Artists group urges crackdown on Big Tech

Artists group urges crackdown on Big Tech
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A trade group representing musicians and other content creators wants Congress to take in their perspectives as it investigates the effects of large tech companies’ market power.

The Artist Rights Alliance (ARA) sent a letter on Wednesday to lawmakers leading an antitrust probe into Silicon Valley’s giants, raising concerns about how large internet platforms impact the music business.

“We have seen first-hand the damage wrought by the monopoly platforms using their market power to exploit outdated or misinterpreted public policy,” the group wrote in the letter. “If left unchecked, we fear they will squeeze the life out of American music and every other field of creativity and put the dream of earning a decent living out of reach for the next generation of creators. That is a matter of national concern.”

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The ARA, which until recently was known as the Content Creators Coalition, sent the letter to Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineLeaders of House antitrust investigation to meet with Zuckerberg Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Nadler considering holding Lewandowski in contempt MORE (D-R.I.), the chairman of the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, as well as the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission, two agencies that are conducting their own investigations into how large tech companies wield their market power.

Cicilline’s panel has held two hearings in the investigation since launching it in June. In the most recent one earlier this month, executives from four of the biggest tech companies — Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple — testified before the subcommittee to defend their practices.

At the first hearing, lawmakers heard from representatives of the journalism industry who argued that internet platforms’ dominance over the flow of online information and digital advertising revenue had strangled the news business in recent years.

The ARA argued on Wednesday that their business has similarly suffered with the rise of Facebook, Google, Amazon and even Twitter. 

Twitter declined to comment. Facebook, Google and Amazon did not immediately respond when contacted by The Hill for comment.

The group said that artists’ creations have been exploited as a way to track users’ interests by internet giants without creators receiving an adequate share of the advertising revenue that they generate.

“When music or any of the arts are seen as disposable ‘content’ competing for ‘users’ in the ‘attention economy,’ they will always be undervalued and misunderstood,” ARA’s letter reads. ”Creators will be shortchanged by platforms that count clicks but curate nothing. And fans will be left unserved by an economy that treats their musical identity as nothing more than a data point that can be leveraged to feed them ads.”