This will drive the Gerd Leonhard contingent nuts, do doubt. Bless Michael Bloomberg for leading the effort to counter the dehumanizing attacks on the creators. Tom Papa does a great job.
Oh–by the way, if you search Google for “tom papa torrents“? 52,000 results, including The Pirate Bay on the first page of search results. You remember the Pirate Bay–that’s the domain that Google blocked by mistake last year.
Maybe Mayor Bloomberg can get Google to block it not by mistake next time.
According to Politico, the former worldwide head of lobbying for Google, former Berkman Center poobah and now former White House technology advisor Andrew McLaughlin is moving on. Yes, days before Congressman Daryl Issa takes over the chair of the House Government Oversight Committee but still during the statute of limitations, coffee critic McLaughlin is leaving the White House.
Recall that McLaughlin got sideways with Issa over emails sent from his personal Gmail account to lobbyists, Free Press people and others that sure looked like the improper conduct of government business to a number of people. Also recall that the only reason anyone knew about it was that those following McLaughlin on Google Buzz was inadvertently disclosed publicly and some fast acting person grabbed a screenshot of it that set off the whole brouhaha and subsequent FOIA request.
The Politico story says, “McLaughlin drew heat earlier this year when it was discovered [through the FOIA request] that he used his personal Gmail account to consult with [approximately two dozen] former colleagues at Google [including Google lobbyists] — a breach of the ethics pledge initiated by President Barack Obama that prohibits White House employees from directly engaging their former employers and clients for at least two years. McLaughlin was reprimanded for the incident, but the White House has maintained that the limited number of e-mails [if you think that the volume of disclosure in two separate FOIA requests is "limited"] had no influence on any federal policy decisions. Given Google’s interest in several policy issues — net neutrality, in particular — McLaughlin’s communication with the Internet giant [and secret meetings in coffee shops near the White House] raised some concerns that Google had extra influence over the administration as it handled the hot-button issue.”
Politico doesn’t mention that McLaughlin’s email also shows meetings arranged at coffee shops near the White House (presumably to avoid showing up in the White House visitors logs available under a Creative Commons license at whitehouse.gov). You know, that place down where the guy did that thing, across the street from where the other thing happened that time near that bookie’s house. With a skinny grande macchiato.
So where might McLaughlin end up? Perhaps there’s some room with the Poker Prof teaching ethics back at Harvard.
See also: Grande Prosecutor Macchiato Redux
Every now and then you see “stories” in the Digital Music News email newsletter that make you wonder what kind of group think is going on in the office.
For example, two stories in today’s issue spring to mind. One knocks Universal for spending money on lobbying, the other compares Google’s market cap with the music industry and ends with this sentence: “Now, how much are the labels losing to Google on a daily basis? That’s a scary question…”
These two stories are actually related, although you would never know it from DMN. “The labels” are losing money to Google on a daily basis, but not because there is some kind of competition between the two and not because “resistance is futile” which is sort of that sensationalist undertone so often springing from DMN.
One reason “the labels”–how about “the artists” or “artists and songwriters” which would be more accurate–but, OK, “the labels”–are losing to Google is because Google–among others–profits from selling advertising on rogue websites that trade in pirated works by artists and songwriters.
Due to lobbying by “the labels” as well as AFTRA, AFM, IA, DGA, SAG, the Songwriters Guild, A2IM–and Universal among others, the Congress is addressing this rampant theft supported by public companies. And that effort produced a bill that was passed out of Senate Judiciary 19-0 and–perhaps equally importantly–has already produced public statements by Google and Mastercard acknowledging the error of their ways.
Actually, that’s a much better lead for an article on the subject if for no other reason that it is grounded in reality as opposed to the bORG.
And by the way, if you wanted to compare apples to apples, you might want to compare the amount of money that Google has spent lobbying against the rogue sites bill–reprehensible and wasteful.
If anyone would ask me who’s on my top ten list for a Nobel Peace Prize, I’d have to say I only have one and he is Nicholas Kristof. This man is not only a writer’s writer, he’s also fearlessly reported on some of the worst places on Earth and some of the worst–and best–people you could imagine.
He’s written an article about charities that he’s checked out that are not widely known and you should really do yourself a favor and read “The Gifts of Hope” (it’s behind a free registration).
“One of the paradoxes of living in a wealthy country is that we accumulate tremendous purchasing power, yet it’s harder and harder for us to give friends and family presents that are meaningful. In this holiday season, sometimes a scarf from a prostituted Cambodian girl, or a scholarship for a Zambian child, is the most heartwarming gift of all.”
Now you know you’re going to lose $25 on hamburgers or latte in the next month, so don’t do that and give the money to one of these charities instead. It’s amazing how far what’s a few bucks to us can stretch for them. Think of it as the power of latte.
The storm clouds are forming in the UK over appointments to the Hargreaves Review, a six-month government intellectual property review to examine barriers to new internet-based business models, including the costs of obtaining permissions from existing rights-holders. (Ian Hargreaves is currently the chair of Digital Economy at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies and Cardiff Business School.) Sounds like a Five Year Plan is in our future.
The costs of obtaining permissions from existing rights-holders…let’s see now, who might be interested in that? Perhaps the wife of Prime Minister Cameron’s chief strategist–who also happens to be…wait for it…wait for it…Global VP of Public Affairs and Communications for Google. No, that is not a joke, and yes it is true.
So aside from the fact that the impetus for the review itself is a bit dodgy, it should come as no surprise that one James Boyle was appointed to the 5 member expert advisory board. James Boyle is a founding board member and former chair of Creative Commons, and also co-founded the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke. And of course he was awarded the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s “Pioneer Award” this year. (See also “The Great Circular Award Ceremony“.)
So let that sink in for a minute.
Having sunk in, you will not be surprised to know that Boyle also authored one comic entitled “Theft” and another which features Lessig as the Statue of Liberty holding a pirate flag in the style of Les Miserables (not touching that with your fork). You will also not be surprised to know that a Member of Parliament has tabled a parliamentary question demanding to know how the panel was selected.
As Andrew Orlowski reports in The Register, MP Michael Wetherley said “‘I’d like to ensure the review has legitimacy…’I’d like to see a balanced review and we need to be careful it’s not pushed in one direction.’”
And when Mr. Weatherly gets done with Boyle, maybe he can also find out who the unnamed “experts” were for the General Accountability Office “review” we suffered through in this country.
I’m not going to get sidetracked about how shallow some of the news coverage has been about Alex Luke’s transition to EMI. It’s clearly the best news we’ve had in years, and so it’s natural that some in the old school digital press want to keep the self-induced death watch stories rolling for record companies.
I’m not going to presume that I have any special insight into why people do what they do. But when the journlistically challenged ask why would Alex leave a cash-rich company like Apple to go to a cash-strapped company like EMI, I think they reveal too much. Particularly when they speculate about the lure of a title.
One distributes records, one makes records.
Repeat after me, one distributes records one makes records. No matter how good they are at distribution, and Apple’s marketing and distribution skills are beyond category (demonstrated most recently by their work on The Beatles both digital and physical), they don’t make records. So if you really want to make records, you can’t do it at Apple.
You know–one does the thing that the digital press understands, the other does the thing they haven’t a clue about. So naturally they couldn’t understand it. Makes you wonder what motivates them, don’t it?
Buddy Rich got nothing on Mike!
Listen at Mike Lombardo Music
New Music: Top 22 for 2010: Guy Forsyth, Quiet Company, Duke Spirit, Killick, Warpaint, Jim Bryson & The Weakerthans, Pegasus Bridge, Railroad Earth, Tom Brosseau, Hot as Sun, Angela Correa, Emilie-Claire Barlow, Rose Elinor Dougall, Choir of Young Believers, Marvin Etzioni, Vanessa Lively, Picture Me Broken, Laura Marling, Ladies of the Canyon, Cedrick Burnside & Lightnin’ Malcolm, School of Seven Bells
Chris’s Top Picks of 2010
News from the Goolag: There’s vapor in that cloud: Google Music on Tornado Watch–no deals with publishers
Tornado Watch: The year-end spin machine is in motion on the Google Music front. Business Insider reports that “Google is ready to write huge checks for Google Music” (which ran on SF Gate).
What’s a “huge check”? “Tens of millions.” Wow. On an industry-wide basis? Golly, that’s so much money, what would we ever do with it all?
And then there’s this spin we spotted in the Tornado Watch:
“Google has not really started to negotiate with music publishers, who own a different set of rights for most music recordings–part of the insane complexity of music licensing. That will increase costs further.”
There’s some solid objective reporting–”insane complexity of music licensing”. I wonder if that came straight from the talking points?
So think that through: “Google has not really started to negotiate with music publishers.” So what does “really” mean? The rumor is that Google is going around to visit publishers and instructing them as to what their deal will be for the privilege of participating in Google Music, and if they don’t like the terms, Google then gives them a power point show of exactly how Google will do what they want to do anyway, and lays out all their legal defenses.
And in case you haven’t noticed, Google spent $100 million fighting the Viacom-NMPA case against Google over YouTube. Not to mention running roughshod over music publishers’ print rights in the Google Books fiasco. So once again, it appears that Google is offering up an insulting situation relying on their market dominance in search.
And then the Business Insider spinner disdainfully refers to publishers as “further” increasing the costs of launching the service. Here’s a hot tip–the publishers and songwriters control the songs. You know, the thing that drives the whole machine. So they are not a “further” cost, they are probably the most important cost, and if not they are certainly equally important. And if my guess is correct, the major publishers will take the position that $10 million gets Google a meeting and then we’ll talk about a deal.
Here’s another hot tip for the journalistically challenged: Not having the publishing cleared is your lead.
No publishing, no service.
What is never mentioned in these stories is Google’s lack of understanding of the independent labels. There is no reason why the indies always have to be an afterthought, particularly because time after time indies punch above their weight in online sales. Pandora is a great example of this phenomenon.
I also love this part of the Business Insider story: “[A]t least three groups were fighting for control of Google Music and couldn’t agree on how to proceed.” That tells me a couple things.
First, Google is planning on doing to music what it’s done to other niche markets in search–using its market dominance to crush competition. See the Wall Street Journal’s story Rivals Say Google Plays Favorites and Web Companies Fear Google’s Reach in the Washington Post. Nobody inside Google is likely to care much about selling music as music, certainly not enough to have an internal turf war over it.
What is much more likely is that an internal struggle would break out over “non-display” uses of music–and the associated metadata, fingerprints, samples, previews. All of which Google does not plan on paying a penny for (as they would have you believe that the fair use defense was created for multibillion dollar multinationals, not political commentary). But all of the metadata, samples, previews, fingerprints, can be used to further train its search algorithm to further cement its place in search.
These non-display uses are much closer to Google’s core mission of organizing the world’s information whether the world likes it or not. Another thing that could get Google excited is that mixing up search results from illegal sites (a rumored $500 million source of revenue for them) would make it more likely that they could continue including search results from The Pirate Bay, Isohunt, et al and selling popup ads on Megaupload.
And these are the kinds of thing that could get Googlers excited, unless you think that these guys are people who secretly wish they were Barry in “High Fidelity”. They’re not.
How many times have digital services been told over the years that the major labels didn’t want to create another MTV, that the services were building a business “on our backs”, digital cannibalized sales, and so on. If any of that were true, where does handing over your catalog and your metadata to Google fit in that meme?
If Google Books is any guide, a deal with Google will make the cost of creating another MTV a rounding error on the paperclip budget—unless that deal is excruciatingly careful about issues like mixing illegal search results in with legal ones instead of filtering out the bad, as well as either a prohibition or compensation for non-display uses that Google can make of songs, sound recordings and music videos and their associated metadata in the background. Not to mention the more obvious points.
So here’s the question that we in the music business have to ask ourselves. In our haste to try to create a counterbalance to iTunes (a motivation I frankly do not understand given that Apple has such a long history of embracing creatives), are people actually thinking that Google is a savior? At the same time as Google is fighting the music publishers in the YouTube case with amnesia, missing laptops and $100 million in legal fees raised from the public markets?
That is simply insane.