Google’s top policy executive [Karan Bhatia] is reorganizing the company’s worldwide influence operation, according to an internal email obtained by Axios.
Why it matters: The long-planned shake-up comes as the search giant faces newly hostile regulators around the world.
The EU has finally settled on the wording of its Digital Single Market copyright reform package, a three-years-in-the-making effort, greeting the agreement with a sizzling rebuke of the “misinformation campaigns” around the measures….
In a press conference today announcing the measures, MEP and Conservative legal affairs spokesman Sajjad Karim said the process had highlighted a disturbing development in the “political culture”.
“The ability of some of the platforms to carry out campaigns [against the legislation] is a good thing,” Karim said. “But the way some of these have been carried out really has been against the grain of how a democratic society should function.”
Individual staff members had been targeted, he said, by “elements that have misled the public about what we’re trying to achieve, and we’re sure will mislead the public as to what we have actually achieved. It strengthens our resolve to make sure we don’t allow European citizens to fall victim to that sort of misinformation.”
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?
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.
[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 […]
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,” […]