@GTP_Updates May Explain Concentrations of Article 13 Astroturf

There probably has never been as revealing an insight into Google’s short, loathsome and treacherous lifespan as the Article 13 legislative process in the European Parliament.  It has put a microscope on Google’s fake lobbying campaign, but it also shows the extent of Google’s influence peddling to protect its profits from the European version of what we call the DMCA safe harbor.

The concentration of the Article 13 astroturf campaign seems to be centered in Germany and Poland.  No surprise there–Google has been investing in European academics for a decade.  Thanks to the Google Transparency Project, we know considerable detail about the extent of that investment.

Google has spent millions of euros funding European academics to write papers on digital policy, bankrolling university institutes and think-tanks in London, Berlin, Brussels, Paris and Warsaw

Over the past decade, Google has invested heavily in European academic institutions to develop an influential network of friendly academics, paying tens of millions of euros to think tanks, universities and professors that write research papers supporting its business interests.

Those academics and institutions span the length and breadth of Europe, from countries with major influence in European Union policymaking, such as Germany and France, to Eastern European nations like Poland….

For example, Google has paid at least €9 million to help set up the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG) at Berlin’s Humboldt University. The new group launched in 2011, after German policymakers voiced growing concerns over Google’s accumulated power.

The Institute has so far published more than 240 scholarly papers on internet policy issues, many onissues of central importance to Google’s bottom line. HIIG also runs a Google-funded journal, with which several Google-funded scholars are affiliated, to publish such research….

And in Poland, Google has funded the Digital Economy Lab (DELab) at the University of Warsaw, similarly described as an interdisciplinary institute that will research and design policies governing technology issues. Second, Google has created and endowed chairs at higher-learning institutions in European countries including France, Spain, Belgium, and Poland. Those chairs have often been occupied by academics with a track record of producing research that closely aligns with Google’s policy priorities….

Europe’s importance for Google cannot be overstated. It is both a key market, with usage rates above 80 percent in many countries, and the most organized source of opposition to its expansion plans. The European Commission is arguably the only regulator beyond the U.S. with sufficient clout to cause Google to alter its conduct. European officials have levied billions of dollars in fines for antitrust violations and have enacted some of the most stringent laws in the world to protect consumer privacy.

Strangely enough–sarcasm alert–the countries where Google has made its most significant purchase of academic mind share are also the countries where opposition to Article 13 seems the greatest, especially Germany and Poland.

But the larger point is that there should be no doubt in the mind of any artist anywhere in the world that Google and its fellow travelers are not your friends, never were and never will be.

Read the report here.

@musictechpolicy: Shocker: Is Spotify Lawyer Leading “Scholarly” Project to Create Fake Treatise?

The anti-copyright crowd have a few different ways to turn astroturf into deceptively scholarly work product.  One way is to take over otherwise credible brands to insert their own truthiness.

In a highly predictable move, the American Law Institute, a reliable old brand in the law, appears to have had some sudden interest in writing up a “Restatement of Copyright” treatise.  The ALI’s restatements of the law have been around a very long time, but they mostly deal with bodies of law that rely heavily on judge-made law such as agency, property or contracts.

The advantage of having a Restatement that says what you want it to say is that those toiling against artists and songwriters can cite it as an authoritative source in legal briefs, scholarly writings, amicus briefs, etc.  Handy, eh?

The ALI Restatement of Copyright seems to have been the brainchild of one Pamela Samuelson, she of the Samuelson-Glushko technology and policy legal academic centers–Silicon Valley’s answer to the Confucious Institutes.  The project is nominally under the watchful eye of Professor Christopher Sprigman, from whose intellectual loins sprang Spotify’s defense of “sorry just kidding” in the Bluewater lawsuit for Spotify’s alleged nonpayment of mechanical royalties.  Sprigman is trying to convince the court that mechanical royalties don’t exist, don’t you know.

The Restatement of Copyright has been on the horizon for quite some time as it takes a lot of effort to produce one of these treatises.  So naturally, one must ask–why the sudden interest at the American Law Institute in such a costly project that we’ve struggled along without for a hundred years or so?  You don’t suppose someone is…paying for the costs of this work?  And who might be interested in picking up the tab for the project?

Perhaps the same company that paid for five–count ’em–five–research projects by Professor Sprigman.  That we know of.

According to the useful “Google Academics, Inc.” database created by the Google Transparency Project, Google funded these articles co-written by Sprigman (two of which criticize moral rights):

Valuing Publication And Attribution In Intellectual Property: Sprigman, Christopher, Christopher Buccafusco, and Zachary Burns. “Valuing Publication and Attribution in Intellectual Property.” (2012)

What’s A Name Worth?: Experimental Tests Of The Value Of Attribution In Intellectual Property:  Sprigman, Christopher Jon, Christopher Buccafusco, and Zachary C. Burns. “What’s a name worth?: Experimental tests of the value of attribution in Intellectual Property.” (2013)

What’s In, And What’S Out: How IP’s Boundary Rules Shape Innovation:  McKenna, Mark P., and Christopher Jon Sprigman. “What’s In, and What’s Out: How IP’s Boundary Rules Shape Innovation.” (2016)

Experimental Tests Of Intellectual Property Laws’ Creativity Thresholds, Buccafusco, Christopher, Zachary C. Burns, Jeanne C. Fromer, and Christopher Jon Sprigman. “Experimental tests of Intellectual Property laws‰Ûª creativity thresholds.” (2014)

Innovation Heuristics: Experiments On Sequential Creativity In Intellectual Property:  Bechtold, Stefan, Christopher Buccafusco, and Christopher Jon Sprigman. “Innovation heuristics: experiments on sequential creativity in Intellectual Property.” Ind. LJ 91 (2015): 1251

And speaking of astroturf, what’s also interesting is that Sprigman appears to have filed comments in Copyright Office moral rights study that incorporated concepts in Google-funded papers and cited to one of them without disclosing Google’s funding as far as I can tell. (https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=COLC-2017-0003-0019).

So a perfect lawyer to advance the interests of Spotify, the savior of the music business and to gift the legal community with the Restatement of Copyright, a crystalization of his genius.

Lucky us.

@andreworlowski: Google, propaganda, and the new New Man

Google has begun to infuse American TV and movies shows with propaganda – “good propaganda”, the company insists. However, it’s unlikely to please two groups who rarely agree on anything: those who think Google isn’t diverse enough, and conservatives who fear its political and media power.

So far, Google’s “interventions” have so far been limited to making computer geeks appear more attractive. For example, following Google’s advice, a greater proportion of programmers portrayed will be women, rather than guys in hoodies. Shows apparently benefitting from the Google touch include Halt and Catch Fire, and the sitcom Silicon Valley. And expect more of the usual homilies to “learn to code” – another more subtle form of indoctrination.

President Obama was kept up to date on the efforts. White House logs show that he met both Google’s co-ordinator, media program manager Julie Ann Crommett, and the academics Google funded to study the initiative, Professor Stacy Smith at USC Annenberg, a prominent commentator on gender issues.

Diversity campaigners and conservatives have good reason to be wary when Google inserts itself in the business of mass communication. Let’s take each case in turn.

Read the post on The Register

@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

 

 

 

 

 

 

@andreworlowski: Academics ‘funded by Google’ tend not to mention it in their work

A network of academics on Google’s payroll just so happens to churn out “independent research” friendly to their sugar daddy’s corporate goals. But two-thirds of the time you wouldn’t know it, according to the Campaign for Accountability….

Instead of providing a dispassionate critique of Silicon Valley, academics viewed it as a chance to expand their domains. The early noughties saw a proliferation of “cyberlaw” departments and “internet institutes” only too keen to take corporate funding from technology companies. This was a shrewd investment – it has helped now-dominant internet platforms set the agenda.

Academics prominent in today’s corporate-backed net neutrality protest include Stanford Law School’s Barbara van Schewick and lawyer Marvin Ammori, who runs “Fight For The Future”. Both, the GTP said, are indirectly funded by Google….

Although all large corporations lobby and fund academic research, Silicon Valley is unique in funding not only thinktanks but also ersatz “civil society” groups (such as Fight For The Future), which then manufacture a synthetic “grassroots” legitimacy for a policy issue. The phenomenon of “slacktivism” or “clicktivism” makes use of low-cost, low-risk tools to generate apparent support for lightweight causes (“save the internet”).

This means that the corporate puppet master can work academics to create and promote an issue, and then deploy fake “citizen” groups to generate the impression of popular support for its position. Although sometimes it’s hard to tell the slacktivists from the academics.

Read the post on The Register

@scleland: How Google Is Anti-employment Anti-property & Pro-regulation

Google’s unprecedented Obama Administration influence and its self-serving anti-employment, anti-property, and pro-regulatory policy agenda, are on a collision course with the job-creating, pro-property, deregulatory Trump Administration growth agenda.

Keep watch to see who adapts to whom and how.

I.  Google’s Unprecedented Lobbying Influence

Current Alphabet-Google Chairman Eric Schmidt enjoys the privilege of being the onlycorporate leader of a publicly-traded company on the President’s nineteen member Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Coincidentally, former senior Google executive from 2003-2014, Megan Smith, is the U.S. Chief Technology Officer, responsible for all tech policymaking in the Executive Branch.

Coincidentally, Former Google Deputy General Counsel for intellectual property from 2003-2009, Alexander Macgillvray, is the Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer for intellectual property & privacy policy.

Coincidentally, former Google Senior Engineer from 2006-2013, Mikey Dickerson, is Deputy U.S. Chief Information Officer and Administrator of the U.S. Digital Service, a new organization and position.

Renata Hesse, Google’s former outside antitrust defense counselis coincidentally now Acting U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust, who coincidentally is the lead liaison with EU antitrust authorities concerning the EU’s three pending monopolization cases against Google.

Former Google Deputy General Counsel and head of patents and patent strategy from 2003-2012, Michelle Lee, is coincidentally now Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, who coincidentally joined the USPTO just when Google faced several new serious patent lawsuits.

And coincidentally yet again, the U.S. Register of Copyright, Maria Pallante, just got fired coincidentally after she disagreed with Renata Hesse and Google’s position on a music copyright consent decree and with the FCC-Google position that FCC authority should supersede copyright in the FCC’s Set-Top Box rulemaking.

Coincidentally, Google employees visited the Obama White House 427 times per White House Logs including 128 visits coincidentally by Google’s lobbyist Joanna Shelton alone, many more times than any other special interest.

And a final coincidence, Google also has generated the most “revolving door” moves of any company with this Administration with 251 Google employees either entering the government or government employees joining Google, according to the Google Transparency Project.

Read the post on the Precursor Blog

@andreworlowski: Google had Obama’s ear on antitrust probe

According to emails released under the US Freedom of Information Act, Google briefed the White House on an antitrust investigation into itself, breaking a 40-year precedent of the President’s office staying out of competition issues.

It’s no smoking gun – just another small but valuable piece of evidence showing how close the ties are between Obama’s White House and the giant ad-slinger.

It was unearthed by the Google Transparency Project (GTP), which has illustrated how close Google lobbyists and the government are, and how close Obama’s team was with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the USA’s competition watchdog and telecom industry regulator.

The Project notes that every president since Nixon has stayed well clear of antitrust probes. Both the FTC and FCC are statutory arms-length agencies that report to Congress, not the POTUS. However, the historical relationship began to change, as Google realized it was pushing an open door.

More recently, the Department of Justice antitrust attorney Renata Hesse proposed a change in copyright regulation that Google might have written itself. Although Hesse is now acting attorney general for antitrust issues, as well as keeping her brief over the entertainment industry, for six years she worked at the top Silicon Valley law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati, on cases where the law posed challenges to Google’s business practices.

“I did a lot of work for Google on [antitrust],” she admitted in 2008. Hesse now wants to change the administration of copyright in such a way that many song owners can’t refuse Google license.”

(For details, see this timeline, and marvel.)

“Some of us believe we live in an era of government by Google,” music manager Irving Azoff told Rolling Stone. “Their power to influence Washington is unprecedented.”

Read the post on The Register