The Values Gap: CD Baby Shows that the Safe Harbor is a Privilege to be Respected and Not an Alibi to be Cheapened

It’s hard to believe that after a good ten years of being called out, YouTube still–still–cannot manage to stop neo-Nazi and white supremacist material from getting posted on its network.  We’ve been calling out YouTube for these inexcusable failures again and again and again.  And yet they keep recycling the safe harbor as an alibi–and they’re doing it again in Europe on Article 13.

I can understand that YouTube doesn’t want to “censor” users and there may be close cases from time to time.  For example, I could understand why YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki might not want to take down videos from Seeking Arrangement that encourages young women into a “sugar daddy” relationship to pay for college and health care.

Sure, one of her Google colleagues was murdered by a woman he met through Seeking Arrangement.  Maybe Seeking Arrangement is a close case, particularly for a company that opposed the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act.

But you know what’s not a close case? It’s right there in the title of the song–“Who Likes a N—“.  You would think that one would get picked up in a simple text filter of debased language.  But it wasn’t ten years ago and it still isn’t.  Not a close case.

And then there’s “Stand Up and Be Counted” by the White Riders.  It’s not that hard to figure out by listening to any of the many versions of this song that it’s a recruiting song for the Klu Klux Klan.  And it’s not that YouTube doesn’t know it–this version of the hate song has clearly been filtered by YouTube–oh, sorry.  Not by YouTube, but by the “YouTube community.”  But why is it that a KKK recruiting song doesn’t violate YouTube’s terms of service if it doesn’t shock Susan Wojcicki’s conscience?

White Riders

Today David Lowery called out YouTube and CD Baby for allowing hate rock to be distributed on their platforms.  Within hours, CD Baby pulled the account.  But not YouTube.

Let’s understand a couple things.  First, this is not hard.  The Anti Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center have actual lists of these bands.  Both Music Tech Policy and The Trichordist have been hammering this issue for years.  Simple word searches could accomplish a large percentage of the task–the N word, KKK recruiting and images of Adolph Hitler are not close cases.

And let’s understand something else.  When users post movies, television shows and recorded music on YouTube, all of those materials have gone through some kind of legal review for standards and practices.  That doesn’t mean there’s no fair use or that there are no parodies.  It does mean that a human has thought about it because free expression is a judgement call.

Free expression is deserving of human examination.  You cannot create a machine that will do this for you.  You cannot rely on crowd sourcing to stop all uses of these vile terms and images–because in every crowd there’s someone who thinks it’s all just fine.  That’s why they’re called mobs.

YouTube, Facebook and all the Article 13 opponents actually are using a complete spectrum of review.  The problem is that they are cost shifting the human review onto artists and to a lesser extent their users for two reasons.  First and foremost is that they hope not to be caught.  That’s what the safe harbor is really all about.  The value gap is just a part of it–the other part is the values gap.  How do these people sleep at night?

But I firmly believe that the real reason that they shift the human cost onto those who can least afford it is because they’re too cheap to pay for it themselves.  They are willing to take the chance because getting caught so far has been a cost of doing business.

The real cost of their business is the corrosive effect that they have on our discourse, our families and our children.  There has to be a way to make YouTube responsible for their choices–and CD Baby showed today that it’s not only possible but necessary.

If YouTube and their paid cronies want to try to convince legislators that they deserve special protection, they need to live up to the standard that CD Baby set today.  And they need to do that before they get any further special treatment.

As we’ve said for years, the safe harbor is a privilege not an alibi.

Press Release: BOLD EUROPEAN VOTE ENDORSING FAIR PAYMENT FOR THE ON-LINE USE OF MUSIC CELEBRATED BY AMERICAN AND CANADIAN MUSIC CREATORS (MCNA)

[Editor Charlie sez:  This is a press release from Music Creators North America about yesterday’s vote in the European Parliament that was a total win for creators and a total loss for the Digital Music Association and its scammy members who backed an astroturf campaign that backfired.]

Music Creators North America, Inc. (MCNA), a US-Canadian music creator alliance representing a global coalition of over half a million songwriters and composers from around the world through its affiliates in the International Council for Music Creators (CIAM), expressed enormous satisfaction over the European Parliament’s visionary vote today in support of the rights of music creators, musical culture, and fair trade economic community.

“This is a crucial step forward for the protection in Europe of therights and interests of North American music creators,” stated MCNA’s cochairs, songwriter Rick Carnes and composer Marvin Dolgay. “It represents a landmark development in one of the world’s most important and influential music markets, and one that we hope will spur rapid implementation in the EU and the adoption of similar legislative action around the world.”

The European Parliament’s members were thanked by the MCNA member groups for their bold vote (438 to 226), unequivocally endorsing the principle of fair online remuneration for creative works. The EU has paved the way for the creative sector finally to be properly rewarded when their works are exploited online. A clear signal has been sent to those powerful digital interests that have, for too long, built enormous wealth upon the unremunerated use of the creative work of others.

In addition, the vote is a resounding commitment to principles of transparency, fairness, equity and affordable access to justice that can improve the professional standing of those whose creative works are entrusted to others for management.

Audiences in Europe may join in celebrating the fact that new mechanisms are now to be put in place that will promote the principle of fair and just reward to creators, and that it will no longer simply be corporations and distributors who are the greatest beneficiaries of the works the citizens enjoy.

MCNA President, Eddie Schwartz, who also serves as CIAM President, said today of the EU Parliament’s vote: “This is a seminal moment in the future of music creators, and indeed all creative people in the EU and around the world. The EU Parliament has clearly shown the way towards not only a new dawn for reinvigorated cultural industries and individual creators, but also the equitable distribution of earnings in the flourishing digital economy. We trust this watershed vote will be endorsed in January 2019. And we hope that future generations will see this as an historic moment, resulting from a newfound solidarity throughout the music creator community and the larger artistic communities as a whole that we shall build upon it in the months and years to come!”

Music Creators North America (MCNA) is an alliance of music creator organizations that represent the rights and interests of composers and songwriters in the United States and Canada. Each of MCNA’s member organizations is run exclusively by and for music creators. As such, MCNA is the pure voice of North American music creators and, through our global alliances, a half-million songwriters and composers across the United States and around the world. Its members include The Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC), The Songwriters Guild of America (SGA), The Society of Composers & Lyricists (SCL), The Council of Music Creators (CMC), and The Screen Composers Guild of Canada (SCGC).

In other news from the Goolag, if you’ve been following the battle over the European Parliament’s passing of the new Copryight Directive, one of the core group of Members of the European Parliament who helped get the legislation passed was the Green Party’s Helga Truepel.  As David Lowery notes in this post on The Trichordist and in many other posts, Big Tech misused political communication tools to spam Members of the European Parliament with the hope of tricking them into thinking that there were actual constitutents who opposed the new Copyright Directive.

Remember that there have been two votes, with yesterday’s victory being the second vote.  Our side lost the first vote following the first astroturf spam campaign.  But–not only did Google get called out about it in The Trichordist, the London Times, FAZ and a bunch of other publications also confirmed David’s research.  Did that stop Google?  Nope.  They did it again in the run up to yesterday’s vote.  As Blake Morgan often says, Goliath never learns.

In a press conference at the European Parliament after yesterday’s vote, MEP Truepel answered a question from a journalist seeking an explanation of why the vote changed so radically–dozens of MEPs actually switched their votes to pass the Directive yesterday.

MEP Truepel said that she thought it was because MEPs were pissed off by the Google-backed astroturf campaign that was so offensively transparent–but not in a good way–that massively backfired on Google.  Of course, not only has it backfired, but Google (and, in fairness, Facebook) was exposed as the prime mover behind the attack, which came right before the European Commission announced yet another multi-billion fine against Google for violating European competition law.

MEP Truepel also announced that she was going to meetings at the Googleplex–aka Spamalot–in the near future to discuss the role of Google in Europe.  Oh, that should just be a bunch of LOLs.

Start at 14:45:10 You HAVE to watch this. When asked why EU Parliament switched from opposing the copyright directive to overwhelmingly supporting it, German MEP Helga Truepel pulls no punches: “I think it’s due to this message spamming campaign. I talked to some of my collegues here [and they] are totally pissed off […]

via “Totally Pissed Off” By Big Tech Spam EU Gives Artists A Copyright Victory — The Trichordist

Networked Propaganda Online activists and lobbyists are using digitally manipulated protests and misinformation to fight a copyright reform in Europe. They know what they are doing. Do Members of the European Parliament know what this is about? A guest commentary. Translated from original German text: http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/debatten/von-lobbiysten-die-das-urheberrecht-bekaempfen-15773233.html “History doesn’t repeat itself, it just writes the bill,” […]

via Networked Propaganda- Guest Post by Stefan Herwig. — The Trichordist

@cmu: As Copyright Directive campaigning starts up again, article thirteen opponents stung by London Times investigation plan to take to the streets

[Editor Charlie sez:  As David Lowery says, democracy dies in botness.  Even Spotify apologists are skeptical of the Google-backed Pirate Party tactics.]

Before attention formally returns to the draft European Copyright Directive next month, the Pirate Party’s representative in the European Parliament – Julia Reda – is hoping to get opponents to the more controversial elements of the proposals out onto the streets.

The copyright reforming directive has been in development for years, of course. For the wider music industry, the focus has been article thirteen, which seeks to increase the liabilities of user-upload platforms like YouTube….

Since the vote, the music industry has been very critical of tactics employed by the tech lobby, and especially big bad Google, in the weeks prior to the vote. Their campaigning, it’s argued, misrepresented what article thirteen is really about. Meanwhile opponents presented themselves as mere concerned internet users – when many were in fact funded by billion dollar tech giants – and used technology to artificially amplify their voice.

David Lowery’s The Trichordist website has run a number of articles exploring these tactics, all of which make for very interesting reading. Meanwhile The Times reported earlier this month how “Google is helping to fund a website that encourages people to spam politicians and newspapers with automated messages backing its policy goals”.

The newspaper put the spotlight on an organisation called OpenMedia, which counts Google as a platinum supporter, and which was also analysed by The Trichordist.

The Times wrote: “The campaigning site is intended to amplify the extent of public support for policies that benefit Silicon Valley”, before confirming that “the tools were recently used to bombard MEPs with phone calls opposing EU proposals to introduce tighter online copyright rules”….

While calling on people to join these protests, [Pirate] Reda has also hit out at the claims that automated tools – like those offered by OpenMedia – were used to make it look like opposition to the copyright directive was much more widespread than it really is.

She recently wrote on her blog: “We haven’t won yet. After their initial shock at losing the vote in July, the proponents of upload filters and the ‘link tax’ have come up with a convenient narrative to downplay the massive public opposition they faced. They’re claiming the protest was all fake, generated by bots and orchestrated by big internet companies”.

She went on: “According to them, Europeans don’t actually care about their freedom of expression. We don’t actually care about EU lawmaking enough to make our voices heard. We will just stand idly by as our internet is restricted to serve corporate interests. People across Europe are ready to prove them wrong: they’re taking the protest to the streets”.  [Nobody said that, the Times and Trichordist just said that there were campaigning tools paid for by Google to create a false impression.]

Read the post on Complete Music Update

Must Read: @WebSchauder: Anatomy of an Assault on Politics

[Appropos of the MTP post: Factiness EU Style: A Dedicated Group of Like Minded People Carpet Bombs The European Parliament (which gave historical context to the latest manipulation of governments by Google), Volker Rieck at WebShauder gives the view from the ground in Europe of how the assault was manipulated.  In a post-Cambridge Analytical world, no one with a brain can believe this was just spontaneous.  Plus, the methods are nearly identical to those we have seen in “protests” going back to 2009 at least and pointing to the Obama Administration’s practices on not basing policy choices on unreplecatable and unreliable casual polling, anonymous email campaigns and social media.]

The battle cries of “upload filter” deployed in opposition to Article 13 of the directive were not much better. Upload filters were not and are still not mentioned in the directive, but the term is eminently suited to stoking fear. And Reda [the sole Pirate Party MEP] did indeed succeed in her efforts to fool some of her supporters into believing that EVERYTHING on the internet will be filtered in the future if the directive is adopted in its current form and that memes – yes, even people’s much-beloved memes – will all be banned.

While this was completely at variance with the actual content of the directive, that appeared to be of merely tangential interest. What the directive proposed was that platforms (and only platforms) would be strongly encouraged to enter into license agreements with rightsholders covering user uploaded content.

Responsibility for taking out licenses would rest with the platforms, and end-users would be completely in the clear. The idea was simply that platforms would have a duty to maintain transparency to ensure correct licensing and the proper distribution of payments made for licenses to rightsholders. Under the directive, operators of a platform which had not concluded a licensing agreement would have been liable for unlicensed content on their platforms. How operators chose to keep their platforms clean would have been up to them. But preventing copyright violations would have come within their remit of responsibility.

And which platform would be most affected by Article 13?

[C]ontent-sharing platforms [are] the real issue here, let us look at one of the most successful ones, YouTube. The directive is interested only in regulating platforms like this, not in open-source platforms or sales platforms.

For years now, YouTube has been using its Content ID system. This system allows rightsholders who submit content to determine what should happen when users view it. The available options span the gamut from monetization (an end user uploads a video with music, for example, and the rightsholder gets a share of any advertising revenue generated) all the way to – please be brave now, Sascha Lobo and Julia Reda – blocking the video. The primary purpose of this system is to prevent third parties from generating revenue with content they have no entitlement to exploit.

But what about the protests?

This brings us nicely to the issue of the rallies against the new directive. A demonstration was held, of course. It took place on 24 June 2018 in Berlin. Rather unfortunately for the protesters, it rained that day; otherwise they would have been able to count the usual hordes of tourists at the Brandenburg Gate among their numbers. Under the circumstances, only those who had turned up to protest were counted, an estimated 150 people. As with an earlier demonstration focused on the ancillary copyright of press publishers, the turnout was so low that there were presumably more press photographers than activists in attendance.

This is of course exactly what we have seen with so many “protests” mobilized by groups like Fight for the Future and the EFF.  Nobody shows up.  That’s why they need the bots.

And here is where the investigation is required.

What came now was the hour of the bots, the automatically generated emails, the automatically placed phone calls and the miraculous multiplication of protest, or rather its simulation….[T]he inboxes of EU parliamentarians were flooded with automatically generated emails. Some EU parliamentarians reported having received 60,000 emails. In total, 6 million emails appear to have been dispatched to EU parliamentarians in this fashion. Compare that number to the handful of protesters in Berlin.

Almost all the emails were identical in content, phrasing and formatting, and many even came from one and the same sender, presumably following the logic that more is better. A very large number of them were sent from the domain Opendata.eu.
This site has no content. It was registered by an English limited company which is in turn a majority holding of a US Inc. that trades in domains and provides services. No civil rights initiative appears to be involved.

Did accepting responsibility for the relentless online bombardment of parliamentarians seem too risky?

The picture was repeated on Twitter, where accounts were flooded with spam, but also threats.

What had happened? Sites such as Saveyourinternet.eu had made tools available that enable this kind of email carpet bombing.  The supporters of this site include an array of internet lobby groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Anyone who believes that the EFF are a grassroots civil rights movement should take a look at this report.

Same stuff, different day.

And this is why, of course, the Google Shillery is on the attack from multiple corners.  The talking points email has already gone out, no doubt.

This is a must read post by Volker Rieck, and should prompt a complete investigation of the attack.  The crimes, if any, were not committed by the handful of real citizens communicating with their government with good intentions.

The crimes were committed, no doubt, by multinational corporations using the well-intentioned as human shields by manipulating the democratic process in Cambridge Anaytica-fashion.  And the one corporation that stands the most to lose is Google and they should be the first ones under the microscope, particularly since they just got socked with another multi-billion dollar fine by the European Commission.

Read the English translation of the post on WebShauder for even more justification.

ERRATA:  Unfortunately, we didn’t correctly attribute the post to Volker Rieck in the initial draft but thanks to a reader we got the correct information and deeply apologize for the oversight.