Protect artists from Big Tech

Make broadcasters and Internet services pay their fair share

The author is a graduate of Chico State and the UCLA School of Law. She teaches music law and a clinical course on artist development and event production in Chico State’s Music and Theatre Department.

Big Tech wants to gag artists, punish them for speaking out and organizing—and use the legal system to take what’s not theirs, for profit.

Big Tech (Google/YouTube, Clear Channel, Sirius XM, the NAB and the DiMA, et al.) has flourished as a result of consumers’ demand for free information, news, audiovisual content and music online. And, with its newfound power, Big Tech has become a serious threat to the rights of citizens, in particular our First Amendment rights.

Earlier this year, organized blackouts, successful misinformation campaigns and online attacks by “hackers” on the proponents of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) resulted in its failure. Fake consumer groups, red herrings, dissemination of misinformation and the bullying of opponents through the legal system are standard practice for Big Tech. It operates in much the same way Monsanto does (i.e., interference with GMO labeling, threatening to sue the state of Vermont, suing non-GMO farmers). Big Tech has already filed suit against SAG/AFTRA, ASCAP, Sound Exchange and the AFM.

Presently Pandora, a music webcaster (backed by Big Tech and $222-billion superpower Google), is using a misinformation campaign on its website to gain support for the “Internet Radio Fairness Act” (IRFA). This legislation would silence artists, make the judges political appointees and slash artists’ already reduced royalties by 85 percent.

Maybe Big Tech should take its own advice and “create a new business model.” Without creative people, much of the Internet economy would die.

Google and Big Tech’s real agenda is to diminish the rights and eliminate the voices of all creators (and objectors)—and relegate all creative works to free content. Until Big Tech respects our legal rights as owners of our persons and our works, Big Tech is no different than an accomplice in any other crime—only Big Tech doesn’t go to jail, it changes the laws, and profits from its participation in the destruction of the livelihood of millions.

Broadcasters still pay zero to recording artists for the use of their recordings. If there is to be true fairness, Congress must make Big Tech and all broadcasters and Internet services pay their fair share and meaningfully regulate these industries.

Anita Rivas’ students are producing a Q&A on Artists’ Rights with East Bay Ray (of the Dead Kennedys) today (Thursday, Dec. 6) at 5 p.m. in Chico State’s Rowland-Taylor Recital Hall (PAC 134).