With all due respect, this Copyfight is one pitch-a-bitch we did not incite!
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News and updates from Michelle Shocked
Leading the race in this February 2020 edition of my newsletter,
In pole position: "Art Tracks"

"To answer your other question, YouTube takes the position that so-called "Art Tracks," with a static non-moving image, are not in fact videos as a legal matter, and that it therefore does not require the composer's consent to turn a cover into an Art Track. If you doubt whether that position is valid, you may want to consult with a copyright lawyer about it. Suffice to say, however, that we've not seen anyone successfully challenge it."
What this is, kids, is a compound abuse of DMCA Section 512 and the DOJ's compulsory licensing. It is also uncut, 100% pure b.s. The compulsory license for compositions specifically excludes audio-visual streaming use, which YouTube most certainly is. Even when they use a static image in their videos. Duh. In case there's any confusion about this, check out this First Time Ever announcement by YouTube regarding their annual earnings.
Cafe Bohemia Residency
The Sunday night residency at Cafe Bohemia is developing delightfully. Les Chocolats, our rumba trio, debuted Sun Feb 9. Having lots of fun in the sandbox with compañeros Max Pollak and Nicki Denner. My weekly solo spots are sweet and intimate. My next solo gig is Sun Feb 23 and again on Sun Mar 1st, with Les Chocolats, we rumba.
Blake Morgan
Blake shared our duet performance of his song "I Can Hear You Say" from our Jan 23 Rockwood set, and his current Copyright Alliance profile packs a power punch. "Remember that copyright is a human right, supported by reason, history, and the U.S. Constitution.” #IRespectMusic
White Hot Magazine
White Hot Magazine featured a brief chat with me and my bestie, Christine Santelli. We are talking, among other things, about reviving my long-awaited Memphis Minnies project, and the focus of our collaboration is a song cycle about rural female incarceration. Vera Institute of Justice offers this key fact: "Between 2003 and 2013, pretrial incarceration rates increased 26% in rural counties while they declined 13% in large urban counties." Yes, dammit. I know. They take Google's filthy money. Sigh.
LowMan DSA for Bernie
Here with comrade Miko, canvassing for Bernie in the Lower East Side. The facts are on our side, and the math doesn't lie, "Bernie Beats Trump." A 12% lead in national polls, you say?
Mountain Songwriting Retreat
Another invitation to join me, producer Ronan Chris Murphy (King Crimson, GWAR, Tony Levin, etc) and Dave Nachmanoff (Al Stewart, Alison Krauss, Steve Forbert, etc) for a songwriting retreat in May. The annual Mountain Songwriting Retreat is hosting a 5 day seminar May 11-15, and I’m looking forward to hanging out one-on-one with attendees, discussing the art of song crafting. I’ll present a seminar on my own style I call "song-cycling" (that’s my idiomatic approach to concept development for a complete suite of songs.) 

More Info Here
Bern 🔥 On,
Musical Chairs: A Comparsa for Artists' Rights
I am a side effect of the seminal authorship of a brilliant professor, Ned Sublette, and his book, Cuba and its Music. It all began, as do most things these days, with a tweet.
In 2015, my friend Bill Bragin was saying how excited he was about his upcoming trip to Cuba with Ned’s Postmambo Studies, a masterclass in rumba. I expressed my disappointment at the missed opportunity, but next thing I know, I’m on a flight to
Miami to meet up with a serious group of cultural savants for ten days of non-stop Cuban rumba. I’ve made the journey twice since then, and by my third trip, this concept was taking shape.
I was in Havana at a concert one night, surrounded by about 400 people all swaying to this groove, and realized, “Oh my God, I can’t find the one!” In case anyone isn’t hip to West African rhythm and it’s Cuban love child, clavé, I’ll ask maestro Max Pollak to
Fun fact. After the Cuban revolution, the Castro government abolished copyright - maybe it was bourgeois or counter-revolutionary, I don’t know.
What I do know, some savvy musicians here in New York City - Puertoriqueños, also others - said “hey, if you’re not gonna use those copyrights, we’ll take them,” and a 400 year old rumba tradition gave birth ... to salsa.
At this point, the Cuban government said ... on second thought. ... hang on ... and reinstated copyright as the truly revolutionary concept it is.
Do you know, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 45% fewer musicians work today than when Our Glorious Internet Revolution arrived 20 years ago with its great libertarian promise for the creative class?
  • Wikipedia abuse of the moral rights of authors.
  • Google and Amazon monopsony abuse of safe harbor and fair use.
  • Wall Street predation of intellectual property chain of title.
  • Justice Department consent decrees and antitrust compulsories from 1909 protect global corporations … from independent songwriters!
  • Unsustainable streaming rates on Spotify due to a value gap by advertising tracking and data surveillance on YouTube and Facebook.
  • Liberty Media funded Trump’s inaugural, - think iHeart, Sirius, Pandora, Ticketmaster, Live Nation - but abuse terrestrial radio exemptions and pay nothing to play our music.
  • Anti-copyright tech companies make billions from our unprotected intellectual property.
  • Creators are forced to play a never ending game of whack a mole against ad sponsored piracy.
  • Do you know copyright infringement claims cost $300,000 dollars to defend?
  •  Meanwhile, a bill to protect independent creators with a small claims tribunal in the Copyright Office, called the C.A.S.E. Act, passed the House 410-6, and is blocked in the Senate by just one man, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden.
In theory, these dry, arcane policy issues are impossible to give artistic voice. But think back for a moment to the first time you heard Graceland by Paul Simon, or Buena Vista Social Club by Ry Cooder, and you’ll understand. Somewhere between these flawed masterpieces is my latest effort, Musical Chairs: A Comparsa for Artists’ Rights.
Cuban rumba and copyright. This musical conversation starts where these two subjects meet. Guaguanco. Mozambique. Son. Boogaloo. Yambu. Changui. Guaracha. Trova. Comparsa. These unique Cuban idioms are the perfect vehicle for my latest song cycle. By the time Max and I are done, you’ll know “Nunca Provoques a Los Compositores” means “Never Piss Off a Songwriter,” and its corollary Never, Ever Underestimate the Power of Art to dispel an ocean of lies with one drop of truth.
Musical Chairs is often misunderstood as a winner takes- all party game. In the end, it’s two players fighting over the final chair. The real game of Musical Chairs depends on all of us standing up for the rights of artists, by any means necessary, for as long as possible. Because when the music stops, it’s truly “Game Over”
Michelle Shocked
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