Right On Cue, YouTube CEO Unveils Google’s Lobbying Plans Against Copyright Directive Implementation–the fight is just beginning

The European Copyright Directive was a great victory for artists, right?  The Silicon Valley multinationals were sent packing, yes?

True as far as it goes, but it does not go all the way.  Now each of the 28 member states of the European Union are to adopt implementing legislation at the national level to put the Directive into legal effect and they have two years to do it.  Google calls this an opportunity to continue the meddling and interference lobbying campaign.

How do we know?  Because YouTube’s CEO told us so in a fine specimen of oligarchical collectivism.

In a post on the oxymoronic YouTube “creators blog” (aka Pravda Chrome), YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki tells us about the only thing that she really could say after Google’s massive dezinformatsiya campaign, but yet clearly outlines Google’s next steps during that two year implementation period:

While the Directive has passed, there is still time to affect the final implementation to avoid some of the worst unintended consequences. Each E.U. member state now has two years to introduce national laws that are in line with the new rules, which means that the powerful collective voice of creators can still make a major impact.

Especially the ones Google pays.

Google really only has a limited number of messages when it comes to copyright.  Like George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth, we have Google’s own variation on WAR IS PEACE–that being COPYRIGHT IS CENSORSHIP.  Given that Google doesn’t seem to have a Plan B when it comes to interference lobbying, we can bet that what Ms. Wojcicki means is that Google is going to commence the same kind of fake petitions, bot farming and paid messaging from YouTubers that were the embarrassing (and potentially illegal) hallmarks of Google’s strategy against the Copyright Directive.  The only difference is that this time it will be against the national legislatures (such as the House of Commons in the UK or the National Assembly in France) instead of the European Parliament.

It’s not really the only difference, though.  The other difference is that we are ready for them and we know what to watch for as do the members of the 28 national parliaments.

Americans should also realize that if you thought Google’s disinformation campaign against the Copyright Directive was bad, just wait and see what happens if the Congress should take up the DMCA safe harbor.  That party is just getting started.  And the party–so to speak–is all happening in Room 101–how many fingers, Winston?

 

 

Save the Date: The Pledge Music Crowdfunding Debacle, May 22 Austin Bar Association

Music attorney Chris Castle will moderate a panel on “The Pledge Music Crowdfunding Debacle” at noon on May 22 at the Austin Bar Association, 816 Congress Avenue, Suite 700, Austin, Texas 78701.  Details to follow.  Read about the Pledge Music crisis in Billboard by Colin Stutz.

 

 

SOUTH AFRICA PETITION AGAINST THE SIGNING INTO LAW, THE CURRENT AMENDMENTS TO THE COPYRIGHT ACT No. 98 of 1978 BY HONORABLE PRESIDENT RAMAPHOSA

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More skullduggery afoot from Google, this time in South Africa–and that’s the fact.  Minister Rob Davies and the Chair of the Portfolio Committee of the National Assembly’s Department of Trade & Industry both need to be called out on exactly how this legislation came to so closely resemble Google’s marching orders on safe harbors and pirate utopias.  As we’ve seen in Europe, Google has no respect for the nation state or local creators.

Sign the petition here and stand shoulder to shoulder with artists in South Africa against Big Tech’s lobbying onslaught.

Save the Date: @miramulholland Speaking at the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva April 5

Miranda Mulholland is a wonderfully articulate speaker and advocate for artist rights!  We’re pleased to let readers know that she’ll be on this panel at the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva and will be performing with Andrew Penner in their band Harrow Fair.  More info here.

Harrow Fair WIPO

An industry transformed: securing sustainable growth for today’s digital music industry

Friday, 5th April 2019

1pm – 3pm

Geneva, Switzerland

The global music industry has transformed itself through investment and innovation over the past two decades. The recording industry has licensed hundreds of digital music services around the world, driving innovation and providing consumers with access to some 50 million tracks. Meanwhile, artists have gained more choice than ever before in how to reach fans with their music. At the heart of this success are the partnerships between artists and record labels.

Delegates will be presented with key global and regional data from the IFPI Global Music Report (which will be published globally during the week of the SCCR), insights into the partnerships between record companies and artists, and some key challenges to ensuring the sustainable and balanced development of digital music markets around the world.

Next, Graham Henderson will share highlights from Music Canada’s upcoming report on the discrepancy between the value of music accessed by consumers and the revenues returned to the artists and businesses who create it. The report outlines how Canada’s music community has overcome initial skepticism regarding the existence of this discrepancy, known as the Value Gap, and its causes. It examines the key arguments and evidence that have led to widespread acknowledgement of the discrepancy in Canada, and presents a road map to help build a stronger music ecosystem for artists and labels around the world.

The final speaker, Miranda Mulholland, a Canadian musician who runs her own boutique record label, will explain how weak copyright legislation has impaired her career. She will also reflect on the value of record labels in the modern music marketplace, and will demonstrate how artists can help establish a sustainable and functioning marketplace, outlining her own journey as an artist advocate.

Following the discussion, Mulholland will take the stage with Andrew Penner, her musical partner in the band Harrow Fair, to perform their unique blend of folk, country and garage rock music.

Speakers:

Larry S. Miller – Clinical Associate Professor and Director, Music Business Program, NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

Graham Henderson – President and CEO, Music Canada

Miranda Mulholland – Musician, President of Roaring Girl Records, and Music Festival Founder

Performance: Harrow Fair

EU and Article 13: The Dystopia That Never Was and Never Will Be

Authors: Stefan Herwig and Lukas Schneider. This  article originally appeared as Upload Filters: The Dystopia Has Been Canceled on the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung here.  German language version here. Translated from German to English by Sarah Swift.
© Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung GmbH 2001 – 2019 All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission. 

The “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace“ published in 1996 by John Perry Barlow begins with the words “Governments of the Industrial World I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone.” One reading of this text entirely rejects the possibility that processes of making and enforcing collectively binding decisions – political processes – apply on the Internet. Another possible reading sees the Internet as a public space governed by rules that must be established through democratic process while also holding that certain sub-spaces belong to the private rather than the public sphere. The distinction between public and private affairs, res publicae und res privata, is essential for the functioning of social spaces. The concept of the “res publicae” as “space concerning us all”  led – and not only etymologically – to the idea of the republic as a form of statehood and, later, as a legitimate space for democratic policymaking.

On the Internet, this essential separation of private and public space has been utterly undermined, and the dividing lines between public and private spaces are becoming ever more blurred. We now have public spaces lacking in enforcement mechanisms and transparency and private spaces inadequately protected from surveillance and the misuse of data. Data protection is one obvious field this conflict is playing out on, and copyright is another.

The new EU Directive on Copyright seeks to establish democratic rules governing the public dissemination of works. Its detractors have not only been vociferous – they have also resorted to misleading forms of framing. The concepts of upload filters, censorship machines and link taxes have been injected into the discussion. They are based on false premises.

Upload filters as cogs in a censorship machine

What campaigners against copyright reform term “upload filters” are not invariably filters with a blocking function; they can be simple identification systems. Content can be scanned at the time of uploading to compare it to patterns from other known content. Such a system could, for example, recognize Aloe Blacc’s retro-soul hit “I need a Dollar.” Such software systems can be compared to dictation software capable of identifying the spoken words in audio files. At this point in time, systems that can identify music tracks on the basis of moderately noisy audio signals can be programed as coursework projects by fourth-semester students drawing on open-source code libraries. Stylizing such systems as prohibitively expensive or as a kind of “alien technology” underestimates both the dystopian potential of advanced pattern recognition systems (in common parlance: artificial intelligence) in surveillance software and similar use cases while also underestimating the feasibility of programming legitimate and helpful systems. The music discovery app “Shazam,” to take a specific example, was created by a startup with only a handful of developers and a modest budget and is now available on millions of smartphones and tablets – for free. The myth that only tech giants can afford such systems is false, as the example of Shazam or of enterprises like Audible Magic shows. Identifying works is a basic prerequisite for a reformed copyright regime, and large platforms will not be able to avoid doing so. Without an identification process in place, the use of licensed works cannot be matched to license holders. Such systems are, however, not filters.

How do upload filters work?

The principal argument of critics intent on frustrating digital copyright reforms that had already appeared to be on the home stretch is their charge that the disproportionate blocking of uploads would represent a wholesale assault on freedom of speech or, indeed, a form of censorship. Here, too, it is necessary to look more closely at the feasibility and potential of available options for monitoring uploads – and especially to consider the degree of efficiency that can be achieved by linking human and automated monitoring. In a first step, identification systems could automatically block secure matches or allow them to pass by comparing them against data supplied by collecting societies. Licensed content could readily be uploaded and its use would be electronically registered. Collecting societies would distribute license revenue raised to originators and artists. Non-licensed uses could automatically be blocked. In a second step, errors could be caught through a complaints handling system making decisions on whether complaints are justified on the basis of human analysis – this would represent a clear improvement on the current procedures used by YouTube and Facebook. What automated pattern recognition systems cannot do is determine the meaning of content items at the semantic level. This means that they cannot identify legitimate uses of protected works – in the context of parodies or mash-ups, say, or when an image is reproduced online in a piece of art criticism. In such cases, the identification system would report a “fuzzy”  match, stating for example that 40% of a given upload corresponded to a copyrighted file known from the database. To achieve a legally watertight result here, human judgment would be required. Humans can recognize parodies or incidental uses such as purely decorative uses of works in ways that that do not constitute breaches of copyright.

The process of analysis could be simplified further by uploaders stating the context of use at the time works are uploaded. Notes such as “This video contains a parody and/or uses a copyrighted work for decorative purposes” could be helpful to analysts. The Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) in Germany provides a good example of how automatic recognition and human analysis can work in tandem to analyze vast volumes of information. A few hundred people in Germany are currently tasked with deciding whether statements made on Facebook constitute incitement to hatred and violence against certain groups or are otherwise in breach of community rules. These judgments are significantly more complex than detecting impermissible uses of copyrighted works.

Being obliged to implement human monitoring will, of course, impose certain demands on platforms. But those most affected will be the platforms with the largest number of uploads. These major platforms will have the highest personnel requirements because they can host content of almost every kind: music, texts, video etc. Protecting sites like a small photo forum will be much simpler. If only a modest number of uploads is involved, the forum operator can easily check them personally at the end of the working day. In that case, uploaders will simply have to wait for a brief period for their content to appear online. Or operators can opt to engage a service center like Acamar instead of adding these checks to their own workloads. Efficient monitoring is possible.

An additional misinterpretation propagated by campaigners against copyright reform is that platforms will have to take out licenses for all the content in the world from a near-infinite number of licensing partners. This, too, is inaccurate, since the transfer of liability to platforms only arises in cases in which rightsholders have specifically prohibited the unlicensed use of their works and had the works in question added to a database made available to platform operators through collecting societies. Visions of upload filters leading to dystopian censorship are, it follows, unfounded. This should be clear to anybody who has read the text of the directive and has even a basic working knowledge of informatics.

For a free Internet, we need copyright reform

The reform provides a basis for ensuring artists are fairly remunerated for their work and forces rightsholders to assist in the identification of works by registering their content in databases. Both effects are highly advantageous for users. Under the proposed regime, somebody who wants to use the Rage Against The Machines track “Killing In The Name Of”  on the soundtrack of a protest video will no longer have to worry about copyright and can simply upload the video to a platform. Works used will be identified, and the relevant collecting societies will distribute the licensing revenue they receive from the platform. If Rage Against The Machine has objections to the transformative use of their work, they can communicate them to the database. Once the directive has been transposed into national law, this procedure will become standard practice.

It will become possible to publish more content and easier to comply with the law. All of this will contribute to more freedom on the Internet – the kind of freedom that stems from having democratic rules rather than allowing tech giants with their community rules and automated decision-making processes to determine what content is permitted on their platforms and what they are prepared to pay for it.

Barlow overlooked what the author William Gibson had already recognized – that enterprises, when they make the rules, can become more powerful than states. The rejection of state-guaranteed democratic rules creates the power vacuum required for this to happen. This is the wider context that explains why copyright reform is but one battlefield in the struggle for political power on the Internet. YouTube should not be allowed to become the Internet for videos just as Google has practically already become the only filter for web searches. Amazon should not be allowed to evolve from a vendor in the market to the provider of the market and to dictate the earnings of parcel couriers. Rules in digital space must be created and weighed against each other by democratic means and not in an arbitrary fashion dependent solely on who wields the most market power. Artists and net activists should fight this battle together, because the Internet is not some abstract parallel dimension: its data flows determine our creditworthiness just as they supply us with holiday pictures and pervade every aspect of modern life. If we relinquish democratic control over this public space, we will become subject to the despotic rule of neoliberal tech giants, and not merely on the Internet.

Barlow’s manifesto ends with the words: “We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.” Copyright reform will take our society one step closer to this aim. The quasi-governments that must now be opposed are called Google, facebook und Amazon. Those who take the side of these giants in this controversy are opposed to the free Internet in the true meaning of the word.

Translation from German by Sarah Swift.

Authors

Stefan Herwig and Lukas Schneider jointly run a think tank, Mindbase, that tackles questions of Internet policy with academic rigor. Stefan Herwig works in the music industry and advises politicians and enterprises on digital policy issues. Lukas Schneider is an information science expert and a musician and is active in Germany’s Green party (Alliance ’90/The Greens).

Pledge 2019 EU Campaign: Old Wine in New Bottles

In summer 2018 the campaign platform Saveyourinternet.eu set up to fight against the EU copyright reform. The campaign was organized by C4C, which is mainly financed by the American CCIA and the Open Society Foundation. This was criticized at the time. The website Saveyourinternet was later “taken over“ by EDRi; C4C was out.

Now there is a new action platform Pledge2019.eu, which claims to be “independent“ and „without any support from Google or other web giants.”

pledge_1_eng

We need to look at this in more detail.

The Saveyourinternet.eu story
In the fight against the EU Copyright Directive, Saveyourinternet.eu’s campaign in summer 2018 was primarily responsible for the bombardment of MEPs with pre-written e-mails, automated tweets and arranged telephone calls, including discussion guidelines.

The campaign was organized by Copyright for Creativity (C4C) and its secretariat N-Square. The C4C has 42 members (EFF, EDRi, BEUC etc.) and, according to its own statements, is mainly financed by the Open Society Foundation (OSF) and the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA). Members of this American industry association include Amazon, Cloudflare, Facebook, Mozilla, Google and Uber.

The page was registered in spring 2018 by the Belgian lobby company N-Square, which also works für Google. And today the registration data and the domain location are concealed by EURID and Cloudflare. The site does not have a legal imprint. There is only the notice that it is “managed” by the EDRi organization.

The new campaign page – Pledge2019.eu
The new campaign page is called “Pledge2019.eu” and is used to organize telephone calls to MEPs. The system connects the user either directly with an opponent suggested by the system or the user can select a time to speak with one of the proponents.

Epicenter.works from Vienna is responsible for the content. Legal notice and data protection declaration are, as very often is the case, borderline. But that is not the point.

pledge_Tab_1_eng

The site refers (as of 8.3.2019) to 17 organizations which are in some way connected to the site.
Besides EDRi, the current “manager” of Saveyourinternet.eu, there are 13 members of EDRi (3 of them “Observer”). Only three organizations do not belong to EDRi.

Ten of these 17 organizations are also listed at Saveyourinternet.eu. Saveyourinternet also links to Pledge2019.eu using the button “ACT NOW – CALL MY MEPs”.

The impression is that the creators of the old campaign (Saveyourinternet.eu) also operate the new action platform (Pledge2019.eu).

The donors
Pledge2019 emphasizes its independence on the homepage: “This is an independent campaign without any support from Google or other web giants”.

Who exactly pays the bills of the campaign cannot be verified by an outsider. A look at the groups involved is very revealing indeed. To what extent do they appear independent? Have they received money from “Google or other web giants” in the past?

Even a first glance at the transparency reports – some of them are good but often completely non-transparent (more on this below) – is significant.
Even those responsible (Epicenter.works) reported in the Transparency Report 2017 that Mozilla is supporting them with €21,630; which is just over 6% of annual revenues. Another big supporter is the Chaos Computer Club with €15,000. Membership fees are not shown, Epicenter is mainly financed by donations.

Mozilla, which receives its income primarily from Google, also supports other stakeholders, including the Dutch Bits of Freedom, EDRi and the Open Rights Group from the UK. At Bits of Freedom, Mozilla is the largest single donor (petabit-donateur) with more than €10,000 per year. How much was actually paid remains open. At the Open Rights Group, the Mozilla Foundation paid £6,900 in 2016.

Other Internet companies are also mentioned in the reports as donors, such as Leaseweb (often named in connection with piracy) with €5,000 for Bits of Freedom or Microsoft (€10,000) and Wikimedia Germany (€5,793) for EDRi in 2017.

But even Google appears as a direct donor, namely at the Polish Fundacja Panoptykon in 2017 with a four-digit amount and in 2016 with 57,190 Złoty (approx. €13,000) from Google Polska SA and at EDRi in 2016 with €23,000 and in 2015 without stating the amount.

pledge_3_eng
Figure: EDRi – Annual Report 2016, page 40 (in pdf page 43).

EDRi – The finances
Since Pledge2019.eu is mainly backed by EDRi members, it would be a good idea to take a closer look at the finances of EDRi.

In 2017, EDRi generated €728,816. There are hardly any contributions from members. With €39,941 only 5.5% of the revenues are „Members and observers fees“.
2017

EDRi – The finances
Since Pledge2019.eu is mainly backed by EDRi members, it would be a good idea to take a closer look at the finances of EDRi.
In 2017, EDRi generated €728,816. There are hardly any contributions from members. With €39,941 only 5.5% of the revenues are “Members and observers fees”.
2017
Mozilla appears in various positions with a total of €87,205 (Mozilla Corporation: €26,897, Mozilla Corporation: €4,000, Ford Mozilla Open Web Fellow: €34,327, Mozilla Advocacy Fund: €21,981). In total, this is almost 12% of the budget.
The largest donors of EDRi are three foundations:
– Open Society Foundation: €139,596
– Ford Foundation: €136,275
– Adessium Foundation: €131,016.
Their contribution to the financing of EDRi in 2017 was 55.8%.

pledge_4_eng

Figure: EDRi – Annual Report 2017, page 40 (in pdf page 43).

These three foundations also supported EDRi in 2016 with five- to six-digit amounts. The largest donor with €127,080 in 2016 was again the Open Society Foundation.

The importance of foundations
Among the 17 organizations on Pledge2019.eu are two with a budget of less than €2,500 (IT Politcal Association of Denmark, D3 – Defesa dos direitos digitais). The Bulgarian organization could not be examined due to the Cyrillic character set.
Four organizations (Apti, Hermes Center, Homo Digitalis and Xnet) do not disclose funding either on their website or in the EU Transparency Register. However, at least the Open Society has information on Xnet.

Of the remaining 11 organizations, only the Chaos Computer Club is almost totally funded by membership fees. The other ten all disclose donations from at least one of the three listed foundations. In nine cases the Open Society Foundation finances; in three cases the Adessium Foundation; in one case the Ford Foundation.
The Centrum Cyfrowe claims to receive €281,242 from international organizations in 2018. The Open Society Foundation reports a core support of US$240,000 to this organization for the years 2017 – 2018.

Whether all supporters were found remains to be seen. While the Ford Foundation offers a database with all grants, Adessium provides at least a list of the recipients. The Open Society Foundation, which was classified by Transparify as America’s most non-transparent think tank in 2016, is now presenting a database with data from 2016 onwards. However, not all organizations that claim to be financially supported by the OSF can be found there, possibly due to intermediary organizations.

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The Ford Foundation and the Open Society Foundation do not appear for the first time as lobbyists against Internet regulation. Both intervened on the subject of net neutrality:

„In areas where Google doesn’t spend the cash directly, it can rely on others to help. Foundations including […] Open Society Institute and the Ford Foundation align closely to Silicon Valley’s view on IP policy. The OSI funds a number of groups who style themselves as „civil society“ or „human rights“ (sic) outfits, including EDRI.“[theregister.co.uk]

Limited transparency
Some transparency reports are very detailed, at least in the years 2017 and 2016, such as EDRi or the Fundacja Panoptykon.

In other organizations, only single figures are disclosed, but the essentials are concealed. The epicenter is an example of intransparent transparency. It does show individual sums from donors amounting to €43,130 for2017. Ultimately, however, only 12.6 % of the funds received are declared. The rest is hidden in partly unexplained categories such as donations, sponsoring and grants, foundations.

A similar example of intransparent transparency is the Digitale Gesellschaft from Germany. The income in 2017is explained in only three positions:
– Membership dues, incl. sponsoring membership dues: €51,386.05 €.
– Grants received: €207,941.59
– Donations received: €14,930.26.
The rest you have to find yourself. With donations, which exceed €1,000 in the calendar year, one wants to publish names of the donors and the amount of the donations quarterly on the Website. Where on the extensive side remains unclear.
However, the call for donations in 2018 reports that funds were received from the Open Society Foundation as well as project-related donations from the City of Berlin, the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) and the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV). According to the Digital Society, no funds have been received from companies.

But some are even less transparent. In some organizations, for example, only some donors are named, and no amounts are mentioned; e.g. Open Knowledge International.
Four of the 17 participants in Pledge2019.eu, namely Apti, Homo Digitalis, Hermes Center and Xnet, do not disclose any financing at all (or hide it perfectly on their pages).

It remains remarkable to what extent organizations from the USA (associations, foundations and companies) financially support European activists who are actively involved in legislative processes within the EU.

Jörg Weinrich, Volker Rieck

 

Volker Rieck is managing director of the content protection service provider File Defense Service (FDS), which works for numerous rights owners. The company also conducts studies on piracy and supports law enforcement agencies with its collected data. His articles occasionally appear on the FAZ, Tarnkappe.info, Webschauder and sporadically on the US blogs The Trichordist and Musictecpolicy. This is always about the various aspects of unregulated content distribution.

Jörg Weinrich is managing director of the „Interessenverband des Video- und Medienfachhandels in Deutschland e.V.(IVD)“.

 

Guest Post by Iain Baker of @jesusjonesband on the PledgeMusic Situation—MusicTechPolicy

[Used by permission of the artist.  This post is from a series of tweets by Iain Baker of Jesus Jones regarding both their experience being cut off by PledgeMusic and also the implications for the larger music business.]

The music business is fond of winning battles, and losing wars. The best example I can think of is squashing Napster – that victory was anything but – it didn’t hold back the tide of downloads, it merely hastened the rise of streaming.

Above all, it entrenched a generational shift in attitude towards the ownership and transference of digital content. So when the Pledge disaster began to unfold, my first thought was the battle in front of me. How could I get back the thousands of pounds I was owed?

How could Pledge survive, so that I could release more music, in the future, and replicate the successful campaigns we’d created thus far? But, as time passed, my emphasis shifted to the bigger picture, and the war, not the battle.

This was driven by one realisation: what if it happened again? If the site is saved, what’s to stop Pledge just doing it again? What’s to stop them getting another load of money in, and just losing it again? What could stop that? And the answer, sadly – not that much.

I wanted Pledge to be saved – but the chances aren’t high. They’ve apparently got unsustainable debts, huge liabilities, and a board of directors who are – at best – incompetent, and at worst – could possibly be open to allegations of dishonestly and fraudulent mismanagement of funds.

Companies like Pledge are held hostage by VC cash from investors. These investors don’t seem to care whether a struggling songwriter gets a chance to put out a great new record – they just want their investment back, with a profit on top. And I get that – that’s how business works.

But VC cash is flung around in the hope of finding the next big thing – and that need for success comes with a greater need to gamble, and a corresponding disregard for consequences. People poured a lot of money into Pledge, so that Pledge could go out and get more money.

The artistic endeavours that were at the core of Pledge became secondary to the pure profit that could be leveraged. I’m think this hope that investors would see returns is what was driving Pledge’s doomed efforts to grow, exponentially.

I can’t help but think that investing in something like a charity would have been regulated more tightly, ensuring that funds raised were managed effectively, that plans would be in place to ensure realistic growth, whilst still allowing benefactors to be rewarded.

This wouldn’t be an issue, if Pledge were selling biscuits, for example. Trying to sell a great new biscuit, and become the biggest and best biscuit retailer in the world…….

But Pledge was operating in the same way as a Bank, or a building society [or credit union]. They were the custodians of people’s hopes and dreams. In the same way that a bank would take the shoebox of money from under your bed, and say “don’t worry, when you need this, we’ll be there for you.”

But Pledge weren’t there, for anyone. People trusted Pledge, and Pledge didn’t show any of that trust, in return.

The Banking system is held together by trust, and by confidence. But since the financial crisis, it’s been vitally important to underpin that confidence with safeguards, and structures which ensure that banks are protected from contagion and shock to ensure that poor choices cannot threaten people’s trust and security. And this is what needs to happen if we’re going to save Pledge. We need to think about saving the idea of it, and not necessarily the site itself.

For marginalised, struggling artists – or for those who just need to have hope, when traditional lines of business seem closed – a site that offers a way to promote themselves effectively is a godsend.

But the trust which should have kept this system afloat was torpedoed by the very people who were charged with protecting it. We simply can’t let that happen again. We need the business model, but we don’t need the people who ran that business into the ground.

We need a new structure where top-down investment is replaced by community, trust and transparency, growing from the ground, upwards. We need financial safeguards, and guidelines to make sure everyone in the supply chain is protected.

The old model was quick, and easy – some of that simplicity may be lost. Consumer law, and contractual obligations may hamper initial progress, and make the path longer to travel.

But if we’re to try and maintain the vital business model we’ve all come to rely on, then we owe it to ourselves to try and make it work.

When it comes to actually defining this new plan – well, I don’t have the answers. I wish I did. All I know is that if we stick together, and share our communal knowledge, passion, and commitment, we’ll get there.

So – I don’t really know what’s next. If anyone can suggest a way forward, or a way to start putting this into action, I’d love to talk further. You know where I am.

Guest Post: The MTP Podcast: When is a Pledge Not a Pledge? The PledgeMusic crisis

 

Chris Castle discusses the current crisis with PledgeMusic payments.

SHOW NOTES

PledgeMusic: Once a Crowdfunding Haven For Artists, Now Owes them Thousands of Dollars–Billboard www.billboard.com/articles/busines…ds-late-payments

Digital Aggregator Deals: Is the New Boss Worse Then the Old Boss?

musictechpolicy.com/2012/02/01/read…n-the-old-boss/

What is the Difference Between Dischargeable and Nondischargeable Debts in Bankruptcy?

www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia…ts-bankruptcy.html

Which Debts are Discharged in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia…-7-bankruptcy.html

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy for Small Business

www.thebankruptcysite.org/resources/ba…sinesses.htm

Secured vs. Unsecured Debt in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

www.thebankruptcysite.org/resources/ba…7-bankruptcy

Bankruptcy in the UK

www.gov.uk/bankruptcy

Civil Investigative Demands

www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/31/3733

#HiHowAreYou Day in Austin, a Celebration of Daniel Johnston — Artist Rights Watch

Here’s a message from the #HiHowAreYou concert and related campaign.  If you’re not in Austin, you can stream the show from the links below, featuring Flaming Lips, Built to Spill, Gavin DeGraw, Bob Mould and many more.  Please consider showing your support as best you can.
January 22nd is Day – a celebration of the music and art of Daniel Johnston and a day of . We’re celebrating with a free livestream featuring , , Yo La Tengo + many more! Learn more at

Today is the day. We are all doing our part to upend the stigma around mental health issues. Our challenge to you is to connect with someone and actively listen. The conversation starter is easy, yup you guessed it, “hi, how are you?”. Learn more about how to get involved at hihowareyou.org
We’ve got an all-star line up and you’ll have the best the seat in the house. On Jan 22nd we’re live streaming Hi How Are You Day featuring special sets from Gavin DeGrawThe Flaming LipsBuilt to SpillBob Mould, and many more! Tune in for free and rock on for a cause. Check out the lineup and see what we have in store for you: hihowareyou.org#hihowareyou
Tonight, we’ll live stream the performances of , , , & many other artists invited to the concert. The FREE live stream will start at 8pm EST/5pm PST. Follow the link |