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YouTube’s DMCA Abuse and Indie Labels: How Google is Blowing it for the Honest People

June 18, 2014 3 comments

In a speech at Canadian Music Week, Beggars Group Chairman Martin Mills was not only right, he was prescient:

Google, the parent of YouTube, [is] one of the companies that have made billions on the back of [the DMCA notice and takedown,] a statutory provision intended to protect ordinary people acting innocently.

Google has now refined the DMCA to a tool to leverage its anticompetitive activities.  Here’s how it works.

1.  Google opens the YouTube platform to unauthorized “user generated content” and says to artists (literally in this case) “Does yuse wants to play whack a mole or make some dough?”  This is called the notice and shakedown.

2.  Google then jams a settlement down the throats of major labels and sticks it to everyone else.  Publishers are next.

3.  Google pays the lowest royalty online with a big advance to majors and spaghetti statements to everyone else that probably never gets completely matched up.

4.  Now Google starts a subscription music service (supposedly called Pass on YouTube Music…no sorry, YouTube Music Pass).  They offer indies a hillbilly deal and make a threat–if indies don’t take the terms, Google will shut off the sainted “monetization”–automatically.  YouTube generates only paltry earnings on a per stream basis–which only mean anything if you are the kind of company that gets a huge advance for massive aggregation of “content” and probably some nonrecoupable “technology fees” and other goodies.

But note:  the real threat here is that YouTube will leave the videos up and force the indies to send a URL by URL DMCA notice.  YouTube can cut off the money automatically–one URL by URL basis.  But somehow they can’t manage to take down the unauthorized videos automatically.

This shows up their DMCA abuse for what it really is:  notice and shakedown.

And here’s the problem for Google.  The smartest guys in the room did this while they were in one of the most contentious antitrust investigations in history in Europe.  And guess where a bunch of indies live?

This is not a “say your sorry” situation.  Google did to the indies exactly the kind of thing that they have been repeatedly accused of doing in the European Commission.  That’s done.  Even if Google gave up their position against the indies right this minute, they already did the bad thing for which they richly deserved to be punished, perhaps even prosecuted for crimes.

In a perfect world, this latest arrogance may actually be the tipping point in the entire antitrust investigation collapsing around them in Europe.

And then it will boomerang back to the US through the A2IM complaint at the Federal Trade Commission.

This is not over.  And the Congress should take note:  This is the real Google you are seeing here.  This is the real DMCA abuse.

Meet the new boss–way, way, way, way worse than the old boss.

 

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