The world’s largest tech companies — Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple — have become enormous concentrations of wealth and data, drawing the attention of economists and academics who warn they’re growing too powerful. “Platform companies have captured the economy,” said Jonathan Taplin, who argues in a new book and a recent NYT op-ed that the dominant platforms are so big that they’re undermining competition.
Our thought bubble: Despite populist promises, cracking down on Silicon Valley is not one of President Trump’s near-term priorities. Makan Delhrahim, Trump’s top antitrust enforcer at the Justice Department, has pledged to to enforce antitrust violations with respect to online platforms just as he would with any other industry, but insiders expect him to be cautious. And Maureen Ohlhausen, acting FTC chair, said in a recent speech that the agency has no intention of meddling in the way tech companies use algorithms and data.
[Editor Charlie sez: In their hearts, they know they are criminals…Let the RICO games begin!]
After years of catering to copyright holders and their increasing demands, is Google about to go rogue in sheer frustration? According to a report by TorrentFreak, 2017 could well be the year Google throws its toys out of the pram, raises the Jolly Roger and takes to the digital seas in anger by launching its very own mega torrent search engine.
Over the last decade the copyright industry has been baying for pirate blood and have badgered Google for far broader search engine censorship to curb the growing piracy problem. In 2012 alone, Google removed over 50 million pirate search results that were infringing on the copyright holders’ content.
Donald Trump is rumored to be appointing Google crony Joshua Wright to oversee Federal Trade Commission policy. Google couldn’t ask for more.
Google has been on a quest to limit copyright holders’ rights when it comes to the written word, even winning a landmark Supreme Court case declaring that its Google Books program, which digitizes hundreds of [tens of millions] books, was creating “transformative works,” and not infringing on authors’ copyright.
Google appears to have already placed friendly officials high places, while using its sway with academics to make its case with the FCC that your cable — and cable’s copyrights — should be free.
Starting in 2016, Google-related appointees began appearing across the Obama Administration. Carla Hayden, who recently took over at the Library of Congress, was President of the American Library Association, a huge recipient of Google funding (largely because of Google’s digital library programs). The Library of Congress, of course, is home to the US Copyright Office, and the Register of Copyrights — America’s highest ranking copryight official.
When the set-top box proposal came to Congress, they of course turned to the US Copyright Office for insight as to whether Google, among other set-top box companies, might be infringing on cable’s copyright.
Google appeared to immediately exert its power. Five copyright academics sent a letter to the US Copyright Office defending set-top boxes, and all five had at least some ties to Google.
Signer Peter Jazsi was a member of Google’s policy fellowship program, an advocate on IP issues, and a founder of the Digital Future Coalition, which includes several organizations funded by Google. Signer Pam Samuelson, a Berkeley School of Information professor, is on the board of several non-profits that receive significant grants from Google. Signer Annemarie Bridy was a scholar at Stanford University’s Center for Internet & Society, whose largest corporate benefactor is Google.
Many of those same groups pushed back when Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante said it was likely set-top devices could infringe on cable companies’ copyrights. One group, Public Knowledge, even claimed Pallante was in the pocket of cable and entertainment interests.
Weirdly, as soon as the new Library of Congress head (Hayden) was sworn in, Pallante lost her job as Register of Copyrights. She was first demoted and then resigned, opening up a space — conveniently — for a friendlier Registrar.
Thanks to the Google Transparency Project, we know that Google’s capture of the Antitrust Division of the Justice [sic] Department is not just about Google’s hatred of the music business–we’re all just roadkill on the Information Superhighway.
That’s the important thing to remember–it’s not just us. Google is shamelessly using its lobbying clout in the White House to advance its corporate agenda. The question must be asked–why do they get away with it? What is the quid for the pro quo?
Google executives and nonprofits they funded dominated US delegation. Company maneuvered behind scenes with White House to derail State Department diplomatic effort
Newly-uncovered emails show Google used its deep connections in the Obama White House to mold U.S. policy at a United Nations-sponsored international telecommunications conference with big implications for its bottom line.
Before, during, and after the event, Google officials met and spoke with White House officials to coordinate their strategies for obtaining the company’s policy goals, the emails show. Behind the scenes, the company even pressed its contacts at the White House to quash an effort by the U.S. State Department to forge a compromise deal with other nations in defiance of the company’s wishes.
Google chairman Eric Schmidt — who had played an important role in President Obama’s re-election campaign the previous month — even called the office of Hillary Clinton, then-secretary of state, to lobby her on the issue.
On December 11, 2012, Google’s head of international relations, Ross LaJeunesse, emailed the White House internet advisor, David Edelman to express concern about the State Department and WCIT-12 delegate Ambassador Terry Kramer reaching a deal:
Edelman replied the next afternoon on December 12 2012: “I understand that Eric [Schmidt] personally called Secretary Clinton’s office, which was an impressive show of force.”
An hour later, LaJeunesse responded, “hey, i don’t mess around…”
The emails offer a rare glimpse inside a White House being heavily lobbied by a company with which it has unusually close relations. They offer more evidence of the cozy relationship between Google and the Obama White House, showing officials working in tandem with Google employees to secure Google’s preferred policy outcomes at the 2012 Dubai World Conference on International Telecommunications, or WCIT-12 for short.
Imagine what we would find if anyone could ever get access to Renata Hesse’s government emails?
On July 5 and 7, 2016, SONA members participated in conference calls with the US Department of Justice to hear a statement regarding the Antitrust Division’s ruling on their 100% licensing scheme. During subsequent Q&A sessions, songwriter organizations were invited to register questions or concerns by submitting comments to the DOJ. We appreciate the opportunity to do so and because the DOJ has taken the unusual step of keeping the comment process private, we are releasing our statement to ensure that SONA’s opinion is a matter of public record.
Universal Music Publishing Group chairman and CEO Jody Gerson and Warner/Chappell chairman and CEO Jon Platt have joined the ranks of those who are deeply critical of last week’s recommendation by the US Department of Justice’s (DoJ) anti-trust division to decline modifying the consent decrees governing performance rights societies ASCAP and BMI and to introduce a “100% licensing” model.
“In short, we believe that the DOJ’s decision is bad for songwriters and we are deeply disappointed,” wrote Gerson in a memo to staff obtained by Music Week. She added that the consent decrees “badly need to be modernised for today’s market.”