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 what he was funding: A tool to infringe the rights of artists on global scale.  If not 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.  


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.


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




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 often feature ads for third party websites that claim to enroll applicants into a  “US Green Card Lottery.”   The US has never used third parties for its “Diversity Visa” program and at the present time the US is not accepting applications for diversity visas.  All websites advertising for the 2017 lottery are highly suspect.  (An early version of this article made it seem as if the US never had a Diversity Visa or “Green Card Lottery” that was incorrect). 

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;

screenshot-www vuze com 2015-05-03 18-48-20


screenshot-www crunchbase com 2015-05-03 18-46-16








Wondering Sound: “David Lowery Has Become Most Important Spokesperson for Artists Rights In Digital Era”

‘In the last three years, David Lowery has become perhaps most the important and ardent spokesperson for artist rights in the digital era. Who is he?’

Balanced, funny and in depth profile of fellow Trichordist writer David Lowery.  Must read.


Pandora’s New Deal: Different Pay, Different Play | NPR

The new payola?

Performers get paid a small royalty each time one of their songs is played on Internet radio, at a rate set by a Royalty Court at the Library of Congress. But Internet radio and labels can strike individual deals, as Pandora did with Merlin. The Internet service will recommend Merlin artists over those not affiliated with the consortium in exchange for paying Merlin’s musicians a lower royalty rate.

Merlin artists get more spins, and Pandora winds up paying less in royalties than it would if were giving those same spins to non-Merlin artists. Plus, consortium labels will get to suggest favorite tracks.


David Lowery: Here’s how Pandora is destroying musicians | Salon

David Lowery has become both beloved and notorious over the last year as one of the musicians most critical of the ways musicians are paid in the digital era. The Camper van Beethoven and Cracker singer brings an artist’s rage and a quant’s detached rigor to his analysis of the music business.

He’s currently fired up about a federal lawsuit filed in New York in which several record labels have sued Pandora (and before that, Sirius FM) for neglecting to pay royalties for songs recorded before Feb. 15, 1972. Here’s how Billboard summarizes the suit: “The labels say both digital music services take advantage of a copyright loophole, since the master recording for copyright wasn’t created federally until 1972. … But the labels claim that their master recordings are protected by individual state copyright laws and therefore deserve royalty payments.”

Lowery thinks the loophole provides a way for Pandora to simply not pay older musicians for their work — while profiting from it themselves. The case could get bigger and change in strange ways, with broad implications.


New Adventures in Copyright Enforcement @SXSW #SXSW

Friday, March 14 | 2:00PM – 3:00PM
New Adventures in Copyright Enforcement
Austin Convention Center | Room 17B | 500 E Cesar Chavez St

lthough debates about how to protect copyright online might seem so 2010, they certainly haven’t abated. The current conversations aren’t as contentious as the SOPA skirmishes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean consensus. Current attempts to address piracy are taking place outside of Congress, and include efforts to establish “best practices” between stakeholders. From the recently-minted Copyright Alert System to voluntary agreements meant to curb unauthorized activity within ad networks and payment processors, new experiments in rights protection abound. What’s the thinking behind the various approaches? What does a “win” look like, and what are the parameters for oversight? How can artists get involved?

Casey Rae
Interim Exec Dir – Future of Music Coalition

Sherwin Siy
VP, Legal Affairs- Public Knowledge

Jill Lesser
Exec Dir- Center For Copyright Information

David Lowery
Musician/Internet Content Provider – Cracker

TODAY AT #SXSW : Love the Art, Fcuk the Artist: The Re-emerging Artist Rights Movement! #SXSW

Thursday, March 13 | 3:30PM – 4:30PM
Austin Convention Center | Room 12AB | 500 E Cesar Chavez St

Business gets harder and harder for recording artists and songwriters. Problems have developed with labels, publishers, fans, online distribution services like Spotify, major ISPs like Google, and Internet radio networks like Pandora. They also endure antagonistic courts, ineffective laws, and government indifference. As a result, their property interest has been significantly devalued and their rights abridged. Recently some recording artists and songwriters have started to criticize and push back against this new status quo.

Jay Rosenthal
SVP & General Counsel – National Music Publishers’ Association

Eric Hilton
Thievery Corporation

David Zierler
Pres – INgrooves

Lee Miller
Pres – Nashville Songwriters Association International

David Lowery
Musician/Internet Content Provider – Cracker

Camper Van Beethoven’s 2013 Net Profit Was $645 Million Dollars Higher Than Twitter.

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.

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Now consider the fact that the City of San Francisco also gave them approximately $56 million in tax beaks.  This is while the city has been pushing to slash benefits to city workers. 

Yes maybe Camper Van Beethoven needs to update our business model to include tax breaks and political cronyism.


Internet Consultants Are Wrong : Confused About Musicians, The Internet and Piracy

My Song Got Played On Pandora 1 Million Times and All I Got Was $16.89

David Lowery Talks Artists Rights | The BBC [video]

When he’s not on the road touring, Lowery is teaching students at the University of Georgia about the business of the music industry.

He is a vocal critic of that industry, and particularly how technology – from illegal downloading to new streaming services – has made it harder for artists to keep control of their work and to earn a living from it.


Early Results and Evolution of the UGA Undesirable Lyric Website Study to Include Advertisers. | UGA

As a result of the publication of the UGA Undesirable Lyric Website List and action taken by the National Music Publishers Association there have been a number of noteworthy updates. Many sites have come forward wishing to obtain licenses and others updated their licensing compliance. We updated our database accordingly. We also learned of at least one website that now has an expired licenses.

In addition we are now ready to expand the study to examine which brands are advertising on these unlicensed sites.

Finally the next iteration of the list will be followed by a list of brands which appear on the top 10 Undesirable Lyric websites.


The 10 Most Important News Stories of 2013 |CoS

#8 Musicians Declare War on Spotify

Why it matters: Musicians like David Lowery and Damon Krukowski have been questioning the royalty practices of streaming services and online radio for years. When it’s the frontman of the biggest band in the world calling bullshit, though, people start listening. Streaming was supposed to be the next evolution of music consumption, but if the royalty models are really as bad as they’ve been made out to be (and by all accounts, they are), that particular evolutionary branch may be stunted. In the end, that might be for the best: a financial model that doesn’t support new artists will, inevitably, cripple the music industry.

Yorke called companies like Spotify “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse” and said, “What happens next is the important part.” This is where Neil Young and his long in-development PONO music service might have to step in. Set to launch next year, PONO reportedly solves the audio loss issues Beck pointed out, though there hasn’t been much word on pricing models. Still, Yorke remarked that musicians “can build the shit” themselves, and Young’s company may be the first step in a new direction. Either way, the medium listeners absorb music is going to keep changing for everyone involved. –Ben Kaye