Google Shills and Pandora’s MIC Coalition Want DOJ to Appeal BMI Ruling–Soviet Style

Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K., he knew he had done nothing wrong but, one morning, he was arrested….”And why am I under arrest?” he then asked. “That’s something we’re not allowed to tell you. Go into your room and wait there. Proceedings are underway and you’ll learn about everything all in good time….”

From The Trial, by Franz Kafka.

Right on cue, one Google Shill after another is floating the idea that the U.S. Department of Justice should appeal their latest oopsie to the Second Circuit.  Talk about ungrateful–Judge Stanton, the BMI Rate Court judge was also the judge in Viacom v. YouTube and the accompanying artist-oriented class action against Google.  In the YouTube case, Judge Stanton ruled for YouTube.  Back then he was hailed by Google Shills everywhere as a great jurist, the peoples’ judge and hero of the disruptive class, because he poked a finger in the eye of bourgeois artists.

Talk about your sore losers–Judge Stanton went from #hero to #goat in record time as CCIA’s Matt Schruers told Bloomberg:

Matthew Schruers, vice president of law and policy at the Computer and Communications Industry Association [CCIA], which represents technology companies like Pandora and Google, said he expects the department to appeal the decision.

“Today’s decision will increase uncertainty for music licensees and threatens to complicate an already opaque licensing landscape,” he said in an e-mail.

The CCIA is an OS–Original Shill, which is of course what they get paid to be.

As is Public Knowledge, who we heard from next:


Here’s a press release from the Chief Gloater at Google Shill Lister Public Knowledge, which can be summed up in the well-known edict from Miniature, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH:

The following be attributed to Raza Panjwani, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“We are deeply disappointed by Judge Stanton’s summary dismissal of the Department of Justice’s carefully-considered interpretation of the BMI consent decree. The plain language of the consent decree, BMI’s statements to the DOJ, BMI’s marketing language about its licenses, and appellate precedent all support the DOJ’s interpretation. Fractional licensing threatens to deprive the public of access to music by undermining a licensing marketplace that generates over a billion dollars in revenue annually for BMI alone, and which hundreds of thousands of business and outlets rely on to use and play music. This decision introduces uncertainty for users, opens the door to anticompetitive behavior, and should be appealed and reversed.”

Good thing they never asked a songwriter what they thought.  Because if this fake problem actually exists, it’s existed for decades–which, as every songwriter knows, it hasn’t.

And then of course, there’s the MIC Coalition which is how all this got started from the way I read the tea leaves.

The MIC Coalition is the supergroup of astroturf, a bottomless pit of money and venom built around Pandora, Google, Clear Channel (aka iHeart), the National Association of Broadcasters, and some other smarminess:

MIC Coalition Members

CCIA is a member of the MIC Coalition, as you can see.

Never heard of the MIC Coalition?  You only think you haven’t, which is astroturf done right.  If you attended SXSW this year (or last year) you may have attended a panel moderated by the long-time Washington lobbyist Maura Corbett pushing the astroturf Berklee-ICE “transparency for thee but not for me” proposals from one Panos Panay and wondered to yourself–who is that person and why is she here?  Lobbyist for the MIC Coalition, silly.  Naturally she disclosed that…no, wait, she didn’t.  I know, I sat through the entire panel (Unlocking the Future of Music with Transparency)–the only transparency on that panel was from Alex Ebert (Magnetic Zeros) who pretty clearly was not in on it.

So the MIC Coaltion has an interesting website–they seem to be a major client…sorry…outlet…for Public Knowledge’s recent work product attacking the Copyright Office.  That website has this post about the BMI ruling:

MIC Coalition Urges DOJ to Appeal Judge’s BMI Consent Decree Decision

The MIC Coalition released the following statement in response to Judge Stanton’s recent declaratory judgment in the BMI consent decree case:

“Judge Stanton’s abrupt judgment hurts music lovers across America. By overturning DOJ’s correct and necessary affirmation that the BMI consent decree requires full-work licensing, this ruling undermines the decades-old efficiencies provided by the BMI license, ignores the consent decree’s explicit requirement—affirmed by the Supreme Court—that it indemnify the public performance of works in the BMI repertoire, and turns a blind eye to BMI’s own contracts and statements that make unambiguously clear they have, and continue to, recognize the consent decree’s longstanding requirement to license works in their entirety. All of this, while robbing both the Justice Department and interested parties of their due process, since this declaratory ruling was issued off-the-cuff at a pre-motion conference.

“If left to stand, this decision eviscerates the entire purpose of the BMI blanket license, hurting every restaurant, bar, hotel, winery, local broadcaster, digital music service, retailer and other venue that plays music. This judgment does nothing short of create the exact kind of anti-competitive music marketplace our antitrust laws guard against, causing immeasurable harm to these local establishments and services, their many millions of customers, and to the songwriters and musicians to whom their royalty dollars are paid.

“The mission of the Antitrust Division is to promote economic competition. The DOJ staff took this important responsibility seriously, and should vigorously defend their work of more than two years to fully investigate, listen to all parties, and then take appropriate action under the antitrust laws. We urge DOJ to expeditiously appeal.”


Judge Stanton was “robbing the Justice Department and interested parties of their due process”.   Really?  Funny, that’s just what the songwriters are suing the DOJ about.

“The DOJ staff took this important responsibility seriously”.  Really?  Here’s what they took seriously:



So once again–Google and Pandora are behind yet another blatant attack on songwriters.  What’s different this time is that songwriters are fighting back, thanks to Songwriters of North America and songwriters Michelle Lewis, Thomas Kelly and Pamela Sheyne who are suing the Department of Justice, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the acting head of the Antitrust Division Renata B. Hesse.

Google and Pandora are doing what multinational corporations always do in litigation–they bring out their shills to talk to the press about an issue that neither the press nor the shills really have any visceral understanding, but which is absolutely clear to songwriters.

Mr. Kafka kind of summed it up:

They’re talking about things of which they don’t have the slightest understanding, anyway.

Franz Kafka, The Trial