New Boy Band Poll: Who Should be the Fourth Horseman of the Spotocalypse?

Time for some artists’ rights comedy gold.

We can’t help but notice that when an artist publicly criticizes Spotify there are three bloggers that seem to quickly post rebuttals as if they are members of a synchronized swimming-er blogging team.  To paraphrase Spin Magazine on these guys: “#TeamSpotify.”

Most recently we see the Three Horseman of the Spotocalypse going after David Byrne for his editorial in The Guardian.

Bob Lefsetz the 60-year-old self-described “industry expert” angrily calls the 61-year-old David Byrne an old fart.

Meanwhile Jay Frank calls David Byrne “bad at Math.”  Now while Jay is always careful to be right, if you look at the big picture it turns out he’s arguing over things like whether it takes 150 million Spotify spins or 75 million Spotify spins a year to reach minimum wage (and is that federal or state minimum wage, and which state Jay? ) . Does that really matter?  Byrne’s points still stand. Either way it’s a fuckload and it’s not sustainable. Yes Jay, technically you’re right but It’s like a Larry David episode.  You’re making my brain hurt and I AM A MATHEMATICIAN.

Finally Dave Allen former bassist of the “Marxist”  Gang Of Four now turned Ad Exec spends 100,578,238 words incoherently criticizing David Byrne, Thom Yorke and myself.  This in advance of a meeting with Spotify executives in LA.  I draw no conclusions.

But here’s the real problem with these guys: I can’t take them seriously.

And it’s not because I don’t like what they write.  It’s because there are just three of them.

If 6 is the number of The Beast.  3 is the number of the comedian.

“Dave Allen, Bob Lefsetz, and Daniel Ek walk into a bar”

If you want to be seen as a powerful, elite or even sinister force three is not a good number.  Think about it.  “Three Stooges”, “Three Blind Mice”, “The Three Amigos”, “The Jonas Brothers” etc etc.

Four is much better. Four is a masculine world-changing number.

“The Fab Four”   “The Fantastic Four” and of course “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”

These guys will not be taken seriously until they add another horseman.

The pro-spotify-anti-artist-blogging business is no different from the boy band business.  You need some variety among your bloggers for broadest appeal.  And the more bloggers the better.  They should really take a cue from some of the great boy bands of the past.   As Bob Lefsetz might say “Work hard, be excellent,  and add another member”  “The Four Horsemen of the Spotocalypse” is so much more serious sounding.

And they are almost there.  They’ve got three great ingredients already!

Jay Frank: The nerdy but fun one.

Dave Allen: The angry one,

Bob Lefsetz: The really angry one,

Who should they add?  Do they go cuddly?  Sinister? Cute? Hispanic?

They definitely don’t have cute.   And they probably should go cute but there are no cute anti-artist-rights-pro-spotify bloggers.

So dear reader please help us!  Please help The Three Horseman of the Spotocalypse become Four.   Vote for a new member!

Google’s Fallacious Piracy Self-Study (Part 1) | Music Tech Policy

The Context

Even if you discount the moral hazard involved with funding a study of yourself, the Google survey of Google’s involvement with piracy is a breathtaking document. I would suggest that the self-study rests on a number of core principles for Google’s business:

1. Nothing to See Here, Move Along: First and foremost is Google’s deep and abiding desire to deflect criticism in the press, avoid civil lawsuits and settle criminal investigations. It has both succeeded and failed at all three. The fact that a company tries to avoid these things is not special; the degree to which Google tries to manage them is quite special.

The self-study is itself an exercise in all three and supports the most important public perception that Google draws on daily to succeed in its consumer facing business: Sympathetic trust. To paraphrase an old California pol, you know all the bad they’ve done, but you like them anyway.

This magical thinking only lasts for so long. Whether its Eric Schmidt’s New York soundproof man-cave from which no scream can emerge, doing a favor for journalist Tom Brokaw by providing a private jet for a Silicon Valley speaking engagement with jet fuel subsidized by the American taxpayer, siphoning piles of data to the National Security Agency under circumstances the average citizen will probably never learn the details of, or paying a $500,000,000 fine for violating the Controlled Substances Act for indiscriminately promoting the sale of prescription drugs (e.g., to addicts and kids), the press and the public is starting to wake up to the game.

And not just the game, but the magnitude of the game. As a senior chief once said, sorry pal, the BS filter is full.

Read The Full Post At Music Tech Policy:

“It’s Madness” Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich on LSE Piracy Report

We’re not sure how The London School Of Economics (LSE) could get something so basic so wrong as to suggest that because a some contemporary major label and heritage artists may be making more money from live shows (arena concert grosses) that somehow basic artists rights are not important for protection.

The New Music Express reports that Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich get’s it right in response the the LSE’s shortsighted misunderstanding about artists revenue streams.

“T-shirts and tickets are nothing to do with ‘copyright and creation’, which is the supposed subject of this document.

I hope the government sees how ridiculous this document seems to people who make records.

The authors are ‘pro piracy’ and they wish to influence the UK government’s upcoming review of digital copyright law.

It’s madness.”


It appears that the LSE report would be suggesting that artists never should have been paid royalties from the distribution of recorded music because there have always been other ways to make money from music.

If one were to truly let this logic sink in, it would appear that the LSE is making a general argument against all copyright because the distribution of copyrighted works is only a loss leader to live performances, synchronization fees or endorsement deals. This is of course absurd on every level.

This lopsided logic from LSE seems to favor illegally operating internet corporations distributing music without consent or licenses. We know that there is a lot of money being made in the illegal distribution of music online and the LSE’s report seems aligned with the economic interests of those who knowingly exploit artists for profit.

We expect better from such a respected institution then to ignore the economic interests by companies and corporations that are profiting illegally from advertising supported music piracy.

Perhaps it’s this report in DigiDay (parent company The Economist) that says it best.

Visit the top torrent search engines, and you’ll find ad calls from Yahoo, Google, Turn, Zedo, RocketFuel, AdRoll, CPX Interactive and others.

According to AppNexus CEO Brian O’Kelley, it’s an easy problem to fix, but ad companies are attracted by the revenue torrent sites can generate for them. Kelley said his company refuses to serve ads to torrent sites and other sites facilitating the distribution of pirated content. It’s easy to do technically, he said, but others refuse to do it.

“We want everyone to technically stop their customers from advertising on these sites, but there’s a financial incentive to keep doing so,” he said. “Companies that aren’t taking a stand against this are making a lot of money.”

Thankfully Jonathan Taplin and the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab did some fantastic work earlier this year researching and studying how Ad Networks profit from piracy.


Over 50 Major Brands Supporting Music Piracy, It’s Big Business!

Rene Summer gets it Wrong about Piracy and Payment… The Internet Time Machine Strikes Again.

Rene Summer posted the article “Stop treating symptoms and start curing diseases” on The Networked Society Blog where he re-hashed the same incorrect talking points that the internet industry “Merchants Of Doubt” have been trying to pedal for a while. As much as it may have been fair to make these arguments in 2003, it’s a more than a bit silly to propose the same talking points a decade later.

Rene writes:

This reliance on enforcement to protect old technologies (read physical distribution) and old business models is the root cause of the market-supply failure problem. It results in insufficient access to lawful digital content and its symptoms are illegal access. The causation works even the other way around increasing availability of lawful digital content also leads to decreased frequency in accessing illegal content.

The idea that there is a lack of new business models and legal distribution to address consumer habits of all kinds across many platforms is just as ridiculous coming from Rene as it was coming from Kim Dotcom earlier this year where it was also shown to be false.

Of course we also know people pirate simple because they can as witnessed by the piracy of Arrested Development which was native to Netflix and a recent story in the LA Times about San Francisco Chord Cutters.

The one thing that becomes clear is that all legal services have one major disadvantage, payment.

“It’s not that this participant is bad at math,” Juenger wrote. “This person did not want the pay-tv product, plain and simple.”

So let’s get honest about “business models” and recognize that there is a competitive advantage to companies who do not have to pay for the cost of goods and by extension, not pay the creators for their work.

Here’s our complete breakdown as originally posted in our response to Kim Dotcom. That’s some kind of company to keep Rene…

Kim Dotcom’s “End Of Piracy”, that was easy…

In the anticipation of the announcement of the new Mega launch, Pat Pilcher at The New Zealand Herald wrote an article titled “Kim Dotcom on Ending Piracy” in which the journalist listed Mr.Dotcom’s five steps to ending piracy. Pilcher writes,

As ironic as that may sound, Kim Dotcom’s logic is inescapably robust. Here’s what his end to piracy manifesto says:

1. Create great stuff
2. Make it easy to buy
3. Same day worldwide release
4. Fair price
5. Works on any device

Looking at what Kim is saying, the 5 points seem pretty obvious, although each could quickly get bogged down once Hollywood gets involved.

So let’s look at these one by one.

1. Create Great Stuff
Well, that’s a no brainer. The content industries create the most prized and sought after “stuff” in the world including films such as Avatar, The Avengers, and The Dark Night Rises as well as franchises like Iron Man, Transformers, Harry Potter and others. Music artists include the likes of Adele, The Black Keys, Taylor Swift, The Beatles and countless others. Making great stuff has never been a problem.

2. Make It Easy To Buy
Another no brainer. Perhaps a decade plus ago this might have been an argument, but not today. There are over 500 legal and licensed music services alone. For the film industry there are services like Netflix, Vudu and Cinemanow as well as other direct to home video on demand providers that give consumers more access to more content across more platforms than at any time in history.

3. Same Day World Wide Release
For music this is more less the standard now and is also more and more common for feature film releases as well. This is a common practice for the largest and most anticipated releases of music and films, the “stuff” that is the most aggressively pirated. For smaller indie releases this may not always be possible but than again I’m not sure that the problem we are combating is in Nigeria on indie rock albums and movies that are more or less film festival darlings.

4. Fair price
Done. Netflix is $7.99 a month for unlimited access to it’s entire library of films and tv shows. Spotify is $9.99 for unlimited access to it’s entire library which consist of probably 95% of every known recording in print. Add to this the cost of a song download is 99 cents. Less than the cost of a candy bar. Renting a movie from a video on demand service ranges from 3.99 to 5.99. Price is no longer an issue and has not been for years.

5. Works on Any Device
Music is DRM free and has been for at least half a decade. Streaming Services such as Netflix and Spotify are also available on every major platform including not only Mac and PC computers, but also mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets by a variety of manufacturers. Additionally most new video game consoles and blu-ray players also include many of these same apps.

So there you have it, the end of piracy. Even Pat Pilcher at The New Zealand Herald agrees a referring to a similar response from the New Zealand record industry. He writes,

Well there it is, RIANZ’s response in full. I can’t argue with much that they’ve said, as they’ve pretty much complied with most of Kim’s 5 points.

So Kim Dotcom’s five suggestions have been fulfilled and yet, I don’t think we’ll see an end to piracy anytime soon. There is still one thing piracy offers that legal, licensed and legitimate services do not, and that is compensation to the artists, musicians, filmmakers and creators which requires that consumers actually do pay the fair price asked.

It’s all pretty simple and by Kim Dotcom’s own suggestions and admission it’s pretty clear where the problem is from here on out, and it’s not in his five suggestions…

And, of course, let us not forget this classic… Kim Dotcom Parody Video Appears on YouTube

Third Nyan Cat Award For Web Based Idiocy: Cathy Caverly of Creative Commons.

Nyan Cat awards are given for outstanding achievement in disinformation, web myths and general web based idiocy.

I just read with some amusement this article in the UK Guardian whereby author Phillip Pullman rightly calls piracy “Moral Squalor”. But that’s not the part that’s funny. It’s the quote that they use for “balance” from Creative Commons Chief Cathy Caverly.

“By default, copyright closes the door on countless ways that people can share, build upon, and remix each other’s work, possibilities that were unimaginable when those laws were established.”


Permission is the foundation of civilization or have you forgotten that Ms Caverly?

But it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Chief of Creative Commons would utter such idiocy. For they claim they offer a license “that lets creators take copyright into their own hands”. WTF? It actually does the opposite. Isn’t this a false statement? False advertising? Fraud? Reading that statement I can’t imagine there are NOT artists out there that unwittingly put their now valuable work into Creative Commons thinking they were gaining more control over their work when in actuality they were doing the opposite. I’m not a lawyer but isn’t there a problem misleading people in this manner?

Plain old normal copyright IS creators right to their works in their own hands.

Creative Commons licenses are a permanent surrendering of some or all of your copyrights as an artist. To use the same analogy these CC licenses take creators’ works from their hands.

Now some people see Creative Commons as a elaborate put up for a particular large Internet corporation that would like nothing better than to monetize every book, film, photograph and song without ever having to ask permission of the author. They often point to Sergey Brin’s (Google) financial support of the organization and the fact that his mother-in-law is the vice chair. Or they point out that their board is completely dominated by people with ties to technology companies and opponents of Copyright. I don’t agree with this. The pseudo-intellectual Creative Commons movement was afoot long before Google existed. Still one can certainly argue that Creative Commons are “useful idiots” and I won’t object.

But here is the question that no one is asking:

“Why are Creative Commons licenses even necessary?”.

For you can do everything you do with Creative Commons that you can do with old-fashioned-non-googly copyright! For instance I allow the non-commercial sharing of recordings of my bands live shows on the non-profit Internet Music Archive. There are thousands of our recordings on the internet music archive. All I had to do was state on our website that we allow this. Voila. Thousands of recordings appeared.

Neither do we object to fans posting ukele cover versions of “Take the Skinheads Bowling” on their facebook pages. And may I remind you that the Grateful Dead enacted their famous taping policy without a Creative Commons license?

Photographers who wish to freely share their photos in any manner commercial or non commercial may state so on their websites without using a Creative Commons license. Plus they have the added advantage of being able to change their minds later. Something that is not possible with a Creative Commons License.

Why is it left to me rather than a real journalist to point out that there is no point to Creative Commons licenses? Where are the grown-ups?

Well perhaps I’m too hasty. There may be ONE point to these Creative Common licenses:

They serve to confuse the public as to the true nature of copyright. And that looks suspiciously like propaganda to me. “Useful idiots” indeed!

Therefore we hereby present our 3rd Nyan Cat Award to Cathy Caverly of Creative Commons. Enjoy.

DMN : 7 Reasons Why Artists Should Skip a BitTorrent ‘Media Partnership’

Worth repeating here from Digital Music News by Helienne Lindvall.

Lately, BitTorrent, Inc. has made a concerted effort to appear “legit”, courting both artists and their managers.  It’s even managed to become a “tech partner” of the UK Music Managers Forum.  But is partnering with BitTorrent – and its uTorrent client – really a good idea for artists?


Ready The Clown Car : Kim Dotcom Contemplates Suing Google, Twitter and Facebook

Serious folks, we can’t make this up.

“Twitter introduces Two-Step-Authentication. Using my invention. But they won’t even verify my Twitter account?!,” Dotcom tweeted.

“Google, Facebook, Twitter, Citibank, etc. offer Two-Step-Authentication. Massive IP (intellectual property) infringement by U.S. companies. My innovation. My patent,” he added.

But it get’s better…

“I never sued them. I believe in sharing knowledge & ideas for the good of society. But I might sue them now cause of what the US did to me,” he said.

However, he said a more productive approach would be if the tech giants helped cover his legal bills to fight prosecution under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA), which he estimated would exceed US$50 million.

“Google, Facebook, Twitter, I ask you for help. We are all in the same DMCA boat. Use my patent for free. But please help fund my defence,” he tweeted.

So essentially he’s threatening to sue the very same people he’s asking for money. Interesting strategy. We’re not sure that Google, Facebook and Twitter feel they are in the same boat. It’s difficult to believe these companies would want to be anywhere near the imploding public spectacle known as Kim Dotcom.


you may also enjoy…

Kim Dotcom claims he invented two-factor authentication—but he wasn’t first | Ars Technica

Dotcom’s European patent was revoked in 2011 largely because AT&T had a patent on the same technology with a priority date from 1995. (Thanks to Emily Weal of patent law firm Keltie for pointing out Dotcom’s European patent travails in the IP Copy blog.)

While Dotcom’s patent in the US is still in force, AT&T also has a US patent pre-dating hisThe Guardian pointed out that Ericsson and Nokia also have patent filings for two-factor systems predating Dotcom’s.

CES Fart Club aka The Slaptastic “Pro-Artist Copyright Policy Panel” features Anti-Copyright Advocates and Google Named Shills #2013CES

Not even kidding, just match the Anti-Copyright Google shills to the panelist list below. Talk about letting the fox guard the hen house. Wow, these are the same people who whine when not invited to trade organization and policy meetings like the TPP, but are so opposed to a balanced conversation they couldn’t actually invite a single artist rights representative! Ok, wow.

This is looking like a Silicon Valley Smug Alert, or otherwise known as Fart Club.

Beyond SOPA: Creating a Pro-innovation, Pro-artist Copyright Policy

Copyright policy – once an esoteric and legal backwater – now has a critical impact on our ability to work, play and communicate. In 2012, millions of Americans contacted their member of Congress to protest restrictive copyright proposals, while intellectual property issues took center stage in Washington and at the Presidential debates.

Join a group of entrepreneurs and DC policymakers as we discuss how to protect IP while maintaining a vibrant internet and creating new opportunities for content creators.

Moderated by:
Declan McCullagh, CNet Reporter

Featuring panelists:

Also on Tuesday January 8th, our own Hank Shocklee will be the DJ at The Innovation Movement party at Surrender at Encore from 7-10 pm.

Hit us up if you’re in town for the show – we’re still taking business meeting requests if you’d like to meet up.
See you in Vegas!

Google names names in amended ‘shills’ list – Employees, consultants, trade groups outed | The Register UK

In addition to the CCIA, Google named the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute as organizations who have received funds from Google…

Oh, and yeah… Mike Masnick is listed as a Google shill as well in the article at the link above too…

Madison Avenue and Media Piracy, Are Online Ad Networks the Birth of SkyNet?

In the mythology of the Terminator Sci-Fi movies it is a military defense computer system (SkyNet) that achieves consciousness through artificial intelligence and declares war on human beings. In reality, it appears the first computer networks to declare war on us may be advertising networks, ad bots, and online AI advertising auctions.

If one is to believe the various people responsible for the millions (er, uhm billions) of dollars flowing through online advertising networks (Google alone is estimated to be $30b annually) you could easily believe the machines have already achieved consciousness as no human being we speak to seems to have an actual understanding of how online advertising networks function.

It all appears to be a mystery as to how the money changes hands down stream, and how to determine who is getting paid from what specific ad placements and on what specific sites.  We had one ad network executive tell us privately “we can not control where the ads end up”.

Really?  So the online ad networks are Skynet?

This would seem to an alarming problem for buyers of advertising including such respected brands as Wendy’s, Yahoo, BMW, Adobe, Cadillac, LG, Target, Westin Hotels, Priceline, Hyatt Hotels, Weight Watchers, VISA, State Farm, Mini Cooper, ADT Security and even Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney.

It would probably be pretty embarrassing for a multinational electronics company like LG and a Presidential Candidate to both be advertising on two of the Top 20 most infringing sites in the world, wouldn’t it? Uh oh, don’t look now…

If the machines are already in control we should probably be worried, but we do think it’s odd they would be so focused on a capacity that only seems to transfer wealth from artists, musicians, filmmakers, authors and other creators to internet millionaires running ad networks and pirate sites.

Certainly if Google and the other ad networks had knowledge of the top infringing sites say through a publicly accessible transparency report based on DMCA notices, they would not be serving ads to those businesses operating far beyond the intention of the law? Certainly if they knew that just the Top 20 infringing sites had over 2.3 Million claims in just one month, than Google and the other advertising networks would clearly make a best practices “no fly zone” for advertising on those sites, wouldn’t they?

We’d much rather see this advertising revenue directed towards legally operating and legitimate media outlets such as television, newspapers and magazines who no doubt are also in need of revenue in an ever competitive marketplace. Why finance the pirates who are illegally exploiting others in the creative industries? How much money is being lost from legitimate media outlets to media pirates?

Below is a random sampling of artists exploited by these Madison Avenue Brands and the sites hosting the advertising. We wonder who is serving these ads, and paying these sites because everyone we talk to denies advertising on these sites and seems to know nothing about it.

TOM WAITS Exploited By Wendy’s, Yahoo, BMW, Mitt Romney, Adobe, Cadillac, LG, Target, Westin Hotels, Priceline, Hyatt Hotels, Weight Watchers, VISA, State Farm, Mini Cooper, ADT Security

* BMW on Kick Ass Torrents
* Mitt Romney, ADT Security on 4Shared
* Adobe, Mini Cooper on FilesTube
* Cadillac on FilesTube
* LG on FilesTube
* Target on Mp3Crank
* VISA, State Farm on Mp3 Crank
* Wendy’s on Kick Ass Torrents
* Westin on Kick Ass Torrents
* Priceline, Weight Watchers on 4Shared
* Hyatt on 4Shared
* Weight Watchers, Hilton on 4Shared
* Yahoo on Dilandau
* Urban Outfitters on FilesTube

U2 Exploited by United Airlines, Jet Blue, HP, State Farm, Westin, Urban Outfitters, Sprint, AT&T, Amazon, Disney Resorts, Crate and Barrel

* United Airlines x2 on h33t
* United Airlines on mp3 bear
* United Airlines on FilesTube
* Jet Blue and Kayak on h33t
* Hewlett Packard and State Farm on mp3skull
* Westin Hotels on 4shared
* Westin Hotels on mp3raid
* Urban Outfitters on mp3skull
* Sheraton Hotels on mp3skull
* Century 21 on 4shared
* Alaska Airlines on torrent reactor
* State Farm on torrent reactor
* Sprint on torrrent reactor
* Sheraton Hotels on 4shared
* Hewlett Packard x2 on filestube
* Hewlett Packard and State Farm on mp3skull
* Hewlett Packard on h33t
* Rejuvenation on filestube
* Disney Resorts on torrent reactor
* Crate & Barrel on Files Tube
* Charter Cable on mp3 raid
* AT&T on mp3skull
* Amazon on 4shared

These two examples above are just the tip of the iceberg, and it’s not just the most well known and respected mainstream artists who are effected. Perhaps even more so it is the smaller artists who have been the most hard hit by this diversion of revenue without compensation Aimee Mann, Neko Case, Talib Kweli, Death Cab For Cutie and Jared Leto to name a few.

It would also appear that Google makes plenty of money serving ads on sites that it knows are infringing. Here is Google’s Doubleclick serving an ad for Jeep on   This is a site that Google’s own transparency report ranks as the 24th most copyright infringing site in the world.  Isn’t knowingly providing money to an illegal enterprise a RICO predicate?

One would think with this kind of information there would be a move to improve the situation for rights holders, but looking at this graph it appears to be getting worse, much worse.

The bottom line is, we wonder how such mass scale, enterprise level and generally sketchy businesses can continue to go unchecked without any reporting from the mainstream media (who also depend on ad dollars that are now going to competing businesses engaged in media piracy and mass scale copyright infringement).

Once upon a time no one thought twice about “accounting irregularities” at Enron and we all know how that story ended. So who’s gonna ask the hard questions and get some real answers? Operators are standing by…

So much for Post-Scarcity, unless Electricity is free?

The freehadists like to say that digital content is only bits, but the truth is that there is a substantial carbon footprint to free. So big is this carbon footprint that it is causing concern by environmentalists.

All of that allegedly free music could have a larger carbon footprint than CDs. Although this article from Paid Content specifically comments on streaming content, there is a large carbon footprint across the entire digital ecosystem. Anyone who thinks that Media Piracy has almost no cost isn’t paying the electric bills or maintenance costs to keep a server farm up and running. These costs specifically illustrate how the exploitation economy works. The internet does not operate on fairy dust, it does in fact require capital. We’ve heard it said, denial is not just a river in Egypt. There’s even a carbon footprint to spam. So the next time someone mentions that the internet is a post-scarcity economy, they might want to rethink that… and review this piece from Harper’s on “Google’s Addiction to Cheap Electricity.”

Also, here’s a fantastic essay at The Cynical Musician by Jose Luis Pérez Zapata which states,

So, in brief, to make a process post-scarce, you need to make everything about it free; everything – absolutely no exceptions. If there is a cost anywhere, then we just changed one scarcity for another.

Indeed. So when servers and electricity are free, when the labor and other costs to run web businesses are free, than perhaps that is the time to contemplate that digital content itself should be free.