4 Million DMCA Notices Don’t Stop the Google Piracy Machine: How Google Drives Traffic to Pirate Sites Through Google Alerts
Google news alerts are emails sent to you by Google through the data analysis of its monopoly search engine. Yes, the all seeing Google knows a lot of stuff and they are happy to share it with you so you can share it with others. Google will send you a link that matches your news alert and will always have social media sharing links to Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter. (I can’t imagine Google adding the Facebook and Twitter links without some kind of compensation, probably cold hard cash.)
Here’s an example:
This link goes to a site called myfreemp3.cc which takes you to this page:
In case you were wondering what myfreemp3.cc was all about, how would you know if this was a pirate site? Or more precisely, how would Google know myfreemp3.cc was a pirate site? It just looks sketchy, right? But we all know that we can’t just decide something “looks sketchy” because that might break the Internet. How about some proof? Remember Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours to expertise theory in Outliers? (That’s the book that’s not available on Amazon.)
Let’s take a look at the handy Google Transparency Report and see what we can find out.
First thing we notice is that Google has received over 31 million DMCA notices to disable links in the last 30 days–and this is only for search. Not Blogger or YouTube or any other Google property. So that’s what the statisticians call a robust sample.
What about the site myfreemp3.cc? Fortunately the Google Transparency Report has a handy search tool.
And my goodness gracious, there it is! Although common sense might break the Internet, there’s the URL that Google sent directly to my inbox: myfreemp3.cc and also myfreemp3.eu. As the corner boys in the Fred Von Lohman unit at Google will no doubt tell you, there’s no proof (aside from the Internet-breaking common sense) that confirms that myfreemp3.eu and .cc are run by the same people. Even so, Google has been told 1,161,250 times that the actual URL they sent to me does illegal stuff and Google has acknowledged that the DMCA notices it receives are 97% accurate.
What do you think Malcolm Gladwell might have to say about that level of repetition? And remember–this was simply based on a search of “OK Go lyrics”. There’s nothing in that search term that suggests an interest in piracy. Yet Google serves up links to a pirate site that it has been told is a pirate site over 1 million times. And Facebook and Twitter promote this piracy through their indiscriminate links to Google Alert emails.
So let’s just say it: Google promotes piracy through Google Alerts to its profit.
Did Mr. La Rue Miss the Elephant in the Room? A Critique of the Report of the Special Rapporteur to the U.N. Human Rights Council (Complete Post)
They’re back…the UN Human Rights Council (with a membership you just can’t make up) suddenly has an interest in the rights of “intermediaries” over artists. What do intermediaries (i.e. Google) do when “intermediaries” (i.e. Google) aren’t mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or other international human rights documents? Hire the “Special Rapporteur” to create a useful paper trail. This post is about the last Special Rapporteur’s report that expressly defended Google’s business. The new Special Rapporteur (from Pakistan, that paragon of human rights) is at it again http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/CulturalRights/Pages/impactofintellectualproperty.aspx
And when I say “hire the ‘Special Rapporteur’”, I mean that literally: Frank La Rue now works for Google https://www.google.com/advisorycouncil/#bio-larue
Originally posted on MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY:
In honor of International Human Rights Day (December 10) let us revisit this post.
It is not lost on professional creators and those who care about them that an already tough business has gotten tougher in the last decade. These creators watched—sometimes literally—their works being parlayed into billions for everyone in the distribution chain. Except the original creator, of course. (Yes, billions—if recent disclosures about the size of the rogue site advertising revenues are a guide.) Given the amount of bunk that is being spread about how prosecuting online theft violates human rights–a strange one if I’ve ever heard it–it’s important to understand whose rights are being gored here. (To write your Member of Congress about this, try Music Rights Now.)
Now comes the Special Rapporteur for the UN Human Rights Council to deny artists their human rights while attempting to enshrine “intermediaries” who profit from the losses of…
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MTP readers will recall when Rap Genius–or what RG’s investor Marc Andreessen has called the “Internet Talmud”–decided to come in from the cold and get licenses for the lyrics that are an integral part of the site. (“Internet Talmud”? Really? Entitled much?)
Yes, Mark Andreessen posted on a Rapgenius forum this explanation for why he was investing in the company:
It turns out that Rap Genius has a much bigger idea and a much broader mission than that. Which is: Generalize out to many other categories of text… annotate the world… be the knowledge about the knowledge… create the Internet Talmud.
So before moving on to rip off poets with their apparently unlicensed “Poetry Genius” site, Rap Genius decided to get licenses for at least some of the glue the holds their business together, a lyric license. Rap Genius is a business with a valuation around $50 million given the $15 million that Andreessen’s venture fund reportedly put into the company. $15 million to cover, you know, like salaries and stuff, bro. (Songwriters and poets, allow me to interpret. A “salary” is what some people get paid every week rain or shine when they work for The Man, or in this case The Man 2.0. or in the case of NPR, The Man.gov).
NPR’s financial show “Planet Money” (which appears to be targeted at someone other than investors and is not to be confused with “Marketplace” or the “Nightly Business Report”) decided to cover the Rap Genius dustup with songwriters in this podcast “Episode 537: Hold The Music, Just The Lyrics Please,” which also appeared in an edited form “When Lyrics Get Posted Online, Who Gets Paid?” both with the byline of one Zoe Chace, who apparently is a journalist at NPR.
In contemporary culture it’s not really sensible to talk about unlicensed lyrics and Rap Genius without also mentioning University of Georgia lecturer David Lowery, who also founded Cracker and Camper van Beethoven. (Full disclosure: David Lowery is a friend of mine and his Trichordist blog will be familiar to MTP readers. However, I haven’t discussed this post with David at all.)
I wasn’t aware of Ms. Chace’s programs–or actually program–on the subject until yesterday when one of the Rap Genius founders was separated from the company due to some tasteless comments he made about the Santa Barbara mass murderer. In fairness to Ms. Chace, I don’t think as some apparently do that her interview with the Rap Genius executive team was–to be polite–”fawning”, although she does seem rather uncritical in the interview she aired.
Here’s a couple other things she missed:
1. Attribution of Lowery: You know, that who-what-when-where-why-how stuff. David Lowery is a lecturer at the University of Georgia Terry School of Business. Never mentioned.
2. Lowery’s Congressional Testimony on Fair Use: Ms. Chase interviewed Patricia Aufderheide, co-author of a book entitled “Reclaiming Fair Use” with Professor Peter Jaszi. More about him. Ms. Aufderheide and Ms. Chace discussed the issue of “fair use,” which Rap Genius was determined to try to shoe horn into this case but eventually gave up on. Interestingly, Ms. Aufderheide concluded that the crowd sourced and even annotated Rap Genius would not enjoy success with the affirmative defense of fair use once those noncommercial uses were uploaded to the commercial Rap Genius site. (Lowery drew pretty much the same conclusion in his Congressional testimony.)
Ms. Chase might have mentioned that David Lowery was invited to testify before the House Judiciary Committee’s IP subcommittee alongside Ms. Aufderheide’s writing partner Professor Peter Jaszi. On the subject of fair use.
But why bring that up.
3 Attribution of Study: Ms. Chace makes Lowery’s Undesirable Lyric Website list one of the centerpieces of her story, but she never calls it by its actual name–you know, the title of the study that’s on Rap Genius. And, frankly, all over the Internet. That is, the “University of Georgia Undesirable Lyric Website List.” Of course, if she called it by its proper name, that would raise the question of how a songwriter like Lowery came to be able to use the University of Georgia’s name as the title of a list–and that would require mentioning that the songwriter conducted research on the list at the University. Where he worked. At his job. Easy enough to clear up, right, just properly answer the attribution question in 1.
If you wanted to.
4. Methodology of the Study: Ms. Chace tells us that Lowery created his lyric site list by “googling” lyrics. Because that’s how people find things online, they “google” them. Perhaps she also makes xeroxes. Or eats a mcdonalds. Or blows her nose with a kleenex. Or takes an aspirin. Or uses a zipper. Or rides an escalator. You know, googling. Nobody will care, of course, just another kowtow to a multinational getting free advertising on public radio. Who would care?
Maybe the underwriters who don’t get the free plug?
Actually, the ranking methodology was disclosed as part of the study and it is not just a bunch of Internet searching. In fact, David’s methodology was all right there on Rap Genius. (There have been several iterations since the October release.) Ms. Chace never brought it up during her piece. Which seems odd, since the methodology was clearly disclosed and she was interviewing Lowery who could have reacted first hand to any criticism she had of his methodology. All she had to do was ask him about his study…at the University of Georgia…as part of his…job.
Better to have him sing a few bars of “Low” and “Take the Skinheads Bowling.” Why discuss the facts?
5. Who Complained? Ms. Chace leaves us with the impression (based on a statement from Rap Genius) that Lowery is the only songwriter who complained. If she had researched the timeline she would have seen that Rap Genius was pretty clearly negotiating with Sony/ATV immediately after the first announcement on October 30, 2013, so by the time her Planet Money piece was released on May 9, 2014, that was a done deal.
6. Follow the Money, or “When Lyrics Get Posted Online, Who Gets Paid?” Although Ms. Chace proposed the thesis question “who gets paid?” she did little to answer it. If you listen to Ms. Chace, some of the unlicensed lyric websites make advertising money.
And you know, the thing about advertising on the Internet, right?
Yes, folks, on the Internet, advertising magically appears and abracadabra–money appears! In the pocket of the website!
The way it works is that the lyric website is an ad publisher. The ad publisher maintains advertising inventory. The ad publisher has one or more agreements with ad networks, like say Adsense. The ad network (or ad exchange) has deals with advertisers who pay them money for “eyeballs”, also known as placement on the ad publisher’s inventory. The ad network then takes the advertiser’s money and whacks about 30% of it for itself and pays the rest to the publisher under the contract the ad publisher has. A contract which, of course, expressly prohibits profiting from piracy.
And here’s the twist: If a lyric site gets a license and pays the songwriters, the site pays that royalty out of the site’s share of ad revenue. Nothing changes for the ad network serving the ad. The ad network makes the same cut of revenue before and after the site gets a license. You know–”parasitic middlemen.”
It looks something like this Beyonce ad from the 2013 Superbowl (since Ms. Chace seems to be a fan):
Kind of like if the Talmud had commercials.
So while Ms. Chace isn’t factually incorrect by saying that the illegal lyric site makes money by selling advertising, she’s clearly leaving out a big chunk of the “who gets paid” answer that she herself posed. It’s highly doubtful that any of these lyric sites have their own ad sales team. That’s why they pay a commission to the ad network who provides the advertising to the ad publisher’s inventory.
However–Ms. Chace only pursued Rap Genius, a site that does not sell advertising (because, presumably, it is venture backed and just hasn’t started commercializing their lyrics yet). Ms. Chase mentioned lyric sites making money, but only in passing. She never pursued that part of the story or even mentioned it in any detail. Because I guess on Planet Money we don’t discuss such things in polite company.
Yes–someone is profiting from piracy besides the lyric sites. She could have asked Lowery about this, too, because that’s also part of his study. And the name “undesirable” was according to Lowery’s post suggested by a Google executive:
The Lyric Website Undesirability Index And List
Our use of the term “undesirability index” is inspired by Google’s UK Policy Manager Theo Bertrand, who used the term during a recent debate in London. We use the term “undesirable “ because these sites do not appear to be licensed. We cannot absolutely conclude, from the outside looking in, that these sites do not have licenses. However, we could not locate the sites in the http://www.lyricsseal.com database and they do not appear to have otherwise been flagged as licensed based on our exhaustive web search. This leads us to conclude these sites are most likely unlicensed. It is entirely possible that some of these sites are licensed and we have not been able to locate those responsible for their licensing. If you feel your site has been mistakenly included in this list, please contact us at uga_undesirable_list<AT>outlook.com. We will confirm your licenses and will be glad to remove your site from the list if you in fact are licensed.
So it appears that Ms. Chace didn’t push quite far enough to determine who is really making money from these sites–including the indispensable ad network. I wonder why she left that out. This piece is riddled with interesting omissions.
But it’s true you know. Most of these sites wouldn’t survive without some advertising income from people like Adsense to help them profit from piracy.
Yes, it’s true, Ms. Chace.
Just Google it.
by Chris Castle
Joaquín Almunia, the Vice President of the European Commission in Charge of Competition currently investigating Google’s unsavory business practices in Europe may wish to consider the dark underbelly of Google’s advertising business when deciding whether to give the company an unprecedented third opportunity to settle the competition questions against the global monopolist.
According to evidence released by the Justice Department in the Megavideo criminal prosecution, Megavideo was a Google Adsense customer until at least May 17, 2007:
On or about May 17, 2007, a representative from Google AdSense, an Internet advertising company, sent an e-mail to DOTCOM entitled “Google AdSense Account Status.” In the e-mail, the representative stated that “[d]uring our most recent review of your site [Megaupload.com,]” Google AdSense specialists found “numerous pages” with links to, among other things, “copyrighted content,” and therefore Google AdSense “will no longer be able to work with you.” The e-mail contains links to specific examples of offending content located on Megaupload.com.
While the quotation appears to be carefully worded email relating to Megaupload.com‘s Adsense account, it is unclear whether the government is pursuing the role that Google played in shoveling money to the “Mega Conspiracy” prior to that termination, and whether all accounts that benefited the Mega Conspiracy prior to and after the email were in fact terminated. Given the numerous examples of Google serving advertising to referring sites that drove traffic to Megavideo, this email quoted by the government actually raises more questions than it answers.
The DOJ also notes evidence that the Mega Conspiracy opened a Google Analytics account for Megavideo to provide data to help the company steal more efficiently, that apparently rose to the level of email exchanges with Google employees:
According to internal e-mails and documents obtained from Google, members of the Mega Conspiracy, including DOTCOM and VAN DER KOLK, began accessing Google Analytics reports for Megavideo.com, Megaupload.com, and Megaporn.com. The Google Analytics account was opened at least as early as November of 2008 under the name “TIM VESTOR,” which is an alias for DOTCOM. Google Analytics provides website measurement tools, such as the number of visits during a specified time period….
A particular Google Analytics report shows that between November 19, 2010, and February 18, 2011, Megavideo.com had roughly 1 billion visits. Less than 13% of these visits were “direct traffic” — meaning visits that were likely generated by the user having directly typed the URL link into the web browser or having bookmarked the URL link. More than 85% of the visits to Megavideo.com were from “referring sites,” meaning the user appears to have clicked a URL link on the referring site that directed the user to Megavideo.com. The top referring websites during that time period were third-party linking sites, such as seriesyonkis.com (more than 110 million referrals) and sidereel.com (more than 60 million referrals).
The reports from Google Analytics for the following time periods reflect similar data: February 19, 2011 — May 18, 2011; May 19, 2011 — August 18, 2011; August 19, 2011 — October 27, 2011….A particular Google Analytics report shows that between November 19, 2010, and February 18, 2011, Megaupload.com had roughly 1 billion visits. Less than 20% of these visits were “direct traffic,” and roughly 80% were from “referring sites.” The top referring websites during that time period were third-party linking sites, such as taringa.net (more than 50 million referrals), seriesyonkis.com (more than 25 million referrals), and multiupload.com (more than 20 million referrals). The reports
from Google Analytics for the following time periods reflect similar data: February 19, 2011 — May 18, 2011; May 19, 2011 — August 18, 2011; August 19, 2011 — October 27, 2011.
It’s not surprising, then, that the government obtained emails from Google relating to this level of traffic as it beggars belief that a Google Analytics customer with this level of traffic was just kind of getting an automated report.
These reports prepared by Google also demonstrates that Google knew or should have known that its terminated Adsense customer was in a business of getting most of its traffic from referring sites–and as Ellen Seidler has documented on Popup Pirates, these referring sites triggered pop up advertising pages that served “Ads by Google” and did so in the tens of millions. Advertising for some of the biggest brands in the world.
There was clearly an Adsense account somewhere in this mix for these referring sites, even if the Adsense account for Megaupload got to hot to maintain. It is now clear that Google was preparing reports that detailed exactly which sites were referring traffic to the Mega Conspiracy.
There are two questions that the DOJ has not asked as yet:
1. What happened to the money that Google made on Google’s share of revenue paid to the Mega Conspiracy before May 17, 2007? If this is like other instances where Google has profited from crime (as it told the BBC regarding advertising for counterfeit Olympics tickets, for example) and selling human growth hormone, RU486 and oxycontin, the only way Google will give up any of the proceeds from crime is if Google is criminally prosecuted. So let’s get on that, shall we? and
2. What is the relationship was between Google and these referring sites documented in the Google Analytics statements it sent to the Mega Conspiracy, how were they paid, and did any of that income originate in the US or was the revenue disguised outside of the US (such as in Google’s China operations that played a leading role in Google’s payment of $500,000,000 for violating US controlled substances laws. Did Google provide any income tax disclosure or filing regarding the income, including for its own share of advertising revenue? (Actually paying tax might be a bit much to expect, but at least telling the government how much income it was not paying tax on might have happened.) Was any of this income included in SEC filings and audited financial statements for Google and if not, why not? What did Google’s CFO Patrick Pichette know and when did he know it? Or perhaps John Dixon at Ernst & Young?
There’s a term for this…what is it again? Oh, yes. A Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization a/k/a how they sent Michael Milken to prison and bankrupted his company for a lot less evil. If the U.S. government is not going to pursue this investigation, Mr. Almunia is perfectly positioned to do so–why would he want to give an unprecedented third chance to a company that does not come to him with clean hands?
As the DOJ tells us:
On or about September 2, 2007, via Skype, VAN DER KOLK said to ORTMANN, “we’re modern pirates :-)”. ORTMANN responded, “we’re pretty evil, unfortunately”, “but Google is also evil, and their claim is ‘don’t be evil.’”
It takes a conspirator to know a conspirator.
The Trichordist’s commentary on YouTube’s Music Video Awards called attention to a variety of horrendous videos readily available on Google’s crown jewel, but none were quite as disturbing as the DIY videos of how to prepare a variety of illegal drugs for injection (“cooking”) and tips on how to inject these drugs.
First, we find “How I Inject Testosterone and Overcome Anxiety” brought to you buy Chevrolet and the CPAP shop:
And here’s the video:
Then we have “How to Cook Crack”, brought to you by National Geographic:
and here’s the video:
And then there’s “Shooting Up Morphine and Oxycontin” brought to you by the Minnesota Department of Health Services:
And here’s the video:
Not to be outdone by “Shooting Up Dilaudid” sponsored by Intervention Canada
and here’s the video:
If this bothers you, think about this. Google tries to pawn off YouTube as a competitor to television. Turn on your television and see if you can find DIY videos for cooking and injecting crack, oxy, morphine and dilaudid.
If you’ve been in the music business for very long, you have undoubtedly encountered addicts. We don’t think this is funny and we don’t think it can be rationalized.
We do think it should be stopped and the artists participating in the YouTube video awards or who are YouTube users are in a position to influence Google.
This is evil and it should be stopped.
The Jihad Will Be Monetized: How the New Boss Duped the White House (Again) to Protect Intermediaries and Brand Sponsored Piracy, Part 2
Americans are freedom loving people, and nothing says freedom like getting away with it.
From “Long, Long Time” by Guy Forsyth.
(Continued from Part 1)
As we have seen time and again, Google will sell advertising against everything from jihadi war porn, to ads for illegal drug sites, sex tourism and pirate sites of one species or another–and that’s just on the sainted YouTube.
Once you roll off of the YouTube site, nothing changes much except the labyrinth of referring sights, bridging pages and the like gets much, much more complicated. Whether it’s on a Google publisher or a third party or fourth party site, Google dupes brands from Honda to Gatorade to local businesses into facilitating the company’s enrichment at the cost of degrading their brands.
This came up before with the Google drug settlement–the $500,000,000 fine that Google paid to the US Government, and it’s a tribute to the power of the world’s largest media company that you’ve probably never heard about that payment. But we have, so now you will. Google ran a fake hand off with Google Drugs where they had some really serious downside potential that they might not have been able to buy their way out of–also known as jail time. They constructed a fake out by using their government connections–possibly through present members of the senior Justice Department staff as well as Clinton-era intermediaries. And so far, they have gotten away with it.
And I hope to persuade you that Google just ran the Drugs play again to distance themselves from brand sponsored piracy–you might call it the naked bootleg.
Whether they get away with it or not remains to be seen.
Naked Bootleg I
MTP readers will recall the infamous Google Drugs settlement. Google was the subject of several sting operations over a multiyear period conducted by a variety of Federal criminal investigators as well as a federal grand jury in Rhode Island. This was no small thing–Google produced over 4,000,000 documents in the grand jury proceeding.
There are a few other reasons why it is no small thing. Google signed a nonprosecution agreement with the federal government that was remarkably favorable to Google, but still cost the company $500,000,000. And they got off very cheap if you ask me. It takes Google about 48 hours to make $500,000,000, so while that may sound like a lot of money, it really isn’t.
This was in 2011–knowing what we now know about Google’s connections to the Administration, untold data mining on behalf of the government through cozy relationships with the National Security Agency, the Department of Justice and FBI, are you surprised that Google got off lightly on something as serious as violations of the Controlled Substances Act?
Also remember that the issue wasn’t that Google itself was actually fulfilling drug sales–the issue was that they were accused of selling advertising that promoted drug sales they knew to be illegal. Also known as profiting from human misery.
It’s also not surprising that when Google Chairman Eric Schmidt testified at a hearing of the US Senate Antitrust Subcommittee, he invoked his right to refuse to answer on the advice of counsel–some might call that invoking his right against criminal self-incrimination–under questioning from Senator John Cornyn. Senator Cornyn was rightfully not happy. (I’m reminded of Samuel Jackson’s question regarding Mr. Wallace in Pulp Fiction: “Does he look like a bitch?”)
Schmidt clearly looked and sounded like…someone who had something to hide as he repeatedly deflected Senator Cornyn’s question with what he had to know was a lie before Schmidt lawyered up. (The next time this happens–and there will be a next time–it might be worth asking Schmidt to clarify that he’s “taking the 5th”.)
Google is also being sued by many of its stockholders as a result of the Google Drugs prosecution, essentially for defrauding investors by failing to disclose this $500,000,000 forfeiture in a timely way, and using the company’s money to pay what is essentially a fine for the personal bad behavior of the senior management team.
And here is where the plot sickens: The Wall Street Journal noted a statement made by Google’s lawyer Boris Feldman in an official court transcript from a hearing in Delaware on one of the many stockholder lawsuits, a statement regarding the drug case prosecuted against Google by Peter F. Neronha, the US Attorney for Rhode Island (“Did DOJ Apologize to Google for US Attorney’s Comments?”):
“The U.S. attorney in Rhode Island went off the reservation and gave a long interview about all the evidence and why it was he was so excited about the case,” lawyer Boris Feldman told the judge at a Delaware state court. “It ended up being so far off the reservation that the Justice Department apologized to Google for it and muzzled him.”
Given what we now know about Google’s cozy relationship with law enforcement agencies and past and present DOJ appointees, it is entirely believable that the Justice Department would have apologized to Google for one of the US Attorneys having the brass to actually prosecute Google for anything that ended up in any kind of meaningful punishment for Google. However, the Wall Street Journal reports that the Justice Department (i.e., “main Justice” in Washington) denied apologizing:
Maybe the Justice Department apologized on his behalf? “We did not apologize,” a department spokeswoman said.
And the reaction from Rhode Island (which kept about half of the $500,000,000 to offset law enforcement costs in the state)?
“The U.S. attorney has never issued apologies to anyone in this matter,” a spokesman said. “As far as the suggestion that the U.S. attorney has been ‘muzzled,’ I can only point to the fact that we recently held a widely attended press conference” at which he answered media questions about the case.
Of course, Google likes to enjoy all the benefits of having access to the US public financial markets while accepting only the burdens it is forced to bear:
For its part, Google declined to comment, saying: “Google does not comment on its discussions with regulators.”
“Regulators”? Do you call the cops “regulators”? Maybe in Young Guns, but not since the 19th Century.
I think it is insulting that Google did not back up its lawyer–Boris Feldman has a sterling reputation and is one of the top litigators in the world. That–by the way–should have been the reason he was appearing for Google in the stockholder lawsuit in the first place. The idea that Mr. Feldman somehow misspoke on such a fundamental point or is not worthy of being backed up by his client is laughable.
Calling the Naked Bootleg
What does this have to do with the brand sponsored piracy “best practices”? Here’s where Google calls the naked bootleg.
It also appears that General Holder presided over a December 14, 2010 meeting for invited media at the White House requested by Google during the DOJ’s drug investigation into Google’s bad acts. Rather, nearing the conclusion of the 7-year long investigation into Google’s bad acts.
What, if anything, did this meeting have to do with the prosecution of Google? Did the Attorney General find it appropriate to make the following statement while at the same time prosecuting Google, a participant in the very White House meeting at which he was speaking, a meeting called to promote Google’s activities to cover over its bad acts?
[W]e successfully prosecuted a defendant who was selling fake cancer medications to patients in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The drugs – which he marketed as a rare, experimental treatment – were manufactured in Canada, but advertised and sold globally over the Internet. With assistance from Canadian and German authorities, this individual was apprehended and extradited to the United States. He is now behind bars and has been sentenced to almost three years in prison.
Given that at the time of the White House meeting (December 14, 2010), Google executives were no doubt close to being criminally prosecuted themselves, don’t you think that news of Google’s prosecution would have been relevant and surprising to participants in the White House meeting? Particularly since the Attorney General of the United States was giving a speech about the very crimes of which Google (a major political supporter of the Obama Administration) was accused at a meeting held under the auspices of the President of the United States concerning the very subject of that prosecution?
When the Google plea bargain was announced a few months after the December White House meeting (reported in the Wall Street Journal on May 13, 2011), would it not have been reasonable for the public to be at least a little surprised–if not shocked–by the Attorney General’s comments or lack thereof? If anyone bothered to report the story?
CNET was the only news organization I could find that actually pointed out this bizarre pageant. CNET reported on May 19, 2011 (six months after the White House meeting at which General Holder spoke):
No one may have been more surprised [at the announcement of Google's $500,000,000 settlment] than Victoria A. Espinel, the U.S. intellectual-property enforcement coordinator. Just six months earlier, Espinel, who’s leading the Obama administration’s efforts to thwart rogue pharmacies, commended Google’s help in the battle at [the December 14] White House meeting.
The December White House meeting was also the occasion to announce the formation of the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies. Remember this part of the pageant–it will return with the IAB “best practices” announcement.
Again, according to CNET:
There are plenty of others surprised by the news. At that same December meeting at the White House, Google was joined by Microsoft, Yahoo, Go Daddy, and a few other companies in announcing the creation of a nonprofit organization called the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies. The purpose of the group is to share information about illegitimate online pharmacies in order to root them out and shut them down.
“It was a surprise to me because I didn’t know the investigation was going on and because a half a billion dollars is a big number, even for Google,” said Christine Jones, general counsel, executive vice president, and corporate secretary at Go Daddy, the giant domain registration and Web hosting company that spearheaded the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies effort.
The formation of the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies is one of Google’s customary defenses to why the company isn’t simply running a RICO-predicate criminal enterprise. As recently as April 19, 2013, John Burchett, one of the legion of revolving door types in Google’s Washington DC in-house lobby shop, cited Google’s participation in the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies in response to Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood’s inquiry into Google’s compliance with the DOJ plea deal. (See page 13, AG Hood Exhibits. Burchett joined Google in 2007 (“Google: As Cool as it Seems and More“) just before Eric Schmidt received a prophetic letter from Joseph A. Califano, Jr. warning that Google was inducing the sale of drugs to kids. Burchett is a board member of Andean Health and Development and is the former Chief of Staff for Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. Governor Granhom was an Obama campaign debate surrogate you will recall from many, many appearances on Sunday shows during the 2012 presidential campaign. Before joining the staff of Harvard Law School classmate Granholm, Burchett “worked as a business consultant to governments across the country” including Detroit’s Little Caesar’s.)
Getting into the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies industry group apparently was–and continues to be–a very important strategic move for Google. (Or what good Catholics will recognize as an “indulgence” for their sins.)
It also must have been important to Google that their motives for joining the group be concealed and not tainted by the fact that Google–at the very time they were being deceptively portrayed in the People’s House as one of the good guys–was either being criminally prosecuted by the US Government at the time, or was then currently negotiating a way to pay a $500,000,000 fine with the stockholders’ money and be handed a get out of jail free card by the US Government.
Imagine if instead of having this political plum handed to them on a silver platter inside the People’s House (albeit in the dark and without the knowledge of all–well, nearly all–the participants in the White House meeting) the press instead was all about why Google was allowed to join the group without at least disclosing its own felony prosecution for the very crimes at issue in the meeting.
Not very Googlely.
And they got away with it.
And according to Mr. Burchett, they are still getting away with it.
Next: The Return of the Naked Bootleg.
A Must Read for Anyone Who Deals with Google
Click on the image to sign the #irespectmusic petition at irespectmusic.org
- Filmmaker Ellen Seidler talks with Chris Castle about her film "And Then Came Lola", piracy and advertising on pirate websites
- Songwriters Guild President Rick Carnes talks with Chris Castle about current copyright issues
- Article: Twenty Questions for New Artists by Chris Castle and Amy Mitchell
- Podcast #1: Twenty Questions for New Artists Narrated by Chris Castle: Introduction, Pre-Existing Contracts and Band Administrator
- Podcast #2: Twenty Questions for New Artists Narrated by Chris Castle: Band agreements, bank accounts and accounting
- Podcast #3: Twenty Questions for New Artists Narrated by Chris Castle: A brief review of basic rights under copyright in the US
- Podcast #4: Artist Glossary of Industry Terms: Advances, Unrecouped, Recoupable Costs, Recoupment Rate. Music by Guy Forsyth (www.guyforsyth.com)
- Article: An Artist Glossary of Music Industry Terms by Chris Castle
- Blog Podcast: The Unholy Alliance: Should online property rights differ from property rules offline? From the MusicTechPolicy Blog. Narrated by Chris Castle. Music by Guy Forsyth (www.guyforsyth.com)
- Blog Podcast: The Creative Community Responds to the Commerce Department. From the MusicTechPolicy Blog. Narrated by Chris Castle. Music by Guy Forsyth (www.guyforsyth.com)
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