@jack the Racketeer Gets a Tillisgram From @SenThomTillis–Now What?

Regardless of your politics, one message should ring out loud and clear from the election regarding Big Tech: Politicians are learning what artists have known for well over a decade. They do not care. They don’t care about Congress, they don’t care about the nation state, they don’t care about artists, songwriters, photographers, authors, none of it.

In a litter full of sick puppies, the sickest puppy of all is Jack Dorsey. Realize that this is a competitive beauty pageant for a winning place on the spectrum, but after observing the utter arrogance and lifelessness of this guy, he wins. So it should come as no surprise that Senator Thom Tillis has been completely dissed by Dorsey, but he shouldn’t feel bad about it. Jack doesn’t recognize the Senator’s authority or even the fact that the Senator is an elected official representing an entire state of Dorsey’s fellow Americans. This is because Dorsey does not think of himself as an American. Because the Singularity.

Twitter CEO Dorsey testifies remotely at Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about Facebook and Twitter's content moderation decisions on Capitol Hill in Washington

Dorsey clearly believes that he is above it all. He is so oblivious to how he hurts other people that may not even remember what he said to the Senator mostly because he was probably not really paying attention. If you’re not on the spectrum, you’re on the menu.

The main reason that Dorsey ignores pretty much everyone is that he believes he has the leverage and that he can exercise it and get away with it. And as Guy Forsyth wrote, nothing says freedom like getting away with it. And so far Dorsey has gotten away with being a massive infringer of copyright on a scale that dwarfs Facebook and even Google. At least these racketeering operations pay lip service to licensing some works of copyright. Jack doesn’t.

The late A.S. Neill was the founder and long-time headmaster of Summerhill School.   Mr. Neill devoted his life to working with difficult children.  He once wrote, “The difficult child is the child who is unhappy. He is at war with himself; and in consequence, he is at war with the world.”  Dorsey may not be at war with the entire world outside Silicon Valley, but he imposes his version of copyright on the creator community who usually lack the means to fight back.  Dorsey’s  version of “copyright” is a brutal game of Kings X where he fudges a self-defined distortion as “copyright” that allows him, like Lessig, to actually feel that being a massive infringer and bully anoints him as both legally and morally superior to mere creators and particularly those who invest in them.  

The following letter is from Senator Tillis to Dorsey and it should clarify the degree of hostility and contempt that Dorsey expresses for representative government–the definitive unhappy child at war with restrictions of any kind. Let’s be clear–the time for diplomacy with Silicon Valley has long since passed.

It’s time for leverage. And if you’re not thinking of how you would frog march Jack in handcuffs out of his racketeering office, you’re just not thinking big enough.

Diplomacy without leverage is just begging. So, in the words of Officer Malone, it should be clear that everyone knows where the booze is. That’s not the question. The question is “What are you prepared to do?”

United States Senate
Committee on the Judiciary
Washington, DC

November 23, 2020

Mr. Jack Dorsey
Chief Executive Officer
Twitter, Inc.
1355 Market St #900
San Francisco, CA 94103

Dear Mr. Dorsey:

I was incredibly disappointed to learn that Twitter has declined my invitation to send a witness to my subcommittee’s December 15 hearing on the role of voluntary agreements and technological measures in addressing copyright piracy online. My staff has been working with yours for months to identify an appropriate witness. Similarly, both when we talked last Monday and again Tuesday at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, I asked whether you would assist my subcommittee in good faith by sending a witness, and on both occasions you refused to commit.

As I mentioned to you, this hearing is the final in a series of hearings the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property has held this year to review the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. These hearings have featured approximately 50 witnesses, and I have been determined to include a diversity of interests, equities, and perspectives. For this final hearing, it is critical that the subcommittee hear about how key online platforms combat piracy via voluntary agreements and technological measures. To this end, I also asked Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, if he would send a witness, and unlike you and your team, he pledged to.

But Twitter has been less engaged in working with copyright owners on voluntary measures and technological tools, and now has rebuffed my request to testify. The only reasonable conclusion one can draw from your actions isthat Twitter simply does not take copyright piracy seriously.

Since you have refused to send a witness, I ask that you answer the following questions in writing as a supplement to the hearing record by no later than December 4, 2020. If you do not answer these questions, I will need to work with the full committee Chair and Ranking Member to find another way to compel your testimony.

I. What is Twitter’s policy with regard to the use of copyrighted works on its site?

2. I have heard that Twitter has been slow to respond to copyright infringement on its platform and alsorefused to negotiate licenses or business agreements with music publishers or record labels. In contrast, other major-social media companies have done the right thing and mitigated infringing activity on their platfonns by entering into negotiated license agreements to allow usesof music. Does Twitter seek licenses for the use of music? If so, in what instances? Has Twitter made efforts to negotiate license agreements with music publishers and record labels to ensure songwriters- and artists are compensated?

3. Despite the tremendous value that music brings to Twitter’s business, your platfonn contin’ues to host andpennit rampant infringement of music files on its platform. In 2019, over one million notices were sent to Twitter by record companies alone, and tens of thousands more from music publishers. Twitter has not taken meaningful steps to address the scale of the problem. Instead, your company claims that it already goes above and beyond what the law requires. What steps has Twitter taken to ensure no unlicensed music is made available?

4. How many takedown notices has Twitter received each year since it launched in 2006?

5. In recent years, Congress has held several hearings related to section 512 of title 17, the U.S. Copyright Office administered a major study on section 512, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a policy paper on copyright in the digital economy and best practices related to section 512. How has T\vitter engaged in these government efforts to reduce copyright infringement online and ensure that technology companies are free to grow without doing so at the expense of hard working creators?

6. What does Twitter think is the role ofvolm1tary agreements and technological measures in curbing copyright piracy online?

7. What voluntary agreements has Twitter entereQ into with copyright owners to help combat copyrightpiracy on its service? Please identify all such agreements, as well as any prospective voluntary measures that were not agreed to.

8. How do these voluntary agreements tie into Twitter’s repeat infringer policy? In responding, please provide specific details about Twitter’s repeat infringer policy.

9. Can you give me an update on Twitter’s ongoing issues with RIAA and the steps you are taken to be more proactive in taking down the content of musicians-and other artists that is being pirated oh your site?

10. How has Twitter participated in the dialogue that the U.S. Copyright Office convened on standard technical measures, as referenced in section 512 of title 17?

11. Twitter has gone to great lengths to moderate content on its service, including flagging, disclaiming, and even censoring content from conservatives. How many human moderators does Twitter utilize, and how many of them handle alleged copyright infringement?

12. It is my understanding that T\\1tter utilizes both technological tools and human moderators to flag,disclaim, and censor content. What proactive steps does Twitter take to address copyright piracy on its site? Are there technological filters or human moderators dedicated to identifying and removing clearly infringing content before a copyright owner sends a takedown riotice?

Thank you for your prompt attention to these questions. I hope that you will respond by December 4 and demonstrate to my colleagues and I that you do, in fact, take copyright piracy seriously.


Thom Tillis
Subcommittee on Intellectual Property