T Bone Burnett’s plea: The piper must be paid| LA Times

Fans can still hear the work of America’s musical pioneers, thanks to online and mobile services. Through downloads and streams and services such as Pandora and Sirius XM Radio, these giants’ recordings continue to captivate and influence young musicians, singers, songwriters and producers.

Yet some of these same companies have made the decision to devalue the music of these artists for their own profit by not paying for it. In doing this, they devalue the substance of their own medium. For the last 20 years we’ve witnessed an assault on the arts by the technology community — especially when it comes to music.

This devaluation is troubling because music is not only the creation of people who make this art for us; it is how they earn a living. Music is how they feed their kids and provide for their futures.


Music Thievery Laid Bare : When Pirates Rip Off Working Class Artists : Guest Post by David Cloyd

The naked truth of how music piracy hurts working class artists

Let’s face it. “Piracy” is a loaded word. As Captain Phillips played in theatres last fall, the word “pirate” found itself in a very different context than it did right after any of the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies. Real-life pirates aren’t funny, quirky, eccentric characters based on Keith Richards. They’re terrifying criminals with a desperate bottom line. And while a lot of people may enjoy dressing up as Captain Jack Sparrow for Halloween, nobody wants to be mistaken for an actual Somali pirate.

So maybe it’s time we all took a second look at “music piracy.”

Defined typically as an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea, “piracy” was initially used as slang for copyright infringement because the “pirates” in question were trying to profit from the crime by reselling the product. As the recording industry evolved beyond vinyl, it became much easier for music to be copied for personal enjoyment, and as federal legislation dictated, a mandatory fee was tacked on to the price of blank audio to help account for the loss. What’s more, copying music—or anything else—came at a substantial loss of quality.

But with the birth of digital music, the Internet, peer-to-peer networks, and now the behemoth of social media, there is no such safety net. Digital copies don’t require a physical copy and are indistinguishable from the originals. Coupled with the fact that most people today listen to music on computers instead of stereo systems, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that even major radio stations play low-quality mp3s without anyone noticing.

When the “pirate” station Radio Caroline hit the airwaves in the UK in 1964, it did so with the rebellious attitude of rock n’ roll. They broadcast from a Danish ship just outside English territorial waters, but the metaphor stops there. Their self-perceived purpose was much closer to Robin Hood’s—to steal from the rich (circumvent the monopolies of popular broadcasting) and give to the poor (supply the people with great music from great artists they wouldn’t have heard otherwise). They were the rebel alliance, a small band of freedom fighters mounting a hopeless attack against a domineering and impenetrable station.

In a similar fashion, today’s exuberant supporters of “music piracy” are not advocating profiteering at the expense of artists and musicians. Today’s “pirates” see themselves as modern-day Robin Hoods, fighting against corporate greed and the tyranny of the big bad music industry. They are fighting for a perceived right to access music and share it with their friends in the same way they share every other aspect of their daily lives. Their lives aren’t analog anymore—they’re digital, and for them, digital means free.

Sadly, today’s pirates may act the irreverent hero and plead the helpless victim, but in fact, they play only the hapless villain. In their minds they’re valiantly battling the same big bad corporate music industry, and though they’ve wounded their sworn enemy in a way pirate radio could have only dreamed of, the collateral damage for artists is just as bad.

To make matters worse, while these same so-called pirates are each saving the price of a few coffees at Starbucks each month, they’re unintentionally aiding and abetting a global army of parasitic digital King Johns who are collectively making billions each year by stealing from the rich and the poor—opportunistic vultures circling the battlefield, feeding on the dreams of digital freedom, and biting every single hand that feeds them.

Pirate radio wanted to make a point. These new King Johns—the true pirates of today’s music world— only want to make a profit.

In my life as a musician, I have encountered these true pirates myself. During my time with ECR Music Group over the past six years, I have worked together with the other artists on the label doing something that most musicians today have to do: everything. By and large we do all of our own marketing and promotion in house, and so every day we all collectively roll up our sleeves and just get it done. One thing that I used to do was deliver cease and desist messages to bit torrent sites to take down our music, something that our system of Google alerts still brings to our attention daily. But after a bit torrent site ate my hard drive a few years ago, we reevaluated the importance of this effort and decided that the cost far outweighed the altruism, and it didn’t stop the pirates from making a single cent of their advertising profits.

So “piracy” might not be the best word to describe what’s going on with music anymore—and perhaps it never was. Maybe it’s time for a new generation of music pirates to reclaim the word and take it back to its rock n’ roll roots . . . People of all ages who rebel against the powers that be, rather than mimic them and hide behind a thin veil of approval . . . Real-life Robin Hoods that can distinguish challenging unjust authority from simple petty thievery…

People who understand that free always has a price, and freedom always has a cost.

As artists, it is our responsibility to lead the way, and as a part of a record label where the artists run the asylum, I live that pledge every day.

Do I respect music? Arrrrrrrrrr, I do, matey.





Eminem Makes Public Service Announcement Against Music Piracy | AHH

Eminem sent out a public service announcement to address online piracy in the wake of his latest album The Marshall Mathers LP 2.

The album leaked online earlier this week and the Shady Records machine quickly went to work to suppress the leak. Eminem and his management even went as far as making Rap Genius remove the lyrics to the songs.


Quincy Jones talks music, legacy and piracy…

Quincy Jones is a living legend. We find it interesting that despite the common insights of some of the most respected artists, songwriters, performers and producers there are still those who claim musicians are better off in the post-internet world, and that piracy has not negatively effected them. Quincy disagrees, and rightfully so.

Q: How have you adapted over the years to the way the industry has changed?

A: The industry doesn’t change your production – you still do what you believe in. What’s sad is that there is 98 percent music piracy everywhere on the planet. It’s just terrible.

What if these kids (who download music illegally) worked for me for two months and then I said, “I’m not going to pay you.” That’s just not right.


Jerry Cantrell (Alice In Chains) Talks Music Piracy: You hardly have any control over your own music.

Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains talks about another important issue about music piracy that effects both the band and it’s fans, the inability to safely share new material.

But with the advent of the Internet and sharing and shit going everywhere, you can’t do that anymore. We really haven’t been playing anything off the new record that’s not out yet.

We used to play new stuff all of the time. When we were touring ‘Facelift,’ we probably played half of ‘Dirt’ on the end of that tour. It’s a cool thing to be able to do, but you hardly have any control over your own music.

We’d rather wait until you get the best quality version of what we created before you start getting shitty iPhone versions from crappy gigs.



Google, Advertising, Money and Piracy. A History of Wrongdoing Exposed.

Readers of this blog will know that we’ve been gaining attention and awareness on brand sponsored piracy. We’ve noted how 50 Major Brands are Supporting Music Piracy. When that information is paired with The LA Times and The New York Times reports from the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab’s Transparency Report on Advertising Networks financing piracy we see a very clear picture emerging.

It is very clear that online piracy is a mass scale, for profit, enterprise level commercial business. There is a lot of money changing hands. Google is said to make approximately $30 Billion a year, with 97% of the money coming from advertising revenue. All of Google’s other products combined only account for less than 3% of it’s annual earnings.

So we can see that there are a lot of people making a lot money from the unauthorized, illegal infringement of artists and creators work. This is no longer about individual “sharing.” This is about businesses exploiting artists for profit, and not paying the artists a penny. We do not know of one cent being paid to artists from sites like The Pirate Bay, 4Shared and Filestube just to name a few of the major offenders.

So where does Google fit into this? Why do so many artists rights advocates focus so intently on Google? Simply because public documents have exposed Google as having knowledge of wrong doing and doing nothing about it – until they got busted, red handed, twice.

In 2011 Google paid $500,000,000 (that’s half a billion dollars) in a non-prosecution settlement agreement to avoid criminal prosecution. Yes, Google paid half a billion dollars to avoid criminal prosecution and the documents in the case revealed that knowledge of wrongdoing went all the way to the top, to none other than Larry Page himself. The story caught the attention of many mainstream media outlets including CNN.

The Wall Street Journal Reported:

“Larry Page knew what was going on,” Peter Neronha, the Rhode Island U.S. Attorney who led the probe, said in an interview. “We know it from the investigation. We simply know it from the documents we reviewed, witnesses that we interviewed, that Larry Page knew what was going on” . . .

Harvard Law Associate Professor Ben Edelman continues;

These admissions and the associated documents confirm what I had long suspected: Not only does Google often ignore its stated “policies”, but in fact Google staff affirmatively assist supposed “rule-breakers” when Google finds it profitable to do so…

In June I observed that Google’s bad ads span myriad categories beyond pharmaceuticals — charging for services that are actually free, promising free service when there’s actually a charge, promoting copyright infringement, promoting spyware/adware, bogus mortgage modification offers, work-at-home scams, investment rip-offs, identify theft, and more.

Note that Edelman reports the problem is much larger than just the illegal advertising of drugs.  It appears to even extend into such black markets as human trafficking. This issue was even met with a Change.Org petition as well as being reported on here and here.

So if Google has been caught lying about their knowledge of wrong doing in the past, and violating their actual practices versus policies, than what else do they know and what else are they doing? How many other of their own policies do they not follow, or worse, aid others in circumventing them? All reasonable questions to ask given the publicly available information.

The profiting from illegal behavior was also reported by Ars Technica ,

When the sting began in 2009, Google had in place policies designed to block illicit pharmaceutical advertising. Whitaker’s orders were initially rejected under those policies. But Whitaker says Google sales reps helped him tweak his sites to skirt the rules.

“It was very obvious to Google that my website was not a licensed pharmacy,” Whitaker told the Journal. “Understanding this, Google provided me with a very generous credit line and allowed me to set my target advertising directly to American consumers.”

All of this brings us back to where we are now regarding Google’s non-denial regarding financing commercial scale infringement sites. There is a history of this behavior with Google that dates back further. In May of 2011 The Copyright Alliance noted the following regarding the 2007 case of EasyDownloadCenter.com and TheDownloadPlace.com.

Indeed there is even publicly documented history of Google knowingly and purposefully working with pirate websites to increase traffic to such websites and profits to Google from the Sponsored Links/Adwords programs. In conjunction with the settlement of a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by the major Hollywood studios against Luke Sample, Brandon Drury and their companies for operation of subscription based websites devoted to helping consumers find and download pirated copyrighted works, Sample’s Affidavit was filed by one of the defendants testifying to the fact that Google worked directly with the illegal website to drive traffic to it and increase Google’s revenues from its participation in the sponsored links program.

This is the part below really gives us pause, reported not just by The Copyright Alliance, but also many tech publications and outlets such as DailyTech.

In fact, Google’s ad teams even made suggestions designed to optimize conversion rates by using keywords targeted to pirated content – such as suggesting downloading films still in theatrical release, that obviously were not available yet in any authorized format for home viewing.

According to PCWorld this added up to some decent money…

EasyDownloadCenter.com and TheDownloadPlace.com generated US$1.1 million in revenue between 2003 and 2005, and Google received $809,000 for advertising, the Journal reported.

So the question today is what does Google actually know about how it’s advertising practices are financing the destruction of the creative community by supporting these unauthorized, illegally operating, commercial infringers? How much has really changed?

Keep in mind that although Google pays it’s “partners” a revenue share on YouTube for claimed content, the company makes no such offer to artists and creators on the advertising that it still appears to be serving to pirate sites. This is further demonstrated by the lack of ability for the company to make a definitive statement that Google does not serve any ads, to any pirate sites (or at least the 43,000 listed in the companies own transparency report).

Also central to this conversation is that the way consumers access the unauthorized, illegal and infringing sites which usually starts with a Google search itself. In fact according to Google’s own public transparency report there are over 13 million infringing links being removed from Google’s search engine monthly by rights holders. Those 13 million infringing links represent over 43,000 infringing sites.

Wouldn’t the rational and logical solution be to create a joint review board the represents the interests of all stakeholders that can negotiate penalties or the removal of bad actors?