@tessamakeslove: A Pathetic Case of Rebranding: Fight for the Future Is Lying to Us, Again!

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was passed almost twenty years ago, in 1998. At the time, it was mainly intended to protect ISPs and telecom companies from being legally liable in case infringing materials found their way onto their equipment or cables. Telecom companies were in dire need of such legislation because they were putting a lot of money into very expensive infrastructure, and needed traffic to justify the expenses.

When YouTube came into existence, its success depended on the ability to attract massive amounts of viewers. Providing access to infringing materials helped their cause greatly, and YouTube gladly took advantage of the DMCA’s Safe Harbor provisions. As Sam Gustin writes, ‘YouTube founders knew illegal content was driving explosive growth.’ (See also, Viacom vs. YouTube/Google: A Piracy Case in Their Own Words.)  Legal or moral aspects of copyright seemed to matter very little to the excited businessmen who were in it for the big prize.

Google (um, Alphabet) who owns YouTube today is no stranger to profiting from copyright infringement, either….

To accomplish its business and existential goals, Google absolutely needs to lie and trick people. Not only they spend massive amounts of money on lobbying, they also fund and support various organizations that smell like freedom on paper but in reality, are only there to push the anti-copyright and anti-culture agenda.

Enter Fight for the Future.

Last month, I jumped on my chair with surprise after seeing this tweet:

Thing is, TPP is horrible. But so is Fight for the Future.  I can’t possibly blame the musicians for jumping on this tour. FFTF’s rhethoric would confuse anybody who is not very familiar with what their seamy anti-artist and copyleft side. But it needs to be said. Fight for the Future IS the machine! It is a machine fighting against another machine over money, simple and cynical. Fight for the Future vs. TPP is like Monsters vs. Aliens.

The depth of human indecency permeating this particular case of “righteous” rebranding is astounding, and I think it’s important to set the record straight. It’s a matter of principle and existential truth.

Read the post on Tessa Fights Robots

@CaseySeiler: No safe harbor in music tiff [Zephyr Teachout Campaign]

Why are a handful of musicians — a substrata of society generally predisposed to fall on the left side of the political spectrum — ticked off at Zephyr Teachout, the progressive Democratic candidate in the 19th Congressional District?

Blame it on the internet. To be more precise, blame it on Teachout’s former work for Fight For The Future, a nonprofit “dedicated to protecting and expanding the Internet’s transformative power,” according to its own website.

In online postings and outreach to the media, several artists have denounced FFF as having an “anti-artist, anti-copyright agenda” — an allegation the group denies vociferously. Teachout served on the board of the group’s education fund, but stepped down earlier this year after announcing her candidacy.

Those calling for Teachout to respond include the jazz great Jack DeJohnette, a resident of the Catskills who, in a recent letter, told the candidate, “It disturbs me that someone who seems to be running in support of the people is not further tuned in to the needs of us artists, who ultimately might be your constituents.”

DeJohnette said in his letter that since the advent of the digital age, his royalties from recorded music have declined 90 percent. “I am all over YouTube,” he wrote, and “everyone but me gets an income from this.”

The most immediate bone of contention for those hammering Teachout on this issue — a list that also includes guitarist Marc Ribot and Red Hook author and filmmaker David Newhoff — appears to be proposed changes to the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, in particular a toughening of provisions that aim to prevent websites from hosting copyrighted material without the consent of the copyright holder. Currently, online service providers are generally protected from liability under the so-called “Safe Harbor” provision of the DMCA, which aims to balance the interests of internet users and copyright holders.

Read the story on the Albany Times Union

@musictechpolicy: Did Zephyr Teachout Quietly Resign from Controversial Lobby Shop? (Update)

[Editor Charlie sez: Update on this June 29 post from MTP–it appears that Zephyr Teachout’s organization Fight for the Future made unsubstantiated claims in a fund raising email puffing up something that may not have happened at all, but certainly doesn’t appear to have happened the way they said.  Remember that Fight for the Future made this statement in an April 6 fund raising email about the curious timing of their campaign against DMCA reform sent while Teachout apparently was on their education fund’s board of directors):

FFTF Email

The Copyright Office has confirmed that (1) the DMCA reform comment page was hosted by regulations.gov so there was no “Copyright Office website”; (2) there were no “Copyright Office website servers”; (3) there was no “crash” (temporary or otherwise) since there were no Copyright Office servers; (4) the Copyright Office received no report from regulations.gov that its cloud based system had “crashed”; and (5) nobody from the Copyright Office “worked with” Fight for the Future to do anything.

There is also an open question of whether bots were used or some sort of batch submission API–batch submissions are evidently not permitted by regulations.gov.  We also reached out to regulations.gov but they are not responsive.

Due to top notch reporting by Casey Seller of the Albany Times Union, artist reaction to Teachout’s involvement with Fight for the Future is now an issue in her election campaign in the NY 19 district that includes Woodstock and the artist-heavy Hudson Valley.]

Zephyr Teachout and Lawrence Lessig

Zephyr Teachout faced the voters yesterday in the Democratic Party primary for the 19th Congressional District to replace the retiring Chris Gibson (a former combat veteran bird colonel, Airborne Ranger with the CIB, Purple Heart, and other distinctions).  In a weak start to her general election campaign, she seems to have tried to quietly resigned from a public association with a controversial anti-artist lobby shop rather than face legitimate questions from her artist constituents

Candidate Teachout is definitely fascinated with getting into a powerful position–she challenged NY Governor Andrew Cuomo in his latest winning campaign for governorand got a respectable 30%ish of the vote.  (Teachout outraised her opponent 2:1 according to the most recent disclosures, thanks in part to a corporate donation from George Soros‘s Soros Fund Management.)  A former lobbyist, she’s clearly got her own machine and isn’t worried about his.

While Progressives may be drawn to this former operator of the failed Lessig Super PAC (see Zephyr Teachout takes over Larry Lessig’s PAC), several musicians including Jack DeJohnette and Marc Ribot have publicly asked Candidate Teachout to publicly state her positions on protecting artist rights.

Good news: There are two bills currently pending in the House of Representatives to which Candidate Teachout seeks election that sum this up nicely but that are both opposed by the kind of people who gave money to the Lessig Super PAC she once ran.  If elected, will Candidate Teachout endorse the Songwriter Equity Act and the Fair Play Fair Pay Act should these bills not pass in the current Congress and be reintroduced?

In particular, while being transparent, she could also explain why she was in the vanguard of one of the premier anti-artist operations and why that’s good for NY-19, an area that prides itself on having the highest per capita number of artists than anywhere in the United States.

She’s done neither–but appears to have quietly resigned from her controversial position with Fight for the Future “Education Fund”.

Now why do you suppose that happened and happened that way?

Transparency for Thee But Not for Me

If you’ve followed local politics in the 19th, you’ll know two things: First, Woodstock is in the district.  Remember Woodstock?  The defining musical moment for a generation?  Remember Albert Grossman, Bearsville Studios, Big Pink, Bob Dylan and The Band?  Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble?  All in Woodstock.  In fact, I was able to attend a Ramble when Levon performed even though he was too sick to sing.  Dying on the bandstand is rather emblematic of the credibility problem facing Candidate Teachout.

And nowhere is her problem more highlighted than in her governance position with the Fight for the Future Education Fund.  You may not be aware that Candidate Teachout is–or maybe was–on the board directors of Fight for the Future Education Fund (right next to a self-described Google consultant).


FFTF Board

The lobbying group is backed by the Consumer Electronics Association and the Center for Democracy and Technology, among others, including the usual “dark pool” foundations that appear in my view to potentially launder money for corporations who want to keep up appearances–such as Google.  (Corporation gives to foundation which then gives to lobbying group or “public interest” group that furthers corporations agenda with public messaging–dark pool foundations.)


A Cover Up is Coming

So–why would Candidate Teachout not respond to the questions raised by Jack and Lydia DeJohnette in The Trichordist?  The great drummer raises questions that should be of concern to anyone who cares about property rights and the rule of law, not to mention the devastation wrought on artists by the Big Tech interests that Candidate Teachout appears so comfortable with.  (For example, the CEO of Linkedin and Spotify board member Sean Parker gave $1 million and $500,000 respectively to Lessig PAC).

Here are the questions put to Candidate Teachout in the Trichordist:

Four Questions for Zephyr Teachout Candidate US House of Representatives Democratic Primary NY-19

  1. Do you personally support the anti-artist, anti-copyright agenda of Fight For The Future, where you served as Director of the Education Fund? If so, please explain why you hold that position. If not, please explain how your views differ from the messages of that organization.
  1. Do you recognize that mass, online copyright infringement causes direct harm to people like me? As my prospective representative, will you fight for my ability to support myself and my family with my creative work?
  1. You’re running on a message that is very important to democrats – holding corporations accountable and getting big money out of politics.  Can you say without equivocation that Fight For The Future reflects these values?
  2. Do you support Jerrold Nadler’s Fair Play Fair Pay bill, which would bring the US into conformity with the rest of the free industrialized world by paying artists for the commercial, terrestrial radio broadcast of their work (and put tens of millions in foreign royalties now being withheld due to the lack of US reciprocity into the pockets of US working artists)?

@illusionofmore via @rrstar: NY 19th Congressional District needs a pro-artist representative

The Hudson Valley enjoys a long and diverse relationship with the arts. Speaking as one artist, a resident, and a Democrat, I wish I could be enthusiastic about the candidacy of Zephyr Teachout. Her campaign says, “We can have a fair economy that puts the middle class back at its center,” and certainly this is a goal I support.

But for a segment of the middle class that includes artists and creative professionals, there is a corporate agenda working against our interests — one that is less visible than business tax avoidance or lobbying. It’s Silicon Valley’s assault on copyright; and Zephyr Teachout has played a significant role in furthering that agenda as an executive at the organization Fight for the Future.

Read David Newhoff’s post on the Register Star

@davidclowery: Progressive Candidates Fail Artists: Zephyr Teachout (NY-19) vs Woodstock NY

I suppose it’s amusing in ugly sort of way:  Progressives are essentially going against a largely democratic unionized industry (Hollywood) while embracing the agenda of an anti-union and libertarian industry  (Silicon Valley).   The Author Thomas Frank should write a follow-up to his “What’s the Matter with Kansas?”  and call it “What’s the Matter with Hollywood?”

There is no better example of this than the current darling of the progressive movement Zephyr Teachout.  Teachout is running for Congress in NY-19 as a Democrat.  At first glance Teachout appears appealing to the majority of Americans (left and right) who want to reform American politics and rid our election system of  the corrupting influence of money.   These are certainly worthy goals.   But if you do a little digging, Teachout is not who she appears to be.

Why did Teachout move to the NY 19th congressional district from metro NYC?

Teachout appears to have “shopped” for a congressional district in which to run.  NY-19 is a marginally Republican district with a retiring  Republican incumbent.  She has no roots in the sprawling 19th congressional district. Teachout a law professor at Fordham University in NYC moved to Dutchess County 9 months before entering the race after a lot of online progressive speculation that she should run for congress.   There were already perfectly good local candidates running for the seat, a liberal Democrat, farmer Will Yandik  and three Republicans.  But hey this is politics and we all know politics is ugly.  No surprise right?


One of the things that gives Teachout a shot in this Republican leaning congressional district is the cluster of counter culture progressive democrats in places like Woodstock.  This is largely the legacy of the music business economic cluster that developed here in the late 1960s and continues to generate considerable economic activity throughout the Hudson Valley.  The list of musicians, songwriters, engineers producers and managers associated with Woodstock and the Hudson Valley is impressive.

I imagine that Teachout will want to draw support from this important community, and my guess is that many in this community will reflexively support her.   Unfortunately this would not be in their interest.  Why? Teachout is the director of an astroturf organization called Fight For The Future.  Why is that important?  Well first you need a little background.

Read the post on The Trichordist