@musictechpolicy:Google Targeting Judiciary Ranking Member Position as Conyers Steps Down

Who can forget Zoe Lofgren, the Member from San Mateo (aka Google) who is currently the #3 most senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee?  You may remember Ms. Lofgren’s scorched earth campaign against Maria Pallante, the former head of the Copyright Office who I think was the subject of a retaliatory termination by the Librarian of Congress.  Lofgren’s campaign went absolutely nowhere and has been on the side of monopoly power emanating from Silicon Valley her entire career.  Which company does she favor with unwavering loyalty?

You guessed it–the Leviathan of Mountain View, the multibillion dollar multinational monopolist, Lessig’s long-time benefactor and funder of a host of NGOs–Google.  Google wants control of the House Judiciary Committee through their influence over Lofgren.

The current Ranking Member is Rep. John Conyers who has resigned his position as Ranking Member after harassment allegations and some allegations of misuse of funds to settle sexual harassment claims (which are coincidentally also surfacing or resurfacing about top Google executives like Andy Rubin, Larry Page, Sergey Brin and, of course, the notorious “serial womanizer” Eric “Uncle Sugar” Schmidt).  This leaves the Ranking Member seat open, although Rep. Jerry Nader is next in line in seniority, you know, like “Ranking Member” implies.  Rep. Nadler has long been a staunch ally of the little guy, especially our legacy artists on pre-72 recordings that Google made it their mission to screw over through their price fixing cartel and Lofgren pals, the MIC Coalition.

MIC Coaltion 8-15
Google’s MIC Coalition

This is nothing new, of course, as Lofgren has been measuring the curtains for a long time, way before the Conyers story came out.  Lofgren didn’t make any friends in her attacks on Maria Pallante after the House overcame the Google smear operation that Lofgren led in the House and voted 378-48 in favor of taking away the Librarian of Congress’s power to appoint the next Register.  (Even so, Google has been effective in stalling the Senate version of the bill despite Lofgren’s lopsided loss).

For recent historical reasons, the position of Ranking Member is not automatically filled by the most senior member of the applicable party.   That position now requires a vote of the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, which Nadler will surely win when his acting position comes for a vote by his colleagues–but–the Member from Google reminded members of her caucus that she wanted the gig real bad in a November 29 letter:

“Whenever an official vacancy at the top Democratic position of the Judiciary Committee may occur in accordance with Caucus Rules, I will put my credentials forward for my colleagues’ consideration.

I am confident that, as a 23-year veteran of the Committee with nearly 9 years of prior staff service, I fully meet all the criteria for the position as outlined in Caucus Rule 21.  That rule states that, in selecting a successor to a Ranking Member vacancy, the Democratic Caucus ‘shall consider all relevant factors, including merit, length of service on the committee and degree of commitment to the Democratic agenda, and the diversity of the Caucus,’ and that the top Committee position “need not necessarily follow seniority.”

But Ryan Grim and Lee Fang writing in the Intercept crystalize Lofgren’s problem:

Had Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., then well into his 80s, retired from Congress, Lofgren would have been well-positioned to claim the top-ranking seat on the Judiciary Committee. Yet he ran for re-election. Again. And again. And again.

He stayed so long that Lofgren’s brand of Silicon Valley politics is now past its expiration date, her once virtuous alliance with the forces of progress and innovation curdling into a protection racket for increasingly unpopular monopolies.

Conyers on Sunday announced he is stepping down as the top-ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, launching a battle for his successor that has pitted two Democratic rivals — Lofgren and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. — against each other. On the one hand, his resignation comes in a politically fortuitous way for Lofgren, with Conyers felled not by age but by allegations of sexual harassment. The political logic of replacing him with a woman is obvious. But then there’s Google.

The race for committee chair threatens to become the first fight over monopoly politics after the rollout of House Democrats’ “Better Deal” platform for 2018, which was built on going after concentrated power, particularly in the tech sector. Elected to Congress in 1994, Lofgren represents San Jose and the Bay Area, and is far and away the most stalwart defender of big Silicon Valley firms among House Democrats.

“It certainly may raise questions to have someone from Silicon Valley in a position where one of the key responsibilities is to oversee the conduct of Silicon Valley,” said Jonathan Kanter, a prominent antitrust attorney.

The problem that The Intercept put their finger on is that very few–and I mean very, very few–in the Congressional leadership believes that the whole SOPA dustup was for real and was instead one of the worst cases of astroturf ever perpetrated against a legislative body and its shell shocked staff.  Lofgren associated herself with that assault and has been heard to bring it up as a threat that sounds more hollow by the day.

What we have to realize though is that even if Rep. Nadler–who is one of the truest blue progressives in the Congress–gets the Ranking Member position, in my view Lofgren clearly has her marching orders and will not stop until she’s told to stand down.  Her supporters clearly have a lot of cash to hand out and are feeling the consequences of the election which severely curtailed their influence in the Executive Branch.  And one of the ways that members get influence is not only raising money for themselves, but having the ability to raise money for other members or their party.

 

@musictechpolicy: Holding The Line On Statutory Damage Tradeoffs

It is very likely that we will hear about a move to make significant amendments to the Copyright Act at some point before the beginning of campaign season in 2018.  There are a high number of copyright-related bills that have been introduced in the House of Representatives in the current session, so brace yourself for an “omnibus” copyright bill that would try to cobble them all together Frankenstein-style.

A Frankenstein omnibus bill would be a very bad idea in my view and will inevitably lead to horse trading of fake issues against a false deadline.  Omnibus bills are a bad idea for songwriters and artists, particularly independent songwriters and artists, because omnibus bills tend to bring together Corporate America in attack formation.

Read the post on Hypebot

@perstrombeck: Having a Bubble Bath or Why the “Buried” Piracy Report Got It All Backwards

[Editor Charlie sez:  Maybe the report was buried because it was an expensive embarrassment, results oriented, left out important data and was policy laundering?  And why was it only just discovered now that the European Commission fined Google $2.7 billion?  Here’s a tip–if something seems like bullshit, it probably is.]

Conventional wisdom says if you pour cold water into a hot bath, the temperature of the bath water will fall. New research, however, challenges this outdated view. That’s right: I was having a nice, hot bubble bath and decided to do a scientific experiment. So I opened the cold water tap and let it run into the tub. After ten minutes, I measured the temperature and again after fifteen minutes. To my surprise, the temperature was the same both times! It felt strange, because I was freezing, but you can’t argue with research. My experiment shows that pouring cold water into a hot tub does not decrease the water temperature. I thought about writing a 300-page report about it, but the government would only bury it.

You guessed it, I’m not really talking about bathing but the supposedly buried report that says piracy does not hurt legal sales. This idea is one of the pirates’ favourite daydreams. The recently leaked report adds to the daydreaming. I read the 307 pages so you wouldn’t have to. The mistake is on page 74. The claims go against established research, empirical evidence and common sense. The reason for the misleading conclusion is method problems (intentional or not, your guess is as good as mine).

Read the post on Netopia

Content Creators Coalition (c3) Warns Congress About Artist And Songwriter Opposition To “Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act”

PRESS RELEASE 

September 22nd, 2017

Content Creators Coalition (c3) Warns Congress About Artist And Songwriter Opposition To “Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act”

Washington, D.C. – The Content Creators Coalition (c3) today sent the following letter to the leaders of the House Judiciary Committee warning that consideration of H.R. 3350, the so called “Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act,” would spark a backlash in the artist community and could derail the Committee’s work to create a consensus copyright reform legislation:

The Honorable Bob Goodlatte, Chairman
The Honorable John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member
House Committee on the Judiciary
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers:

As an artist and songwriter-run advocacy organization, we write to express our strong opposition to H.R. 3350, the “Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act.”  Recognizing the importance of this issue to our constituents, this letter is signed by every member of our Executive Board.

The Content Creators’ Coalition (c3) strongly supports the Committee’s continual efforts to find consensus around broader copyright reform and to ensure that music licensing is more transparent, particularly to third party beneficiaries of recording contracts.  There is little dispute among stakeholders that music licensing, in particular the licensing of musical works, is needlessly opaque.  Publishers and record labels agree on this point, as do songwriters, performers and musicians, as well as music servicers and businesses who use music and musical works.  There is clearly an opportunity for the Committee to find consensus on these issues.

However, H.R. 3350 does not further efforts to reach consensus – instead, it represents a one-sided approach that would fail to simplify music licensing.  We are deeply concerned about the bill’s onerous registration system and financial penalty (forfeiture of statutory damages and attorneys’ fees) for songwriters or publishers who fail to register their works in a new database, created and run by the government.

As a matter of principle, an intellectual property right, like any other property right, should not be subject to forfeiture and the law should help creators understand and protect their rights – not create obstacles courses for them to navigate on pain of losing control over their creative work.  This bill, by contrast, actually incentivizes the appropriation of creators’ work based on technical or other often innocent shortcomings, removing key deterrents that should discourage music services from doing so.

The record keeping mandates in the bill are voluminous and incredibly vague. Terms like “catalog number” are undefined and could mean a number of things. Other requirements are intricate, time consuming and in many cases, appear impossible to satisfy.  How is an artist supposed to register every album on which one of her songs has been recorded, including recordings by other artists they may not even know about?  If these requirements are time consuming and uncertain for successful and well-known songwriters and publishers, they will be impossible for independent songwriters.

Most importantly, the bill also thwarts the Committee’s to create a consensus copyright reform legislation. Both the “Fair Play Fair Pay Act,” creating a terrestrial performance right in the United States, and the “CLASSICS Act,” have support from music creators and digital service providers.  While we respect the long standing and good faith efforts of Chairman Sensenbrenner to address these issues, H.R. 3350 only enjoys the support of businesses that use music and is so lopsided it would be a toxic “poison pill” in any copyright reform legislation effort.

We urge the Committee to reject H.R. 3350 and to press ahead at full speed with more genuine music licensing reform.  Thank you for considering our views.

Melvin Gibbs, President

John McCrea, Vice President

Tommy Manzi, Treasurer

Rosanne Cash

Tift Merritt

Matthew Montfort

Jeffrey Boxer, Executive Director

 

cc: The Honorable Daryl Issa
The Honorable Jerrold Nadler

@buzzfeedben: There’s Blood In The Water In Silicon Valley

27gillibrand_span

Before you think it can’t happen to Google or Facebook, remember–if you told a room full of MBAs in 1984 that in a few years time Drexel Burnham Lambert would be bankrupt and Michael Milken would be in prison, you would have been laughed out of the room.  And also remember–they almost got Google on violations of the Controlled Substances Act.  If you’re concerned, call your representatives at (202) 224-3121 and tell them you want an investigation into Google and its price fixing cartel the MIC Coalition.

The blinding rise of Donald Trump over the past year has masked another major trend in American politics: the palpable, and perhaps permanent, turn against the tech industry. The new corporate leviathans that used to be seen as bright new avatars of American innovation are increasingly portrayed as sinister new centers of unaccountable power, a transformation likely to have major consequences for the industry and for American politics.

That turn has accelerated in recent days: Steve Bannon and Bernie Sanders both want big tech treated as, in Bannon’s words in Hong Kong this week, “public utilities.” Tucker Carlson and Franklin Foer have found common ground. Even the group No Labels, an exquisitely poll-tested effort to create a safe new center, is on board. Rupert Murdoch, never shy to use his media power to advance his commercial interests, is hard at work.

“Anti-trust is back,

baby,” Yelp’s policy chief, Luther Lowe, DM’d me after Fox News gave him several minutes to make the antitrust case against Yelp’s giant rival Google to its audience of millions….

mike252520milken

So Facebook should probably ease out of the business of bland background statements and awkward photo ops, and start worrying about congressional testimony. Amazon, whose market power doesn’t fall into the categories envisioned by pre-internet antitrust law, is developing a bipartisan lobby that wants to break it up. Google’s public affairs efforts are starting to look a bit like the oil industry’s. These are the existential collisions with political power that can shake and redefine industries and their leaders, not the nickel-and-dime regulatory games Silicon Valley has played to date.

eric-and-friends
Uncle Sugar and some witnesses

Read the post on Buzzfeed

@FranklinFoer: How Silicon Valley is erasing your individuality

[Editor Charlie sez:  Remember that most of these companies are in the MIC Coalition cartel that is colluding to destroy songwriters, and royalty deadbeat Facebook refuses to license at all.]

Until recently, it was easy to define our most widely known corporations. Any third-grader could describe their essence. Exxon sells gas; McDonald’s makes hamburgers; Walmart is a place to buy stuff. This is no longer so. Today’s ascendant monopolies aspire to encompass all of existence. Google derives from googol, a number (1 followed by 100 zeros) that mathematicians use as shorthand for unimaginably large quantities. Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google with the mission of organizing all knowledge, but that proved too narrow. They now aim to build driverless cars, manufacture phones and conquer death. Amazon, which once called itself “the everything store,” now produces television shows, owns Whole Foods and powers the cloud. The architect of this firm, Jeff Bezos, even owns this newspaper.

Along with Facebook, Microsoft and Apple, these companies are in a race to become our “personal assistant.” They want to wake us in the morning, have their artificial intelligence software guide us through our days and never quite leave our sides. They aspire to become the repository for precious and private items, our calendars and contacts, our photos and documents. They intend for us to turn unthinkingly to them for information and entertainment while they catalogue our intentions and aversions. Google Glass and the Apple Watch prefigure the day when these companies implant their artificial intelligence in our bodies. Brin has mused, “Perhaps in the future, we can attach a little version of Google that you just plug into your brain.”

More than any previous coterie of corporations, the tech monopolies aspire to mold humanity into their desired image of it.

Read the post on The Washington Post

@theguardian: The Guardian view on Google: overweening power

When Google received a record $2.7bn fine from the European Union in June for abusing its search engine monopoly to promote its shopping search service, a relatively minor member of an American thinktank, the New America Foundation, posted a short statement praising the regulator, and calling on the US to follow suit.

The New America Foundation is intimately intertwined with the search firm. It has received more than $20m over its lifetime from Google and related companies and individuals. So when Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, expressed his displeasure over the statement, the foundation moved quickly. The tussle that followed ended up with its author, Barry Lynn, departing the group, along with his entire team at the Open Markets programme.

To be clear: neither Google, nor Mr Schmidt, told New America to fire Mr Lynn or his colleagues. They did not have to.

Similarly, Google doesn’t have to ask the researchers whom it funds to write about public policy to turn in favourable articles. But it has funded, directly or indirectly, 329 such papers since 2005, according to the US-based Campaign for Accountability. More than a quarter of those funded directly by Google didn’t disclose the source of their money, according to the report.

Read the post on The Guardian