@hshaban: Google spent the most it ever has trying to influence Washington: $6 million

[Editor Charlie sez:  Another reason why Google is getting the Register or Die database safe harbor from Sensenbrenner, no doubt.]

Google spent the most it ever has in a single quarter trying to influence elected officials in Washington, according to lobbying disclosures made public late Thursday. The past three months have also seen record spending on lobbying by several other major tech companies, including Amazon, Apple and Uber.

Google Inc., according to the disclosure forms, spent $5.93 million between April 1 and June 30, more than any other corporation in the second quarter. That’s about 40 percent more than it had spent during the same period last year. The only three entities that doled out more money were large business organizations: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($11.68 million), the National Association of Realtors ($10.92 million), and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America ($6 million).

Since the 2016 election, the tech industry has had to navigate not only a Republican-controlled Congress, but an administration whose decisions have often cut against Silicon Valley’s business interests and generally progressive outlook.

“Some tech companies have only existed in a world when a president [Obama] has largely aligned with them,” said Julie Samuels, the executive director of Tech: NYC, a group that represents New York-based tech firms. “So a lot of people are grappling with how to live in a space where there is tension there.”

Read the post on the Washington Post

 

The Shiv Act: Google’s MIC Coalition Attacks Songwriters with New Back Door Version of Orphan Works Legislation Safe Harbor

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[Editor Charlie update:  Here is a copy of the bill]

Google’s MIC Coalition is at it again.  As predicted, the MIC Coalition is bringing orphan works through the back door with a new bill introduced in the dead of night under the misleading title “ Transparency in Music Licensing Ownership Act” or as we call it, The Shiv Act.

The bill hasn’t been introduced yet so we don’t quite know how bad it truly is, but here’s the summary:

Some of the key provisions of the Transparency in Music Licensing Ownership Act include:

  • Require the Register of Copyrights to establish and maintain a current informational database of musical works and sound recordings while granting the Register authority to hire employees and contractors, promulgate regulations, and spend appropriated funds necessary and appropriate to carry out these functions

  • Ensure that the database is made publicly accessible by the Copyright Office, in its entirety and  without charge, and in a format that reflects current technological practices, and that is updated on a real-time basis

 

Limit the remedies available to a copyright owner or authorized party to bring an infringement action for violation of the exclusive right to perform publicly, reproduce or distribute a musical work or sound recording if that owner/ authorized party has failed to provide or maintain the minimum information required in the database.

That last point is where we get the shiv in the back.  This is essentially saying what Google, Lessig and their fellow travelers have been saying for years–if you don’t observe the formality of registration, then you lose your rights to sue for infringement.

Note that this “register or lose it” approach is soft-pedaled in both the press release

This legislation really puts the “compulsory” in “compulsory licensing” with a vengeance and essentially undermines the very system it purports to “fix”–plus it is an obvious trojan horse for an orphan works regime that Big Tech lusts after behind some librarians–their human shields.  (But see Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge: A View From Europe by Jean-Noël Jeanneney, the former president of the Biblioteque nationale de France, and Google’s Book Search: A Disaster for Scholars by Geoffrey Nunberg.)

If you have any doubt of what these people are up to, you need only look to the royalty-free 45 million mass NOIs that have been filed already using the registration system that does exist right now.  The idea that the Copyright Office can handle setting up this unicorn database for the benefit of Big Tech at taxpayer expense is kind of a joke–until you realize that there was a “copyright coup in Washington” and the Google-backed Librarian of Congress is likely intending to appoint her own head of the Copyright Office unless the Senate passes S. 1010 the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017.

Whatever the discussions have been in the music community about the need for a “global rights database”, nobody ever said “And what we really need is a use it or lose it system that allows Big Tech to question every lawsuit based on whether a work was registered under the right title by the right people at the right time….” and so on and so on and so on.

This legislation has all kinds of potential international implications as did the taxpayer debacle known as the Fairness In Music Licensing Act, which benefited MIC Coalition members but has cost the U.S. taxpayer millions of dollars as a result of treaty violations. The MIC Coalition is back with more crony capitalism asking for another taxpayer funded even safer harbor, a legislated knife to stick in the backs of songwriters and artists.

 

 

@mbridge82 @whippletom @olivernmoody: Google pays academics millions for key support

Google has paid millions of dollars to academics at British and American universities for research that it hoped would sway public opinion and influence policy in favour of the tech giant.

A watchdog identified 329 pieces of research funded directly or indirectly by Google since 2005 in key public policy areas where regulatory changes could cost it a fortune in fines and lost earnings. The authors, who received payments of between $5,000 and $400,000, did not disclose Google’s funding in two thirds of cases. Emails suggest that some researchers shared papers with Google before publication, seeking suggestions for changes….

Much of the research made arguments in Google’s favour. Authors argued that the internet search company and publisher did not use its market dominance improperly, for example, or concluded that collecting huge volumes of personal data was a fair exchange for its free services….

The number of studies funded by Google has risen sharply at times when the company’s business model was under threat. Google-funded academics wrote more than 50 papers on competition issues between 2011 and 2013 when the company was investigated by the Federal Trade Commission for alleged anti-competitive practices. Google subsequently agreed to change some business practices.

There was a second sharp increase two years ago when the European Commission filed formal antitrust charges against the company. Last month, European regulators issued a record $2.71 billion fine against Google for unfairly favouring its own services over those of rivals in its search results. The company denies the charge.

Former Google employees told The Wall Street Journal that the firm’s officials in Washington compiled wish lists of academic papers, then searched for authors. Other academics approached Google to pitch ideas, according to emails obtained by the newspaper.

The sources said that Google promoted the research papers to government officials and sometimes paid travel expenses for professors to meet policymakers.

On one occasion Eric Schmidt, Google’s former chief executive, cited a Google-funded author in written answers to Congress to back his claim that his company was not a monopoly — without mentioning that it had paid for the paper, the investigation found.

Read the post in the Times of London

@danikafears: Here’s how Google pays to influence public policy

[Editor Charlie sez:  More on Google Academics, Inc.]

Google has been quietly making a push to influence public policy — by dangling cash in front of academics.

The tech giant has paid researchers and professors from universities around the country stipends of $5,000 to $400,000 for dozens of research papers to help the company battle against regulators, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Some of the papers, which Google uses to influence government officials, don’t disclose that the company funded them.

University of Illinois law professor Paul Heald said he got $18,830 from Google for a project on copyrights — but his 2012 paper failed to mention the tech behemoth’s involvement.

“Oh, wow. No, I didn’t. That’s really bad,” he told the newspaper, adding that Google didn’t influence his work. “That’s purely oversight.”

Read the post on the NY Post

@andrewkwoods: No, The Canadian Supreme Court Did Not Ruin the Internet

Global takedown orders with no limiting principle are indeed scary.  But Canada’s order has a limiting principle.  As long as there is room for Google to say to Canada (or France), “Your order will put us in direct and significant violation of U.S. law,” the order is not a limitless assertion of extraterritorial jurisdiction.  In the instance that a service provider identifies a conflict of laws, the state should listen. Under longstanding conflicts of laws principles, a court would need to weigh the conflicting and legitimate governments’ interests at stake.  The Canadian court was eager to undertake that comity analysis, but it couldn’t do so because the necessary ingredient was missing: there was no conflict of laws.

Google’s response to this sort of regime, as Daphne Keller points out, is that it would require them to identify potential conflicts of laws.  I’ll leave it for another time to address whether such an extraordinarily wealthy company can manage the heavy burden of determining whether it can comply with a given legal order… but I suppose you can guess what I think.

Read the post on Lawfare

 

Chantel McGee: Google, Facebook are super monopolies on the scale of Standard Oil, says VC Roger McNamee

And the EC find doesn’t even include a penalty for YouTube’s monopoly…

Google shareholders won’t be phased by the EU’s $2.7 billion fine against the company for competition abuses related to its shopping business, Elevation Partners co-founder Roger McNamee told CNBC on Tuesday.

“As a shareholder of Google you’re looking at this and saying: ‘We won again,'” McNamee said.

The venture capitalist spoke hours after EU regulators fined Google a record 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion), ruling that the search-engine giant violated antitrust rules for its online shopping practices.

Google said it will consider appealing the decision to the highest court in Europe.

“Google, Facebook, Amazon are increasingly just super-monopolies, especially Google and Facebook. The share of the markets they operate in is literally on the same scale that Standard Oil had … more than 100 years ago — with the big differences that their reach is now global, not just within a single country,” he said on “Squawk Alley.”

The fine is not large enough to change Google’s behavior, he added. “The only thing that will change it is regulations that actually say you can or can’t do something.”

Read the post on CNBC

Must read by @neilturkewitz: Canadian ruling dictating Google’s worldwide search results is far from unprecedented

A little over 20 years ago, Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow penned a manifesto that served as the basic blueprint for Silicon Valley cyber-libertarian ideology for two decades. Premised on the notion that the Internet (capitalized here since Barlow definitely treated it as a space rather than as a tool for communication), freed from government interference and the application of laws, would produce a more perfect society in which disputes would be resolved through dialogue rather than force or mandate, he famously wrote in his 1996 Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace….While it may have been forgivable in 1996 to be unable to accurately foresee the role of the internet, it is unforgivable in 2017 to pretend that this is an accurate reflection of the world we inhabit…An internet of Backpage, of ISIS recruitment, of cyber-bullying, of phishing, of ransomware and revenge porn, of cyber-espionage, of trafficking in counterfeit and pirate content. Achieving an internet that captures its potential to enhance social, cultural and economic well-being requires more than self-governance, and is predicated on the technology neutral application of laws to internet-based conduct.

Fortunately, governments, policy makers and many non-governmental organizations are increasingly aware that it is long past time to jettison the baggage of Barlow’s cyber-libertarianism.  In furtherance of this understanding, governments around the world have taken action to ensure the application of law to online behavior, all of which brings us around to the [now buried] headline—the recent decision of the Canadian Supreme Court in Google v. Equustek.

Google, channeling Barlow’s “we are everywhere and nowhere,” challenged the right of Canadian courts to issue an injunction that had effect in jurisdictions other than Canada. The Canadian Supreme Court quickly dispelled this, holding that: “Where it is necessary to ensure the injunction’s effectiveness, a court can grant an injunction enjoining conduct anywhere in the world. The problem in this case is occurring online and globally. The Internet has no borders — its natural habitat is global. The only way to ensure that the interlocutory injunction attained its objective was to have it apply where Google operates—globally.” In four short sentences, the Supreme Court of Canada turned Barlow’s “absence of borders” into a mandate for taking technology-neutral action in defense of its territorial sovereignty.

Read the post on The Hill