Archive for June, 2016

Google’s Justice Department to Interfere with a Century of Private Contracts

June 30, 2016 Comments off

Renata B. Hess, former Lawyer for Google and Head of the Antitrust Division’s Attack Plan on Songwriters

According to Billboard, the Google Justice Department has decided to impose on songwriters a government order that songwriters didn’t want, has never been the business practice and will increase transaction costs on the one thing that is working well in online music licensing: blanket performance rights licenses.

[The Department of Justice] is moving ahead with its interpretation that the two PROs must use 100-percent licensing and can no longer engage in fractionalized licensing — meaning that any rightsholder in songs with multiple songwriters, who may be represented by different PROs, has the right to license the entire song to a user, as long as he accounts to and pays the other songwriters.

At the very least, music publishers fear that this change will lead to reduced royalty rates for songwriters because it will allow music services to rate-shop among the licensors for the lowest rate. Publishers also say that songwriters may end up making different amounts for songs: For instance, they could be hit with double service charges if they weren’t the party to license the song. Also, PROs and publishers wonder if the financial ramifications of this ruling will cut down on collaborations, with some writers choosing only to collaborate with writers within their own PRO.

I’m still trying to figure where this ridiculous idea came from, but it definitely didn’t come from any music publisher.  The DOJ would evidently like us to believe that it hit them like Paul on the road to Damascus.  We’ll see what the record actually shows about this, but the only one that will be helped by this “interpretation” is anyone who wants to destroy PROs and blanket licensing.

Namely Google.

Google White House Meetings

Not only will this absurd “interpretation” impose rules on songwriters that have never been even thought of before by the all-powerful U.S. government, the Department of Justice is unilaterally interfering with every joint administration agreement ever entered into by songwriters or music publishers in which the writers agreed to administer their own shares.  That’s literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of private contracts going back 100 years.

It will also potentially destroy valuations attributed to publishing catalogs–as if songwriters haven’t already been crushed by the Department of Justice’s utter failure to protect the property rights of American citizens from piracy.

Of course, songwriters now have to decide if they will fight this issue in court, at great expense, probably millions in legal fees fighting the government’s bottomless pit of lawyers at the Department of Justice.

This decision must become a campaign issue.  The DOJ is an executive branch agency, and this issue is unlikely to be resolved before the next President takes office.  You must ask your candidate whether they will permit the DOJ to run roughshod over songwriters and music publishers and whether the candidate will instruct the DOJ to keep their sticky fingers out of private contracts where they are not invited.

Why?  Because if a private corporation like Google can influence the Department of Justice to this degree, there’s no stopping them.

And they will keep sticking it to us until someone gets unelected.

If they can do this, they can do anything.

Billboard: Google’s Justice Department out to Destroy PROs — Artist Rights Watch

June 30, 2016 1 comment

The head of the DOJ Antitrust Division is a former Google lawyer–so DOJ ruling against songwriters on 100% licensing to Google’s benefit should come as no surprise.

via Billboard: Google’s Justice Department out to Destroy PROs — Artist Rights Watch

Gary Reback: Google’s Ploy to Control EU through Britain Wiped Out By Brexit — Artist Rights Watch

June 29, 2016 Comments off

Gary Reback, one of the top antitrust lawyers in the world, said Google’s heavy investment in lobbying the UK government through David Cameron crony Rachel Whetstone and others just saw their influence in Europe wiped out by Brexit.

via Gary Reback: Google’s Ploy to Control EU through Britain Wiped Out By Brexit — Artist Rights Watch

Save the Date! 7/20 at UCLA Music Innovation Center

June 29, 2016 Comments off

Herb Alpert Panel

I’m pleased to have been asked by the brilliant Gigi Johnson to reprise our SXSW panel at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music Center for Music Innovation on July 20 from 6-7:30 pm.  Gigi will moderate and has invited Sam Kling from SESAC and Ted Cohen from TAG to join.  It’s also a treat to be doing something in a building with the name “Herb Alpert” on it once again.

If you have an interest in where our business is going, please try to attend.  We had a wonderfully informative panel at SXSW and I’m sure this one will be, too.  I know everyone is busy particularly in the evenings, but I’d really appreciate your coming.

Details to follow, here is the Eventbrite link to RSVP (free admission).



The Great Artist Revolt: Are Apple Music and Spotify a Solution to a Post-YouTube Reality? — Music Tech Solutions

June 28, 2016 Comments off

Labels need to be coming to grips with a succession plan when YouTube negotiations fail to satisfy artist concerns–Apple and Spotify are logical choices.

via The Great Artist Revolt: Are Apple Music and Spotify a Solution to a Post-YouTube Reality? — Music Tech Solutions

4 Questions For @ZephyrTeachout: Jack and Lydia DeJohnette Letter — The Trichordist

June 27, 2016 Comments off

By The Time We Get To Woodstock…. This Tuesday, Zephyr Teachout, director of the anti-artist FFTF (Fight For The Future)’s 501c3, is running in the Democratic primary in NY’s 19th congressional district (Hudson Valley, including Woodstock) Although Teachout is running as a progressive, and is indeed progressive on many issues, the FFTF is about as regressive on artists rights/copyright […]

via 4 Questions For @ZephyrTeachout: Jack and Lydia DeJohnette Letter — The Trichordist

Spotify IPO Watch: Brexit’s Bubble Bursting Bang — Artist Rights Watch

June 26, 2016 Comments off

Right now I see no reason to think there is any likelihood that those trend lines will change direction for the frothy bubble in the markets that I think is a necessary condition for a Spotify IPO (or even a real unicorn like Uber). How long? Weeks and weeks for sure and probably months and months, well into 2017.

via Spotify IPO Watch: Brexit’s Bubble Bursting Bang — Artist Rights Watch

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