@cmu: As Copyright Directive campaigning starts up again, article thirteen opponents stung by London Times investigation plan to take to the streets

[Editor Charlie sez:  As David Lowery says, democracy dies in botness.  Even Spotify apologists are skeptical of the Google-backed Pirate Party tactics.]

Before attention formally returns to the draft European Copyright Directive next month, the Pirate Party’s representative in the European Parliament – Julia Reda – is hoping to get opponents to the more controversial elements of the proposals out onto the streets.

The copyright reforming directive has been in development for years, of course. For the wider music industry, the focus has been article thirteen, which seeks to increase the liabilities of user-upload platforms like YouTube….

Since the vote, the music industry has been very critical of tactics employed by the tech lobby, and especially big bad Google, in the weeks prior to the vote. Their campaigning, it’s argued, misrepresented what article thirteen is really about. Meanwhile opponents presented themselves as mere concerned internet users – when many were in fact funded by billion dollar tech giants – and used technology to artificially amplify their voice.

David Lowery’s The Trichordist website has run a number of articles exploring these tactics, all of which make for very interesting reading. Meanwhile The Times reported earlier this month how “Google is helping to fund a website that encourages people to spam politicians and newspapers with automated messages backing its policy goals”.

The newspaper put the spotlight on an organisation called OpenMedia, which counts Google as a platinum supporter, and which was also analysed by The Trichordist.

The Times wrote: “The campaigning site is intended to amplify the extent of public support for policies that benefit Silicon Valley”, before confirming that “the tools were recently used to bombard MEPs with phone calls opposing EU proposals to introduce tighter online copyright rules”….

While calling on people to join these protests, [Pirate] Reda has also hit out at the claims that automated tools – like those offered by OpenMedia – were used to make it look like opposition to the copyright directive was much more widespread than it really is.

She recently wrote on her blog: “We haven’t won yet. After their initial shock at losing the vote in July, the proponents of upload filters and the ‘link tax’ have come up with a convenient narrative to downplay the massive public opposition they faced. They’re claiming the protest was all fake, generated by bots and orchestrated by big internet companies”.

She went on: “According to them, Europeans don’t actually care about their freedom of expression. We don’t actually care about EU lawmaking enough to make our voices heard. We will just stand idly by as our internet is restricted to serve corporate interests. People across Europe are ready to prove them wrong: they’re taking the protest to the streets”.  [Nobody said that, the Times and Trichordist just said that there were campaigning tools paid for by Google to create a false impression.]

Read the post on Complete Music Update

Must Read: @AnneMarieSteele: An insightful interview with Jody Gerson about songwriting and breaking artists

[This interview is one of the best statements of what signing and breaking a songwriter or an artist is all about.  When I was reading Jody Gerson’s interview I remember when I asked David Anderle once why we didn’t do bidding wars at A&M.   He said quite simply that A&M helped compelling artists make great records and then stuck with them until they found an audience.  They didn’t all work out but it wasn’t for lack of trying.  That had nothing to do with bidding wars.]

I think it is a difficult time for songwriters who aren’t writing massive hit songs. When I first came into the industry, you could write a cut on a big album, like for Whitney Houston, and it would sell a lot of records, and you could make a lot of money as a songwriter. But unless you’re writing hit singles or you have pieces of songs on enormous numbers of streamed product, it is very difficult right now….

A lot of people are relying on data today. I don’t go in that direction. I judge music based on what I feel. Does it move me? Is that a lyric that articulates a feeling that I have better than I can articulate it? Is there a driving beat that makes me want to move? Is there a melody that makes me want to sing along? I have found in my career anytime that I have trusted my instinct, I’m right….

What everybody’s missing is the role of the record company. There’s talk about whether artists need to be signed to a record company. I would like you to show me one streaming platform that has broken an artist, made a major investment in breaking an artist. It is not easy.

Just because a song is on a digital platform doesn’t mean you’re breaking that artist. The companies that put the most into the development of artists are still record companies. The investment in breaking artists still is something that we can’t underestimate, and platforms do not do that.

Hit artists, superstars, are never flukes. It just doesn’t happen that way. It takes a village to break an artist.

Read the post from the Wall Street Journal

Labels Follow BMG Rights with Lawsuit Against Cox Communications for Massive Infringement of Sound Recordings

Some of you may recall the resounding victory scored by BMG Rights against Cox Communications challenging the gaping holes in Cox’s alleged repeat infringer policy as documented by Rightscorp.  (Read the hilarious transcript from BMG v. Cox case denying EFF’s amicus brief as quoted in the Supreme Court amicus brief filed by David Lowery, Blake Morgan, East Bay Ray and Guy Forsyth in the current cy pres case brought by Ted Frank.)

In a follow on from the BMG Rights case, a group of record companies are essentially drafting behind BMG on the sound recording side in their own lawsuit against Cox.  This, of course, was to be expected since the evidence unearthed by BMG reflected such a cavalier disregard for the company’s repeat infringer policy and what infringes the song also infringes the sound recording.

Why is that repeat infringer policy so important?  In an oversimplified (but accurate) interpretation, no repeat infringer policy, no safe harbor.  That is enough to send the shredders humming all over the world and explains why the EFF was so interested in trying to influence the outcome of the case.  It also explains why Rightsflow’s investigative services are so important to rights holders as they were instrumental in proving the basic case (although Cox did a very good job of measuring the rope and testing their own noose all by themselves).

It also must be said that Cox never participated in the Copyright Alert System (to my knowledge) which could have gone a long way to helping them getting their repeat infringer policy in line with something that existed in the known universe.  They had a chance.  One final point is that it is an odd thing that BMG is to date the only publisher to enforce their rights against an ISP that I know of, although I’m happy to be educated otherwise.

If you think lions are lying down with lambs, think again.

According to Celebrity Access:

The plaintiffs allege in their suit that Cox is not effectively policing their subscribers who are violating copyrights, even when those alleged violators are brought to their attention by rights holders.

Per the lawsuit:

“Cox deliberately refused to take reasonable measures to curb its customers from using its Internet services to infringe on others’ copyrights—even once Cox became aware of particular customers engaging in specific, repeated acts of infringement. Plaintiffs’ representatives (as well as others) sent hundreds of thousands of statutory infringement notices to Cox, under penalty of perjury, advising Cox of its subscribers’ blatant and systematic use of Cox’s Internet service to illegally download, copy, and distribute Plaintiffs’ copyrighted music through BitTorrent and other online file-sharing services.”

The lawsuit takes issue with a provision of the DMCA, a law passed in 1998 that creates a safe harbor for online service providers such as Cox against copyright infringement liability, provided that they have an effective plan in place to deal with infringers.

The lawsuit cites a previous suit brought against Cox by a group of labels led by BMG. In that case, BMG Rights Mgmt. LLC v. Cox Communications, Inc. and CoxCom, LLC, BMG made substantially similar accusations against Cox, claiming that the company did little to deter rampant copyright infringement taking place via its service.

In 2015, a jury agreed with BMG Et Al. and awarded them a $25 million dollar judgment in that case. The judgment was later overturned on appeal, but the appeals court largely sided with the label’s challenge to Cox’s implementation of the DCMA rules.

@mboyle1: Amazon Leads Masters of Universe in Push to Nationalize Music Industry

[Editor Charlie sez:  Here’s a shocker…Trump says he won’t sign “The Amazon Bill”!?  Who in the world could have predicted that!]

Amazon is at the forefront of a well-funded, powerful, Silicon Valley-led push to force the federal government to nationalize the music industry, thereby creating a system where the government props up certain companies — such as Amazon — to be beneficiaries of and have control over, while also profiting from, music production….

Sources close to the White House and those in regular contact with President Trump and his closest associates say the president has a serious problem doing anything to help Amazon — especially creating a special government board that would allow the company billionaire Jeff Bezos owns to profit, with government assistance and control, from music royalties.

“The president was irate when he heard about this,” a source close to the president said. “He’s calling it ‘The Amazon Bill.’ There is no chance he will sign that bill that passed the House.”

Read the post on Breitbart News.

@andreakayeshow: More socialism is not the right note for music industry reform

[Editor Charlie sez:  Fasten your chin straps, free marketeers are starting to come out against the Mechanical Licensing Collective part of the Music Modernization Act.]

Rather than foster the growing marketplace addressing this complex issue, the bill imposes a Washington top-down approach that ostensibly benefits crony lobbyists and corporations while short-circuiting creative innovators.  It is a classic example of a backroom swamp deal that robs Peter to pay Paul.  In this case, Peter is the American people, and Paul is the biggest crony actors in the music industry.

Read the post on American Thinker

@SESAC: Fact Sheet on SESAC’s Proposal to Improve the Music Modernization Act

[Editor Charlie sez:  What SESAC says about not endorsing the Mechanical Licensing Collective portion of the bill rings true based on other things we’ve heard.]

There has been a lot of misinformation and misrepresentation this week regarding SESAC. We’re setting the record straight so truthful answers can dispel unfortunate distortions about our position on MMA.

If SESAC thinks it has a better proposal than the MMA – why did it wait nearly 2 years and at the very end of the process to offer it?

This is not a last-minute effort. The legislative process is designed to be open, iterative and deliberative so legislation can be reviewed and improved with input from all stakeholders before it becomes law.

  • We have been an active part of this legislative process all along – supporting the broader AMP Act since it was introduced in July 2015 and the Classics Act since it was introduced in July 2017, which are now part of the Omnibus Music Modernization Act.
  • The single collective idea was introduced in the House on Dec. 21, 2017. SESAC actively stated in meetings as early as last winter that we never endorsed or supported the portion of the Bill that creates a national monopoly to administer online rights, despite continuing pressure to do so. Since then we have had dozens of meetings with Members of Congress and senior staff, and have had hundreds of communications with policy makers and others in an effort to improve the Bill, not derail it.

If SESAC thinks its proposal offers a middle ground, why doesn’t any other music organization support it?

The SESAC proposal is a compromise, accommodating all of the outcomes desired by the Bill’s stakeholders. Not to be confused with the Cruz Amendment, our proposal – clearly outlined below – enhances the Collective, maintains competition, and ultimately drives better royalty distributions to songwriters.

How does SESAC think its proposal can pass Congress when every major digital streaming company – Apple, Amazon, Google, Spotify and Pandora opposes it?

We believe our proposal, once clearly understood and evaluated on the facts, will earn the support of the majority, and that outstanding issues can be resolved through the legislative process. We continue to support the goals of the MMA and feel confident it will be enacted into law by the end of the year.

Here’s a summary of what was proposed:

  • SESAC’s proposal for the MMA promotes competition and accountability—that ultimately benefit songwriters, not insiders
  • The proposal authorizes independent Certified Administrators (CAs), chosen fairly based on their track record of delivering results for songwriters, to handle the administration and distribution of royalties
  • An honest, open marketplace – as proposed by SESAC – empowers choice of who can best handle royalty distribution.
  • SESAC’s proposal does not change the provisions that ensure digital giants like Amazon, Google and other DMPs are held accountable, and that royalties and copyrights are handled responsibly.
  • SESAC’s proposal strengthens the Collective by reinforcing it as the sole authority for:
    • filing blanket licenses
    • resolving song disputes
    • establishing and managing a comprehensive, definitive copyright database
    • administering and distributing unmatched (Blackbox) royalties

We respect all songwriters and wholeheartedly support the goals of the MMA. Read The Facts.

Our position on the MMA is that preserving competition will help songwriters. The only change in the compromise SESAC has offered is that the Private Certified Administrators must compete to be hired to process and distribute the royalties based on the database maintained by the Collective. It is our belief that this change ensures healthy free market competition, which will drive better and more accurate royalty distributions to songwriters. Additionally, the proposed amendment will not impact any other aspects of the law, the governance of the Collective, or payments to songwriters in any way. Here are the facts:

  • Songwriters keep all their seats.
  • It does not change the governance or structure of the Collective.
  • Digital music companies continue to pay for the Collective.
  • The Collective remains the administrator of unmatched (or Blackbox) royalties.
  • The Collective remains the single place for filing notices of blanket licenses.
  • The Collective remains the curator of the authoritative database for mechanical licensing.
  • The Collective remains the judge of conflicting claims under blanket licenses.

It is because of our dedication, loyalty and commitment to our songwriters that we stand by this compromise and continue to wholeheartedly support the goals of the Music Modernization Act.

 

@NSAIOfficial: Why Blackstone/HFA/SESAC Proposal Will Kill the Music Modernization Act

From the Nashville Songwriters site:

WHY BLACKSTONE/HFA/SESAC PROPOSAL WILL KILL
MUSIC MODERNIZATION ACT

PLEASE HELP AND DO YOUR PART – CONTACT SESAC TO HELP SAVE THE
MUSIC MODERNIZATION ACT! (CONTACT INFO BELOW)

The Music Modernization Act (MMA) provides a simple answer to a very complex problem in music licensing. One of the main reasons the streaming companies have agreed to a fair rate standard that will likely result in a royalty hike for songwriters is efficiency; so they won’t have to go to a large number of multiple sources to obtain mechanical licenses.  Instead they will get one blanket license from the new Music Licensing Collective (MLC) run by songwriters and music publishers.

Blackstone’s (parent company for SESAC who purchased The Harry Fox Agency in 2015) proposal would legally require each streaming service to hire another company to issue licenses, collect and distribute royalties IN ADDITION to the MLC.  This added step would be costly to songwriters, who will pay NOTHING to the MLC and collect 100% of their royalties, because we’ve already negotiated with streaming companies to get them to pay the admin costs!

This proposed amendment is an attempt to make sure The Harry Fox Agency keeps their current business by forcing the death of the MMA, or gets more business because their proposal FORCES streaming companies to hire an agency IN ADDITION to the MLC to issue and administrate mechanical licenses.

The Digital Media Association has said they will not support the Blackstone proposal, nor pay for it. Neither will music publishers, record companies, NSAI or anyone else who worked for years to create a bill that Blackstone is trying to kill at the very last minute.

Under the MMA, The Harry Fox Agency will have every opportunity to become a vendor and do business on behalf of the MLC if they prove they can do a good job, thus promoting efficiency and competition.  Instead, they want the government to REQUIRE and guarantee them business.

Blackstone owns both HFA and SESAC.  Concerned songwriters should CONTACT SESAC and ask them to withdraw this proposal and support the Music Modernization Act as drafted.  Call them at (615) 320-0055, email: licensing@sesac.com or tweet @SESAC to express your concern.  Tell Blackstone, SESAC, Harry Fox to work with us so together we can find a mutually agreeable solution and pass the most important songwriter legislation in decades.

[And a Tweet with guidance from the top music lawyer who is the driving force behind the legislation:]

https://mobile.twitter.com/dinalapolt/status/1022573867666104320