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Kent Walker’s Grooveshark Problem

January 12, 2014

Say hello to my little Googley friend…a Boston Dynamics military robot now owned by Tyrell Corporation…sorry,  now owned by Google.

Even before Google joined the military-industrial complex, we’ve often noted Google’s messaging tactics.  When trying to deceive artists and our industry that we should all really like Google, there’s at least two steps involved: (a) deal with the massive design defects in their search and social media products only when they pretty much had no other choice, and (b) stop the sunlight from seeping into their corrupt organization at all costs.

Meaning, they intend to preserve the essential element of Internet Freedom–getting away with it.  In the case of apps like Grooveshark, Google didn’t fix the real problem which is an unmonitored Android Market.  Why? Because stopping Google’s commitment to infringing other people’s intellectual property would not be very Googlely.  (If you use your imagination just a tiny bit while searching for Android apps, you can find plenty of Android apps that promote infringement.)

Another part of Google’s charm offensive is to send out Googlers like Google Senior Vice President and General Counsel Kent Walker to deliver Google’s message as he will be doing at the 2014 Entertainment Law Initiative ceremony during Grammy Week.  If you’re not a music lawyer, law student or a pretty active member of NARAS you probably have no idea what ELI is or why it’s really strange that a lawyer from Google–a company committed to destroying the music business–is allowed to get on that podium.  Particularly since Mr. Walker will probably bring with him a corps de ballet of Google henchpersons to work the room.  But the fact that this isn’t the first time that Google has run the okie doke doesn’t make his presence any less odd.  Getting the ELI podium is particularly odd given that NARAS also operates Musicares–maybe Mr. Walker can explain Google’s commitment to drugs–you know, a commitment like the kind for which they paid $500,000,000 to avoid criminal prosecution for violating the Controlled Substances Act.  Documented in a nonprosecution agreement between Google and the United States that was negotiated and signed by Mr. Walker. And Nothing says commitment like $500,000,000.   Just ask Joseph Califano.

But Google’s problems with the music business start a lot closer to home for most musicians.

Kent Walker’s Grooveshark Problem

On April 6, 2012 the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet held a hearing about piracy at which Mr. Walker testified.  Walker raised his right hand and told the American people that ”We must work together to target the ‘worst-of-the-worst’ rogue foreign websites without unintentionally impeding legitimate interests of those innovating and using online services to drive economic growth and global freedom.”   Evidence of Google’s intentions?

Mr. Walker told the Congress that Google removed the Grooveshark app from the Android Market.  (Grooveshark is the shadowy company that is generally regarded as a “worst of the worst” distributor of pirate content–and that was certainly the implication of Mr. Walker’s testimony.)

So when did Google remove the Grooveshark app from Android?

April 6, 2012.  That’s right–the morning of the day that Walker was testifying to the American people.  Did he tell the Congress that Google had taken down the app only on the day of the hearing?  No.  He just didn’t say when the takedown happened.

If you weren’t following along in the news, you wouldn’t know of the suspicious timing and you also wouldn’t know that Apple had removed Grooveshark from the Apple App Store a year before.  But Kent Walker could raise his right hand to God to tell what passes for the truth at Google.

So Google removed Grooveshark when they were backed into a corner and wanted to present a good face to the Congress–a pattern is developing.  Only when Google was backed into a corner did Google do something that they could pawn off as the right thing.

But not to be stopped, Techcrunch tells us that:

”[On April 18–less than two weeks after Walker’s testimony], Grooveshark makes its triumphant return to Android, albeit not through the official App Market. Playing on Android’s ability to install third-party applications through the browser, Grooveshark has taken on the responsibility of distributing the application themselves.”

The Grooveshark take down is relevant because Google put the app right back up in August when they thought no one was looking according to PC World:

The music streaming application Grooveshark is available again for Android devices…after [Kent Walker told the Congress] it was removed by Google from its application market.

Grooveshark, which is run by Escape Media Group based in Gainsville, Florida, has had a rocky time with mobile application stores. Apple pulled Grooveshark from its App Store in August 2010 just days after it launched due to copyright-related complaints.

The company issued a statement saying that it had worked with Google in order to be reinstated.

Google did remove the Grooveshark app a second time around the end of August after enough people complained.  It should not be lost on anyone that this occurred just as Google was in a process of renegotiating many of its music deals, especially for YouTube.  So while Google can threaten to complain to Congress about certain music deals if they don’t get their way, that only works with certain people.  Grooveshark is an equal opportunity thief.

It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.  Big business–because it would be a real problem on the military-industrial complex side of Google’s business if the company was barred from government contracts because it lost a criminal investigation (like selling advertising on sites like Grooveshark while claiming to ban the infringers from the Android Market (or Google Play).  Then they’d have a problem getting Department of Defense contracts for innovative delivery systems for improvised explosive devices (aka robot soldiers) like this:

Oh sorry–no, it’s nothing personal, it’s just Internet Freedom.  And this is what monopoly looks like.

You know, like this monopoly that Mr. Walker doesn’t want to talk about:

YouTube Slide 2

And this doesn’t even address Mr. Walker’s problems with ad sponsored piracy, racist videos, Holocaust deniers, and human trafficking.  Or the YouTube Music Awards.  To be continued…

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