4 Million DMCA Notices Don’t Stop the Google Piracy Machine: How Google Drives Traffic to Pirate Sites Through Google Alerts

Trichordist Editor:

The hits just keep un comin’…

Originally posted on MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY:

Google news alerts are emails sent to you by Google through the data analysis of its monopoly search engine.  Yes, the all seeing Google knows a lot of stuff and they are happy to share it with you so you can share it with others.  Google will send you a link that matches your news alert and will always have social media sharing links to Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter.  (I can’t imagine Google adding the Facebook and Twitter links without some kind of compensation, probably cold hard cash.)

Here’s an example:

Google Alert OK Go

This link goes to a site called myfreemp3.cc which takes you to this page:

OK Go Lyrics Link

In case you were wondering what myfreemp3.cc was all about, how would you know if this was a pirate site?  Or more precisely, how would Google know myfreemp3.cc was a pirate site?  It just looks sketchy, right?  But we all know that we can’t…

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Copyright Stifles Innovation And Creativity! (Says The Internet): It Doesn’t; And Here’s Why | Nova.Edu

By Stephen Carlisle, Nova Southeastern University

If you read the internet, copyright, and especially long copyright terms are an unfathomable evil. In their eyes copyright “hinders learning, destroys our cultural legacy, hurts innovation and the general public, but most importantly it impedes filmmakers, artists, DJ’s and other content creators that need to be able to build upon the work of others to create new content”. 1 There are lots of dire pronouncements, with lots of invective and insults hurled, particularly at the Walt Disney Company (quote “responsible for one of the greatest thefts in world history”) 2. Yet as typical with such cyberspace broadsides, there is very little explanation of precisely how this suppression of innovation occurs.

That’s because copyright doesn’t suppress either creativity or innovation. And here’s why:


Principles for an Ethical and Sustainable Internet


As the Copyright Act remains under review we should keep in mind the principles that guide an ethical and sustainable internet economy for all stakeholders.

Originally posted on The Trichordist:

Technology may change but principles do not. A society that encourages the creative spirit is rare in history and worth defending. The internet and digital technology have opened up many new opportunities for artists, but it has also opened up new opportunities for those who wish to exploit those artists.

We offer for discussion a set of principles as a guide for companies and policy makers to keep in mind. It is our hope that these principles will help build a sustainable online creative ecosystem, one that benefits creators, innovators, and the general public alike.

A fair and ethical internet is built on the respect and protection of the rights of individuals to determine who benefits from their labor and creations.

Since the rise of digital utopians in the 1990s, we’ve unfortunately seen many very old arguments surface as to why…

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Two Simple Facts about Technology and Piracy : iTunes Vs. YouTube


It’s about intent. Machines do what they are told to do by human beings, exploiting other human beings.

Originally posted on The Trichordist:

Fact number one.

Unlike Google’s YouTube, Apple’s Itunes Store does not have a piracy problem, nor does it have an unmanageable issue with DMCA notices. This is often explained that this is because Apple does not allow user generated content from just anyone, therefore there is a barrier to entry that prevents such issues. But this is simply just not true, anyone can upload an album of music to Itunes using any one of the third party aggregation services such as Tunecore or CDbaby. And yet, there are not (as far as we know) hundreds or thousands of DMCA notices and content take downs on Itunes per day, as there are on YouTube. So why is this? In a word, intent.

If Apple, Spotify, Amazon and virtually every other legal and licensed distributor of digital music can put into place, the checks and balances that are capable of managing these…

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Full Post: You Can’t Have A Have A Healthy Market Economy Without Property Rights. Why Do So Many In Tech Blogosphere Want To Abolish Cyber Property Rights And Cripple The Cyber-Economy?

Originally posted on The Trichordist:

By David Lowery

Can you imagine the outrage if leading voices in Corporate America started advocating that we abolish all individual private property rights? Citizens could no longer own any property. All property would be collectivized. Citizens could no longer profit by creating and owning things. Further what if these same corporate voices used the justification that private property rights were hindering their ability to innovate?

We’d all laugh. Or man the barricades. This would never happen, right?

Well it is happening. This is exactly what many in the tech blogosphere are arguing we should do in the cyber-economy. These faux revolutionaries are arguing that Intellectual Property and the Internet are incompatible so in the name of “freedom” Intellectual Property must go. In the cyber economy ALL property is intellectual property. This means these folks are advocating for no private property in cyberspace. What does that sound like? Depending on…

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How Copyright Encourages Creativity and Opportunity in Hollywood

Originally posted on The Trichordist:

We hear a lot from the copyleft and opponents of Artist’s Rights that copyright stifles creativity, but this is simply not true. We’re not going to go down the tired road of the arguments about remixing, which can be read in this excellent article at Copyhype titled, “Remix Without Romance.

The truth is, the best ecosystem for creativity is the one where all stakeholders are compensated. This is why in the early 90s sample clearance statutes were defined, and as a result we’ve seen some of the most innovative music, in the history of recorded music. This creativity has been achieved legally by creating fair and balanced policy. Historically, that is how policy evolves, such as it did with phonographs and radio — when both were getting off the ground, the law eventually recognized that artists have a right to be compensated, and both eventually flourished, also benefiting all…

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Thank you @jannarden: AMP Radio hears artist voices, does the right thing and drops the QuickHitz format! #irespectmusic


The artists, united, will never be defeated!

Originally posted on MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY:

MTP readers will recall Jann Arden and the many artists who stood up to the challenge to artist rights from the “QuickHitz” radio format at a Calgary radio station.  “QuickHitz” advertises itself as broadcasting “Twice the Music”–and gets over the space-time continuum by cutting in half the already short singles edits of popular music.  (Full disclosure:  I got to know and respect Jann Arden when I worked at A&M Records in Hollywood back in the day.  Jann’s a real treasure and makes compelling records.)

That’s right–AMP plays more music by playing less.  Dare I say it:  Less is More.  But let’s not rub it in–the station has seen the light after Canadian and American artists rallied behind Jann Arden to make their voices heard.  It’s important to understand just how much chutzpa this takes–the stick that broadcasters have held over artists challenging radio for decades has been that silent threat…

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Bit Torrent Mastermind Bram Cohen’s Interview with Andrew Keen

Originally posted on MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY:

Notice that Cohen never–never–acknowledges that his uTorrent application powers an advertising supported piracy model or even that there is an advertising supported piracy model.  People download music for free from Facebook and Myspace.


Also note that he says all the BitTorrent employees are in San Francisco–that doesn’t include the development team in Belarus, I guess.

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The Human Rights of Artists

Originally posted on The Trichordist:

By Chris Castle

Given the plight of Chinese poet Zhu Yufu today is a good day to think about the human rights of artists. The human rights of artists is a different concept from intellectual property rights, such as copyright. Intellectual property rights are created by national laws, and the human rights of artists are recognized as the fundamental rights of all persons by all of the central human rights documents to which hundreds of countries have agreed.

These rights resonate in a number of international and national documents, but a good international agreement to consider first is the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that was ratified by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966. It is important to remember that human rights are fundamental, inalienable and universal entitlements belonging to individuals, individual artists in our case. As a legal matter, human rights can be distinguished from intellectual property…

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Does Failure to Pay Pre-1972 Royalties Put Trillion Dollar Hole in Pandoras Bottom Line?


Pandora’s Harrison may soon be asking “Brother can you spare a trillion?”

Did Pandora’s legal eagle Chris Harrison create a  trillion dollar hole in Pandora’s balance sheet?

Last month’s earnings report by Pandora was interesting in many ways. But the most interesting thing about it was what was not mentioned. The stunning omission of potential liabilities associated with Pandora’s refusal to pay royalties on pre-1972 sound recordings.

Under the leadership of Chris Harrison, Pandora’s legal team has adopted a bizarre interpretation of federal copyright law that in essence argues that statutory royalties for pre-1972 sound recordings were not federalized. As a result Pandora is not paying royalties to performers on recordings made before 1972. This is potentially a significant amount of revenue for the money losing company.  (Pandora trumpets Non-GAAP “profits”, or “Non Generally Accepted Accounting Principals” calculations of profit. Or as prefer here at the Trichordist “Unicorn Dollars”).

While Sirius and Clear Channel have adopted this funky legal rationale as well, it should be noted that more sober firms like Apple and Microsoft have not.

The problem with this legal strategy is that if this goes to court, win or lose,  Pandora has created huge liabilities either way.

Pandora “wins”

Let’s give Harrison the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say that the federal copyright act in fact did not federalize performance royalties for sound recording copyrights pre-1972. The only logical conclusion is that the State laws that protected sound recordings in 1972 still cover those recordings.

Wow. Time to dust off the bell bottoms and dig into some vintage state laws.

There are 50 states, Washington DC, and several US Territories that could now be potentially brought into the dispute.(There are pre-1972 performers and rights holders in every single US state and surely most territories). It’s highly likely that at least some of those state protections would kick in again. All it would take is one performer or rightsholder  from one state to successfully assert their rights and all digital broadcasters would be screwed.  This is not such a remote or theoretical possibility. I’m told that The Turtles’ lawsuit against Sirius for $100 million dollars already anticipates this. (The Turtles have sued Sirius in NY, Florida and California so if The Turtles beat Sirius…Pandora could be next.  In NY, Florida and California for starters.)

But more troubling, is the fact that if there is no federal copyright protection for these recordings, then Pandora lacks a clear compulsory license–or any license–to play or reproduce any of these recordings. Compulsory licenses are what allows the company to play the recordings without negotiating directly with the rights holders. All webcasters rely on these compulsory licenses so they don’t have to go around and license each and every single song.

This would be a clusterjam™ of epic proportions. I don’t’ think it is possible to effectively quantify the  downsides of this outcome. Uncharted territory. Total uncertainty.  It would effectively throw not just Pandora but the entire broadcast, webcasting and web industry  into chaos.  (NAB are you guys paying attention to this shit?  You might soon have a very big problem on your hands.)

Pandora can’t possibly want to really win this one right?

Pandora Loses.

Alternately it’s equally bad if Pandora loses.  Suppose a legacy artist like The Turtles sues Pandora and federal courts determine that performance royalties for Pre-1972 recordings are in fact covered by the federal copyright act.   First Pandora would presumably have to pay  for years of royalties owed on ALL those pre 1972 recordings.  (Do they have reserves for this? A cursory glance at their financials did not show this.)  But the real problem for Pandora is that they could be liable for huge penalties for copyright infringement. And I mean GDP scale liabilities.

Pandora CEO McAndrews noted in 1st quarter 2014 earnings that pre 1972 recordings represented about 5% of the spins on pandora.   So 5% of all of Pandora’s spins would then be infringing.   McAndrew in that same report noted listening hours of 4.6 billion for the quarter.   So conservatively ten songs an hour that means 46 billion streams a quarter or 184 billion streams a year.  Now by McAndrews own reckoning 5% or 9.2 billion of those streams are infringing each year.   What are the penalties for willful copyright infringement?

$200-$150,000 per infringement.  So on the low end that’s 1.84 trillion dollars.

Now obviously Pandora is not gonna get fined a trillion dollars.  But if they lose a class action suit because of this?  The damages will be substantial.   Will it be $100 million? $250 million? $1 billion? If the Turtles are asking $100 million from Sirius,  BILLIONS is not an implausible number. Obviously it’s a substantial risk (even if the relatively short 3 year federal copyright infringement statute of limitations applies–which Pandora says it doesn’t). 

I’ve had some people suggest that Pandora could settle bit by bit with each major record label which have aggregated most of these recordings  and hence limit their liabilities. But this seems unlikely to me as:

1) Record labels no longer need Pandora as they have substantial interest in Spotify and Beats.

2) Pandora’s scorched earth policy towards rightsholder has left it NO friends in the music community . Zero. Zilch. Like,  “I wouldn’t even piss on you if you were on fire.’ That kind of “no friends.”

Further these missing royalties are not only due to record labels, federal laws require 45% of these revenues go to the performers.  Pandora would have to buy off all the performers as well.

McAndrews and Harrison’s best hope is that they can keep kicking the can down the road for a few more years.  Just enough time for all those options to vest and leave some sucker holding the bag.