Why Has the Obama Department of Justice Gotten Stealthy on 100% Licensing?
You probably didn’t know that the Obama Department of Justice has been conducting invitation only conference calls with songwriters about the DOJ’s proposed 100% licensing regime they’d like to impose by means of the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees. And these are the calls we know about–I have to assume that the Administration is doing the same with Digital Media Association, Public Knowledge and who knows who else.
What is the purpose of these conference calls with songwriters? From what I hear, the stated purpose of the Administration is to get input from the creative community about how best to implement the DOJ’s proposal. This is kind of like offering the accused a cigarette before the firing squad does its work. It sounds genteel, but does not change what is about to happen. The Administration is not interested in hearing about whether songwriters reject the DOJ proposal, they don’t want to hear–or hear any more–about how the Administration simply doesn’t get how the business of songwriting actually works.
What the Administration wants is for songwriters to accept that the DOJ position is inevitable, is correct and that the DOJ has the ability to impose it upon songwriters whether they like it or not. The kind of comments they then want is of the “Marlboro or Kools?” variety before they do their bloody work.
If songwriters accept the false premise, then the Administration can try to pass this debacle off as a “consensus” among “stakeholders.”
Newsflash: That will never happen.
And worst of all, the Administration are not doing this in a transparent manner. The comments they are soliciting will not be published (at least not by the Obama Administration) and the request for comments is being made by telephone to a select group. Make no mistake–this is not a public request for comments.
Why might the Administration be interested in getting this particular type of response? Judging by the temperature of the songwriting community, those comments are likely to be very, very negative toward the Administration in general and the Department of Justice in particular. It is unclear whether any of those comments received or transcripts of conference calls will ever be subject to…ahem…the Freedom of Information Act.
Perhaps the timing is awkward, or strange for some other reason, but this highly unusual level of secrecy is striking. It may well mean that higher ups are directing the professional staff–who know better–to start a cover up. This under the guise of doing us all a favor by allowing us to request our own brand of cigarettes before the end.
This is not idle speculation on my part, by the way. I hear that the professional staff refused to answer a direct question of whether the White House was involved in “the decision” to screw songwriters, but did say that no one on the call from DOJ made the decision. That is, the DOJ’s professional staff who were being forced to take the brunt of the wrath of songwriters didn’t make the decision. If true, that almost surely points up the food chain from the career people and not down.
That would certainly be consistent with the sources of gloating–the Digital Media Association and Public Knowledge. And what do those two have in common? Google is the dominant member of the Digital Media Association and Google is a long time funder of Google Shill Lister, Public Knowledge.
And, according to the good work at the Google Transparency Project, Google certainly know their way around the White House. And that’s about the only thing that’s transparent about this 100% licensing adventure conducted by the Obama Administration.