@dmccabe: Senator @markwarner exploring portable benefits for gig economy workers

There is a drinking game in Austin–how many times can Uber advertising for jobs at Uber avoid using the word “employer” when describing what is clearly a job at Uber and one for which the multinational non employer employer should be treated like every other employer?  (Example:  “side hustle” or “earning opportunity” gets you a Shiner every time.)

Sen. Mark Warner is hoping to push the federal government to tackle the difficult questions about how companies like Uber and Lyft are changing the nature of work — and, more specifically, the nature of benefits.

At issue: Many benefits are traditionally tied to your full-time employer. But with the rise of on-demand economy companies that rely on contractors, a growing share of the workforce is going to miss out on benefits like health insurance and retirement savings plans.

Read the post on Axios


@hitsdd: In Other News, Today is Wednesday

For 27 years, President Karen Glauber has been an integral member of the HITS team and part of our family—and her writing has been key to our collective voice ever since she came aboard. A leader in the music community, Karen has taught us a lot about gender politics in the industry. In light of recent events at Epic, we wanted to share her perspective. – Lavinthal and Beer

A white pantsuit is the first thing I see in my closet every morning—it’s a glaring reminder of how naïve I was to believe that gender bias couldn’t possibly be the deterrent it once was, and that the most qualified candidate, a woman, would be elected President. Ever since last November, not much surprises me.

When I heard about L.A. Reid’s dismissal from EpicRecords, I mentally added the subtext “for cause” in the cryptic notice from Sony: “L.A. Reid will be leaving the company.” But I’ll admit I was surprised.

Read the post on HITS


“My report about the ‘Value of YouTube to the Music Industry’ would be really brief because I can summarize the benefit of YouTube to artists in a word: none,” says Irving Azoff, responding to a controversial U.K. study that has been the subject of much ink since its debut earlier this month. Azoff disputes numerous claims in the paper, prepared for YouTube parent Google by consultancy RBB Economics.

“They say without YouTube, users would look for sites that paid even less for music,” Azoff adds. “I say good luck finding services that benefit so greatly from music and pay so little. Google’s Alphabet has a market cap of $660 billion, and YouTube itself is worth somewhere north of $90 billion—a value it acquired, in large part, on the backs of music artists. But they’d rather spend their money on dishonest studies to justify their measly payments than offer creators what they deserve for the use of their work.”

Read the post on HITS

@bizboyle: Wal-Mart’s Online Sales Soar as Retail Giant Pursues Amazon

At least someone is fighting back against the data lords and the royalty deadbeat Amazon…

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. gained momentum in its fight against Amazon.com Inc., with its online sales growing at the fastest clip in at least five years.

The e-commerce business saw gross merchandise volume — a measure of all the goods it sells online — soar 69 percent in the first quarter, Wal-Mart said on Thursday. Total revenue climbed 1.4 percent to $117.5 billion.

The results signal that Wal-Mart is getting a payoff from an ambitious online expansion, which included last year’s $3.3 billion acquisition of Jet.com Inc. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company now boasts 50 million items on its website, up from 35 million the previous quarter.

“All of a sudden, Wal-Mart is the primary competitor to Amazon, as opposed to a fragmented cluster of people,” said Greg Portell, a partner at consulting firm A.T. Kearney.

Read the post on Bloomberg

@illusionofmore: Solicitor General Says No Cert [Supreme Court Appeal] for “Dancing Baby” Case

After ten years and what must be thousands of attorney hours, the “Dancing Baby” case may have to do an about-face at the steps of the Supreme Court and, get this, actually go to trial. On May 5, the Solicitor General filed its brief recommending that SOCTUS deny a writ of certiorari in Lenz v. UMG, finding no basis for this Court to address the following question:

Whether a copyright owner may be held liable under Section 512(f) [of the DMCA] for sending a notification of claimed infringement based on a sincere but unreasonable belief that the challenged material is infringing.

At this point, the artist whose work was at the center of this case has been lost to the world (about this time last year); the baby is now a tween; and the case remains a hypocrisy-rich boondoggle, from its overall justification, to the particulars of the argument that the EFF has pursued, to the unavoidable misperception by some of the public that Prince personally bullied a fan.

Regarding the underlying rationale for Lenz, in the decade since it began (and not as a DMCA case by the way), no party has presented any solid evidence that rampant abuse of the DMCA takedown provision even exists. Yet, this has been the rationale and lead talking point riding on Prince’s purple coattails, trading on his fame to spotlight an incident that makes a poor example of actual abuse. Of course, the better examples don’t involve pop stars, cute babies, or major music labels.

The central hypocrisy in Lenz, other than the decade-long fishing expedition, which I tried to summarize in this post, is that the EFF has gone to great lengths to argue that a rights holder should be held to a very high standard of “knowledge” while the organization conversely advocates that no platform owner or ISP can ever know about infringement, or much of anything else, that occurs via their services. In simple terms, the EFF asserts that if defendant UMG did not conduct a fair use analysis of the “dancing baby” video, that this fault alone meets the statutory definition of “knowing misrepresentation,” which is a much stricter standard than general error.

Read the post on Illusion of More