Tag Archives: copyright

US House Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing on Section 512 of Title 17

The US House’s Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet convened on Thursday 03.13.14 to discuss Section 512 of Title 17 of the Copyright Code. The hearing dealt with piracy, takedown notices, and online copyright infringement.

I watched the entire hearing with interest and I recommend that you do the same, especially if you’re a musician or any other “content creator.” While many of the lawmakers offered uninformed comments or questions, there were some insightful kernels, and the panel – lawyers, law professors, legal counsel for Google and Automattic Inc. (i.e., WordPress), and composer/bandleader Maria Schneider – was particularly noteworthy.


This is a topic that I’m passionate about, and paying for what you like is one of this blog’s long-running tropes. If I have the time, I’d like to provide a more longform commentary on the hearing, but a few brief thoughts in the meantime:
• I intentionally don’t get politically partisan on this blog – that’s not this site’s purpose, nor do I want it to be. Having said that, I find it particularly illuminating that a majority of the lawmakers implicitly siding with big business and piracy seemingly going against the artists and content creators are the same folks trumpeting entrepreneurship to anyone with eyes and ears. Freedom? Curious.
• Thank you Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), a former judge, for calling freeloaders what they are: THIEVES. He also acutely defined the conundrum: In typical theft/crime, we expect the state (i.e. police) to intervene. With piracy and intellectual property, we expect the private sector to settle it amongst themselves.
• Google’s lawyer, Katherine Oyama, seemed at times to be evasive, happily taking questions about search term autocomplete and answering with information about manually entered searches.
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA), Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and the aforementioned Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) stood out to be as being the most genuinely interested and/or informed of this topic.
Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX). Wow; I didn’t know he was on this panel. I’ve seen this dunce in various interviews before. His questions are perfectly representative soundbites. People voted for him. Hm…
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) did his usual grandstanding, on this occasion in support of thievery. Curious, given the allegations of car theft in his past…
• I think Ms. Schneider did well in representing “content creators.” Well done on the visual aids to discuss the steps and verbiage surrounding YouTube uploading and takedowns.
• It’s odd that we can continue to reference YouTube, Google, Facebook, etc., as having been started by the proverbial “two guys in a garage.” What about four guys/gals in a garage (i.e., a band)? Why aren’t musicians being represented in the same entrepreneurial light? Are these not small business (and occasional big businesses) also?
• Topic aside, I found it almost disturbing at how quick each lawmaker was to compliment and massage Google as a whole. Even many of their criticisms were sandwiched with praise.  (And no, this isn’t an Apple vs. Google statement.)


Paying for what you like II: iCloud edition

Apple finally acknowledged its much-anticipated iCloud this week. Sort of. Actually, this week’s acknowledgement was more of a pre-announcement, as they said it would be officially announced and detailed next week. It was more akin to Republican leaders recently announcing exploratory committees for presidential campaigns that will be launched months later.

I’m no technovangelist, though I do have VERY strong opinions on technology and various technological corporations. I like what I like, and I know the pros and cons of the options (those I choose and those I don’t). Beyond that I lose the passion. I don’t have a need to convince others to use an iPhone over an Android. The cultish technological arguments that flood my Twitter and Facebook feeds consistently make me nauseous. But I must stand and defend Apple before the quasi-hipster-anti-iCloud tirade floods tech news and social networks.

In short, iCloud is expected to serve two purposes: 1) an upgrade to the cloud-based MobileMe, and 2) a subscription-based cloud music service. While appearing to be the last of the pack to hit the scene (Google and Amazon are already semi-operational), iCloud’s imminence caused Google and Amazon to hurry their rollouts. So much so that Google launched the beta version of its service without the record labels’ permission. Apple, on the other hand, has been in talks with the record companies for months and has apparently finalized publishing contracts to legitimately and legally place personal music libraries in the cloud.

The MobileMe upgrade really isn’t the focus here, but in full disclosure, I am a MobileMe subscriber. Yes, I pay $99/year for it. And yes, I get my money’s worth. (But, let me reiterate, I don’t really care if you use it or not – that doesn’t affect me whatsoever.) I pay for safe, secure, ad- and spam-free email and cloud service. Furthermore, as a bonus, my data is not sold to advertisers. Very exciting! [Note: The one time I had a technical issue, I instant messaged with a real human who corrected the problem within minutes. Many free services don’t offer this – you have to hope for the best, whining via Twitter in the interim. I realize it’s not for everyone. But if you regularly switch between multiple personal computers and portable devices, it works wonders.]

Regarding the cloud-based music service, you can read the various tech specs elsewhere. What I’d like to emphasize here is the monetization aspect. Myriad complaints have already surfaced that Apple will bundle this service in with MobileMe/iCloud, consequently requiring either a flat annual fee (as it is now), or possibly via rolling monthly subscriptions. Before you sneer and run to Google (never evil? really? ha!) or Amazon, keep in mind that Apple’s agreement with the various record companies comes with a nine-digit up-front price tag ($100,000,000). Sure, executives at Apple and Sony live comfortable lives and don’t need our financial assistance. But the artists who create and perform the music we enjoy DO! (A big reason Google doesn’t have licensing agreements with the major labels is because Google doesn’t want to sidestep the illegal-download-havens that are P2P communities.) Like the aforementioned executives, U2 and Green Day are financially set. No handouts required. However, the countless road acts and up-and-comers out there rely on the emotional, social, and financial participation of its fans for survival. And so if people are going to enjoy Road Act X’s music at home and now in the cloud, Road Act X should be compensated accordingly. Unless, of course, the band decides against it. That’s their right also. (Also in full disclosure, I don’t foresee myself utilizing the “music cloud” too much. I prefer my portable devices and local copies.)

As stated above, I like what I like. And as this entry’s title and this blog as a whole state, I pay for what I like.

Most of the people I know are musicians, or at least musically-inclined. Sadly, these are the same people whose whining will flood my social network feeds. Some are even composers – people who should love the idea of publishing royalties. Yet, unfortunately, I fear most will continue lobbying to live in this so-called “economy of the free.” Blech.

I maintain: pay for what you like.