As you may or may not know Pandora is trying to push a bill through Congress that would slash payments to artists by as much as 85%. By “pushing through Congress” we actually mean paying-oops er we mean being a “top contributor” to Rep. Chaffetz according to Open Secrets, and then Chaffetz magically sponsors the IRFA bill which will pretty much just benefit Pandora. Pandora pays hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobbyists including a former legislative director of a leading member of the House Judiciary Committee (a lobbyist who also was a board member of the union busting Net Coalition as well as the Digital Media Association according to the lobbyist’s “revolving door” profile on Open Secrets). It will let Pandora get around agreements it made with artists unions and copyright holders. This is like Delta Airlines going to Congress and asking them to pass a law to force their pilots and flight attendants into accepting an 85% pay cut. We don’t do this in this country. Screw these guys.
So every day this week we are gonna highlight something that we particularly offensive about Pandora and this bill.
Tell Congress: Don’t Slash Music Creators’ Pay
#1. Egad Smithers! Release the Pinkertons!
Liberals and progressives are constantly derided by conservative commentators as being out of touch with common people and constantly siding with the elites. This is best exemplified by the “latte sipping liberals” slur. Normally I find this to be an unfair characterization. Normally, but not always. When it comes to anything involving copyright, technology and the web. Then it’s totally accurate.
For instance on Social Media I keep seeing naive “progressive” friends passing around the Pandora sponsored “Internet Radio Fairness Act” hashtag. Clearly they haven’t read the bill. Cause it’s anything but “progressive”.
Forget for a moment that it’s the ultimate in crony capitalism: A Congressional bill basically designed to increase the profit of one company!
Forget for a moment that founder Tim “I’m also a Musician” Westergren is gonna “help” artists by paying artists 85% less than he’s paying them now.
Forget the fact that Pandora was fine with these rates when it was selling its IPO on its roadshow!
Forget all that. For now just focus on one thing. This bill is an anti-collective bargaining bill! A union busting bill for artists. Now why exactly are you folks–who were the ones who were recently sending money to Wisconsin to recall Scott Walker–now against the workers and for bosses? Why exactly are you folks for the Congress passing a bill that would strip musicians right of those same collective bargaining rights and for the bosses being authorized to threaten criminal prosecutions for speaking out (for “impeding” direct licensing)! Talk about a “chilling effect”!
I quote directly from the “Internet Fairness Radio Act”
(B) by adding at the end the following: `Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to permit any copyright owners of sound recordings acting jointly, or any common agent or collective representing such copyright owners, to take any action that would prohibit, interfere with, or impede direct licensing by copyright owners of sound recordings [including artists who own their own sound recordings] in competition with licensing by any common agent or collective, and any such action that affects interstate commerce shall be deemed a contract, combination or conspiracy in restraint of trade in violation of section 1 of the Sherman Act (15 U.S.C. 1).’. [For which there are both civil and criminal penalties.]
The Sherman Act? I mean my draw dropped when I saw this. I’m no lawyer but are we really talking prosecution here for collective bargaining? Is it 1894?*
I was gonna say this is a play out of the Google Anti-Union playbook (see google books lawsuit, the Net Coalition’s “union thugs” memo) but it’s more like a play out of the 19th century robber barron playbook. What’s next is Pandora gonna send in the Pinkertons?
*Ironically the Sherman act was intended to be used against corporate monopolies but its first use was in 1894 when it was misused in an attempt try to break up the American Railway Union.
Also we applaud Tim Westergren and Pandora for their amazing historical re-enactment of the 1890’s. What amazing attention to detail!! We just hope that when they show up for the Congressional hearing they dress the part. Top hat and Monocle?