Content Creators Coalition (c3) Demands Antitrust Hearings Into Google’s Attempts To Censor Artists

Artist Group Warns Congress of YouTube’s Leveraging Platform Monopoly To Silence Critics

Washington, D.C. — In response to recent reports in The Verge and Bloomberg about Google’s YouTube leveraging its platform monopoly to censor artists from speaking out about the service’s unfair compensation for artists and the need to update the broken DMCA safe harbors, the Content Creators Coalition (c3) today sent the following letter to the leaders of the House & Senate Judiciary Committees, as well as the leaders of the respective Judiciary subcommittee with jurisdiction over antitrust matters, demanding hearings into the company’s abuses.

January 29, 2018

The Honorable Chuck Grassley, Chairman

Senate Committee on the Judiciary

224 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Bob Goodlatte, Chairman

House Committee on the Judiciary

2138 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Grassley and Chairman Goodlatte:

We write to request that the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, as well as the respective subcommittees with jurisdiction over antitrust issues, schedule hearings in response to reports that Google is leveraging its platform monopoly to silence artists.

Google’s actions are clearly aimed at thwarting the Congressional review of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s safe harbors as well as the public debate about the issue. This not only hurts artists, who aren’t receiving fair compensation for their music from the YouTube platform monopoly, but also leaves consumers with less music as the next generation of artists disappear.

As you know, an unprecedented groundswell of artists have called out Google for gaming outdated laws to facilitate YouTube’s profiteering from rampant music piracy on its service. In filings to the United States Copyright Office, a cross section of music creators argue that the DMCA’s safe harbors are actually “safe havens” that allow platform monopolies to use the ubiquity of unlicensed free music on their services as a cudgel in negotiations to drive down their own licensing costs.

We are deeply troubled by recent reports indicating that “(Google’s) YouTube (service) has asked musicians to agree not to disparage the streaming-video service in exchange for promotional support, according to people familiar with the matter, a way to quell persistent criticism by artists.” Simply put, Google has abused its monopoly power to give artists pennies on the dollar and appears to be further abusing that power to buy the silence of artists who might otherwise speak out and draw public scrutiny to these practices.

This is not the first time Google has resorted to underhanded tactics to thwart a full Congressional and public airing of its abuses. When our organization placed ads on YouTube criticizing its treatment of artists, our ads were censored without explanation. Internal emails give the strong appearance that Google’s influence-purchasing machine successfully ousted Google critics, the Open Markets Initiative (now the independent “Open Markets Institute”), from the New America Foundation.

With jurisdiction over copyright and antitrust laws, the Judiciary Committees are uniquely situated to get to the bottom of these apparent abuses. We ask that you do so swiftly.

Thank you for your consideration of our request.

Sincerely,

Melvin Gibbs, President

John McCrea, Vice President

Tommy Manzi, Treasurer

Rosanne Cash, Vice President At Large

Tift Merritt, Vice President At Large

Matthew Montfort, Vice President At Large

CC: The Honorable Jerry Nadler, Ranking Member, House Committee on the Judiciary

The Honorable Tom Marino, Chairman, House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law

The Honorable David Cicilline, Ranking Member, House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein, Ranking Member, Senate Committee on the Judiciary

The Honorable Mike Lee, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights

The Honorable Amy Klobuchar, Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights

Written by

Artist-run, non-profit advocating for musicians, performers, & songwriters in the digital landscape. (Formerly the Content Creators Coalition or “c3”)

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