Fight For The Future May Have Illegally Used Corporate Donations For Electioneering

John Arsenault called and we spoke about the registration of Corporations in Colorado.  Mr Arsenault says this simply indicates the corporation is from another state but now doing business in Colorado.  We are not experts on Colorado corporate registrations and we defer to Mr Arsenault and appreciate the clarification on this matter for us.  As a result we have updated the blog to focus only on the implications for US Non-profits and electioneering.  We leave screenshots above to simply illustrate what we are correcting. 

Anybody who has been in the fight for Artists Rights knows that one of our biggest enemies is the astroturf group Fight for the Future.   We’ve been following them for some time and have covered FFTF funding from the mysterious London Trust Media.  What we didn’t realize until yesterday is that that London Trust Media is apparently registered as a foreign corporation.  

Here is the paragraph from the IRS concerning Non-profits

I am not an attorney but this would seem to make many of the activities Fight For the Future has been involved in illegal under FEC IRS regulations.  In particular a communication urging a vote against a particular candidate is off limits.  Here is just one example:

 Lets be clear here, Fight For The Future opposed TPP NOT because they were worried about American jobs or environmental regulations.  They opposed TPP because it did not force our trading partners to weaken copyright protections for artists!!!!  Regardless, this sort of position against specific candidates would seem to violate paragraphs  IRS rules on non-profits.  This could also would seem to put their Massachusetts non-profit status in doubt. (FACT:  in an email dated  May 26th 2016 I pointed out the apparent non-profit violation to Fight For The Future’s accountant  and FFTF board members, yet, Fight For The Future continues to claim they are a compliant non-profit. See addendum for correspondence.)

If you’d like to help take the bad guys down I suggest you:

  1. Write the FEC and complain about activities of this foreign corporation funding activity that urged voters not to vote for  specific candidates.  Ask them to investigate. They are the experts! Warning the Federal Elections Commision does not make it easy to complain about this activity. Imagine that! Refer them to this blog.  This is the best I can do  Updated: Don’t do this it is not FEC but matter but IRS matter. As Mr Arsenault notes LTM is within it’s rights to donate to FFTF.
  2. Complain to the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth. Again they don’t make it easy.   What you want to do is make sure they realize you are complaining about Center For Rights in Action (This is the real name of Fight For The Future). The issue is electioneering and opposing candidates. Main Number:Toll Free: 1-800-392-6090 (within Massachusetts only)Telephone: 617-727-7030 TTY: 617-878-3889 Fax: 617-742-4528 E-mail:



Here is the correspondence with their CPA indicating that on May 26 2016 I made them aware of the violations.

Mr Alario:

I hope this finds you well.  I have some questions about Fight For The Future Education Fund.  As a public charity they have certain obligations and responsibilities under the law. 


I’m looking at the FFTF Education Fund website  right now and the financials link redirects to link for Center For Media Rights 990 IRS form. 
Although I’m sure this was just a mistake as the two organizations have intertwined management and web resources,  it is a legal requirement that you make available to the public the 990 IRS form for FFTFEF, including the Schedule B.  Please send me a copy or kindly tell me where I can find it on the web?
I’m concerned that FFTF Education Fund appears to have violated some IRS rules for public charities.
Political Campaign Intervention
“Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violation of this prohibition may result in revocation of tax-exempt status and/or imposition of certain excise taxes.”
IRS Compliance Guide
for 501(c)(3) Public Charities
Lobbying Activity
“A public charity is not permitted to engage in substantial legislative activity (commonly referred to as lobbying). An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for purposes of proposing, supporting or opposing legislation, or advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation.-
IRS Compliance Guide
for 501(c)(3) Public Charities
FFTF urged the public to contact members of congress and their employees proposing, supporting and opposing TPP legislation.  Including statements urging voters to vote against specific candidates;  organized a likely illegal “comment bombing” of the Copyright Office public consultation on section 512 of The Copyright Act.
FFTF claims to be a Non-Profit
Oh but read the fine print.  They clearly know what they are up to:


TorrentFreak Owner/Editor Lennart Renkema PhD Received Funding From Google & Bittorrent Friendly VPN

Google funded Lennart Renkema’s last paper. 

Let’s just get right to the point shall we?   TorrentFreak is not a semi-biased news source that reports sympathetically on piracy. If you accept the framework of academic policy washing laid out in Merchants of Doubt, TorrentFreak operates as a public policy arm of Google and other commercial interests that profit from piracy. Multiple sources report that Ernesto Van Der Zar is Lennart Renkema PhD.  Renkema is also the co-author of “Copy Culture in U.S. and Germany.”   It was funded with a grant from Google.

But that’s nothing.  It gets much uglier if you dig deeper.  Shall we?

More disturbing is Renkema’s links to London Trust Media.  LTM operates a VPN under the brand name Private Internet Access. Private Internet Access is a VPN that touts itself as bittorrent friendly. In other words instead of paying musicians for their work you just pay Private Internet Access and they hide your identity.  In this way LTM/PIA profits from piracy while sharing nothing with the artist. Ernesto/Renkema admits PIA is Torrentfreak’s main sponsor. Ernesto/Renkema clearly financially benefits from this sponsorship. Torrentfreak also writes glowing reviews of PIAs  service.  A deep search of the web shows no other employment for Renkema. Rick Falkvinge is also a writer at Torrentfreak. Until we exposed it Rick Falkvinge (yes the guy who suggested child pornography be legalized) was listed as the Chief Privacy Officer at Private Internet Access. As a result one could plausibly argue that Torrentfreak is really just an arm of Private Internet Access/London Trust Media.

So let’s take a closer look at Private Internet Access/London Trust Media.  Official 2014 tax documents show an address in a mini industrial park in Michigan. Yet in 2016 Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs had no such company registered in the state of Michigan.  This would seem to be a violation of state law.  Back in 2016 we did some research on other companies listed as doing business at that address:

World Fertility Experts an offshore fertility clinic.

Flip it Friday a $50 dollar a month online course on how to flip houses.

My Diploma:  Sure.  Seems perfectly legit.

GS Media Looks to be a penny stock promoter. Again no business records in Michigan state database.  They come up in this interesting article here

KlearGear: Then of course there is KlearGear. You got to read this one.

The Daily Scam which reports daily on internet scams reports on a business located at this address.


So think about it folks. Is Torrentfreak really what it claims to be?  Is Lennart Renkema simply a reporter? Or is he part of a bigger profit oriented endeavor?


The Bipartisan Classics Act Is Ready For Prime Time: Time to fix Pre 1972 Loophole

Issa (R-CA) and Nadler (D-NY) sponsored the Classics Act in the house. 

Artists that had the misfortune to record before 1972 do not get royalties for the public performance of their recordings on satellite and non-interactive streaming services.  This so-called loophole is simply a creation of federal courts (Ninth & Second) and apparent collusion by digital services (DOJ antitrust: Agreeing to fix a price at $0 is still price fixing).

The Classics Act is designed to fix this loophole.  This fix has long been championed by Rep Nadler (D-NY) and Rep Issa (R-CA).  It’s a simple matter of fairness and equal treatment under the law.  There is no way in hell that the legislators who enacted The Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995 (DPRA) intended to leave out pre-1972 performers.  Why has this persisted so long?

Artists owe a debt of gratitude to Nadler and Issa for relentlessly pushing this bill forward.  Also  Pandora, SoundExchange and other groups like Music First, the Internet Association, the GRAMMYs,  Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, American Federation of Musicians, the Content Creators Coalition, the Future of Music Coalition, Fare Play, the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, and the Living Legends Foundation deserve their fair share of the credit.


With US Tanks Massed on Canadian Border Law Prof Michael Geist Saves Canada by Sacrificing Canadian Artists/Culture

© David Mdzinarishvili / Reuters

What’s that? …. There are no tanks?…. Oh….So Canada’s most “internet famous” copyright law professor Michael “Neville Chamberlain” Geist is simply selling out Canadian artists for no apparent reason?!? And the beneficiaries of his tortured interpretation of facts and data is predictably the US Silicon Valley monopolies that indirectly benefit from the massively infringing pirate website operations?  (And never mind kiddie porn sites, that’s another blog post, we’ll get to that shortly.)

This is especially funny since Geist doesn’t appear to discourage blog comments expressing anti-American jingoism.  If only his supporters took the time to follow the money.  Geist’s home base is the Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic at the University of Ottowa. You can think of Samuelson-Glushko as the Koch brothers of Silicon Valley.  The sole purpose of Samuelson-Glushko clinics appears to be as a policy washing machine for Silicon Valley interests.   Money comes in one side and  out pops “academic papers” and “research” that seems to always neatly supports the public policy positions of US based internet monopolists.  And weakens the rights of Canadian copyright holders.

Remember Geist is no crank law professor at some no name school out in the prairies. Geist is at the University of Ottawa where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law.

Read more about Geist here and ask yourself  “Who is this guy really advocating for?”  And also what’s up with his mysterious Lawbytes loan out company?

Geist Flips the Mob Switch

The Spy Who Consulted Them: A Closer Look at Lawbytes, Inc. f/s/o Michael Geist

Canadian Copyright Modernization Act—Whose shadow is in the fine print?

The Professor Has No Clothes

The Geist in the Hen House

The Price of Support

Is Geist singing from the EFF songbook?

News From the Goolag: Geist strikes a blow for piracy…I mean, consumers

Lawbytes, Inc. Redux: What is the difference between $24,500 and $25,001?

The Elusive Lawbytes, Inc.

The Industry Canada Music Study Part I

The Industry Canada Music Study Part II

Only The Shadow Knows Part 1

Only The Shadow Knows Part 2

See also: A Dedicated Group of Likeminded People

See also: Fair Copyright Canada and 100,000 Voters Who Don’t Exist

See also: What do Canada, Vietnam, China, Russia, Ukraine and Romania have in common? (And, no, it’s not future sites of the Creative Commons Internationale)

See also: Artist rights are human rights

The Spy Who Consulted Me Redux: The Consultation of the Mikado

See also: A closer look at Lawbytes, Inc. f/s/o Michael Geist

Historic Coalition of 213 Musical Artists Calls on Congress to Pass CLASSICS Act

The 1976 copyright act federalized copyrights for post 1972 sound recordings.  Sound recordings made pre-1972  were covered and remain covered by state copyright laws.  The 1976 act did not strip the works of copyright protection.  Several years ago digital broadcasters and non-interactive streaming services all decided (simultaneously) that the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995 did not apply to works copyrighted before1972. And ever since these services have tried to avoid paying performers who had the misfortune to record before 1972.   This is often referred to as a” loophole.”  But I have always maintained that there is no loophole.  The DPRA did not specify that the sound recordings be protected by federal copyright to receive digital performance royalties.  Just copyright. State copyright for instance.  Look it up if you don’t believe me.

Further in order to maintain this legal stance, you have to believe that the members of congress that drafted and passed the DPRA specifically intended to deny digital royalties to the likes of Duke Ellington, Aretha Franklin, The Allman Brothers, Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, and Captain Beefheart to name just a few.  Nowhere in the congressional record is this reflected. Nowhere. It’s a complete fiction. Yet the increasingly lazy and myopic federal courts can’t be counted on to look at the record or even the text of the act. Therefore a wide range of musicians, unions and industry trade groups have come together to try to fix this problem.  This is an easy fix. This act makes it explicit that this applies to pre-1972 recordings. It’s simple matter of fairness.  Everyone loves fairness. It’s like kittens.Who could possibly be against kittens? I mean aside from Lofgren and Sensenbrenner  Let’s get this done.  

Below is the press release from…

Historic Coalition of 213
Musical Artists Calls on Congress to Pass CLASSICS Act,

Fix the “Pre-1972” Loophole for Legacy Artists
Music Organizations Press Congress to Consolidate
Widely Backed Music Licensing Reforms Into Single Bill
WASHINGTON, February 13, 2018 — An unprecedented coalition of 213 musical artists, supported by eight leading music organizations, called upon the U.S. Congress to pass the CLASSICS Act, bipartisan legislation pending in both the House and Senate to address one of copyright law’s most glaring loopholes. 
In a two-page advertisement that will appear in Wednesday’s Politico, the artists state:
Digital radio makes billions of dollars a year from airplay of music made before Feb. 15, 1972. Yet, because of an ambiguity in state and federal copyright laws, artists and copyright owners who created that music receive nothing for the use of their work. The CLASSICS Act (H.R. 3301 / S. 2393) would correct this inequity and finally ensure that musicians and vocalists who made those timeless songs finally get their due. We urge Congress to pass the CLASSICS Act and other pro-artist reforms quickly. 
The advertisement marks the start of a robust advocacy campaign by artists and music community leaders A2IM, American Federation of Musicians, Content Creators Coalition, musicFIRST Coalition, Recording Academy, Recording Industry Association of America, SAG-AFTRA and SoundExchange.
The ad can be viewed here.
The CLASSICS Act is an essential component of a package of music licensing reforms supported by the organizations that includes additional critical reforms such as the Music Modernization Act (H.R. 4706 / S. 2334), the AMP Act (H.R. 881) and the establishment of market-based rate standards. In the coming weeks, music community leaders anticipate the House Judiciary Committee will commence formal consideration of the music licensing reform legislation with the goal of consolidating the key reforms into a single bill.

The Spy Who Consulted Them: A Closer Look at Lawbytes, Inc. f/s/o Michael Geist

Meanwhile in Canada…another unaccountable law professor, Michael Geist appears to be running interference for U.S. Tech Firms as Canada considers home grown anti-piracy legislation. Fortunately Chris Castle at Music Tech Policy (and others) have done some excellent reporting on the Geist over the years. We are gonna rerun a few of these articles over the next few weeks so that it is clear to Canadian artists the ethical and intellectual makeup of this fellow. Lets start with the mysterious no bid government contracts he received for even more mysterious work. From 2010:

Music Technology Policy

If you follow what passes for intellectual property policy “debate” online, you will no doubt have heard the anti-copyright amen chorus warming up about the lack of public consultation in the negotiation of the Anticounterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA.

This wringing of hands and wailing of the amici has particular resonance amongst non-governmental organizations, their advisors, their academic rock stars and breathless acolytes. The non-governmental organizations and academics, most prominently the very well funded Michael Geist, advisor to the US-backed Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, the Alcan of IP, who most frequently attach themselves to the negotiation of international copyright treaties originating in Geneva are particularly incensed.

These “NGOs” complain that the public is insufficiently consulted by—governmental organizations. In other words, the NGOs (self-appointed, frequently astroturf groups with shadowy funding) are complaining that the representatives of the public are insufficiently representative. Only the NGOs and professoriate…

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Songwriters Guild of North America Negotiates Changes to MMA to Increase Songwriter Representation

We are pleased to see that the conversations between Rick Carnes (SGA) and Rep Doug Collins that began at University of Georgia Artists Rights Symposium has resulted in improvement to the representation of songwriters on the board proposed in the Music Modernization Act.   Press release from SGA follows.


Music Publishing Industry Support for Small Claims Act Also Secured

WASHINGTON — The Songwriters Guild of America, the largest and longest-established music creator advocacy organization in the United States, today announced it has negotiated changes to the pending Music Modernization Act (HR 4706) that will enable it to support passage of the legislation.  Among the agreed-upon amendments to the bill are:

  • the doubling of songwriter and composer representation on the board of directors of the Mechanical Licensing Collective established by the Act;
  • the re-alignment of an Unclaimed Royalties Oversight Committee that will now have a 50/50 music creator and music publisher balance; and
  • clarifications to the payments sections that will make it easier for music creators to get the full benefits of their negotiated publishing agreements as applied to the distribution of what the bill refers to as “unclaimed” funds by music publishers.

As part of the discussions leading to changes in the Music Modernization Act, the US music publisher community has also pledged to lend its full support on Capitol Hill to SGA’s efforts to secure quick passage of the pending Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act of 2017 (HR 3945). CASE will provide music creators with a much needed, opt-in alternative to expensive, full blown copyright infringement actions against unlicensed users of their music.

Speaking on behalf of SGA, multi-platinum songwriter and organization president, Rick Carnes, noted that, “the benefits of the pending Modernization law, with the changes SGA has successfully sought, have made the current bill deserving of our support.  We continue to applaud the efforts of those members of the music creator and music publishing communities seeking further improvements and clarifications that would make the proposed legislation even more advantageous to American songwriters, composers and independent publishers. Still, the bill as it now stands would — on balance — benefit those creators we are sworn to protect significantly more than no bill at all.  Our two-word mission statement is to ‘protect songwriters.’ After more than six months of hard work alongside our colleagues in the independent music creator community through Music Creators North America (MCNA), SGA feels, individually, that it succeeded insofar as possible in carrying out our mission.”

Under the agreed-upon changes, the Mechanical Licensing Collective board will now have four professional songwriter/composer voting members and ten voting music publishers.  The Unclaimed Royalty Oversight Committee, whose role will be to oversee issues concerning ownership and distribution of so-called “unclaimed” royalties, will now have evenly balanced, “five and five” representation among ten voting members.  As to clarifications regarding payment of music creator royalties received from the Collective by music publishers, the bill is now clearer in spelling out that such royalties are to be distributed on a title-by-title basis to songwriters under the percentages set forth in their publishing agreements.  In other words, a songwriter or composer operating under an agreement that gives such creator the benefit of a 90%/10% split with its music publisher will have that same split applied in the distribution of “unclaimed” royalties that have been matched under the usage formula set forth in the legislation.

Other benefits of the legislation include establishment of a system that:

  • is likely to substantially improve royalty payment compliance by digital distributors of music on a going-forward basis;
  • changes in royalty rate determination formulas that will benefit both music creators and their copyright administrators; and
  • the promotion of greater fairness for US performing rights societies in their negotiations with users.

“Among SGA’s important roles following the bill’s enactment,” continued Carnes, “will be to assist the songwriter and composer community in making sure that every music creator receives the full benefits intended under the Act.  That includes publication of materials designed to inform and remind creators, in consultation with their legal and financial representatives, how best to ensure the maximum, accurate receipt of all royalties to which they are entitled.”  Carnes also pledged that SGA will be in the forefront of efforts, along with its fellow MCNA music creator groups, to ensure that experienced, knowledgeable and — above all — independently-minded songwriters and composers are tapped to serve as board members of the Collective.

SGA, established in 1931, is the largest and longest-established advocacy organization run solely by and for songwriters and composers in North America.  In addition to its role as a legislative advocate, SGA provides copyright administrative services and other informational and representation services to its national US membership upon request

The Restatement Scandal: The Futility of False “Unity”

Chris Castle has some excellent analysis of the ALI copyright restatement project as well as some other recent ALI restatements. Hew writes:

However, there appears to be a trend at the ALI to trade on the “Restatement” series to provide a vehicle through which those who control the pen in drafting new versions of old Restatements and new Restatements on new topics can try to change the law to what the drafter thinks it ought to be rather than a tool for practitioners to quickly learn what the “black letter law” is. This is a way to make an end run around the democratic process to deny voters and their elected representatives their proper role. What’s different is the potential for the moral hazard of astroturfing making it more important than ever to know who is behind the pen.

Music Technology Policy

Who ever thought that the American Law Institute–of all places–would become the center of a corruption scandal over–of all things–its “Restatement of the Law” series.  Chances are good that MTP readers outside of the legal profession have no bloody idea what a “Restatement” is and will sleep well in that knowledge deficit.  But for lawyers (particularly litigators), the Restatement series has had some passing value.

However, there appears to be a trend at the ALI to trade on the “Restatement” series brand value to provide a vehicle through which those who control the pen in drafting both new versions of old Restatements and new Restatements on new topics can try to change the law to what the drafter thinks it ought to be–rather than a tool for practitioners to quickly learn what the “black letter law” is.  This is a way to make an end run around the democratic…

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Hanlon’s Razor and the American Law Institute’s Misguided Copyright Restatement Project

Guest post from The Invisible Stagehand.

I’d like to offer an alternate theory on the foundering attempt by the American Law Institute to “restate” copyright law.  While my colleagues make good points on the lack of transparency, openness and fairness with the current ALI process; rightfully note the conflicts of interest; and excoriate Sprigman for taking money (however indirectly) from Silicon Valley while working on the project, the most obvious conclusion is that those in charge of the restatement are incompetent.  Not devious.

I refer you to Hanlon’s Razor:

Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.”

Now incompetence rather than malice doesn’t mean that someone shouldn’t be fired. Someone probably should be fired. Start with Sprigman. He’s in charge of the project. If that doesn’t work fire someone else. Repeat until incompetence stops.

The case for incompetence.

Exhibit One: The fact that this is now a PR issue for the ALI is the clearest example of incompetence.  Sprigman or Director Revesz could have made some relatively small changes to the project in 2015 (as many suggested) and the acting Register of Copyrights would have never written the now infamous “pseudo version of the copyright act” letter. This of course was the basis of the Billboard story that enraged artists. In other words an easily avoidable mistake started the entire controversy. Incompetence.

Exhibit Two: Leader of the project Christopher J Sprigman.  Good lord does the man have a shred of common sense?  I assume the position as “reporter” on the ALI Copyright Restatement is a position that confers some prestige. Why screw it up by taking on Spotify as a client in the middle of the project? Or co-author papers that are directly or indirectly funded by Google at the same time? It’s not an “impartial” look. Did he need the money? I doubt it. Now, not only does his reporter position NOT impart prestige, his own reputation is in tatters. What a screw up.  Clearly not a devious mastermind.

Exhibit Three:  Sprigman’s letter proposing the project clearly indicates he had a result in mind. It reads like a police confession. He admits to everything he is accused of by his critics.  A scholarly project like this is not supposed to start with conclusions and work backwards. Yet he pretty much admits this is his intention in the letter. If I intended to do something this dishonest I wouldn’t start by writing it down in a letter that would surely one day become public. I was too dumb for law school. But this guy must be dumber. Again not a devious mastermind.

Exhibit Four:  If you choose to measure incompetence by quantity, look at some of the letters that take issue with the drafts. For instance the Author’s Guild wrote a long letter to ALI Director Revesz detailing 16 major mistakes in the draft of the first chapter.   Some of these mistakes are just bizarre, (I can’t see the draft) but apparently royalties and fees paid to creators are referred to as “taxation.”  This is either a dumb mistake, or an unnecessary provocation of copyright holders that only an incompetent person would make while trying to build consensus for a draft. Incompetence.

Exhibit Five: Just for fun, let’s take last exhibit and assign deviousness to Sprigman and Revesz.  Suppose they were attempting to pull a variation of a machiavellian committee minority strategy. A competent strategist wouldn’t needlessly antagonize the committee minority by using the term “taxation.”  The minority (pro copyright members) are not supposed to see that the game is rigged. The marks are supposed to think they were simply outvoted. That’s how the con works!! Again incompetent not devious. Maybe add arrogant.

Exhibit Six:  Sprigman took to facebook to call out his critics describing them as “hacks engaging in hackery.” I was speechless when I came across this on facebook. This is not the kind of thing that a competent leader does when faced with criticism.  The guy is clearly out of his league.  Again not a devious mastermind.

I think you get my point.

The Invisible Stage Hand works in the live music business.