Archive for December, 2018

$5k for the Grammys with Nadler and Jeffries? Check out Google’s WHCD party

December 22, 2018 Comments off

Somebody started whinging about a campaign email for a $5000 ticket to go to the Grammys with Reps. Jerry Nadler and Hakim Jeffries like this is some booga booga sign of corruption and influence peddling.  (And whingers could at least get the spelling right–it’s Grammys, not Grammies.)

I haven’t seen the actual tickets, so I don’t know that the face price is for the seats in question.  However, if it’s for a box seat, it wouldn’t shock me if that ticket went for 5 figures anyway.

But let’s put this in perspective.  First of all, Nadler and Jeffries are already on side with artist rights…perhaps because their constituents are artists?  New York, New York does have a few in almost any zip code.

And if you want to know about paying for access, don’t miss this video of government officials arriving at Google’s White House Correspondents Dinner party in 2016.  Glass houses, baby.

Copyright Office Issues Interim Rule for MLC Applications Including Oversight of MLC Board by Librarian of Congress

December 21, 2018 Comments off

The U.S. Copyright Office issued an interim rule for comment that lays out an intricate and well thought out approach to the Register’s role in designating the Mechanical Licensing Collective and the Digital Licensee Coordinator under Title I of the Music Modernization Act.

Consistent with the MLC’s role as a quasi-governmental organization (or quasi-private, depending on how you look at it), the interim rule confirms that “directors of the MLC are inferior officers under the Appointments Clause of the Constitution [,] that the Librarian of Congress must approve each subsequent selection of a new director….[and] that the Register work with the MLC, once it has been designated to ensure that the Librarian retains the ultimate authority to appoint and remove all directors.”  Presumably, state corporate laws governing the formation of the MLC will give way to this requirement.

The Librarian’s ability to can directors should help assuage some of the concerns about the powers of the MLC and is, of course, entirely consistent with the powers of the MLC as a quasi-governmental organization.

Another requirement that caught my eye relates to the “Hoffa Clause” that allows the MLC to invade the black box to pay operating expenses not covered by the services in the administrative assessment.  The Copyright Office seems quite aware of the moral hazard present, and asks the prospective MLC candidates to provide:

Information regarding whether and how the proposed MLC may apply unclaimed accrued royalties on an interim basis to defray operating costs, as well as any accompanying plans for future reimbursement of such royalties from future collections of the administrative assessment, including relevant legal considerations and guidelines in the event the proposed MLC does intend to apply unclaimed accrued royalties.

All in all, the Copyright Office should be commended for putting together a comprehensive and even-handed “job description” for the MLC and the DLC in keeping with the Office’s statutory role in getting this quasi-governmental organization up and running.

Carbon Clouds: Should Artists Ask Why Aren’t Google, Amazon and Facebook in the Green New Deal?

December 18, 2018 Comments off

Let’s start out with a basic gut check–when you plug in an electric car to charge up the batteries, where do you think that electricity comes from?  Magic elves or the same coal burning power plant or nuclear power station that the rest of the world uses?

Sure, you can have a renewable element to the energy mix, but let’s all remember that any activity that sucks down significant amounts of energy has a carbon footprint like anything else. If you really like the Green New Deal, you’ll probably feel like there’s a policy position that has at least the basics covered.

There’s just one problem–one of the biggest users of electricity is not on the list.  No, they’re just not included at all in the Green New Deal.  And who might that be?

Data centers.  And not just any data centers–these are massive facilities owned by Google, Facebook, Amazon and others.  Listen up Senator Ron Wyden and Senator Ben Sasse.  This is for you.

Data Centers

Nature magazine sums it up:

Upload your latest holiday photos to Facebook, and there’s a chance they’ll end up stored in Prineville, Oregon, a small town where the firm has built three giant data centres and is planning two more. [Hello, Senator Wyden.] Inside these vast factories, bigger than aircraft carriers, tens of thousands of circuit boards are racked row upon row, stretching down windowless halls so long that staff ride through the corridors on scooters.

These huge buildings are the treasuries of the new industrial kings: the information traders. The five biggest global companies by market capitalization this year are currently Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook, replacing titans such as Shell and ExxonMobil. Although information factories might not spew out black smoke or grind greasy cogs, they are not bereft of environmental impact. As demand for Internet and mobile-phone traffic skyrockets, the information industry could lead to an explosion in energy use.

According to the National Resources Defense Council:

Data centers are the backbone of the modern economy — from the server rooms that power small- to medium-sized organizations to the enterprise data centers that support American corporations and the server farms that run cloud computing services hosted by Amazon, Facebook, Google, and others. However, the explosion of digital content, big data, e-commerce, and Internet traffic is also making data centers one of the fastest-growing consumers of electricity in developed countries, and one of the key drivers in the construction of new power plants.

Why might that be?  Here’s some 2011 data from the famous “The Internet is Killing the Planet” infographic inspired by Greenpeace’s “Dirty Data” research (that seems to have been forgotten in the GND):

Google co2 1

Based on Google’s most recent environmental report (2018) you have to tease out what Google’s actual carbon emissions is (in footnote 32):

  1. Google emits less than 8 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per day to serve an active Google user—defined as someone who performs 25 searches and watches 60 minutes of YouTube a day, has a Gmail account, and uses our other key services.

In Google-speak “less than 8” usually means 7.9999999999.  So let’s call it 8.  As of 2016 there were 1 billion active gmail users.  So rough justice, Google acknowledges that it emits about 8 billion grams of carbon dioxide daily, or 9,000 tons.  And based on the characteristically tricky way Google framed the measurement, that doesn’t count the users who don’t have a gmail account, don’t use “our other key services” and may watch more than an hour a day of YouTube.  You know, like kids for example.

And that’s just Google.  Again from Nature:

Already, data centres use an estimated 200 terawatt hours (TWh) each year. That is more than the national energy consumption of some countries, including Iran, but half of the electricity used for transport worldwide, and just 1% of global electricity demand (see ‘Energy scale’). Data centres contribute around 0.3% to overall carbon emissions, whereas the information and communications technology (ICT) ecosystem as a whole — under a sweeping definition that encompasses personal digital devices, mobile-phone networks and televisions — accounts for more than 2% of global emissions. That puts ICT’s carbon footprint on a par with the aviation industry’s emissions from fuel.


Google Data Center in The Dalles, Oregon

What does this have to do with music?  Actually, more than you might think.  YouTube is one of the biggest carbon producers in the Google system.  What’s consumed the most on YouTube?  Cat videos?  How-to screw in a lightbulb videos?  No.

Music videos.

And then there’s streaming.  However you might have felt about plastic discs, billions upon billions of streams uses up a lot of processing power.  And it’s like all the world’s music is hosted in the cloud, sometimes literally.  Remember “Own Nothing, Have Everything”?  I don’t know if anyone could have thought of a more inefficient delivery method from a climate point of view, but I suppose it’s possible.

The fact is we are the forced enablers of what may end up being one of the biggest energy scams in the entire climate disaster, and it’s time to put the foot down.  First of all, artists need to start asking questions of services like YouTube and the advertisers who support them.

And clearly, the Green New Deal needs to take a close look at this entire subject.

Zoë Keating Gives More Evidence of the Streaming Hyper-Efficient Market Share Royalty Headlock on Indie Artists #irespectmusic

December 17, 2018 Comments off

zoe tweet


Driving traffic to Spotify just doesn’t pay off for indie artists (or probably for smaller indie labels).  See an explanation of the Ethical Pool method as a possible solution.  Whatever we do, the status quo is not sustainable.

And then there’s this:

Spotify Buyback

The Article 13 Trialogue and Google’s Magic Grits

December 16, 2018 Comments off


             Perhaps the laws of physics cease to exist on your stove!  Were these magic grits?
I mean, did you buy them from the same guy who sold Jack his beanstalk beans?

From My Cousin Vinny, written by Dale Launer

After Google’s stunning defeat on the plenary vote on the Directive on Copyright in the Single Digital Market in the European Parliament, they had to go to plan B on their lobbying and public messaging tactics.  Which was a problem because plan B is the same as plan A–bots, fakery and online disinformation tactics.  Not to mention goofy pronouncements from YouTube President and Sergey Brin’s ex-sister in law Susan Wojcicki and the rebarbative Lyor Cohen.

How do we know of this Plan B problem?  Because notwithstanding the facts that fewer than 1,000 warm bodies turned out for Google’s Day of Rage protesting its embarrassing loss and that this reality check was entirely at odds with the tens of thousands of spam emails their cut outs sent to Members of the European Parliament–notwithstanding these facts, Google wants everyone to believe that an online petition with not 100, not 1000, not even 10,000 signatures was for reals.  Nope–that online petition supposedly had  four million signatures.

Nobody believes this, just like nobody believed the spam.  Why?  Because it could be gamed, just like Google’s other online campaigns that turned out to be largely fake.  And credible journalists determined that the spam campaign on Article 13 was fake.  Volker Rieck and David Lowery also exposed how Google uses astroturf front groups to “push its views”.


More importantly, many of the MEPs on the receiving end of the spam believed it was fake.  My bet is that they believe the millions of signatures are fake, too.

We need to keep fighting in Europe because this is as close as our community has ever come to overturning Google’s safe harbor in any country, but you have to ask if they are snarfing down some magic grits at the Googleplex.


European Creative Community Unites Against Google and Facebook and Calls on EU Lawmakers to Stop Big Tech’s End Run Around the Value Gap Solution in Article 13

December 13, 2018 Comments off

[We don’t often reprint other people’s letters, but this one on closing the value gap in Europe is crucial.  No surprise, Google and Facebook are pushing back hard with all their multinational corporate lobbying power.  Artists, songwriters, indie and major labels and a broad cross-section of creatives are fighting back, but need your support.  Remember–Google and Facebook are not in our business–make no mistake–they are in the addiction business and safe harbors are addiction accelerators just like coumarin in tobacco.]

Brussels, 13th December 2018

We are writing to you as a group of organisations representing European authors, composers, songwriters, featured artists, picture agencies, book publishers, academic publishers, audiovisual producers and broadcasters, independent and major music producers and publishers, and news and media companies.

We have reviewed the European Commission text/non-papers on article 13 and we have serious concerns about the direction of travel.

As we reach the very final stages of this process, and negotiators seek to finalise a compromise text, we urge you to remember that the overall aim of the original European Commission proposal was to correct the distortion of the digital market place caused by User Upload Content (UUC) services, which enable users to upload content onto their sites and then profit from the availability of creative content without returning fair revenues to rightsholders, who create and invest in such content.

The fundamental elements of a solution to the Value Gap/Transfer of Value remain, as acknowledged by all three institutions in their adopted texts, to clarify that UUC services now defined as Online Content Sharing Service Providers (“OCSSP”) are liable for communication to the public and/or making available to the public when protected works are made available and that they are not eligible for the liability privilege in Article 14 of the E-Commerce Directive as far as copyright is concerned. We continue to believe that only a solution that stays within these principles meaningfully addresses the Value Gap/Transfer of Value. Moreover, licensing needs to be encouraged where the rightsholders are willing to do so but at the same time not be forced upon rightsholders.

Therefore, proposals that deviate from the adopted positions of the three institutions should be dismissed.

Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, the text now put forward by the European Commission would need fundamental changes to achieve the Directive’s aim to correct the Value Gap/ Transfer of Value.

For example, solutions that seek to qualify or mitigate the liability of Online Content Sharing Service Providers should be considered with an abundance of caution to avoid the final proposal leaving rightsholders in a worse position than they are in now.  Any “mitigation measures”, should they be offered to OCSSPs, must therefore be clearly formulated and conditional on OCSSPs taking robust action to ensure the unavailability of works or other subject matter on their services.

To that end, while it may be appropriate for rightsholders or their representatives to give services access to reasonably necessary identifying information concerning unauthorised works or other subject matter, unclear or open-ended provisions potentially obliging rightsholders to play the main role in preventing unauthorised uses of their works fail to provide the necessary legal certainty and therefore fail to provide a meaningful solution to the Value Gap/ Transfer of Value.

Furthermore, any proposal whereby services can effectively choose the level of diligence which will shield them against liability would perpetuate the Value Gap/ Transfer of Value and wholly undermine this crucial draft legislation.

We trust that you will take this into consideration when discussing the draft Directive.

Yours sincerely, the undersigned.

CANAL + – media group

CEPIC – Center of the Picture Industry

ECSA – European Composer and Songwriter Alliance

EPC – European Publishers Council

EUROCINEMA – representing the interests of film and television producers to the European Union

EUROCOPYA – European organisation of movie and television producers’ collecting societies in charge of private copy

FEP – Federation of European Publishers

GESAC – European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers

IAO – International Artist Organisation

IFPI – representing the music industry worldwide

IMPALA – European association of independent music companies

IMPF – Independent Music Publishers Forum

MEDIASET – media group

STM – leading global trade association for academic and professional publishers

Tf1 – media group

VIVENDI – media group



All latest press


How EU copyright reform will give the creative ecosystem a boost

Originally published in the Financial Times


Boaty McBoatface Uses Fight For the Future Dialer Tool to Lobby Rand Paul on HR 1695 from…Scotland

December 7, 2018 Comments off

We’ve said for years that Google shills use a variety of dodges to create the impression of grass roots support among legislatures–when it really isn’t there.  We think this because all of the snakes in the grass roots seem to be online, so rarely offline that it may as well be never.

One of the big dodges is that the shilleries have autodialing tools that allow anyone to call a number and be connected to “their” Member of Parliament, Senator, Representative.  That way the location of the person making the call is masked from the person receiving the call.  All you need to know is a postal code in the member’s district, state or country and the dialer will connect you.

The assumption is that the calls originate locally in at least the same country, but they don’t.  That way a dedicated group of likeminded people anywhere in the world can, as Susan Crawford once said, “geek around the nation state.”

We saw this entire saga play out in Europe over Article 13 where millions of phone calls and emails were lobbed at the Members of the European Parliament, yet less than 1,000 people showed up to protest across all of Europe.  Article 13 sailed through its vote as Members of the European Parliament voted down the Google version of the bill–emphatically.

Well…now we are seeing Google shills Fight for the Future pulling the same stunt in the United States.  Another “break the Internet” situation being blown out of proportion using Google’s usual scare tactics.  A bad look in a post-Cambridge Analytica universe.  Here’s how it looks (lobbyists behaving badly):


Fortunately–Boaty McBoatface, that wizened Scot, decided to help out his American cousins by placing a call to “his” representative, Senator Rand Paul.  And he recorded the entire event to demonstrate just how low down these people will go:


Boaty demonstrates perfectly the entire scam, and guess what–it works both from Europe to the States and from the States to Europe.  And frankly, probably from anywhere to anywhere.

Well…just one thing to say to Mr. McBoatface: Alba gu bràth, laddybuck.

%d bloggers like this: