Archive for May, 2015

Summary by Congressional Research Service of Fair Play, Fair Pay Act #irespectmusic

May 23, 2015 1 comment

IRM Marsha

As readers will know, we got the exciting news that Reps. Jerry Nadler and Marsha Blackburn have introduced the Fair Play, Fair Pay act, which is the legislation creating the right for artist to be paid for radio play.  That is, of course, the key issue that the #irespectmusic movement has been focused on for over a year.


If you weren’t able to be there, you can watch Congressman Nadler’s speech at the first #irespectmusic event held last October at The Bitter End in New York–and yes, Congressman Nadler made good on his promise!  Representatives Nadler and Blackburn are true believers in the cause, and we owe them both a debt of gratitude for being willing to stand with artists.

Now we need to help them get that bill passed.  We are up against tremendous odds–companies with over $2 trillion in market cap are opposing us.  Or what we call in Texas a fair fight.

That’s not just the National Association of Broadcasters and Pandora.  We know where they stand.  But it’s also Google and YouTube, Amazon, the Digital Media Association, the Consumer Electronics Association, the Computer and Communications Industry Association and even National Public Radio.  This is called the Orwellian “Mic Coalition” that says “In order for the music marketplace to grow and thrive, we need balance in copyright and competition policies that will benefit all participants rather than the few – the major record labels and publishers.”  This is the new rhetoric from tech companies–witness Daniel Ek’s recent statements to the New York Post about “greedy intermediaries” (you know, the ones who invest in producing the music that Spotify trades on).

Or said another way, they want to screw everyone equally.

They’re going to need every crony, every campaign contribution, every academic on the take to defeat an idea whose time has come.

Here’s a summary of the Fair Play Fair Pay Act from the Congressional Research Service–just so you can see what it is that is enough to scare companies with over $2 trillion in market power:

Introduced in House (04/13/2015)

Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2015

Amends federal copyright law to extend a sound recording copyright owner’s rights to include the exclusive right to perform or authorize the performance of the recording publicly by means of any audio transmission, thereby requiring terrestrial AM/FM broadcast radio stations that play copyrighted sound recordings to pay royalties for the non-digital audio transmissions of the recordings. (Currently, sound recording copyright owners have a performance right that applies only to digital transmissions by cable, satellite, and Internet radio stations.)

Requires the Copyright Royalty Judges (CRJs) to commence a proceeding to determine royalty rates and terms for nonsubscription broadcast transmissions. Directs the CRJs, in determining royalty rates for statutory licensing of such digital or non-digital transmissions, to: (1) distinguish among different types of services, and (2) include a minimum fee for each type of service. Allows differences to be based on the quantity and nature of the use of sound recordings and the degree to which use of the service may substitute for or promote consumer purchases of phonorecords.

Requires the CRJs to establish rates that most clearly represent the rates and terms that would have been negotiated in the marketplace between a willing buyer and a willing seller. Directs the CRJs to base their decision on economic, competitive, and programming information presented by the parties, including: (1) the sound recording copyright owner’s other streams of revenue from the recordings; and (2) the relative creative contribution, technological contribution, capital investment, cost, and risk of the copyright owner and the transmitting entity.

Caps the annual royalty rate at: (1) $500 for small commercial broadcast stations with less than $1 million in revenues for the calendar year, and (2) $100 for public broadcasting stations. Exempts religious service broadcasts or incidental uses of music from royalty payment requirements.

Requires proceeds for direct licenses of transmissions otherwise licensable under the statutory license to be distributed in the same manner as statutory license proceeds. Requires payment of 45% to featured artists, 2.5% to nonfeatured musicians, and 2.5% to nonfeatured vocalists. Makes such distribution the sole payments to which featured and nonfeatured artists are entitled under a direct license.

Requires payment of performance royalties for sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972, in the same manner as royalties are paid for sound recordings fixed after such date.

Requires a collective designated by the CRJs to implement a policy to accept instructions (referred to as a “letter of direction”) from a sound recording copyright owner, or from a recording artist, to distribute a portion of performance royalty payments to a producer, mixer, or sound engineer who was part of the creative process behind the sound recording.

Requires the collective to adopt special procedures for a producer, mixer, or sound engineer to receive a portion of royalties for recordings fixed before November 1, 1995, by certifying that a reasonable effort has been made to obtain a letter of direction from an artist who owns the right to receipts payable with respect to the sound recording.

Google’s Sicilian Davos: Berlusconi Welcomes Uncle Sugar Back to Italia

May 22, 2015 Comments off


Remember, dear readers, you heard it here first, off the record, on the Q.T., and strictly hush, hush.

LA Confidential, by Brian Helgeland

In case you were wondering what Google was doing with the money it makes pointing searchers to massively infringing traffickers, some news:  Google returns to Sicily for its equally massively elite summer vacation, all with a nickname of suitable Google infantilism, that special brand of infantilism that’s oh, so Googley:  The Camp.

Buzzfeed tells us:

The most exclusive conference in tech is back for a second year.

Google is returning to Sicily this summer to host The Camp, a gathering of power players from technology and finance, which had its debut last year, BuzzFeed News has learned.

While Google hosts some conferences through its Ideas arm, this one stands apart. With its elite guest list and luxurious setting, the Camp is more akin to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the rarefied gathering of business and government titans held each winter in a snowy ski resort town.

Doesn’t that just reek of Uncle Sugar?

BuzzFeed News was able to gather some information from a source who received an invitation. As it was last year, the Camp is being held at the Verdura Resort, an opulent enclave of golf courses and Mediterranean indulgences on Sicily’s southwestern coast. It runs from July 26th to 30th.

Yes, they’re spending your money.  I wonder if Daniel Ek will get invited?  He should get something for that Spotify board seat.

The 3D Printed Jet Engine

May 20, 2015 Comments off

It’s the Data, Stupid: Here’s How Google Gets the Data About You They Don’t Already Have

May 16, 2015 1 comment

The Wall Street Journal reports that Google intends to compete with Amazon, eBay and every other online retailer:

Google Inc. will launch buy buttons on its search-result pages in coming weeks, a controversial step by the company toward becoming an online marketplace rivaling those run by Inc. and eBay Inc.

The search giant will start showing the buttons when people search for products on mobile devices, according to people familiar with the launch.

The buttons will accompany sponsored—or paid—search results, often displayed under a “Shop on Google” heading at the top of the page. Buttons won’t appear with the nonsponsored results that are driven by Google’s basic search algorithm.

Given Google’s search monopoly, this move accomplishes at least two predatory moves:  First, Google will get personally identifiable data from you about your purchasing habits as well as your name, address, credit card number, phone number and whatever else they can extract from you.

How will this work?

The Journal reports:

Google will let shoppers input payment credentials such as credit-card numbers one time, and the company will store those and automatically load them for future purchases on its shopping pages.

Google won’t send those payment details to the retailers, one of the people said. After Google gets the money from shoppers it will pass the payment on to the retailer. Depending on how the consumer chooses to pay, Google or the retailer may show up on customer billing statements, one of the people said.

Google “will let”…nice of them, eh?

But notice that there is not one named source in this story–not one.  It’s not even the usual “Google spokesperson”, it’s just “people”.  People who know about that thing that happened in that place down by where that other thing happened with those guys who were hanging around at the time.  This is a new low.

The other predatory move is that Google is inserting itself into the customer transaction so that not only are they driving traffic to the retailer, there’s a real question of exactly whose customer you really are.  Are you the retailer’s customer or are you Google’s?  If Google doesn’t send “payment details to the retailers” that means that Google is keeping the customer data themselves.

That means that Google can send you ads or marketing campaigns based on purchases you made at Walmart but drive you to Target.

Inserting themselves as an intermediary guarantees Google an extraordinary amount of personally identifiable information tied directly to purchasing virtually anything–including drugs, medical devices and lots of other stuff you probably wouldn’t want to have end up in the hands of a data profiler who might sell that information to anyone.  Such as your employer, landlord, bank or anyone else looking into your background.

Oh, like the U.S. government, for example.

And of course there’s no mention of a charge by Google.  This looks like it’s another “free” service from Google. You know who the product is when Google gives you something for “free” right?

The product is you, of course.

Because it’s the data, stupid.

#howgoogleworks: Must Read Buzzfeed Story on Google’s Sleazy Relationship with FTC

May 15, 2015 Comments off

A must read Buzzfeed article gives you one of those rare insights into how Google actually works at the highest levels of government with merely the flick of an email at a huge Federal bureaucracy–the Federal Trade Commission.  Remember them?  The FTC are the ones that punted on their antitrust investigation of Google for mysterious reasons.

Courageous Wall Street Journal reporter Brody Mullins & team came up with an internal FTC staff report proving that the unanimous decision of the FTC’s political appointees not to prosecute Google for antitrust violations was expressly taken against the advice of the professional legal staff.  Mullins’ reporting called into question an entire series of decisions by the U.S. Government not to look too hard at Google’s high handed business practices or its monopoly behaviors.  The Wall Street Journal team put that story in context by publishing another expose of Google’s influence peddling in Washington.

Faster than you can say “Jamie Gorelick”, Google’s lobbyists swung into action.  If you were a sleaze bag bunch of crony capitalists that had captured every agency in Washington, what you’d need right about then was to push a button at the FTC and have them issue a useful public statement.  And that’s exactly what Google did according to Buzzfeed’s reporting:

On the evening of March 23, Johanna Shelton, a senior lobbyist at Google, emailed an official at the Federal Trade Commission with a pointed request: release a public statement that would help the search giant deal with a negative story. Two days later, the agency did just that.

Shelton’s email was sent in the wake of [Brody Mullins’ reporting].  In response to the revelation, the FTC issued only terse statements calling the release of the document unfortunate.

But Shelton, in an email to Heather Hippsley, the FTC’s chief of staff, urged the FTC to say more, arguing that the agency’s own reputation was at stake.

Yeah, right.  That’s a typically Googley move–it’s not that we care, oh, no.  It’s for your own good. And what exactly is for your own good?  Releasing the statement they want released or complying before Google calls the White House and ends your career at the FTC?

Google was “deeply troubled” and “puzzled” by the agency’s silence on the matter, Shelton said in the email, which emerged in response to a public records request and was obtained by BuzzFeed News. She said the inadvertently released document was being used by Google’s rivals to “sow confusion and undermine the FTC’s conclusions, especially in Europe.”

That would be the European Commission antitrust investigation which Google had been slow walking for four years and that had just blown up in their faces.  (And is now going full bore against them.)  This is important because the Wall Street Journal revealed that the professional staff at the FTC had been sharing information with their counterparts in Europe–you know, the ones that are now prosecuting Google.  Get out your hazmat suit, because here comes the bullshit:

“We believe it is critical for the FTC to defend its reputation, showing that it followed a thorough process and fully took into account the Bureau of Competition staff memo, among other internal agency opinions including the Bureau of Economics,” Shelton said in the email. “A public statement standing by the FTC’s ability to make a final decision after assessing differing internal views would go far in the international space to restore the reputation of the FTC, especially on due process.”

Two days after the email was sent, and after the Wall Street Journal published another article about Google’s relationship with Washington, the FTC released a statement that provided the context Shelton had sought.

The email also included this paragraph:

We recall that in February 2013, when the process and result [of the FTC’s investigation into Google] were similarly called into question by our competitors [and anyone else capable of sequential thought] every Commissioner, including then-Commissioner Ramirez, wrote a clarifying letter to the editor of Politico standing by the staff and their work in this matter.  We believe this unfortunate FOIA incident is similarly worthy of a public statement of the FTC standing by its decision.

Now how do you suppose that “clarifying letter” got written to politico?  How do you think that it got signed by every FTC commissioner?  Because they thought it was a good idea?  Or because somebody told them to sign their names to it?

Because as Ms. Shelton suggests, failing to go public and “explain” the FCC’s decision not to prosecute Google would make them look…well, sleazy or something, right?  Particularly when the European Commission goes forward with their own prosecution?

And do you think that Google isn’t trying to do the same thing in Europe?

[Google lobbyist] Shelton, for her part, keeps in close contact with government authorities. She has visited the White House more than 60 times, the Journal noted in its follow-up article.

Here’s the full email

Of course the real question is who prompted Ms. Shelton’s email?  Someone higher up at Google?  Almost surely.  But who put them in motion?  Who is the prime mover in this case?

Emmy Award winning reporter Sharyl Attkisson has an excellent Ted Talk on the subject of astroturf and how Washington works.  She’s focused more on drug companies, but the admonition works well for Google, too.

Uber Hires Googler Rachel Whetstone to Bully Teamsters

May 14, 2015 Comments off

‘Did you torture him?’

Captain Segura laughed. ‘No. He doesn’t belong to the torturable class.’

‘I didn’t know there were class-distinctions in torture.’

‘Dear Mr Wormold, surely you realize there are people who expect to be tortured and others who would be outraged by the idea. One never tortures except by a kind of mutual agreement.’
‘There’s torture and torture.’

Our Man in Havana, by Graham Greene

Remember Rachel Whetstone?  She was the Senior Vice President of Communications and Public Policy at Google until this week when she took a comparable job at Uber, replacing former Obama 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe.  She also coined the “crying baby” gif for a now-forgotten post she wrote excoriating Rupert Murdoch.

Another fun fact–it typical Google style, influence peddling begins at home.  Rachel Whetstone is married to Steve Hilton, a close advisor of recently reelected UK Prime Minister David Cameron.  According to Wikipedia “Whetstone is married to Steve Hilton. The couple were godparents to Ivan Cameron, the late eldest child of David Cameron.”

In other words, Rachel Whetstone has been the brains behind Googles’ “torture the artists” campaign–and is a member of what Graham Greene might call the untorturable class.

So Ms. Whetstone is now leaving the sanctum sanctorum of Google to join Uber to torture the Teamsters and other taxi drivers.  Because, you know, there’s torture and then there’s torture.

Good luck with that, Rach.  Just invite the Teamsters for a latte to have a chit chat about permissionless innovation and warmed bidets.  And driverless trucks.  They just love that stuff.

Good times.

BREAKING–Leaked internal email from NPR’s Policy and Representation Division Explaining NPR Membership on McCoalition

May 11, 2015 Comments off

This explains a lot…

The Trichordist

We were sent this internal email from inside National Public Radio by a whistleblower.  The internal email was apparently in response to the criticism of NPR coming from independent artists online.  As we suspected, it appears that NPR’s participation in the controversial “Mic Coalition” (or as we call it the “McCoalition”) was a decision taken by NPR’s Policy and Representation division (aka “suits”) without consulting with any of the music or news workers or any of the NPR member stations.

NPR is participating in the Music, Innovation & Consumers (MIC) Coalition to ensure that public radio’s voice is heard in future policy decisions involving copyright law. Changes to copyright law may have a direct impact on public radio stations’ abilities to bring music to listeners nationwide.

Our participation in this coalition is not an endorsement of the business plans or activities of other members.

The coalition has not yet made specific legislative…

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