The MIC Coalition’s Revolving Door: The DOJ’s Google Lawyer Reviewing SESAC Acquisition of HFA
Remember the MIC Coalition? This is the uber lobbying group that Google and Pandora founded along with the National Association of Broadcasters to stop artist pay for radio play.
The MIC Coalition is missing two of its original members–Amazon and NPR both ran for the hills after less than three months being involved. Now we know why.
Not content to stop artist pay for radio play, the MIC Coalition is now complaining to the Department of Justice about SESAC’s recent acquisition of the Harry Fox Agency. Many journalists received this email from the Glen Echo Group, one of the MIC Coalition’s DC shilleries:
From: Aaron Alberico
Date: Mon, Aug 17, 2015 at 9:51 PM
Subject: MIC Coalition Members Urge Attorney General to Reject Calls to Weaken ASCAP and BMI Consent Decrees
I wanted to share with you the attached letter from the association members of the MIC Coalition to U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse. The letter documents the importance of antitrust enforcement regarding the licensing of musical works and urges the Attorney General’s Office to reject calls to weaken the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees as part of their ongoing review.Please let me know if you have any questions regarding the letter.Best,Aaron
[W]e support a rigorous assessment of whether SESAC should be governed by a parallel consent decree, we also urge you to reject calls to weaken the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees as part of your ongoing review. Rather, the Department should maintain and strengthen the important safeguards provided by the consent decrees, particularly in times of unprecedented consolidation in the publishing industry, to further promote a stable and transparent marketplace for musical works.
In other words, the MIC Coalition–a coalition of companies against artists and now songwriters with a combined market cap of well over $2 trillion–wants the Department of Justice to open an antitrust investigation against SESAC. Why?
Because you just can’t trust those devious songwriters.
And speaking of devious, note who the letter is addressed to:
Who is Renata Hesse, you may ask?
Well, as it turns out, Renata B. Hesse recently joined the Department of Justice in the senior role of Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Criminal and Civil Operations at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. That position, by the way, is the perfect position for a Google appointee as it does not require Senate confirmation. (We saw what happened to the now-departing FTC Commissioner Joshua Wright at his Senate confirmation when he had to promise to recuse himself from Google matters.)
She’d worked there before as Section Chief of the Antitrust Division, but left in 2006 to join the elite Silicon Valley law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in its Washington, DC office. She was called up from the bull pen in 2011 where she worked at the FCC as Senior Counsel to the Chairman for Transactions–to block AT&T’s merger with TMobile.
But what did she do while she worked at WSGR? According to an interview from 2008, she was pretty busy with one of the firm’s most important clients:
Renata Hesse: Typically when we do counseling, people come to us and say, “Hey, I really would like to do this. Is that okay?” and sometimes you get some pretty interesting questions that way. Usually, the business people are the ones who are thinking of the clever ways of making sure that their products succeed and not the lawyers.
Adrian Bye: Right.
There’re been obviously antitrust issues between Google and Yahoo! Are you able to comment on any of those?
Renata Hesse: I’m not, really, I’m afraid since I did a lot of work for Google on it.
That’s right, kids. The Google-led MIC Coalition is appealing to Google’s former antitrust counsel to open an antitrust investigation of SESAC.
How do you think that’s going to turn out?