@musictechpolicy: Did Zephyr Teachout Quietly Resign from Controversial Lobby Shop? (Update)

[Editor Charlie sez: Update on this June 29 post from MTP–it appears that Zephyr Teachout’s organization Fight for the Future made unsubstantiated claims in a fund raising email puffing up something that may not have happened at all, but certainly doesn’t appear to have happened the way they said.  Remember that Fight for the Future made this statement in an April 6 fund raising email about the curious timing of their campaign against DMCA reform sent while Teachout apparently was on their education fund’s board of directors):

FFTF Email

The Copyright Office has confirmed that (1) the DMCA reform comment page was hosted by regulations.gov so there was no “Copyright Office website”; (2) there were no “Copyright Office website servers”; (3) there was no “crash” (temporary or otherwise) since there were no Copyright Office servers; (4) the Copyright Office received no report from regulations.gov that its cloud based system had “crashed”; and (5) nobody from the Copyright Office “worked with” Fight for the Future to do anything.

There is also an open question of whether bots were used or some sort of batch submission API–batch submissions are evidently not permitted by regulations.gov.  We also reached out to regulations.gov but they are not responsive.

Due to top notch reporting by Casey Seller of the Albany Times Union, artist reaction to Teachout’s involvement with Fight for the Future is now an issue in her election campaign in the NY 19 district that includes Woodstock and the artist-heavy Hudson Valley.]

o-teachout-lessig-facebook
Zephyr Teachout and Lawrence Lessig

Zephyr Teachout faced the voters yesterday in the Democratic Party primary for the 19th Congressional District to replace the retiring Chris Gibson (a former combat veteran bird colonel, Airborne Ranger with the CIB, Purple Heart, and other distinctions).  In a weak start to her general election campaign, she seems to have tried to quietly resigned from a public association with a controversial anti-artist lobby shop rather than face legitimate questions from her artist constituents

Candidate Teachout is definitely fascinated with getting into a powerful position–she challenged NY Governor Andrew Cuomo in his latest winning campaign for governorand got a respectable 30%ish of the vote.  (Teachout outraised her opponent 2:1 according to the most recent disclosures, thanks in part to a corporate donation from George Soros‘s Soros Fund Management.)  A former lobbyist, she’s clearly got her own machine and isn’t worried about his.

While Progressives may be drawn to this former operator of the failed Lessig Super PAC (see Zephyr Teachout takes over Larry Lessig’s PAC), several musicians including Jack DeJohnette and Marc Ribot have publicly asked Candidate Teachout to publicly state her positions on protecting artist rights.

Good news: There are two bills currently pending in the House of Representatives to which Candidate Teachout seeks election that sum this up nicely but that are both opposed by the kind of people who gave money to the Lessig Super PAC she once ran.  If elected, will Candidate Teachout endorse the Songwriter Equity Act and the Fair Play Fair Pay Act should these bills not pass in the current Congress and be reintroduced?

In particular, while being transparent, she could also explain why she was in the vanguard of one of the premier anti-artist operations and why that’s good for NY-19, an area that prides itself on having the highest per capita number of artists than anywhere in the United States.

She’s done neither–but appears to have quietly resigned from her controversial position with Fight for the Future “Education Fund”.

Now why do you suppose that happened and happened that way?

Transparency for Thee But Not for Me

If you’ve followed local politics in the 19th, you’ll know two things: First, Woodstock is in the district.  Remember Woodstock?  The defining musical moment for a generation?  Remember Albert Grossman, Bearsville Studios, Big Pink, Bob Dylan and The Band?  Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble?  All in Woodstock.  In fact, I was able to attend a Ramble when Levon performed even though he was too sick to sing.  Dying on the bandstand is rather emblematic of the credibility problem facing Candidate Teachout.

And nowhere is her problem more highlighted than in her governance position with the Fight for the Future Education Fund.  You may not be aware that Candidate Teachout is–or maybe was–on the board directors of Fight for the Future Education Fund (right next to a self-described Google consultant).

screen-shot-2016-05-12-at-2-58-04-pm

FFTF Board

The lobbying group is backed by the Consumer Electronics Association and the Center for Democracy and Technology, among others, including the usual “dark pool” foundations that appear in my view to potentially launder money for corporations who want to keep up appearances–such as Google.  (Corporation gives to foundation which then gives to lobbying group or “public interest” group that furthers corporations agenda with public messaging–dark pool foundations.)

FFTF CEA

A Cover Up is Coming

So–why would Candidate Teachout not respond to the questions raised by Jack and Lydia DeJohnette in The Trichordist?  The great drummer raises questions that should be of concern to anyone who cares about property rights and the rule of law, not to mention the devastation wrought on artists by the Big Tech interests that Candidate Teachout appears so comfortable with.  (For example, the CEO of Linkedin and Spotify board member Sean Parker gave $1 million and $500,000 respectively to Lessig PAC).

Here are the questions put to Candidate Teachout in the Trichordist:

Four Questions for Zephyr Teachout Candidate US House of Representatives Democratic Primary NY-19

  1. Do you personally support the anti-artist, anti-copyright agenda of Fight For The Future, where you served as Director of the Education Fund? If so, please explain why you hold that position. If not, please explain how your views differ from the messages of that organization.
  1. Do you recognize that mass, online copyright infringement causes direct harm to people like me? As my prospective representative, will you fight for my ability to support myself and my family with my creative work?
  1. You’re running on a message that is very important to democrats – holding corporations accountable and getting big money out of politics.  Can you say without equivocation that Fight For The Future reflects these values?
  2. Do you support Jerrold Nadler’s Fair Play Fair Pay bill, which would bring the US into conformity with the rest of the free industrialized world by paying artists for the commercial, terrestrial radio broadcast of their work (and put tens of millions in foreign royalties now being withheld due to the lack of US reciprocity into the pockets of US working artists)?

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