Sunday’s Washington Post featured a story, “Google, once disdainful of lobbying, now a master of Washington influence” that examined the company’s rise to become a top dog among Washington influence peddlers. For Google watchers revelations in the piece, authored by Tom Hamburger and Matea Gold, come as no surprise. However, for those who continue to regard Google as the web’s guardian angel of “free speech,” the story should add a bit of tarnish to its halo, illuminating the company’s extensive back-door maneuverings — the new normal in DC’s world of political puppeteering.
So Google shill Marvin Ammori wrote an Asperger’s ridden anti-copyright, anti-artist tirade on Slate. Of course in doing so Marvin failed to represent his past and current affiliations to Google. Slate, to their credit amended the rant with the following:
Update, March 11, 2014: Disclosure: The author represented Google and other companies fighting SOPA/PIPA in 2011 and 2012. He currently represents Google and other companies on several issues, including copyright reform. These views are his own.
And so, we present the brilliant rebuttal to Google’s disingenuous attack on the rights of individual creators and artists by Kurt Sutter.
Not-So-Zen and the Art of Voluntary Agreements Google’s anti-copyright stance is just a way to devalue content. That’s bad for artists and bad for consumers. By Kurt Sutter
It’s so absurd that Google is still presenting itself as the lovable geek who’s the friend of the young everyman. Don’t kid yourself, kids: Google is the establishment. It is a multibillion-dollar information portal that makes dough off of every click on its page and every data byte it streams. Do you really think Google gives a shit about free speech or your inalienable right to access unfettered content? Nope. You’re just another revenue resource Google can access to create more traffic and more data streams. Unfortunately, those streams are now pristine, digital ones of our work, which all flow into a huge watershed of semi-dirty cash. If you want to know more about how this works, just Google the word “parasite.” And if you think I’m exaggerating, ask yourself why Google spends tens of millions of dollars each year to hire lawyers and lobbyists (like Marv) whose sole purpose is to erode creative copyright laws.
Do they do this because they hate artists? No. They do it because they love money.
Technologists in Silicon Valley love to tell artists we need to update our business model.
This is hilarious since each of my businesses have been profitable for decades. Stunning when you look at just how unprofitable these Silicon Valley Companies actually are. Twitter for instance lost $645 million dollars last year. Jaw dropping when you consider that their total revenues were $646 million dollars. They spent 2 dollars for every 1 dollar of revenue. And if you look at their losses they are accelerating.
Never wanting to lose an opportunity to be bizarrely two-faced, Google is sending around a little graphic today to all you GMail users implying that stopping SOPA in January of 2012 actually enabled creativity to continue to thrive on the Web. Never mind that nothing in SOPA could have stopped you or me or any other would-be creator from uploading our works, ideas, or captured events to the Web; that’s just pesky reality.
But Google isn’t satisfied just to effect public policy in its own interests, it also wants to behave like the abusive and negligent father, who creepily shows up with a smile and a hug when his kid wins an award or becomes famous.
After all, this week isn’t just the anniversary of SOPA Blackout Day, it’s also the week Google received its 100 millionth takedown notice from recording artists who would rather not have their works exploited without permission or compensation. So, the whole, “we protected creativity together” message just kinda makes the skin crawl. Y’know?
“We effed up,” lyrics annotation supersite Rap Genius admitted this week after its SEO cheating was revealed. They sure did. And there’s good reason to believe this isn’t just a gaffe for the cartoonish startup posse: a Google eff up could haunt them forever—but no one search should have all that power.
Rap Genius will never be safe on the internet again, because as far as they’re concerned, Google is the internet. The search engine functions like public infrastructure, a road that takes anyone who wants to look up lyrics to the internet lyrics store, but it thinks like any Walmart of Exxon. It has its own secret rules, its own private penalties, and its own willingness to harm any company that dares make it look stupid. The Rap Genius co-creators must have known what they were getting themselves into: an inordinately complex game of Mouse Trap with the devil that’s finally snapped back.
There’s a post on a tech blog from 2009 following The Pirate Bay guilty verdict titled “Paul McCartney’s Confused About The Pirate Bay” that truly illustrates how many internet consultants and tech blogger’s appear feel about musicians. The comments responding to Sir Paul McCartney speaking about the Pirate Bay verdict show just how much these people don’t seem to understand musicians.
- artists are easily confused about the internet and technology
– artists don’t know what’s best for them (let the “consultant” help you!)
– artists can get paid, but as long as its not via a “government mandated tax” ie, copyright (!?)
– artists shouldn’t be able to live off of one song (royalties), ie you must sing for your supper every night
– artists only ever made money from major label deals (which also seems to contradict labels don’t pay)
– the pirate bay (and the like) is just a tool for promotion that rewards artists who embrace it
– the pirate bay verdict of guilty was/is unfair
In the post Paul McCartney is accused of being confused about a verdict that sentenced four men to jail for operating a business that illegally distributed artists work, without compensation to the artists themselves. The Pirate Bay is a tool of exploitation against artists and Paul McCartney was not confused about this fact.
Let’s get a few things straight.
Piracy is NOT Promotion.
Exploitation is NOT Innovation.
Copyright is NOT Censorship.
In any value chain where the creators work is monetized, the creator should have the right to consent and the ability negotiate compensation. In a true free market either party can walk away if an agreement can not be reached. The Pirate Bay, however was and is an illegally operating business that does not respect the rights of individual artists.
We also find it interesting that the suggestions most frequently given to musicians to “get paid” in the internet era are actually all the same ways artists historically have gotten paid prior to the internet.
Here’s a brief recap of what these so called “business experts” and “internet technology consultants” see as the “new” models for artist compensation… Ready, set, go!
- Touring… existed BEFORE the internet
– Merchandise (T-Shirts)… existed BEFORE the internet
– Film/Sync Licensing… existed BEFORE the internet
– Sponsorships/Endorsements… existed BEFORE the internet
In conclusion, it appears that it is the tech bloggers and internet consultants who are confused about musicians, the internet and piracy. Musicians on the other hand seem to be very clear about these issues.
When it comes to issues of artists rights, we’d rather be with Paul McCartney.
Musician turned digital music executive [Tim Quirk] hits the wrong note with artists and composers over rights and royalties.
It’s perhaps not surprising that someone working for a digital music service is telling artists not to worry their pretty little heads about getting paid properly, but what may surprise some people is that Quirk is – or at least used to be – an artist himself.
Sure, many online music service executives claim to be musicians in order to convince artists that they’re on their side, despite them driving down royalties. Tim Westergren, the head of Pandora, has used that argument, claiming he cares about musicians while going to Congress to try to reduce songwriters’ royalty rates from next-to-nothing, to even less than that.
Back in 2009, he [Quirk] was raging against the major label system, but now that he works for a corporation that reported more than $50bn in revenue last year – more than three times the $16.5bn revenue of the entire global recorded music industry in 2012 – he appears to think musicians should now simply accept whatever scraps his company chooses to throw their way.
During the protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), critics of the legislation portrayed its process of identifying foreign black market domains and then blocking them from gaining easy profits from, and access to, the US online audience, as “censorship” — full stop.
It bothers me that representatives from Google or the EFF, Reddit, etc. are so quick to lump in the attempt to protect artists rights with the political censorship of China or Iran. It is entitlement of the privileged at its worst and demonstrates to me how desperate some people are to excuse freeloading by any means necessary. But, the wonders of technology simply do not excuse clear cases of exploitation.
Meanwhile Jay Frank calls David Byrne “bad at Math.” Now while Jay is always careful to be right, if you look at the big picture it turns out he’s arguing over things like whether it takes 150 million Spotify spins or 75 million Spotify spins a year to reach minimum wage (and is that federal or state minimum wage, and which state Jay? ) . Does that really matter? Byrne’s points still stand. Either way it’s a fuckload and it’s not sustainable. Yes Jay, technically you’re right but It’s like a Larry David episode. You’re making my brain hurt and I AM A MATHEMATICIAN.
But here’s the real problem with these guys: I can’t take them seriously.
And it’s not because I don’t like what they write. It’s because there are just three of them.
If 6 is the number of The Beast. 3 is the number of the comedian.
“Dave Allen, Bob Lefsetz, and Daniel Ek walk into a bar”
If you want to be seen as a powerful, elite or even sinister force three is not a good number. Think about it. “Three Stooges”, “Three Blind Mice”, “The Three Amigos”, “The Jonas Brothers” etc etc.
Four is much better. Four is a masculine world-changing number.
“The Fab Four” “The Fantastic Four” and of course “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”
These guys will not be taken seriously until they add another horseman.
The pro-spotify-anti-artist-blogging business is no different from the boy band business. You need some variety among your bloggers for broadest appeal. And the more bloggers the better. They should really take a cue from some of the great boy bands of the past. As Bob Lefsetz might say “Work hard, be excellent, and add another member” “The Four Horsemen of the Spotocalypse” is so much more serious sounding.
And they are almost there. They’ve got three great ingredients already!