Guest Post by @schneidermaria: Open Letter to YouTube, “Pushers” of Piracy

A must read. YouTube from an independent artist’s perspective.

MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

[We’re pleased to post this open letter to YouTube written by Maria Schneider, a five-time GRAMMY-winning composer and bandleader, a board member of the Council of Music Creators, and an active supporter of MusicAnswers.org.]

Open Letter to YouTube, “Pushers” of Piracy

by Maria Schneider 

Hank Green’s recent open letter in support of YouTube (that was in response to Irving Azoff’s open and scathing letter against YouTube) deserves a strong response from musicians and other creators.   I appreciate YouTube’s illegal business model might yield a few anecdotal success stories like Mr. Green’s and his videos of opening beer bottles with antlers, but for the vast majority of the artistic community, including me, and every musician I know (and I know thousands), YouTube is a resounding disaster.

MariaSchneider_GregHelgeson Maria Schneider in rehearsal

There’s no use in beating around the bush, so I’m going to cut to the chase…

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Is The MMF Shilling for YouTube (Again)?

Irving Azoff recently posted an open letter to YouTube on a tech industry news site where he laid out the arguments against YouTube–we think very effectively.  He echoed many of our complaints against YouTube, particularly about how YouTube uses the “notice and shakedown” system of DMCA abuse in the form of “whack a mole” for Google’s own profit.

Of course, it’s not really correct to call it “whack a mole” because the mole never gets whacked. Google’s interpretation of the DMCA has effectively created yet another government mandated compulsory license, this time a compulsory license that is royalty free or more accurately  redistributive because it moves value from the artist to Google.  Add that to the vicious attacks on Prince by Google surrogate EFF in the ridiculous decision in the Lenz case and you’ve got a real recipe for disaster.

You would think that at least some of Irving’s fellow managers in the MMF would have rallied around him, but in the case of the Music Managers Forum in the UK, that’s not what’s happening at all.  As we’ve long suspected, the MMF (at least in the UK) is busily shilling for Google.

Here’s an email that MMF president John Webster blasted out to MMF members:

From: Fiona McGugan <fiona@themmf.net>
Reply-To: fiona@themmf.net” <fiona@themmf.net>
Date: Saturday, May 14, 2016 at 4:19 AM

Subject: ICYMI 85: Life at a Major, Start Ups, YouTube
Dear Manager,
 
Very instructive view of working at a major label:
 
http://pigeonsandplanes.com/2016/04/what-i-learned-from-3-years-of-working-for-major-labels/s/615114/
 
A digital veteran questions the role of the music industry in the demise of music based tech start-ups:
 
https://medium.com/@pakman/the-music-industry-buried-more-than-150-startups-now-they-are-left-to-dance-with-the-giants-ecfd0b20243e#.kf5m9m5c0
 
A creator defends You Tube:
 
http://www.recode.net/2016/5/10/11645760/youtube-hank-green-response-irving-azoff-artist-rights
 
And the Featured Artists Coalition has launched a survey about YouTube. Please take three minutes to answer on behalf of your artists;

https://fac1.typeform.com/to/DO8VQq


Best Regards

Jon Webster
President, MMF

About: The MMF UK is the largest professional community of artist management in the world. We exist to provide support, training, representation and opportunity for Managers. We want a transparent music business that respects the needs and aspirations of the artist and their fans. If you wish to unsubscribe, please do so by return email.

This email is quite incredible because it cites to “A creator defends YouTube” but never mentions Irving’s open letter that engenders that defense.  It only mentions the attack on Irving’s letter from a YouTuber who for whatever reason was defending Google against Irving.  If they want to give both sides, then fine, but they didn’t.  They only gave Google’s side.

Not surprising considering the email was from Jon Webster, but you would think that even he would be more careful about being balanced.  This is the Music Manager‘s Forum, right? Not the Google Managers Forum?  Wouldn’t it have made more sense to put a link to Irving’s open letter and then give the response rather than just giving the response?

Mystifying.  We’re sure that both Webster and the YouTuber would deny that they are in Google’s pocket which could be true.  They could be “useful idiots”.

If you read both Irving’s open letter and that response from the YouTuber, you’ll notice the response never brings up a really important point that Irving emphasized–YouTube’s utter failure at accounting transparency for the meager royalties it does pay after you cut through all the “DMCA license” and “fair use” claptrap.

You say you want transparency, and I agree that labels and publishers have not traditionally been the best at that. Two wrongs don’t make a right. You need to be transparent, too. Be transparent about your ability to keep illegal music off your platform.  Be transparent about your ability to keep your own content behind a paid wall.

Be transparent about your revenue and, when paying artists, include all the revenue that is generated by music including advertising on YouTube’s home page. If you do this, I pledge to you that I will pressure the labels and publishers to pass on that transparency and increased revenue to the artists.

We would have thought that Jon Webster would be rallying the troops behind Irving on the transparency issue when the shoe is on the other foot.  But Webster appears to have no interest whatsoever in criticizing Google about anything from his mealy mouthed defense of Google’s DMCA practices to this indirect slam of Irving Azoff standing up for his artists and our industry.

Not only is Webster out to lunch again when it comes to Google, he doesn’t even address Irving’s rather generous offer to actually help Google.  That is a major offer from a major manager who could definitely make a difference.  Google, of course, has ignored this generous offer.  Why?  Probably because it is conditioned on Google being transparent about their own revenues.  If they want to pay artists a share of advertising revenue, then Google should be transparent about how that share is calculated and where the money comes from.

They should also stop playing games with ContentID and doing things like putting speed controls in their YouTube viewer to make it easier to pitch bend around ContentID in the first place.

It makes you wonder whose side the MMF is on–if you haven’t made your mind up already.  The unity in the music industry against Google has gelled in a way that we haven’t ever seen before, and that’s what makes Google really nervous.  That’s why they trot out the YouTube lottery winners (many of whom make the real money from distasteful brand integration fees or product placements, not YouTube royalties), that’s why they try to tell us that music isn’t an important part of YouTube’s revenues (so why bother auditing), and that may very well be why they use the MMF to push their agenda.

As Irving said:

The root of the problem here is YouTube: You have built a business that works really well for you and for Google, but it doesn’t work well for artists. If you think it is just the labels and publishers who are complaining, you are wrong. The music community is traditionally a very fractured one, but on this we are united.

And just in case they haven’t figured this part out yet, we’re complaining, too.  We know where Irving is coming from, but Webster needs to decide which side he is on instead of standing shoulder to shoulder with Google and its surrogates.

Astroturf Fight For The Future is Toast: Anti-Copyright Protest Gets 9 RSVPs On Facebook

 

 

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Fight for Future tried to organize a protest at the Copyright Office roundtable on “notice and takedown”  in San Francisco. Those attending report seeing ZERO protestors. Maybe they missed them somehow.   But then again according to their Facebook event they got 9 RSVPs.  I was one of the RSVPs so make that 8.   So based on the last two years of tax filings by FFTF  that is approximately $225,000 per RSVP.

To be fair 45 folks responded “interested.” But some of those that responded “interested” look like they may have not been able to get their parents permission to attend on a school day.  Those responses were likely generated by FFTF’s skeevy partnership with the teen oriented Channel Awesome on YouTube.  Anyone ever read the history of the “Children’s Crusade?”

BTW “progressive” NY-19 congressional candidate Zephyr Teachout is the director of this program.   Perhaps she should run for Manchurian Candidate?

Can You Have Law License and Act as Director of Group That Organizes Mass Copyright Infringement?

 

To be clear, I don’t know the answer to this question.  But it just doesn’t seem right to me.

Lawyers on Board of Directors for  Fight For The Future Non-Profit:

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What the law says:

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Willful infringement? $2500? At $2.99 on iTunes the I Have A Dream Speech x thousands of copies =?

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Commercial or Private Financial Gain?  They are clearly asking for donations. Does that count? 

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References

http://www.internetfreedomday.net

https://www.fightforthefuture.org/projects/

https://www.fightforthefuture.org/aboutus/

2 Tentative Conclusions About Fight For Future: They read Trichordist and are terrible liars

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Bad bad Sony!  Made you take down the video!

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Oh wait no they didn’t.  And what’s up with that 2016 copyright notice?  Thought you uploaded the video in 2013? (see below)

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Above you state you “published a political commentary about Martin Luther King’s I have a Dream Speech.”  Really where is the political commentary?  This is simply the entire MLK speech with a little voice over on the front that encourages mass copyright infringement.

Let’s ask a very simple “yes or no” question here?  Did you receive permission from the King estate to “share” the entire MLK speech on YouTube?

No?  Didn’t think so.

Did you get to keep your video up even though you are violating the MLK estate rights?

Yes.

So admit it.  You don’t really have anything to complain about here do you?  You are simply demagoguing using the legacy of MLK to stir up false moral outrage about something that never happened?    How is Fight For The Future any better than all the other low-life corporate funded astroturf organizations that peddle fear to keep their shitty little racket going?

Now go crawl back under your rock.

 

 

 

List of Corporations and Foundations Funding Astroturf Fight For The Future “Free Speech Graveyard”

 

According to Federal tax documents these Corporations and “black box” foundations are massively funding the astroturf Fight For The Future.   These are the folks attempting to organize a counter-protest at the Copyright Office roundtables today in San Francisco.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 2.06.11 PMScreen Shot 2016-05-11 at 2.06.45 PM

 

CORPORATE MONEY FUNDING FFTF

Union Square Ventures (Twitter, SoundCloud, Tumblr, and a host of other DMCA abusing services).  Their website says they welcome feedback here info@usv.com.

SV Angel  ( ex Google: Partners Topher Conway & Brian Pokorny;  Ex-Goldman Sachs: Paul LaLonde) Here’s their twitter account: https://twitter.com/svangel 

London Trust Media AKA Private Internet Access  Nearly $200K from every TorrentFreak’s favorite VPN!

NameCheap (also funds the EFF another anti-civil rights organization)

Yelp  (tweet their CEO!)

Consumer Electronics Association AKA Consumer Technology Association (Google funding).

 

BLACK BOX  FOUNDATIONS FUNDING FFTF

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What the f— is the Sixteen Thirty Fund?  According to it’s 501 (c)(3) it “promotes Environmental Quality, Protection and Beautification.”   Is Fight For the Future building nature trails on Cape Cod? Martha’s Vineyard?  I don’t know the IRS laws on non-profits but I’m pretty sure you can’t start a non-profit that claims to do one thing but does another.

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Proteus seems mostly concerned with death penalty issues.  Good for them.   So why $100k for Fight For The Future? Wouldn’t that money be better spent on death penalty issues? Well, if you read in the fine print they brag:

Each initiative is uniquely structured and focused to achieve the goals of its funding partners, and led by experienced program staff. Our highly effective rapid response grantmaking function and ability to integrate support for lobbying activity are two key tools utilized by our collaborative grantmaking initiatives.

Translation:  We also do lobbying work for unspecified “funding partners”

I couldn’t find any way to contact them.  But I see that that one of the board members is this person:

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You’d think the Director,ACLU of California Center for Advocacy & Policy would feel a twinge of conscience over funding ($100K) an organization which  willfully violated the rights of the King estate.    Imagine if it were 1960 and some Dixiecrat decided to encourage thousands of people to use Dr King’s copyrighted works without permission or payment?  What would the ACLU of 1960 say about that?

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Obviously Chicago Instructional Tech Foundation is based in Boulder Colorado.  And naturally it makes sense for them to give $105,000 to Fight For The Future, because of their well known “instructional tech” expertise.   It of course follows that donations to this foundation are not tax deductible.  And naturally they don’t disclose funding.  If you’re a glutton for punishment read their 990.  It’s a maze of related entities paying each other money.  If anyone has any idea what this “non-profit” is doing explain it to me.

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Finally how did the Knight Foundation get mixed up with this Organization?  I want to know how the Knight Foundation which claims to support the arts can supports a groups that favors the ability of corporations like Google to use artists work without permission or compensation? Heads should roll.

 

 

Can Songwriters Demand Answers from CPAs signing statutory royalty certifications?

This is important. Songwriters can only get paid fairly if the CPAs are diligently performing their work.

MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

As we’ve discussed several times on MTP, songwriters and publishers who are compelled to accept a compulsory license under Section 115 have no way to know whether any of their statements are correct because the government denies songwriters and publishers the right to audit any royalty statement under the compulsory license.

Instead, songwriters are put in the same position they would be in if the IRS audited their tax return and refused to let them have their own representative defend them.  The government mandates moral hazard:  The only accountant who verifies the legitimacy of the royalty statement is the digital service’s own accountant.  (See the applicable section of the Federal government’s Code of Federal Regulations 37 CFR Section 201.19.)

This Kafka-esque rule may have a solution.  It’s hard to believe that the government somehow has it in for songwriters and wants to create distrust.  While the government refused to…

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Target Facebook: Is the Social Network Joining the “DMCA License” Group — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

Americans are freedom loving people and nothing says freedom like getting away with it. From Long, Long Time by Guy Forsyth Facebook is unlicensed. Let’s be clear about that. We all know that Facebook profits from music, and some of us know that Facebook not only profits in a general sense from having music on […]

via Target Facebook: Is the Social Network Joining the “DMCA License” Group — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

Uncivil Rights: Astroturf Organization Protesting Copyright Hearings Organized Mass Copyright Infringement Campaign Against MLK Estate

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Fight For The Future a Massachusetts non-profit committed willful copyright infringement when they uploaded a copy of the “I Have a Dream Speech” and then encouraged thousands of followers to share it on for-profit social media platforms like Twitter and YouTube. Violating the rights of the King family estate while simultaneously generating page views for your Silicon Valley patrons is not “civil disobedience,” It’s positively Orwellian!

Any creators attending the Copyright Office roundtables on the “notice and takedown” provisions of the DMCA may see or hear from some “takedown abuse” protestors at this forum today in San Francisco.   These are not grassroots protestors but most likely operatives from an astroturf group called Fight For the Future.  This group has received massive funding from tech companies; venture firms (like Union Square Ventures); and a couple of mysterious “black box” foundations.

You probably have never heard of Fight For The Future, but back in 2012 they organized an “Internet Freedom Day.”   The key component of their campaign for “Internet freedom” was built around violating the rights of the MLK family.  Yes, these arrogant (and tone deaf) New Englanders organized a mass copyright infringement campaign against the MLK estate by posting  a copy of the “I have a dream” speech online and encouraging their thousands of followers to repost it on for multi-billion dollar for-profit platforms like Twitter and YouTube.

Fight For The Future blatantly misled the public into thinking the speech was not available or somehow being kept from the public by “bad copyright laws.” This was an absolute fiction, the speech was and continues to be available in many formats including a $2.99 iTunes download. (It was recently re-broadcast on the 50th anniversary by networks like CNN and MSNBC.)

So it’s tempting to choose the wrong moral outrage here:  A privileged and entitled group of Bostonians have an online temper tantrum because they want to watch the speech now and they don’t want to pay for it!

But that’s not the real moral outrage.

The real moral outrage is that this was a tech and venture capital funded anti-civil rights protest pretending to be a kind of civil disobedience.  This was a  protest designed to deprive the King estate of constitutionally protected intellectual property rights and allow multi-billion dollar social media, online video, tech and ad-tech companies to generate revenues from the I Have a Dream speech without compensating the King estate.

Disgusting isn’t it?

So who is funding this group?

According to Federal tax documents these Corporations and “black box” foundations are massively funding this organization.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 2.06.11 PMScreen Shot 2016-05-11 at 2.06.45 PM

 

CORPORATE MONEY FUNDING FFTF

Union Square Ventures (Twitter, SoundCloud, Tumblr, and a host of other DMCA abusing services).  Their website says they welcome feedback here info@usv.com.

SV Angel  ( ex Google: Partners Topher Conway & Brian Pokorny;  Ex-Goldman Sachs: Paul LaLonde) Here’s their twitter account: https://twitter.com/svangel 

London Trust Media AKA Private Internet Access  Nearly $200K from every TorrentFreak’s favorite VPN!

NameCheap (also funds the EFF another anti-civil rights organization)

Yelp  (tweet their CEO!)

Consumer Electronics Association AKA Consumer Technology Association (Google funding).

 

BLACK BOX  FOUNDATIONS FUNDING FFTF

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 6.22.42 PM

What the f— is the Sixteen Thirty Fund?  According to it’s 501 (c)(3) it “promotes Environmental Quality, Protection and Beautification.”   Is Fight For the Future building nature trails on Cape Cod? Martha’s Vineyard?

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 6.26.15 PM

Proteus seems mostly concerned with death penalty issues.  Good for them.   So why $100k for Fight For The Future? Wouldn’t that money be better spent on death penalty issues? Well, if you read in the fine print they brag:

Each initiative is uniquely structured and focused to achieve the goals of its funding partners, and led by experienced program staff. Our highly effective rapid response grantmaking function and ability to integrate support for lobbying activity are two key tools utilized by our collaborative grantmaking initiatives.

Translation:  We also do lobbying work for unspecified “funding partners”

I couldn’t find any way to contact them.  But I see that that one of the board members is this person:

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 12.43.22 PM

You’d think the Director,ACLU of California Center for Advocacy & Policy would feel a twinge of conscience over funding ($100K) an organization that willfully violated the rights of the King estate.  Imagine if it were 1960 and some Dixiecrat decided to encourage thousands of people to use Dr King’s copyrighted works without permission or payment?  What would the ACLU of 1960 say about that?

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 12.29.44 AM

Obviously Chicago Instructional Tech Foundation is based in Boulder Colorado.  And naturally it makes sense for them to give $105,000 to Fight For The Future, because of their well known “instructional tech” expertise.   It of course follows that donations to this foundation are not tax deductible.  And naturally they don’t disclose funding.  If you’re a glutton for punishment read their 990.  It’s a maze of related entities paying each other money.  If anyone has any idea what this “non-profit” is doing explain it to me.