Five to 10 years ago, independent bloggers used to be able to getby on internet advertising, like the broadsheets of yore. But that changed quite quickly, and for two big reasons: Facebook and Google. They now gobble up the vast majority of internet advertising dollars — about 85 percent, as my colleague Jeff Spross writes — and a great many media outlets have been forced to move to direct subscriptions or other business models.
Google and Facebook manage this because they are platform monopolists. They can exert tremendous influence through their control of how people use the internet — and crush productive businesses in the process. Like any monopoly, it is long since time that the government regulated them to serve the public interest….
The upshot here is that both Google’s overwhelming search dominance and their profitable exploitation thereof are almost wholly unmerited in terms of their actual product. Google is a fine tool, but what defines the company is luck. Its profits come from a largely unearned strategic position within a socially-created communication medium. Devouring a small business that provided Google and the internet writ large with quality research simply to keep people fenced onto their own portion of the internet is just one particularly egregious example how this position can be abused.
The world’s biggest digital advertising company Google is reportedly building an ad-blocker into Chrome – and it’s already attracted the attention of Europe’s most important competition regulator.
The WSJclaimed the functionality could arrive in both desktop and mobile versions of Chrome, although a final decision on deploying the ad-killer has yet to be made.
Why would a company that has made such huge profits from advertising – almost 90 per cent of Google’s $89.4bn revenue last year came from advertising – seek to block users from seeing ads?
It’s all about control.
By maintaining its own “blocker”, Google would seize the initiative from third-party whitelists, and have a greater say in which ads were acceptable. In effect, Google would become the gatekeeper, the arbiter of taste, diminishing the role of Eyeo, which markets Adblock Plus.
Let me be crystal clear: I strongly agree with advertisers and the advertising industry that there are way too many consumer-unfriendly ad formats and automated bad actors running amok on the Web. Legitimate and accountable ad blocking can be a good and necessary solution.
However, as we recently learned from Wall Street Journal, “Google plans to introduce an ad-blocking feature in the mobile and desktop versions of its popular Chrome browser.”
The problems spotlighted in this piece are not with ad blocking, nor with Google participating in legitimate and accountable ad blocking. The problem is first with Google’s hypocrisy, and secondly with Google’s monopolistic behaviors involving Google Chrome, Search, Android, and advertising. Those issues raise legitimacy and accountability questions specific to Google’s ad blocking.
[Editor Charlie sez: And then Google shares the YouTube revenue with terrorists, neo-Nazis and illegal drug purveyors….]
The music business is a tough place for most artists to make money. This struggle was thrown into sharp relief last week when the UK industry revealed that artists earned more from vinyl sales in 2016 than they did from YouTube payments for viewings of music videos.
The BPI, the record labels’ association that promotes British music, says this is the latest example of YouTube exploiting the “value gap” between what it makes from online advertising shown around music videos and what finds its way to the artists’ pockets.
As if to add insult to injury, news of the paltry level of payouts came a day after figures showed that Google, and subsidiary YouTube, took home the lion’s share of the £10bn spent on internet advertising in the UK last year. BPI figures show UK vinyl sales growing for the ninth consecutive year in 2016, to a 25-year high of 3.2m units – driven by Blackstar, the final album by the late David Bowie – and making £41.7m for record labels and artists. By contrast, music video streaming, which is dominated by YouTube, funnelled just £25.5m to the industry.
“YouTube’s holding company [Google] can’t really have a motto ‘Do The Right Thing’ then pay one-seventh of the rates other streaming services pay,” said Allen Kovac, who has managed bands including the Bee Gees, Mötley Crüe and Blondie. “Moreover, Google drives audiences to YouTube, which devalues artists’ music. That’s a win-win for them, but a colossal loser for artists.”
Using forks and knives to eat their bacon
Piggies, written by George Harrison
The well-known royalty deadbeat Vimeo is screwing artists over yet again. This time it’s pre-72 artists whose recordings the deadbeat wants to exploit on a “DMCA license” when the same courts deny justice to those very artists for the performance of their recordings by these very deadbeats.
Remember, the loophole these deadbeats exploit is the lack of federal copyright protection for sound recordings made prior to February 15, 1972, a totally arbitrary date. In 1998 the Congress passed the horrendous DMCA safe harbor that The Man 2.0 lobbied for to allow them to claim they have no knowledge that they are infringing–despite the fact that their entire business is built on stealing other people’s music.
At the same time, the Congress finished up the work it started in 1995 to establish a full-blown royalty system for the performance of sound recordings, paying hundreds of millions to recording artist who were previously ripped off. But–seizing an opportunity to save 30 pieces of silver, Sirius and Pandora fought to keep from paying pre-72 artists because The Turtles sued. While nobody ever thought Sirius cared about anything but money, this is why Pandora’s pro-artist bullshit is bullshit, leading to the musical question, how do you sleep at night?
So are you catching the theme here? The courts protect Big Tech in both cases. First, by allowing them safe harbor protection under the “DMCA license” according to the Supreme Court. Is it any accident that Lessig pal Justice Elena Kagan is on the court?
Second, by protecting them from paying on pre-72 recordings in New York where the Vimeo case was filed.
U.S. courts just want to crush the old guys and dead cats at every opportunity.
The Supreme Court won’t hear an appeal from record companies that want to pursue copyright infringement claims against music site Vimeo for hosting unauthorized recordings from the Beatles, Elvis Presley and other classic artists.
The justices on Monday left in place a federal appeals court ruling that said websites are protected from liability even for older music recorded before 1972.
The U.S. Copyright Office has invited the public to comment on potential reforms of the DMCA “safe harbors” and the incomparable T-Bone Burnett delivered this video version of his insightful comments on DMCA abuse. (See also Billboard article on T-Bone’s comment and my 2006 post on MTP, The DMCA is Not An Alibi.) It is important […]
America consistently outperforms the rest of the world in the sphere of intellectual property.
People throughout the world identify with American art, music, software, and clothing designs, and benefit from American pharmaceuticals and patents.
Yet American intellectual property is routinely stolen. Each year, the United States Trade Representative publishes a report entitled “Special 301 Report” on intellectual property theft—yet does nothing about it.