Censored Spotify Article Update: HuffPo CEO is Former Spotify GC, Possible Shareholder


Huffington post CEO seems stoked about Spotify subscriber metrics. Why is that?  

Digital Music News is reporting:

“Huffington Post CEO Jared Grusd was General Counsel and Global Head of Corporate Development at Spotify for 4 years.  Which means there’s probably a strong connection, and even financial strings like stock options.”

Please read full article here

The bad odor emanating from HuffPo keeps getting stronger.  For background, artists rights advocate Blake Morgan posted this mildly critical piece about Spotify on his HuffPo contributor account.  Just as it was beginning to go viral HuffPo took the article down.  The justification was… shall we say less than convincing? And in the words of Digital Music News “the internet called bullshit.”

Digital Music News hints at another issue by noting that HuffPo CEO Jared Grusd may have  “financial strings like stock options.”  This is interesting for several reasons.

First Spotify appears to be in its “quiet period” for it’s IPO.  Second Spotify is going public through an unusual direct listing.  This means that current stock and options holders are essentially making the public offering.  Rather than underwriters and banks. I am not a securities law expert, but wouldn’t this make current shareholders selling stock in the direct listing, the parties making “the offering” of stock as defined in SEC regulations?  Wouldn’t these parties then be subject to the SEC rules governing what can be said by the parties making the public offering?  Further the SEC guidance on public statements during quiet periods (here) has pages of rules on what “related media” can or can’t do when providing information to the public (start on page 133).  The question I can’t answer is whether a shareholder “offering stock” actively suppressing information that would otherwise be public violates the letter or spirit of these rules.   That’s above my pay grade.  But someone out there knows the answer.

 

The Slippery Slope of Censorship: @HuffPost Pulls Story Critical of @Spotify Ahead of IPO

Artists Rights advocate Blake Morgan (#IRespectMusic) published a story in the Huffington Post this morning critical of Spotify. The story was rapidly gaining traction when it was suddenly deleted and Morgan received this email from the Huffington Post:

From: Bryan Maygers <>
Subject: Spotify’s Fatal Flaw Exposed
Date: January 8, 2018 at 11:43:41 AM EST
To: Blake Morgan <>
Hi Blake,

I’m writing to let you know that we’ve unpublished your recent post. We’re not making any judgment about the accuracy of the claims made in the piece, but the contributors platform is intended as a place for commentary based on the established factual record, not original reporting. If anyone were to dispute your account of the meeting in question, we wouldn’t be able to verify or stand behind the quotes.
If you want to reframe the piece with the same basic argument — that Spotify sees their service and not the music as the product — without relying on retelling the conversation after the meeting, we’d be happy to reconsider.
Thanks,
Bryan

I’m not a journalism expert but the author is the source.  What’s the problem?  You have to wonder if HuffPo got a phone call from Spotify on this one.

Here’s Blake’s piece in its entirety.

Spotify’s Fatal Flaw Exposed: How My Closed-Door Meeting with Execs Ended in a Shouting Match

I love streaming.

I love making playlists, I love being able to download streamed music so I can listen when I’m offline, and I love being able to bring that music with me. In short, I think it’s a great distribution method.

What I don’t love is how little musicians get paid for all that streaming. It’s not fair––not even close. What’s more, middle-class music makers are the ones who are hit hardest, whose businesses are threatened, and whose families are put at risk. So how can I be against the way streaming companies treat musicians but not be against streaming itself?

The same way I’m against the electric chair, but not against electricity.

Spotify, the current Goliath of streaming services, had a rocky year and it’s come at a bad time for them. The public’s perception of the once can-do-no-wrong streaming giant is evolving, and for the first time it’s not improving. This was the year people watched as multiple, massive class-action lawsuits were filed against the company for widespread copyright infringement. This was the year people learned that even while Spotify added millions of new subscribers, their per-stream rate to musicians actually fell. This was the year people started to understand how it all works: that while it takes a music maker 380,000 streams on Spotify just to make minimum wage, the average Spotify employee earns $14,000 a month.

Then there was the biggest revelation. This was the year people started to connect the dots about how Spotify’s founder, Daniel Ek, made his initial fortune. At 23, he was the CEO of uTorrent, a pirate platform that became BitTorrent (arguably the largest rights-infringing platform in the world). He and their developers then used identical rights-infringing software in order to build his new golden goose: Spotify. His personal worth is now estimated at around $800 million.

If all this wasn’t enough to corrode the company’s shiny image, people also noticed that Spotify doesn’t make anything. They’ve noticed that the television and film industries aren’t up in arms over Netflix the way music makers are up in arms about Spotify, for good reason. It’s because Netflix makes stuff. Great stuff in fact, like Stranger Things, The Crown, Orange is the New Black––great shows that employ great artists and craftspeople at every level, not just superstars. Gaffers, grips, carpenters, writers, make-up artists, and so on. Meanwhile, Spotify pockets 30% of all the revenue they collect––and they don’t make anything.

Instead, they’ve become single-minded in their pursuit of Wall Street, aiming for a public offering that now looks likely in the weeks or months ahead. Spotify’s ambition to become a stock market titan––a strategy music insiders continue to scratch their heads at––will put the company in the untenable position of pleading poverty to Congress and pushing for even lower rates to music makers (“We can’t make any money, you have to save us!”), while simultaneously having to brag about how successful they are to their shareholders and the rest of Wall Street (“We’re making so much money! You have to buy our stock!”). All you have to do is ask Pandora, internet-radio’s once but now fallen Goliath, how that untenable position worked out for them. (Spoiler alert: it didn’t.)

Spotify has a public relations problem because they have an actual problem, and for all the problems listed above, the greatest one they face is this: Spotify’s in trouble because Spotify doesn’t know what their product is.

It’s astonishing. But it’s absolutely true. I know, because they told me so.

I was invited to a closed-door “artists-only” meeting with executives from Spotify. I’d been invited because of I Respect Music, a campaign I started and launched from my laptop which, improbably and surprisingly, has since become the largest grassroots campaign in American music history. The meeting was a loud and pointed one––something Spotify executives hadn’t anticipated––and the 40 or so of us music makers present were openly incensed.

 I was a vocal participant in the meeting, and when it was over I found myself surrounded by several Spotify executives. One said, “Blake, I just don’t think you understand, our users love our product because it’s such an amazing one.” Another added, “You have to look past just numbers, our product is so great it’s actually turning the industry around.” This went on for a while, until I finally said to one of the executives, “You keep using that word, ‘product.’ I’m not trying to be difficult, I’m really asking you: what do you think your product is?”

The executive was surprised. He stared at me blankly and said, “What do you mean? Our product is Spotify.”

There it was. It was a shocking admission to me, in earshot of everyone, and one he obviously didn’t think was an admission at all.

“No no…sorry,” I said, shaking my head in disbelief. “Your product isn’t ‘Spotify.’” He continued to stare at me. I said, “Sir, your product is music.” The emboldened musicians standing around us started laughing. The exec smiled and backed away, “Well okay, if you’re going to be like that.”

“Wait,” I said, “Listen, it’s music. Your product is music. The reason I know that is because if we went out into the street right now and asked a thousand people what Starbucks’ ‘product’ is, they’d all say coffee. Not a single person would say ‘Starbucks’ product is Starbucks.’ Right?”

His smile faded.

“And by the way,” I added, “Stop calling your subscribers ‘users.’ They’re not ‘users,’ they’re listeners––our listeners in fact. You’re the ‘user.’ You’re using our music to monetize our listeners for your profit.”

He looked at me as if I’d just shot Santa Claus in the face.

“No, man! You’re wrong!” He was sweating now, and the dozen or so musicians who’d gathered around us began heckling him. He shouted, “Spotify is our product! You don’t get it at all!” He stormed off.

I called after him, “You shouldn’t be fighting the people who make your only product. That’s an expensive and stupid fight you’re gonna lose.” I left the meeting. I was still in disbelief.

I feel like this is a good time to remind you that I actually love streaming.

Webster’s English Dictionary defines the term “golden goose” as a continuing source of wealth or profit that may be exhausted if it’s misused. Sadly, Spotify’s ongoing crisis of misuse begins and ends with the fact that they don’t know their only product is music. They think it’s themselves, which explains each and all of their stunning mistakes and missteps. They’d be well-served to ask any first-semester business student what the difference is between a “brand” and a “product.” But I don’t think they will, and I don’t think it’d help them at this point. I think their goose is cooked.

Mark Twain wrote, “It’s not what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you think you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Spotify’s in serious trouble because they’re powerfully sure of something that just ain’t so. They think this is all about them. It’s not.

It’s about music. It’s about the people who love to listen to it, and the people who love to make it. That connection between music lover and music maker is primal and unbreakable. Take all the music off Spotify and no one will show brand-loyalty by sitting and staring at their silent logo.

There’s a bleak future waiting for Spotify if they continue to behave their way into situations like the one they’re in now. Wall Street won’t be able to save them. And music makers won’t be interested in even trying. Ask MySpace.

I really do love streaming. It’s not the future as many say, it’s the present. It’s here now, and it’s here to stay. It can provide enormous energy to our musical landscape––lighting the way for music lovers and music makers alike––and it can and should drive great, productive, and healthy growth for all. I hope it does.

Remember…musicians love electricity. It’s the electric chair we hate.

 

 

 

Universal Leads Royalty Deadbeat Facebook Out of the Cold With Precedent Setting Licensing Deal

Praise where praise due. Earlier this year we said UMG’s effort to bring Facebook into line on music licenses should end up benefitting all songwriters. Facebook is a massive platform and the revenues to songwriters could be substantial. Watch this developing story. More likely to come.

Music Technology Policy

This is what happens when you stick to your property rights–Bloomberg reports that Facebook, aka royalty deadbeat, has signed a multiyear licensing deal with Universal Music Group:

Facebook Inc. signed a multiyear licensing deal that lets the social network carry songs and artists from the world’s biggest record label, Universal Music Group, across its platforms.

The deal announced Thursday solves a long-running dispute, with Facebook agreeing to compensate the company and artists including Taylor Swift when users post videos that include copyrighted material. The accord includes Facebook, Instagram and Oculus virtual-reality technology, with Universal saying the company would become a “significant contributor” to the industry.

The deal sets Facebook up as a more direct competitor to Google’s YouTube, the most popular destination online for listening to music. Both technology giants are battling for a bigger share of people’s time, and music rights could help Facebook give users new…

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@SGAwrites Statement Opposing Music Modernization Act of 2017

The Songwriters Guild of America makes a great point on equal governance by songwriters.

Artist Rights Watch

[Editor Charlie sez:  Here’s a copy of the Music Modernization Act of 2017]

December 21, 2017

Dear Representative Collins:

I write as president of The Songwriters Guild of America, Inc., the nation’s longest established music creator organization run solely by and for music creators, representing thousands of professional music creators and their heirs.

Thank you for forwarding a copy of the draft Music Modernization Act of 2017 yesterday for our review prior to its introduction, which was much appreciated. We continue to believe that reform of the music licensing process is and must continue to be an exceptionally high legislative priority – second only to the need to raise music royalty rates to equitable levels that will sustain our community. We applaud your sincere efforts and the efforts of the many members of Congress who have been hard at work trying to fashion solutions to these challenges over the…

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Joint statement on Music Modernization Act of 2017 from NMPA President & CEO David Israelite, ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews, BMI President & CEO Mike O’Neill, NSAI President Steve Bogard and SONA Executive Directors Michelle Lewis and Kay Hanley

We should thank Rep Collins and his staff for working tirelessly the last three years to make digital music ecosystem fairer for songwriters and performers. We have not yet had a chance to review the 100+ pages of this bill but we look forward to reading it.

Artist Rights Watch

We strongly support the introduction of the Music Modernization Act which represents months of collaboration and compromise between the songwriting and tech industries. This legislation enables digital music companies to find the owners of the music they use and reforms the rate setting process for performing rights, ensuring that songwriters and music publishers are paid faster and more fairly than ever before.

“For too long, digital music services have taken advantage of the ‘bulk NOI’ process and often failed to find the correct creators to pay, and now – by working together – this bill ends this practice by creating a private-sector system where money will no longer be lost to inefficiencies and lack of information. The bill also improves how mechanical royalty rates are calculated by introducing a willing-seller/willing-buyer standard.

“On the performance rights side, the bill also replaces the current rate court system with the random assignment of judges used in most federal court cases, and allows…

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The Information’s Expose on Google’s Hostile Work Environment is a Cry for Corporate Reform

This is the week’s most underreported story. Add this report to previous reports of “open marriages;” deleted Instagram accounts; sound proof love nests; sexy yacht “decorators;” and various rumored sidepieces and you have an increasing probability of freakiness to be revealed at Google.

 

Music Technology Policy

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”

Animal Farm: A Fairy Story by George Orwell

The Information has conducted an extensive review of Google’s apparently hostile work environment and one thing is clear–all the stories we heard about Google’s headman, Eric “Uncle Sugar” Schmidt really have had the predictably corrosive effect.

The romantic relationships within the walls of Google made ideal fodder for gossip columns and magazine profiles.

Co-founder Larry Page dated Google lieutenant Marissa Mayer in the company’s early days, and co-founder Sergey Brin later drew attention for dating Amanda Rosenberg, a younger colleague. CEO Eric Schmidt dated publicist Marcy Simon when she did work for Google. The stories had sex, money and power against a backdrop of one of the world’s largest tech empires. It was like something out of a rebooted soap opera—Dynasty 2.0.

But an examination by The Information found that…

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Post a Story Critical of Title II Net Neutrality Supporters’ Claims? Get Blacklisted as Malware Site


If you need anecdotal evidence that just maybe Title 2 Net Neutrality supporters are not for “net neutrality,” open discourse and freedom of speech, I would just like to note that after posting stories critical of Title II Net Neutrality organizations we seem to get reported as a malware site. Could just be a coincidence.  But who knows?   The result is that this website may not load on your corporate or university network.  Maybe the FTC should look into this?

Thoughts on “Net Neutrality” From Down Here in the Coal Mine – Guest Post Maria Schneider

Maria Schneider is a 5-time GRAMMY-winning composer/bandleader in jazz, classical and for her work with David Bowie. An outspoken advocate for the rights of musicians, she has testified before Congress, and teaches and performs throughout the world. 

When Google really really wants something, it’s a marvel to watch how it hides its own greedy motives, while using surrogate groups, political polarization, and their own power over information networks to whip up a national outcry – all as Google feigns concern for the “public good.” Google has now orchestrated just such a public outcry over the vague phrase “net neutrality.” It’s a phrase that has most of us, including John Oliver (see John Oliver’s piece), biting hook, line, and sinker. I smell something rotten.  As musicians, we’re the canaries in the proverbial coal mine. We’ve long been taken on this ride by the world’s biggest data lord, and we’ve developed a keen nose. We’ve been coughing up blood down in this damn mine for too long to not take notice when new wafts of rotten stench make their way down here – especially when we look up the dark shaft and see rainbows spelling the word “Google” beneath radiant blue skies.

So I figured it was time to dig into this phrase “net neutrality” and see what it’s all about. And sure enough, as I’ll explain below, this appears as just another typical Google scam where they systematically create mass hysteria that the little guy is going to somehow be hosed. I’m afraid to say, the public is being duped.

Here’s some of what I’ve found:

1) This whole thing was set up by and for Google.  The current posture of “net neutrality” having its home in the FCC, has its origins in 2007, when Google, quite remarkably, essentially bribed the FCC to include certain “net neutrality” conditions into an FCC auction of huge swaths of broadband capability.  Eric Schmidt guaranteed the FCC they’d submit a bid of 4.6 billion, on the condition that the FCC include certain “net neutrality” conditions in the purchase/sale of those rights. That sent Comcast and Verizon into apoplectic shock, and as for Google? Google actually had no intention of actually winning the auction.  The FCC bit on the poisonous apple hung in front of them by Google.

2) The Director of the FCC who gave the green light to this scheme was a Dick Cheney colleague named Kevin Martin, who Congress investigated for misconduct and poor leadership. The title of this downloadable 110-page Congressional Report, “Deception and Distrust: The FCC Under Chairman Kevin Martin” pretty much tells you all you need to know. Sounds like the perfect guy for Google to hitch its wagon to. So no surprise then that Martin agreed to bite on Eric Schmidt’s dirty little poisonous apple. And that “bite” set all of this into motion. (I love you, John Oliver, but sadly these shady beginnings, along with all that then ensued, never made its way to your desk.) Read the cliff notes in this article.

3) As a result, Verizon ended up bidding, and paying billions, for broadband rights that were crafted by Google.  Google had to make a down payment of over a 1/4 billion dollars to “play” that card at the FCC, but Google got it all back, other than the interest on that money, which was estimated to be about 13 million.  So, for the paltry sum of 13 million, Google completely undermined the entire internet regulatory landscape. Well played “Lord” Schmidt.

4) After that, there were a few federal court cases that concluded the FCC didn’t truly have this sort of authority at all, forcing the FCC to spit out its bite of poisonous apple. Finally, a judge naively suggested that in order to have such authority, companies like Verizon would need to be classified by the FCC as “common carriers,” just like phone companies.  Of course, Google and its squad of flying monkeys loved this idea, but nobody seemed to think through the consequences.  So when the FCC implemented its 2015 Open Internet Order (the OIO) as a response to those court decisions, it was a half-baked “reactive” maneuver that would have the whole agency chasing its own tail down a black hole dug by Google.

5) But that’s only part of the story. The elephant in the room, that almost nobody mentions or maybe realizes, is the position of the “FTC” on this Open Internet Order reversal.  During the notice and comment period for the current FCC reversal, both the FTC director herself, Maureen Ohlhausen, (who seems to be an unassailable woman appointed by Obama), and all of her staff, separately submitted comments completely blasting the 2015 Open Internet Order.  Her comments in particular seem incredibly well researched and presented. She is our nation’s chief consumer watchdog, and her opinion is important. You can download her piece here.

All of the feigned panic Google and its flying monkeys have whipped up are addressed by the FTC Director in her comments.  The simple reality is that the architects of the 2015 OIO never expected such agency turmoil would result between the FCC & FTC.  However, a big federal case from California between AT&T and the FTC basically said that because of the OIO, the FTC is stripped of its powers.  And that’s a very unfortunate consequence of the OIO. Frankly, I’d rather have the FTC taking the lead in policing real-life bad ISP behavior.  It’s what they do (or what they did) and they’ve been a pretty good watch dog in the past. It seems the FTC stats on policing ISPs are impressive.  The FCC has never done that, it’s not in their DNA. And their ability to police is even very limited, unlike the FTC.  The power of the people is best reflected through the FTC, not the FCC.

6) A great point Director Ohlhausen (the Obama appointed FTC director) makes, is her analysis that what Google is pushing is a problem that does not really exist.  Her advocacy for an “ex-post” approach, as opposed to an “ex-ante” is excellent, and it’s been largely ignored by the media.  Many other scholars and internet experts also agree with this view as well. As one example, see this article from the Washington Post.

7) Here we start to see what victims we have all become of Google’s “fake news” –  the fake news Google and its flying monkeys (its well-paid surrogates like the EFF, FFTF, etc.) have spewed out over us like airborne war propaganda.  The truth actually seems to be this: the current contrived definition of “net neutrality” really means that ISPs are required to maintain, at their own expense (which is actually the consumer’s expense), a totally “open” set of highways, that are unobstructed by any natural market forces at all, so that Google can drive its fleet of Ferraris at high speeds, with absolutely no traffic rules.  It makes Verizon (and therefore us, who pay Verizon’s bills), Google’s bitch.  Those of us who use the internet for routine needs (e.g., basic news, government websites, job searching, and a video or movie here and there) end up subsidizing the high-end “luxury” uses of the internet (like heavy YouTube and PornHub use). It’s nonsensical.

8) What’s worse, Google is really just the pot calling the kettle black. Google is desperate to have Verizon declared as a “common carrier” so that Verizon is legally required to provide this open set of highways to all, at NO COST to Google. Google does so by scaring us ordinary folks, saying Verizon could somehow set up fast lanes, or other prioritizations, if they aren’t called “common carriers.” But the irony of this – and the hidden truth – is that Google does just that by building what are called “content delivery networks” or CDNs, that enable them to deliver content, at lightning speeds in collaboration with the ISPs. Talk about “fast lanes” – that is like Google having its own private HOV lanes on the open highway system for its own Ferraris.  How ironic it is that by 2011, Google was carrying 6.4% of ALL worldwide internet traffic on and through its own CDNs. That’s just astounding. Google is actually acting more like an ISP than the ISPs. Google is the behemoth data lord that owns us all. But somehow, we’re willing to vilify the cable company instead, and give Google a free pass. It’s like punishing the shipbuilders who build the pirate ships, while idolizing the pirates themselves. It’s ludicrous.

9) Let’s not forget what this is all about. Google isn’t here for the altruistic ideal of helping ordinary people. Google’s number one goal with “net neutrality” is to guarantee robust “pipes” are in place, so that we, the billions of YouTube and Google search users, can send all of our “user data” back to Google. It’s fair to say that they need the ISP pipes maybe more than we do. Companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook, are only rich and powerful because we, collectively and stupidly, have agreed to send them (via the ISPs) all of our valuable data (our constant GPS locations, our buying and listening habits, our everyday needs and whims, our opinions, our political leanings, our personal information, medical information, our search history) – all of it and more, for free. Each of us has become a data-transmitting drone for Google and the like. And all of that data travels through Verizon’s (or the ISPs’) pipes.

So unlike the common carrier phone company, who does not “mine” our phone usage for monetization and advertising as its business model, Google is receiving trillions of data points a day from all of us, and is monetizing every last drop of it to the tune of billions in profit, while paying us nothing. It’s what they do to make money. And it’s the greatest money mill the world has ever known. What’s shocking is that no city or state or country has declared that this scheme is just a good old fashioned “barter.” All of the precious personal data Google sucks out of us through these ISP pipes is worth billions, and Google should be taxed on its receipt of that data, just like any other barter. Just like a water meter or electric meter, that data-flow from us to Google should be metered and Google should be charged. Instead, Amazon and Google are sucking retail jobs, retail sales and other infrastructure right out of our state and local economies, fueled by the free data we keep giving them 24/7. The IRS should be awash in cash from this “data for services” wealth transfer – and so should cities and states. Instead, Google parks that profit overseas, and hires scores of lobbyists in the U.S. to keep it that way.

10) The arguments that reversing the OIO will somehow hurt the little guy is an empty argument.  It ignores the reality that the FTC, for years, served an effective role in policing the ISPs on REAL issues raised by consumers and the public.  THAT job is in their DNA.  But the OIO had the unintended consequence of completely neutering the FTC when the FCC went chasing its tail, all because of Google and those who let themselves be lured by its poison apple.  All the while, the OIO pushes higher internet costs onto the average joe.  Google pays nothing extra for those infrastructure costs. Those costs are spread evenly across every grandmother and small business that does not take part in those luxury internet uses.  That’s why groups like the National Black Chamber of Commerce are dead set against the “net neutrality” pushed by Google. And that’s worth taking note.

11) Do I trust Verizon and Comcast not to discriminate against me? Not really, but I trust the FTC and Ms. Ohlhausen to do a good job policing them when “we the public” lodge valid complaints. The bigger question is, do I trust Google not to discriminate against me as a user, or as in my case, a musician?   “Definitely not,” I say pausing to cough up more blood down here.

Here’s just a short list of things Google already does to discriminate against me as a musician (things a common carrier should not be able to get away with):

a) they deny musicians like me access to their Content ID blocking program, to keep us from effectively dealing with piracy on their site with the help standard fingerprinting technology

b) they won’t allow musicians like me to steer YouTube traffic to our own crowd-funding sites anymore, like: ArtistShare, PledgeMusic or Patreon;

c) they don’t share any information with musicians about who listens to our music, despite the incredible value they siphon from illegal posting of our music, while paying us pennies

d) they allow users to upload our music, without asking those users even one single question about ownership or licensing rights

e) they encourage piracy through search and autocomplete, which helps Google profit from all traffic, regardless of its legality

This sooty old canary is raising her weary eyebrow down here in the coal mine yet again, as she sees Google trying to create public hysteria over the words “net neutrality” – as Google protects the slippery scheme it infiltrated into the FCC a decade ago.

If there’s a company out there with a monopoly grip most worth worrying about, it’s actually Google. If there’s a company that’s been treating the public unfairly, it’s Google. If there’s a company that has misused legal regulations and loopholes to line its pockets at our expense, it’s Google. If there’s a company that wields unprecedented power in steering public opinion, it’s Google. If there is a company that is willing to put profit ahead of ethics (even to the point of actually supporting child sex trafficking), it’s Google.

Verizon and Comcast might not be at the top of Santa’s list, but I know one thing for sure, Eric Schmidt and Google are getting big old lumps of coal.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Kremlin “Investors”

We’d be happy to paid in Rubles, Zuck. Just license our music you fucking deadbeat.

Artist Rights Watch

sovietfb

The “Paradise Papers” reveal that Facebook took approximately $200 million of cash investment from the Kremlin.  This huge chunk of cash came from the Kremlin’s VTD Bank was “funneled through DST Global”, an investment vehicle owned by oligarch Yuri Millner (known as “космонавт” loosely translated as “the spaceman”).   The papers also show that Gazprom (the controversial Kremin-owned energy company) heavily funded an offshore company that partnered with DST Global in a large investment in Facebook.

russia_medvedev_facebook_zuck

A story in the Guardian from 2009 about the transactions provides insight into how the deal was structured for Facebook:

[Digital Sky Technology], run by Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner [“the Spaceman”), has also indicated that it is willing to spend at least another $100m buying out existing Facebook shareholders as part of a plan that would allow current and former staff to sell some of their shares.

Wonder who those “current and former staff”…

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Content Creators Coalition Nails It With New YouTube Ads #updatetheDMCA

Share these with your friends.   Two new videos from Content Creator Coalition succinctly explain the problem with YouTube for artists.  These videos will help civilians understand the fundamental unfairness of existing regulations.

First, YouTube pays a lot less than other licensed streaming services.

Second, YouTube hides behind a bad interpretation of the DMCA copyright act.  For all practical purposes artists can not remove their work from YouTube even though YouTube pays much less.   This has produced a market failure, making it impossible to fairly value songs and recordings in the digital realm.  Further YouTube/Google have unprecedented lobbying power in Washington DC and they are blocking any sort of sensible fix to the DMCA loophole.

#updatetheDMCA

And #BreakUpGoogle