly identical wording to do so. These moral rights include the right of authors to be recognized as creators of their works and to object to any modification of their works—including the user-generated content that the Rapporteur defends–that would be “prejudicial to their honor and reputation.” The protected interests of artists include the right to just remuneration for their labor as well as the moral right to the “intrinsically personal and durable link” between creators and their creations that survives even after the passing of the work into the public domain.

Yet the Special Rapporteur ignores these rights when he draws this conclusion:

Disconnecting users from Internet access, including on the basis of intellectual property rights law

78. While blocking and filtering measures deny users access to specific content on the Internet, States have also taken measures to cut off access to the Internet entirely. The Special Rapporteur considers cutting off users from Internet access, regardless of the justification provided, including on the grounds of violating intellectual property rights law, to be disproportionate and thus a violation of article 19, paragraph 3, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

79. The Special Rapporteur calls upon all States to ensure that Internet access is maintained at all times, including during times of political unrest. In particular, the Special Rapporteur urges States to repeal or amend existing intellectual copyright laws which permit users to be disconnected from Internet access, and to refrain from adopting such laws.”

I am not a fan of disconnecting people from the Internet, even when they try very, very hard to get themselves into trouble. But having said that, it should also be increasingly obvious that the Internet can be used as a potent weapon for what are essentially arbitrary and vigilante style attacks. I’m also not a fan of allowing someone to have access to weapons who has demonstrated they can’t handle them, and I’m really not a fan of forcing artists around the world to monitor the Internet 24/7/365 to stop law breakers before they infringe again.

If Walks Like a Duck…

Important but sporadic efforts by national governments have been met with shrill opposition whose messaging revolves around a similar axis—stop at nothing to keep governments from protecting their artists from the gradual hemorrhaging of their rights. And never agree that anyone should ever be cut off from the Internet. Getting agreement on that point is almost as hard as cutting off repeat infringers on YouTube or Facebook—why would they get rid of a customer?

If there seems to be a coordinated effort in many countries to oppose the rights of creators, that’s because there is—a complex effort very well described in the book Winning the Web, written by the former head of the Open Rights Group and sponsored by the Open Society Institute (www.soros.org). (The Open Rights Group (or “ORG”) is essentially the UK version of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and is a voice in the opposition to artist rights protection under the UK Digital Economy Act.)

By “oppose” I mean extensively lobby against virtually any statute designed to help nation states develop the tools necessary to bring the same laws to bear online as are given effect offline. Duly enacted laws passed through a democratic process and subject to judicial review all are vilified in the name of “innovation”—such as the HADOPI law in France, the Digital Economy Act in the UK, copyright reform in Canada and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. The coordinated efforts against these legitimate actions are well-documented in Winning the Web.

But these coordinated attacks on artists’ rights also extend to some unlikely places—such as the United Nations Human Rights Council. Because, you see, if somehow the anti-copyright crowd can define away an artist’s right to protect their rights by making them small (such as Lessig’s obliging piece “The Starving Artist Canard“) , then it is easier to define them out of existence altogether. And doesn’t that just sound like a human rights violation? Maybe it is. As Lessig said on a Pirate Party UK video, “we” should not “break the Internet” to protect a “tiny industry”—that “tiny industry” would be professional creators and their commercial partners. And now the UN Human Rights Council seems to be making the same choices.

I find it very strange that this Special Rapporteur fails to address even one time the human rights of artists. The Special Rapporteur’s conclusions would impose grave burdens on artists, yet bends over backwards to protect the rights of corporate intermediaries online.

In fact, the report ends up perfectly in alignment with the recent public statements of Eric Schmidt. It’s also very close to the talking points of the Center for Democracy and Technology (a group cited by the Special Rapporteur). Alan Davidson, formerly of the Center, now is Director of U.S. Public Policy, Americas for Google, Inc., so it should not be surprising to find that the CDT is identified in recent court papers—in an uncontested filing by EPIC—as part of a group of “lobbyists” and “consultants” paid by Google. And cited favorably by the Special Rapporteur (at n. 27).

That connection to the Special Rapporteur is so inexplicable it makes you wonder.

Another odd little fact that may be of no consequence is that the report is dated May 16, 2011 but was released on June 3, 2011. What else was going on that week that might have been related to the report? It could have been a coincidence, but I can’t help noticing that the release of the report was sandwiched nicely between the appearance of Eric Schmidt and Mr. Lessig at the G8 where they were touting versions of its conclusions, and the World Copyright Summit the following week.

But perhaps more importantly, the BBC reported that “Jim Killock of the [UK] Open Rights Group [cited above] welcomed Mr La Rue’s report, saying it highlighted that cutting people’s internet access as a punishment was “stupid”…. Mr Killock believes Mr La Rue’s announcements – and the possibility of formal adoption – is already having its desired effect.”

Its “desired effect.” An odd turn of phrase.

Desired by whom?

________________

See also Artist Rights are Human Rights

New Music Weekend: Guy Forsyth, Ren Harvieu, Widowspeak, Gardening Not Architecture, You and Me at Six

December 11, 2011 Comments off

Staff picks from Semaphore Music

1.  Guy Forsyth (Austin) New Album coming in the New Year (and one of the best artist websites!) @guy_forsyth

2.  Ren Harvieu (Manchester) “Through the Night” @renharvieu

3.  Widowspeak (Brooklyn) “Gun Shy” @widowspeaking

4.  Gardening Not Architecture (Seattle) “Saboteur” @gnatweets

5.  You and Me At Six (Weybridge) “Loverboy” @youmeatsix

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