Silicon Valley Is Not a Force for Good | The Atlantic

We don’t need to throw the baby out with the bath water, what we need is fair and ethical businesses.

It’s been a long journey from Google to Snapchat—or to apps that enable drivers to auction off the public street-parking spot they’re about to leave in San Francisco. With a few exceptions, the Valley’s innovations have become smaller, and smaller-minded. Many turn on concepts (network effects, regulatory arbitrage, price discrimination) that economists would say are double-edged, if not pernicious. And while the Web was touted as a great democratizing force, recent tech innovations have created lots of profits at the top of the ladder and lots of job losses lower down. The tech sector itself has proved disappointing as a jobs engine and at times hostile to women.

READ THE FULL POST AT THE ATLANTIC:
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/07/silicon-valley-shrinking-vision/395309/

The Crowdsourcing Scam | The Baffler

It’s all the same Silicon Valley scam. Whether you are a musician or a cab driver, this about labor, and you could be next…

Silicon Valley calls this arrangement “crowdsourcing,” a label that’s been extended to include contests, online volunteerism, fundraising, and more. Crowdsourced work is supposed to be a new, more casual, and more liberating form of work, but it is anything but. When companies use the word “crowdsourcing”—a coinage that suggests voluntary democratic participation—they are performing a neat ideological inversion.

The kind of tentative employment that we might have scoffed at a decade or two ago, in which individuals provide intellectual labor to a corporation for free or for sub-market wages, has been gussied up with the trappings of technological sophistication, populist appeal, and, in rare cases, the possibility of viral fame.

But in reality, this labor regime is just another variation on the age-old practice of exploiting ordinary workers and restructuring industrial relations to benefit large corporations and owners of the platforms serving them. The lies and rhetorical obfuscations of crowdsourcing have helped tech companies devalue work, and a long-term, reasonably secure, decently paying job has increasingly become a MacGuffin—something we ardently chase after but will likely never capture, since it’s there only to distract us from the main action of the script.

READ THE FULL POST AT THE BAFFLER:
http://thebaffler.com/salvos/crowdsourcing-scam

Uber and the Lawlessness of ‘Sharing Economy’ Corporates | The Guardian

It’s not only about musicians and creators, we are just the first to be effected.  The same Silicon Valley scam is going to exploit more and more people. Read on…

“Nullification is a wilful flouting of regulation, based on some nebulous idea of a higher good only scofflaws can deliver. It can be an invitation to escalate a conflict, of course, as Arkansas governor Orville Faubus did in 1957 when he refused to desegregate public schools and president Eisenhower sent federal troops to enforce the law. But when companies such as Uber, Airbnb, and Google engage in a nullification effort, it’s a libertarian-inspired attempt to establish their services as popular well before regulators can get around to confronting them. Then, when officials push back, they can appeal to their consumer-following to push regulators to surrender.”

READ THE FULL STORY AT THE GUARDIAN:
http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jul/28/uber-lawlessness-sharing-economy-corporates-airbnb-google

The “Bad Romance” of Musicians and Silicon Valley : Happy Valentines Day

You’ve heard this story before, or actually – you’ve seen the movie. This is like a John Hughes film the 80s. You know the ones about High School Romance. The plot lines from these movies remind us a lot of the bad romance between Silicon Valley and Musicians over the last decade or so.

You’ve heard this one before…Before the internet musicians had a largely dysfunctional but not entirely bad relationship with record labels, like the self obsessed jock. Labels would wine and dine artists, buy them gifts, lure them back to the fancy label HQ and fawn all over them. This love affair would usually continue through the making of the record and up and until the album was released. After that, the honeymoon period would be over and disagreements over money and creative issues would start to surface. Eventually, artists would become increasingly dissatisfied with their partner and the dirty laundry would become public. Labels would be accused of taking the artist for granted, not giving them enough attention and be unresponsive to their needs.

Then one day, the Silicon Valley drives up the school in a shiny new Ferrari convertible, music blasting, well dressed and charming. Silicon Valley says all the right things to artists, “labels are bad news, they don’t appreciate you.” Artists are wooed by the possibilities of their wind blowing in the air in the passenger seat of the Ferrari on their way to a better future. Silicon Valley tells the artists that not only do they not need the labels, but Silicon Valley will empower the artist to be truly independent. The artist, enamored with this world of possibility and opportunity joins hand in hand with Silicon Valley. And all seems well, for a while…

Over time the artist seems to notice that things are not really getting better. Silicon Valley becomes less available to the artist and less responsive than the label. Making maters worse, Silicon Valley insists the artists path to freedom is self reliance, and Silicon Valley refuses to support the artist unless the artist is willing to do more work from themselves.

The artist starts to reflect on the relationship with the label. The label paid for dinners, bought them gifts, and offered support. Silicon Valley made a lot of promises but never actually delivered. Silicon Valley had become more demanding, and refuses to communicate with the artist in any way other than barking orders and suggesting that the artist use their primary asset to make money on their own, unless they want to give up their new found freedom.

As the plot develops we see that Silicon Valley’s wealth has been earned by going from town to town and helping artists join the worlds oldest profession for “personal empowerment.” Of course, Silicon Valley connects the artists to customers and controls the flow of revenue to the artist. If the artist protests, Silicon Valley gets very angry and berates and bullies the artists with insults and threats of poverty.

The artist reflects on what Silicon Valley “freedom” really is and decides to speak up and speak out to help other artists break free of the exploitation they have experienced. As the Prom approaches the label and the artist make fleeting eye contact passing in the hallway. In the end the artist, having had the experience of being with both the label and Silicon Valley arrives at the prom empowered, with other artists, and hopeful for a better future.

Beastie Boys Respond to GoldieBlox in Fight Over ‘Girls’ | The New York Times

Keep your eyes on this story kids. This is an all out assault on artist and creators rights from Silicon Valley interests.

The Beast Boys Respond:

Like many of the millions of people who have seen your toy commercial “GoldieBlox, Rube Goldberg & the Beastie Boys,” we were very impressed by the creativity and the message behind your ad.

We strongly support empowering young girls, breaking down gender stereotypes and igniting a passion for technology and engineering.

As creative as it is, make no mistake, your video is an advertisement that is designed to sell a product, and long ago, we made a conscious decision not to permit our music and/or name to be used in product ads.

When we tried to simply ask how and why our song “Girls” had been used in your ad without our permission, YOU sued US.

READ THE FULL STORY AT AD AGE:
http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/25/the-beastie-boys-fight-online-video-parody-of-girls/?_r=2

T Bone Burnett vs. Silicon Valley: ‘We Should Go Up There With Pitchforks and Torches’ | THR

The entire infrastructure that supported the world of music for a century has been dismantled, and in its place we’ve got these little things, these little handheld devices. The worldwide web was supposed to give everybody access and democratize everything. It was supposed to create a level field and increase the middle class and everybody had more access and more information. But now anybody can say anything and nobody cares. This is the problem of ubiquitous data.

And what’s happened in reality is that the power’s been consolidated in very, very few companies, and the middle class of musicians really has just been wiped out. I mean, the Internet has been an honest-to-God con.

READ THE FULL STORY AT THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER:
http://m.hollywoodreporter.com/earshot/t-bone-burnett-silicon-valley-652114

The Tech Industry is a “Special Interest” too!

Vox Indie’s Ellen Seidler points out that the Tech Industry is a special interest too in response to Derek Khanna’s assertion that “Hollywood” or rather the musicians, artists, filmmakers, photographers and other creators are a “special interest” who should not have a voice in how the fruits of their own labor are monetized and exploited, and by whom.

Let us not forget that these are rights not just granted by the United States Constitution but also in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948.

Derek Khanna argues that the special interest that is the elite Silicon Valley internet and tech businesses who profit from exploiting artists should be making the rules. Fancy that, self serving, self interests for profit hungry corporations the size of a nation states wanting to make their own rules over the proceeds from individual labor.

Mr. Khanna gives readers a list of examples that, to him, demonstrate why copyright law is bad for creators and industry innovators alike. Why’s that a problem? Well, it’s a problem because, as is often the case with the copy-left, he doesn’t see fit to talk to tell the full story as to how crucial copyright protection is for those whose livelihoods depend on content creation. Khanna lists Hank Shocklee of Public Enemy, as an example of an artist constrained by current copyright law, but fails to mention that while Shocklee is a musician, he’s known for work often derived from sampling the work of others. His situation is not exactly representative of all artists, musical or otherwise, who have a stake in this debate.

Why not talk to some 45% of professional musicians who are no longer working in large part because our current copyright law is flouted by today’s digital pirate profiteers? Why not make mention of the independent filmmakers whose innovations are routinely stolen and monetized by bootleggers and online thieves?

READ THE FULL POST HERE AT VOX INDIE:
http://voxindie.org/Derek-Khanna-one-sided-copyright-reform

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Derek Khanna is Wrong: Copyleft Mystery Man’s Misleading Memo Creates its Own Myths…

Time For Silicon Valley To Grow Up And Take Responsibility For Their Online Advertising Business Model.

Time For Silicon Valley To Grow Up And Take Responsibility For Their Online Advertising Business Model.

Time For Silicon Valley To Grow Up And Take Responsibility For Their Online Advertising Business Model.

Whitelist vs Blacklist Advertising.

Last week much of the world was horrified to learn that Facebook was serving ads from major brands on pages devoted to what the Huffington post described as:

horrific rape-oriented Facebook pages… (including) graphic images of gore and horror, beaten children, naked children, women bound and gagged, or thrown down stairs.

The public outcry against the brands and Facebook was overwhelming. Facebook and many brands were forced to apologize and revise policies (let’s see how long this lasts!).  Dove may have suffered long term damage to their brand.

WAM (Women Action Media), feminist Soraya Chemaly and Everyday Sexism should be commended for bringing this issue to light and achieving real change (and the stunning coordination of their campaign should be a lesson to artists advocates).

What we find interesting here at The Trichordist  is that many of our brands were the usual ad-supported piracy suspects.  In particular  Nationwide and American Express.  We have repeatedly called out these companies for advertising on cyberlocker sites that exploit artists and others.  And as we have noted over and over again this is not just about music.  Generally these sites  include links to bestiality, rape, illegal pornography videos as well as music (Urban Outfitters and Lexus advertising against beastiality links.)  We’ve both publicly and privately reached out to many of these advertisers to no avail. www.adland.tv  actually ran an article entitled “American Express Thinks You Might Like Piracy and Child Pornography” after reviewing my research.

Just as Facebook was long aware of these horrific pages, American Express and many other companies have long known their advertising was ending up on these pages. This latest brouhaha shows (as we have noted) they have yet to take effective action.

And we know why.  Total obfuscation by the online advertising ecosystem: in house ad buyer, Madison Avenue advertising agency, online ad network, ad exchanges and possibly complicity by the brands themselves.

We have seen and documented the following responses from the online advertising ecosystem (In fact I just got a refresher course May 28th at Westminster College in London as I participated in a panel discussion  “Follow The Money: Can The Business Of Ad-Funded Piracy Be Throttled?):

Lame Excuse #1.   We can’t control where these ads end up.

Response:  Then why on earth would anyone pay for your product?  Are you  admitting that your product is faulty? Cause I can think of a couple of lucrative class action lawsuits.   We think you can control where the ads end up. You just want the money.

Lame Excuse #2:  We are not the internet’s policeman (most recently by Google at Westminster College London).

Response: This is a “straw man” argument.  No one is asking YOU to be the web’s policeman. We are simply asking you to run your  company ethically and responsibly. Please stop obfuscating.  Sure the police arrest the thieves, but just like pawnshops, Google and the rest of the online advertising ecosystem have a ethical, moral and LEGAL obligation to make sure they are not selling stolen pageviews.  If a pawnshop used this excuse to sell stolen goods they would be shut down and the owners would go to jail.

Lame Excuse #3:  We don’t know who the bad guys are.

Response:   Really? Then who get’s the money for the CPMs  and/or Clicks?  Are you just leaving suitcases of cash in lockers at greyhound stations?  And if you are doesn’t that seem a tad suspicious? Who pays the taxes on these transactions?   If you don’t know you are probably in violation of many tax laws in many countries. And that’s how they put Al Capone in jail. Don’t mess with the tax man.

Lame Excuse #4:  Apple and Coca Cola don’t end up on these sites because they use “White Lists”.   This was the response from Alexandra Scott the UK Public Policy Executive for Internet Advertising Bureau.  This as always was delivered with an undertone of dismissiveness. As if Apple and Coca Cola just “don’t get it!” and should be advertising on shitty file infringing sites next to trojan downloads and Russian bride ads.

Response: Exactly. Whitelists.  They actually vet the websites on which they are advertising. They check to see if these sites are legitimate sites.  Using the pawn shop analogy.  They actually check to see if the goods-in this case pageviews- are stolen.

And this brings us to the fundamental problem with the internet advertising ecosystem.  It’s not the obligation of artists, feminists, anti-human trafficking activists and animal rights groups to tell you where you should not be advertising. It’s your job. Grow up. Quit trying to force us to do your job for you.

Blacklist systems too often put the burden on the victims or advocates for the victims while enabling brand advertising and Madison Ave/Silicon Valley profits at the expenses of others.

Whitelist systems put the burden on those reaping the benefits:  Brands, Madison Ave. Silicon Valley and Publishers.   This is the ethical model.

Note:  whitelists and blacklists are not created by the government.  These lists are designed for a narrow purpose–brands should be able to spend their advertising dollars in a predictable way that results in the brand being able to control the brand’s own speech.  These lists are not designed to block anyone’s speech.

There’s another way to look at this from the brand’s point of view, which may be better than developing “lists” that are either/or lists that put a site in or out or operation.  It is entirely consistent with the brand’s ability to control the integrity of their products and their right to not be defrauded out of advertising money for the brand to put together lists of sites that they want to avoid, or “undesirable” sites as Google’s Theo Bertand said on our panel in London.

Time for the internet advertising ecosystem and their Silicon Valley enablers to learn to act ethically and responsibly.  Companies like Starbucks and Costco have figured it out.  Companies like Walmart that came under criticism for various unethical practices mostly addressed these problems.  What is Silicon Valley’s response?  “Censorship” and “You silly people don’t understand the internet.”

I call bullshit on this argument.  And we “silly people” understand you better than you think.

Silicon Valley is the new wall street.  Sure they have green buildings and make the occasional charitable donations.   But mob bosses were notorious for making donations to the local orphanages and policemen benevolence societies.

Silicon valley doesn’t give a damn how it makes money. It will do anything to make money.  No matter what the moral implications.   It has a fake censorship argument that it uses to mask it’s fundamental amorality and greed.   Entire PR campaigns (including fake paid bloggers and fake public interests groups) are devoted to promoting a techno Nihilism: If you can do it on the internet-no matter how horrific that act may be-stopping someone from doing it is “censorship” and  infringes someone’s “freedom”.

This is the kind of argument a 13 year old wouldn’t even make.  And it’s amazing that the mainstream press never calls them out on this.  Again why is it left to a 50 year old  moderately successful indie rocker to call them out on this bullshit?

Look it’s very simple.

Grown up style freedom:

“My right to swing my fist ends at the tip of the other man’s nose.”

Silicon Valley petulant 13 year old style freedom:

“My right to swing my fist is absolute.  And you’re not the boss of me!”

Silicon Vallley and the rest of the online advertising ecosystem needs to grow up.

YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY READING:

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

ADWEEK : “Ad Industry Takes Major Step to Fight Online Piracy”… Again…

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

Look who’s Pirating now! University Of Georgia Music Business Program’s Preliminary Study Of Advertising On Copyright Infringing Sites.

BitTorrent, “Not Designed For Piracy”… Really? Seriously? 99% Infringing…

Bit Torrent creator Bram Cohen is either one of the most misinformed people on earth, or one of the most intellectually dishonest… and here’s why… Remember this one?

BitTorrent: Bram Cohen Says ‘I commit digital piracy’?

I build systems to disseminate information, commit digital piracy, synthesize drugs, maintain untrusted contacts, purchase anonymously, and secure machines and homes. I release my code and writings freely, and publish all of my ideas early to make them unpatentable.

Uhmmmm…. So why this is surprising?

Only 0.3% of files on BitTorrent confirmed to be legal | Ars Technica

This report echoes similar results out of Princeton that were published earlier this year. Though the top categories were slightly different—Princeton found that movies and TV were the most popular, while music fell behind games/software, pornography, and unclassifiable files—that study found that all of the movie, TV, and music content being shared was indeed infringing.

Overall, Princeton said that 99 percent of the content on BitTorrent was illegal.

Oh and that Princeton Study…

BitTorrent census: about 99% of files copyright infringing | Ars Technica

It has never been a secret that the majority of files being shared over BitTorrent are movies and music that are likely being shared illegally.

But wait there’s more…

Census of Files Available via BitTorrent

Overall, we classified ten of the 1021 files, or approximately 1%, as likely non-infringing, This result should be interpreted with caution, as we may have missed some non-infringing files, and our sample is of files available, not files actually downloaded.

Still, the result suggests strongly that copyright infringement is widespread among BitTorrent users.

Fast forward to 2012…

Keen On… Bram Cohen: Has BitTorrent Killed The Music Industry?

His denial was categorical. Not only did Bram deny any role in shrinking the sale of recorded music, but he actually disputed that the music industry is in decline, claiming “data” showed it to be in a quite healthy state.

Well Bram, you might want to look at this, and this

and… as another #SFMusicTech begins BitTorrent is one of the lead sponsors… To be fair, SFMusicTech get’s to run it’s event and do business with whom it chooses. Unfortunately musicians are not given the same choice of having their work “torrented.” So how about a little honesty?

This conversation is really just about consent and compensation. Two very simple fundamental principles that pretty much everyone can agree are the foundations of not just ethical business practices, but also the basis for a fair and just society.

SFmusicTechBitTorrent

Music Tech Policy explores the question, “Can 5 Billion Ads Served a Month Be Wrong”:
MTP : BitTorrent Profits from Piracy By Serving Ads To UTorrent Client

Harvey Says…

“You take someone else’s content for free. Deliver it. Don’t pay them anything. And build a $500 billion Silicon Valley company and be very, very, rich,” Weinstein said. “And then have cool slogans like ‘We just want to help the world.’ ” – Harvey Weinstein

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE:
http://www.bizjournals.com/losangeles/news/2013/05/10/weinstein-slams-silicon-valley-on.html