The Online Censorship Machine Is Revving Up: Here Are a Few Lessons Learned

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About a week ago, I did my usual check-in with Rick Beato’s channel on YouTube to see what new videos he had in store for me. I’m a former working musician, and one who supplemented my income by teaching music, so I was easily sold on Beato’s combination of fun music-related videos like “Top 20 Greatest Rock Guitar Sounds” and in-the-weeds educational videos on music theory. His channel is one of many on YouTube that offer music education, cultural preservation, and creative ways to bring great music to wider audiences. So, needless to say, I was less-than-thrilled to see that he had just live streamed a rant against a huge uptick of efforts to block his videos and those by other creators who also rely on using musical elements to create new content. These copyright strikes had been targeting many of these creators’ most successful videos, which often had been around for years and had attracted big audiences -- some with over a million views. One of the impacted videos was Beato’s 20-minute piece on the history of rock guitar, which was taken down for using just 10 seconds of a live, improvised guitar solo by Ozzy Osbourne’s former guitar player, Randy Rhoads. One of Paul Davids’s videos was blocked for playing one chord (Dsus2 for those music geeks following along) in a guitar lesson video. Even in the squishy world of fair use, these seem as close to slam dunk examples of fair use as you can get.

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Spotify’s Copyright Royalty Board Appeal, Decoded

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Nothing has dominated recent music news (at least not since the passage of the Music Modernization Act) as much as Spotify’s decision to appeal the findings of the Copyright Royalty Board, or CRB. The move prompted backlash from music publishers and a rebuttal from Spotify, but the actual facts of the debate are buried under piles of legalese.

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The Copyright Directive Is SOPA Part 2, and It’s Coming for Your Internet

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Last week, the European Parliament voted 348 to 274 to pass the Copyright Directive. Unless something truly extraordinary happens during the upcoming meeting of the European Council -- think of it as the Senate of the EU, where the governments of Member States are represented -- draconian and highly disruptive new rules on content licensing and monitoring will become EU law.

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A Regulator to Fit the Growing Regulatory Consensus

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently published an op-ed in the Washington Post naming a role for government and regulation around four specific policies that continue to be concerns for users of Facebook and broader digital platforms. In two areas (privacy and political advertising) Zuckerberg reiterates Facebook’s agreement with previous legislative proposals, including parts of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union and (although not named) concepts from the Honest Ads Act introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar, Mark Warner, and the late John McCain. In addition to these two topics, Zuckerberg also moves towards responding to calls from the public interest community for stronger content moderation of hateful content and for meaningful data portability to promote competition in a market that trends towards dominant platforms. While some may view yet another Facebook op-ed cynically, I believe this one should be welcomed.

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