Fake LinkedIn Recording Academy Group (Grammys)

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Joined: 02/12/2009

The professional networking site LinkedIn.com has "groups" which people can join to discuss topics of particular interest. Anyone can start a group, and they are termed the "owner" of the group. The "owner" determines who may join the group, moderates the discussions, can delete comments, discussions etc.

On LinkedIn, many of these groups are for members of dues-paying trade organizations, birds-of-a-feather interest groups, and "Alumni of..." various companies or educational institutions.

On 1/9/08, Jonathan H. Grand [edit 2013: also known as Bruno Serge] started a LinkedIn group called "The Recording Academy" which appeared to have been set up by The Recording Academy (whose members vote in the Grammys). It used the official logo of the organization, a link to grammy.com, and the following descriptive text, lifted word-for-word from old press releases:

Quote: "Nearing 50 years of celebrating music through the GRAMMY® Awards, The Recording Academy continues its rich legacy and ongoing growth as the premier outlet for honoring achievements in the recording arts and supporting the music community." (example PR.)

Many people joined this LinkedIn group (myself included), believing it to be officially sanctioned, or at least a side-project of a Recording Academy employee or member. Some have submitted sensitive info to join the group. As of 12/14/08, there were 650 LinkedIn members in this group.

In early December 2008, LinkedIn.com modified the group without Mr. Grand's knowledge. The Grammy logo was removed and the words "unofficial" were added to the title and description. It's likely that the Recording Academy contacted LinkedIn regarding an unsanctioned use of their logo/likeness.

Mr Grand took affront to this, and he started a discussion about it titled "Someone has a stick up their bottom," in which he repeatedly slams the Academy. He replaced the logo with a very similar gramophone.

There was a healthy follow-up discussion from group members, coming in on both sides of the topic. But when I asked Mr Grand about his affiliation with the Recording Academy, he twice deleted my contributions to the discussion with curt replies to me.

When others asked similarly diplomatic questions, the entire discussion was deleted.

Luckily, I kept a copy of the discussion. In the spirit of openness, the whole discussion up until December 13th 2008 is below.

I don't have a problem with an unofficial group, as long as it is clearly labeled as such. I do have a problem with censorship, avoidance and purposeful omission of facts. I am also concerned that this is just one of four such groups he runs which may not be officially sanctioned:

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (The Oscars) [edit 2013: the name has changed to "Motion Picture Arts & Sciences."]
ASCAP
BMI
iTunes Artists

Read on and make up your own mind.

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Discussion title: "Someone has a stick up their bottom."
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Posted 4 days ago (Ed.: Posting times listed here are relative to December 13th.)
By Jonathan H. Grand

Quote:I think it's funny that after having some Recording Academy executives joining the group recently (I'm not going to say names, it's easy to research), LinkedIn received complaints about the use of the logo, so they took the liberty of renaming it to "Unofficial" and removing the logo (the group is pretty big so they didn't close it).

Coincidence? Obviously not. What happened is that someone at the Recording Academy felt slightly uncomfortable after seeing an unofficial group actually being well managed. No matter how beneficial that is for the organization in question, someone will have to try to go up the corporate ladder by making a complaint to whoever they report to. And that is the world we live in. I guess pointing fingers actually gives you better results than recognizing someone's good work and initiative.

Jonathan H. Grand

Composer, Voice Talent, Producer, Writer, Designer - www.Moozek.com

Comments (13)

1.
Gregory Gay

Music Professional; Independent Consultant- Media Relations, Marketing, Non Profit Community Development

Quote:I was wondering when we became unofficial (lol). Dont be deterred, you are doing a fantastic job.

Posted 4 days ago

2.
Myke Johnson

Recording Engineer, Producer, Mix Engineer, Promoter, Media Designer at Black Keys

Quote: I agree, keep up what you've set out to do.

Posted 1 day ago

3.
John Schrader

Songwriter/Composer/Engineer/Producer

Quote: There's a lot of sticks and a lot of butts out there...keep going!

Posted 1 day ago

4.
David Greenberg

Director of Marketing, Ted Kurland Associates

Quote: well, legally you can't use their name and likeness unless you have permission. and unless you are really making sure the group members are NARAS members i would guess unofficial is a good place to start. just nab a public domain pic of a gramophone and you've got the pic covered. they can't dis you for that.

and, if they need to start their own group in order to maintain the discussions within their membership on linkedin, they should do so.

Posted 1 day ago

5.
Tony Brooke

Owner, Chief Engineer at Silent Way Remote Audio Recording and Equipment Rentals

Quote: Jonathan-

As you're being open with us about this, it's only fair to ask: have requests to join this LinkedIn group been checked against the Recording Academy's official internal membership list?

Posted 1 day ago (12/12/08 9:07 AM)

6.
James Reid

Executive Sales and General Management

Quote: Jonathan...yes please keep going the "unofficial" and lack of a logo cannot stop a good thing.

Posted 1 day ago

7.
Jonathan H. Grand

Composer, Voice Talent, Producer, Writer, Designer - www.Moozek.com

Quote:The members are selected, sometimes by membership number, sometimes by mere involvement in the industry (If the president of a major label or studio requests membership, and I know that is a valuable person to have in the group, for networking purposes for all of us, I will make him/her a member).

It's a networking group - I never announced in the description that it is required to show a membership number :) People show it voluntarily and I do my best to make it a group that will help you all to network with the Recording Academy members and industry professionals.

Posted 1 day ago (12/12/08 1:29 PM)

8.
Skip Adams

Owner at Global Graffiti Music

Quote:David and Tony's posts point to an underlying issue. I assumed (along with others, I'm sure) that this group was directly operated, or at least officially sanctioned, by NARAS. The Grammy logo, and lack of a disclaimer to the contrary, was what gave me that impression.

Copyright and trademark laws, as well as the reasons for them, should not be unfamiliar to members of this group. In this case it's about having some control over how your brand is represented, and by whom.

Rather than criticizing NARAS for very mildly asserting their rights to protect their brand -- and their membership -- I would suggest getting in touch with them in order to make this group official. Short of that, it would be appropriate and wise to offer a disclaimer. Also, if this group is not official, you should very clearly direct applicants NOT to give their member numbers (or any other sort of private information) to you.

Very good work, by the way.

Posted 1 day ago

9.
Jonathan H. Grand

Composer, Voice Talent, Producer, Writer, Designer - www.Moozek.com

Quote: I need to thank you all for the encouragement. I might talk to the Recording Academy about a possible officialization. Anyone working at NARAS who reads this, is there a way that you can help? Post a reply! :)

Posted 1 day ago

10.
Rodney "Sirge" H

Owner, SIRGE CONGLOMERATE and Music Consultant

Quote:Understanding how a business [whether an individual or an inanimate entity] would always want to protect how their brand is being presented..I see no real problem with the supposed uproar they made. It's like if you perfected your "name" to the point it now becomes your "brand"..you wouldn't want just anyone doing anything with it...at least without your permission [hence copyright and trademark laws]. Even though you've done nothing offensive with the logo, at least understand that it comparable to someone who [even if not done] has the power to smear your name if the audience doesn't actually know they're not an authorized representative of you...get it?

That's it...I wouldn't take it personal whatever they did..it's business...and most of us would possibly do the same...it's only about principal.

Sincerely,

Sirge, CEO

SIRGE CONGLOMERATE

Posted 23 hours ago

11.
This comment was deleted by the group owner, Mr. Grand. Original:

Tony Brooke

Owner, Chief Engineer at Silent Way Remote Audio Recording and Equipment Rentals
Quote:
Quote:On 12/12/08 1:29 PM, Jonathan H. Grand wrote: "The members are selected, sometimes by membership number, sometimes by mere involvement in the industry..."

Is this also how you've administered all the other LinkedIn groups you "own"? Are you an employee (or at least a member) of The Recording Academy, AMPAS (Oscars), ASCAP and BMI? What would Apple think of another quasi-associative group, "iTunes Artists"? All of these use official(ish) logos and descriptions.

http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=1016017
http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=143867
http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=49570
http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=145658

Sure, this approach can be argued to be a useful networking tool, and might not be technically illegal or against the terms of LinkedIn. But to me it is sketchy at best, deceptive at worst.

And I'm willing to bet that those within these LinkedIn groups who ARE actual members of these organizations are much less forgiving of this practice than those who are not.

This is partly the fault of LinkedIn, which is taking the YouTube approach: let the users do what they want, unless the real owners complain. This loose policy regarding "Groups" allows cyber-squatting, and undermines LinkedIn's credibility.

Likely lots of people pad their "resumes" here. And apparently anyone can say they are a card-carrying member of the Audio Engineering Society, a member of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, and play a Fender guitar... Who's to know?

I call foul.

LinkedIn's Copyright policy:
http://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/394

Posted 23 hours ago (12/13/08 9:30 PM)

12.
jimmy johnson

Owner, planet10studios

Quote: if they didnt know about the group and bless the idea, dude they have the right to do what they did. imagine if outsiders saw some unsavory posts on here, NARAS would be looked at as unprofessional and that's not what anyone wants. the group is great, and i applaude your determination, but put their shoes on and realize their position.
jimmy

Posted 10 hours ago

13.
Jonathan H. Grand

Composer, Voice Talent, Producer, Writer, Designer - www.Moozek.com

Quote:They're not "protecting" anything. That's what their lawyers would say, but it's corporatist bull.

The brand was being perfectly well represented. Hell, the logo here looked better than in a lot of official products/pictures of NARAS!

Am I supposed to feel sorry for them? I manage a group with +650 members. Just to help networking between members and even non-members in the industry. I didn't get paid to do it.

They see something that is positive for NARAS, and basically strip it of the name and logos. Is that good management? No. They think more about complaining of copyright infringement than actually doing what's good for NARAS. Whoever did this, doesn't know how to properly manage an organization or a company, and should be fired. I am doing better work in the interest of NARAS than they are.

Posted 3 hours ago

14.
Tony Brooke

Owner, Chief Engineer at Silent Way Remote Audio Recording and Equipment Rentals

Quote:Jonathan-

I'm surprised that you deleted my comment. I'm sure the members of this group who already read it (and have a copy of it in their digest email) are surprised too. Bad call, it makes it look like you have something to hide. Here's another chance for you to be straight with us.

I said nothing inflammatory, hateful or incorrect. I merely pointed out that:

1) You started and now "own" a bunch of LinkedIn groups that use the logos and official descriptions of these four professional organizations: The Recording Academy (Grammys), AMPAS (Oscars), ASCAP and BMI.

http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=1016017
http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=143867
http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=49570
http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=145658

2) You also started and now "own" a group "iTunes Artists" that uses Apple's iTunes logo.

3) I asked if you were a member or employee of any of these five organizations.

I repeat my question. Regardless of the answer, being honest with us would be a step in the right direction to legitimize your groups.
------------------
end of this copy of the discussion
------------------

Shortly thereafter, there was one more comment by another group member (Steve Waide) which asked about Jonathan's relationship to the Academy. Then the entire discussion was deleted.

If you have thoughts on this, and are a member of this LinkedIn group, please voice them in a Group Discussion. Or, contact LinkedIn.

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Joined: 02/12/2009

I posted a link on LinkedIn to this archive of the deleted discussion, and another group member (Steve Waide) replied... Surprise, Jonathan deleted that discussion too.

And to make matters worse, he kicked Steve and I out of the group! Who knows how many other true Recording Academy members and legitimate discussions have been censored.

To prove that I said nothing inflammatory or incorrect, here is exactly what I posted:

Quote:Hello, Group-

Like me, you may be wondering what happened to the discussion regarding this group's legitimacy (aka "Someone has a stick up their bottom"). It appears to have been deleted. Not sure why someone would do that, as it was active and interesting, but civil.

But that's OK, I made a copy. If you'd like to read it, including the deleted comments and unanswered questions, here it is:

[link to this page]

If it indeed was deleted as an act of censorship, the internet strikes back. If this gets deleted too, well then, someone must have something to hide.

Cheers!

Steve Waide's comment was not inflammatory either.

This censorship is clear evidence that Jonathan Grand is manipulating the membership and discussions. I hope he is not doing so in his other groups.

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Joined: 02/12/2009

On about December 23rd, the entire group disappeared. Likely LinkedIn took it down due to misrepresentation complaints.

Hopefully this will serve as a lesson that misrepresentation and censorship are self-defeating.

If you are a member of the following LinkedIn groups "owned" by the same person described above, I suggest you ask for membership policy details, and keep copies of everything:

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscars):
http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=1016017

ASCAP:
http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=143867

BMI:
http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=49570

n/a
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Joined: 02/12/2009

The same person is now known on LinkedIn as "Bruno Serge" and as of September 2013 owns the following groups and more:

"American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP)" (7,375 members)
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/American-Society-Composers-Authors-Publi...

"BMI Members" (6,057 members)
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/BMI-Members-49570/about

"Motion Picture Arts & Sciences" (1,856 members)
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/Motion-Picture-Arts-Sciences-1016017/about

"iTunes Artists" (1,715 members)
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/iTunes-Artists-145658/about

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