NP AAAARGGHHHHH: @NPR CEO Jarl Mohn Funded Piracy Client Vuze and Vuze Sponsors Torrent Freak

We’ve been reporting for the last few days on NPR joining Pandora, Clear Channel, National Association of Broadcasters and Google in the MIC Coalition which seeks to lower rates paid to artists and to keep songwriters under DOJ supervision (because what these large corporate and state chartered near monopolies need is  “anti-competition” protection from songwriters?  WTF?).

This has puzzled us because NPR already enjoys a dramatically lower royalty rate than most other radio.  Further we artists often waive our rights and allow NPR use of our recordings royalty free  in perpetuity.  We willingly support NPR in this manner because we believe they provide a public service. We have been a solid ally of public and community radio. Why would they turn against us and join this dark side coalition?

Now we think we have the answer.

NPR CEO Jarl Mohn is a card carrying member of the dark side. He funded the  bittorrent piracy client Vuze not once but twice.  He was part of the B series round of $12 million and the C series round of $20 million.  And make no mistake Vuze is a key part of the piracy ecosystem.

Yeah yeah yeah, we heard it before:  “Vuze is just a tool and they don’t profit from piracy”  Bullshit.  Vuze profits directly from the illegal distribution of my material by knowingly serving advertising against it.

Allow me to demonstrate with the tracks from my latest album.

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This is a screenshot of the Vuze client while downloading an unlicensed copy of my new album Berkeley to Bakersfield.  Down in the left hand corner there is an ad for American Express served by the publicly traded web advertising firm Quantcast. (Coincidentally a couple of years ago I privately defended Quantcast against similar charges, now I feel like a fucking idiot.)

To be clear this is not a webpage and ad exchange banner advertising. No one played some “tunneling” or DNS forwarding trick to make American Express and Quantcast think it wasn’t advertising on this site.  This advertising  is embedded into a piece of software that is used almost exclusively for downloading illegally distributed films music and pornography. How does American Express not know this? Quantcast? Or Jarl Mohn?

How did NPR come up with a CEO  with such questionable ethics?  This guy had to know for what he fas funding: An industrial strength tool To infringe on the rights of artists on global scale.  Either that or he’s really really dim.

 

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But it gets worse. The piracy advocating website Torrent Freak appears to be sponsored by the very same company: Vuze.   That’s right the piracy revolution will not be televised but it will be sponsored by amoral Silicon Valley Venture Capitalists.   You really thought Torrent Freak was an ideological true believer fighting for your rights to “share” against the man?  Nope looks they are the marketing department for the man who makes advertising money off of your sharing activity.  

Tool

Here’s a screenshot from the Torrent Freak website helpfully alerting it’s readers to availability of the leaked Game of Thrones Season 5 on Kick Ass Torrents and the Pirate Bay.   Look carefully at the code.  The ad for Vuze isn’t just randomly served by some online adexchange. It’s embedded into the site.  Someone had to go in and place that link and that JPG into the code.  Plus the visible text actually claims them a “sponsor.”

So you are really gonna tell me with a straight face that no money is changing hands here?  Vuze is not paying “Ernesto” the editor of Torrent Freak?  While Ernesto is pretty much inducing piracy and giving advice on how to avoid prosecution?

How is this not a conspiracy?  I mean conspiracy like  RICO Conspiracy (See details below).

And it all started with money from NPR CEO Jarl Mohn.

Fire this guy.

NPR affiliates, DJs, Journalists and independent public radio stations need to stand with artists against these assholes. Heres our olive branch.  Please join us.

Otherwise?

It’s Torches and Pitchforks time.  It’s not gonna be prett.y

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STOP IF YOU DON’T WANT TO GO INTO A DEEP DIVE ON RACKETEERING AND CORRUPT ORGANIZATION (RICO) STATUTES.

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I’m not a lawyer but the intent of the law seems pretty clear. To prevent groups of people-even if only informally organized-from engaging in coordinated criminal activity.  Specifically when it disrupts legitimate marketplaces like those for recorded music or online advertising.

“RICO is designed to attack organized criminal activity and preserve marketplace integrity by investigating, controlling, and prosecuting persons who participate or conspire to participate in racketeering.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1286 (8th ed. 2005).  

There are a host of organized “scams” that generally occur in the peer to peer advertising ecosystem including within the Vuze client. Maybe there are some prosecutors or litigators out there who can help me with this? Aren’t the following part of the RICO statute?

1)  Mass copyright infringement.

2) Advertisers publicly claim to not know where there ads are being served.  If this is true then there is fraud going on.  Someone along the way, advertising agencies, ad exchanges, and/or companies like Vuze are behaving improperly. Since it involves the online ad ecosystem wouldn’t this be Wire Fraud?

3) Uh… how do I say the obvious? P2P networks have a lot of pornography?  A lot!     I could be wrong, but I can’t imagine illegal pornography isn’t also being monetized with advertising as it’s transferred using the Vuze client.  How can you possible be allowed to make money off of illegal pornography and not be prosecuted?

4) Anyone visiting a site like The Pirate bay has probably noticed the relentless advertising for Russian or Asian Brides.  Human trafficking anyone?

5) These same sites also sometimes feature ads for something called a “Green Card Lottery.”  The US does not use a lottery system for Green Cards. Naturalization fraud/scam?

Now check out the RICO definitions. My bold italics added.

18 U.S. Code § 1961 – Definitions:

As used in this chapter—
(1) “racketeering activity” means (A) any act or threat involving murder, kidnapping, gambling, arson, robbery, bribery, extortion, dealing in obscene matter, or dealing in a controlled substance or listed chemical (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act), which is chargeable under State law and punishable by imprisonment for more than one year; (B) any act which is indictable under any of the following provisions of title 18, United States Code: Section 201 (relating to bribery), section 224 (relating to sports bribery), sections 471, 472, and 473 (relating to counterfeiting), section 659 (relating to theft from interstate shipment) if the act indictable under section 659 is felonious, section 664 (relating to embezzlement from pension and welfare funds), sections 891–894 (relating to extortionate credit transactions), section 1028 (relating to fraud and related activity in connection with identification documents), section 1029 (relating to fraud and related activity in connection with access devices), section 1084 (relating to the transmission of gambling information), section 1341 (relating to mail fraud), section 1343 (relating to wire fraud), section 1344 (relating to financial institution fraud), section 1351 (relating to fraud in foreign labor contracting), section 1425 (relating to the procurement of citizenship or nationalization unlawfully), section 1426 (relating to the reproduction of naturalization or citizenship papers), section 1427 (relating to the sale of naturalization or citizenship papers), sections 1461–1465 (relating to obscene matter), section 1503 (relating to obstruction of justice), section 1510 (relating to obstruction of criminal investigations), section 1511 (relating to the obstruction of State or local law enforcement), section 1512 (relating to tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant), section 1513 (relating to retaliating against a witness, victim, or an informant), section 1542 (relating to false statement in application and use of passport), section 1543 (relating to forgery or false use of passport), section 1544 (relating to misuse of passport), section 1546 (relating to fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents), sections 1581–1592 (relating to peonage, slavery, and trafficking in persons)., [1] section 1951 (relating to interference with commerce, robbery, or extortion), section 1952 (relating to racketeering), section 1953 (relating to interstate transportation of wagering paraphernalia), section 1954 (relating to unlawful welfare fund payments), section 1955 (relating to the prohibition of illegal gambling businesses), section 1956 (relating to the laundering of monetary instruments), section 1957 (relating to engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity), section 1958 (relating to use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire), section 1960 (relating to illegal money transmitters), sections 2251, 2251A, 2252, and 2260 (relating to sexual exploitation of children), sections 2312 and 2313 (relating to interstate transportation of stolen motor vehicles), sections 2314 and 2315 (relating to interstate transportation of stolen property), section 2318 (relating to trafficking in counterfeit labels for phonorecords, computer programs or computer program documentation or packaging and copies of motion pictures or other audiovisual works), section 2319 (relating to criminal infringement of a copyright), section 2319A (relating to unauthorized fixation of and trafficking in sound recordings and music videos of live musical performances), section 2320 (relating to trafficking in goods or services bearing counterfeit marks), section 2321 (relating to trafficking in certain motor vehicles or motor vehicle parts), sections 2341–2346 (relating to trafficking in contraband cigarettes), sections 2421–24 (relating to white slave traffic), sections 175–178 (relating to biological weapons), sections 229–229F (relating to chemical weapons), section 831 (relating to nuclear materials), (C) any act which is indictable under title 29, United States Code, section 186 (dealing with restrictions on payments and loans to labor organizations) or section 501 (c) (relating to embezzlement from union funds), (D) any offense involving fraud connected with a case under title 11 (except a case under section 157 of this title), fraud in the sale of securities, or the felonious manufacture, importation, receiving, concealment, buying, selling, or otherwise dealing in a controlled substance or listed chemical (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act), punishable under any law of the United States, (E) any act which is indictable under the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act, (F) any act which is indictable under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 274 (relating to bringing in and harboring certain aliens), section 277 (relating to aiding or assisting certain aliens to enter the United States), or section 278 (relating to importation of alien for immoral purpose) if the act indictable under such section of such Act was committed for the purpose of financial gain, or (G) any act that is indictable under any provision listed in section 2332b (g)(5)(B);
(2) “State” means any State of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, any territory or possession of the United States, any political subdivision, or any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof;
(3) “person” includes any individual or entity capable of holding a legal or beneficial interest in property;
(4) “enterprise” includes any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity, and any union or group of individuals associated in fact although not a legal entity;

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Darth Vader not Available So NPR Hires Same Lawyer That Represents Pandora Against Songwriters

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How did we miss this before.  Just discovered this choice little gem on the Copyright Society website.  NPR has hired Ken Steinthal to represent them in the Copyright Royalty Board hearing (happening right now). As predicted looks like he is arguing for lower rates for NPR. (They already enjoy substantially lower rates than commercial radio). More on this later.   But this looks like a smoking gun to me.  NPR really has sold out artists.

Maybe @NPR Just Doesn’t Pay Vice President For Policy and Representation Enough

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 8.05.38 PMI have to say I was a little disappointed when I saw these figures.  This has to be the guy behind NPRs move to join the MIC-Coalition.org.   I mean even in the non-profit world of DC you’d think the Vice President for Policy and Representation would earn more than $211K a year.  I mean many of his colleagues are pulling down twice this amount.    Is it possible that NPR is in this mess because they just couldn’t afford to hire someone else?  I mean good Washington DC counsel doesn’t come cheap.   Maybe their move to join Pandora, Google, Clear Channel and the National Association of Broadcasters in urging congress to slash artists royalties is a sensible move after all!

Ah, it’s all fun and games until some local affiliate has a really shitty pledge drive.

Why NPR Should Stand With #irespectmusic

National Public Radio stations around the U.S. have long been great friends and allies of artists.  Artists have long been great friends and allies of National Public Radio stations.  The friendship has been based on a bona fide mutual admiration.  The stations are tastemakers and the artists give the stations something to make taste about.

Make no mistake–this is what makes NPR different from Clear Channel, Pandora and Google.  We know that there are real music people at NPR stations and we are willing to do things for NPR that we would never do for the others.  Including work for free as David has said.  Including fight with our labels to let us work for free because NPR stations actually play new music.  We cut NPR stations a tremendous amount of slack and they return the favor by playing new music.  They are cool people.

This is why it seems so idiotic for NPR to take a side against artist pay for radio play by agreeing to be a human shield for “Mic Coalition” featuring Amazon, Google, Pandora, Clear Channel (iHeartMedia) and the lobbying groups Computer & Communications Industry Association, Consumer Electronics Association, the National Association of Broadcasters and the Digital Media Association.  Yes, NPR is leading the way to stand with North Korea, Iran and Rwanda and continue to deny fair compensation to artists for radio airplay.

Clear Channel, Pandora, Amazon, Google, CEA, CCIA, DIMA–we know who these people  are.  While they may not overtly loathe us, we are just a commodity to them.  We could just as well be soap.  If Clear Channel could get away with never playing a new record they’d do it.  Amazon owes its start to authors and artists, and all they’ve done is try to screw us ever since.  Pandora’s shenanigans are well known–especially since they recruited songwriter enemy #1 Chris Harrison–and Google’s indifference to artists rights was appallingly crystalized with their mistreatment of Zoë Keating.  These are not and never will be cool people.  They stab us in the back all the time, so we’re used to that treatment from them.  And after all–Clear Channel’s biggest threat is to continue not playing our records.  NPR is different, though.

So you have to ask what is sadder than someone who used to be cool.  Maybe someone who wants to stand with North Korea.  Maybe someone who wants to make sure that artists don’t get paid for radio play now or ever.

We notice when these people stab us in the back.  We thought they were our friends.  That’s why they got the freebies.  Maybe if they’re going to act like Clear Channel they should get treated like Clear Channel?

But here’s the thing about it–we’re not quite ready to believe yet that these people who are so committed to music have thrown us under the bus.  Here’s what we know–unlike Tim Westergren, they’re not sitting around thinking about it in a 13 bathroom house.

We’re also not ready to believe that NPR’s reporters are ready to abandon their journalistic principles either.  Because make no mistake–they can’t hold their heads up and report on this story when they are part of the story.  They’re not objective.  They’ve been coopted and corporatized.  And we bet nobody in the NPR powers that be bothered to ask them.

No, what we have to believe has happened here is that some suits inside the NPR organization have decided to throw their entire music and news teams under the bus.  These dimwitted suits have been lured into this “coalition” by some of the richest companies in the history of commerce that have no cultural connection to NPR whatsoever.  And make no mistake about this, either–the currency they used to buy their way into this “coalition” is the goodwill of NPR’s music and news divisions.  That’s right–our friends in music and news have been commoditized every bit as much as Pandora & Co. want to commoditize us and they’ve been sold down the river, too.

We think that’s exactly what happened and that, dear readers, is some real inside the Beltway skullduggery.  That is some low down bullshit.

So we hold out a hand to our friends and say join us in this fight.  Join us tonight.  Our cause is just and the time is now.  We would be proud to stand with you if you would have us.

Huh? Federally Funded and Chartered Public Radio Monopoly Needs “Monopoly” Protection From Songwriters?

The federally funded NPR has joined with major broadcasters and tech behemoths to form the  MIC-Coalition.org   One of the stated purposes of the organization is to keep songwriter performing rights organizations under the “temporary” 1941 DOJ  anti-competitive consent decrees.   Here is what the MIC Coalition website says:

The U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing the antitrust consent decrees that govern the Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) ASCAP and BMI, the organizations that license songs and collect royalties on behalf of rights holders like songwriters and publishers. These consent decrees promote fair music licensing while protecting music users, venues where music is played and music distributors from the anticompetitive behavior inherent to the PROs.

Notice that they don’t mention anywhere that ASCAP and BMI are non-profit “unions” of songwriters (songwriters produce goods so it’s not technically a union but more like a farm cooperative). It would sound a little different if NPR’s DC lobbyists explained that one minor detail, right?  They don’t. This is pure demagoguery,  so much for NPR’s much lauded reputation for fair reporting.

And That is really too bad because this isn’t an idea brought to you by the rank and file NPR journalist .  This is something that the real smart folks in the DC corporate headquarters dreamed up. You know the folks who do the real work.

Tellingly another important detail goes unreported. There are four competitive  “unions” of songwriters.   None of which have more than a 50% market share.  Meanwhile Pandora has more than a 70% market share.  Google/Youtube IS the online video monopoly and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting… well it’s a government chartered and funded public broadcasting monopoly ($445 million dollars in 2015).

I don’t understand this. I guess you need to be real Washington DC smart to understand why it’s necessary for the DOJ to protect monopolies from organizations of songwriters.

This entire effort by NPR national corporate headquarters is completely puzzling. No good will come to the NPR affiliates from this effort.  It’s simply tarnishing the NPR brand.  And isn’t that gonna hurt when the next pledge drive comes?

1) Public broadcasting stations already pay royalty rates much lower than commercial broadcasters.

2) Artist’s routinely and willingly support NPR stations by giving them rights to recordings in perpetuity. See NPR performance Contract.

3) Most of NPR’s programming expenses are in it’s executive salaries and non-musical programming. Further reducing artists royalties would make little difference.

4) Most of the financial benefits of royalty reductions would go to NPR’s corporate competitors.

5) Taxpayers give over $445 million a year to support public broadcasting.

What gives NPR? Why the corporate sell-out?

@NPR ‘s Pledge Drive for the National Association of Broadcasters, Pandora, Google and Clear Channel

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NPR has joined with a host of broadcasting and tech behemoths to lobby congress for lower royalties for artists. Well they don’t quite come out and say that,  there is a wishy washy statement about “affordability” but  coalition partners Pandora, NAB, Google, Clear Channel have relentlessly  lobbied for lower rates for artists and songwriters. Remember these are the same companies that lobbied to slash performer rates with the Orwellian named “Internet Radio Fairness Act.”   The act would have created “fairness” by slashing performers royalties up to 85%.  It’s not our fault that Silicon Valley firms can’t make a profit giving our music away for free while sucking out 1/2 billion dollars in executive stock compensation!  (Try selling music like Apple they don’t seem to be having any profit problems).

But I digress…

We are puzzled as to why NPR joined this fight.

1) Public broadcasting stations already enjoy lower royalty rates.

2) Artist’s routinely and willingly support NPR stations by giving them rights to recordings in perpetuity.  See NPR performance Contract.

3) Most of NPR’s programming expenses are in it’s executive salaries and  non-musical programming.  Further reducing artists royalties would make little difference.

4) Most of the financial benefits of royalty reductions would go to NPR’s corporate competitors.

5) Taxpayers give over $400 million a year to support public broadcasting.

What gives NPR?  Why the corporate sell-out?

Breaking: Pandora’s IRFA Lobbyists Return for the Astroturf Reheat in NPR Alliance Against Artist Rights

More to follow:

Is @NPR “Bearding” for National Association of Broadcasters @nabtweets, Pandora and Google?

See todays earlier story:

http://thetrichordist.com/2015/04/29/will-npr-still-irespectmusic-and-allsongs-after-joining-dark-side-coalition/

You can’t get much lower than “free and in perpetuity.”   NPR already enjoys an enormous subsidy from artists. Plus many of us contribute directly to our local NPR affiliates. Why is NPR “bearding” for Google PandoraClear Channel and National Association of Broadcasters?

Here is a contract for a recorded live performance on one of the flagship NPR stations.   We artists happily sign these contracts because we believe in the public good that NPR provides.   We help subsidize your stations. I  have signed almost this exact contract on dozens of occasions.  Why are you stabbing artists in the back? We are on your side.  You think NAB, Clear Channel and the libertarians of Silicon Valley are gonna support public radio?

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Will @NPR still #IRESPECTMUSIC and @allsongs After Joining Dark Side Coalition?

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Gee this wasn’t coordinated at all. Two new Astroturf (squared) organizations in two days (with possibly the same web designer?)  The day after the announcement of the the new ReCreateCoalition, an AstroTurf organization composed almost exclusively of Google connected Astroturf organizations,   some of the same companies plus The National Association of Broadcasters, I Heart Media (Clear Channel)  Pandora and NPR have announced the creation of the MIC-Coalition in order to lobby AGAINST fair digital royalties to artists; AGAINST terrestrial royalty for performers,  and to keep songwriters under the oppressive and unconstitutional DOJ consent decrees.  Read the website it’s unbelievable.   Why the hell did NPR join?

Does NPR really want to have this fight with artists? Cause we are ready.

NPR: Do you think it’s fair that the US is one of the only industrialized nations to not pay performers for terrestrial broadcast?

NPR: Do you think it’s fair that ASCAP songwriters are kept under the 1941 anti-monopoly  DOJ consent decree which forces them to give special treatment to companies that look very much like monopolies  (YouTube/Google, Pandora, NAB etc)?

NPR: You realize that you get an artificially low rate from songwriters and performers right?  Largely because there is/was goodwill between us.  Do you want us to lobby the CRB to make you pay the same as everyone else? Also aren’t there still a bunch of public broadcasting haters in congress?

Answer us. We’re waiting.