Music Devaluation Is a Myth, Google Tells Congress

Google Responds To US Copyright Office Public Study
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We are not devaluing music at all, Google reiterates…

Google has previously claimed that it is impossible to devalue music, as songs will always be worth different things to different people at different times.  Now, Google is claiming that they in fact ADD value to music.

”To date, Content ID has generated more than $1 billion in revenue for the content industry… any claim that the DMCA safe harbors are responsible for a ‘value gap’ for music on YouTube is simply false.”

That follows controversial comments from 2014, in which then Google Play executive Tim Quirk blasted the music industry for constantly crying ‘devaluation’…

“It’s amazing how often people invoke that word ‘devalue’ as if it means something.  It doesn’t.  You know why?  Because you can’t devalue music.  It’s impossible.  Songs are not worth exactly 99 cents and albums are not worth precisely $9.99.

When I hear people complain about discount pricing in online stores or fret about on-demand services such as Rhapsody and Spotify, I rebut them with another rule of mine that makes me sound like a hippie but I promise I’m not:

Music is priceless.

I mean that literally and I believe that even more than I believe old people should shut up about how much better things were in our day.  Here’s why.  The same song will always be worth different things to different people at different times.  The online music revolution hasn’t changed that.  It’s simply made the fact glaringly obvious.”

DMCA obsolete?

Back in 1998, Congress enacted Section 512 as part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (or, DMCA).  At that time, just 5% of the world’s population was online.  Fast-forward to the present, and more than 80 percent of Americans use the internet on a daily basis, and that’s just America.  Unsurprisingly, there’s a major issue with the volume of copyright infringing content on the internet, one that was almost impossible to predict twenty years ago.

The DMCA contains the critical notice-and-takedown system, a system that puts the onus on copyright owners to both (a) identify and (b) demand the takedown of their works uploaded without permission.  But that structure is now facing massive scrutiny, with rights owners complaining that it does little to protect copyrighted works while powering the growth of entire multi-billion dollar businesses.

This ultimately led to complaints from copyright owners, and a petition for a ‘take down stay down’ policy started.  Though, nothing further has been implemented as of yet.

US Copyright Office conducts a public study.

The United States Copyright Office recently conducted a public study to examine the effectiveness of the DMCA safe harbor provisions contained within section 512.  The Office considered the costs and burdens of the notice-and-takedown process on small and large copyright owners, online service providers and the general public. The office also reviewed how successful section 512 has been at addressing online infringement and protecting against improper takedown notices.

The US Copyright Office left their study open to comments.  In an 18-page response letter to the US Copyright Office, Google firmly questioned allegations of music devaluation and artist exploitation:

”Some in the recording industry have suggested that the safe harbors somehow diminish the value of sound recordings, pointing to YouTube and blaming the DMCA for creating a so-called ‘value grab’…this claim is not supported by the facts.”

The full testimony follows:

17 Responses

  1. Chris H

    Where do you even start with this horseshit? “different things to different people at different times”. Right, but because of your system, it’s whatever you say it is, because it’s you and It’s Apple. There are not “any other places at any other time”, where music could have more value (in the retail sense obviously).

    When you have ruined an ecosystem that made a 14 Billion dollar business a 4 billion dollar business, you don’t get to say that you did not devalue music. Math begs to differ.

    • Google IS Evil.

      If there’s no value gap then let us remove all of our music until all uses are licensed in the same manner as Itunes and spotify. There, done fixed it.

    • Anonymous

      Oh ok, sure Google, you’re right. So now if you’ll kindly just pass along all the $ you make from ads before my songs, we’ll be good.

    • Remi Swierczek

      Google is just SADISTIC MONK with brain poisoned by advertising.
      The biggest ABSURD is the fact that music given a chance is much bigger than digital advertising! Wake up Mr. Page or you and you Google will go to history as a creator and tyrant of DIGITAL MEDIAEVAL!

  2. GGG

    Financially? Yea, obviously.

    Philosophically? I think just the opposite. The sheer number of people that spend so much time/energy/money on music proves this.

  3. Chairman Mao5

    “The same song will always be worth different things to different people at different times. The online music revolution hasn’t changed that.”

    Music revolution? Now that’s a stretch. Distribution revolution at best.

    Again with these companies that aren’t in any other than the data and legal loophole business “revolutionizing” something every 2 minutes. Someone just stick a fork in it already.

  4. Kay

    Stop commiting fraud against musicians. It’s that simple Google and Apple.

    They are two of the most successful companies in the world right now, but they are using people’s products and not paying them. They are breaking the law and it needs to change NOW.

    • Apple is Not Paying?

      Please explain. As much as I dislike Spotify I recognize they are largely licensed unlike YouTube which is the worlds largest piracy site. I don’t get the criticism of Apple but maybe I’m missing something. Apple are even paying on Free Plays of Apple Music.

      • Me2

        Yes, this is right. YouTube is a huge problem.

        It’s often surprising to me that Spotify was getting the brunt of the backlash, still perhaps rightfully so.

        But YouTube takes the cake.

        Put that in yer pipe and smoke it Swifty.

  5. D'Michael

    The wording is wrong. No one can devalue “music” . You can devalue the “music industry” though. I’m really surprised the lawyers let that slide. They all know the importance of the actual “wordings”

  6. Remi Swierczek

    This morning Supreme Court has refused to hear book writers delivering final win to Google in pursuit Orwellian commune!

    Google is the darkest promoter of DIGITAL MEDIEVAL – today the religion is “DIGITAL ADVERTISING”. In the name ADS Google MONKS will be burning TRILLION DOLLARS of someone else content to arrive with $100B of BLOODY ad income!

    IF GOOGLE DOES NOT CHANGE ANY DAY SOON – and they should, because it would be the quickest and most productive transit to mega prosperity – THEN MUSIC

    It is not fair to collect, store and process someones property at the request of the stranger and deliver the title to that property at no cost! In digital times name of the tune means OWNERSHIP OF THE TUNE.

    Google, Shazam, Soundhound, Gracenote and few lyric ID services SERVE TO TWO BILLION ASSHOLES at the expense of creators!

  7. Versus

    This is like Orwellian double-speak.
    GoogleTube’s amoral stance intentionally confuses two very different meanings of value – the aesthetic and the financial – to justify their continued exploitation and profiteering.

    The matter at issue here is the financial devaluation of music, not whether as an art form its aesthetic value is “priceless”. GoogleTube is definitely guilty of devaluing music financially.