It began around the time of SOPA. Sources tell me that after meeting with a global ad agency and explaining to them how their advertising buys supported piracy, the source got a call from a well-known Google lawyer threatening him if he continued making that case to Google’s big advertising accounts.
The US music community has expressed outrage at the Trump administration’s proposal to eliminate two publicly-funded agencies dealing with the arts – the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities – as well as terminating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which helps fund public TV broadcaster PBS and National Public Radio stations….
The combined budget of both Washington, DC-based independent federal agencies is about $300 million. The NEA had a budget of $146.2 million in 2015, benefiting creators through arts-related organisations. The agency is “dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education.” The budget of the CPB was $445 million in 2016, and is one of the main sources of funding for PBS and NPR, both offering a wide range of TV and radio programmes on the arts.
“We are disappointed because we see our funding actively making a difference with individuals of all ages in thousands of communities, large, small, urban and rural, and in every Congressional District in the nation,” said NEA chairman Jane Chu.
On a practical level, nothing will change for the time being for all these organisations. The budget is a proposal submitted to Congress which is the only branch of government to have the power to vote the budget.
For singer/songwriter Blake Morgan, who is at the origin of the #IRespectMusic, the NEA is part of a personal narrative. “I’m a professional musician today in large part because of the National Endowment for the Arts,” he told Music Week. “My mother, the author Robin Morgan, won an NEA endowment when I was a child. With that money, we were able to pay off some bills, buy winter coats, and my mother used the remainder to pay for piano lessons for me, as well as my first entrance into music school. Without the endowment, neither would have been possible at the time.”
Morgan added: “I’m outraged at this nonsensical attack on American artists, and the arts in general. Every authoritarian leader in history does two things when they rise to power: first they attempt to discredit journalists, and then they attack and repress artists. This particular leader is no exception. American artists – of every discipline – will fight him, and anyone who attempts to do the same. And I will be on the front lines of that fight.”
A French advertising group that has clients including O2, EDF and Royal Mail has become the first of the major global marketing companies to pull all its ad spend from Google and YouTube.
Havas, the world’s sixth largest marketing services group, spends about £175m on digital advertising on behalf of clients in the UK annually.
The firm said it had taken the step after talks with Google had broken down because the tech company had been “unable to provide specific reassurances, policy and guarantees that their video or display content is classified either quickly enough or with the correct filters”.
It comes after Google was forced to review its ad policies when the UK government joined a number of organisations, including the Guardian, BBC and Transport for London, in pulling advertising from Google and YouTube. Google has been summoned to the Cabinet Office.
When you drill down on exactly what goes into tracking and accounting for songs and recordings on streaming services one thing becomes apparent: No matter how much you automate, those systems are expensive and the royalties are minuscule.
According to Billboard in a story titled “Spotify Officially Hits 50 Million Paid Subscribers“, the “official” announcement came from a tweet:
Spotify has a family tier at $14.99 in the US for up to six “family” members. Does the “official” subscriber number count a a family subscription as one subscriber, six, or the actual number of family members that sign up?
We don’t know the answer, but we do know that TechCrunch, CNET, Newsweek and other people who should know better all dutifully reported that Spotify now has 50 million “paying” subscribers. Reuters reported the same story with a more subdued headline: “Spotify Says It Reached 50 Million Subscribers“ (possibly due to these people called “editors”). A little more factual, a little less Kool Aid. Ubergizmo is in between with “Spotify Is Now Boasting 50 Million Paid Subscribers”—almost right, there was a boast, just not about “paid”.
[A]s copyright attorney and music rights activist Chris Castle points out in a recent article in the Huffington Post, the compulsory license is now serving as the foundation for a particularly aggressive form of license-avoidance by Amazon, Google and Pandora. Each of these players in the digital music streaming market can potentially avoid paying songwriter royalties forever and shield themselves from infringement litigation with what Castle describes as a “hack” that only Big Data companies could pull off.
These giant corporations are exploiting a loophole in Section 115(c)(1) of the Copyright Act, which states, “… if the registration or other public records of the Copyright Office do not identify the copyright owner and include an address at which notice can be served, it shall be sufficient to file a notice of intention in the Copyright Office.” [Emphasis added].
Written long before the era of Big Data, this exception anticipated a good faith effort by a single party seeking to use a song or two at a time and allowing that party to file a notice of intention in order to obtain the government-granted, compulsory license. What this exception did not anticipate, of course, is that corporations with the computing power and financial resources to topple small nations would flood the Copyright Office with millions of notices of intent in order to shield themselves against liability for copyright infringement for vast catalogs of songs. To date, Amazon has served about 19 million notices, Google about 4 million, and Pandora 1 million. Castle notes the irony that Google, of all companies, is exploiting this loophole on the basis that they “cannot find” the relevant information. He writes:
Google is supposed to search. Think about that. This 1976 rule was never intended to apply to a music user with Google’s search monopoly. Yet, if Google “can’t” find the song owner after a search, then Google can serve an “address unknown” notice of intention to the Copyright Office and then exploit the song for free until the songwriter can be “identified” in the Copyright Office records – which may be never.
It probably drives Amazon crazy that they haven’t found a way to commoditize music festivals like they have all other aspects of retail, using brick and mortar retailers as Amazon showrooms. So it should come as no surprise that Amazon is going to try to fix a problem that doesn’t exist for anyone but them–the fan […]