T Bone Burnett on Google’s Nashville Charm Offensive Coming Soon to a City Near You

Google seems to know it has a problem here in Tennessee. That’s why it’s out in the community sponsoring musicians’ workshops, funding “digital inclusion fellowships,” and making big promises about wiring the city with low cost internet – even as local pastors question whether all of our citizens including those in minority communities will get access.  And unions question the company’s push for shortcuts and special rules for its projects that will cost us local jobs.

But for music creators, this is all a sideshow, a corporate feel good effort designed to yank our gaze away from the basic facts – Google is putting all its power and might into killing legal reforms artists and songwriters need to survive.

But we still have a voice.

We must continue to urge Congress to reform the DMCA so the next generation of songwriters, artists, and performers can thrive. We must continue to look skeptically at Google’s effort to paper over issues and distract our institutions and communities from its unfair exploitation of our work.

And we must pursue all avenues and remedies in Congress and the courts – like the landmark win on songwriter royalties that rejected the Google-friendly DOJ’s bogus ruling on “fractional” licensing of our work.

Read the post in The Tennesseean

Liberty Doesn’t Defend Itself: Complaint in SONA vs. Department of Justice — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

More to come, but here is a copy of the complaint in the Songwriters of North America, Michelle Lewis, Thomas Kelly and Pamela Sheyne case against the Department of Justice, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former Google lawyer Renata Hesse asking for declaratory relief on the DOJ’s violation of songwriter Constitutional rights with 100% licensing.

via Complaint in SONA vs. Department of Justice — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

Download SONA’s legal filing here.

@musicrow: Texas Governor Objects To DOJ Ruling On Fractionalized Licensing

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has formally asked the Department of Justice to reconsider its recent decision regarding consent decrees and fractional licensing.

In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch dated Aug. 29, Gov. Abbott wrote to express his disagreement.

He wrote, in part, “The Texas Music Office is housed within my office and is charged by law with promoting the Texas music industry. As the head of that office, I must object to the DOJ’s position in these cases, which is both legally flawed and threatens to harm the music industry in Texas. I respectfully request that the DOJ reconsider its position.”

Read the post on Music Row

Gadi Oron: Dept. of Justice’s New Decision Could Wreak Havoc on International Rights: Op-Ed

The August 4th decision by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) not to modernize the consent decrees that govern performing rights societies ASCAP and BMI, and its plans to force a “full-work” licensing model into the market, are the equivalent of an earthquake for the global music community, and most of all for songwriters. It opens a new era full of uncertainty for the music industry.

CISAC, which regroups 239 societies from 123 countries, including ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and AMRA in the United States, has been monitoring the evolution of the licensing ecosystem in the US with much concern. Because of the size of the US market and its influence in the world, any changes in the way our US members operate has consequences for sister societies, songwriters and music publishers worldwide.

We had high hopes that the DoJ would have taken these factors into account and come up with solutions to ensure a better, more efficient licensing system in the US in its two-year review of the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees. Yet for some reason the much-needed reform of the US licensing landscape took a wrong turn at the expense of creators, music publishers and their societies.

Read the post on Billboard

@GTP_Updates: White House Kept Close Tabs on FTC Google Antitrust Probe

Aide met twice with company’s antitrust counsel in final weeks of investigation.

“Obviously, lots of interest here at the WH.”

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White House internet advisor R. David Edelman

Newly-uncovered emails show the White House was closely tracking the outcome of the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust probe of Google, with an official contacting Google’s lobbyist shortly before the agency’s decision to settle the case.

Despite assurances by the White House that it didn’t discuss the law-enforcement matter with Google, emails show the White House’s internet advisor, R. David Edelman, contacted a Google lobbyist, Johanna Shelton, in advance of the FTC announcement in January 2013.

344d20ad00000578-3595166-image-a-35_1463505561675Google White House Lobbyist Johanna Shelton

The White House aide requested Google’s talking points and hinted at the high-level engagement on the issue. “I hear big news coming momentarily,” he wrote, adding: “Obviously, lots of interest here at the WH.”

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The Obama White House has long maintained it stayed out of the FTC’s Google investigation and respected the agency’s independence. After The Wall Street Journal detailed a flurry of White House meetings with Google executives preceding the settlement, a White House spokesperson said the FTC was “an independent agency and we respect their independent decision making.”

“Our staff is cognizant that it is inappropriate to discuss issues relating to regulatory enforcement,” she added.

However, the new emails show a White House aide discussed the FTC’s decision ahead of its announcement and informed the target of the investigation that the White House was closely monitoring the outcome. They add to a pattern of engagement with Google by White House officials in the lead-up to the settlement, including repeated meetings with Google’s antitrust lawyers in the final stretch of the probe.

The meetings came on the heels of President Obama’s successful re-election campaign in which Google’s chairman Eric Schmidt had played an important role. The White House also met repeatedly with top FTC officials during that period.

Edelman was an important and highly sympathetic conduit between Google and the White House, emails and meeting records show. Data compiled by the Google Transparency Project show that Edelman met with Google officials in the White House on at least 18 different occasions between 2012 and 2015, second only to President Obama and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park. His emails show he also met repeatedly with Google lobbyists at coffee shops dotted around Washington DC.

Read the post on Google Transparency Project.