Media Influencer

helping people break out of pigeonholes since 2003

Quote to remember

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The main reason I’m posting this is to pass along what the kid said after we did a scan from one end of the “dial” to the other.

“There’s nothing on”, he said. And walked away.

What would “something” be?

“Oh, you know. Like on YouTube”.

- Doc on his experience with TV

Copyright blues

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This would be hysterical, if it were not so benighted.

Pariser [the head of litigation for Sony BMG] has a very broad definition of “stealing.” When questioned by Richard Gabriel, lead counsel for the record labels, Pariser suggested that what millions of music fans do is actually theft. The dirty deed? Ripping your own CDs or downloading songs you already own.

Gabriel [lead counsel for the record labels] asked if it was wrong for consumers to make copies of music which they have purchased, even just one copy. Pariser replied, “When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song.” Making “a copy” of a purchased song is just “a nice way of saying ’steals just one copy’,” she said.

The poor (and I use this term very loosely here) lawyers are actually following a certain logic. It is the logic of physical property rights that have been translated into ideas and intellectual property. This was done at the time when technology was lined up behind those who controlled production and distribution of the goods based on those ideas. Supply chains and business models followed. But technology (and behaviour based on it) has changed that and the current understanding of copyright seems a rather crude application of property rights to the realm of ideas and innovation.

So the lawyers are not being ‘evil’ in following the letter of law but in their inability to look beyond it. I know, I know, they are not paid to do that by those who want to protect the status quo of copyright. However, this is going to be a legal battle. The users-pirates can bring on the pressure to shift the debate but ultimately, it will be lawyers who will have to create a legal framework that reflects reality.

via Simon Phipps

Monotheism of Control

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John Perry Barlow in Death from above has made my day. How inspiring to read an article full of passion, understanding and urgency. And written in 1995! Very interesting to see which things had to give and which are still with us… It is a longish article, so here are the juiciest bits.

On American business culture:

Over the last 30 years, the American CEO Corps has included an astonishingly large percentage of men who piloted bombers during World War II. For some reason not so difficult to guess, dropping explosives on people from commanding heights served as a great place to develop a world view compatible with the management of a large post-war corporation.

Now, most of these jut-jawed former flyboys are out to pasture on various golf courses, but just as they left their legacy in the still thriving Cold War machinery of the National Security State, so their cultural perspective remains deeply, perhaps permanently, embedded in the corporate institutions they led for so long, whether in media or manufacturing. America remains a place where companies produce and consumers consume in an economic relationship which is still as asymmetrical as that of bomber to bombee. [emphasis mine]

On the new generation of internet users and what they want:

Bandwidth is one of those things like money, sex, and power. The more you’ve got, the shorter it feels. And there are now a critical number of Americans who know what bandwidth is and why is feels good.

Look at what’s happened on the World Wide Web, where traffic grew 1,713% in 1994. (Which, though down from the previous year’s 443,931%, is still pretty rapid growth.) These figures reflect a burgeoning generation of Web-sters under 25 who have already started to give up television in droves. Not even the instantaneous availability of every Brady Bunch episode is going to lure them back. They want to interact with other people, not “content,” and they are using computers to do it.

On media people and about their view of the internet’s supremacy:

They may know it in their minds, but can they have the religious conversion necessary to know it in their hearts.

And indeed we are talking about religion here. On one side you’ve got the monotheism of Control, the one-to-many system which has dominated the West at least since the Industrial Revolution, possibly since Gutenberg; possibly since Moses. And done a damned fine job of creating civilization, I might add. A necessary thing in its day.

Surging toward these battlements of God Above All are the galloping, barbarous hoards of pantheism, guerrillas all, from the Cypherpunks to Newt Gingrich. I sometimes wonder which of these I really want to win, but I’m pretty sure which one is going to. It’s B-52’s vs. punji sticks. It’s machine against nature. Sooner or later, nature takes the game.

Rock on!

Quote to remember

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So, fair enough. Bring on the big media cluster fuck. Roll out all the different systems that don’t work together. Bring on all the different kinds of software, none of which will work as well as iTunes. Bring on a zillion different user interfaces, a zillion accounts you need to set up, a zillion new usernames and passwords and a list of which services can work on which devices in which format. Right. When you’re good and tired of that, we’ll be here waiting for you.
- Fake Steve Jobs in We’re thrilled about this NBC download service

via Doc

Viacom in a copyright doomloop

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This is pretty rich but somehow not surprising:

One guy thought it was so cool that he recorded the clip of Web Junk that featured his own video and posted that on YouTube so he could blog about it. And, in an incredibly ironic move, Viacom sent a takedown notice to YouTube forcing it offline. Just to make it clear: Viacom used this guy’s work without permission and put it on TV. The guy then takes Viacom’s video of his video and puts it online… and Viacom freaks out claiming copyright infringement. Effectively, Viacom is claiming that it’s infringement of Viacom’s copyright to display an example of Viacom infringing on copyright.

Here is the story from the horse’s mouth:

So Viacom took a video that I had made for non-profit purposes and without trying to acquire my permission, used it in a for-profit broadcast. And then when I made a YouTube clip of what they did with my material, they charged me with copyright infringement and had YouTube pull the clip.

Folks, this is, as we say down here in the south, “bass-ackwards”.

Well, there are many more names to call this… Another, bigger story here is that it may, just may turn out that Viacom was acting within the current laws, although I don’t think so. It appears that the blogger who used his Viacom-processed video clip was within fair use provisions. Still, the tension between Viacom using videos taken from YouTube, which is in turn under constant fire from the company policing its own content is palpable. Call it hypocrisy, call is lack of balance, something about it just isn’t right. It is like the playground bully coming and nibbling at the cakes that the smaller kids made together. Whilst beating them up for baking in the first place…

Then there is the copyrighted content that is now getting a far better reach and exposure now that various shows and film moments are living on through the clips on YouTube. Think of all the Monty Python sketches that are now accessible and can be used in blog posts! Such joy.

I wonder what will happen to the bully in the end. Will he end up hungry and with no-one to play with bully?

Copyright is not frivolous

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Maura Corbett warns of abuses of copyright by media corporations that often include gross misrepresentations of federal law and characterize as unlawful acts that are explicitly permitted by law.

Warnings attached to movies, sports broadcasts and other media often provide wildly misleading information about consumer rights under copyright law. For example, warnings on many Universal DVDs state, in part, that “any unauthorized exhibition, distribution or copying of this film or any part thereof (including soundtrack) is an infringement of the relevant copyright and will subject the infringer to severe civil and criminal penalties.”

This statement is simply untrue–the federal copyright statutes specifically allow unauthorized reproduction for criticism, commentary and other purposes

She concludes:

We should not permit rights holders to use copyright law to create new powers for themselves. Even as we urge consumers to respect the law–and we should–large copyright owners have the same obligation.

Copyright law was never intended to serve as a big stick for the rights holder to wield against the freedom of information and ideas.

Quote to remember

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Been reading the Guardian’s Comment is Free columns. Tired of the “isn’t everything crap” ..stand back and wait for the backlash, format.
- ourman on Twitter

Nails, heads and old media

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Ben Laurie hits several nails in the head of the old media. Quoting from a BBC article in his post about bullying on YouTube, he notes.

You’ll notice that in the above, I do not link to PAT, nor do I link to YouTube, Emma-Jane Cross or BeatBullying. Normally I would, but as I was about to embark on a session of Googling, I thought “Why do I have to do this? If the BBC had got with the programme there would be links in their article that I could follow.”

This is one of my gripes with the old ‘respectable’ media. Their embedded links are linking to their own articles. (And Ben is right, the links in the sidebar of the BBC is barely a half-way measure, a strange separation of content and sources). I am sure it has to do with driving traffic to their website and revenue etc etc. I can understand that but not linking to quoted sources or referred facts is an anti-social web practice. This is why New Media is not Social Media. The former is merely the Old Media in digital format. No change in attitude, no understanding, no point but to keep the old models afloat. New Media don’t grok the web. Social Media don’t care, mainly because there is no such thing. It’s just people doing stuff on the internet. The two get entangled when the people do for themselves what New Media purports to deliver a la demand side supplying itself.

Cue Ben:

…old media should stop whining about how they are the real journalists and we losers with blogs are just some pale imitation and start, instead, providing a service that is as good as the average blog, instead of a mere transposition of their print columns onto web pages.

The whole point about the web is it allows you to link to your sources, to tangents of interest and to full versions of documents mentioned. But the old media does none of this: they think the web is like paper. If they don’t want to go the way of the dinosaurs they need to drag themselves into the 20th century and start linking.

Exeunt old school journalism.

Lower than pirates

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News Blog (at CNet.com.com) has news of a disturbing attempt to stomp on file-sharing:

Swedish authorities last week were preparing to shut down
The Pirate Bay, according to Peter Sunde, one of the site’s founders.
Was the site facing closure for helping users find bootlegged music or
video files, as the film and music industries have long alleged? No,
The Pirate Bay was being accused of distributing child pornography.

….


"The government is angry at us because they can’t shut us down," Sunde said. "Now they are trying to ruin our reputations."


Sunde called the allegations against the site "unsettling." He worries
that the incident might signal a new willingness by the forces warring against copyright infringement to use smear tactics.

The internet has exploded the ability of people to get hold of, share and distribute content that has previously been locked into media business models. And they have been fighting back since they realised what’s going on. In the long run fighting your own markets and customers is a bad bad idea, in the short run, they are squeezing what they can from the lock-in they still have. This is not going to be a pretty fight as they are not hesitating to use whatever force they can. But child-porn accusations? That’s sinking far lower than the pirates they accuse of depriving them of revenue…

via Instapundit

Quote to remember

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…the atomic unit of media is no longer the publication or the section or the page or even the article but the post: the nugget of information, the thought, the notion. That is what is really being disaggregated: the old unit of media itself.
- Jeff Jarvis, More Sand

There is no other public than.. the public

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BBC reports:

Mr Ayers a senior executive at the AACS] said that while he could not reveal the specific steps the group would be taking, it would be using both "legal
and technical" steps to prevent the circumvention of copy protection.

We will take whatever action is appropriate," he said.
"We hope the public respects our position and complies with applicable
laws."

The 700,000 802,000+ pages you see in Google results – that’s your public. An industry turning on its own markets is doomed.

This is a clash of cultures:

The hacker, known as muslix64, has been able to access the encryption keys which pass between certain discs and the player.

The hacker said he had grown angry when a HD-DVD movie
he had bought would not play on his monitor because it did not have the
compliant connector demanded by the movie industry.

Note that the hacker bought the HD-DVD, he paid for the movie. The industry got its pound of flesh but it just wasn’t going to get any blood. Only when he discovered that it will not play on his monitor (I mostly watch DVDs on my computer), he tried to access the key. Online you make things work, if you can. He could, so he did. Companies can protect their content if they wish. But if they impose arbitrary limitations on our hardware, we are not going to play along. This is a culture of control vs. the culture of your-broken-business-model-is-not-our-problem…

Update: Cory Doctorow has more on the same article. Love this bit:


The companies that made AACS spent millions and years at it. The
hackers who broke it did so in days, for laughs, for free. More people
now know how to crack HD-DVD than own an HD-DVD player.

Quote to remember

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Traditional media’s entire advertising model is under fire. Advertising
that’s produced and pushed to consumers will be shunned, he argues.
"Old media is nervous because traditional paid-for-by-the-company
push-it-out-to-users advertising has lost its credibility and because
the viewer community is fragmenting. Any form of paid-push advertising
will be ignored."
- Eric K. Clemons, At Google, the Search Is On for a New Approach to Old Media

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