The Google Funded Astroturf Group that Hacked The EU Copyright Vote (In Pictures)

 

Who Hacked the EU Copyright Directive Deliberations?

The EU parliament just went through a couple of contentious weeks in which they were overwhelmed with tweets, letters, emails and phone calls opposing Article 13 a section of the Copyright Directive that would have forced companies like Google to police their platforms better for copyright infringement. Last week we published a guest post by Volker Rieck in which he described in detail how a small group of anti-copyright ideologues apparently created a fake grassroots uprising against the EU copyright directive by essentially multiplying their numbers with bots.

Today I introduce you to the Google funded group that appears to have been behind virtually every single one of these fake grassroots political attacks. Including the #DeleteArt13 campaign.

 

Meet OpenMedia.org.   What a wholesome looking bunch of progressive-ish political activists!  They’re based in Vancouver BC.  A friendly town. A clean, modern, Pacific rim high tech banking city. Very multicultural, sort of like Seattle except without the crazy drug addicts with super-human-Chinese-research-chemical strength swinging shopping carts over their heads. No Vancouver is a nice place to raise your children and start an astroturf group that supports the regressive interests of Silicon Valley cyber-libertarians.

Yay!

OpenMedia.org counts Google as a “platinum supporter” whatever that means.  Mozilla Foundation which receives $300 million annually from Google is another “platinum supporter.” Then there is the super weird and mysterious Private Internet Access.  Ostensibly PIA (legal name London Trust Media) is a commercial VPN. But when you dig beneath the surface it’s ownership and corporate structure is to put it mildly opaque.

There are many other Google connections but one above all should be noted: board member Jacob Glick is the former head of the Public Policy and Government Relations for Google Canada. You think they still talk?

So what does OpenMedia do?  They fight aggressively against any sort of regulation that would harm Google and Silicon Valley’s bottom line. SOPA, Net Neutrality, DMCA Takedown Staydown and the EU copyright directive.

 

But doesn’t Google have like a zillion academics, think tanks and astroturf groups already doing that for them?  Yes. That is true. So what is so interesting about OpenMedia.org?  It’s how they go about supporting Google and other silicon valley companies.  They specialize in creating “grassroots” campaigns.  Only these aren’t really grassroots campaigns. They are pure astroturf.  Their campaigns make heavy use of automated tools that allow a single person to repeatedly spam targets with tweets, emails, robo-calls, robo-faxes and even automated letters!  How do they do that?

Meet New/Mode Purveyors of the Finest Democracy Hacking Tools.

 

Meet NewMode.net.  New/Mode is some kind of arms-length commercial subsidiary of OpenMedia.org. Which in turn is funded and directed at many levels by Google and Google associated groups.  Not sure how non-profits work in Canada, but the ownership structure as described on their home page seems odd.

Here’s what they do.  One-click calling.  One-click email. One-click faxing. Fairly predictable. Storm social? hmm like the sock puppet tweet storm we saw directed at the MEPs last month?   Letters to the editor? WTF? Automated letters to editors? (more on that in a minute).

Let’s look at one click calling. Pure clicktivist nonsense.  I tested this out a while back. A user can put in any postal code.  No one checks. I put in a postal code for a rural city in the northern plains of the US and I was connected to the office of someone who was not my congressman. I was scripted to behave as if I was a constituent.

Even better. If you stay on the line, the service keeps connecting you to additional “targets.”  So one person can easily call 20-40 “targets” in an hour.

Democracy Hacking Tools in Action

 

During the #DeleteArticle13 campaign I was able to dial UK MEPs using New/Modes tool. Even though I was using a US phone number! NewMode and OpenMedia didn’t seem to care. Why should they?  Any cybermob is a good mob right?

They helpfully gave me talking points. This is your democracy. This is your democracy on bots.

(Since I originally posted this piece I checked the calling feature again.  It still works. Even with US number. See screenshot above)

Microtargeting a Tweet Storm

 

New/Mode isn’t just about spam email and robo-calling.  They do so much more. Want a tweet storm?  Just like the one directed at Euro MEPs on article 13?  I wonder how all these sock puppet tweets were generated? They were coming out at about 3 to 5 a minute in the wee hours of the morning Brussels time.  A lot of sleepless constituents! Is meth still popular in EU?

Oh look! Those aren’t sleepless constituents. New/Mode provides exactly the tool you need to create your own middle of the night tweet storm. No Meth required!

And New/Mode lets you target exactly who you want to target. Just direct the information warfare firehose at a single wavering MP somewhere.  More effective.

 As we reported in an earlier blog, we observed the “grassroots” tweet storm behaved as if someone was in command and control.  The tweets focused on certain countries MEPs for long periods of this time, then suddenly shifted to a different country.   This is not organic grassroots behavior.

Google Command and Control

Tweet storm targets were the same as those MEPs highlighted on the SaveYourInternet.eu website. SaveYourInternet.eu used the New/Mode web tools for tweets, email and robo calls.

 

SaveYourInternet.eu website is operated by Google’s lobbyist in Brussels N-Square.  Get the picture? MEPs were cyber bullied by fake mobs under the command and control of a Google lobbyist.  How is this even legal?

In the US command and control has been effectively run by Marvin Ammori via Fight For The Future.  Fight for the Future employs the same New/Mode tools to mount it’s fake grassroots campaigns.  Ammori is/was outside counsel to Google, and is currently associated with at least three other Google funded institutions including the Center for Internet and Society.

I Love the Smell of Hacked Democracy in the Morning: Past Targets

The US Federal Communications Commission was targeted by New/Mode tools last year:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/talkingtech/2017/11/29/net-neutrality-comments-mostly-came-bots-and-fake-email-addresses-pew-finds/904439001/

The Trans Pacific Partnership  trade agreement was derailed largely due to disinformation spread with this Open Media New Mode enabled tool.  Here is the OpenMedia.org “cloned” website that first deployed the tools:

https://stopthesecrecy.net

Original opposition was based on intellectual property provisions, but Trump (and to a lesser extent Sanders) hijacked the movement and turned it into a jobs issue.  (You see what happens Larry when you find a stranger in the Alps?)

In 2016 the US Copyright Office  “consultation” was similarly bombed with identical comments using a similar tool.

https://thetrichordist.com/2016/04/19/exactly-86000-identical-comments-the-illegal-comment-bombing-of-dmca-notice-takedown-review-by-google-proxy-fight-for-the-future/

Also 2014 a similar use of automated commenting tools targeted and crashed the FCC website. Freedom of Information requests later revealed that FCC staffers with close ties to Google helped the group that generated the bot comments post the comments anyway.  See emails here

These are all DDoS attacks that seek to overwhelm the voices of real  constituents by drowning them out with a flood of corporate sponsored spam. There is no other way to describe this other than a hack of the Democratic processes.

 

New/Mode also brags that it can create “clone” websites to make it appear as if there are a broad range of groups supporting the same action.  In screenshot above they brag about creating 60 “cloned” environmental group websites in Canada to put pressure on the Trudeau government.  While the end goal of this environmental campaign may be laudable, ends never justify means. Especially if it means you hand Canadian democracy over to astroturf groups controlled by Silicon Valley interests. Maybe Canada’s federal government in Ottawa ought to have a look at what’s going on all the way down at the other end of the country in Vancouver.  Seems sketchy to me.

And it is Fake Grassroots

 

 

As we have noted repeatedly on the Trichordist, when Google funded/directed astroturf groups that use the New/Mode tools then try to turn their cyber-brownshirts into boots on the ground very few (if any) people show up.

In 2016 Fight For The Future launched a campaign against the US Copyright Office consultations on copyright reform. Fight or the Future claimed to have crashed the Regulations.gov website with New/Mode tool. (Is this something to brag about?)  Fight for the Future claimed it was because tens of thousands of folks responded to their online campaign and overwhelmed the regulations.gov portal to comment on US Copyright Office consultations.  At the same time Fight For The Future organized a rally.  However only 4 people showed up to protest in person.  Judging by signs all four were pro-copyright. Apparently they showed up to oppose the non-existent Fight For The Future protestors.  Doesn’t make sense. A group that can get tens of thousands of folks to leave comments on wonky federal regulations  but they can’t get anyone show up for a protest?

Similarly there are only 37 individuals in the photo of the  “huge” white house rally to keep title two net neutrality at FCC.  This was also organized by Fight For The Future. So the online campaign generated millions of comments, emails and phone calls and 37 people show up to protest at the White House?   This does not pass the smell test.

Over in Europe reports indicate something similar happened.  The biggest #DeleteArt13 rally in Berlin had less than 150 participants.  Where are all the millions of folks who sent tweets, emails and phone calls to EU parliamentarians?

The simplest explanation is that most of the online protestors don’t really exist.

Fake, fake fake.  Pure fakery.

It Gets Worse: New/Mode Hacks Print Media

 

But forget the EU and Canada for now. The thing that stopped me in my tracks was this tool that allows a small team of individuals to write a “letter to the editor” to every local newspaper in the US.

 

Clearly these folks at Open Media know that they are up to no good. “Randomize subject lines and content to deliver an original authentic story to editors.”  This is pure shillery.  No I take that back. This is pure fuckery.  And they are fucking with our democracy at a very local level.  Turns out Canadians aren’t nice at all.

They even bragged about it and linked to robo letters that were published in small town newspapers.  What is wrong with these people?

Hack Me?  HACK YOU!

 

Just to demonstrate how fucked up this is,  I repurposed the Net Neutrality letter to the editor. I replaced their text with my own and sent the following letter to every small town newspaper in Oregon. It took maybe five minutes?  The joke in the letter is that Sen Ron Wyden of Oregon has proposed a bill to prevent hacking of federal elections by mandating paper ballots.  The problem is that Wyden clearly does not have a clue as to how our democracies will be hacked.  Our democracies will be hacked by hybrid information warfare techniques.  NOT ballot tampering. The creation of fake grassroot movements and disinformation is what will kill our democracy.  OpenMedia.org and New/Mode are already deploying the tools that will kill our democracy. But given the fact Wyden is sometimes referred to as “The Senator from Google” don’t expect him to do anything about it.  (Also Google and Oregon? See here)

Oh and Krist Novoselic is the former bass player of Nirvana.  And he does have political aspirations.  See his book

Can’t be any worse than Senator Ron “Hedge Fund In My Basement” Wyden.

 

 

 

 

 

Article 13: Anatomy of a Political Hack- Guest Post by Volker Rieck

Guest post by Volker Rieck.
Translated from German. Original article is here
http://webschauder.de/anatomie-eines-politik-hacks/

The anatomy of an assault on politics

The New Testament narrates numerous miracles attributed to Jesus Christ. One of them is the feeding of the multitude: Jesus is described as having multiplied a few loaves and fish so that five thousand people could eat and were satisfied.

The debate over the new EU Copyright Directive towards the end of June 2018 was characterized by a similarly remarkable form of multiplication. But what was being multiplied in this case was not bread or fish, but protest – or rather the appearance of protest.

To begin at the beginning …

In September 2016, EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger put forward proposals for a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market.

Time passed, and Oettinger moved on to a new role within the Commission, but the wheels of bureaucracy continued to churn until the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) was due to vote on the proposed directive.

In the run-up to the vote, observers may have wryly recalled the dictum of German parliamentarian Peter Struck that no bill ever exits parliament in the form it enters it. The directive’s rapporteur Axel Voss (CDU/EPP) had the pleasure of steering a process in which numerous changes and additions to the text were negotiated before it was formally adopted by the JURI Committee and Voss was finally given a mandate to proceed to negotiations with the EU member states.

Julia Reda’s simple slogans

The only member of Germany’s Pirate Party with a seat in the European Parliament, Julia Reda, opposed the proposed legislation from a very early stage. Her campaign grossly oversimplified and distorted the issues at stake. Reda’s “link tax”, coined to attack Article 11 of the directive, is marvellously short and sweet, but that anybody could believe in all seriousness that it would be possible to impose a tax on linking to texts (we know taxes are collected by the tax authorities, right?) is – albeit involuntarily – rather funny.

The battle cries of “upload filter” deployed in opposition to Article 13 of the directive were not much better. Upload filters were not and are still not mentioned in the directive, but the term is eminently suited to stoking fear. And Reda did indeed succeed in her efforts to fool some of her supporters into believing that EVERYTHING on the internet will be filtered in the future if the directive is adopted in its current form and that memes– yes, even people’s much-beloved memes – will all be banned.

Illustration: Screenshot from Zeitjung.de. “The EU wants to ban memes”

 

What nobody (again) seemed to have read and/or understood

While this was completely at variance with the actual content of the directive, that appeared to be of merely tangential interest. What the directive proposed was that platforms (and only platforms) would be strongly encouraged to enter into license agreements with rightsholders covering user uploaded content.
Responsibility for taking out licenses would rest with the platforms, and end-users would be completely in the clear. The idea was simply that platforms would have a duty to maintain transparency to ensure correct licensing and the proper distribution of payments made for licenses to rightsholders. Under the directive, operators of a platform which had not concluded a licensing agreement would have been liable for unlicensed content on their platforms. How operators chose to keep their platforms clean would have been up to them. But preventing copyright violations would have come within their remit of responsibility.

Had you stayed silent, you would have stayed philosophers (to paraphrase Boëthius loosely)

And that, in a nutshell, is the content of Article 13 of the directive. Not that it mattered a jot; many commentators seem to have persistently shunned the intellectual effort required to read a current version of the draft legislation and understand the legislator’s intentions before piling in to make their own arguments. From the internet associationsof the political parties to Sascha Lobo, who wrote not once but twice in Der Spiegelabout “censorship machines”. If only the commentators had simply read the draft text that so perturbed them! Then, perhaps, they might have noticed that the users of a platform which had not licensed content would, for the first time, have gained extensive rights including an entitlement to mediation in the event of finding themselves blocked. By that point, at the latest, it ought to have become evident that the cries of “censorship” were misplaced. Perhaps the critics were simply defeated by the challenge of procuring and understanding a current version of the text?

They want censorship machines, or do they not?

But coming back to content-sharing platforms, the real issue here, let us look at one of the most successful ones, YouTube. The directive is interested only in regulating platforms like this, not in open-source platforms or sales platforms.

For years now, YouTube has been using its Content IDsystem. This system allows rightsholders who submit content to determine what should happen when users view it. The available options span the gamut from monetization (an end user uploads a video with music, for example, and the rightsholder gets a share of any advertising revenue generated) all the way to – please be brave now, Sascha Lobo and Julia Reda – blocking the video. The primary purpose of this system is to prevent third parties from generating revenue with content they have no entitlement to exploit.

What’s more, Copyright Matchis now also ready for deployment. This new system resembles a light version of Content ID. Its primary purpose is to assist YouTubers seeking to assert their rights when duplicate videos are uploaded. The first person to upload a video is automatically notified of duplicate uploads and afforded the opportunity to determine how the platform handles these duplicates. The range of options again extends – and please be brave now, dear net activists – all the way to blocking.

Has anybody condemned these options as censorship? Seemingly not. There have been no protests in the streets against Content ID and Coypright Match, and there has been no public outcry over YouTube’s “censorship machines”. Julia Reda, Sascha Loboand LeFloid, another irate YouTuber, have (right up to the present) refrained from deleting their YouTube channels or adding black sashes of mourning to protest against these upload filters.

The protesters take to the streets

This brings us nicely to the issue of the rallies against the new directive. A demonstration was held, of course. It took place on 24 June 2018 in Berlin. Rather unfortunately for the protesters, it rained that day; otherwise they would have been able to count the usual hordes of tourists at the Brandenburg Gate among their numbers.
Under the circumstances, only those who had turned up to protest were counted, an estimated 150 people. As with an earlier demonstration focused on the ancillary copyright of press publishers, the turnout was so low that there were presumably more press photographers than activists in attendance.
Even when they are initiated by the broadest of coalitions, protests like this tend to suffer from the internet’s 1-9-90 rule: 90% of net users are entirely passive, 9% click on “like” buttons now and again, and only 1% actively upload content.

This explains why campaigns like “Right To Remix” have puttered on for years without gathering much momentum: the vast majority of people are simply not interested.

When civil rights protesters play hardball

But those intent on scuppering the directive had not yet exhausted their firepower. What came now was the hour of the bots, the automatically generated emails, the automatically placed phone calls and the miraculous multiplication of protest, or rather its simulation. In the week before the plenary vote in the EU parliament on whether the adoption of the report by the JURI Committee and the negotiation mandate given to Voss should be allowed to stand,the inboxes of EU parliamentarians were flooded with automatically generated emails. Some EU parliamentarians reported having received 60,000 emails. In total, 6 million emails appear to have been dispatched to EU parliamentarians in this fashion. Compare that number to the handful of protesters in Berlin.

Almost all the emails were identical in content, phrasing and formatting, and many even came from one and the same sender, presumably following the logic that more is better. A very large number of them were sent from the domain Opendata.eu.

This site has no content. It was registered by an English limited company which is in turn a majority holding of a US Inc. that trades in domains and provides services. No civil rights initiative appears to be involved.
Did accepting responsibility for the relentless online bombardment of parliamentarians seem too risky?

The picture was repeated on Twitter, where accounts were flooded with spam, but also threats.

What happened? Sites such as Saveyourinternet.eu made tools available that enable this kind of email carpet bombing. The supporters of this site include an array of internet lobby groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

Anyone who believes that the EFF are a grassroots civil rights movement should take a look at this report.
Is it necessary to mention at this point that a large number of the groups orchestrating protests are fundeddirectly or indirectly by groups with an obvious interest in the failure of reforms?

But Wikipedia also jumped aboard the bandwagon. The directive is entirely irrelevant for Wikipedia, which confined itself to condemning it in generic terms as an attack on the free internet Wikipedia understands itself as part of. This was, for all intents and purposes, rather like BMW owners protesting in response to a recall of specific Volkswagen models ordered by the Federal Motor Transport Authority and citing it as evidence of a general war on the motorist. It can only be assumed that the close ties binding Julia Reda’s office manager and his former employer were able to influence Wikipedia’s stance.

Even Mozilla joined the fray. Newsletter subscribers were invited to phone EU parliamentarians. The “Call now” button even appeared in four different places in a newsletter. And of course the calls were free.
The costs were small change for an organization which received over 500 million dollars in royalties for integrating search engines into its browser Firefox in the year 2016 alone.

Illustration: An extract from Mozilla’s campaign email: “everything you put on the internet will be filtered, and even blocked.”

EU parliamentarians reported that callers had followed scripts. The phone calls, just like the emails, relied on prefabricated phrases. It was just too bad that many callers could make little response to questions or counterarguments.

 

This persistent harassment via email, telephone and Twitter took its toll on EU parliamentarians. Many were absent during the vote. Perhaps they took thethreat of murderso seriously that earlier proponents of the legislation now opposed the directive, or perhaps they even believed the canned protests had been real. Whatever the circumstances, the outcome was clear: the motion to allow the trilogue negotiations to proceed received only 278 of the necessary 299 votes.

 

What do these events signify for political processes?

Individual citizens are perfectly entitled to voice their concerns, doubts and problems in dialogue with their representatives in the EU parliament. But this case makes a mockery of this right. Emails citizens had formulated themselves were bound to be lost without trace in the deluge of automatically generated texts. And that, in fact, is exactly what this orchestrated protest was designed to achieve: the drowning out of nuanced arguments by a vast wave of simulated protest.

Just like in the Bible: a miracle of multiplication. In this case, however, no miracle-working was involved; the heavy lifting was performed by technology. ByDDoS, to be precise.

Is this the future? Are those with better technology destined to win even when the better arguments are not on their side? If that comes about, minorities will find it very difficult to make themselves heard – let alone to participate in the process of political decision-making – unless they are able to afford the requisite technology. But even assuming equal access to resources, surely the weighing up of arguments should still count for more than the number of preformatted spam emails, threats or scripted phone calls that can be mustered?

Now, at the latest, the EU must analyse these events in depth and take precautions against politics being hacked in this fashion again. Governance by shitstorm cannot be in the interests of democratically elected governments, and it most certainly cannot be in the best interest of voters.

 

@RobertBLevine_: Federal ‘Transparency’ Bill Endangers Songwriters’ Leverage for Getting Paid — Artist Rights Watch

On the surface, at least, the “Transparency in Music Licensing Ownership Act,” introduced in the House of Representatives on July 20 by Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), seems like a copyright bill that could help untangle the online music business….but the devil is in the details.

via @RobertBLevine_: Federal ‘Transparency’ Bill Endangers Songwriters’ Leverage for Getting Paid — Artist Rights Watch

Silicon Valley Hypocrisy: We Support Solutions To Piracy, Except When They Are Actual Solutions to Piracy…

You can’t make this up. Law 360 is reporting that the International Trade Commission (ITC) has been denied authority over digital goods.

The Federal Circuit said Thursday that it wouldn’t reconsider its decision that the International Trade Commission lacks the authority to block the import of digital files, drawing a lengthy dissent from one of its judges.

Keep in mind, the same people now opposed to the ITC having this authority are the same who argued in favor of the the ITC doing so as an alternative to SOPA called the Open Act.

Below is an except from an excellent post on this issue By Devlin Hartline & Matthew Barblan at CPIP.

When advocating for the OPEN Act as a good alternative to SOPA and the PROTECT IP Act, the bill’s sponsors touted the ITC as being a great venue for tackling the problems of foreign rogue sites. Among the claimed virtues were its vast experience, transparency, due process protection, consistency, and independence:

For well over 80 years, the independent International Trade Commission (ITC) has been the venue by which U.S. rightsholders have obtained relief from unfair imports, such as those that violate intellectual property rights. Under Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 – which governs how the ITC investigates rightsholders’ request for relief – the agency already employs a transparent process that gives parties to the investigation, and third party interests, a chance to be heard. The ITC’s process and work is highly regarded as independent and free from political influence and the department already has a well recognized expertise in intellectual property and trade law that could be expanded to the import of digital goods.

The Commission already employs important safeguards to ensure that rightsholders do not abuse their right to request a Commission investigation and the Commission may self-initiate investigations. Keeping them in charge of determining whether unfair imports – like those that violate intellectual property rights – [sic] would ensure consistent enforcement of Intellectual Property rights and trade law.

Some of the groups now arguing that the ITC shouldn’t have jurisdiction over digital goods openly supported the OPEN Act. Back in late 2011, the EFF stated that it was “glad to learn that a bipartisan group of congressional representatives has come together to formulate a real alternative, called the OPEN Act.” The EFF liked the bill because the “ITC’s process . . . is transparent, quick, and effective” and “both parties would have the opportunity to participate and the record would be public.” It emphasized how the “process would include many important due process protections, such as effective notice to the site of the complaint and ensuing investigation.”

Google likewise thought that giving the ITC jurisdiction over digital goods was a great idea. In a letter posted to its blog in early 2012, Google claimed that “there are better ways to address piracy than to ask U.S. companies to censor the Internet,” and it explicitly stated that it “supports alternative approaches like the OPEN Act.” Google also signed onto a letter promoting the virtues of the ITC: “This approach targets foreign rogue sites without inflicting collateral damage on legitimate, law-abiding U.S. Internet companies by bringing well-established International trade remedies to bear on this problem.”

You can read the full post here (Strongly Recommended):

Digital Goods and the ITC: The Most Important Case That Nobody is Talking About


 

If Streaming Is The Solution To Piracy, Why Is Piracy Still Increasing?

Music Business Worldwide is reporting that “GLOBAL MUSIC PIRACY DOWNLOADS GREW BY ALMOST A FIFTH IN 2015″.

The amount of music downloaded on illegal piracy sites grew by 16.5% in the second half of 2015 compared to the year’s opening six months.

That’s according to leading content protection and market analytics company MUSO, which tracked web activity on 576 sites which were ‘wholly dedicated to music piracy or contained significant music content’.

Across these sites, MUSO analysed over 2 billion visitor traffic hits globally.

READ THE FULL STORY AT MUSIC BUSINESS WORLDWIDE:
http://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/global-music-piracy-downloads-grew-by-almost-a-fifth-in-2015/

Artists Rights Advocates Make Gains in 2015… Web/Tech Admissions Laid Bare.

So many of the issues we’ve been talking about for years are finally becoming part of the larger and more mainstream conversations about artists rights and an ethical internet.

Seems like there is a little bit more than a slight draft blowing on house of cards that Silicon Valley has built. Here’s a quick recap.

FREE, UNLIMTED, AD-SUPPORTED, ON DEMAND STREAMING IS UNSUSTAINABLE.

Pandora CEO Mike McAndrews first started teasing this talking point during an earnings call in October. You can read those comments at Re/Code. But it was the more direct article McAndrew’s authored for Business Insider that really cemented what we’ve been saying all along…

“This gray market is unsustainable. If consumers can legally listen to free on-demand music permanently without converting to paying models, the value of music will continue to spiral downward to the benefit of no one.”

There is no turning back from this admission.

It’s funny how in years past so many in the music and tech communities could not and would not admit to this simple fundamental truth often telling musicians the true value of their platform was “exposure” so artists could “tour and sell t-shirts”. Well it now looks like the wheels have been run off that nonsense for good.

What would be really great is to see Pandora join the fight with artists against Ad-Funded Piracy. Pandora, Spotify, YouTube and every other Ad-Supported music platform must be aware of the fact that the downward pressure from these infringing pirate sites not only diminishes the value of music, but also the value of advertising on legitimate and licensed paltforms.

WINDOWING WORKS. ASK ADELE, TAYLOR SWIFT AND THE MOVIE BUSINESS.

Taylor Swift, Adele, Beyonce, Prince, Coldplay, The Black Keys, Thom Yorke and other artists have proved that Hits Don’t Need Spotify, but rather Spotify Needs Hits. The Wall Street Journal reports that Spotify is caving in on windowing.

Now, the service is caving in, according to people familiar with the matter.

In private talks, Spotify has told music executives that it is considering allowing some artists to start releasing albums only to its 20 million-plus subscribers, who pay $10 a month, while withholding the music temporarily from its 80 million free users. The company is only interested in withholding albums that can be kept off of other free music sites, such as Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube, for the same amount of time, one of these people said.

There is no turning back from this admission.

This means that Spotify has admitted that it is NOT a discovery medium, it is a retail outlet. Spotify is the digital cut-out bin offering the lowest amount of value to artists. The big problem for Spotify now is who decides who is a lessor or greater artist? Who is going to have that conversation with artists and managers that they are a lessor artist and not worthy of Spotify’s stamp of approval to only be streamed to paying subscribers? Ironically, but predictably the new boss is worse than the old boss.

As with Pandora’s admission about unlimited free streaming being unsustainable, Spotify also recognizes that Ad-Funded Piracy, particularly of the YouTube variety (and mentioned by name) must be managed effectively for windowing to work.

YOUTUBER’S GET PIRATED ON FACEBOOK EXACTLY HOW MUSICIANS GET PIRATED ON YOUTUBE, AND THEY DON’T LIKE IT.

Here’s a shocker. YouTuber’s who create original content through their own investment of time, money and resources are outraged when Facebook users “Freeboot” (aka Pirate) those videos depriving the original creator of the revenue. Hank Green writes a post on Medium that breaks it down.

According to a recent report from Ogilvy and Tubular Labs, of the 1000 most popular Facebook videos of Q1 2015, 725 were stolen re-uploads. Just these 725 “freebooted” videos were responsible for around 17 BILLION views last quarter. This is not insignificant, it’s the vast majority of Facebook’s high volume traffic.

There is no turning back from this admission.

Every argument that has been used against musicians, filmmakers and other creators for using the DMCA to protect their work suddenly takes on new dimensions when the tables are turned.

Larry Lessig had convinced a generation that they we’re being criminalized because musicians were “out of touch” with the “sharing economy”. When musicians issued DMCA notices to YouTube they were vilified, taunted and publicly shamed “Sorry that video is no long available due to a copyright claim by the artist.

THE DMCA IS NOT A “LICENSE” FOR INFRINGEMENT, COX LOSES SAFE HARBOR IN JURY VERDICT. 

Perhaps the single greatest ruling of the year involves Cox Communications losing it’s safe harbor under the DMCA. Digital Music News reports on the jury verdict.

Ultimately, the court found the situation to be more complicated than that, with Cox now ruled guilty of both contributory and willful contributory copyright infringement by a federal jury.  The jury award is $25 million, though that probably represents a small prelude to damages that could ultimately push into the hundreds of millions.

There is no turning back from this verdict.

For those of you keeping score at home it is the DMCA abuse that has been used as a shield against copyright infringement liability by the internet and web/tech communities. Many businesses including many ISP’s and content hosting platforms such as YouTube have used the DMCA to build massively profitable businesses that are largely comprised of infringing works, otherwise known as User Pirated Content. That may be about to change thanks to this ruling.

THE PIRATE / FREE CULTURE MOVEMENT HAS FAILED. 

In a recent interview Peter Sunde, the founder of The Pirate Bay, the flagship of the free culture movement admitted he had failed and was giving up. The most interesting admission by Sunde is at the end of the interview where he echoes what we and other’s have been saying for years.

So, is there like a concrete thing we should focus on? Or do we need to aim for a new way of thinking? A new ideology?

Well, I think the focus needs to be that the internet is exactly the same as society.

There is no turning back from this admission.

There is an excellent open letter in response to Sunde by David Newhoff at The Illusion of More that is well worth reading with a detailed look at why Sunde has failed. But it is Sunde himself who makes the most profound admission.

We have centuries of rule of law for civilized societies that respect and protect individual creators rights in the authorship of their work. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 27, part 2 states “Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.”

The greatest irony here is that Sunde set up The Pirate Bay as an attack on capitalism, but he started by attacking artist’s and creator’s moral rights firsts. The paradox of “pirate logic” expands when one recognizes that The Pirate Bay was said to be making over four million dollars year. Yeah, that’s the way to fight capitalism, attack the ability for artists to survive and pocket four million a year. We couldn’t make this up if we tried.

SO LETS CHECK THE MATH HERE AT THE END OF 2015

  • Pandora attacks Spotify stating the Unlimited, Ad-Supported, On Demand, Free Streaming is Unsustainble.
  • Spotify attacks YouTube stating that Windowing Can Only Work If Windows Can Be Enforced.
  • YouTuber’s attack Facebook stating that Stealing and Monetizing their work Without Permission is bad.
  • Cox Communications attacked the DMCA stating “F*ck The DMCA” and lost.
  • Peter Sunde attacks Capitalism stating that… oh well, forget it… it’s nonsense.

There is a lot of work to be done, however these admissions set the framework for the future of these conversations going forward.

jean michael jarre IRM 1

[NOTE : THIS ARTICLE WAS UPDATED ON SATURDAY DEC 19 TO ADD THE PARAGRAPH ABOUT COX COMMUNICATIONS]

An Open Response to Peter Sunde | David Newhoff @ TIOM

The Pirate Bay’s Peter Sunde has recently stated he’s given up. His interview can be read here. David Newhoff at the Illusion Of More responds to Sunde in a brilliant open letter that is required reading.

This is what comes of evangelizing the idea that it’s okay to exploit other people’s investment of real labor and real capital in goods and services that would otherwise have regenerative value. And exploiting these types of investments is precisely what you and your colleagues did with The Pirate Bay.

At least part of the Internet you don’t like is what comes of preaching to a whole generation that they can have whatever they want, free of charge, as long as it’s just a mouse click away.  And indeed, we are lately seeing the wheels come off that naive (and frankly predatory) idea. As the leaders of Pandora and Spotify begin to see that “freemium” isn’t a business model; as Facebook’s video service “freeboots” the promised ad-share value out of the pockets of YouTube creators; and as the global network of pirate sites is revealed to be a malware-infested and sophisticated black market that preys on individual consumers, you seem to have missed the point, Peter. The “fight” you lost is not with the MPAA and the principles of real capitalism—but with the unfettered greed you helped foster on the Internet you asked for.

READ THE ENTIRE POST AT THE ILLUSION OF MORE:
http://illusionofmore.com/an-open-response-to-peter-sunde/

Lessig Defends Dotcom as Extradition Hearing Begins | Copyhype

Required reading regarding Larry Lessig’s pitch to help Kim Dotcom…

The second thing about Lessig’s declaration that jumps out is an apparent contradiction between Lessig and Dotcom’s defense team regarding the applicability of the DMCA safe harbors to Megaupload.

In the white paper, Dotcom’s defense team says

Even if the U.S. government’s wishful expansion of the criminal copyright law into the realm of secondary infringement were tenable (which it is not), Megaupload is shielded from criminal liability by specific “safe harbor” provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), included in the law to protect companies like Megaupload that make efforts to remove infringing material in response to “take-down” notices issued by copyright holders

But in his declaration, Lessig asserts “The DMCA is only a defense in the civil context”. The reversal is notable.

READ THE FULL POST AT COPYHYPE:
http://www.copyhype.com/2015/09/lessig-defends-dotcom-as-extradition-hearing-begins/


 

 

Larry Lessig is Wrong, and should “Get Over It”

Why the ‘Dancing Baby’ copyright case is just hi-tech victim shaming | The Register UK

Lenz is best thought of as a tactic in a larger strategy. Another victim-shaming tactic, used to confuse and intimidate individuals so they don’t claim their rights, is a Google-funded project called Chilling Effects. We can define “victim shaming” as where the process of seeking justice punishes the victim more than it hurts the perpetrator, and it relies on the fear of unknown reprisals.

Both Lenz and Chilling Effects have the same goal: to make you think twice about asserting your ownership of your own digital stuff. The Utopia envisaged by Silicon Valley’s current oligarchs does not have individual ownership of bits in it.

READ THE FULL STORY AT THE REGISTER UK:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/09/17/dancing_baby_victim_shaming/

 


 

 

“I Ain’t Gonna Work On Google’s Farm No More” | Creators are Forced Labor* On The Ad-Funded Piracy Fields Of The Advertnet

“I Ain’t Gonna Work On Google’s Farm No More” | Creators are Forced Labor* On The Ad-Funded Piracy Fields Of The Advertnet

Advertising is killing internet. Soon most online advertising will be forced pre-rolls of TV commercials. You finally have a DVR to skip commercials, and soon there will be no way to avoid them. Do you really think this is what what the internet’s founding founders had envisioned? One great big inescapable advertising machine? No, we didn’t think so either.

Creators are now forced labor* on the digital fields of the AdvertNet, where the Borg like overlords of internet advertising have forced us into being unwilling participants on their digital plantations against our will. We have no defense against the advertising funded, illegal exploitation of our labor.

Now we want to be clear, we’re not opposed to advertising in general, the advertising industry overall or the many highly talented creatives who work in advertising. We all love those Superbowl ads, right? And let’s not forget that many a band in recent history has found fortune from a well placed song in a high profile commercial (Hello, Phoenix).

No, we’re talking about the highly invasive, privacy invading, personal data tracking, internet advertising slathered on pirate sites that illegally distribute copyrighted works and destroy the livelihoods of professional artists and creators against their will.

Digital Advertising Agencies are on the wrong side of artists rights. They have sold us out.

Here’s the elephant in the room. The internet as a business has a math problem and it goes something like this. There are only a few ways to make money on the online. First is transactional sales where the company can take a margin on each transaction (Amazon, Itunes, Etc). Second is a transactional service where the company can take a margin on each transaction (Uber, AirBnB, etc). Third is subscription based access to content and software (Netflix and Adobe respectively). Fourth is advertising for pretty much everything else including the big categories of Software As Service or SAAS. SAAS models including everything from Google, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to newspapers, blogs and community based bulletin boards like Reddit, etc.

The fundamental problem here is attempting to transform all businesses to advertising supported models. This is because the largest most successful internet company ever (Google) just happens to work under that model. But the economics at large don’t generate enough revenue to pay for the cost of labor for the production of art, photography, music, movies, book, etc being distributed.

Think about it. How could it be possible that everything that once required transactional revenues to be sustainable can now be paid for with just advertising revenue? It can’t. Not under current models that do not allow for scarcity and exclusivity.

Scarcity and exclusivity are what make broadcasting models work. Television networks invest in creating exclusive content that is scarce. The scarcity and exclusivity allows for maximum monetization of that asset. The Superbowl and the Academy Awards are two of the highest grossing advertising based products specifically because they are scarce.

Take the above one step further. Imagine that everything on the internet, every single site that is not selling merchandise, a service or a subscription has to be self supporting on advertising revenue alone. Do you really think that’s possible? No, it is not. This is simply because to the cost of production of professional content can not be created at the cost that internet advertising provides.

The work around this math problem is to steal the labor of professional creators and monetize it against their will.

No budgets to pay for production, no problem. Steal It. 

Just make the margin on the cost of running the business without paying for content production. A business that does not have to pay for its inventory or cost of goods is far more profitable than one that does pay those costs. This is exactly how pirate sites and Google’s YouTube operate.

The creators of YouTube admitted as much in private emails that were exposed during the lawsuit with Viacom:

• A July 29 email conversation about competing video sites laid out the importance to YouTube of continuing to use the copyrighted material. “Steal it!” Chen said , and got a reply from Hurley, “hmmm, steal the movies?” Chen’s answer: “we have to keep in mind that we need to attract traffic. how much traffic will we get from personal videos? remember, the only reason our traffic surged was due to a video of this type.”

And here’s what it looks like… Lou Reed Exploited By American Express, AT&T, Chevrolet, Chili’s, Lysol, Pottery Barn, Vons, Domino’s Pizza, Netflix, Galaxy Nexus and Ron Jeremy!

LouReedGoogleSearch

LouReedAMEX

LouReedNETFLIX

LouReedDOMINOS

LouReedGalaxyNexus

LouReedVONS

LouReedPOTTERYBARN

LouReedLYSOL

LouReedCHILI'S

LouReedCHEVY

LouReedATT

LouReedTPBPORN

* Forced Labor? Hyperbole? With no ability to opt out, without being granted choice, consent or the ability to negotiate our wages, what else is it?