Open Letter to Jeff Bezos from Trixi the Three Legged Rescue Dog

Todays guest opinion is by Trixi a 5 year old female Pit Bull/American Bulldog mix and cancer survivor.

Hi Jeff

You don’t know who I am, but I’m pretty familiar with who you are.  You are the guy that sends those men and women up onto my front porch. This happens nearly every day. I’m not sure what it is I ever did to you but it is quite annoying. The newspapers that line the floor around the cat’s litter box (yes, I know I have a problem) also tell me you are the richest man in the world with a net worth of 188 billion dollars. I understand that your company has benefitted enormously from the current pandemic.  Those same newspapers report you and your fellow tech titans Zuckerberg and Musk have seen your net worth rise $115 billion just this year.  It is a good year to be a tech titan.

In contrast to that the family I live with is largely supported by money earned from performing music.  Concert musicians and concert promotion is the family business.  Since mid march there has been no concert income for my family. In fact our family income has fallen 80%.  Fortunately for me and my family we still receive songwriting royalties from streaming and sales. These royalties are from songs my dog dad wrote over the last 40 years.  My understanding is my family uses these royalties as a kind of rainy day fund that helps us get through tough times and the dry periods between albums and tours.

To be clear I’m not whinging here. I have it pretty good for a dog. I spent much of my first few years in kennels having puppies. I know how fortunate I was to be adopted by my family.  But back in the spring I developed a dull pain in my left front shoulder.  At first I thought it was a muscle injury from trying to scoot under the couch to get what I thought was an old dried up bit of bacon. Long story it wasn’t. It was pretty good. But it wasn’t bacon. Anyway,  the pain rapidly worsened until I couldn’t eat or even drink water.  I tried to crawl under the house to die. It was that bad.  The vet told us I had a malignant bone tumor.  I would need my left front leg amputated at the shoulder and a few rounds of chemo.  Fortunately the surgery and chemo appear to have been successful. Knock on wood.  It took me about a week to figure out how to walk. Now I get around pretty good. Here’s a little secret dogs: It’s easier to run than walk with three legs.

The point is without those songwriter royalties I don’t know if my family would have had the cash to pay for that surgery and treatment.  Well maybe that’s not quite true as I’m certain my family would have done anything they could to save me.  Put the surgery on credit cards or even taken out a loan.  But you get my point.  My life is an expense that many music families might not be able to afford.

Now the other day I was in the recycling bin checking to see if all the cans were properly washed out and I came across the full docket for the United States Court of Appeals Washington DC Case No. 19-1028.  Fascinating.  Basically you, Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world sued the Copyright Royalty Board to “recalculate” songwriter royalties retroactively 2018-2022. And you won! Now the trade organization that represents you is claiming this is simply a technical detail. But that is not true. it is clear from the actual court filings that you (and your buddies Spotify and Google) want to retroactively reduce songwriter royalties from the current 13.3% downward to around 10.4%.  That is, a retroactive 28% pay cut to my family. There is a very real possibility of negative songwriter royalty checks in late 2020 or early 2021.  This is during a worldwide financial crisis. When my family has already lost 80% of their income.

So I just have one question for you Jeff.

“How much more fucking money do you need?  What kind of asshole sues to retroactively take pay from songwriters during a pandemic?”

Okay that’s two questions. I’m a dog. I’m not good at math.  I am good at empathy.  You should learn.

You can read the court opinion at link below.

2020-08-11 Case No. 19-1028 GJ v LOC UNSEALED OPINION FINAL

About Dr. David C Lowery

Platinum selling singer songwriter for the bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven; platinum selling producer; founder of pitch-a-tent records; founder Sound of Music Studios; platinum selling music publisher; angel investor; digital skeptic; college lecturer and founder of the University of Georgia Terry College Artists' Rights Symposium.

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