@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

@theguardian: The Guardian view on Google: overweening power

When Google received a record $2.7bn fine from the European Union in June for abusing its search engine monopoly to promote its shopping search service, a relatively minor member of an American thinktank, the New America Foundation, posted a short statement praising the regulator, and calling on the US to follow suit.

The New America Foundation is intimately intertwined with the search firm. It has received more than $20m over its lifetime from Google and related companies and individuals. So when Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, expressed his displeasure over the statement, the foundation moved quickly. The tussle that followed ended up with its author, Barry Lynn, departing the group, along with his entire team at the Open Markets programme.

To be clear: neither Google, nor Mr Schmidt, told New America to fire Mr Lynn or his colleagues. They did not have to.

Similarly, Google doesn’t have to ask the researchers whom it funds to write about public policy to turn in favourable articles. But it has funded, directly or indirectly, 329 such papers since 2005, according to the US-based Campaign for Accountability. More than a quarter of those funded directly by Google didn’t disclose the source of their money, according to the report.

Read the post on The Guardian

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARW Replay: Beyond EU Antitrust: Sign Up for Class Action Against Google in Europe

[Editor Charlie sez: Chris wrote this post in 2015 and it is worth reconsidering in light of the European Commission’s ruling that Google is an out of control monopoly.]

Anyone in the music business has felt Google’s boot on their throat in a host of ways.  Set aside the millions of take down notices and the absurd YouTube ContentID system.  Set aside how Google hides advertising revenue from its YouTube cash cow that should rightly go to the artists and songwriters.  The Europeans are focused on a much simpler issue.

Google favors YouTube in video search results.  We all know they do it and they’ve been doing it for years.  Now there may be a chance to actually do something about it, at least in Europe.

As MTP readers will recall, the European Commission has pursued antitrust complaints against Google in Europe on behalf of price comparison sites and others that Google steals content from.  Anyone in the music business is very familiar with Google stealing content in their various business lines–they do it to us all the time when they’re not driving traffic to pirate sites.

According to the New York Times:

[Google] may be the target of a series of new civil lawsuits that claim Google abused its market dominance to favor its own services over those of its rivals.

On Tuesday, Hausfeld, an international law firm [and US-based class action specialist] with connections to companies affected by Google’s activities in Europe, and Avisa, a European public affairs company that has represented complainants in the antitrust case, will announce that they have created an online platform [the Google Redress & Integrity Platform (GRIP)], to help companies sue Google for financial damages in European courts….

“So far, the focus has been on public enforcement,” said Laurent Geelhand, managing partner at Hausfeld, in Brussels, who declined to comment on the size of any potential civil damages. “But what’s still missing is how this has financially affected the victims.”

That’s us.

According to Reuters:

[T]he [GRIP] platform would build on the European Commission’s April charge sheet, which accuses Google of unfairly promoting its own shopping service to the disadvantage of rivals.

“GRIP offers corporations, consumers and other entities harmed by Google’s anti-competitive business practices in Europe a mechanism to evaluate their potential claims,” Michael Hausfeld, chairman of Hausfeld, said in a statement.

Re/code quotes Avisa Partners:

“It has been five years between the first complaint against Google and the EC’s statement of objections, which is about three times longer than the groundbreaking Microsoft case,” Jacques Lafitte, founder of Avisa Partners, said in a statement. “Google’s president, lawyers and publicists have worked well to create this delay. But Google has not been able to stop the inevitable: It finally faces justice.”

Yeah.  What he said.

IMPALA have brought their own complaint with the European Commission which, as far as I know, is still in the hopper and has not been acted on as yet, although I’m sure it will be.  Even so, artists and labels may wish to consider investigating the Hausfeld online platform to see if it would make sense for them to participate in any civil action against Google.

While Google’s potential exposure to a ruling against the company would start with a staggering $6 billion fine, that fine does not preclude civil lawsuits against Google by those it has harmed.  While nobody takes paying a $6 billion fine lightly, does it really seem like it would be a lot of money to Google?  And when you consider that Google have managed to drag out the adjudication for years already, it really seems rather like chump change.  No pun intended.

We appear to have a law firm interested in at least helping potential plaintiffs bring these cases.  Why not at least check it out?

U.S. music folk should be thinking that this may be their last chance to get justice from Google.  The U.S. government has so far been unwilling to take action against Google, so this may be our only choice.

@ryanlcooper: Google is a monopoly — and it’s crushing the internet

Five to 10 years ago, independent bloggers used to be able to getby on internet advertising, like the broadsheets of yore. But that changed quite quickly, and for two big reasons: Facebook and Google. They now gobble up the vast majority of internet advertising dollars — about 85 percent, as my colleague Jeff Spross writes — and a great many media outlets have been forced to move to direct subscriptions or other business models.

Google and Facebook manage this because they are platform monopolists. They can exert tremendous influence through their control of how people use the internet — and crush productive businesses in the process. Like any monopoly, it is long since time that the government regulated them to serve the public interest….

The upshot here is that both Google’s overwhelming search dominance and their profitable exploitation thereof are almost wholly unmerited in terms of their actual product. Google is a fine tool, but what defines the company is luck. Its profits come from a largely unearned strategic position within a socially-created communication medium. Devouring a small business that provided Google and the internet writ large with quality research simply to keep people fenced onto their own portion of the internet is just one particularly egregious example how this position can be abused.

Read the post on The Week