Posts Tagged ‘Facebook Meltdown’

Must read: @creativefuture: #PlatformResponsibility Starts with Facebook – but All of Silicon Valley Must Step Up — Artist Rights Watch

April 17, 2018 Comments off

More excellent argumentation from Creative Future.

Last month, CreativeFuture asked you, our followers, what you thought about platform responsibility. Little did we know that, in the meantime, the issue would start taking over the front pages of our newspapers and websites!

In a nutshell, the issue is whether Google, Facebook, and their Silicon Valley peers should take responsibility for the ways their platforms are used to violate our laws and harm society.

Even before the House and Senate passed landmark legislation to demand accountability from the tech giants and even before Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica mess exploded, we asked your views on a few simple questions that came down to one thing: do you believe that Google and Facebook should be more responsible?

The answer, overwhelmingly, was that you do – and you had a lot to add in response. Here are just some of your comments:

  • “The organizations who own these platforms make enormous profits. They have a responsibility to make sure the platforms are not being used to harm others.”
  • “They have the greatest ability to do so. And a moral responsibility. Just because it’s a newer technology doesn’t exempt them.”
  • “Because if they are able to control it, and I believe that they can, then they should be held accountable and responsible if they don’t.”
  • “They are providing the service that is being used for these malicious acts. They are responsible! They need to find a solution and be held accountable!”
  • “Violations of the law should be prosecuted. To avoid prosecution, they should take proactive steps to prevent violations.”
  • “They created these platforms, they should be responsible for them. They are beyond wealthy from them and can afford to police them. U.S. laws should apply everywhere in the U.S., including [the internet]!”
  • “Times change, services change, service providers change. Rules must keep up with changes.”
  • “Hostile foreign governments are using internet social platforms to publish untrue propaganda in order to destabilize our nation … if they can’t or won’t [monitor their platforms], they should be heavily fined and shut down. It is their responsibility for doing business in this country.”
  • “Responsibility is part of having a business.”
  • “[Google and Facebook] are no different from any other corporation which has the responsibility not to enable breaking the law. They are complicit and just a guilty as those breaking the law.”
  • “I can’t believe we even have to ask this question. I am sick and tired of corporations bearing no responsibility for the effects of their services on people. If a crime is occurring and the corporation looks the other way, that cannot be allowed any longer.”
  • “They don’t want the responsibility of accountability because complying would eat into profits with no returns. So, it will NEVER happen unless it is legislated.”
  • “The internet has become perhaps the single most important source of information and communication in the world. It cannot just rake in profits and not be responsible for what they have created.”

This week, on April 10 and 11, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify twice before Congress on the issues facing his company, and Silicon Valley generally. We expect that Zuckerberg will be very well prepped by his army of lawyers. We anticipate that he will try to reassure Congress that Facebook is doing all it can to (1) protect the privacy of its users; (2) prevent foreign influence on its advertising networks; and (3) stop rampant violations of the law from being carried out on their platform.

But Congress should not settle for head-pats and platitudes. They need to ask some hard and direct questions. We hope they will include the following…

Read the post on Creative Future


Spotify Class Action Take 2: @stuartdredge: HFA/Rumblefish to handle Facebook’s indie publishers

January 11, 2018 Comments off

[Editor Charlie sez: Remember what Bluewater Music Publishing’s counsel Richard Busch had to say about Spotify?

At the time that Spotify hired HFA, HFA had a database with less than the number of recordings and compositions available in the Spotify library. Between this insufficient database, Spotify’s piecemeal system, and HFA’s own lack of a system capable of complying with the statutory requirements for compulsory licensing, copyright infringement was assured.

Despite knowledge of these deficiencies, Spotify moved forward with a non-compliant system that allowed for massive infringement from its launch in the United States in June 2011.

Not to worry, little people, they’re baaackkkk…..]

Facebook is also announcing a partnership with SESAC and HFA/Rumblefish that will cover songwriters signed to independent publishers, with Rumblefish sharing data with Facebook to help it identify and clear works.

Or, as the social network’s head of commercial music publishing partnerships Scott Sellwood put it, a deal that will offer indie publishers “the opportunity to participate in a new licensing program with Facebook. The program will enable users to upload and share videos with music on Facebook, Instagram and Oculus and allows publishers to be compensated for the use of their music”.

Read the post on MusicAlly

[By the way, does anyone know what the deal is? Or if it will cost more to sign up than you’d ever make?]


@musictechpolicy: Facebook’s Music Licenses: What’s Not to Like?

November 21, 2017 Comments off

Facebook pays no royalties for the music that gives significant value to the platform. That’s often a surprising proposition for artists and songwriters, much less the general public.

Yet it is true—hitmakers and new artists, pros and amateurs alike do not get a penny from Facebook and the company doesn’t even attempt to license their work. Why should a multibillion dollar multinational corporation that anchors a large piece of the Internet economy and whose founder is planning on running for President of the United States get to pay music makers in exposure bucks?

The answer is that Facebook, like YouTube and many other user-generated content platforms hide behind the legacy DMCA “safe harbor” and its nonnegotiable, unconscionable, adhesion contract that controls the use of its platform.

Rumor has it that Facebook is evidently coming to the table and is in at least semi-active negotiations with at least some labels and publishers.

One may well ask what took so long—but if it were not for Universal Music Group’s pursuit of Facebook’s infringements through DMCA notices, it’s likely that Facebook would be blithely rolling on its monopolist juggernaut.

On the other hand, this is actually a good time to be negotiating these deals give the Congressional scrutiny of Facebook’s involvement in the 2016 Presidential election campaigns. We have the benefit of public statements by Facebook representatives under oath regarding what they can do and what they so far refuse to do which may come in handy in licensing negotiations.

These negotiations with rights owners may result in what will seem like a very big pop of up-front cash—but is it? And whatever the number, how will that money be distributed to the artists and songwriters that make it happen?

President Obama’s Farewell Address on Social Media’s Threat to Democracy — Artist Rights Watch

November 13, 2017 Comments off

The good thing about Facebook is that it brings people together in new communities. The bad thing about Facebook is that some of those people previously only met on Death Row. And as Sartre said, hell is other people.

via President Obama’s Farewell Address on Social Media’s Threat to Democracy — Artist Rights Watch

New Boss Royalty Deadbeat Facebook Wants to Stiff Everyone

March 1, 2017 Comments off



“I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

J. Wellington Wimpy

New boss royalty deadbeat Mark Zuckerberg is suddenly getting  serious about “premium” content licensing, but is bringing pre-1999 thinking to the table.  He’s proposing what’s called the “Wimpy Deal” that takes ones and zeros to a whole new level.  Zeros to the right of the decimal place, that is.

According to Music Business Worldwide:

Yesterday, in an earnings call with investors, Mark Zuckerberg gave the music business yet more reason for [false] optimism.

The Facebook founder once again confirmed his company’s increasing focus on video – while making specific reference to ‘premium content’….

“But there’s also a whole class of premium content. The creators need to get paid a good amount in order to support the creation of that content, and we need to be able to support that with a business model, which we’re working on through ads to fund that.

And the Facebook CFO confirmed the rev share “burger today” approach:

Zuckerberg and Wehner were then asked by Brian Nowak of Morgan Stanley whether Facebook’s content investment would be “more driven on revenue share – or do you see yourselves going out and writing and doing licensing deals?”.

Wehner replied: “Our goal really is to kick-start an ecosystem of partner content in the video tab… and our model is really oriented towards revenue share with creators. We are funding some feed content to get the ecosystem going, but the focus is on rev share.”

Is There Any Future for Revenue Share Royalty Deals?

MTP readers will recall that we have questioned the continued utility of the Dotbomb era legacy Wimpy revenue share deals that both songwriters and artists currently suffer under.  There are many examples of the absurd costs of accounting and reporting on a revenue share basis for per stream rates that don’t have a positive integer before the third decimal place to the right.  Suffice it to say that the transaction costs of receiving and distributing revenue share payments likely exceeds the total revenue paid in almost every case.  And if the mere accounting doesn’t, then the first label audit will, particularly since there is practically no recourse against music services to know how the advertising revenue was calculated.

A revenue share structure is not a business–unless you’re into burger futures.  This got into the house back in the days when nobody paid too much attention to what they were getting up to over there in New Media Land until suddenly streaming was cannibalizing higher margin sales.

We now are seeing cannibalization come home to roost as pre-IPO streaming services gleefully try to convince us that trading a lot of sales of a high margin good for a lot of streams of a very, very low or no margin good is actually healthy for “the music business”.

Services may try to convince everyone that flat money, breakage, technology payments or the IPO shares will make up for the absurdly low royalty rates–aka glass beads and blankets–but artists are less and less interested in selling Manhattan on the cheap.  And I don’t know anyone named “the music business”.  I do know that there are lots and lots of artists and songwriters concerned about cratering royalty checks.

So–if you are wondering why streaming renegotiations have tended to stall, the changing of the guard in New Media Land may not be the only reason, but it’s certainly one of them.  And don’t be surprised to see New Media Land executives recruited by digital services for the big bucks–which probably was the plan all along.  It certainly works for lobbyists.

Nowhere is this phenomenon more pronounced that with the ridiculous YouTube royalty deals which are all based on rev share.

In the middle of this, Facebook has yet to even acknowledge that they need licenses for the music they play on their platform.  Their strong move is to hire a licensing person from YouTube–probably to float the idea of doing the same revenue share deals that are cannibalizing our business.

We know what’s wrong with perpetuating the YouTube debacle with Facebook (or anyone else).  The question is, will new boss Facebook be able to jam this absurd new boss legacy revenue share structure down our throats.

They have now told us they will try, so this might be a good time to tell them we’re not gonna take it.

What Should A Facebook Deal Look Like?

Like any of these situations, Facebook needs to address the past and then pay a license for the future.  Given Facebook’s cavalier attitude about music rights, they’ll not be taking this too seriously.  Unless they’re made to.

Given the opportunity to book a dollar on Tuesday, there are many big rights holders who might look at a payment from Facebook as “found money” or even perhaps as an employment lifeboat.  It wouldn’t be the first time a music executive jumped ship after making a deal with a digital service that suddenly became their employer.

The absolute worst move would be to allow Facebook to make a token payment of what they will view as chump change–literally change paid to chumps–and then let them drag out using recordings and songs with no meaningful compensation or record keeping.

In other words–don’t let them create yet another black box with no transparency.

How much for the past is enough?  Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg has told us that the $500,000,000 payment Facebook was ordered to pay Oculus is “nonmaterial”.  Good–maybe that’s a place to start, then.

How much for the future?  Whatever it is, it should not be less than Spotify’s free service.  Why?  First of all out of fairness to Spotify.  Why should Facebook get a better deal than Spotify?  But mostly out of fairness to us!  Remember–the focus has been on labels having all this supposed leverage over Spotify who will have a hard time registering an IPO (assuming they haven’t already registered a confidential IPO under the JOBS Act).

Well–if Facebook gets let off the hook at a crucial point in the Spotify renegotiations, then why should Spotify take a worse deal than Facebook?  Maybe the leverage shifts the other way and who could blame Spotify (and others) for piling on at that point.

So Don’t Blow It

Why should it always be Tuesday at Facebook?

A Facebook music license portfolio is a golden opportunity to at least start to get out of the shite revenue share world once and for all, a world we were condemned to long ago by the New Media idiotocracy who bargained away the creator’s birthright.  Facebook is stealing recordings, videos, song titles and artist names.  Why should they get a pass without some serious zeros attached to it?

Zeros to the left of the decimal place for once.

The question is–do you want fairness and transparency or a fast buck with a black box?


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