Are you fucking kidding me? A Survey Monkey form? If you are a Tunecore songwriter you recently got an email asking you to sign up for the NMPA/Harry Fox Agency/ Spotify settlement. Songwriters are directed to the above Survey Monkey form. This is it. No details. Nothing.Nada. In particular there is no mention of the possible statutory damages that songwriters are waiving by opting in to this.
So it’s your choice songwriters:
Sign up for a backroom deal cooked up between the NMPA, Harry Fox Agency and Spotify? Or wait for a FAIR and TRANSPARENT process supervised by a federal judge?
Does your typical “grassroots” group get $96,000 dollars from a company with an address in a mini-industrial park in Michigan? I can’t imagine that a company based in such a location would have $96,000 a year to give to an anti-copyright group like Fight For The Future? (see more on Fight For The Future here, here,here and here).
But from the Federal 990 tax return for Fight For The Future:
A search of Michigan State business licensing records seems to indicate that this company is not registered in Michigan.
I’m not sure what this ultimately means, but here are some other businesses that list physical addresses as 2885 Sanford Ave SW Grandville, Michigan. I have no idea if they are related.
World Fertility Experts
Seems an odd location for this sort of business. Overseas fertility treatments.
Does this look like a grassroots organization to you? Pie chart from Fight For The Future’s 2015 financial documents.
At every turn “grassroots” Fight For The Future has been there to undermine artists’ copyright protections in ways that benefit major technology companies.
They famously organized a scripted automated dial-in that overwhelmed the US Congress phone systems during SOPA deliberations creating the impression that thousands of Americans were spontaneously calling in opposition to copyright protections for artists and rights holders. I’ve never understood why this scripted robotic dial in campaign was never investigated. (Read Chris Ruen’s excellent book Freeloading for more on the “spontaneous” corporate lobbyist led anti-SOPA uprising.)
Similarly they organized an automated dial in against the TPP apparently because it doesn’t weaken copyright enough! That’s right, FFTF thinks TPP doesn’t do enough to undermine US cultural exports! So while pretending to protect american jobs the “progressive” FFTF are actually hurting workers in the largely unionized cultural industries while benefiting anti-union libertarian leaning technology company! As Lenin might have called them they are “useful idiots.” But that’s not all Fight For The Future targeted eight Democratic Senators, and promised to oppose them in their next election. “Oh and just one last question… about that ‘no’ at Part IV item 3 on your federal 990 tax return…”
Before it was deactivated the link above allowed sharing of illegally uploaded video of King’s I Have a Dream speech across all social media.
On “Internet Freedom Day” they organized the worlds first anti-civil rights “civil disobedience” campaign directed at the Martin Luther King Estate by illegally copying and distributing Kings “I Have A Dream Speech” and encouraging thousands of others to “share” the video on digital platforms. I’m not a lawyer, but isn’t this criminal willful infringement under 17 U.S.C. § 506? Also how is it that a non-profit keeps it’s tax exempt status when it’s committing criminal acts?
And most recently they used an automated script to “comment bomb” the regulations.gov website in response to a request for comments from the copyright office in a review of the “Whack-a-Mole” DMCA takedown provisions. I believe their efforts were problematic, illegal or violated federal rules for non-profits. Possibly fraudulent as EXACTLY 86,000 of the responses are identical! A detailed explanation is provided here:
Demagogue much? German Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda complains she can’t read The Diary of Anne Frank It’s available on Amazon and iBooks for as little as $6.99. It’s also likely available in her local bookstore. So what she really means is she doesn’t want to pay for it!
Artists, authors and performers have long been familiar with the moral depravity and demagoguery of the Pirate Party, but it has probably never been that clear to the general public. Fortunately this recent series of tweets by Julia Reda (EU Member of Parliament for the German Pirate Party), her self identified “minion” Gilles Bordelais, and author John Degan make it quite easy to understand. ( UPDATE: John Degan has an excellent blog on this exchange here : Why I bought a book for a German Pirate)
The thing is Reda and Bordelais DO have access to The Diary of Anne Frank. What the German MEP Reda and her minion (his self applied moniker, not mine) are whinging about is that they don’t have FREE access to the book. Yes this highly paid Member of EU Parliament is balking at paying approximately $7 for a widely available eBook! But she doesn’t mention that. Why?
Clearly she intends for the general public to be left with the impression that the diary is not available because of “bad” copyright laws. This is pure demagoguery and if the EU parliament was an actual functioning and responsible governing body (instead of a bad parody of a student mock UN) she might actually be reprimanded for this nonsense.
Pirate Party MEP bravely fights the powerful and evil Anne Frank Foundation!
But the demagoguery and distortions are not the worst of it. When you consider the fact that her actions have the potential to undermine the revenues and hence the good work of the Anne Frank Foundation (supported by sales of The Diary of Anne Frank) you have to question her personal judgment and qualifications to represent Germany at the EU. Through the Anne Frank Foundation sales and licensing fees support a vast array of charities and social projects. Many of these entities are focused on anti-semitism, anti-racism, anti-fascism and encouraging Jewish-Palestinian dialogue. There is even a fund to pay for the medial expenses of those that risked their lives to protect Jews during WWII.
And it pains me greatly to point out the painfully obvious but: You’d think a GERMAN sitting member of European parliament would have a little more sensitivity and think twice before using The Diary of Anne Frank and Anne Frank Foundation for a cheap political stunt. After all it was her countrymen that reduced the length of Anne Frank’s copyright (70 years plus life) by murdering her. This is not a cheap shot, because Reda and her fellow pirates are specifically arguing that it should be in the public domain based on the year of her death rather than the later death of her father (a co-author of the edited commercial work).
It makes me sick to my stomach to even have to explain this.
So my question to Julia Reda is this:
What’s more important?
Scoring cheap political points while financially undermining a foundation that fights fascism, intolerance and anti-semitism?
Or being a decent human being?
You can express your opinions to Julia Reda by tweeting at her here @Senficon (although she’s blocked many of us already)
email her here: email@example.com
or call her office: +32(0)2 28 45732
or mail her a copy of The Diary of Anne Frank here
European Parliament Rue Wiertz Altiero Spinelli 05F158 1047 Brussels
Addendum on MLK’s “Dream” speech.
Evan Greer, Fight for the Future founder and Boston’s first anti-civil rights folksinger organized a civil disobedience campaign against the King family estate by encouraging people to violate Kings rights and post the I Have A Dream speech to YouTube and social media. Why? The answer my friend is blowing in the Center for Rights in Action Federal 990 tax forms.
It should be noted that this outrageous and tone deaf demagoguery is not just an EU Pirate Party problem. A US organization with similar views on copyright baited and harassed the family of Martin Luther King on the 50th anniversary of his “I Have A Dream Speech” Fight For The Future organized a “civil disobedience” campaign to post the King speech to YouTube and other social media sites against the wishes of the King estate. It’s time for these spiteful copyleft bullies to be called out.
Uber’s attempt to enter the Austin market is becoming the proverbial cautionary tale for what can happen to an otherwise cool, live and let live city’s way of life when Silicon Valley’s tech bully boys descend on the town. And decide to spend whatever it takes to get their way.
Early voting begins today on a ballot initiative paid for by Uber and Lyft, and it’s becoming blatantly apparent that Lyft may have the wrong style mustache on their cars (h/t Mike Godwin). The ballot initiative would replace a duly enacted regulation of the Austin City Council to require fingerprinting of Uber and Lyft drivers with a new regulation drafted by the billion dollar corporations that would strike the fingerprinting requirement.
According to the Austin-American Statesman, taxi drivers, limo drivers and other public transportation operators also have to undergo fingerprint-based background checks.
The list of outsider big money special interests that fared poorly after running into local Austin resident groups with staying power and grassroots clout is long and distinguished.
Even so, the radical change in Austin’s skyline bear mute witness to just how futile is resistance against determined multinationals. If you’ve ever experienced a Google Fiber rep trying to force his way into your back yard, you know what I’m talking about.
Uber and Lyft are using surge pricing of political influence to run headlong into this conflict as the brogrammers pour millions into a ballot measure to rewrite local laws to their benefit and finance the brinksmanship between the commoditizer and the commoditized that we are all too accustomed to.
Comment bots? What comment bots? Exactly 86,000 identical comments filed to regulations.gov website? Since the Takedownabuse.org website wasn’t even created until march 31st 2:29pm New York time, that is at least 40 comments a minute. But even that is likely an underestimate. How long did it take to build the website and code a web form to comment bomb the regulations.gov site?
The Copyright Office has posted the results of the comment gathering process on the DMCA “Takedown and Notice” provision 512 (i). The Takedown and Notice process is an important (if weak) tool available to copyright owners to combat copyright infringement on the web. Basically the Takedown and Notice provision forces musicians and songwriters to police the entire web (at considerable expense) and send a notice for each and every infringing file on the web. The tech behemoths that host this material are granted a “safe harbor” from the infringement generated by their users if they respond in a timely fashion to these notices and remove the files. However virtually every one of these tech behemoths allows users to simply immediately upload the file again. This “whack-a-mole” system has been very profitable for tech companies. Google owned YouTube generates significant revenue (8 Billion dollars according to Morgan Stanley) from the “user generated content” supported platform.
In the case of my catalogue most of this user generated content on YouTube isn’t really generated by users at all. It’s simply album art and ripped audio that I own, none of which was “generated” by the users. Further the repetition of certain key phrases in the profiles of these “users” suggest that much of this style of mass infringement is committed by an organized group. Yes, I am arguing RICO laws apply. It seems odd that a company that claims its mission is to “organize the worlds information” would not be able to write a simple algorithm to flag this type of behavior that appears to be criminal. But then again that would give them “red flag” knowledge and they could no longer Sgt. Shultz (“I see nothing!”) the problem. And then there is the matter of all those billions of views they’d actually have to pay royalties on…
So naturally when the Copyright Office decided to review the Notice and Takedown provisions everyone in the creative community expected pushback from Google and astroturf proxies like www.fightforthefuture.org. (AstroTurf? What sort of grassroots organizations can hire a DC lobbyist like Pale Blue?) What no one expected was for proxies like Fight For The Future to apparently violate the law in their pushback.
Violate the law? Yes. Fight For The Future created a “comment bot” that bombed the Regulations.gov website with identical, anonymous and most likely fraudulent multiple comments to the Copyright Office. Consider the following:
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?
If this claim is false, why is FFTF asking for donations using this false claim? False advertising?
The rules for submission of comments to the Regulations.gov website clearly state that comments must be made to their website, not made to the FFTF website and then submitted by robots to the regulations.gov website.
47,418 of the comments submitted by FFTF to the regulations.gov 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 regulations.gov post these comments? These do not meet the requirements. (see screenshots).
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?
My test of the FFTF comment bot indicated that it accepted comments from IP addresses outside of the United States.
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.
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 regulations.gov website.
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 weird. And the OMB (manages regulations.gov) should really look into this.
47,418 comments filed and accepted by Regulations.gov website fail to properly identify person posting comment. Almost all of these comments appear to have been submitted using the FFTF comment bot. (Contained template text).
Fake name example 1
Fake name example 2
Fight For The Future bragging about repeatedly crashing Copyright Office’s servers while soliciting donations for their organization. Also notice the “more than 86,000 comments.” They really like that number.
The Children’s Crusade: Fight For The Future partnered with teen oriented YouTube Channel Awesome in comment bombing of copyright office.
Website was created March 31st at 2:29 NY Time.
Corrections: We did the math on the daylight savings time backwards. It was actually 2:29 pm Eastern when the website was created. Not 12:29 as previously stated. An earlier version of this post said “did verify email addresses” when in fact we meant “did not verify email addresses”.
Chris Castle asks why the US compulsory licenses don’t require services to display songwriters as this is clearly required by treaties to which the US is a party.
It also begs the question: By failing to obtain names of writers and display them are services violating Article 27, Universal Declaration of Human Rights which requires the protection of “moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author?” Attribution being the most important of these rights.
In Washington, DC yesterday, I was honored to participate in a symposium on the subject of “moral rights” sponsored by the U.S. Copyright Office and the George Mason University School of Law’s Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property. The symposium’s formal title was “Authors, Attribution and Integrity” and was at the request of Representative John J. Conyers, Jr., the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee. (The agenda is linked here. For an excellent law review article giving the more or less current state of play on moral rights in the U.S., see Justin Hughes’ American Moral Rights and Fixing the Dastar Gap.)
The topic of “attribution” or as it is more commonly thought of as “credit” is extraordinarily timely as it is on the minds of every music creator these days. Why? Digitial music services have routinely refused to display any credits beyond…
Press release from Radiohead’s publicity firm Nasty Little Man.
Ouch! Still it is better than being called “a lying sack of shit.”
Brian Message has been pedaling his pro-Spotify and Google nonsense under the pretense of being “Radiohead’s Manager” for years. Frankly it’s shocking that he’s been able to get away with it for so long.
Check out some of the links I turned up in 15 seconds.
Scalia accepts book from his former law clerk Lawrence Lessig
It’s Monday. Let’s have a little fun here and try to figure which presidential candidate would be most likely to nominate copyleft demagogue (and former Democratic presidential candidate) Lawrence Lessig to the Supreme Court. After losing at the Supreme Court twice on copyright issues you’d know he’d jump at the opportunity to be nominated.
The super creepy logo of Groundwork, the secretive Eric Schmidt big data operation backing Hillary Clinton.
While Hilary Clinton’s close connections to Hollywood would on the surface make it seem unlikely that she would support a Supreme Court nominee so hostile to the interests of creators, she seems awfully close to Eric Schmidt CEO of Alphabet/Google. And the admiration is mutual, Eric Schmidt is backing the Hilary campaign with a massive data operation. As QZ reports:
“An under-the-radar startup funded by billionaire Eric Schmidt has become a major technology vendor for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, underscoring the bonds between Silicon Valley and Democratic politics. The Groundwork, according to Democratic campaign operatives and technologists, is part of efforts by Schmidt—the executive chairman of Google parent-company Alphabet—to ensure that Clinton has the engineering talent needed to win the election. And it is one of a series of quiet investments by Schmidt that recognize how modern political campaigns are run, with data analytics and digital outreach as vital ingredients that allow candidates to find, court, and turn out critical voter blocs.”
This is particularly clever as the shadowy organization claims to be a “vendor” of the Clinton campaign, but as the QZ article goes on to suggest the Clinton campaign is essentially being undercharged for these services because an even more shadowy and opaque group “Timshel” is really subsidizing the salaries of the data engineers doing the heavy lifting.
“Schmidt did not respond to several requests for comment. But several Democratic political operatives and technologists, who would only speak anonymously to avoid offending Schmidt and the Clinton campaign, confirmed that the Groundwork is funded at least in part by the Alphabet chairman.”
If this is true, this is an extremely crafty way for Google and Schmidt to disguise what are in effect campaign contributions to the Clinton campaign. So what better way to pay back Schmidt for his help than to nominate the piracy defending Harvard Law Professor to the Supreme Court? You think YouTube abuses section 512 of the DMCA now? Lessig on the Supreme Court would make pretty much anything “Fair Use.”
Ted Cruz at the Google sponsored Republican debate.
While it seems unlikely that the conservative candidate would nominate a progressive Democrat for Supreme Court, remember Ted Cruz lobbied on behalf of Google in an Texas Anti-Trust investigation. As Yahoo News reported in March of last year:
“Facing the threat of an antitrust lawsuit from the state attorney general, Google hired Cruz to represent its interests before the agency where Cruz himself had worked just over two years earlier and where his mentor, Abbott, still called the shots. The future political star met with a top Abbott deputy on Google’s behalf in August 2010, and Cruz then accompanied a team of antitrust lawyers from Google and a Palo Alto, Calif.-based law firm to three additional meetings at the agency, according to a Cruz spokesman and visitors’ logs for the Texas attorney general’s office.”
Lessig’s copyleft stances on YouTube and in defense of piracy would be very good for Google’s core advertising businesses. See ad supported piracy here.
Top contributors to Bernie Sanders by company. Alphabet is new corporate parent of Google.
Bernie Sanders. Democratic Socialist? That seems like he would be good for the rights of the little gal/guy right? I mean surely a progressive like Sanders would see copyright for what it is: an individual right that empowers individual creators and forces large corporations to pay creators for use of their works. However if he turns out to be anything like his fellow progressives and European Democratic Socialist counterparts he will probably weaken copyright further. Remember in April of 2015 the UK Green Party came out in favor of greater “sharing” of copyrighted material and limit copyright to 14 years. The same length copyright was in 1710, when the average lifespan was less than 40 years. Talk about buggy whips!
The French Socialists challenged the constitutionality of the French anti-piracy law HADOPI. And the Socialist Party of the USA platform simply states: “We call for the repeal of all existing copyright laws.”
Progressives are fond of proclaiming that many poor Americans seem to vote against their economic interests by supporting conservative candidates. Less often noted is that something similar happens with progressives and left wing political candidates. They have a habit of attacking the entertainment industry and robust copyright laws that support these industries. Funny because the entertainment industry is a largely a unionized industry that overwhelming supports left of center candidates. Meanwhile many of these same progressive candidates suck up to the libertarians of Silicon Valley. Go figure.
Donald Trump: A friend of mine refers to Donald Trump as the “Manchurian Candidate.” This is a reference to the classic political thriller by Richard Condon, in which an American Korean War hero is actually a communist “sleeper agent.” The point is that Donald Trump and Lawrence Lessig seem to share an extreme ideological flexibility. They are thus a perfect for each other: