@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

@riaa: Five Stubborn Truths About YouTube and The Value Gap

[Editor Charlie sez:  Lyor is the distraction.]

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We are pleased that Lyor Cohen says he is making it his mission to direct some of YouTube’s revenues back to the music creators who drive its success. His optimism is encouraging. But to be honest, we’ve heard pretty much the same claims and arguments from YouTube before. So while Lyor’s heart may be in the right place, the numbers and YouTube’s actions tell a different story.

Let’s be real about what we know:

1. Google’s YouTube is the world’s biggest on-demand music service, with more than 1.5 billion logged-in monthly users. But it exploits a “safe harbor” in the law that was never intended for it, to avoid paying music creators fairly. This not only hurts musicians, it also jeopardizes music’s fragile recovery and gives YouTube an unfair competitive advantage that harms the digital marketplace and innovation.

2. Lyor claims the focus on this safe harbor is “a distraction,” but it’s YouTube that seems obsessed with this legal pretext, probably because it’s the safe harbor that enables YouTube to drive down payments to creators, inappropriately. The safe harbor was intended to protect passive Internet platforms with no knowledge of what its users are doing, not active music distributors like YouTube. As Lyor acknowledges in his blog, “the majority of music…is coming from [YouTube’s] recommendations, rather than people searching for what they want to listen to.”

It’s no mere “distraction” when YouTube uses the safe harbor to skew negotiations with music creators in its favor; to offer a below-market rate and say “take it or leave it,” knowing that by “leaving it” music creators will have to spend countless hours and resources sending takedown notices when they find unauthorized copy after copy of their music on YouTube, only to find them pop right back up again.

That’s precisely why dozens of music organizations and thousands of individual creators across the entire global music spectrum have banded together to protest the existing laws — www.valuethemusic.com — or simply asked YouTube to be a better partner: YouTubeCanDoBetter. Their concerns are real, their indignation is genuine. To dismiss that is to turn a deaf ear to an entire creative community.

Read the post on Medium

@A2IM CEO Richard Burgess Calls Out YouTube’s Lyor Cohen

[In response to Lyor Cohen’s blog post, ‘Five observations from my time at YouTube’]

I applaud and second Cary Sherman’s “Five Stubborn Truths…” response as well as Irving Azoff and David Israelite’s later comments.

Here is an independent label perspective.

Dear Lyor,

Many of us hope that you will be able to change the culture at YouTube to become more artist friendly and transparent. We understand that it takes time to shift corporate culture especially one as established as Google’s. Unfortunately, there are some entrenched alternative facts that are repeatedly regurgitated by YouTube and need to be corrected.

Read the post on A2IM

@davidclowery: Here’s How You Know Mic-Coalition “Shiv Act” Is About Screwing Songwriters Not Transparency — The Trichordist

Yesterday we detailed one of the main problems with the so-called “Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act” or as Artist Rights Watch termed it “The Shiv Act.” The bill would take away from songwriters legal remedies like attorney’s fees and statutory damages. Thus making it virtually impossible for individual songwriters and small […]

via Here’s How You Know Mic-Coalition “Shiv Act” Is About Screwing Songwriters Not Transparency — The Trichordist

@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

@bsookman: Worldwide de-indexing order against Google upheld by Supreme Court of Canada

The Supreme Court of Canada released a landmark decision today ruling that Canadian common law courts have the jurisdiction to make global de-indexing orders against search engines like Google. In so, ordering, the Court in Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions Inc., 2017 SCC 34 underlined the breadth of courts’ jurisdiction to make orders against search engines to stem illegal activities on the Internet including the sale of products manufactured using trade secrets misappropriated from innovative companies.

The decision arose from a lower court decision that ordered Google to block websites that were selling goods that violated the trade secrets of the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs obtained a default order against the defendants. But, the defendants continued to sell the offending goods over the Internet. The plaintiffs, unable to enforce their order, asked for Google’s help in blocking the websites. Google voluntarily de-indexed specific URL’s requested by the plaintiffs, but this “whac-a-mole” process was ineffective. When Google refused to de-index the offending websites from its search results, the plaintiffs brought a motion against Google for interim relief requiring Google to de-index the websites from all of its search engines worldwide.

Over Google’s objections, in Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Jack 2014 BCSC 1063 Madam Justice Fenlon of the British Columbia Supreme Court granted the injunction. Google subsequently applied for leave to appeal the decision to the British Columbia Court of Appeal and for an order staying the enforcement of the order. In Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Google Inc.,  2014 BCCA 295, the court granted Google leave to appeal the decision but refused Google’s application to stay enforcement of the injunction order. Google’s appeal was later dismissed by the Court of Appeal in Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Google Inc.,  2015 BCCA 265. For a summary of the prior proceedings, see Barry Sookman, Google ordered by BC court to block websites: Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Jack.

The Supreme Court of Canada, in a seven to two majority decision written by Justice Abella, affirmed the decisions below.

Google had argued that courts had no jurisdiction to make orders against it as a non-party to the litigation. It argued that any order against it should have been limited to the google.ca search engine. It also contended that the worldwide order would violate the principle of comity and rights of freedom of expression. The Court rejected each of these arguments and found that the balance of convenience favoured granting the order.

Read the post on Barry Sookman’s excellent blog

@davidclowery: Does Google Use Dominance in Search to Steer Traffic to “Unofficial” YouTube Videos? — The Trichordist

Admittedly this is an unscientific sampling. But it sure seems like Google search (especially in ex-USA markets) seems to return top search results for UGC (User “Generated” Content) videos instead of official videos. Often no royalties are paid on these UGC videos, and in the cases where royalties are paid, they are paid at a substantially […]

via Does Google Use Dominance in Search to Steer Traffic to “Unofficial” YouTube Videos? — The Trichordist