@KRSFOW: The Future of What Podcast on the Latest Department of Justice Attack on Songwriters

Another outstanding podcast from the Future of What with Kill Rock Stars! President Portia Sabin talking with David Lowery, Chris Castle and NMPA CEO David Israelite about the U.S. Justice Department’s flip flop on 100% licensing.

Find out what “100% licensing” means and what songwriters can do about it, plus a discussion of the implications for international songwriters and the future of reciprocal licensing by PROs outside the US.

Here’s a link to Chris Castle’s Huffington Post article mentioned in the podcast,  The Obama Administration Is Lame Ducking An Unworkable Burden on Songwriters: 4 Reasons Why It’s Bad Law; the MusicTechPolicy timeline on the Obama Administration’s songwriter czar Renata Hesse (mentioned by David Israelite) showing her curious connections to Google and the MIC Coalition: How Google Took Over the Justice Department Antitrust Division: Renata Hesse’s Timeline; BMI’s Premotion Letter to Judge Stanton re Obama Justice Department Ruling on 100% Licensing; and Andrew Orlowski’s post on The Register that ties Google to the “100% licensing” decision Google had Obama’s ear during antitrust probe

Spotify IPO Watch: Blame ≠ Profit — Music Tech Solutions

A combination of factors have gotten Spotify where it is now. Market conditions, bad management, arrogance, stiffing songwriters and getting too big, too fast. Until all those things change to one degree or another, it’s likely that the Spotify IPO myth will remain just that.

via Spotify IPO Watch: Blame ≠ Profit — Music Tech Solutions

FTC Watch Day 2: Texas Car Dealers to Pay $85,000 Civil Penalty, No Action on Google Advertising Fraud

Yep, the FTC is all over those Texas Car Dealers, but still no action on duped advertisers on YouTube.  We just can’t imagine why that is.

Here’s what the always vigilant Obama FTC caught the car dealers doing down in Texas:

According to the FTC, New World Auto Imports Inc., New World Auto Imports of Rockwall Inc. and Hampton Two Auto Corporation concealed sale and lease terms that added significant costs or limited who could qualify for vehicles at advertised prices, in violation of a 2014 order.

In a TV ad, for example, the dealers offered two cars for “under $200 per month,” but in fine print that appeared for two seconds, disclosed that the offer applied only to leases, not sales, and required a $1,999 payment at lease signing. One dealer mailed ads claiming a new car could be purchased for $179 per month, but in print too small to read without magnification, disclosed that $1,999 would be due up front, along with tax, title and license fees, and that $8,271 would be due at the end of a 38-month financing term.

The FTC’s complaint also cited a TV ad targeted at people with major credit problems, such as repossessions or foreclosures. The ad touted vehicles for $250 per month, but in fine print disclosed that the offer was based on a 4.25 annual percentage rate that few, if any, consumers with such major credit issues could obtain. In addition, the FTC alleged that the dealers advertised credit and lease terms without clearly and conspicuously disclosing information required by federal law, and failed to keep records required by the 2014 order.

Just shocking, right?  But it appears that duping advertisers on YouTube…like, oh, the President of the United States…is OK.

campaign-admazda-ad-on-terror-video-close-up

And then there’s Mazda’s ads that monetized videos of Anwar Al Awaki preaching whatever it is he preached.

Pales by comparison to the important work that the FTC is doing ferreting out those Texas car dealers.

We guess the FTC’s lawyers–the Google Justice Department–were too busy screwing songwriters on behalf of the MIC Coalition.

Read the press release–yes, that’s right, the FTC press release–on FTC.gov

IRS Launches Online “Sharing Economy Tax Center”

One major deficiency of the groovier-than-thou folks who run Kickstarter and the other crowd funding platforms is how they punt on tax problems of their users (aside from complying with the Prime Internet Directive–making sure that they get their exorbitant fees while assuming no responsibility for anything).

The Internal Revenue Service has posted a handy dandy “Sharing Economy Tax Center” that covers all the Stuff that Lessig Never Told You.  You may even be able to find out how Uber manages to never pay unemployment insurance for the drivers they intend to lay off in favor or robots, or just when it suits their strong arm tactics most recently displayed in Austin.

You might also ask why the IRS is bothering to post this all in one place–anyone want to bet a tax fraud crackdown is coming soon?

Here’s a little summary:

The IRS encourages taxpayers working in these areas to understand the potential tax issues affecting them. The IRS is providing additional information to help people, and many tax professionals with tax issues and questions related to this emerging area. The tax software industry is also looking at this area, and many software programs can assist when you do your taxes in 2017.

Among the following tax issues that may apply to those participating in the sharing economy:

FTC Watch Day 1: FTC To Participate in Twitter Chat But No Google Prosecution

FTC to Participate in CDC Twitter Chat on Healthy Contact Lens Wear and Care

The Federal Trade Commission will participate in a Twitter chat hosted by the Centers for Disease Control. The chat will include tips about healthy contact lens wear and care habits. The FTC will explain consumers’ rights under the Contact Lens Rule, including the right to get your prescription from your eye doctor – whether you ask for it or not – at no extra charge.

Read the press release on FTC.gov

Will FCC Allow Competition to Google’s & Facebook’s Advertising Monopolies?

Why is the FCC protecting and facilitating online advertising monopolies?

How can the FCC square its “competition, competition, competition” PR mantra with its regulatory plans for applying new anticompetitive privacy rules only on ISPs and not the “edge” online advertising monopolies — Google and Facebook?

Simply as it relates to online advertising, the FCC’s new proposed Title II privacy rules would require ISPs with existing advertising businesses, or those planning to enter, compete, and grow in the online advertising market, to be subject to a new and special, privacy opt-in,consumer-consent framework where they alone in the marketplace would have to secure users’ advanced permission to use a majority of their data for advertising purposes.

That is the exact opposite privacy consent framework under which ISPs have operated for over a decade, and under which all non-ISP online advertisers, including Google and Facebook, have always operated since the Internet’s inception — i.e. under the FTC’s economy-wide, consumer opt-out, privacy-framework that facilitates the standard online advertising model of sharing one’s data in return for free content and services.

Read the post on The Precursor Blog

@hannajkarp: Will Pandora Be Allowed to Create A Spotify-Style Black Box for Songwriters AND Screw pre-72 Artists?

This Wall Street Journal article does not say one word about music publishing so expect that there will be another Spotify-style black box that doesn’t get paid to songwriters because you know–why learn from the past when that slush fund worked so well?

The question is–will anyone try to stop Pandora from launching without licenses.

And given the murky language in Pandora’s licenses about performance rights, will Pandora be the first service to try to take advantage of the DOJ’s absurd position on the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees to launch without PRO licenses?

Pandora is, after all, a MIC Coalition member and the MIC Coalition appears to have been the driving force at DOJ in its ruinous ruling on consent decrees.

Pandora MIC Coalition

Hesse

Here’s a big question: Should foreign societies allow a known infringer and stated enemy of songwriters to take advantage of their blanket licenses?

Pandora is aiming to start expanding its internet-radio service as soon as next month, offering its hallmark free tier as well as two new monthly subscription options that will mark its foray into on-demand music streaming, said people familiar with the matter.

Pandora is close to reaching deals with major record companies that will allow it to do so both in the U.S. and in new overseas markets, though the agreements haven’t been finalized, these people said.

While the music industry broadly supports the new paid tiers, some record-label executives are still wary of granting Pandora permission to launch its free service in new foreign markets without the ability to control which songs they put on the free tier.

Until now, the 16-year-old outfit hasn’t had to secure permission from record labels to use their music because it doesn’t let users listen to particular tunes on demand. It also had limited its service to the U.S., Australia and New Zealand—the few countries that make music licensing essentially automatic for internet-radio firms, as long as they pay rates mandated by federal judges or licensing collectives.

Pandora plans to roll out its new subscription tiers in the U.S. and then in other English-speaking countries before launching elsewhere, these people said.

The foreign expansion could jump-start growth for Pandora, which has seen its listenership plateau in recent years at about 80 million active monthly users. Most listeners use Pandora’s free tier, with about 4 million subscribing to an ad-free version of its service, Pandora One, for $5 a month.

Neither of Pandora’s current offerings allows users to select specific songs to listen to; instead users pick a custom “station” that includes music similar to their initial choice.

The slowdown in user growth has rattled investors. Shares, which were trading around $20 last fall, fell 35% in November when the company announced a dip in listenership from the prior quarter, and haven’t recovered much since. Shares closed at $13.35 on Friday in New York. A $90 million settlement Pandora paid late last year to the record labels involving its use of music recorded before 1972 also sent the stock down.

Read the story in the Wall Street Journal.

This is What Monopoly Looks Like: Google Opponent @AGJimHood Gets Sued By Google, Then by Lame Duck Obama DOJ

Remember when Mississippi’s popular Attorney General Jim Hood got sued by Google for having the temerity to try to enforce his state’s laws against an out of state corporation’s violations of the Google Drugs settlement when the Google Justice Department failed to act?

And not only did the Google Justice Department fail to act, the Attorney General of the United States apologized to Google and “muzzled” the only U.S. Attorney with the balls to go after Google.

So in the waning days of the Obama Administration, it shouldn’t be surprising that the Mountain View Mafia is taking care of the family business while they still control the levers of power.

Yes, General Hood just got his payback:   After years of trying to negotiate with the Google Justice Department, the State of Mississippi just got sued by the Google Justice Department–the awesome power of the one plaintiff in the U.S. that actually prints money to pay its legal bills.

This press release from General Hood tries to make lemonade out of lemons, but it’s pretty obvious–as the only Democrat holding elected office in Mississippi, party loyalty goes right out the window if you cross Google.

Attorney General Jim Hood Calls for Collaborative Effort in Continuing to Improve State Mental Health Services

A lawsuit filed today by the U.S. Department of Justice against the state of Mississippi provides the most meaningful opportunity yet for leaders to work together to continue to improve the state’s mental health system, Attorney General Jim Hood said today.

The federal government alleges that the state has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by housing mentally ill individuals in institutions rather than community settings. The Department of Justice has filed similar lawsuits in about a dozen states alleging violations of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision.

“This lawsuit is a clarion call to all of us in state leadership to consider how we care for the least among us and how we can make it better,” Attorney General Hood said. “I see this litigation as a challenge to our Legislature to find the resources we need to continue to expand mental health services. This is a clear opportunity for our Legislature, mental health professionals, our faith-based community and all of us as Mississippians to come together to determine an effective way to address issues related to our mental health delivery system for years to come. It’s our obligation as Christians and people of faith to take care of those who are unable to take care of themselves. It’s time for each of us to move forward to better fulfill that fundamental responsibility.

“The state has made great progress in expanding community mental health programs, and we will continue to push for expansion. We have come a long way, but further work remains to be done.”

Attorney General Hood said his office has been negotiating with DOJ for several years in an effort to avoid litigation, which is expected to be a considerable cost to the state at a time when tax cuts have caused significant budget problems. However, the Attorney General refused to accept the federal government’s demands for a court-ordered consent decree that would bind the state to perpetual federal oversight.

Attorney General Hood had also hoped that good-faith efforts to address the state’s mental health needs might allay the federal government’s concerns. Thus, the Attorney General has encouraged lawmakers for years to allocate additional resources to the Department of Mental Health. The Legislature did provide some extra funding in previous sessions, but this year actually cut the Department’s budget by $8.3 million. Since 2008, the Department has been forced to eliminate approximately 500 mental health beds, in addition to 34 beds in 2016 because of the Legislature’s budget cuts and its refusal to provide additional money for mental health programs.

“Not only did the Department of Mental Health take a substantial budget hit, the Legislature did not agree to a request for more than $12 million for community mental health programs,” Attorney General Hood said. “That would have helped us continue our expansion of community-based mental health services and kept us moving in the right direction, as we’ve consistently been doing already.”

AG Jim Hood Press Release
8/11/16