Mark Zuckerberg’s Kremlin “Investors”

We’d be happy to paid in Rubles, Zuck. Just license our music you fucking deadbeat.

Artist Rights Watch


The “Paradise Papers” reveal that Facebook took approximately $200 million of cash investment from the Kremlin.  This huge chunk of cash came from the Kremlin’s VTD Bank was “funneled through DST Global”, an investment vehicle owned by oligarch Yuri Millner (known as “космонавт” loosely translated as “the spaceman”).   The papers also show that Gazprom (the controversial Kremin-owned energy company) heavily funded an offshore company that partnered with DST Global in a large investment in Facebook.


A story in the Guardian from 2009 about the transactions provides insight into how the deal was structured for Facebook:

[Digital Sky Technology], run by Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner [“the Spaceman”), has also indicated that it is willing to spend at least another $100m buying out existing Facebook shareholders as part of a plan that would allow current and former staff to sell some of their shares.

Wonder who those “current and former staff”…

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Content Creators Coalition Nails It With New YouTube Ads #updatetheDMCA

Share these with your friends.   Two new videos from Content Creator Coalition succinctly explain the problem with YouTube for artists.  These videos will help civilians understand the fundamental unfairness of existing regulations.

First, YouTube pays a lot less than other licensed streaming services.

Second, YouTube hides behind a bad interpretation of the DMCA copyright act.  For all practical purposes artists can not remove their work from YouTube even though YouTube pays much less.   This has produced a market failure, making it impossible to fairly value songs and recordings in the digital realm.  Further YouTube/Google have unprecedented lobbying power in Washington DC and they are blocking any sort of sensible fix to the DMCA loophole.


And #BreakUpGoogle

Who You Gonna Call? University of Georgia Terry College Artists’ Rights Symposium Jan 22-23

asAnnouncing the inaugural Artists Rights Symposium hosted by The Music Business Certificate Program, Terry College at University of Georgia Jan 22-23.   The symposium is free and open to the public but seats are limited.  Contact Music Business Certificate Program for more information 706-542-7668.



Jan 22-23


An examination of resources available to music creators beyond copyright infringement lawsuits

The rapid change in the digital music industry has left music creators and music industry rights holders confused, unaware of the extent of their intellectual property rights, and often unable to enforce those rights. Traditionally music creators and rights holders have resorted to federal copyright infringement lawsuits to rectify these problems.  Unfortunately these lawsuits are expensive, time consuming and inefficient.  The purpose of this symposium is to examine other tools that are available to enforce music creators’ rights beyond federal copyright infringement lawsuits.

Some of the subjects that could be covered are strategies that rely on voluntary agreements; best practices; federal, state and local legislation; moral rights; human rights; international intellectual property agreements; trade treaties; antitrust enforcement; corporate responsibility campaigns; activism; consumer education; internet governance; and conspiracy statutes.

The organizers hope to bring together academics and practitioners with a wide variety of backgrounds including (but not limited to) copyright and entertainment law, technology, public policy, economics, law enforcement, journalism, activism and international relations.

Jonathan Taplin, author, manager, film producer and Director of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at University of Southern California has agreed to keynote the discussion and help moderate panels. Sandra Aistars directs the Arts & Entertainment Advocacy Program at George Mason’s Antonin Scalia School of Law and has also agreed participate as well.  Other confirmed guests include: artist advocates such as Blake Morgan (#IRespectMusic), Kay Hanley and Michelle Lewis (Songwriters of North America) and  legendary music producer T-Bone; state and federal legislators and staff; representatives from law enforcement; international relations and public policy experts; and various prominent academics.

The Symposium will take place over two days Jan 22-23, 2018.  Jan 22th will be an evening reception 7-9pm at The 40 Watt Club, January 23 will consist of 4 discussion sessions beginning at 9:30 AM.  The symposium panels will take place at 200 Moore-Rooker Hall, Terry College of Business, University of Georgia, Athens GA 30602.




Successes in Artist and Songwriter Advocacy Show the Importance of Fighting Back

Great overview of the last few years of artists rights advocacy! Important and timely I urge everyone to read this.


“Why does Rice play Texas?”

President John F. Kennedy, Sept. 12, 1962, Rice University

Google White House Meetings

It should be clear by now that when it comes to sheer lobbying power expressed in terms of money and access, Big Tech has put the creative community up against it.  And not only has Big Tech put their collective boots on our necks, they have joined in the MIC Coalition cartel for the express purpose of crushing any opposition.

We must properly and grimly assess the opposition and our resources.  I would not say that the odds are in our favor, but the odds are what they are and I don’t think any of us are ready to roll over and show the belly in surrender.

We actually have made significant progress over the last few years with both legacy types of lobbying as well as grassroots organizing.  Both are absolutely essential.

The music community’s…

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Once Again @Alalibrary Have No Dog in Fight but Come out Against Authors on Copyright Small Claims

Dear Google…er…uh-I mean American Library Association:

Really?  The American Library Association and it’s members are really gonna be impacted by a voluntary “small claims” copyright court?   How? How could this possibly have any impact on your member libraries?  This is quite a stretch even by Google apparatchik standards.

While there will always be plenty of money for DC lobbyist like you, the same cannot be said for your members. The average community library relies on the goodwill of authors, publishers and ordinary citizens.  In the US authors do not charge libraries a lending fee.  When the local community library faces budget cuts or threatened with closure,  it’s authors who go out and march in the streets.  So why does the ALA insist on alienating authors?

Where IS the ALA when misfortune befalls member libraries?  Not marching in the street.  I imagine we’re more likely to find you with your snout in the trough at some K street restaurant, than marching in the street.

So let’s get to the point. Why don’t you fucks just come out and admit it?  You don’t give a shit about your member libraries, authors or readers. You apparently just do what Google tells you to do. Even if that hurts libraries in the long run. How can any sensible person conclude otherwise? And come clean on where you get your policy direction. Every single one of the co-signers on this latest letter is directly or indirectly funded by Google.  You don’t even try to hide it.  Look, here’s a picture from two weeks ago, ALA staff with Katherine Oyama, senior policy counsel for Google and a few other Google funded lobbyists.   Just stop.  Stop the charade. Stop misleading your members about what you are really doing and for whom you are working.

Google Circular Awards Ceremony.  (Hot linked from the ALA website).

If Google Claims It Is a Publisher and Search Results Are Its Own Speech Then Isn’t Google Illegally Favoring Youtube?

A Google Search for Ringo Starr’s “It Don’t Come Easy” returns a YouTube video as top result.  Try it at home but our experience shows for nearly any song the first result is a YouTube video.  If Google search results are as it claims “speech” isn’t Google favoring its own properties over competitors?  Isn’t Google leveraging its dominance in search to favor it’s video service? How is this any different from the EU antitrust case?  

I came across this blog by Barry Sookman in which he points out that Google, depending on the court case,  claims to be either a “publisher” and thus protected by various free speech statutes or is a “passive intermediary” and thus protected by various safe harbors.

Is Google, the operator of the world’s most popular search engine, a publisher entitled to the constitutional protections accorded to publishers of free speech? Or is Google a passive/neutral intermediary which has no control over what its search engine algorithms disseminate and which doesn’t publish the information in, or hyperlinked to, it’s search results? Google argues it is and is not a publisher, depending on which position will best exonerate it from legal demands including court orders that it de-index URLs and websites from which illegal content is made available.

While Sookman is mostly addressing the liability issues associated with defamation and unfair competition,  I would think this contradiction should be interesting to music rights holders.  If Google is a publisher isn’t it acting in an anti-competitive manner with its own speech in example above?

Why does this matter to artists?

  1. YouTube pays far less than Spotify or Apple Music. Artists would be much better off if the top search result were a better paying service, preferably one that wasn’t larded with unlicensed videos, and wasn’t owned by Google.
  2. The US antitrust division continues to persecute songwriting organization for having the potential to act in an anti-competitive manner (literally pre crime), while ignoring the (post crime) anti-competitive behavior of companies like Google.

This is what corruption looks like.  Now read this article if you want to understand how we got here:

How Google Took Over the Justice Department Antitrust Division: Renata Hesse’s Timeline


The Flaw Behind Zuckerberg’s Universal Basic Income Scam — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

These 21st Century Robber Barrons will expect the taxpayer to pay for those smart roads or if the beneficiaries of the infrastructurer will pay, they will expect to own the roads, no doubt. So the taxpayer will pay for the roads for the driverless cars that create the automation to creat mass firings and so that the taxpayer will pay Universal Basic Income to quiet down the clingers.

via The Flaw Behind Zuckerberg’s Universal Basic Income Scam — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

Geist is More than Unbalanced on Copyright: Note to American University @WCL_PIJIP @Sean_Fiil_Flynn ‏

I literally laughed out loud when I saw that American University Washington Law School Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property has invited the controversial Canadian academic Michael Geist to give a “balanced” talk on NAFTA, copyright and intellectual property.  (Editor note:  What IS information justice? How do “things” receive justice?)

Although Geist has largely managed to escape scrutiny in the US there has been plenty written about the professor and his Machiavellian machinations north of the border.  “Balanced” is not the word anyone familiar with Geist would use often to describe him. Especially if you want something other than conspiratorial narratives on rights holders and demagoguery.  IMHO “unbalanced” (see death threats article below) and “sleazy” (Lawbytes Inc, Poker, undisclosed connections to lobbyists) are probably more appropriate words to use when describing Geist (read articles below and you be the judge).

Let us just take the articles from a single blog that chronicle Geist and his many pseudo academic adventures with copyright policy in Canada.  Enjoy the reading!

The Geist in the Machine

Geist is Back: The Choirmaster of the Amen Chorus Complains of Orchestration

email from Geist

Geist blows it again: More hot air from the frozen North

“Witchcraft growing faster than other religions”! Geist blows it again

The Spy Who Consulted Them: A Closer Look at Lawbytes, Inc. f/s/o Michael Geist

Untendered is the Prof: More secrets in the Geist closet?

The Geist in the Hen House Redux: The Untendered Prof Travels the World while the Alcan of IP Stokes the Fires At Home

The Consultation of the Mikado Part 2: Geist is running his playbook again

Geist goes after Canadian labels group for “access”

Only the shadow knows: Let the Geist games begin anew

Geist Flips the Mob Switch

Geist Blows It Again: Stay out of the business, Mr. Chips

News From the Goolag: Geist strikes a blow for piracy…I mean, consumers

Is Geist singing from the EFF songbook?

News from the Goolag: Unions don’t go for Geist et al singing Google songbook redux

Oops…he did it again—Geist misses the point on artist rights

Dr. Ficsor takes Geist back to school

Surrender Dorothy! Are Geist’s Lobbyist Connections Revealed in Open Society “How To” Book?

Eeek a mouse! Geist really slagging the wrong guy

Geist allows death threats on public officials in blog comments; What Happend to the Poker Prof’s Student Group?

The Geist in the Hen House

Dissembling on Factiness Six Times Before Breakfast: Is the Geist Scandal Widening?

Guest Post: A response to Michael Geist’s Defense of Bootleg Beatles Records by Canadian Music Publishers Association’s Executive Director, Robert Hutton

Torrent Freak Reports that Spotify Used “Pirated” MP3 Files To Launch Service and Why That Matters

Spotify’s counsel Christopher Sprigman recently made the argument in  Bluewater Music Services v. Spotify that the service isn’t required to pay mechanical royalties to songwriters because they aren’t really making copies  except for those covered by “fair use” and “ephemeral” exceptions.   This extremely aggressive argument seems to many (but not all*) music publishing experts to be dubious and more than a little “piratey.”

IMHO this is because piracy is in the DNA of Spotify. First Spotify CEO Daniel Ek made his first millions as founder of torrenting client uTorrent.  Second, one of Spotify’s early investors  Sean Parker of Napster fame  declared “Spotify would finish what Napster started.” Third, until 2014 Spotify in the US operated as a peer to peer service copying and distributing millions of files using the devices of their customers (and BTW this completely undermines Sprigman’s copy argument).

Now there is this from Torrent Freak:

“Spotify Threatened Researchers Who Revealed ‘Pirate’ History”


A team set to publish a book on the untold history of Spotify were threatened by the company, one of its researchers has revealed. Earlier this year, Rasmus Fleischer, who was also one of the early figures at The Pirate Bay, said that Spotify used ‘pirate’ MP3s to launch its beta. Soon after, the researchers were contacted by a lawyer, with strong suggestions to stop what they’re doing.”

Read the rest of the story here:

This story all by itself is really interesting. But there is a little subplot here as well.  If this story is true, there are several problems that seem to relate back to copyright infringement and make this situation for Spotify extra piratey.

First I’m not sure that the PRO (ASCAP, SESAC, BMI) blanket licenses for public performance rights imagined a service using non-authorized copies of files.  Nor do I imagine that direct licenses from publishers allowed this.  Certainly I’ve seen at least one direct license for a record label from this era that did not allow Spotify to use third party sources for recordings.   So if you’re following along at home when a direct license is violated, there is no license.  And that would be copyright infringement.

Second I’m not sure that compulsory mechanical license may not be valid if the service is trying to use unauthorized copies. For how would a service know an unauthorized pirate bay sourced mp3 copy is the right recording? And if it’s the wrong recording this implies the wrong rights holder may get the royalties. Again this would invalidate the license.  But it is even more troubling,  rarely noted is the fact that a mechanical license is bound to a particular recording of a composition. What if another artist covering the song is mistakenly sourced?  Or a live recording? Or more troubling an unauthorized live recording?  Isn’t this a completely different set of copyright infringements not covered in recent settlements?  Holy shit. If this is not an illegal  practice on the part of Spotify it’s certainly another bit of sloppiness from a company that is getting a reputation among investors for recklessness.  There is some anecdotal evidence that  Spotify was sourcing songs from someplace other than an official library.  In the early days of Spotify US I often encountered live versions of songs on albums that were studio albums. Others reported the same thing. Whether this was the P2P architecture copying and streaming the wrong recording of a desired song from a nearby source; pointers linked to the wrong recordings on my local hard drive, or illegally sourced files, it is not clear. But it is dubious and I suspect this is why Spotify dismantled their peer to peer architecture.

Finally did Christopher Sprigman properly disclose to the the court the P2P nature and subsequent copying and distribution made by Spotify software pre 2015?  I’m honestly asking this question. I don’t know how much information an attorney is supposed to present to a court when arguing that a use is “fair use.”

This is getting interesting

*some music publishers have been running around with their hair on fire, because they think Spotify will prevail in this no mechanical argument.   I think this is ridiculous.  My favorite feature of Spotify (as a consumer) is the ability to play songs “offline” without eating through my mobile data.   Clearly a copy lives on my smartphone and that copy is more than an ephemeral copy and requires a mechanical.  Spotify is bluffing because if the only way to prevail is to disable this popular feature.   Second the P2P architecture of Spotify up til 2014 strongly suggests the service was making copies and distributing them.  Calm down everybody.