Home > Uncategorized > What’s Next for Rapgenius, the “Internet Talmud”? Annotaking the World’s “Information” Whether the World Likes it or Not

What’s Next for Rapgenius, the “Internet Talmud”? Annotaking the World’s “Information” Whether the World Likes it or Not

November 15, 2013

There’s always a risk to starting a post with a quotation that is both true and insightful, but ridiculous to the average person.  A quotation that seems to define buffoonery.  But here goes.

In his reporting on the Rapgenius deal with Sony/ATV that followed the NMPA’s licensing campaign for “lyric sites,”  Peter Kafka at AllthingsD included this statement from an unnamed source at Rapgenus:

Rap Genius is a monument to human knowledge. Like the Talmud before us, our goal is to add context to all important texts in people’s lives.

Now before you blame those crazy kids at Rapgenius for some kind of messiah complex, realize that they didn’t invent that reference to Rapgenius being like the Talmud.  No, that reference comes from Mark Andreessen, the Silicon Valley billionaire golden boy whose major contributions to tech make him something of a god in the Valley.  Andreessen’s venture fund invested in Rapgenius, which in the world of startups is the kind of thing that can make first-time entrepreneurs feel a bit…well, messianic.

Mark Andreessen posted on a Rapgenius forum this explanation for why he was investing in the company:

It turns out that Rap Genius has a much bigger idea and a much broader mission than that. Which is: Generalize out to many other categories of text… annotate the world… be the knowledge about the knowledge… create the Internet Talmud.

Yes, that’s right.  A quick tip for entrepreneurs:  These rich Valley guys are often in need of a reality check and once they get bored with their toy, they will very often leave you twisting in the wind.  Meaning, saddling you with what should be at least in part their own claims for copyright infringement because they invested in your infringement model.  Just like guess who.

The Internet Talmud Annotaking the World’s Information

Attention journalists, authors, musicians, recording artists, visual artists, photographers, film makers, actors and all those who support them–what Andreessen is telling you is that they are coming for you.  Andreessen is investing in Rapgenius the Internet Talmud, because he intends the company to be a kind of King of All Media, annotaking the world’s information whether the world likes it or not.

This is beyond passively investing in a company that may stray into a world of illegality.  This is an investor saying that the reason he intends to invest in the Internet Talmud is because of what they do and impliedly without regard to whether they have the right to do it.  Hence the use of “scholars” instead of “users” on the Rapgenius site.  And when you consider that Rapgenius, the Internet Talmud, incubated at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm YCombinator, all should become clear.

This is from the YCombinator blog post entitled “Kill Hollywood” released at the height of the Valley’s SOPA bloodlust:

Hollywood appears to have peaked. If it were an ordinary industry (film cameras, say, or typewriters), it could look forward to a couple decades of peaceful decline. But this is not an ordinary industry. The people who run it are so mean and so politically connected that they could do a lot of damage to civil liberties and the world economy on the way down. It would therefore be a good thing if competitors hastened their demise.  That’s one reason we want to fund startups that will compete with movies and TV….

So it’s intentional, folks.  There will be some pretty interesting emails no doubt, unless Rapgenius has been infected with the “Google mold” that causes laptops to explode and emails to vanish when justice comes knocking.  Then all that’s necessary is for Rapgenius to trot out lawyers from the anti-artist firm Durie Tangri to explain why annotaking the world’s information is actually “fair use”.  (Remember, this firm represented Google in the Google Books case against authors and after years of litigation suddenly decided to block class certification for the authors because as “[Daralyn] Durie responded [for her client Google]. “We care whether the law is being applied correctly, and the correct application is not to certify a class.”  Right.  Sure it is.  Not that it will screw the authors or anything.)

On A Mission from God

But the Internet Talmud explains that they are on a mission from God (kind of like Google, yes?) and that their future goals are clear and also consistent with YCombinator’s mission as they told Peter Kafka:

Lyrics are very important texts and so they’re a big part of this mission, but the vision of Rap Genius goes far beyond music and touches poetry, literature, the bible, political speeches, Supreme Court opinions, science, everything!

And text is just the beginning! Already the Rap Genius community is annotating images, movies, TV shows – all of human culture! Personally I can’t wait to click on the Mona Lisa’s eyebrows and see what they’re all about. Much love.

Sony/ATV and the NMPA have already said that they can’t do it without a license.  I hope that license is robust and contemplates a quick exit if necessary.

All creators need to be on notice–these guys may be delusional but they are serious as a heart attack, and their backers want to “kill Hollywood”.  They are telling you exactly what their plan is.

What are you prepared to do about it?

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