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@Tched: Rethinking Local Newspaper Subscription Models For People Who Have Never Paid For News

To save local news publications, readers in local communities will need to show renewed interest and willingness to pay for a newspaper subscription. This seems highly unlikely given that most newspapers still treat subscriptions like they did a decade ago.

By that I mean they have more in common with lawn care businesses than modern media businesses — billing people weekly rather than monthly. Grass typically grows enough after a week that this makes sense for a lawn care business to charge a person every seven days. By contrast, news is highly abundant and clearly doesn’t require payment for anyone that still desires to follow daily happenings — saying nothing of the quality. And yet, newspapers seem to think restricting access to their premium “product” is indeed the best way to show value of its news if offering a discounted weekly price doesn’t work.

Read the post on Medium and if you have time watch this 2009 Senate hearing on the Future of Journalism and Newspapers, especially David Simon’s testimony:

Understand I’m not making an argument against the Internet and all that it offers. But you do not in my city run into bloggers or so-called citizen journalists at City Hall or in the courthouse hallways or at the bars where police officers gather. 

You don’t see them consistently nurturing and then pressing sources. You don’t see them holding institutions accountable on a daily basis. Why? 

Because high end journalism is a profession. It requires daily full-time commitment by trained men and women who return to the same beats day in and day out, reporting was the hardest and in some ways most gratifying job i ever had. 

I’m offended to think anyone, anywhere believes American monoliths such as insulated, self-preserving and self-justifying school districts and chief executives can be held to task by amateurs pursuing the task without compensation, training or for that matter, sufficient standing to make public officials even care who it is they’re lying to or who they are withholding information from.

Is YouTube The Lyor Show?

June 21, 2018 Comments off

MIKE

Christof, let me ask you, why do you think that Truman has never come close to discovering the true nature of his world until now?

CHRISTOF

We accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented. It’s as simple as that.

from The Truman Show, written by Andrew Niccol

You’ll hear a lot of trash talk about Lyor Cohen, but credit where it’s due–he gave an interview that interested me about how he sees his role at YouTube.  I actually think he’s got some old school ideas that may be fundamentally sound, but are not connected to the Google reality.

I submit that his problem is that either he’s getting paid so much money he doesn’t need to be attached to reality or he doesn’t understand that Google does not give a rip about us.  Or maybe it’s a little of both.

Lyor’s main problem is that he either doesn’t understand or chooses to ignore Google’s exploitative business model.  MTP readers will recall a prescient 2008 book review of Nicholas Carr’s The Google Enigma (entitled “Google the Destroyer“), by antitrust scholar Jim DeLong that gives an elegant explanation of Google’s mindset:

Carr’s Google Enigma made a familiar business strategy point: companies that provide one component of a system love to commoditize the other components, the complements to their own products, because that leaves more of the value of the total stack available for the commoditizer….Carr noted that Google is unusual because of the large number of products and services that can be complements to the search function, including basic production of content and its distribution, along with anything else that can be used to gather eyeballs for advertising. Google’s incentives to reduce the costs of complements so as to harvest more eyeballs to view advertising are immense….This point is indeed true, and so is an additional point. In most circumstances, the commoditizer’s goal is restrained by knowledge that enough money must be left in the system to support the creation of the complements….

Google is in a different position. Its major complements already exist, and it need not worry in the short term about continuing the flow. For content, we have decades of music and movies that can be digitized and then distributed, with advertising attached. A wealth of other works await digitizing – [music,] books, maps, visual arts, and so on. If these run out, Google and other Internet companies have hit on the concept of user-generated content and social networks, in which the users are sold to each other, with yet more advertising attached.

So, on the whole, Google can continue to do well even if leaves providers of its complements gasping like fish on a beach.

And that was the truth in 2008 and its still true of Google ten years later because that’s their business model.  So when Irving Azoff says of Google that YouTube doesn’t pay artists and songwriters adequately–even the top songwriters in the world who are members of Irving’s Global Music Rights–that’s entirely consistent with the predatory business model Jim DeLong identified.

And when Lyor tries to flatter and deflect his way around Irving’s criticism, he’s missing the point entirely which is not surprising given that he works there.  But it doesn’t change the fact that Irving is right—Google is built on an exploitative business model that depends on using the DMCA safe harbor to undermine basic private property concepts and complete one of the biggest income transfers of all time to the great detriment of artists and songwriters.

MTP readers will also remember my 2007 post, The DMCA is Not an Alibi, now called “the value gap.”  That was the one that really started criticisms that I had a Google problem.  I can’t tell you the number of times that people have come up to me and confessed that they didn’t see what I was driving at until years after.  Not that it matters, but important years were lost when people in positions to marshal resources to combat them simply failed to do so.

Nothing has changed since Jim and I wrote those pieces and nothing will change until there are tectonic shifts in how Google is permitted to operate and the loopholes it relies on.  We’re thankful of the victory in Europe, but as one loophole closes in Europe, another opens in the US through the Music Modernization Act’s inexplicable and likely unconsitutional reachback safe harbor.

In a recent Billboard interview, Lyor said:

“Prior, [YouTube would] make a deal with the industry, go away for a few years and then come back. And that, to me, is where misunderstandings happen,” he explains. “It’s really hard to find an artist and break that artist — I mean, it’s almost impossible. So if Google and YouTube understand how difficult it is, maybe they could think about ways to improve that part of the business….”

How did you alleviate the disconnect between YouTube and the music industry?

Just going back to back with them. Demystifying our intent. Understanding how hard it is to break artists and to go to work on behalf of the creative community and the labels.

I think Lyor is essentially correct in his old school assessment of Google’s “new boss” problem, but he’s treating the wrong symptom.  It’s not that Google doesn’t understand anything, they understand just fine how hard we think it is to break an artist in the music business.  They just don’t care and to the extent they think about it at all, they think that we don’t understand because they think they “break” YouTube “stars” when those “stars” get corporate sponsorships.

And that is because their business model is based on manipulating loopholes and not on “breaking artists,” if “breaking artists” means establishing artists as able to have successful careers apart from YouTube.  And that dependency has become clearer in the years since Jim wrote his “flopping on the beach” post which makes Google’s commoditization even more insidious.

So while we’re happy that the Europeans have seen the light on the “value gap,” the DMCA is still not an alibi–unless the U.S. government continues to fail to address the underlying cause of the new algorithmic Darwinian music business that is gradually asphyxiating artists and songwriters.

And while we can appreciate Lyor’s old school view of his role in the Google Nation, no one should be persuaded that his approach will change anything as long as one of the largest corporations in commercial history is allowed to weaponize the DMCA safe harbor.  The artists Lyor is focused on “helping” aren’t just flopping on any beach, they are flopping on Google’s beach, one way or another.

Is Michael Beckerman Wearing Your Safe Harbor?

May 29, 2018 1 comment

As MTP readers will recall, I prefer to think of Big Tech’s various safe harbors like the CDA, DMCA and now the MMA as an income transfer.  It’s not that the money isn’t getting made, it’s just not getting made by the people who created the value.

For example, when Google profits from selling ads against infringing videos, that money doesn’t disappear, it just doesn’t go to the artist.  So where does it go?

Well…according to a recent article in Modern Luxury “Men of Style,” it appears to go into Michael Beckerman’s shoes.  Michael Beckerman is the CEO of the Internet Association, Google’s main lobbying shillery in DC and long time revolving door man.  (Picture below with floral decoration courtesy of Wednesday Addams.)

Michael Beckerman

That’s right–$4,950 shoes.  But no socks.  (Or 6,689,189 YouTube streams.)  Now that’s what I call an income transfer.  Looks like DMCA safe harbor on his feet, CDA for his watch–what will he buy himself as a reward for the MMA reachback?  Maybe a little poker in Vegas with his buddies?

 

 

@scleland: The Huge Hidden Public Costs (>$1.5T) of U.S. Internet Industrial Policy — Artist Rights Watch

April 16, 2018 Comments off

[Editor Charlie sez: Scott Cleland takes an excellent deep dive into the “leechonomics” of the safe harbors afforded to the special people who are members of the Internet Association and the Digital Media Association. This corporate welfare was most recently replicated in the punitive Music Modernization Act retroactive safe harbor bolstering profits from copyright infringement for the special people which passed the House Judiciary Committee on the same day that the Congress cut back the CDA 230 safe harbor for many of the same special companies and cut their profits from sex trafficking.]

via @scleland: The Huge Hidden Public Costs (>$1.5T) of U.S. Internet Industrial Policy — Artist Rights Watch

Congressional Database Obsession: The Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act is Quietly Adding Cosponsors

January 29, 2018 1 comment

MTP readers will recall the many, many attempts at producing a real-time global rights database (and expensive failures).  When Rep. Sensenbrenner introduced the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act last year, we roundly criticized the bill as an 11th Century solution to a 21st Century problem, the Domesday Book meets a unicorn.  But the bill was roundly cheered by the MIC Coalition, which includes the National Association of Broadcasters.

Not only that, but by imposing a registration formality on all the songwriters of the world, it’s entirely a capitulation to Professor Pamela Samuelson’s ineffectual Copyright Principles Project, the wildest dreams of Lawrence Lessig and probably the clawing of the latest debacle of the anti-copyright crowd, the Restatement of Copyright.  Not to mention a violation of international law (Berne Convention and TRIPS).

With all the talk about the controversial Music Modernization Act, one would have thought that a pre-condition of introducing the bill is that the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act would have been withdrawn.

To the contrary, Rep. Sensenbrenner has been quietly adding co-sponsors to the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act and is now up to 15, although the acceleration may have tapered off.

Why?  One reason is that at the heart of the Music Modernization Act is the very type of arguably unlawful registration formality from the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act–the register or lose it type–that no doubt makes Lessig start to drool, metaphorically speaking, of course.  And should also bring cheer to the MIC Coalition.

No one is asking when the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act will be dropped, but in a way they don’t have to.  Supporters of the bill (like the MIC Coalition) get a lot of what they want in the Music Modernization Act–a Lessig-style registration requirement that is essentially an orphan works bill in disguise.  Maybe that’s why they’re supporting the MMA alongside the orphan works holdouts from 2006, the last time an “omnibus” bill failed (that started out as “SIRA” for “Section 115 Reform Act.”

That bus was not magic, either.

Big Tech Going to Capitol Hill to Explain How they Profit from Terror

January 17, 2018 Comments off

Facebook’s Monika Bickert, YouTube’s Juniper Downs and Twitter’s Carlos Monje will testify today at the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee to explain how their company’s profit from terror groups using their platforms.  The hearing, Terrorism and Social Media: #IsBigTechDoingEnough? at 10 am ET today.

As Ranking Member Senator Bill Nelson noted, the hearing is the first time that all three of Facebook, Google and Twitter have deigned to appear before the Commerce Committee at the same time:

[T]heir appearance is long overdue.  These social media platforms – and those of many other smaller companies – have revolutionized the way Americans communicate, connect and share information.

But, at the same time, these platforms have created a new – and stunningly effective – way for nefarious actors to attack and harm our citizens and our nation.  Frankly, it is startling that today, a terrorist can be radicalized and trained to conduct attacks all through social media.  And then a terrorist cell can activate that individual to conduct an attack through the internet – creating in effect a terrorist drone controlled by social media.

I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about what their companies are doing to make sure their platforms are not being exploited and manipulated by terrorists and criminals.

Using social media to radicalize and influence users is not limited to extremists.  Nation states, too, are exploiting social media vulnerabilities to conduct campaigns against this nation and interfere with our democracy.

We know that Russian hackers—at Vladimir Putin’s direction—attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election through cyberattacks and spreading propaganda and disinformation through paid social media trolls and botnets on Facebook and Twitter.

And, we also know that Putin is likely to do it again.

In its January 6, 2017 assessment, the U.S. intelligence community said that Putin and his intelligence services see the election influence campaign as a success and will seek to influence future elections, right here in the United States, and abroad.

This should be a wake-up call to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and to all Americans, regardless of party. This was an attack on the very foundation of American democracy and we must do everything in our power to see that it never happens again.

It would be interesting if Senator Nelson could ask Facebook, Google and Twitter if they could run a quick tape to tell the people how much they made, give or take, on selling ads against terror recruiting videos.

 

 

Truth Will Out! @digitalmusicnws: Surprise! The ‘Music Modernization Act’ Prohibits Litigation Against Streaming Services [With New Even Safer Harbor Power Play] — Artist Rights Watch

January 15, 2018 Comments off

[Editor Charlie sez: You’ve all probably gotten mass emails full of glittering generalities about the controversial Music Modernization Act that don’t tell you what the bill actually says or the power play that’s actually going on. Well…you’ve been Sneekyfy-ed! More News from the Goolag on the latest government taking by the lobbyists to follow!]

via Truth Will Out! @digitalmusicnws: Surprise! The ‘Music Modernization Act’ Prohibits Litigation Against Streaming Services [With New Even Safer Harbor] — Artist Rights Watch

Read the post by Paul Resnikoff on Digital Music News

Read the Music Modernization Act here

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