With so many unhappy with the Department of Justice‘s recent alteration to the Performing Rights Organization licensing model, Texas Governor Greg Abbott recently sent a letter to Attorney General Lynch urging reconsideration of the decision.
G O V E R N O R G R E G A B B O T TAugust 29, 2016
The Honorable Loretta E. LynchAttorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20530-0001
Dear Attorney General Lynch:
I write to express my disagreement with the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) recent decision regarding the consent decrees in United States v. Broadcast Music, Inc. 1 and United States v. American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. 2 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.
The DOJ ultimately concluded that the consent decrees require Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) to offer only full-work licenses to their respective music repertoires, including those songs in which BMI or ASCAP only represent a fraction of the ownership rights. However, despite claims to the contrary, BMI and ASCAP have never offered full-work licenses to fractionally owned songs, and the consent decrees have never been interpreted by the DOJ to require that until now. This drastic change in course will have severe consequences for music artists and the music industry as a whole. Specifically, the DOJ’s conclusion will inhibit collaboration between music artists, upend longstanding practices within the music industry and further reduce royalty payments to music artists.3
The DOJ claims that the plain language of the consent decrees does not permit it to reach any other conclusion. That is incorrect.
Remember when Mississippi’s popular Attorney General Jim Hood got sued by Google for having the temerity to try to enforce his state’s laws against an out of state corporation’s violations of the Google Drugs settlement when the Google Justice Department failed to act?
And not only did the Google Justice Department fail to act, the Attorney General of the United States apologized to Google and “muzzled” the only U.S. Attorney with the balls to go after Google.
So in the waning days of the Obama Administration, it shouldn’t be surprising that the Mountain View Mafia is taking care of the family business while they still control the levers of power.
Yes, General Hood just got his payback: After years of trying to negotiate with the Google Justice Department, the State of Mississippi just got sued by the Google Justice Department–the awesome power of the one plaintiff in the U.S. that actually prints money to pay its legal bills.
This press release from General Hood tries to make lemonade out of lemons, but it’s pretty obvious–as the only Democrat holding elected office in Mississippi, party loyalty goes right out the window if you cross Google.
Attorney General Jim Hood Calls for Collaborative Effort in Continuing to Improve State Mental Health Services
A lawsuit filed today by the U.S. Department of Justice against the state of Mississippi provides the most meaningful opportunity yet for leaders to work together to continue to improve the state’s mental health system, Attorney General Jim Hood said today.
The federal government alleges that the state has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by housing mentally ill individuals in institutions rather than community settings. The Department of Justice has filed similar lawsuits in about a dozen states alleging violations of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision.
“This lawsuit is a clarion call to all of us in state leadership to consider how we care for the least among us and how we can make it better,” Attorney General Hood said. “I see this litigation as a challenge to our Legislature to find the resources we need to continue to expand mental health services. This is a clear opportunity for our Legislature, mental health professionals, our faith-based community and all of us as Mississippians to come together to determine an effective way to address issues related to our mental health delivery system for years to come. It’s our obligation as Christians and people of faith to take care of those who are unable to take care of themselves. It’s time for each of us to move forward to better fulfill that fundamental responsibility.
“The state has made great progress in expanding community mental health programs, and we will continue to push for expansion. We have come a long way, but further work remains to be done.”
Attorney General Hood said his office has been negotiating with DOJ for several years in an effort to avoid litigation, which is expected to be a considerable cost to the state at a time when tax cuts have caused significant budget problems. However, the Attorney General refused to accept the federal government’s demands for a court-ordered consent decree that would bind the state to perpetual federal oversight.
Attorney General Hood had also hoped that good-faith efforts to address the state’s mental health needs might allay the federal government’s concerns. Thus, the Attorney General has encouraged lawmakers for years to allocate additional resources to the Department of Mental Health. The Legislature did provide some extra funding in previous sessions, but this year actually cut the Department’s budget by $8.3 million. Since 2008, the Department has been forced to eliminate approximately 500 mental health beds, in addition to 34 beds in 2016 because of the Legislature’s budget cuts and its refusal to provide additional money for mental health programs.
“Not only did the Department of Mental Health take a substantial budget hit, the Legislature did not agree to a request for more than $12 million for community mental health programs,” Attorney General Hood said. “That would have helped us continue our expansion of community-based mental health services and kept us moving in the right direction, as we’ve consistently been doing already.”
AG Jim Hood Press Release
Aide met twice with company’s antitrust counsel in final weeks of investigation.
“Obviously, lots of interest here at the WH.”
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.
Google 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.”
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.
Professor Stephen Carlisle gives us a point by point refutation of the DOJ’s astroturf position on 100% licensing.