The 21st Century Marketing Restriction: No licensing for AI

After the money, one of the most important parts of a recording artist negotiation is the “marketing restrictions”.  These are restrictions on what the record company or music publisher can do with your work–what type of licenses they can, or more frequently cannot, grant to third parties, for example.  Essentially, whatever is not prohibited is permitted.

Marketing restrictions also have a temporal element–during or after the term, recouped or not recouped.  There are some restrictions that are acknowledged to be verboten and are usually easy and unrestricted concessions.  An example of these would be licensing for certain types of commercials such as tobacco, firearms, grooming or hygiene products and alcohol.

Stewart Dredge has an excellent article this week in the Guardian which brings to mind Laura Kobylecky‘s post on MusicTechPolicy drawing comparisons between Spotify’s “fake artist” problem and “The Next Rembrandt” with echoes of the fictional  “versificator” operated by Big Brother’s “Music Department” in 1984.  According to Stewart, there are dozens of AI music startups getting funded that all essentially do the same thing.  Using a library of recordings (sometimes called a “corpus”), the algorithms “create” new recordings based on the songs and recordings in the corpus.  Google is, of course, a leader in the space (not that different from how they used Google Books to train their translation algorithm, a process called “corpus machine translation”–the librarians will be next).

Those recordings can then be sold or licensed at a very low price which, as Laura and others have noted, can be used to drive down the royalties payable to all other artists on digital music services.

This is, of course, not dissimilar to Silicon Valley companies hiring lower paid foreign workers and ordering the employees who they are to replace participate in training their replacements.  The difference is, of course, that those recordings have to come from somewhere.

It’s time to start adding to the list of marketing restrictions that the song or recording cannot be licensed for AI purposes of any kind.

@PatrickKulp: Google is building a killswitch that will force the internet to play by its rules

[Editor Charlie sez:  Let’s get it straight people, if you use Google products you are a pawn in a game you’ll never see, Google’s own version of The Truman Show.]

Switch on the ad blocking toggle that appeared this week in Google’s experimental version of Chrome, and nothing will happen.

The feature is out of service at the moment, according to a Google spokesperson, a shell of a tool with which its developers can tinker while the search giant hammers out the operational details through an ad industry trade group.

But what that tiny, empty bit of code actually represents is a looming change agent that could reshape the entire web. It’s a killswitch that Google could throw whenever it so pleases.

Chrome is by far the most popular browser in the world, meaning rational commercial websites have no choice but to play by its rules. The standards it builds into the filter will ripple across the rest of the internet as publishers adjust their ad-buying decisions to accommodate them.

Read the post on Mashable

@davidclowery: Sensenbrenner’s Extreme Moral Hazard: Bill rewards infringers and punishes songwriter victims

The company that claims to organize the worlds information, could not figure out how locate a songwriter named Brian Wilson, he wrote a little song called “Surfer Girl.”   They filed an “address unknown” notice with the US Copyright Office.  Wtf?

Rep. Sensenbrenner has introduced a bill called “The Transparency in Licensing Act.”  We songwriters call it “The Shiv Act.” It’s pure doublespeak. It has nothing to do with “transparency.”  It is clearly designed to stab songwriters in the back while greatly benefitting the largest members of the Mic-Coalition.org. Read more here,here and here.

In case you are not familiar, the Mic-Coalition is an astroturf group made up of mostly tech behemoths and broadcasters.  At last count these companies’ combined market share exceeded 1.5 trillion dollars. The bill purports to support small businesses like the independent brewers represented by The Brewers Alliance, but it does not.  In fact my unscientific sampling of independent brewers seems to indicate 1) Independent Brewers didn’t know they were supporting this bill, 2) are unaware they were even part of the alliance 3)didn’t know they had urgent music licensing concerns requiring legislative fix. (Maybe the DC policy rep for Brewers Association should explain rationale to members?).

This bill seems to have been designed by the Very Large Business Administration (as opposed to the Small Business Administration). The bill is a complete giveaway to the likes of  Google, and ClearChannel. So just normal pay to play government legislation, right? Nothing to see here people, move along.

Read the post on The Trichordist

@musictechpolicy: Controversial Bill On Music Licensing Has Nothing to Do with Small Business

I dreamed up a startling new technique to attempt to divine whether the true purpose of the controversial Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act (or…”TIMLOA”?)  was intended to protect small business as advertised by the MIC Coalition.  I determined that the safe harbors  in the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act (or as it’s been called, The Shiv Act) was actually designed to protect the biggest of big business.

What startling new technique did I utilize?  I read the bill.

What you don’t find in the bill is anything that limits its application to small business.  Is it common in music licensing legislation to find such protections?  Absolutely.   This wasn’t what I expected to find given the braying of the Disco Ducks.  But then you know what they say…

The Fair Play Fair Pay Act, for example, has special protection in great specificity for small business like noncommercial broadcasters, public broadcasters and small broadcasters.

The Performance Rights Act (from the 110th Congress) also had very clear exemptions for small broadcasters.

While as a matter of propaganda it ignores these protections, the Local Radio Freedom Act (aka “The Pay Your Rent With Exposure Bucks Act”) is very clear about protecting a particular class of broadcasters: “local radio.”

Exposure Bucks

Yet none of this protective language appears in the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act.  Why doesn’t the TIMLOA have such limiting language if it’s actually all about protecting small business?  Maybe because it’s not about small business at all?  Maybe it’s about these guys in the MIC Coalition:

mic-coaltion-8-15

Realize some MIC Coalition members are themselves trade associations for companies with combined market capitalizations over $1 trillion.  When you see logos for Digital Media Association, the CEA (now called the Consumer Technology Association) and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (home of the Disco Ducks) these are themselves made up of massive companies like Apple, Amazon, YouTube and of course Google, not to mention Spotify.  True small business can’t afford these lobbyists and PR firms (like the Glen Echo Group) this starts to look like the astroturf plant it really is.

So don’t let them tell you that the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act  is about small business, unless the MIC Coalition would like to include the kind of protective language in their bill that our business has always included to protect the real small business.

 

@davidclowery: Here’s How You Know Mic-Coalition “Shiv Act” Is About Screwing Songwriters Not Transparency — The Trichordist

Yesterday we detailed one of the main problems with the so-called “Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act” or as Artist Rights Watch termed it “The Shiv Act.” The bill would take away from songwriters legal remedies like attorney’s fees and statutory damages. Thus making it virtually impossible for individual songwriters and small […]

via Here’s How You Know Mic-Coalition “Shiv Act” Is About Screwing Songwriters Not Transparency — The Trichordist