@buzzfeedben: There’s Blood In The Water In Silicon Valley

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Before you think it can’t happen to Google or Facebook, remember–if you told a room full of MBAs in 1984 that in a few years time Drexel Burnham Lambert would be bankrupt and Michael Milken would be in prison, you would have been laughed out of the room.  And also remember–they almost got Google on violations of the Controlled Substances Act.  If you’re concerned, call your representatives at (202) 224-3121 and tell them you want an investigation into Google and its price fixing cartel the MIC Coalition.

The blinding rise of Donald Trump over the past year has masked another major trend in American politics: the palpable, and perhaps permanent, turn against the tech industry. The new corporate leviathans that used to be seen as bright new avatars of American innovation are increasingly portrayed as sinister new centers of unaccountable power, a transformation likely to have major consequences for the industry and for American politics.

That turn has accelerated in recent days: Steve Bannon and Bernie Sanders both want big tech treated as, in Bannon’s words in Hong Kong this week, “public utilities.” Tucker Carlson and Franklin Foer have found common ground. Even the group No Labels, an exquisitely poll-tested effort to create a safe new center, is on board. Rupert Murdoch, never shy to use his media power to advance his commercial interests, is hard at work.

“Anti-trust is back,

baby,” Yelp’s policy chief, Luther Lowe, DM’d me after Fox News gave him several minutes to make the antitrust case against Yelp’s giant rival Google to its audience of millions….

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So Facebook should probably ease out of the business of bland background statements and awkward photo ops, and start worrying about congressional testimony. Amazon, whose market power doesn’t fall into the categories envisioned by pre-internet antitrust law, is developing a bipartisan lobby that wants to break it up. Google’s public affairs efforts are starting to look a bit like the oil industry’s. These are the existential collisions with political power that can shake and redefine industries and their leaders, not the nickel-and-dime regulatory games Silicon Valley has played to date.

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Uncle Sugar and some witnesses

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The Shopkeeper–a must see movie for the artist rights movement

 

He’s worked with Carole King, Ani DiFranco, and a host of great Texas artists — but can music producer Mark Hallman keep his studio open in the age of streaming?

Everybody is talking about Spotify and the pros and cons of “free.” Musician and first-time filmmaker Rain Perry confronts a big issue by telling a small story – of the longest continuously operating recording studio in Austin, Texas, and the shopkeeper who runs it, Mark Hallman.

After recording Carole King, Ani DiFranco and many great Austin artists, Mark is struggling to keep the studio open in the era of streaming. Funny, sweet and insightful, with great music and interviews, The Shopkeeper captures the joy, resolute spirit and frustration of musicians today.

Starring:

Ani DiFranco
Charlie Faye
Colin Gilmore
Eliza Gilkyson
Johnny Goudie
Jon Dee Graham
Mark Hallman
Noell Hampton
Sara Hickman
Iain Matthews
Tom Russell
Will Sexton
and many more

If you’re not aware of this indie film about producer Mark Hallman and his Congress House Studios, you really should check it out.  Rain Perry tells the story that we all know from the point of view of a great craftsman. You can rent or buy the picture directly from the film maker here.

 

The Government’s Music Database: What Would Monk Do?

There is a fundamental difference between people with experience in the vagaries of copyright chain of title research and those who want their data served up in nice neat–very, very neat–packages.  So neat that you could eat your lunch off of those packages–one pea at a time arranged in a straight line, preferably.

Those who do not step on cracks have an especially difficult time understanding that song data is a dynamic process best left to the people who…well, who don’t mind the cracks.

Explaining this to our friends in the tech community is kind of like explaining the interpretation of a blood test to…well, to Monk.

The “Harvey Exception” to Formalities Required by HR 3350 the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act

The last time an orphan works bill surfaced in the House of Representatives was a couple months before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.  A number of artists attending a Small Business Administration roundtable in New York on the orphan works legislation at the time proposed a “Katrina exception” to the bill for artists of all copyright categories who had lost their records in a natural disaster.  Katrina was on everyone’s mind at the time, but the concept applies to all natural disasters.

The controversial “Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act” (HR 3350) being carried by Corpus Christi Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi TX) among others may not be called an orphan works bill, but because of the Draconian formalities it imposes on songwriters and recording artists it may as well be.  (The Dickensian bill has already been panned by Billboard and NPR, among others–the only ones cheering are the anti-artist lobbying behemoth the MIC Coalition and its multi-trillion dollar members.)  Unless songwriters and recording artists can each come up with all the many fields of information required by the legislation among other formalities (and have the ability to prove it) then these creators lose their rights to statutory damages and attorneys fees under the Copyright Act.

Plus, you will notice an eerie resemblance to prior orphan works legislation in HR 3350 in removing statutory damages from the penalties that creators can seek against infringers.  In fact, HR 3350 goes even farther–the bill disregards prior registrations with the Copyright Office and requires that everyone who previously filed a copyright registration (that’s right–everyone who ever filed one going back to 1909) has to re-register in HR 3350’s new database.  Failing to do so essentially orphans the work and the penalties then are not that different than the actual orphan works legislation–that failed miserably when introduced in prior Congresses.

And since the federal government seems much more interested in taking away private rights of creators rather than taking on enforcing the Copyright Act against companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon–without regard to whether doing so violates Constitutionally protected property rights, not to mention international treaties–it should come as no surprise that they haven’t taken into account what happens to songwriters and recording artists in a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey.  When all your back up papers are washed away or turned to melted paper, when your computers are all destroyed by flood waters and your recordings are lost, what are you supposed to do against MIC Coalition members taking advantage of HR 3350?

That’s an easy answer–you submit to the triumph of the connected class.

So if anyone is taking this bill seriously, the “Katrina exception” needs to be taken seriously as well.  You would think that Congressman Farenthold would be leading the charge on this issue since he represents Corpus Christi, Rockport, Port A–or ground zero for Hurricane Harvey.

 

 

 

@artistrightsnow: Content Creators Coalition Calls For Congressional Investigation Into Google’s Distorting Public Policy Debates

The Content Creators Coalition (c3) released the following statement reacting to the bombshell New York Times report of Google-forced censorship at New America Foundation:

“Google’s efforts to monopolize civil society in support of the company’s balance-sheet-driven agenda is as dangerous as it is wrong.

“For years, we have watched as Google used its monopoly powers to hurt artists and music creators while profiting off stolen content. For years, we have warned about Google’s actions that stifle the views of anyone who disagrees with its business practices, while claiming to champion free speech.

“Barry Lynn’s Open Markets initiative bravely raised important questions about the growing power Google has in our society.

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SoundExchange Reaches Out to Help Texas Flood Victims

Press Release

For SoundExchange members based in Houston and throughout the Gulf Coast, SoundExchange wants to make sure you receive your royalties in this time of tragedy.

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SoundExchange’s Senior Director of Artist and Industry Relations Linda Bloss-Baum sent the Texas Music Office a statement today that reads:

“Our next royalty distribution will be made in late September.  If you currently receive your SoundExchange royalties via physical checks, you can update your account so we can send you your royalties via Direct Deposit. We hope this makes it easier for you to access your royalties at this difficult time. To update your account, please complete our Direct Deposit form.

“We will also need either a voided check OR a bank authorization letter. If you use a bank authorization letter, the bank authorization letter should be on bank letterhead with your account information (routing number and account number). It should indicate the name on the account, and be signed by a bank official.

“We have a dedicated member of our industry relations team standing by to expedite getting our artists and rights holders set up to receive their royalties via direct deposit.  Please send the form and support document to tiarap@soundexchange.com and we will rush to get it processed for you.”