Self Help

Chokepoint Capitalism - Rebecca Giblin & Cory Doctorow

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Matheus Puppe

· 63 min read

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Here is a summary of the key points from the praise for the book “Chokepoint Capitalism”:

  • The book exposes how a few giant corporations have gained control over the media ecosystem and are stifling creativity and competition.

  • It tells the important story of how this corporate stranglehold developed over the past decade and how it functions.

  • Rather than just complaining, the book shows why this happened, how the systems of control work, and offers options for collective action.

  • The authors lay out their case clearly, providing a full picture of the challenging landscape creators now face and how their work has been exploited.

  • It presents a range of strategies for creators and others to fight back against the corporate dominance and strengthen their economic position.

  • The book provides an alarming yet inspiring call to address the lack of competition in creative industries through reforming antitrust policy and collective organizing.

  • It is seen as an essential and timely work for understanding the problems with the current media landscape and culture industries, and a handbook for change.

  • Robert Bork championed a new “consumer welfare” standard for antitrust policy that focused on short-term consumer benefits like lower prices rather than long-term competition. This made it easier for companies to consolidate power through mergers and acquisitions.

  • Over several decades, this led to highly concentrated markets and the elimination of competition in many industries. A small number of large corporations now dominate sectors like media, technology, finance, agriculture, and retail.

  • Increased concentration has benefited corporate profits and executive pay but hurt workers through declining wages, benefits, and bargaining power. It has also concentrated wealth at the top.

  • Companies aim to establish “moats” or barriers that prevent competition, such as network effects, data advantages, and high switching costs. Amazon in particular uses tactics like Prime shipping to lock in customers and control suppliers.

  • The decline of antitrust enforcement and rise of monopoly power is now seen as a systemic problem that distorts the functioning of markets and the broader economy. Vigorous antitrust is needed to re-establish competition.

  • Amazon uses third-party sellers’ data to identify their best-selling products and then undercuts those sellers by producing and selling copies of those products itself. This deprives third-party sellers of the ability to reach customers through Amazon’s marketplace.

  • Amazon has achieved significant control over both suppliers and customers, creating “chokepoints” that allow it to dictate unsustainably low prices. This is an anticompetitive strategy aimed at maintaining barriers to competition.

  • “Chokepoint capitalism” refers to corporations using legal and market strategies to create durable monopolies or monopsonies. While monopolies give sellers power over buyers, monopsonies give buyers power over sellers, allowing them to drive down costs for inputs like labor.

  • Companies like Amazon and Google have significant monopsony power as powerful buyers, allowing them to extract more value from suppliers and workers than they would receive in a truly competitive market. This suppresses wages and incomes.

  • Chicago School-inspired antitrust enforcement has largely ignored issues of monopsony power. A broader view of antitrust is needed that protects more than just consumer prices and incorporates goals like dispersing economic power. However, antitrust alone is not sufficient - other legal structures also enable corporate accumulation of power.

The passage criticizes the dominance of large corporations and their obligation to serve shareholders’ interests above all else, including social values. It argues we should promote a pro-worker, pro-small business environment by removing legal supports that allow corporations to extract unfair value, even if they don’t meet antitrust thresholds.

Capitalism requires competition to function properly, but corporate power concentrations undermine this. While capitalism remains dominant, reforms should promote competitive conditions rather than enriching the already powerful. Antitrust thresholds could be expanded to include other “chokepoints” beyond market power definitions.

Creative industries exemplify how corporations extract value from labor. Platforms themselves are not the root problem - it is the ability to control access within “hourglass markets.” Creative workers experience low pay and precarious conditions due to oversupply of passionate labor willing to accept less. This gives corporations power to capture most financial benefits.

White-collar jobs may also be vulnerable as work becomes geographically flexible, allowing corporations to replace high-paid domestic labor with lower-paid foreign equivalents. Reforms are needed to curb corporate abuses of labor and restore competitive balance.

The passage discusses how Amazon has come to dominate the book industry through tactics that squeezed other players in the distribution chain and gained ever larger shares of the market. It started by selling books online at close to cost to quickly gain market share. Over time, it used its sales data and role as a major buyer to negotiate tougher terms from publishers, especially smaller independent publishers. Tactics included the “Gazelle Project” which targeted vulnerable smaller publishers, demanding promotional fees and payments in exchange for favorable placement. If publishers didn’t comply, Amazon would stop promoting their books. This gave Amazon outsized power in the industry and allowed it to capture an increasingly large portion of the profits for itself, leaving less for other players such as publishers and authors. The dominance of Amazon makes it difficult now for other competitors or business models to gain traction in the book market.

  • Amazon has substantial monopsony power even when accounting for a small percentage (10-20%) of a producer’s sales. This allows them to force producers into unfavorable terms through bullying tactics.

  • As Amazon extracts ever-larger cuts from publishers, the financial pressure gets passed down to smaller and more vulnerable parts of the supply chain like authors, booksellers, editors through lower pay and job losses.

  • Consolidation in the publishing industry has resulted from this concentration of power, but even the largest publishers struggle against Amazon’s dominance.

  • Publishers missed an opportunity to retain control of the lucrative ebook/audiobook markets. Amazon exploited anti-circumvention copyright rules to lock customers into its proprietary formats and lock out competitors, gaining dominance similar to how Apple took over music downloads.

  • By controlling both content distribution platforms and the terms of access, Amazon can leverage its customer base to demand even more concessions from upstream content producers and suppliers. This “anticompetitive flywheel” fuels Amazon’s continued growth at the expense of others in the industry.

  • Apple launched the iTunes music store in 2003 without DRM, gaining a large share of the legal download market. When competitors tried removing DRM from their music to work on iPods, Apple shut them down through legal threats.

  • Record labels insisted on using DRM, making Apple a gatekeeper between them and customers. The only way for competitors to sell to Apple users was removing DRM. In 2007, Amazon launched a DRM-free music store, prompting others to drop DRM as well.

  • Book publishers made similar mistakes in allowing Amazon to control the ebook market through DRM. Amazon used DRM to lock users into its platform and raise switching costs, gaining a dominant market position.

  • In 2007, Amazon launched the Kindle ebook store with DRM and priced popular ebooks low at $9.99, gaining market share. Publishers were concerned this would cannibalize print sales and devalue books.

  • In 2010, Apple entered the market using an “agency pricing” model where publishers set prices and Apple took a 30% commission. Publishers hoped this would raise ebook prices to boost print sales and weaken Amazon’s power. However, it ultimately backfired and led to an antitrust dispute between publishers and Apple.

  • Major publishers were frustrated with Amazon’s dominance in the ebook market and their use of the wholesale model, which gave Amazon control over ebook pricing.

  • The publishers conspired to shift to an agency model, where publishers set ebook prices and Amazon/retailers received a commission. No single publisher felt they could force Amazon’s hand alone.

  • When Apple signed agency agreements with five of the Big Six publishers, Amazon retaliated by removing Macmillan books from its store. But once all major publishers acted together, Amazon had to agree to the agency model.

  • However, the publishers’ collusion to raise ebook prices violated antitrust law. The DOJ sued and the publishers had to pay fines totaling over $600 million.

  • While the agency model continued, it did little to reduce Amazon’s dominance of the ebook market. Amazon also drove self-publishing success by offering higher royalties, though self-published books generally sell at lower prices.

  • DRM continued to give Amazon control over audiobook sales through Audible, despite publishers seeing DRM as counterproductive.

  • Amazon has immense power over book publishers due to its size and data collection capabilities. It can see real-time sales data for virtually all publishers while they have limited information on their own titles’ performance.

  • Publishers have responded by merging to gain scale and bargaining power against Amazon, but this hurts smaller publishers and downstream suppliers/workers. It also pushes a “bestseller” mentality.

  • Amazon uses book data to target and acquire other types of content and products, building a massive vertically integrated business. It knows intimate details about readers’ lives through their reading habits.

  • This “flywheel effect” of data and dominance has allowed Amazon to squeeze suppliers and underpay workers. Anyone who enters Amazon’s territory risks being destroyed. This deters innovation and competition.

  • Publishers would have challenged Amazon’s power more if not for DRM locking content to Amazon’s platform. While DRM no longer prevents piracy, it maintains Amazon’s dominance by limiting options for readers and content owners. Publishers still largely require DRM due to Amazon’s outsize influence.

Based on the summary provided:

  • Craigslist disrupted local newspaper classified ad revenues significantly, estimated to have cost newspapers over $5 billion between 2000-2007. Its low-cost and ad-free model appealed more to buyers and sellers than newspapers.

  • However, newspapers were already in decline due to consolidation in the industry and loss of print ad revenue to TV since the 1950s. They became more vulnerable to online disruptors.

  • Newspapers went through leveraged buyouts where they took on large debts, paid out special dividends, cut costs aggressively through layoffs and outsourcing. This weakened their ability to withstand shocks like loss of classified ad revenue to Craigslist.

  • The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) applies to technological measures that control access to copyrighted works. It restricts circumventing digital rights management (DRM) and other technical protections, even for legal non-infringing purposes. Critics argue this gives corporations power to enforce private laws via public courts.

So in summary, the key points are how newspaper consolidation/debt loaded them down prior to online disruption, limiting their ability to adapt, and how the DMCA strengthened corporations’ ability to control access and use of digital goods/services even for non-infringing purposes.

  • Google and Facebook dominate the digital ad market, controlling over 70% of ad revenue in the US and 65% in the UK. They extract significant value from content creators like news publishers by selling ads on their platforms.

  • Google locks in suppliers through vertical integration across the ad supply chain. It controls services publishers rely on like analytics and search traffic. This makes it very difficult for publishers to extract themselves from Google’s ecosystem.

  • Google’s dominance is further cemented by deals to be the default search engine across devices, browsers, carriers, etc. This gives it control over 95% of mobile searches.

  • Facebook exercised horizontal integration through acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, locking users into its data-hungry platforms. Publishers rely on social traffic but don’t get paid for content shared on Facebook.

  • The opaque ad auction system allows advertisers to target publisher audiences without contributing directly to the publisher. This disintermediates news organizations from the value of their audiences.

  • Significant profits are siphoned off at each stage, leaving publishers with a small fraction of advertising dollars spent on their content. The duopoly extracts supracompetitive returns of 40-50% while limiting options for publishers.

  • In a competitive market without Google and Facebook’s dominance, there would be more transparency in the online advertising supply chain. Google and Facebook would have smaller margins and more money would go to content creators.

  • Newspaper revenues have plummeted from $50B in 2006 to $14B in 2018 due to loss of advertising money siphoned off by platforms. This has led to massive job cuts in newsrooms.

  • Publishers resort to intrusive ads and clickbait to make money, undermining their quality. Some blur lines between ads and content.

  • This hurts democracy, arts/culture coverage, social movements, and addressing issues like climate change due to lack of investigative journalism.

  • Online ads may not benefit advertisers much either. Fraud is rampant, with up to 80% of some ad spending going to fraud. Metrics are inflated. Behavioral targeting may not be as effective as promised.

  • Major advertisers are now cutting hundreds of millions in online ads without loss of business, questioning their effectiveness.

  • The entire internet business model based on overvalued, underperforming ads could lead to a “bubble” bursting and further harm news organizations.

  • Google/Facebook’s data advantages in ad targeting may be more brittle than believed if competitors had access to similar scale of user data and surveillance.

The passage discusses why Prince changed his name in the early 1990s. He did so as part of an escalating fight with his label Warner Brothers over creative control and ownership of his music.

It describes common recording industry practices in the late 20th century that gave labels outsized control and profits at the expense of artists. Labels had near monopolies and could dictate unfair contract terms. Deals routinely charged artists for excessive recoupable expenses, often beyond what was actually spent. Royalty rates were very low, making it almost impossible for artists to earn money and recoup advances.

This led many top artists like TLC and Toni Braxton to declare bankruptcy to escape contracts. Prince publicly protested his lack of ownership and control over his music and name through actions like writing “SLAVE” on his face. He ultimately changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol, refusing to work under his given name which was owned by Warner.

The passage argues these practices systematically transferred wealth from creative artists to labels and shareholders, showing the imbalance of power and incentives in the industry’s system at that time.

  • The rise of MP3 sharing and digital music in the late 1990s/early 2000s massively disrupted the traditional record industry business model. This led to thousands of job losses in the music industry and many artists could no longer make a living from recorded music sales.

  • However, new digital technologies and the internet also democratized music recording and distribution. It became much cheaper for artists to record and distribute music worldwide online without needing a major label. Social media gave artists more direct access to fans.

  • While this reduced the power of major labels sitting as a “chokepoint” between artists and fans, consolidation in the music industry has since seen control become concentrated among just a few big players like the “Big Three” major labels and large companies controlling streaming/live music.

  • Unfair recording contracts signed in the past, when artists had little power, still govern usage of much music today. This gives the major labels enduring market power and control over how music revenues are distributed, despite lower costs to produce and distribute music. More needs to be done to remedy past injustices in contracts and royalty payments for many heritage artists.

  • Major record labels like UMG dominate the music streaming market because they control large catalogs of older, established music that generates steady income without much effort or cost. This “catalog revenue” makes up over half of UMG’s digital revenues.

  • Controlling large catalogs gives the major labels significant financial advantages over smaller independent labels. The catalog income subsidizes the major’s new artist development and marketing costs.

  • The high costs of clearing samples for new music makes it very difficult for independent artists and labels to create complex, sample-heavy music. Sample licensing fees can be $5,000 just to open discussions, and sometimes royalties from the new work are demanded as well.

  • Only well-funded artists signed to major labels have the resources and industry connections needed to reliably clear samples. This system is designed to maintain the dominance of the major labels by creating barriers to entry for independent artists and labels.

  • Streaming payouts for artists are very low, typically less than a penny per stream. Even for relatively successful independent artists, it takes a huge number of streams to generate meaningful income.

  • The rates were set up this way because the major labels, who control a large portion of the music catalog, had power to shape the emerging streaming services. They created a system that disproportionately benefits the top artists and labels.

  • A “pro-rata” system pools all streaming royalties and pays out based on share of total streams. This advantages popular artists who get played more. Fans may think their subscription supports the specific artists they listen to, but the pool system funnels money more broadly.

  • Alternatives like a “user-centric” model that distributes each subscription’s royalties only to the artists actually streamed could reward niche and less popular artists more fairly. But it may not be a perfect solution and effects are unclear without more modeling.

  • In any case, streaming as currently structured often cannot be a viable income source for many artists, especially those making more experimental or unique music suited to deeper, less repeated listens.

  • The music industry is dominated vertically and horizontally by the three major labels (Universal, Sony, Warner), who also own the major music publishers.

  • This creates conflicts of interest where the major labels can structure deals in ways that maximize profits for themselves at the expense of songwriters and recording artists.

  • Songwriter royalties from streaming are especially low, around 10-15% of revenues, compared to around 52% for recording artists. This is due in part to how publishing revenues are calculated.

  • Vertical integration means the majors have an incentive to push more revenue to the record label side since recording costs are recouped before artists see money, while songwriters directly receive royalties.

  • A leaked 2015 Spotify-Sony deal showed how majors negotiate large advances and free/discounted perks like advertising, maximizing “breakage” or unattributed revenue they can keep without sharing.

  • This underscores the conflict of interest where majors prioritize their own profits over independent labels and artists they represent. Transparency around such deals is lacking.

  • The major record labels (Universal, Sony, Warner) have taken equity stakes in many new music streaming companies like Spotify, Shazam, Deezer, YouTube, etc. These deals gave them ownership shares at discounted prices compared to other investors.

  • Their most lucrative deals were early investments in Spotify in 2008, which gave them 17% of the company collectively for under $10,000. When Spotify went public in 2018, the stakes were worth billions.

  • As both equity holders and licensors of music, the majors had conflicts of interest in negotiating royalty rates with streaming services. They accepted lower royalty rates from Spotify to boost its pre-IPO valuation and the value of their shares.

  • However, the “most favored nation” clauses meant indies had to accept these lower rates too. The majors also dragged their feet on sharing the equity windfalls with artists, and allocated proceeds in ways less favorable than a standard licensing rate.

  • This helped concentrate more power and profit in the hands of the major labels at the expense of artists and indies. Some analysts argue it has reduced competition and opportunities for middle and lower-tier artists.

  • Streaming platforms like Spotify rely heavily on playlists to surface new music to listeners and drive streams. Playlists range from algorithmic recommendations to editorial curated playlists.

  • Getting placements on popular playlists can significantly boost an artist’s streams and exposure, helping struggling musicians. However, success relies heavily on luck as well as the artist’s talent and work.

  • Spotify wants listeners to default to playlists instead of custom selections to turn streaming into a massive digital advertising business. They compile playlists aimed at different moods and activities to extract listener data.

  • Playlists repeat the same access and gatekeeping issues as radio, privileging major label artists. Analyses found popular Spotify playlists featured few women and disproportionately represented US artists.

  • Playlists steer musicians toward “streambait” - forgettable background music that doesn’t fatigue listeners. This is changing the sound of music to prioritize streams over artistry.

  • By nudging listeners to playlists, Spotify is training people to outsource music choices and mimicking radio dependence on one programming entity instead of many local DJs. This threatens to disintermediate artists and labels.

  • Streaming platforms like Spotify have gained control over what music gets the most listens through dominant playlists. This gives them power to extract more value from artists, songwriters, publishers and labels.

  • Spotify has prioritized “viral” artists produced by Epidemic Sound that it can license cheaper, over prominent ambient acts. This saves Spotify millions in lower royalty payments.

  • Spotify has started asking artists to accept lower royalty rates in exchange for promotional boosts to plays. It also offers paid “ads” for artists to prompt listener checks of their music.

  • These practices allow Spotify to treat content creators as a profit center and divert streaming revenues away from artists. The barriers to entry in the music licensing system also entrench Spotify’s dominance by making it hard for competitors to emerge.

  • While streaming revenues have grown the overall music market, Spotify and other platforms are taking a larger share of revenues themselves even as their systems mature. Investors bet Spotify can cement control over the recorded music market through these strategies.

  • Record labels are dependent on streaming revenues but risk their catalogs being de-emphasized if they challenge Spotify too strongly given its equity stakes in major labels like Sony and UMG. Their options to respond are limited by Spotify’s growing power in the market.

  • Spotify is pursuing a strategy to integrate and control the podcasting industry through large acquisitions of podcast producers, content, and tools. This mirrors what Google did with online news by taking control of different layers.

  • Podcasting started as a decentralized medium like early YouTube, using RSS feeds to distribute audio files across the internet. Spotify’s strategy is turning it into a centralized “walled garden” controlled by Spotify.

  • This will reduce choices for creators and listeners. It also allows Spotify to surveil listening habits to target ads and develop profiles on users. Premium subscribers will now see ads.

  • Spotify aims to make audiences dependent on its playlists rather than individual shows, reducing creators’ power. Playlist listenership is more valuable to Spotify than individual creators or shows.

  • If successful, Spotify will be able to siphon more value away from creators by charging tolls to reach audiences and vice versa. This mirrors what happened with the loss of open platforms for news.

  • There are concerns this could particularly harm smaller, independent creators and those from underrepresented groups who lack existing platforms or relationships with Spotify.

  • It may also worsen the situation for musicians by diverting listeners and revenue towards Spotify’s own podcasts, which have lower costs than paying music royalties.

  • Radio industry deregulation in the 1990s led to rapid consolidation, with Clear Channel growing from 40 to 1,200 stations in just 5 years. Top companies increased their revenue share from 12% to 50%.

  • Consolidation decreased local programming and DJs, making it harder for independent labels to break new artists on local radio. Centralized control also allowed blocking of artists disliked by radio owners.

  • Though radio revenues exceed the record industry, radio refuses to pay recording artists for airplay. This especially hurts independent artists.

  • Regulatory capture allows radio to defeat bills extending public performance rights to radio. Radio influence also secured deregulation without needed safeguards.

  • Private equity buyouts load debt onto companies like iHeartMedia, which bankrupted despite good fundamentals. Private equity extracts value rather than creating it, often leaving devastated companies and jobs.

  • Large companies like radio, tech, etc. use profits to influence policymakers and secure regulations that entrench their dominance over competitors. This subverts democracy and competition.

  • Live Nation has vertically integrated the live music industry by controlling artists/management, venues, promotion, and ticketing through Ticketmaster. This gives it enormous power over the industry.

  • The 2010 merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster concentrated control but should have been blocked under antitrust law. It allows Live Nation to exploit competitors’ data and swoop in on developing acts/venues.

  • Ticketmaster’s conflicts of interest as both primary and secondary ticketer divert value from artists to scalping profits. Live Nation prioritizes growing this market.

  • Live Nation broke Justice Department promises by retaliating against venues that didn’t use Ticketmaster, threatening to book fewer/no shows. This forced venues into exclusive Ticketmaster deals and reduced competition, driving up ticket fees significantly.

  • Live Nation’s vertical/horizontal integration and anticompetitive behaviors have concentrated power in the live music industry, to the detriment of artists, venues, fans paying high fees, and the growth of independent competitors.

  • Live Nation generates over a third of its profits from its ticketing business Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster controls over 70% of the ticket market.

  • Live Nation insists it is not a threat by claiming it simply offers options to artists and venues, but in reality venues feel they have to work with Live Nation/Ticketmaster to access major artists.

  • The DOJ found Live Nation repeatedly breached its merger consent decree with Ticketmaster, but it faced little punishment beyond an extension of the decree. The fines were minor compared to Live Nation’s revenues.

  • Ticketmaster actually facilitates ticket scalping through programs like TradeDesk, while publicly claiming to crack down on it. This benefits Ticketmaster financially.

  • The pandemic greatly impacted independent music venues with thin margins, and many have closed, while Live Nation has access to capital to withstand the downturn and emerge even stronger.

  • Live Nation’s dominance comes from lax antitrust enforcement allowing its massive vertical integration through mergers like with Ticketmaster over the decades.

  • The top 0.1% of Americans have benefited greatly from growing inequality over recent decades, while the rest of the population has not.

  • Rising inequality is largely due to increasing concentration of income and wealth at the very top of the distribution. The incomes and wealth of the top 0.1% have grown much faster than the rest of the population.

  • Most Americans have seen little to no income growth over this period. Middle class and lower-income groups have fallen further behind economically as the share of national income going to the top tapers has increased.

  • Growing inequality threatens social cohesion and undermines the promise of opportunity and social mobility in American society. It also poses economic risks if mass consumer spending power is undermined by stagnating wages for most households.

So in summary, the article argues that growing inequality in the U.S. primarily benefits the very wealthiest 0.1% of Americans, while the vast majority have seen few economic gains and have fallen further behind relative to the top earners. This increasing concentration of income and wealth at the top is weakening the middle class.

  • The writing staff for TV shows has shrunk in recent years, with fewer slots available for low-level writing positions. This makes it harder for less experienced writers to get their foot in the door and gain writing credits, slowing their career progression.

  • Even established shows like Grey’s Anatomy are paying writers less now per episode than in the past, despite the show enjoying a long run. Overall it has become harder for TV writers to earn compensation that matches the value they provide.

  • Writers are battling to maintain their rights to residuals or “back end” profits from things like streaming, international licensing, etc. Traditionally they would get a share of these profits.

  • Studios now want to change this system as they launch their own streaming platforms. They don’t want to have to pay market rates to license shows they already own to their own services. Disney for example is offering contracts based on a predefined profit pool rather than licensing revenues.

  • There are concerns these changes undermine protections that ensured fair pay for creators. However, the current residual system also disproportionately rewards only the most successful shows. A balance is needed.

  • Apple bans external payments in apps, requiring developers to use Apple’s in-app payment system where Apple takes a 30% cut. This is a major revenue stream for Apple, estimated at over $70B in 2020.

  • The 30% fee hits content creators hard, as it significantly reduces their revenue compared to what users pay. It’s also much higher than credit card processing fees of 2-3%.

  • Some large companies like Amazon and Spotify can resist the fee by not allowing purchases within apps, but this is difficult for smaller developers.

  • Games are a huge part of the app economy, but Epic Games resisted Apple’s 30% cut of Fortnite in-app purchases, leading to its removal from the App Store.

  • Epic then sued Apple, arguing its control of the App Store is anticompetitive and allows it to charge monopoly rents from developers. This highlighted debates around Apple’s control over the iOS ecosystem and app distribution.

  • Epic Games and Apple launched antitrust lawsuits against each other on the same day over Fortnite’s removal from the App Store.

  • Apple not only removed Fortnite but threatened to terminate Epic’s developer accounts for other companies they own, including the popular Unreal Engine game development software. This raised the stakes significantly.

  • A federal court issued an injunction preventing Apple from following through on terminating Epic’s developer accounts, which could have put Epic’s entire business at risk.

  • While Epic is a large company, this fight shows smaller developers cannot afford to challenge Apple’s power for fear of retaliation, as the company has enormous discretion over developers on its platform.

  • The battle highlights concerns over monopolistic control of app distribution and in-app payments on platforms like iOS, with Apple acting as both the platform provider and in-app payment processor.

  • YouTube started in 2005 as a platform for users to easily upload and share videos. Its growth was fueled by viral clips, including unauthorized copyrighted content.

  • Google struggled to compete with its own online video service, Google Video, which focused on licensed professional content but had technical limitations.

  • As YouTube grew exponentially, it faced increasing legal pressure from media companies over copyright infringement on the platform. YouTube complied with safe harbor laws by taking down infringing videos after notifications, but this was an endless game of whack-a-mole.

  • The costs of hosting all user-uploaded video content outpaced YouTube’s revenue, threatening its financial viability. This put pressure on YouTube to address copyright issues in order to continue operations at its massive scale.

  • YouTube’s founders realized they needed more funding and resources to properly manage the site and address infringement issues. Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006.

  • Media companies like Viacom sued YouTube for copyright infringement, seeking billions in damages. However, the court found YouTube was protected by the safe harbor law as it removed infringing content promptly upon notice.

  • Google’s ownership helped YouTube grow rapidly by providing infrastructure and financial backing without worrying as much about short-term profitability. Estimates suggest this saved YouTube hundreds of millions in infrastructure costs annually.

  • To address infringement more proactively, YouTube developed Content ID, an automated copyright matching system. This system detects potentially infringing uploads and gives rights holders options like blocking, tracking views, or running ads to share revenue.

  • Content ID now generates billions annually for rights holders by monetizing user uploads that may have previously faced takedowns. However, it also raises issues through false matches and inability to assess fair use claims.

  • Carl Malamud of posted over 6,000 government videos to YouTube and received over 300 false Content ID matches, proving most were incorrectly flagged. This helped lead YouTube to add “public domain” as a reason to contest matches.

  • Content ID struggles to determine fair use and errs on the side of blocking videos that may be legal uses. One creator received claims against white noise and another for birds singing in the background.

  • This makes it hard for creators like classical musicians and film critics to financially benefit from legally using copyrighted material in their videos. Content ID revenue goes to rights holders instead of creators in many fair use cases.

  • Challenging false matches is difficult, even for experts. NYU law professors had trouble appealing a fair use video match. Contacting YouTube executives directly is not scalable for most creators.

  • Content ID gives YouTube control over culture by determining what content is recommended to viewers. Creators rely on the algorithm for visibility and income but it changes unpredictably.

  • Creators face stress optimizing for the algorithm and risk unemployment if it stops promoting their content. Alternatives to YouTube failed due to lack of scale and resources.

  • YouTube grew rapidly due to positive feedback loops: more users meant more videos which attracted more viewers and videos. This was reinforced by Google’s search dominance funneling users to YouTube.

  • YouTube benefited from economies of scale as part of Google, keeping costs low. It could grow without worrying about profits as it was subsidized by Google.

  • While consumers benefited from low/free prices, creators and rights holders complain YouTube can leverage its power to pay them less for content.

  • YouTube revenues doubled from 2019 to 2021 but it pays creators an estimated 55% and seems to be very profitable for its parent company Alphabet.

  • YouTube pays much less in royalties than competitors like Spotify which record labels call the “value gap,” threatening the music industry’s sustainability.

  • Like artists complain about labels, labels complain YouTube lacks transparency around payments and rates.

  • Regulation aimed at reining in big tech power risks baking in chokepoints if it drives up costs only the largest firms can afford. The GDPR and EU Copyright Directive exemplify this risk.

  • The EU’s Article 17 law aimed to address major record labels’ concerns about losing revenues from YouTube, but it fails to address the underlying cause of YouTube’s excessive market power.

  • The law will be harmful for users and smaller competitors. YouTube’s Content ID system gives it a significant advantage that will be difficult for new entrants to match. This entrenches YouTube’s dominance rather than promoting competition.

  • Regulation should not merely treat symptoms but also address the causes, such as one company’s ability to exert outsized influence over markets through network effects, licensing complexity, data advantages, etc. However, laws like Article 17 risk doing the opposite by further benefiting dominant incumbents.

  • While targeting big tech alone is an incomplete view, the real problems are the anticompetitive “chokepoints” built up by dominant companies through practices like lock-in of users/suppliers, high barriers to entry, and regulatory capture. A more comprehensive approach is needed to address these systemic issues underlying the unbalanced bargaining power.

  • Systemic problems like monopoly power require systemic solutions beyond individual consumer choices or antitrust alone.

  • Antitrust policy historically focused more broadly on threats to a pluralistic society, not just consumer prices. The Chicago School shifted focus to “consumer welfare.”

  • Conduct remedies in antitrust often don’t address harms from monopsony power (dominant buyers), and companies may not comply.

  • Structural remedies like separating business units can be more effective, such as splitting Live Nation’s events and ticketing businesses.

  • Overall, while renewed antitrust enforcement is welcome, it has limits. Broader solutions are needed to curb corporate concentration and chokehold power in the economy. The essay calls for a “movement against chokepoint capitalism.”

The key difference between the two statements is:

  1. “YouTube is at the top of the search results because the algorithm thinks they’re the best” suggests that the algorithm objectively evaluates search results and places YouTube at the top because it determines YouTube provides the best results for that search.

  2. “YouTube is at the top of the search results because Google tweaked the algorithm to think they’re the best” directly claims that Google intentionally altered the algorithm to favor YouTube and prioritize it in search results, rather than the algorithm making that determination objectively.

The first statement implies the algorithm is unbiased, while the second explicitly states Google biased the algorithm design in YouTube’s favor to benefit its owned platform. Structurally separating YouTube from Google would remove this potential conflict of interest and incentive for Google to manipulate search results to prioritize its own products over competitors. However, structural separation is also complex and expensive to implement. Overall regulatory approaches in addition to antitrust are needed to address issues of monopoly power and ensure a more competitive market.

  • The MSF office in Geneva called for universal access to all human knowledge and how to implement it legally, but attendees felt it was just fantasizing with no path to reality.

  • James Love of KEI reminded them that a small group drafted the WTO agreement, so why couldn’t they do the same?

  • They drafted the Access to Knowledge Treaty, which did not pass but parts became the Marrakesh Treaty facilitating access to works for print disabled persons.

  • The Marrakesh Treaty has made an important and transformative difference for the print disabled.

  • You never know what policy ideas discussed may impact the future, so it’s worth exploring proposals even if they seem unrealistic now.

The summary focuses on the key details around the drafting of the A2K Treaty and Marrakesh Treaty, as well as Love’s encouragement that small groups can indeed change world policies and regulations like the WTO agreement was.

Writers who create narrated books for Audible organized in response to discovering the company’s practice of clawing back royalties from books that were returned. They formed a network to monitor Audible and gather evidence against unfair practices.

The writers launched social media campaigns, recruited author rights groups, and contracted antitrust lawyers to take their case to regulators. Audible made some concessions but the writers demand more, including no clawbacks after a quarter of listens and compensation for lost royalties.

The writers ultimately want to create their own cooperative platform with lower fees and prices. Their goal is to force an Amazon/Audible breakup. While they have made progress, the writers still have a long way to go to achieve justice.

The summary discusses lack of transparency as a wider issue, noting how publishers, streaming services, record labels and others do not reveal important data about revenues, payments and agreements. This opacity prevents workers from understanding unfair treatment, organizing effectively, and negotiating better deals. Transparency is needed to empower creators and unwind anticompetitive practices.

  • Shining a light on lack of transparency through public shaming campaigns can be an effective way to force companies to change their practices and treat creators/suppliers better.

  • Examples given are Audible/Susan May, Sony/Spotify music deal leak, and Disney paying science fiction writers like Alan Dean Foster. These all resulted in settlements or policy changes after public outcry.

  • Transparency creates more competition by letting new entrants understand the market and allowing suppliers/creators to negotiate better deals or find alternatives.

  • Laws requiring companies to disclose more information to creators about how their works are exploited and paying out royalties could curb corporate abuse, as the EU has started to do.

  • However, enforceability is key - creators may fear retaliation. Collective auditing rights, allowing unions/regulators to enforce compliance, and making contractual gag clauses unenforceable could help address this.

  • Normalizing transparency through such measures would help balance power dynamics and incentivize accurate accounting practices.

So in summary, public shaming through disclosure of lack of transparency has been an effective tactic, but broader transparency laws and collective rights are needed to fully combat corporate “chokepoints” and hidden practices that disadvantage creators. Enforceability of these rights is a major challenge.

  • William Shockley established Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory to develop the first silicon computer chips in the 1950s. However, he later suffered some kind of mental breakdown and became obsessed with eugenics, touring to promote sterilizing women of color. He also became paranoid and erratic.

  • In response, his eight most senior engineers quit in disgust. They went on to found Fairchild Semiconductor and then spread out to create other pioneering tech companies like Intel, AMD, and Microchip Technology.

  • Legislative reforms in major entertainment industry states like California and New York could help enforce transparency and accounting practices in contracts with companies based there. This would put pressure on abusive practices in the creative industries. Similar protections should also apply to the relationship between investors/platforms and creators.

  • Collective action is one of the most promising ways creative workers can resist exploitation and enforce their existing rights. High-profile creators leveraging their public platforms to advocate for reforms benefitting less successful peers could help effect real change. Organized efforts like arbitration campaigns demonstrate the power workers can gain through uniting.

The passage discusses another narrative in artistic culture - that of the mentor or supporter who lifts up other artists. It contrasts the toxic competition many artists feel against the alternative of celebrating and promoting other creatives.

While no single artist could fix the systemic issues, high-profile ones refusing to work with platforms or studios engaging in oppressive practices could pressure meaningful changes. However, US antitrust law currently prohibits smaller artists and companies from collectively bargaining or boycotting in self-defense against larger entities.

The EU allows more union power, like a drivers’ union suing Uber for personal data access. The passage argues US rules should permit limited supplier cartels to counterbalance outsized buyer power harming consumers. It also notes antitrust was meant to protect workers but now often aids big business over labor.

Unions are an important tool for creating countervailing power, as seen where writers as WGA members have negotiated much better conditions than individually possible given their vulnerability to exploitation in screenwriting. The passage advocates reforming rules to allow collectives that could strengthen campaigns like those against oppressive practices.

  • In the early-mid 20th century, Hollywood studios classified writers as independent contractors rather than employees to avoid labor protections like the right to unionize.

  • Roosevelt’s New Deal extended protections to employees but not contractors. Writers realized being classified as employees was key to gaining protections.

  • Studios argued writers were contractors, but the control studios had over them proved writers were actually employees deserving of labor protections.

  • Unions like the WGA have fought for and achieved things like residual payments for streaming releases and limitations on exclusivity contracts that were driving down writer compensation.

  • Major battles included a 100-day 2007-2008 strike that secured streaming residuals, and a 22-month campaign ending in 2021 that banned problematic agency practices like packaging fees.

  • Solidarity and willingness to strike when needed gives unions leverage to improve conditions, though it remains an ongoing struggle against consolidated studio power.

  • Greater coordination between Hollywood unions may help amplify advocacy for worker protections going forward in the industry.

  • Many artists and creatives end up with exploitative contracts that grant rights in perpetuity to powerful companies like record labels and book publishers. This leaves the creators with little ongoing compensation even as their works generate huge profits.

  • Remote/digital work has made many white-collar jobs vulnerable to outsourcing as well, as demonstrated by the COVID-19 pandemic allowing more remote work. Workers are realizing their jobs could be sent anywhere globally.

  • Past worker solidarity movements like in the Gilded Age showed strength through workers of different backgrounds uniting over shared economic interests. But modern workers have struggled to replicate this, often turning on replacement workers from other countries.

  • New forms of digital communication and organization could help scattered global workers build solidarity. But coordinated action will require overcoming challenges like surveillance from companies trying to thwart unionization efforts.

  • Limiting the duration of copyright contracts could help address the imbalance of power between powerful industry players and individual creators over the long term. But past attempts at such limits have not been effective due to anti-competitive practices that nullified them. Significant reforms would be needed to truly empower creators.

  • US copyright law has included termination rights since 1790, allowing authors to reclaim copyrights from publishers after a certain period. However, these rights have been weakened due to pressure from powerful publishers.

  • Publishers have insisted on contracts that take both 14-year terms upfront, defeating the purpose of reversionary rights. The Supreme Court eventually ruled this was allowed.

  • The 1976 Copyright Act finally gave unambiguous termination rights, but record companies, studios, and publishers fiercely fought any meaningful protections and had the rights neutered.

  • Termination rights are now complex and expensive to use, and very few creators actually utilize them. According to one study, only 16,000 works have been subject to termination notices in the past 8 years, a tiny fraction of eligible works.

  • Record labels succeeded in briefly adding sound recordings to the list of works that cannot be terminated, by surreptitiously adding language to an unrelated bill without hearings. This was a huge blow to artists’ rights until they lobbied to have it reversed.

  • In summary, termination rights have been weakened by publishers/labels lobbying to maintain their power over creators and preserving “freedom of contract” only when it benefits themselves.

The passage discusses various time-based reversion laws for copyright transfers and suggests they can help creators regain control and profits from their works. However, existing laws have limitations. The US termination law allows reversion after 35 years, but this may be too long to meaningfully help creators. A 1911 UK law automatically reverted rights to authors’ heirs after 25 years, which helped the families of composer Solomon Linda regain control of the famous song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” But 25 years is often too late, after most commercial value has expired.

Policymakers are considering reforms, like the UK recommending reversion after 20 years. Canada may adopt a 25-year reversion right. But past versions imported flaws, and complex claiming processes limit impact. South Africa nearly passed a 25-year automatic reversion law, but concerns over increased “orphan works” derailed it.

The passage proposes a more radical possibility - automatically returning rights to creators 25 years after transfer, allowing them to re-exploit works through original investors or new ones. This would maintain incentives to initially produce and distribute content, while getting control back to creators in time for subsequent commercial cycles. Twenty-five years is considered sufficient to incentivize major investments. More rights granted further in the future provide little additional incentive value. Such a law could meaningfully help creators regain profits and culture remain accessible.

  • Automatically returning copyright to creators after 25 years could significantly change the dynamics in creative industries like music. Artists would be able to renegotiate contracts to get higher royalties as their works become more valuable over time.

  • This would reduce the power and profit advantage of major legacy companies that control huge back catalogs from decades ago. It would open opportunities for newer competitors.

  • To address issues like orphan works, a registry system would be needed to track who owns copyrights. Works could be managed by a “cultural steward” if no current owner is identified.

  • Revenues from orphan works could support creators through grants, pensions, etc. and help locate missing creators.

  • Returning rights periodically would create new investment opportunities by freeing up older works. It would make the creative economy more efficient by ensuring works still in demand get ongoing support and promotion.

  • Critics argue this could reduce funding for new works, but proponents counter that more money would go to individual creators who need it most to produce new content. Overall it could grow the creative economy rather than shrink it.

  • Jane Weaver found herself in a difficult situation in the 1990s where the record label she had been working with shelved her album and refused to let her release it elsewhere without paying a large fee for the recording rights.

  • Rights holders claim broad ownership rights over creative works “just in case” it becomes a big commercial success, even though this is rarely the case. This allows them to avoid competition by hoarding works they are not actively exploiting.

  • The EU Copyright Directive of 2019 introduced authors’ and performers’ right to revoke transfers of rights if the works are not being appropriately exploited. Other regions should consider similar policies.

  • Imposing time limits on contracts would create a more hospitable environment for creative workers. Major rights holders would not be able to rely on indefinite passive income from back catalogs and could lose rights if they did not treat creators well, incentivizing better treatment and the emergence of new business models.

  • Time-limited contracts would reduce ability of rights holders to strong-arm unfair deals on creators and avoid fixing outdated or unfair terms. It would also increase genuine freedom of contract by freeing up rights and creating more options.

Here are the key points about how anti-circumvention laws help give tech giants like Apple and Google control over app and game developers:

  • Apple and Google exert control over what apps and games can be installed on iOS and Android devices through their app stores. Developers are not allowed to distribute apps through other channels.

  • The DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions make it illegal for developers to provide tools that would allow users to install apps from outside the official app stores. This helps enforce Apple and Google’s control.

  • As a result, if a developer wants to sell their app to iOS or Android users, they have to go through the Apple or Google app stores and pay the high commission (30%) charged by the stores.

  • These anti-circumvention laws are one of several legal tools used by tech giants to lock in suppliers and customers, reducing competition and allowing the giants to extract a large share of revenue from developers. Competitive circumvention (“comcom”) could help counter this by allowing alternative distribution models.

So in summary, the anti-circumvention provisions of copyright law give Apple and Google a legal stranglehold over how apps are distributed for their platforms, enforcing their control over developers and revenues.

This passage discusses how interoperability mandates and competitive compatibility (comcom) can work together to encourage fairer digital markets. Interoperability mandates, like laws requiring open car diagnostics, can help but are fragile as companies may subvert them. Comcom, the right to connect new systems to existing ones through techniques like scraping and reverse engineering, provides a remedy.

If a company shuts down a mandated interoperability system, comcom shifts the equilibrium by allowing competitors to quickly rebuild connections while frustrating the company. The threat of an unmanaged comcom “cold war” makes complying with mandates the better strategic choice for companies. Together, thoughtful interoperability laws and comcom rights could open restrictive platforms and app stores to more competition, benefitting consumers and creators.

  • Science fiction author Alan Dean Foster stopped receiving royalties after Disney acquired the rights to some of his books through purchases of Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox.

  • Disney claimed it acquired the rights to Foster’s books but not the obligation to pay him, relying on a radical theory that could fundamentally alter copyright and contract law if accepted.

  • The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) tried unsuccessfully to resolve the dispute through their grievance process.

  • With no other leverage, Foster and SFWA went public to embarrass Disney into paying what Foster was owed, relying on the obvious justice of his claim and his fans’ support.

  • Disney tried to prevent Foster from going public by insisting he sign a restrictive nondisclosure agreement before negotiations, rather than after reaching an agreement, showing their aggressiveness in trying to minimize author payments.

  • The case illustrates the precarious situation of creators and authors when large companies acquire rights through mergers and acquisitions without also assuming the associated financial obligations.

  • Streaming platforms and tech giants pay very little to creators for their work, keeping most of the billions generated through things like streaming music and video. This makes it hard for creators to sustain their work.

  • Minimum wages or “floors” could help by requiring platforms to pay creators a minimum amount. The EU recently passed a law giving creators the right to “appropriate and proportional remuneration” from licensing deals.

  • “Residual remuneration rights” being tested in Europe allow creators to transfer copyrights as usual but keep the right to ongoing, proportional pay from licensees like Spotify and Netflix. This mimics systems some unions have won.

  • Such rights could help creators being squeezed by platforms and companies changing terms, but they don’t address platforms’ dominance or encourage new competition. Rates could still be squeezed by platforms passing costs to labels/publishers.

  • Rethinking statutory licenses, which allow certain uses in exchange for fees, could establish minimum prices and encourage new entrants, achieving more benefits than just residual remuneration rights alone. But more would need to be done to address dominance of major platforms.

  • BMI and ASCAP issue licenses that allow businesses like restaurants and clubs to publicly play music. They are required to grant licenses to anyone who requests one, which is important for a functioning market.

  • The author argues that statutory licenses for music should go beyond just addressing high transaction costs. They could safeguard creators by setting minimum wages and protections regardless of downward pressure from companies.

  • The existing US statutory license for non-interactive streaming services illustrates the benefits. It sets royalty rates that are paid equally per play regardless of the songwriter/publisher. This promotes competition.

  • However, statutory licenses can also have downsides if not designed well. Rates may act as a ceiling rather than a floor on what creators can earn. They also failed in the past by setting interactive streaming rates too low for songwriters.

  • Overall, statutory licenses have potential to reduce buyer power, increase transparency, set fair minimum prices, and ensure more equitable splits if redesigned carefully for markets like music streaming. A reimagined license could help address issues like concentrated corporate power distorting contracts in streaming.

  • Artists often signed unfair recording contracts in the 1950s-60s that they have never recouped from, even as the labels continue profiting from their work. Only Sony has taken steps to no longer offset streaming royalties against old debts.

  • Statutory licenses could help override unfair contracts and mandate fair royalty shares for artists and investors. They could also regulate how long recording debts can be recouped for, like capping it at 15 years as some independent labels do.

  • Streaming royalties are currently split very unevenly between artists and labels depending on contract terms. There is an argument they should be split more fairly at 50-50.

  • The complex global music licensing system is inefficient, with up to 75% of royalties swallowed in administration costs before reaching artists. Multiple databases and societies in each country leads to high errors and delays in payments.

  • A global, transparent statutory license collected by a centralized body could help simplify the system, reduce costs and ensure more royalties reach artists. It could cover recordings already licensed to at least one streaming service.

  • There have been repeated failed attempts to create a comprehensive, multi-language database of music copyright ownership information to help properly attribute and pay royalties for songs and recordings. This is not due to a lack of technology, but a lack of proper incentives.

  • Reform of the US statutory music licensing system was possible through the Music Modernization Act because the old system did not work well for anyone - songwriters, platforms, etc. This created the necessary motivation to change the system.

  • Creating an accurate global database faces challenges as individual collecting societies don’t want to lose money/power and major platforms benefit from the lack of standardization which reduces competition.

  • Meaningful reform would require changing incentives, e.g. forcing labels to provide better metadata, adopting data standards, ending pro-rata distribution of unclaimed royalties which currently benefits large players.

  • A new global system combined with changes to how unclaimed royalties are handled could motivate major players to support accurate royalty payment and help independent artists. Any reforms should also increase transparency and governance of collecting societies.

  • A centralized licensing database could facilitate direct uploading and licensing of music by creators, providing a more equitable system than the current complex process that advantages major labels and platforms. This could potentially be extended to video content as well.

  • Raising capital is a major challenge for starting worker cooperatives. Stocksy was able to finance its launch through profits from its founders’ earlier sale to Getty, but most creator co-ops will need to find funding elsewhere.

  • Low interest rates and economic stimulus programs could help provide loans or grants to support new cooperative models. However, breaking into markets dominated by giants like Facebook will still be difficult due to existing advantages in data, network effects, and financial resources.

  • One area where culture producers could reclaim value by working together is news. Contextual advertising, which targets ads based on article topic rather than user tracking, is gaining ground and allowing some publishers like NPO to increase revenues while eliminating privacy-violating behavioral tracking.

  • A cooperatively owned news advertising network could help distribute proceeds fairly among member publishers while intermediate them with advertisers. This could counterbalance power held by giants like Google and Facebook. However, advertising alone may not be a sustainable long-term funding model for news due to issues like brands blocking ads on “controversial” topics.

  • Attempts to get platforms to directly pay news publishers, such as through EU legislation, risk entrenching the largest players through bargaining power imbalances and complex bundled revenue-sharing deals rather than purely supporting news production. Overall funding models for cooperatives and independent news remain an ongoing challenge.

  • The article discusses concerns about new regulations and platforms aimed at getting tech giants like Google and Facebook to pay news publishers for linking to and using snippets of their content.

  • One argument is that this risks making news publishers more dependent on the platforms and does not address the underlying problem of platforms dominating online advertising.

  • Better options proposed include taxing online ad revenues and using the funds to support independent journalism, or applying competition laws to address the imbalance of power between platforms and news organizations.

  • Australia has taken the approach of using competition law to require platforms to negotiate payments with news publishers, but critics argue this just shifts money between companies without addressing the platforms’ dominance.

  • Co-ops and non-profit models are discussed as alternative ways of distributing music and journalism that are less dependent on platforms and advertising models. Tax deductions for donations to public interest news could also help.

  • In summary, the article evaluates different regulatory approaches and argues for solutions that reduce platforms’ power over news/culture and support independent, public-interest models rather than simply shifting money between large companies. Co-ops and non-profits are presented as having potential to fill niches left by major businesses.

  • The passage discusses alternative models for supporting local creative communities and workers in various industries such as music, books, video, and gaming.

  • It provides examples of local initiatives like Tracks, a music streaming platform funded by the Chapel Hill library that pays local artists to feature their albums. This connects local artists to audiences while also building community.

  • Local public libraries are also offering alternative ebook and audiobook platforms like indyreads in Australia that feature more local and independent authors.

  • Kanopy partners with libraries to provide free access to independent films without ads or tracking.

  • Game studios could move towards a cooperative model owned by workers, as some small studios like Motion Twin in France have done successfully.

  • Local interventions by governments, libraries, and other institutions can support creative communities in meaningful ways even if they cannot compete directly with large global platforms. The focus is more on promotion, payment, and building local connections.

  • National governments have the power to get more involved in directly supporting the arts through public initiatives and rights programs.

  • One idea is a public lending right that recognizes the educational value of books available in libraries, as exists in many other countries. This could be centrally funded to protect it from publisher pressures.

  • Larger proposals include a government-funded American Music Library for universal free public access to music. Artists could opt-in and labels/publishers couldn’t stop them. It could stream music with a basic service.

  • Henderson Cole proposes a new royalty system bypassing the complex current one, with artist caps to direct more money to less commercially successful creators.

  • Similar public music libraries could be set up in other countries, with partnerships allowing cross-border access.

  • National digital cooperatives could provide infrastructure for alternatives to big tech platforms and support public/citizen journalism.

  • Broader changes are needed to address how corporations have strategically consolidated control over creative markets to facilitate creator shakedowns through laws, vertical integration, high barriers, opaque accounting, copyright aggregation, and captured regulators.

  • Creators deserve a better system that fairly remunerates more of those profiting from their work through transparency, interoperability, simplified licensing, collective action, and minimum wages.

  • Wages have stagnated over the last 40 years while productivity and corporate profits have risen. Anti-competitive practices by monopolies and monopsonies have squeezed both customers and suppliers.

  • Policies like non-compete clauses, private arbitration requirements, bans on class action lawsuits, and worker misclassification allow companies to further exploit workers and deny them rights. Wage theft has become rampant.

  • Union organizing drives face aggressive opposition aimed at traumatizing workers and preventing future unionization.

  • Costs of essentials like education, healthcare, and housing have outpaced wages due to monopolization and speculative investing, increasing economic insecurity.

  • The current system concentrates wealth and power in the hands of a tiny elite who use their wealth to influence policy and rig the economy in their favor, creating a self-reinforcing cycle of extraction that primarily benefits investors and the ultra-rich.

  • Chokepoint capitalism, where a few large corporations dominate key industries, hurts workers in many fields like banking, farming, wrestling, nursing, teaching, and more.

  • This issue could unite many progressive causes like addressing racial/gender pay gaps, improving access to food and healthcare, and protecting the environment. Corporate concentration exacerbates all these problems.

  • A job guarantee program could help counter corporate power by providing meaningful jobs to anyone who wants one, like addressing climate change, infrastructure, care work, and the arts. Past programs like the New Deal created many public jobs and cultural works.

  • A job guarantee would ensure dignity and purpose for all workers while getting important social needs met. It could be funded at a relatively modest cost compared to pandemic relief programs, through a wealth tax on corporations and the richest individuals who have benefited most from current inequalities.

  • This could help address “Baumol’s cost disease” where labor-intensive work like the arts becomes relatively more expensive over time unless subsidized, and risk losing important parts of culture. A job guarantee could support creative careers.

So in summary, it frames corporate concentration and lack of good job opportunities as interconnected issues that could unite many constituencies through a job guarantee program that makes social and economic opportunity more broadly shared.

  • Collective action is needed to counter the enormous power of large corporations and address issues like wage theft, inequality, climate change, etc. Individual solutions alone will not be sufficient.

  • Fighting injustice on one front creates opportunities to make progress on other related issues as well. For example, achieving universal healthcare could empower workers to fight wage theft.

  • Countries around the world are implementing policies to curb corporate power and support creators, like stronger copyright termination rights. This spreads reform globally as effective policies become models for other nations.

  • Even scrutiny or regulation of large companies in one country can force changes that apply worldwide, demonstrating the potential impact of policies enacted anywhere. International cooperation increases momentum for further reforms globally.

  • While corporations promote an image of friendship, they are really immortal entities that primarily serve their own survival and growth at the expense of human interests. Collective action is needed to hold them accountable and counter their influence on public policy.

  • Big Tech companies like Google and Facebook don’t have personalities or ethics, their sole goal is to maximize profits for shareholders above all else.

  • If left unchecked, Big Tech will never treat artists and creators fairly as that would reduce profits. They only treat engineers well because skills are scarce.

  • Record companies have started treating artists better in recent years not because they changed but because artists have more options. Companies exploit artists when they can.

  • The only way to make corporations respect people is to ensure suppliers and workers have real alternatives. Competition increases self-determination by reducing intermediaries’ power over how people arrange their lives.

  • Creators are told solutions are more copyright or filters, but the root cause is economic systems that make the rich richer at everyone else’s expense. Wide-scale changes are needed to rebalance power between capital and labor.

So in summary, it argues that unchecked big business prioritizes profits over people, and genuine competition is needed to counteract their power and give more self-determination to creators, workers and suppliers.

Here is a summary of key points from Carstensen, Competition Policy and the Control of Buyer Power, 12:

  • The chapter discusses buyer power, which arises when a firm is large relative to its suppliers and customers have few alternative options to buy from or sell to.

  • Buyer power can be problematic if it allows buyers to reduce prices paid to suppliers below competitive levels or demand other unfavorable terms that harm suppliers.

  • However, evaluating buyer power is complex as large buyers can also achieve efficiencies and lower costs that benefit consumers.

  • The chapter examines challenges in developing policies to address potential harm from buyer power. Key issues include defining what level of buyer size or leverage constitutes unacceptable market power.

  • Metrics like market shares are imperfect, and buyer power depends on factors like availability of alternatives for suppliers. Effective policies require assessing each industry and competitive dynamics case-by-case.

  • Overall, the chapter explores the economic impacts of buyer power and difficulties in crafting appropriate competition policies to regulate it without unduly limiting pro-competitive effects of large buyers.

Here is a summary of the article:

  • The article examines how news media was disrupted by the rise of online classified advertising sites like Craigslist, which siphoned away revenue from newspaper classified ad sections.

  • It also discusses how online platforms like Google and Facebook came to dominate digital advertising, capturing the vast majority of online ad dollars. This made it very difficult for news publishers to generate sustainable ad revenue from their websites.

  • Issues like concentration of power in the hands of a few tech giants, lack of transparency in ad pricing and measurement, and commodification of users’ attention are explored.

  • The business model of ad-supported news on the web is called into question. Alternative models like cooperative ownership, micropayments, and public funding are mentioned but not examined in depth.

  • Overall the article traces how the economics of online advertising and platform dynamics negatively impacted the business model of traditional news publishers and facilitated the decline of local newspapers across the US and Europe. The role of tech platforms in reshaping the news media landscape is a major focus.

Here is a summary of the key points from the article:

  • User-Centric Payment System (UCPS) is a proposed alternative payment system for streaming services that aims to be more fair and transparent for artists.

  • Under the current label-centric system, labels take the largest share of streaming revenues. UCPS proposes bypassing labels and paying artists directly based on their actual streaming shares.

  • It would provide artists and rights holders full access and transparency into usage data and payment flows. This addresses the “black box” problem where artists don’t know how much they are owed.

  • UCPS payments would be distributed periodically based on real-time usage rather than delayed accounting. This gets money to artists faster.

  • Several organizations like Merlin and INDI are advocating for a user-centric approach. However, labels and majors prefer the current system where they control the flows of money.

  • Adoption faces challenges due to legal and contractual complexities. But proponents argue it could make the system fairer to independent artists and smaller rights holders.

Here is a summary of the key points from the passages:

In the first article, the author explains why he quit using Spotify after 13 years. He feels the service has strayed from its original purpose of connecting fans to musicians. Issues he cites include the dominance of major label content, lack of support for lesser-known artists, and the negative impact of playlists and algorithms on discovering new music.

The second passage discusses the growing power of podcast networks and how they are using their influence. It notes that a small number of large companies now control the majority of popular podcasts and shape the creative choices and economic terms for creators.

The third chapter compares certain aspects of the radio industry in the US to systems that existed in Rwanda, Iran, and North Korea. It discusses how consolidation has limited diversity of voices and how commercial interests often take priority over local community needs. It also examines the controversial lack of performance royalties for musical works broadcast on radio.

The fourth chapter analyzes how Live Nation came to dominate the live music industry through a series of acquisitions following the 2010 merger with Ticketmaster. It explores criticisms that the company uses its power to disadvantage competitors, artists, and fans through restrictive policies. concerns about abuse of its monopoly position.

The fifth chapter focuses on the 2019 dispute between talent agencies and the Writers Guild of America. It provides background on packaging fees and conflicts of interest between agencies and writers. It also notes systemic issues in Hollywood that have concentrated bargaining power with agencies.

Here is a summary of the relevant points from the sources:

  • Disney is exploring changes to its traditional profit participation model for TV shows as the industry shifts towards streaming. Studios are pulling away from deals that give actors and creators a percentage of backend profits from TV shows. (Source 14)

  • Profit participation has traditionally been an important part of compensation for creators and talent. But as streaming becomes more prevalent, the concept of profits is more ambiguous. Disney is looking at new models that still provide participation but are better structured for the digital age. (Source 15)

  • Fortnite developer Epic Games sued Apple over Apple’s App Store policies, including the 30% cut Apple takes of in-app purchases. Epic implemented its own in-app payment system in Fortnite to avoid Apple’s fee, violating Apple’s policies. (Sources 12-15)

  • Apple exerts considerable control over what apps are available on iOS and how they are distributed via the App Store. But some argue this amounts to a monopoly, and Apple should face more competition and oversight over its practices. The lawsuit could have significant implications for the future of the app economy. (Sources 13, 18)

Here is a summary of the key points from the article “bes-content-id-discourages-fair-use-and-dictates-what-we-see-online”:

  • Content ID is a copyright enforcement system used by YouTube that checks uploaded videos for potential copyrighted content. It allows content owners to flag matches and choose to block, track or monetize matched videos.

  • However, critics argue that Content ID discourages fair use on YouTube and gives copyright holders too much control over what content stays online. By making copyrighted content matches, it can automatically block uploaded videos without regard for whether they constitute fair use.

  • It also allows copyright owners to dictate the types of content that get promoted and distributed on YouTube since matched videos may be blocked or diverted to less visible areas of the platform. This gives copyright holders influence over the types of discussions and commentary that take place online.

  • In some cases, copyright claims made through Content ID have been disputed, but the system makes it difficult for uploaders to challenge incorrect claims without going through a lengthy dispute process. This can discourage the uploading and sharing of content that may constitute fair use.

  • In summary, the article argues that Content ID discourages fair use practices on YouTube and essentially allows certain copyright holders to dictate what types of discussions and commentary do or do not get visibility on the platform.

Here is a summary of the Dutch court document:

  • The document is a ruling from the District Court of Amsterdam from 2021 dealing with a dispute between two parties over renewal of a lease agreement.

  • The plaintiffs owned a property that was leased to the defendant. The lease term came to an end in 2021.

  • Under Dutch law, at the end of a lease term the tenant has a statutory right to renewal of the lease unless the landlord has valid grounds for refusal.

  • The landlord refused to renew, arguing they wanted to renovate and expand the property. However, the court found the proposed renovations were not substantial enough to justify refusal given the tenant’s right to renewal.

  • The court therefore ruled in favor of the tenant and ordered the landlord to renew the lease agreement under the existing terms and conditions for a further fixed term specified in the ruling.

  • In making its decision, the court balanced the tenant’s statutory right to renewal against the landlord’s freedom to manage their property, ultimately finding the right to renewal took precedence on the facts of this case.

That provides a high-level summary of the key details and outcome addressed in the Dutch court document. Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional questions.

Here is a summary of the key points from the Hollywood Reporter article:

  • Film and TV composers are complaining that streaming services like Netflix insist on buying full ownership of the music rights for projects, rather than just sync licensing for specific uses.

  • Buying full ownership means the streaming platforms can reuse and remix the music as they please without having to pay composers additional fees. Composers see this as an overreach of their rights.

  • Ownership demands make it hard for composers to license their work to others later on. It prevents them from generating additional income streams from things like movie trailers, ads, etc. where their music is reused.

  • Streaming platforms want full ownership to avoid future licensing fees if the content becomes popular and is used in more ways over time. But composers argue this is unfair and acts as a “work for hire” arrangement without the benefits that provides.

  • The issue is causing tensions in negotiations between composers and streamers. Some composers have refused projects rather than agree to full buyouts of their copyrights and ownership stakes.

Here is a summary of the key points from the article “What Is the Pay Rate for Spotify Streams?“:

  • Spotify pays royalties to rights holders (artists, songwriters, labels, publishers) for each stream of their music on the platform.

  • The standard royalty rate per stream is between $0.006 and $0.0084, depending on the country. However, rates can vary based on licensing deals.

  • Royalties are split between the sound recording copyright owner (usually the record label) and the musical works copyright owner (usually the publisher and songwriters). The split is about 52% to the sound recording and 48% to the musical works.

-Factors that determine an artist’s actual revenue from streams include how the royalties are split in their contract, what tier/level they are in Spotify’s tiered royalty system, and how many streams their music gets. Very popular artists can earn hundreds of thousands or more in royalties from streaming.

  • Streaming royalties are often a small source of total music industry revenue compared to other sources like live performances and merchandise sales. But streaming is growing significantly each year compared to other digital formats like downloads.

  • Artists and rights holders argue streaming royalties should be higher to better compensate for the massive global usage of streaming music services. Spotify and others argue they are still building the market and revenues will grow over time.

  • sts, 59, 180, 220 - these appear to be statistical numbers but without context it’s unclear what they refer to.

  • Black Lives Matter, 47, 59 - BLM movement reported on news sites (47) and an additional statistical number (59) is provided but no context.

  • Blip TV, 133 - a company/platform called Blip TV is mentioned along with the number 133 but no additional context is given.

  • “Blurred Lines” lawsuit, 63–64, 131 - refers to a copyright lawsuit over the song “Blurred Lines” and provides page number ranges 63-64 and another number 131 but no other details.

  • BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.), 217 - identifies BMI as a music licensing organization and mentions the number 217 but does not provide any additional context.

So in summary, these bullet points provide brief references to various topics but do not adequately summarize because the numerical values listed are not defined or explained in the context provided. More details would be needed to fully understand and summarize the key points.

Here is a summary of the key terms from the list provided:

  • Media Bargaining Code - A proposed code in some countries that would allow news publishers to collectively bargain with platforms over revenue sharing.

  • News Showcase - A Facebook program that pays publishers to feature their content on the platform.

  • Noncompete agreements - Contract clauses that restrict employees from working for competitors for a period of time after leaving a job. This is common in tech and other industries.

  • NPO - Not-for-profit organization.

  • Office suite - Software suite including word processors, spreadsheets, etc. commonly bundled together.

  • Ola - An Indian ride-hailing service like Uber.

  • Oligarchy - A system where a small group exercises control, often in an anti-competitive way.

  • Oracle v. Google - A copyright lawsuit between the two tech companies over code used in Android.

  • Organizing - Forming unions and exerting collective bargaining power to advocate for workers’ rights and interests.

  • Orphan works - Copyrighted works whose owners cannot be identified or located to obtain permission to use the work.

  • PCs - Personal computers.

  • Payola - The illegal practice of paying radio DJs/stations to promote or favor certain songs.

  • Pandora - A popular music streaming service.

  • Platforms - Digital services that facilitate interactions between users like Facebook, Uber, etc.

That covers the main topics and concepts addressed in the list. Let me know if you need any part summarized or explained in more detail.

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About Matheus Puppe