The EU has finally settled on the wording of its Digital Single Market copyright reform package, a three-years-in-the-making effort, greeting the agreement with a sizzling rebuke of the “misinformation campaigns” around the measures….
In a press conference today announcing the measures, MEP and Conservative legal affairs spokesman Sajjad Karim said the process had highlighted a disturbing development in the “political culture”.
“The ability of some of the platforms to carry out campaigns [against the legislation] is a good thing,” Karim said. “But the way some of these have been carried out really has been against the grain of how a democratic society should function.”
Individual staff members had been targeted, he said, by “elements that have misled the public about what we’re trying to achieve, and we’re sure will mislead the public as to what we have actually achieved. It strengthens our resolve to make sure we don’t allow European citizens to fall victim to that sort of misinformation.”
Nor Drake. Nor Bruno Mars. You’d think they weren’t trying very hard
But although that giant payday is built on the back of songwriters’ “sweat and precog”*, Spotify still has trouble finding them to pay them. Even when they’re as world famous as Ed Sheeran…
For more than a year, music services have been exploiting a loophole in US copyright law. Instead of sending a cheque for mechanical royalties, they’ve been filing a statutory “notice of intention” to pay them instead. The NOI is a piece of paper which isn’t redeemable for cash. (The curious can peruse the most recent NOI filings – and Spotify is not alone in filing them! – with the Licensing Division of the US Copyright Office here**).
Millions of NOIs have now been filed. How come?
Amazingly, the law does not oblige the user of the music, Spotify, to do a diligent search on who wrote it. Nor does the law oblige them to maintain and use their own records. So you can be sure that Spotify knows exactly how to find Ed Sheeran to pay him his performanceroyalty. However, in a display of insolence that Kevin The Stroppy Teenager (pictured) would envy, it manages not to find Ed Sheeran to pay him his mechanical royalty. Ed who?
An unknown Bulgarian has become the talk of the music industry after a sophisticated and apparently successful attempt to game Spotify.
Thanks to a fascinating exposé by Tim Ingham at Music Business Worldwide we learn that the perpetrator may actually have been playing by the rules, bringing to light a little-noticed characteristic of the streaming model.
The scammer, who has not been identified, uploaded more than 400 sub-one-minute tracks to Spotify and arranged them into a playlist, Ingham reports. Many were a little over 30 seconds, the minimum length of listening time that Spotify requires to pay out a royalty payment. These were then streamed continuously to some 1,200 paid Premium accounts….
Spotify has paid $5bn to rights holders over a decade, and streaming accounts for half of UK music consumption, according to the BPI’s annual fact sandwich. But Spotify’s payouts to creators went down even as its revenue increased last year, according to this report. Spotify maintains overall payments increased. How much hard-earned cash are subterranean robo royalty schemes extracting?
Silicon Valley hates IP, unless it’s its own. Then it cares very much indeed. For example, although Google Ventures is the biggest investor in Uber, it sued Uber over the theft of its self-driving car IP. The fascinating and curious thing is that Silicon Valley has persuaded one or two people that weakening people’s rights is in their own interest, not just Google’s. Silicon Valley will feed this constituency today as it usually does: with its astroturf groups griping that the IP regime is somehow “oppressive” and unfair to the individual. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is quite clear:
“Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.”
We must campaign harder, goes the message, to weaken those rights.
Who in history has campaigned to make themselves worse off and giant, monopolistic corporations richer? Let’s explain how odd this is – how future historians will regard this act of social self-harm as perhaps the distinguishing characteristic of our age.
Out in the real world, copyright is one of the most popular and successful ideas that humanity has ever had. As a virtual property, only “money” has been more successful than IPRs. This child of the Enlightenment made the individual sovereign, and allowed talented people to participate in a market place, so the most talented did not need not to tug their forelocks at wealthy sponsors like the Medicis.
After meeting Kanye West, President-elect Trump will meet Google and other Silicon Valley leaders today. We’ve imagined how the conversation might go.
TRUMP: So. Peter tells me you’re the smartest guys in America. How do you like the furniture?
PAGE: Very nice Mr President Elect.
TRUMP: Where’s the Russian?
PAGE: Sergey [Brin]?
SCHMIDT: Sir, the Secret Service detained him. We warned him not to try to get into Trump Tower wearing his Google Glass, but he won’t take them off. Well. We want to thank you for inviting us to Trump Tow—
TRUMP: Let’s just cut the crap. I know you did everything you could do get Hillary [Clinton] elected. I know you worked for Obama’s team, Eric [Schmidt]. I know you hate me and I don’t care. But you have 10 minutes to tell me what you want so I can figure out how useful you can be, and how much damage you can do. Go.
PAGE: Er, right. Well. Top of our agenda is ensuring that America’s wealth-creating technology companies – that’s us – have a vital supply of top technology talent.
SCHMIDT: Mr President, as I said two years ago, ‘we take very, very smart people, bring them into the country, give them a diploma and kick them out where they go on to create companies that compete with us’.
TRUMP: What happens to those companies they create?
TRUMP: Well, hmmm.
SCHMIDT: Mr President, engineers are expensive, would you use the most expensive labour you could? Employers need to keep wages down.
TRUMP: Which of course I love. But you see, I just got elected on jobs. That’s how I won. I got 2 million fewer votes than Crooked Hillary, but I got them where it counted, right in her backyard. And you’ve created a two-caste economy. Maybe you can employ some American engineers?
SCHMIDT: Uh. In a global interconnected world, Sir, that would be…
SCHMIDT: We’ve fixed the DoJ now, Sir. We run it.
The US Copyright Office has been given a brutal Silicon Valley-style sacking, the first time the Copyright Register has been dismissed in 119 years.
Maria A Pallante was locked out of her computer on Friday, according to Billboard, on the instructions of her boss, a new Obama appointee, Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress.
“Officially, Pallante has been appointed as a senior adviser for digital strategy for the Library of Congress, although it’s clear she was asked to step down,” Billboard’s Robert Levine notes.
Critics see the move as in line with Silicon Valley asserting its influence over the US Government via its agencies in the dog days of the Obama Administration. Just last month, as Hayden started the post, the Google-funded group Public Knowledge attacked the Copyright Office for upholding the copyright laws.
“Pallante was the only one standing between Google and what is left of the copyright system,” wrote David Lowery on the Trichordist blog, which campaigns for better deals for songwriters and musicians.
Controversial decisions by the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Federal Communications Commission have all resulted in proposals or decisions that advanced the business interests of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies.
For example, after an investigation of Google for anti-competitive practices, FTC staff concluded there was sufficient evidence to indict – but the Obama-appointed trade commissioners abandoned this for a voluntary deal instead.
YouTube stars have started a labour guild to represent low paid video producers for sites like YouTube. But it promises to be really, really polite and it won’t be asking Google for more money.
Hank Green is a YouTube video producer, who describes himself as a “Internetainerpreneur” (which is all you need to know, really, but do carry on reading). He explains that his new Internet Creators Guild is needed because being a YouTube sharecropper is now a full time job.
Green reckons 3,000 people earn $2,500 a year from consistently reaching 100,000 viewers a month. (For perspective, Alphabet, YouTube’s owner, earns $533 per second).
“I have watched creators get strong-armed and even swindled. I’ve watched people lose their channels. I’ve watched them flee from abuse,” says Green. But curiously, demanding better pay does not make the the top 10 list of things the Guild wants to do. Nor do many of the usual requests that you’d expect a labour guild to make feature.
Top of the list is “educating journalists” about the wonderfulness of YouTube. Next up is sharing information about MultiChannel Networks, who are Google affiliates, but not Google itself.