Sadly no one in the music business press seems to be paying attention to the Copyright Royalty Board filings. But we all should be watching this closely. A couple days ago SoundExchange filed a letter with this bombshell in it:
“SoundExchange requested a specific email sent by Pandora executive Chris Harrison in December of 2013 in which Mr. Harrison highlighted the success of a strategy he implemented for DMX that involved entering into direct licenses in order to create evidence for a rate court proceeding. Evidence of a strategic motive underlying Pandora’s direct licensing would undermine the direct licenses Pandora has proffered as benchmarks. But Pandora has refused to produce the requested email and any other documents except for two. In light of their clear probative value to the key benchmarks Pandora has put at issue here, Pandora should produce all documents that constitute, comprise, memorialize, or analyze Mr. Harrison’s efforts on DMX’s behalf.”
full document here:
Created evidence? That sounds a lot like “manufacturing evidence” to me. If this is true, Pandora at the behest of counsel Chris Harrison specifically cut this direct deal with MERLIN (the independent label consortium) to “create evidence” for the rate court then this should be seriously investigated. I’m not an expert but when I say investigate I mean law enforcement, The Judiciary Committee or at very least some bar association ethics panel. If Harrison and Pandora are allowed to get away with this, it doesn’t just harm songwriters and artists, it harms the entire legal process.
(Also some of the labels represented by MERLIN need to start asking: what it is that MERLIN/MERLIN executives got out of the Pandora deal? Who was banging on MERLIN’s door asking for a direct deal with Pandora?)
Meanwhile the DOJ (despite reports to the contrary) still have the anti-trust consent decrees pointed at songwriters rather than Pandora and Broadcasters. What a world we live in.