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Guest Post by @schneidermaria: Google’s Self-driven “Carma”

May 17, 2017 1 comment

Maria 17

[Editor Charlie sez: We’re pleased to publish this guest post written by Maria Schneider, a five-time GRAMMY-winning composer and bandleader, a board member of the Council of Music Creators, and an active supporter of MusicAnswers.org. Her GRAMMY awards including two 2016 GRAMMY Awards, Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocal for “Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)” recorded by the Maria Schneider Orchestra and David Bowie, and Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album for “The Thompson Fields”.  Maria’s posts on MTP can be found here.]

Written by Maria Schneider

It’s the height of irony that Google finds itself in court suing Uber over the piracy of documents and creative works it believes should be protected as its intellectual property (IP).  The lawsuit is a battle royale between two mean-spirited data lords, each wrestling to secure its world domination over self-driven cars.

My short summary of their self-driven car case goes like this:  Google offered Anthony Levandowski a whopping 120 million dollars to head their self-driving car development.  Loyalty not being his strong suit, Lewandowski left Google after a few short years, and not before pirating 14,000 drawings, plans, and other creative works Google had spent a ton of time and money to create.  He then used those 14,000 stolen digital files to start his own company, Otto.  Within a year, Uber made Levandowski insanely rich when it bought Otto from him for 680 million dollars.

Google alleges that Uber and Levandowski have “illegally downloaded” Google’s creative works and distributed them to others.  Google is outraged to find its valuable IP in the hands of hundreds of Uber engineers and employees, none of whom have any obligation to Google.  Realizing that their valuable creations will now surely spread to others and devalue Google’s investment even further, Google’s attorney, Mr. Verhoeven, insists that the damage to Google is “irreparable,” exclaiming, “you really can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube!”

Ah yes, karma is a bitch.

Whatever sting Google is feeling, it’s but a mosquito bite compared to the wounds Google has inflicted upon creative artists: composers, songwriters, recording artists, authors, filmmakers, journalists, cartoonists, photographers, the list goes on.  It’s an incalculable number of individual livelihoods, deeply damaged, if not destroyed by IP theft, not only in the United States, but worldwide, all at Google’s greedy hand.

If Google’s claims come to bear in court, Levandowski could go to jail.  Uber’s attorneys and managers could be fired for buying what was obviously “hot merchandise.”  And Google’s attorneys and management will surely be reprimanded for not having better protections in place to protect Google’s valuable IP.  But should anything about all of this surprise Google?  The highly coveted, wildly overpaid man-boy, Levandowski was just a bad apple that didn’t fall far from the tree.  He was only paying forward the general culture Google itself created – a culture Google has imposed on the entire world through its monopoly on information, its massive market power, and its incessant lobbying to destroy others’ intellectual property rights for its own financial gain.

Let’s go back to 2006.  Back then, Google was kicking the tires of YouTube, trying to decide if Google should acquire it.  In trying to make that decision, these following statements were made by Google’s management:

“I can’t believe you’re recommending buying YouTube . . . they’re 80% illegal pirated content.”

YouTube is a “rogue enabler of content theft.” 

YouTube’s business model is completely sustained by pirated content.”

Even armed with that corporate knowledge, Google gave a big thumbs-up to what they clearly recognized as theft, and went ahead and bought YouTube for 1.65 billion dollars.  And since then, Google has ridden the YouTube train, loaded with its massive cargo of stolen goods, to become the most powerful company the world has ever known.

Google’s culture of disrespecting and exploiting other people’s IP is finally coming home to roost.  With some sort of perverse poetic justice, Levandowski has now done unto Google what Google has done unto others.

Buddha offers the world very powerful words about bad karma: “One who previously made bad karma, but who reforms and creates good karma, brightens the world like the moon appearing from behind a cloud.”

It’s time for gargantuan data lord companies like Google to turn away from darkness and reform, to generate a different karma that brightens the world around them.  It’s time for these companies to stop enabling piracy, to stop making revenue off it, and to stop making revenue off of terrorism, pornography, and fake news, as well.  It’s time they pay a fair amount to acquire content, and pay fair taxes on the valuable data they extract from their billions of worldwide users.  It’s time these companies accept responsibility for the daily crimes that occur on their platforms, instead of hiding behind their weaselly, “we’re not accountable under the DMCA” approach.

It’s high time these companies stop “moving fast and breaking things,” and start driving a little slower and more respectfully, obeying the basic rules of the road.  It’s time for them to make a complete U-turn on our information highway, and steer in the direction of nurturing an internet community based on respect and fairness.  More than needing judges, regulators, lobbyists, lawmakers, or even “moonshots” like self-driving cars, what companies like Google most need, is a shiny brand new karma.

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To see more of Maria Schneider’s writing, go to Advocacy for Musicians at Maria Schneider’s Wikipedia page.

Internal Warner Music Memo Shows Google’s Notice and Shakedown Business as Usual

If they’re not funding terrorists, they’re shaking down artists and songwriters….

Music Business Worldwide posted this internal memo from Warner Music chief Steve Cooper about Google’s DMCA abuse and the effect of YouTube’s notice and shakedown negotiation tactics.

“YouTube has a bigger audience than any other streaming service, which presents huge opportunities for the creative community, and we’re always hopeful about the future. But our experiences during these negotiations were proof positive of the acute need to clarify ‘safe harbor’ provisions under US and EU copyright legislation. That’s the only way to conclusively close the gap between the revenue YouTube generates and what songwriters, artists, publishers and labels make in return.

Our sustained investment in new music and the pace with which we embrace emerging technologies, is resulting in some promising growth. However, ‘safe harbor’ laws that don’t protect artists, songwriters and rights-holders remain the weak link in the music ecosystem. We’re now calling for change more loudly than ever.”

via Internal Warner Music Memo Shows Google’s Notice and Shakedown Business as Usual — Artist Rights Watch

Save the Date! “Music Tech Licensing: Getting Your Beta Out without Getting Beaten Up” June 20 in Austin

Save the Date! On June 20, 7 pm at Capitol Factory (Austin Omni), Chris Castle presents “Music Tech Licensing: Getting Your Beta Out without Getting Beaten Up” with special guest Keith Bernstein, CEO of Crunch Digital, sponsored by the Austin Music Tech Meetup. Topics will be copyright basics and licensing strategy for startups.

via Save the Date! “Music Tech Licensing: Getting Your Beta Out without Getting Beaten Up” June 20 in Austin — Music Tech Solutions

@ascap #StandWithSongwriters to Capitol Hill to Demand Congress Roll Back Government Regulation of Songwriters

April 25, 2017 Comments off

[Editor Charlie sez: Remember when the government set the price of mechanical royalties at $0.02 in 1909 and “forgot” to raise it until 1978?  And then–in 1978–started giving songwriters  increases based on inflation (Consumer Price Index) with no compensation for the government’s past mistakes?  Gee, thanks government.  If they’d given inflation adjustments in 1909, minimum statutory would be at least $0.50.  And then they froze the $0.091 minimum statutory rate again in 2009 when inflation has been about 14% since then.  Gee, thanks again government.  And why do they call it “minimum” statutory rate as if anyone is getting paid more than statutory when the reality is songwriters almost always get paid less than statutory?  Big thank you to ASCAP and the songwriter delegation, you can tweet support to #standwithsongwriters!]

via @ascap #StandWithSongwriters to Meet with Congress on Rolling Back Government Regulation of Songwriters — Artist Rights Watch

The Circle [aka the Google Movie] is coming April 28!

April 24, 2017 Comments off
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Fighting for a Straight Count: Does Streaming Accounting Cost More than the Royalties?

April 24, 2017 Comments off

When you drill down on exactly what goes into tracking and accounting for songs and recordings on streaming services one thing becomes apparent:  No matter how much you automate, those systems are expensive and the royalties are minuscule.  This is in large part because of the revenue share method of royalty payments that creates a vastly more complex accounting world than a simple per-use penny rate would require.  It’s time to make that change to simplify the reporting so that the transaction cost of accounting does not exceed the royalty paid.

via @musictechsolve: Does Streaming Accounting Cost More than the Royalties?

@colaboratorpcn: Douglas Caballero interviews Chris Castle (Part 3) “Is Today a Good Time to Be a Musician?”

April 21, 2017 Comments off
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