Progressive Candidates Fail Artists: Zephyr Teachout (NY-19) vs Woodstock NY

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“Progressive” Democratic congressional candidate for Woodstock NY Zephyr Teachout is director of an astroturf organization that takes regressive copyright positions that harm artists and favor major Silicon Valley corporations like Google.  In 2013 Fight For the Future mounted a massive copyright infringement campaign against the MLK estate over the “I Have a Dream Speech.”


Musicians often support left/progressive politicians that undermine their rights

In the UK the Green Party tends to enjoy solid support from musicians and other creators,  yet last year (among other things) they proposed to legalize p2p file sharing and roll back copyright protection length to 14 years or less. In 1710 when average lifespans were less than 40 years, The Statute of Anne gave authors a copyright length of 14 years.  This is so regressive it prompted me to write a letter to the UK Greens that suggested this compromise:

Dear UK Green Party:

 We authors will accept your early 18th century version of copyright if you and your members promise from this day forward  to rely only upon dental and medical techniques from the same period. 

Of course it is even worse in the EU parliament where the Pirate Party is in alliance with European Green Party.  As a result the EU Green Party incorporated a five year copyright term into their platform!

But it’s not just small parties the like Euro Greens and Pirate Party lunatics attempting to erode artists copyright protections. In the US it is becoming increasingly apparent “progressive” Democrats are exhibiting these same tendencies.   Despite years of reliable (if unwise) support from musicians, songwriters, authors, actors, directors, screenwriters and media executives, progressives appear to be tilting towards technology companies when it comes to copyright protections afforded artists.

I suppose it’s amusing in ugly sort of way:  Progressives are essentially going against a largely democratic unionized industry (Hollywood) while embracing the agenda of an anti-union and libertarian industry  (Silicon Valley).   The Author Thomas Frank should write a follow-up to his “What’s the Matter with Kansas?”  and call it “What’s the Matter with Hollywood?”

There is no better example of this than the current darling of the progressive movement Zephyr Teachout.  Teachout is running for Congress in NY-19 as a Democrat.  At first glance Teachout appears appealing to the majority of Americans (left and right) who want to reform American politics and rid our election system of  the corrupting influence of money.   These are certainly worthy goals.   But if you do a little digging, Teachout is not who she appears to be.

Why did Teachout move to the NY 19th congressional district from metro NYC?

Teachout appears to have “shopped” for a congressional district in which to run.  NY-19 is a marginally Republican district with a retiring  Republican incumbent.  She has no roots in the sprawling 19th congressional district. Teachout a law professor at Fordham University in NYC moved to Dutchess County 9 months before entering the race after a lot of online progressive speculation that she should run for congress.   There were already perfectly good local candidates running for the seat, a liberal Democrat, farmer Will Yandik  and three Republicans.  But hey this is politics and we all know politics is ugly.  No surprise right?

One of the things that gives Teachout a shot in this Republican leaning congressional district is the cluster of counter culture progressive democrats in places like Woodstock.  This is largely the legacy of the music business economic cluster that developed here in the late 1960s and continues to generate considerable economic activity throughout the Hudson Valley.  The list of musicians, songwriters, engineers producers and managers associated with Woodstock and the Hudson Valley is impressive.

I imagine that Teachout will want to draw support from this important community, and my guess is that many in this community will reflexively support her.   Unfortunately this would not be in their interest.  Why? Teachout is the director of an astroturf organization called Fight For The Future.  Why is that important?  Well first you need a little background.

The problem for artists: “Notice and Takedown”

Under the 1998 Digital Millennium  Copyright Act (DMCA), Internet corporations like Google and Facebook are given a “safe harbor” against copyright infringement committed by their users as long as they promptly comply with requests from artists and other copyright owners for removal of infringing content. This process is informally called “Notice and Takedown.”  When the law was enacted,  no one imagined that companies like Google/YouTube would interpret the law as a game of “whack a mole.”   That is, once the offending file was removed online service providers could let the exact same file pop right back up on their servers and copyright owners are forced to notify the service again.   This effectively gives companies like YouTube a free “DMCA safe harbor license” for virtually every song and recording in the world.  Although major corporations like Sony and Universal Music Group have been able to effectively keep certain hit songs off of these platforms for a few weeks or even months, it requires extraordinary human and technical resources, and there is virtually no recourse (except expensive federal lawsuits) if the user who uploaded the song falsely “counter claims” that they have the right to upload  the song.

Particularly hard hit are the independent, middle class and legacy artists that do not have resources (financial and technical) to police vast platforms like YouTube or SoundCloud.  As a result platforms like YouTube are able to generate revenue from advertising and data mining that is not shared with artists.  Further the fact that virtually every song is available on YouTube has undermined the value of songs and recordings across the entire digital marketplace. Why buy a song when it’s on YouTube?   Why pay for a premium subscription streaming service when YouTube is free?  And why do artists put up with the shitty royalties from streaming services? Because the alternative, YouTube is even worse.  YouTube, SoundCloud and other services that have abused the DMCA takedown process have created a market failure.

After piracy sites like the Pirate Bay, YouTube and its “DMCA safe harbor license” is the next biggest revenue drain for artists.  Legendary producer Jimmy Iovine (now at Apple Music) estimated that while YouTube represents as much as 40 percent of all music consumption, it is only 4% of the revenue.   And it’s getting worse.   In 2015 YouTube views increased 101% but revenues to rights holders increased only 31%.

Artists propose a solution:  “Notice and Stay down”

In order to fix this problem, artists and rights holders have proposed  “Takedown and Staydown.” That is, once an online platform is notified that a particular file is infringing, and there is no valid counterclaim from a user, they would block that exact same file. This is a pretty mild proposal.  It’s not designed to block someone using a snippet of a song in a home video or a critical review that also uses a song snippet.   It might not even block the upload of the same song in a different format (AIFF rather than MP3)  or at a different bitrate.   It’s still a whack-a-mole game but the odds are a little more in the artists favor.  Naturally the companies that benefit from the DMCA safe harbor are opposed to this change.

US Copyright Office consultation

Unlike other federal agencies the US Copyright office doesn’t have enforcement powers.  However they periodically review aspects of copyright law and often make recommendations for changes to the law.  Their recommendations usually carry considerable weight.  In this case the Copyright Office began by conducting a public consultation on changes to the “Notice and Takedown” provision in the DMCA.  The Copyright Office asked for comments and papers from interested parties.  Comments were supposed to be posted to a special page on the website.  The deadline was midnight April 1st.

Teachout’s organization opposes take down stay down, Coordinates with YouTube channel to hijack consultation process. 

On the afternoon of March 31st Teachout’s organization Fight For The Future suddenly launched the website (registered domain name at 2:30pm) and with the help of a teen oriented YouTube Channel (Channel Awesome) began to bombard the website with identical bot generated comments in opposition to the Takedown Stay down proposal.  Fight For The Future even bragged to the press that they had “taken down” the Copyright Office website.

Read our detailed coverage here:

Hacking Democracy: Google/YouTube Proxy Group “Fight For The Future” Crashes US Copyright Office Website During Crucial Comment Period

Exactly 86,000 Identical Comments: The Illegal Comment Bombing of DMCA Notice & Takedown Review By Google Proxy “Fight For The Future”


Did Teachout and Fight For The Future break the law?

Violate the law? Fight For The Future created a “comment bot” that bombed the website with identical, anonymous and most likely fraudulent multiple comments to the Copyright Office.   Consider the following:

  1. Fight for the Future bragged to it’s supporters that their “campaign” (actually a comment bot) crashed the Copyright Office website. If this claim is true how is this not a “denial of service” attack on a federal government server?
  2. If this claim is false, why is FFTF asking for donations using this false claim? False advertising?
  3. The rules for submission of comments to the website clearly state that comments must be made to their website, not made to the FFTF website and then submitted by robots to the website.
  4. 47,418 of the comments submitted by FFTF to the website did not disclose first and last name as required. Many are anonymous and clearly fake names like “Fuck DMCA” or “Screw DMCA.” Why did post these comments? These do not meet federal requirements and should not have been accepted.
  5. FFTF partnered with Channel Awesome on YouTube to generate comments. This channel is largely oriented to teens and pre-teens. This was essentially a political advertisement to children. The FTC has generally required much higher standards when it comes to exaggerations and dubious claims when ads are directed to children. Even if this is not illegal (I’m not an expert), I think it is totally insane (and creepy) to push hysterical misinformation on a channel directed at children and then direct them to make comments on a third party website that then posts these comments to government website where they are required to identify themselves! What kind of people get minors involved in something that may turn out to be an illegal activity? Where are the grownups?
  6. My test of the FFTF comment bot indicated that it accepted comments from IP addresses outside of the United States.
  7. My test of the FFTF comment bot indicated that one could simply reload the page and post over and over again. Thus allowing fraudulent multiple comments.
  8. My test of the FFTF comment bot indicated that it did not verify email addresses or names of those commenting and yet posted these comments to the website.
  9. A suspiciously round number of comments were identical (86,000) and used the FFTF template (see screenshots). Sure that’s not proof of bots, but it is statistically unlikely.

Read more of our coverage here:

Hacking Democracy: Google/YouTube Proxy Group “Fight For The Future” Crashes US Copyright Office Website During Crucial Comment Period

Fight For The Future advocates (and continues to advocate)  mass copyright infringement against MLK estate.


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This is live right now on the InternetFreedomDay website, which is controlled by FFTF. This means Teachout as director of FFTF is advocating mass copyright infringement at this very moment.  There is also the question that the group is making a false claim.  Licensed versions of  “I Have a Dream Speech” are widely available on the internet!  For instance you can buy it on iTunes for as little as $2.99.   What the entitled “progressives” at FFTF are really saying is they don’t want to pay for it.  

Perhaps, more troubling is the fact that in 2012 Fight for the Future  organized a mass copyright infringement campaign  against the MLK estate to celebrate “Internet Freedom Day.”  Put aside the sheer arrogance of FFTF and Teachout equating the 1960’s civil right struggle with a bunch of entitled brats that think they have a right to post anything to YouTube, this the world first anti-civil rights civil disobedience campaign. Further, I can think of about a million much more classy ways to celebrate “Internet freedom day” than to mount a mass copyright infringement campaign against the MLK estate.

Read our coverage here:

Uncivil Rights: Astroturf Organization Protesting Copyright Hearings Organized Mass Copyright Infringement Campaign Against MLK Estate

Can You Have Law License and Act as Director of Group That Organizes Mass Copyright Infringement?

Total Hypocrisy: Teachout opposes “black box” and corporate money in politics yet Fight For The Future gets almost all of its money from black box foundations and technology firms. 

This is a story best told with pictures.

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This doesn’t look sketchy at all! Fight For The Future Received almost $200k from London Trust Media a mysterious company that lists its address in this industrial park in Michigan.  FFTF Financials Here

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A search of Michigan State Records indicates no company by this name is registered in Michigan. 

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London Trust Media also owns which according to was geo-located in Hong Kong on May 1st 2016.   It’s not clear that London Trust Media is a US entity. 

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According to tax records this mysterious black box fund claims to be an “Environmental quality, protection and Beautification” fund.   Fight For The Future has no projects or efforts that are remotely related to environmental protection.  Yet this fund gave Fight For The Future $230k.  This contribution is likely in violation of IRS rules. 

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Chicago Instructional Tech Foundation which is really based in Boulder Colorado and is now called Voqal (Mispelled above)  gave Fight For The Future $105,000.   Again what does Fight For the Future have to do with “instructional tech?”

Corporate money supporting Fight For The Future includes venture capital behemoths like Union Square Ventures and Silicon Valley firms like NameCheap and Yelp. The Consumer Electronics Association (now Consumer Technology Association) figures prominently in FFTF finances.  The Consumer Electronics Association now largely represents Silicon Valley companies like Google.

You can read more of our coverage here:

Anti-Copyright “Fight For The Future” and their 1% Grassroots

List of Corporations and Foundations Funding Astroturf Fight For The Future “Free Speech Graveyard”

Astroturf Fight For The Future is Toast: Anti-Copyright Protest Gets 9 RSVPs On Facebook

Confirmed AstroTurf: Zero Fight For The Future Takedown Abuse Protestors


Teachout Hypocrisy on SuperPACs and Irregularities at MayDay PAC

Finally it should be noted that Teachout until recently served as the leader of the MayDay SuperPac.   This PAC was founded by the famous copyleft author and failed presidential candidate Lawrence Lessig. Lessig famously wrote a Wall Street opinion piece  entitled “In Defense of Piracy.” He has twice challenged the constitutionality of aspects of copyright law at the US Supreme Court (he lost both times).   The MayDay superPAC was ostensibly designed by Lessig to support candidates that wanted to get the big money out of politics.  Instead it was widely criticized (on left and right) for being just another way for Silicon Valley billionaires to exert political influence in races far from home and was accused of a host of campaign irregularities.

Read more here:

Questions About the Mayday PAC

Mayday PAC Leadership: Not Alone but in Overlap with Other Political Corporations

Follow the Mystery Money: Mayday PAC Props Up Conservative Stark360 Politicians

FEC Complaint: Mayday PAC violated campaign finance laws












The Frame: @jghorn speaks to @mlewey and @kayhanley of @wearesonaLA on #dmcafail — Artist Rights Watch — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

Hello Spotify, Goodbye Songwriters The Frame’s John Horn spoke with Songwriters of North America founders Michelle Lewis and Kay Hanley about why the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 no longer works in an era of music streaming services and what can be done about it. Interview Highlights MICHELLE LEWIS AND KAY HANLEY: Your song […]

via The Frame: @jghorn speaks to @mlewey and @kayhanley of @wearesonaLA on #dmcafail — Artist Rights Watch — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

Quid Pro Online Radio: Billboard Editor Goes to Pandora

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Billboard’s robust and immediate (within hours) defense of Pandora founder in the wake of revelations that he and other top executives contributed to anti-gay politician raised eyebrows in artists’ rights circles. 

Hypebot is reporting that Billboard editor Glenn Peoples is leaving for a job at Pandora.   Under his leadership Billboard seemed to exhibit a bias towards the streaming services and against artists.  We suspect it came from him.  Here is one of his personal tweets:

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Here’s our advice to Glenn:  Avoid the cliff to nowhere and get monthly vesting.




White House Protection: DMCA Notice and Shakedown is Not YouTube’s Only Leverage — Artist Rights Watch

By Chris Castle It’s no secret that the major labels are all renegotiating their licenses with YouTube. It’s also no secret that Google’s “notice and shakedown” interpretation of the government’s DMCA safe harbors hands Google (which owns YouTube) a lot of leverage to the great disadvantage of artists, songwriters, record companies and music publishers. How […]

via White House Protection: DMCA Notice and Shakedown is Not YouTube’s Only Leverage — Artist Rights Watch

Target Next: EFF Gets Called Out On Its Close Ties To Google and Surveillance State

Yesterday an anonymous group targeted EFF (and others) for close ties to Google and surveillance state. Poster outside EFF headquarters. Photo: San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center.

Last week we brought attention to the fact the Fight For The Future is not a grassroots organization, but in actuality a corporate and black box foundation funded astroturf group.  And a very bad one at that:

Astroturf Fight For The Future is Toast: Anti-Copyright Protest Gets 9 RSVPs On Facebook

Confirmed AstroTurf: Zero Fight For The Future Takedown Abuse Protestors

List of Corporations and Foundations Funding Astroturf Fight For The Future “Free Speech Graveyard”

Astroturf “Fight For The Future” Received Almost 100K From Mysterious Company Based in Mini Industrial Park

Anti-Copyright “Fight For The Future” and their 1% Grassroots

Exactly 86,000 Identical Comments: The Illegal Comment Bombing of DMCA Notice & Takedown Review By Google Proxy “Fight For The Future”

Hacking Democracy: Google/YouTube Proxy Group “Fight For The Future” Crashes US Copyright Office Website During Crucial Comment Period

Now it’s EFFs turn.   Read more here.

Poster protests against Google-Government collusion
by Alex Mitadvida

“On May 16, art activists in San Francisco postered Google headquarters, Google Ventures, Mozilla, and other areas with satirical art showing Google to be pulling President Obama’s strings. They even postered the Electronic Freedom Foundation, which the activists say has gone along with the policies that have built the Intelligence State…”

Read more here

Irresistible Force Meets Oblivious Object: Pandora Stockholders Are the Latest to Revolt — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

By Chris Castle Some say we have vigorously attacked Pandora over the years, some would read those same critiques and say we were just being honest. Maybe the cliched “brutally honest.” Now it looks like we were not the only ones–in a very readable letter from Corvex Management’s managing partner to the board of directors, […]

via Irresistible Force Meets Oblivious Object: Pandora Stockholders Are the Latest to Revolt — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

Windowing Works! 9 of the Top 13 UK Albums NOT on Spotify…

Windowing isn’t just for Adele and Taylor Swift anymore, Music Business Worldwide reports the following:

Four of the Top 5 current UK midweek albums aren’t on Spotify – and are, streaming wise, particularly fragmented.

A quick scan down the rankings, sent to labels today, shows that the same fact applies to five of the Top 6, six of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 13.

We started suggesting that windowing was one of several viable solutions to combat the negatives effects of streaming music ubiquity as early as 2013 when we stated “Why Spotify Is Not Netflix, But Maybe It Should Be“.

We were told we were “out of touch”, “luddites” and we “didn’t understand the new digital economy.” But we persisted on this point with additional writing in 2014, “How To Fix Music Streaming In One Word, Windows“.

Again, many resisted what is just common sense. The record industry always had utilized windows (or windowing as some prefer), but it just looked a little different than the way the film business did it. But it was there, and it always had been there.

In a December 2015 post we got more specific, suggesting that record labels experiment with more disruption and innovation following Taylor Swift and Adele successfully windowing off of Spotify during the initial release window of their latest releases. We wrote, “Three Simple Steps To Fix The Record Business in 2016… Windows, Windows, Windows…“.

In that post we included this:

This is not a philosophical discussion. This is financial reality. Respected stock analyst Robert Tullo who is the Director Of Research at Albert Fried & Company says this:

Longer term IP Radio and Spotify are good annuity revenue streams and great promotional tools. However, we believe the system works better for everyone when artists have the right to distribute their Intellectual property how they see fit.

Ultimately we think windows for content will form around titles that look much like the Movie Windows and that will be great for investors and the industry as soon as all these so called experts get out of the way and spot trading fashionable digital dimes for real growth and earnings.

So here we are in the spring of 2016. As simple math and economic reality effects more artists, managers and labels first hand the truth becomes self evident.

YouTube is the next windowing battle to a restoring a healthy economic ecosystem for artists. You can’t window if you can’t keep your work off of YouTube. That’s not YouTube, that’s YouLose…

Guest Post by @schneidermaria: Open Letter to YouTube, “Pushers” of Piracy

A must read. YouTube from an independent artist’s perspective.


[We’re pleased to post this open letter to YouTube written by Maria Schneider, a five-time GRAMMY-winning composer and bandleader, a board member of the Council of Music Creators, and an active supporter of]

Open Letter to YouTube, “Pushers” of Piracy

by Maria Schneider 

Hank Green’s recent open letter in support of YouTube (that was in response to Irving Azoff’s open and scathing letter against YouTube) deserves a strong response from musicians and other creators.   I appreciate YouTube’s illegal business model might yield a few anecdotal success stories like Mr. Green’s and his videos of opening beer bottles with antlers, but for the vast majority of the artistic community, including me, and every musician I know (and I know thousands), YouTube is a resounding disaster.

MariaSchneider_GregHelgeson Maria Schneider in rehearsal

There’s no use in beating around the bush, so I’m going to cut to the chase…

View original post 3,429 more words

Is The MMF Shilling for YouTube (Again)?

Irving Azoff recently posted an open letter to YouTube on a tech industry news site where he laid out the arguments against YouTube–we think very effectively.  He echoed many of our complaints against YouTube, particularly about how YouTube uses the “notice and shakedown” system of DMCA abuse in the form of “whack a mole” for Google’s own profit.

Of course, it’s not really correct to call it “whack a mole” because the mole never gets whacked. Google’s interpretation of the DMCA has effectively created yet another government mandated compulsory license, this time a compulsory license that is royalty free or more accurately  redistributive because it moves value from the artist to Google.  Add that to the vicious attacks on Prince by Google surrogate EFF in the ridiculous decision in the Lenz case and you’ve got a real recipe for disaster.

You would think that at least some of Irving’s fellow managers in the MMF would have rallied around him, but in the case of the Music Managers Forum in the UK, that’s not what’s happening at all.  As we’ve long suspected, the MMF (at least in the UK) is busily shilling for Google.

Here’s an email that MMF president John Webster blasted out to MMF members:

From: Fiona McGugan <>
Reply-To:” <>
Date: Saturday, May 14, 2016 at 4:19 AM

Subject: ICYMI 85: Life at a Major, Start Ups, YouTube
Dear Manager,
Very instructive view of working at a major label:
A digital veteran questions the role of the music industry in the demise of music based tech start-ups:
A creator defends You Tube:
And the Featured Artists Coalition has launched a survey about YouTube. Please take three minutes to answer on behalf of your artists;

Best Regards

Jon Webster
President, MMF

About: The MMF UK is the largest professional community of artist management in the world. We exist to provide support, training, representation and opportunity for Managers. We want a transparent music business that respects the needs and aspirations of the artist and their fans. If you wish to unsubscribe, please do so by return email.

This email is quite incredible because it cites to “A creator defends YouTube” but never mentions Irving’s open letter that engenders that defense.  It only mentions the attack on Irving’s letter from a YouTuber who for whatever reason was defending Google against Irving.  If they want to give both sides, then fine, but they didn’t.  They only gave Google’s side.

Not surprising considering the email was from Jon Webster, but you would think that even he would be more careful about being balanced.  This is the Music Manager‘s Forum, right? Not the Google Managers Forum?  Wouldn’t it have made more sense to put a link to Irving’s open letter and then give the response rather than just giving the response?

Mystifying.  We’re sure that both Webster and the YouTuber would deny that they are in Google’s pocket which could be true.  They could be “useful idiots”.

If you read both Irving’s open letter and that response from the YouTuber, you’ll notice the response never brings up a really important point that Irving emphasized–YouTube’s utter failure at accounting transparency for the meager royalties it does pay after you cut through all the “DMCA license” and “fair use” claptrap.

You say you want transparency, and I agree that labels and publishers have not traditionally been the best at that. Two wrongs don’t make a right. You need to be transparent, too. Be transparent about your ability to keep illegal music off your platform.  Be transparent about your ability to keep your own content behind a paid wall.

Be transparent about your revenue and, when paying artists, include all the revenue that is generated by music including advertising on YouTube’s home page. If you do this, I pledge to you that I will pressure the labels and publishers to pass on that transparency and increased revenue to the artists.

We would have thought that Jon Webster would be rallying the troops behind Irving on the transparency issue when the shoe is on the other foot.  But Webster appears to have no interest whatsoever in criticizing Google about anything from his mealy mouthed defense of Google’s DMCA practices to this indirect slam of Irving Azoff standing up for his artists and our industry.

Not only is Webster out to lunch again when it comes to Google, he doesn’t even address Irving’s rather generous offer to actually help Google.  That is a major offer from a major manager who could definitely make a difference.  Google, of course, has ignored this generous offer.  Why?  Probably because it is conditioned on Google being transparent about their own revenues.  If they want to pay artists a share of advertising revenue, then Google should be transparent about how that share is calculated and where the money comes from.

They should also stop playing games with ContentID and doing things like putting speed controls in their YouTube viewer to make it easier to pitch bend around ContentID in the first place.

It makes you wonder whose side the MMF is on–if you haven’t made your mind up already.  The unity in the music industry against Google has gelled in a way that we haven’t ever seen before, and that’s what makes Google really nervous.  That’s why they trot out the YouTube lottery winners (many of whom make the real money from distasteful brand integration fees or product placements, not YouTube royalties), that’s why they try to tell us that music isn’t an important part of YouTube’s revenues (so why bother auditing), and that may very well be why they use the MMF to push their agenda.

As Irving said:

The root of the problem here is YouTube: You have built a business that works really well for you and for Google, but it doesn’t work well for artists. If you think it is just the labels and publishers who are complaining, you are wrong. The music community is traditionally a very fractured one, but on this we are united.

And just in case they haven’t figured this part out yet, we’re complaining, too.  We know where Irving is coming from, but Webster needs to decide which side he is on instead of standing shoulder to shoulder with Google and its surrogates.