Unlike most countries, terrestrial radio in the U.S. is not required to pay a performance royalty on the music it plays, a situation that the creator community has long railed against, and the commercial radio community has long worked to protect. Below, recording artist-actor Common and SoundExchange President/CEO Michael Huppe weigh in on the situation. Variety welcomes responsible commentary — contact firstname.lastname@example.org with submissions.
As Civil Rights icon and actor-singer Paul Robeson once said, “Artists are the gatekeepers of truth. We are civilization’s radical voice.” Artists are society’s moral compass and it is our moral obligation to provide them with fair and just payment for their original creations.
Over more than a decade, Google and foundations run by its leaders have given hundreds of millions of dollars to journalists and news organizations around the world, sponsoring drones in Nigeria and Kenya, and local news in the US. But according to a new report, these grants tend to be made in places where the company faces pressure from politicians, the public, and the press, raising questions about whether the tech giant is committed to social good or buying itself goodwill.
The report, written by researchers at the Campaign for Accountability’s Google Transparency Project, shows a spike in funding in Europe when Google was under pressure in the mid- to late-2010s, and a subsequent uptick in the US amid a backlash that’s led to a Department of Justice investigation and calls for its breakup.
Åsk Wäppling is a warrior in the midst of a legal battle to preserve 20 years of her digital work. Thanks to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the lawyers who misuse it to intimidate everyday citizens, Adland.tv is now offline.
DMCA criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures that control access to copyrighted works (commonly known as digital rights management or DRM). It may have been well-intended when it was written, but in reality, the 1998 law is a bludgeon from another time.
The story of Adland’s takedown is stupid and grossly unfair. I appreciate Åsk, a.k.a. “dabitch” taking time to explain what happened to Adland. As she seeks a legal resolution, I’m inclined to ask what the extremely rich and powerful ad community can do to help her. Also, what can be learned from this case, so it doesn’t continue to happen?
UPDATE: This post originally appeared on 9/24 in MusicTech.Solutions before reading that on 9/23 Wells Fargo initiated coverage of Spotify at “Underperform” with a $115 price target. (The stock touched $115 during the trading day on 9/24). As of this writing, the consensus price target is $159 according to NASDAQ’s Marketbeat. And of course, streaming’s massive consumption of electricity is becoming an issue faster than you can say “data center.”
Analyst Mark Hake has developed three different scenarios for where Spotify’s stock price will be in 2021: $125.68, $61.42 and $38.39. He assigns a $114.89 price based on a probability analysis. About where it is at the close today, in other words. His post in Seeking Alpha (“Spotify Has A Valuation Problem”) is a must read if you’re interested in financial analysis. (I predicted about a year ago the stock would retrace to the $120 to $130 range before dropping below $100 and that it would happen sooner than later.)
As analyst BNK Invest noted after the close last Friday (9/20):
In trading on Friday, shares of Spotify Technology SA (Symbol: SPOT) entered into oversold territory, hitting an RSI reading of 26.8, after changing hands as low as $120.63 per share. By comparison, the current RSI reading of the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) is 56.4. A bullish investor could look at SPOT’s 26.8 RSI reading today as a sign that the recent heavy selling is in the process of exhausting itself, and begin to look for entry point opportunities on the buy side.
This chart is from today’s trading and it reveals a couple interesting patterns–they may mean nothing, but then again they might. It’s not so much that Spotify is now trading about $20 below its self-assigned private company valuation of $135. That’s not a comfortable feeling as it says that investors would have been $20 a share better off if the company had never had its controversial direct public offering (or “DPO”) and just stayed private.
What’s interesting about this chart is not so much the price but rather the volume. Spotify is a very thinly traded stock that typically has relatively low volume. When you see larger volume around the opening and the close of trading it may indicate certain motivations of sellers. Particularly if there are holders of large blocks of shares that want to slip out of their position when nobody is (a) noticing or (b) can do much about it.
Because of the nature and “rules” of the DPO, Spotify doesn’t have the typical underwriting syndicate that helps to keep the price somewhat stable to allow the stock to establish a trading range with support levels. Instead of the underwriters selling to the public, Spotify insiders are selling their shares to the public, which then of course can be resold. In an underwritten public offering, insider shares are usually subject to a “lock up” period where insiders cannot sell their shares for a period of time, say 90 to 180 days after the first public offering.
Spotify had no lock up on insiders. So who has an incentive to sell their shares relatively quickly?
It’s hard to know who is doing the selling unless you’re a transfer agent with access to the master shareholder list, and they probably wouldn’t disclose that information for anyone under certain thresholds. But it is odd and it’s been similar patterns for a week or so.
Portia Sabin and head of Copyright Office Karen Temple do a super informative episode of the best music podcast on copyright registrations and the pending copyright small claims court legislation!
[Google shilleries are shifting into overdrive to attack the copyright small claims legislation–Public Knowledge, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Engine have launched their FUD campaign (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) to create their usual maelstrom of half truths and outright fraud against consumers as directed by their corporate masters from Silicon Valley. The truth doesn’t fit the narrative.]
The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019 (the CASE Act), H.R. 2426 and S. 1273, a bill that would create an optional small claims tribunal within the U.S. Copyright Office, was introduced by Congress in May 2019. Before that, it had been introduced in different forms in prior Congresses as well. Over that time, and especially this year, just about every aspect of the bill has been held under a microscope, poked and prodded and discussed ad nauseum. There has been so much analysis and discussion of the provisions of the CASE Act that it’s hard to believe that there could possibly be some aspect of the bill that has gone unnoticed. But in fact, there is one aspect of the bill that has largely gone undiscussed. It’s time for that to change….
Anti-copyright groups like EFF, Public Knowledge and Engine counter that these protections are essentially ineffective because most of the recipients of takedown notices are individuals who do not have the money to sue in federal court  and because these recipients are often too afraid to file DMCA counter-notices because of the requirement in the DMCA that the counter-notice include a “statement that the subscriber consents to the jurisdiction of Federal District Court for the judicial district in which the address is located.…”  As a result, these groups argue that, despite the statutory protections and defenses afforded to recipients under the DMCA, the DMCA takedown process is being misused because users with meritorious fair use and misrepresentation claims are not able to avail themselves of them.
If only there were a solution for this—perhaps some legislation in Congress that might help address these concerns. In fact, there is and it’s called the CASE Act, a bill that would create an optional small claims tribunal to resolve the following types of claims by both copyright owners and users of copyrighted material…
The new copyright small claims court legislation (The CASE Act) passed the House Judiciary Committee, but not without thuggery from Rep. Zoe Lofgren and the Internet Association. Chris Castle narrates the issues and proposes a solution for Big Tech’s “Senate strategy” that inevitably includes Senator Ron Wyden, the grifter from Oregon and proud father of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Lofgren’s threat comes about 8:27:00 on the YouTube video here.
ACLU takes a gratuitous swipe at the Copyright Office using a Google “study” to allege bias. ACLU Statement on CASE Act
See: ACLU Gets $700,000 from Google Buzz Award musictechpolicy.com/2011/10/31/the-…r-the-company”/
ACLU Helps EFF With DMCA Delaying Tactics musictechpolicy.com/2010/07/07/aclu…laying-tactics/
ACLU Cribs from Google Lobbyists on Pro-Piracy Letter to Congress musictechpolicy.com/2016/05/04/why-…ns-from-google/