Electioneering Over, Songwriters No Longer Needed, Obama DOJ Gets Back to Suing Songwriters for Google


Obama like many political leaders has relied upon songwriters to shape his public persona and image.  But Obama has also allowed his antitrust division to relentlessly persecute songwriters in ways that benefit Silicon Valley firms that are among his largest campaign donors. 

Politicians, especially democratic politicians have always appealed to songwriters and performers for help campaigning and in shaping their images.  But once the election is over we never see anything in return. Not even a “thank you.”  But our long running abusive relationship with politicians seems to have hit a new low. It appears the Obama DOJ purposely waited until after all those celebrity/songwriter/performer campaign rallies were finished before they renewed their “100% licensing” legal crusade against songwriter non-profits BMI and ASCAP.

And I do mean “purposely waited.”  Let me explain.

In late July the DOJ ordered songwriter organizations to offer “full work licensing” even on works that they didn’t completely control.  The DOJ claimed that 70 year old antitrust consent decrees required this of songwriters.  However this goes against standard co-writing convention and private contracts that often stipulate each songwriter license his/her share of a work.  For 70 yeas the DOJ never once objected to this practice by songwriters.  Why now?  It was only after the Google backed MIC-Coalition (an astroturf lobbying group that represents… well… Google) wrote and asked DOJ Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse (herself a former Google lawyer) to require full work licensing of songwriters.  Hesse agreed and tried to force the change on songwriters performing rights organization.

BMI a non-profit that licenses and collects performing rights royalties for songwriters asked a federal judge to block the DOJ from enforcing this new rule.   On September 16 2016 Judge Stanton blocked the new rule.  Blocked is perhaps too soft,  maybe better: it was a complete and devastating smackdown for the DOJ.  Judge Stanton barely spent half a day on the matter.   In no uncertain terms the Judge told the DOJ the consent decrees said nothing about 100% licensing and to knock it off.

Although the DOJ indicated they might appeal, they went quiet.  The election heated up.  Obama hit the campaign trail for Clinton and other democratic candidates.  Performers and songwriters as they usually do, made many appearances on behalf of  (mostly) democratic candidates.  Wednesday morning we awoke to President-Elect Trump and by Friday the Obama DOJ was back to suing songwriters.

But here’s the kicker: the DOJ  filed a one sentence note to the court of appeals,  appealing Judge Stanton’s ruling.  ONE FUCKING SENTENCE! Are you telling me it took 8 weeks to write a one sentence notice?  No, of course not.  They could have filed this notice back in September.  Songwriters, face it, we got used.  We got rope-a-doped.  We got played like suckers.  Like we always do.

I’d love to see the emails between AG Lynch, Renata Hesse and the other lawyers in the Antitrust Division of the DOJ.  I believe this was a pure political calculation with the election in mind.

If you want to FOIA the DOJ  Antitrust Division you can do that here:




A Memo to the Librarian of Congress

library-of-congress-lhDATE:            November 9, 2016

TO:                 Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress

FROM:           David Mao, Deputy Librarian of Congress

SUBJECT:      Hiring Criteria for Register of Copyrights

As you requested, following are recommended factors to consider when hiring the next Register of Copyrights.  Obviously, these are only suggestions as your power is absolute.

  1. Be a kissass.
  2. Have no original thought.
  3. Be a kissass.
  4. Speak to no one but your absoluteness.
  5. Have excellent skills at making change in the LOC gift shop.
  6. Demand even more deposit copies under compulsory licenses that permit free copying by our allies.
  7. Know her/his place under your absoluteness.
  8. Be a kissass.
  9. Not look too hard for the owner of orphan works.
  10. Support your brilliant interpretation of Section 115 to give our allies a free license, no liability and hiding in plain sight!  That is almost as brilliant as your interpretation of Section 108 to turn the LOC into a major feeder of Bit Torrent sites!  Genius!

Separately, we should continue to quote your brilliant Congressional testimony where you say that the the Library supports “creators”.  We know you meant YouTubers! Brava oh absolute one!  Fooled them again with your genius!

You may also be interested in the slides from my lunch time talk, “How to Sell the Library:  Tips for the Sovereignly  Immune” at which I will discuss including the Library’s mandatory deposit copies in Google’s scanning project, especially the sound recordings and movies!  Justice for Mickey at last!


Facebook the Massive Infringer — Artist Rights Watch

There’s a massive infringer hiding in plain sight. That’s a tactic that worked from the Case of the Purloined Letter to Osama Bin Laden–worked for a while, anyway. So who is this massive infringer? Pirate Bay? mp3skull? YouTube-mp3? No–it’s Facebook. That’s right. Facebook, the property that every band is told they must be on, the […]

via Facebook the Massive Infringer — Artist Rights Watch

@adland: Wikileaks shows Google’s Eric Schmidt is extra cozy with US Government — Artist Rights Watch

But if social media and online living has taught us anything it’s that anyone can become a target. This is true for Hulk Hogan as it is for Hillary Clinton and all who emailed John Podesta. Which brings me to Google’s Eric Schmidt. He once famously said “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” In the remaining week before the US election with so many more Podesta emails to be released, it will be interesting to see if that quote doesn’t come back to haunt him.

via @adland: Wikileaks shows Google’s Eric Schmidt is extra cozy with US Government — Artist Rights Watch

@wsj: A Copyright Coup in Washington: The new Librarian of Congress ousts a federal copyright defender [Congress should investigate] — Artist Rights Watch

Ms. Hayden is now looking for a copyright office successor, and don’t be surprised if she chooses someone whose experience includes time at Google. This is reason enough for Congress to take a look: If the position is open to political influence, then the register should be politically accountable—and report to elected officials, not the nation’s librarian.

via @wsj: A Copyright Coup in Washington: The new Librarian of Congress ousts a federal copyright defender [Congress should investigate] — Artist Rights Watch

NY Grassroots Musicians Action Statement on Removal of Maria Pallante from Position of Register of Copyrights

Great statement from a true grassroots organization, Musicians Action NY, see here:

We at Musicians Action are very concerned about the recent removal of Maria Pallante from the position of Register of Copyrights. Not only is such “reassignment” unprecedented in U.S. history but the timing is particularly alarming. It happened right after Maria Pallante opposed Google’s corporate agenda that would sweep intellectual property and creators’ rights under the rug. In the recent months, she questioned the legitimacy of the notorious “100 percent licensing,” the Google-inspired rule that defied both common sense and human decency, and sent waves of disbelief and outrage through the entire community of working music creators. She also opposed the “Unlock the Box” proposal from the FCC that was crafted to benefit Google.

Musicians Action Statement on Removal of Maria Pallante from Position of Register of Copyrights


@emzanotti: Power Grab: Is Google Trying to End Copyrights Once and For All? — Artist Rights Watch

Google has targeted music, books, movies and is making a play for an even greater target: television. And they’ve already stacked the government deck in their favor. What’s at stake here? One of the greatest land-grabs in the history of content. And no one is looking.

via @emzanotti: Power Grab: Is Google Trying to End Copyrights Once and For All? — Artist Rights Watch

Authors Guild on Pallante Removal


The new Librarian of Congress Dr Carla Hayden in what can only be described as a vindictive move tried to demote the Register of Copyrights to a position that among other things oversees “point of sales” at Library of Congress.   That would be the gift shop.  Constructive Termination?

The Authors Guild has countered with a blog post outlining the Register of Copyrights many accomplishments during her tenure:

Upon taking office in 2011, Pallante outlined an incredibly ambitious set of Priorities and Special Projects which she proceeded to fully execute—and even exceed—something especially noteworthy given her relatively small staff. Among her many achievements, the Office in just five short years conducted comprehensive studies and issued policy reports on:

The Making Available Right in the United States (February 2016); Orphan Works and Mass Digitization (June 2015); Copyright and the Music Marketplace (February 2015); Resale Royalties (December 2013); Copyright Small Claims (September 2013); Copyright Protection for Pre-1972 Sound Recordings (December 2011); Legal Issues in Mass Digitization (October 2011); and Marketplace Alternatives to Replace Statutory Licenses (August 2011).


And Your Little Dog, Too: The Librarian of Congress Gives Us A Lesson in Constructive Termination — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

Remember when the Librarian of Congress issued a press release about how Maria Pallante was being “promoted” from the Register of Copyrights to something that sounded awfully functionary–and not a promotion. I don’t know how the Librarian runs things, but it’s not exactly industry standard to lock someone out of their email account when you’re giving them a promotion.

But what’s worse–the Librarian’s moves against Pallante are a textbook example of retaliation constructive termination.  That’s the one when a boss makes somebody’s life so miserable at work that the level of passive aggressiveness is so hostile and so toxic that any reasonable employee would rather resign than submit.

via And Your Little Dog, Too: The Librarian of Congress Give Us A Lesson in Constructive Termination — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY