Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Since the struggle for freedom and resistance to oppressive forms of technology ultimately will take place on the level of ideas and spirit, I'm closing this semester with my favorite writer, someone who lived through the absolute collapse of 20th Century, Western civilization. Czeslaw Milosz wrote, battled and resisted the Nazis in Warsaw throughout WWII, witnessed the Germans, the Westerns Powers and his society's moral bankruptcy and somehow made the most beautiful poetry out of these experiences:
Again I was flying in my dream. As if my old body contained, prior to live beings, the possibility of all movements, flying, swimming, crawling, running.
Little animals from cartoons, talking rabbits, doggies, squirrels, as well as ladybugs, bees, grasshoppers. They have as much in common with real animals as our notions of the world have with the real world. Think of this, and tremble.
(I would end end with the above for the obvious reason, but couldn't resist.)
Let us imagine a poet gets in his hands the Hollywood crowd, those financiers, directors, actors and actresses. And that he is fully aware of the crime perpetrated every day on millions of human beings by money, which acts not in the name of any ideology but exclusively for the purpose of multiplying itself. What penalty would be adequate? He hesitates between slitting their bellies and disemboweling them; locking them together behind barbed wire in the hope that they would start to eat each other, beginning with the fattest potentates; grilling them on a small fire; throwing them, bound, onto an anthill. However, as he interrogates them and sees them humble, trembling, obsequious, fawning, not at all remembering their own arrogance, he is discouraged. Their guilt is as elusive as that of the party bureaucrats in an authoritarian state. The closest thing to justice might be to kill the whole lot. He shrugs, and sets them free.
Monday, December 04, 2006
On this fascinating Wiki, a group of hackers are meticulously reverse-engineering the TiVoToGo DRM and finding ways of subverting it. They've put together a command-line app that breaks the DRM, which means that an easy-to-use graphic tool can't be far behind.
TiVo owners, rejoice! These folks are about to make your TiVo way more useful than it was yesterday.
TiVoToGo is the feature TiVo added in software release 7.1. It enables transferring video off the TiVo unit to a PC over a HTTP connection. You can access a rudimentary web interface at https://tivo:MediaAccessKey@your_tivo/. TiVo's official TiVoToGo website is here http://www.tivo.com/togo.Link(via Engadget)
It looks like MPEG I frames are the only thing that isn't encrypted in the tivo file. It looks like a combination of Blowfish and ElGammal encryption (what's the evidence for this?). Is it a block cipher, or a stream cipher? Clearly everything we need to decrypt it exists. I would guess the "fingerprint", "salt", and MediaAccessKey are needed? Is the MediaAccessKey the public key, the fingerprint the private key, and the salt is used to maybe XOR the stream first? Or is there a nonce that gets used to initialize the cipher?
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Now Reuters' MediaFile blog details the iPod obsessions of the media moguls who attended last week's Reuters Media Summit.
The follow-up questions aren't printed, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and assume that these big-timers took advantage of much of this digital media free-of-charge, and most likely with comped iPods as well. Plus, they're all hooked on TiVo and/or satellite radio, wisely avoiding the endless spew of lame adverts for, uh, TiVo and iPod (and Chevy). Check these excerpts and ask yourself if these cats have ever dropped a dime on a rhyme:
Richard Parsons, CEO / Chairman, Time Warner: "I like music. I have iPods everywhere. I had the whole bunch of (the Warner music collection) files put on before we sold it...."
Dick Cook, Chairman, Walt Disney Studios: "...For fun, I have a little iTunes and that kind of stuff. The only time I get to read books is when I listen to it so I have a lot of books on iTunes."
JEAN-MARIE DRU, CEO, TBWA/CHIAT/DAY WORLDWIDE: "...I have five kids, so we are 7 at home and we have more than 15 or 16 iPods in the family."
Ah, behold the
From the Business2.0 Softgadgets blog:
Of course you don’t. I’d love to hear if Blogger (nee Pyra and now a part of Google) has ever acted upon this clause of their ToS:
MODIFICATIONS TO SERVICE Pyra reserves the right to modify or discontinue the Service with or without notice to Member.
I’m partial to Wordpress blogging software and note that there is no such statement in the terms on their blog-hosting service, wordpress.com.
Of course, while sites like Facebook and Myspace claim they will delete inappropriate content, I really wish MySpace would write in some rule that differentiates the typical sales pitch friend request from the legitimate, real person request…. but that’s another story…
I still haven't heard from anyone who's content has been pulled from MySpace, but I'm sure it wouldn't hurt to build a dummy account and post ripped Fox content and see how long it takes.
Also, great article in Forbes, Cory... and this "Open -Source Spying" feature in the Sunday NYT is more than a little wack.
The below links are specific examples of quicksilverscreen.com web pages linking to video files that infringe upon Fox’s intellectual property rights. Fox hereby demands that quicksilverscreen.com promptly remove and disable the links to all unauthorized copies of Fox Properties on the quicksilverscreen.com website of which it is aware, including the infringing links identified below:
I'm wondering: won't Fox have to sue itself? I mean, Myspace users' clearly link to content that breaks copyright and while there may be one or two degrees more removed from the users, Fox owns - "is responsible" for Myspace - and all those bad boys and girls breakinig copyright in TheirSpace. Someone needs to have their wrist, or you know what, slapped.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
You might ask why collecting societies are in there at all. That's because AllOfMP3.com claimed that they were paying licenses to a collecting society that made their business legal. Putting this last clause in the agreement sounds like the US Trade Rep is admitting that AllOfMP3.com is a legitimate, licensed business that pays for what it sells.
Russia has to take on board the WIPO Copyright Treaty, which is the treaty that created the US DMCA, a law that has resulted in the jailing of a Russian researcher who visited the USA for talking about math.
* The United States and Russia agreed on the objective of shutting down websites that permit
illegal distribution of music and other copyright works. The agreement names the Russia-based
website allofmp3.com as an example of such a website.
* Russia will:
- take enforcement actions against the operation of Russia-based websites; and
- investigate and prosecute companies that illegally distribute copyright works on the Internet.
* Russia will work to enact legislation by June 1, 2007, to stop collecting societies from acting
without right holder consent,
* Russia will also work to enact legislation implementing the 1996 World Intellectual Property
Organization (WIPO) Internet treaties.
Monday, November 27, 2006
The idea is that if you don't give them their design-veto, they won't put movies on high-def, and then the money won't come in. But when the head of Canada's national broadcaster announces that there's just no way any broadcaster is going to make its money back on high-def, it makes you wonder if the Brits don't have the right idea.
In the UK, a digital TV system called "Freeview" gives the public 30 free standard-definition TV channels, for life, over the air, for one setup payment. Instead of trying to lure people into throwing away their old sets and buying all new, Hollywood-crippled ones, the Brits just created free cable for life. Amazingly, lots of people voluntarily switched -- and soon they'll be able to shut off the old analog towers and use that spectrum for better, more internetty things.
“There's no evidence either in Canada or the United States that we have found for advertisers willing to pay a premium for a program that's in HD,” Mr. Rabinovich said. “So basically they're saying if you want to shoot in HD, that's your business, we're not going to pay you more.”Link(via /.)
Kirby Dick has graciously agreed to present the screening of his movie, which I reviewed in September. This Film is Not Yet Rated is the best documentary I've seen all year, the kind of thing that inspired outrage and sympathy. It tells the hidden story of the MPAA's rating board, and its systematic discrimination against sympathetic portrayals of gay sexuality and sex in general, and its tacit support for ultra-violence.
The ratings board is shrouded in secrecy, and exists, supposedly, to forestall Congressional censorship of the film industry (an eventuality as unlikely as it is unconstitutional). The board's membership is secret, as are the names of the appeals committee that is meant to watchdog the organizing. The whole, secretive mess was established by Jack Valenti in his capacity as head of the MPAA, and so it bends over backwards to help filmmakers from the major studios (while shafting indies).
Dick's documentary revolves around his efforts to unmask the identity of the secret censor board. He hires a private eye and sets her to work (the CSI elements of the film are really juicy -- it's fun to see how private eyes really work). Threaded around this are interviews with filmmakers who've had run-ins with the board, and, as a climax, Dick's own Orwellian adventures in submitting his documentary to the censor board whose identities he has uncovered.
I can't wait to meet him -- one viewing of This Film is Not Yet Rated turned me into an instant, lifelong fan. I hope to see you there!
Where: University of Southern California, Los Angeles: University Park Campus, George Lucas Instructional Building, 108
When: Thursday, November 30, 2006 : 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Yes, Microsoft's new Zune digital music player is just plain dreadful. I've spent a week setting this thing up and using it, and the overall experience is about as pleasant as having an airbag deploy in your face.Link(via Joho the Blog)
"Avoid," is my general message. The Zune is a square wheel, a product that's so absurd and so obviously immune to success that it evokes something akin to a sense of pity...
The Zune is a complete, humiliating failure. Toshiba's Gigabeat player, for example, is far more versatile, it has none of the Zune's limitations, and Amazon sells the 30-gig model for 40 bucks less.
Throw in the Zune's tail-wagging relationship with music publishers, and it almost becomes important that you encourage people not to buy one.
First, you need to enable hard drive mode using the instructions we posted before. Then, rename whatever files—MP3s, movies, programs—to have the extension ".jpg" in order to fool the Zune into thinking its an image. This hack works because Zune doesn't apply DRM to images!Link(via Wonderland)
Now, take your Zune and send the folder containing these files to your buddy along with a real photo. If you only send a fake photo, an error is thrown. The last step is to have your friend sync the Zune with their computer, open the "containing folder" where the files were downloaded, and rename the files back to their correct extension.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Of course, the homebrew PSP scene exists because this sort of thing just doesn't work. It's impossible to deliver a game to a user with an encrypted section and the keys to decrypt it and expect that the user won't be able to decrypt it.
On the one hand, it's pretty unlikely that a homebrew hobbyist will use the DMCA to attack people who break their crypto, and it's reasonable to want to keep the credit intact on your works. On the other hand, this stuff really doesn't work, and no one should know that better than a PSP hobbyist.
With some people trying to rip off the homebrew scene, pretending to be Dark_Alex or some of our other respected devs, Xart from our forums has come up with a great new idea to prevent people ripping off others work. Xart has developed a powerful, fast Data Array Scrambling (DAS) system to protect your homebrew games and applications from hex editing and others stealing credit from your hard work.Link(Thanks, Hamish!)
This is an example of an encryption technique and it not a yet full release. For this Xart has used his xLoader application. It's a proof of concept to show just how quick encryption can be done to protect your work.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
DRM as we know it is over. There may be Son of DRM but that’s another matter. Right now its dead, the majors are moving towards the new model. The one thing you can be sure of is they will still be at the centre of the world music industry whatever happens. The independents are another matter. As our sector’s share has fallen by almost half in just over twelve months, the new model for us is partnership. It always was, I’m just not sure we got it.Link(Thanks, Andrew!)
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Internet users and providers cannot be held liable for posting defamatory material written by someone else, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday.
"The prospect of blanket immunity for those who intentionally redistribute defamatory statements on the Internet has disturbing implications," Justice Carol Corrigan wrote for the court. But, she added, immunity "serves to protect online freedom of expression and to encourage self-regulation."
The court explained that Internet defamation law differs from that of other media.
"Book, newspaper or magazine publishers are liable for defamation on the same basis as authors," Corrigan wrote. "Book sellers, news vendors or other 'distributors' … may only be held liable if they knew or had reason to know of a publication's defamatory content."
Congress "chose to protect even the most active Internet publishers, those who take an aggressive role in republishing third-party content," she wrote.
She said the threat of liability also would reduce the flow of ideas on the Internet. "The volume and range of Internet communications make the 'heckler's veto' a real threat," Corrigan said.
The defendant, Ilene Rosenthal of the Humantics Foundation, blogs here. The case was brought by the erstwhile thugs known as the Quackbusters.
Here is EFF's FAQ on Online Defamation.
Wikipedia entry on the 1996 Communications Decency Act.
* Discussion @ /.
UPDATE: Comprehensive coverage of blogger reaction to the Barrett v. Rosenthal decision at CJR.
Now, an increasingly vocal grassroots resistance to DRM is cropping up. An anti-DRM campaign called “Defective by Design,” which is organized by the Free Software Foundation, has 15,000 registered members; the Electronic Frontier Foundation argues that DRM places limits on “your ability to make lawful use of the music you purchase.” Web sites like stopdrmnow.org and digitalfreedom.org have been launched “to protect individuals’ right to use new digital technologies” and urge boycotts on DRM-tagged content. David Berlind, executive editor of tech trade journal ZDNet, coined his own term for DRM: “Content Restriction, Annulment and Protection.” (Figure out the acronym).Link
Monday, November 20, 2006
A video of two Bank of America employees singing a version of U2’s “One” to commemorate their company’s acquisition of MBNA recently made the rounds of the blogs, prompting amusement and some ridicule from online viewers.
But the intended comic effect of their performance and the retooled lyrics (“One spirit, we get to share it/Leading us all to higher standards”) seemed lost on lawyers on the lookout for copyright violations.
On Tuesday, a lawyer for the Universal Music Publishing Group, a catalog owner and administrator, posted the text of a cease-and-desist letter in the comments section of Stereogum.com, a Web site carrying the video. It contended that Bank of America had violated Universal’s copyright of the U2 song.
The two employees featured in the video were the guitarist, Jim Debois, a consumer market executive for Manhattan, and the singer, Ethan Chandler, a Manhattan banking center manager, who provoked much of the ridicule with his earnest interpretation and also for straying a bit far from U2’s lyrics with lines like “Integration has never had us feeling so good/and we’ll make lots of money.”
Mr. Chandler, who has independently released an album and is working on another, said he was asked to write and perform the song for an August meeting of credit card division executives at MBNA headquarters in Wilmington, Del.
He said he was surprised to learn about the cease-and-desist letter, stressing that his performance was meant for an internal audience. “There was an approved list of songs to use,” he said, “and as far I knew, that was an approved song.”
Universal said on Stereogum that it had sent the letter by fax and registered mail to Bank of America last Monday. On Friday, a bank spokeswoman, Betsy Weinberger, said the legal department had not yet received it.
The letter was signed by Raul R. Gonzalez, a lawyer for Universal Music. Reached at his office, Mr. Gonzalez said, “No comment” and hung up.
Online commentators accustomed to viral marketing said they suspected that the video was the latest corporate attempt to co-opt Internet video for promotional purposes. But Ms. Weinberger said it was “absolutely not” leaked by Bank of America as a marketing ploy.
Mr. Chandler also denied any involvement in leaking the video, although he admitted that, despite the cutting online criticism, the incident had an upside. “A lot of people thought it was fake, but I really do sing,” he said. “I’ve been doing this a long time.”
Here's the Stereogum post that features the c&d from Gonzalez in comments, complete with typos: "As a courtesy to you and, in order to put Sterorgum.com on notice, I am attaching the text of a cease and desist letter sent to Bank of America’s legal counsel...."
LINK to NYT article.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Here's the exchange that transpired between myself and Faryan Amir-Ghassemi @ U. of Maryland. I started with a general comment to no one in particular:
I agree with folks who think that this involves larger issues, for me, of power (violence & cops) and technlogy (posting on Gootube).
These issues play themselves out all the time. I know LA County Juvenile County Defenders and their stories are heart-breaking. The level of violence in these neighborhoods makes what happened at UCLA look like a slap. People may not want to see a connection, but on a societal level, it's there.
We'll have to decide whether we want a "free culture" or not. This would require sustained energy, one that we can't feel will be resolved so easily like "investigating" isolated UCLA Library cops is.
We all lives restricted by technology and most of us are lucky not to suffer violence because of it (we just have limits on things like our Ipods - I'm sure no one would want to be able to transfer songs from 1 to another).
There are several issues at work here besides just technology and power. The fact that the student is an Iranian American and he cries out expletives about the government and the Patriot Act. It raises questions about the nature of the act, just as LA race riots raise questions beyond socio-economic issues, into the realm of racial and affinity superstructures.
I think technology plays a vital role in mediating the power structures. We witness brutal acts of violence all the time, as a populous. Many of them are abusive by members of the police. The Youtube link helps galvanize the community's ability to respond via social influence. I think without the video, this story dissipates through word of mouth and an inability to create an empathic understanding/following.
The power of unadulterated mass media is in full effect here. Compare this youtube phenomenon versus the Rodney King beating. The parallels are stark yet the transformation is equally glaring...
I agree with your comments completely. The one addition is we need to look at how technologies like Gootube, like our lives, are multi-faceted and exploit the users while being a force to mobilize the masses. That is, Gootube compared to sites like Revver are what some really intelligent critics like Lawrence Lessig call "fake" user sharing sites since they're restrictions built in and users/creators receive no compensation (like http://one.revver.com/revv
or's+Picks which posts video and let's the creators share the ad revenue. Gootube exists solely to benefit its shareholders, which is fine and give people exposure, which is also fine. But there are alternatives which are definitely "free-er" and more empowering.
I'm trying to track it down, but the UCLA footage was first posted on a LA anti-police abuse site, which has been omitted from the story.
Yes, Gootube is a power structure in itself. We will see more of this as the corporate influence will mediate the content presented and clearly the lack of revenue sharing is beguiling. They are the gatekeepers of this so called "free" content, just as news media was a generation before. The concept of intellectual property has become far more convoluted as a result...
Are they held accountable for this? No, the content will simply dictate their success. But, it is still the best alternative we have at the moment. An anarchist system devoid of revenue whording, advertising and asymetries goes beyond youtube/media. It delves into the nature of capitalism and our society's conception of time/work/i.p.
Nevertheless the negatives (assymetrical power structures) sometimes get outweighed by the positives (exposure)...
to which I responded,
Yes, these are complicated issues, but the only thing I disagree with is setting up a choice between the status quo and an anarchist, "Pirate" party, only off-the-grid alternative.
There are people like Joi Ito, a major venture capitalist, trying to create empowering forms of "true" sharing business models.
The Free Culture Student movement is another example, http://freeculture.org/. We're trying to imagine real alternative and make them a reality. Check it out.
I blogged about Joi Ito and some amazing new models that were discussed at a USC Remix conference. It's a long post, but worth reading as the alternatives are out there and they're inspiring.
sounds interesting, and I would need to read more about it to comment further, but take facebook for example:
They provide a communal system for members of a populace (what once used to be elite universities, became all universities and now is open to anyone, practically). However, their success is mediated upon the user's interaction within the community. If people don't chat/share with facebook, they don't use it. If they don't use it, it doesn't grow/become profitable. Are users of the system being reimbursed sufficiently through the service?
Same could be said about any IP service/community. Are the users, in effect, the "shareholders?"
and closing, for now,
I'd argue there are what we're called "Set-Top Cop" issues involved that require new paradigms. So we're not talking about binary relationships. It's better to think of it as tri-partite. There's appliances (Ipods, computers), content makers (whether big media or ind. users) and then the networks (Facebook, Youtube). The inter-play is complex, but basically they're also three scenarios: one a system gets closed down like cable (can't share anything), two the status quo with the off-the-grid pirates and some sharing (but the systems of closed off from "true" sharing. Wouldn't it be nice to have one meta-social network instead of being over-networked with Myspace, Face, et al. Or three, new forms.
Either way, violence will come as people confront the system like at UCLA. I'd argue what we saw is the next form of civil disobedience.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
We don't have to look far to see how "backwards" some contemporary ideas have become. This should make us cautious about over-hyping the promise of technology. Take one recent example in the area of science, technology and medicine,
In Diana Wagman's Sunday LATIMES piece "One diagnosis away from despair A family's journey through teenage depression, recovery and hope." She chronicles how her son was almost lost to the medical establishment and the pharmaceutical industry when her son was diagnosed "bi-polar." I'm not saying that these kids don't have problems, it's just a century ago they would have been considered "normal Victorian boys" being a little "wild" unless they were minorities or women.
In this example, we have regressed to the late 19th Century's assumptions. The sciences defined women as neurasthenic when they acted "hysterical" and minorities as degenerate. Then, they would have been labeled "sick"; now they'd [over]medicated.
What does this have to do with technology and set-top cops? It has everything to do with how we think about technology and society. We should have humility when thinking about the promise of technology, remembering the technology is neutral and a powerful force.
In a recent seminar, Issac Dacio, the owner of a chain of record stores, was asked about the future of collecting vinyl. Dacio felt that something is being lost as DJs switch to Serato Digital/"Virtual" DJing. The physicality of experience, the substance of collecting is being diluted, accepted and replaced by users "absorbing" content.
Humility is required. It is as easy for our thinking to regress as it to progress, and technology increases the speed of such changes. As Melvin Krarnzberg has written, “‘Technology is neither good nor bad, nor is it neutral.’ It is indeed a force, probably more than ever…that penetrates the core of life and mind.”
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
He wouldn't show his ID, and he wouldn't leave on his own. So THEY SHOT HIM WITH A STUN GUN!
23-year-old Mostafa Tabatabainejad is my hero-of-the week. Check it:
"As the officers attempted to escort him out, he went limp and continued to refuse to cooperate with officers or leave the building," [UCLA Police Department Spokeswoman Nancy] Greenstein said.... Tabatabainejad encouraged others at the library to join his resistance. When a crowd began to gather they used the stun gun on him.Here's the cell-phone vid of the incident posted to YouTube:
The arrest was recorded on another student's camera phone and showed Tabatabainejad screaming while on the floor of the computer lab. The video also showed the student shouting, "Here's your Patriot Act, here's your ... abuse of power..."
Click here for students' reaction in the Daily Bruin.
And more suspended-in-disbelief commentary from Martini Republic, LAObserved, and UCLA LJ forum
I've spent late nights at USC's Leavey Library, and at a certain point, a student worker comes by to ensure that all in the building after 10 pm or so, have a USC ID (the library is 24 hours). But NEVER a COP. And, only because of the PATRIOT act is it deemed necessary, for unexplained reasons, for one to have an actual ID on them -- when normally, in a case like Mostafa's, the fact that he was recognized as a student by peers surrounding him should have been enough.
Is it time to renew my GunControlNow site?
From the L.A. Times 11/21: Terrence Duren, an 18-year veteran of the UCLA Police Department, tased Tabatabainejad five times. A 2001 UCLA officer of the year, Duren has been the subject of other use-of-force complaints and previously recommended for dismissal. In one previous incident, Duren shot and wounded a homeless man in a University building, a case that went to trial. Duren has stated all of the past allegations against him regarding police misconduct and use of excessive force were investigated by the UCPD and proven false. Prior to joining the UCPD in the late 1980s, Duren was fired from the Long Beach Police Department.
FOUR NEW VIDEOS
The Daily News reports:
four new videos surfaced online Thursday, showing Los Angeles police clubbing two young people as they videotaped the arrest of a third during a [July 8 Minutemen rally] in Hollywood.
Henry posted photos at LAist from Friday's rally like this --->
80+ comments on this post at my blog, netZoo
The *battle* is on and earlier this week, the RIAA's Cary Sherman called BS on the Consumer Electronics Assn's Digital Freedom docket in this op-ed published on CNET.
CEA President Gary Shapiro fired back almost immediately with this response.
I don't trust either of these guys, quite frankly, and wonder what everybody else thinks about these association-types apparent attempt to duke it out, not to mention, Microsoft's consent to sellout to labels for each Zune (despite fair use) sold and whether, in the end any of these efforts will lead us in any direction towards digital freedom for both consumers and creators.
Charles wrote in to Small Print Project:
...Seems like the RIAA is looking to make a push to pass the Audio Flag bill during the lame duck session. This will kill any hopes of having a digital radio recorder, much like Tivo, which companies like XM and Sirius are behind. Tonight the RIAA is sponsoring a tech demo/concert/open bar at the Russell Senate building. Special interests hard at work?
I can't find anything at quick glance on this, but please -- SOMEBODY crash it and report back!
Click to order RIAA toilet paper
More on the Sherman spin:
-- /. thread
-- Mistaken Goal posts of last week's "revision of a white paper released in 2003 entitled 'Background Discussion of Copyright Law and Potential Liability for Students Engaged in P2P File Sharing on University Networks.'"
-- Ars Technica
Monday, November 13, 2006
Somebody's posted a video to Google Video that claims the Iranian city of Tabriz is actually in southern Azerbaijan. It's a breezy but calculated insult, much like the doings of the Frenchman on the rampart in the Monty Python movie The Holy Grail.
But horrors, Iran's government seems to have fallen hook, line and sinker for the video, and are now urging Iranians to vent their wrath on Google, reports the Guardian's Tehran correspondent Robert Tait:The text of a tourist film on the site has drawn accusations that the US-owned search engine is deliberately trying to undermine Iran's territorial integrity by fomenting separatist sentiment in the mainly Turkish-speaking province.
(Why they don't link to the video in the story is beyond me.)
Many seem not to be aware that Google Video hosts user-contributed content, so believe this must be a deliberate ploy by Google (including, incredibly, The Guardian's Tait!). Others apparently think that it is Google's job to censor all content anyone finds objectionable. Either way, this fracas will require that Google explain once again the workings of the internet to witless people in power, but at the same time it presents an opportunity for education on the principle of freedom of speech. The worst possible outcome? Google takes down the video.
(Data point: at 8:22 UTC, the video was downloaded 11,431 times after two days.)
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Castells work highlights the dislocating impact of a network society; of how due to the radical changes in information communication technology, our very identities, the way we experience space and flow, that is, how our bodies form identity and meaning, is changing in fundamental ways. In our network globalized world, we are always "here" and "there", on call, checking in, present and preparing for the future. Castells argued in our seminar that the basic pieces we utilize to form our "selves" or identity - the language we use, the concepts and social analytical categories we use to understand the world - have to change. How we understand ourselves and our world needs to change at the most minute level, and then, be projected onto a global level.
At one level, Castells' point is a basic one: since our world has changed in radical ways, so must the categories we use to understand the world. Thus, we can't expect people to "rationally" respond to economic arguments based on their self-interests if at another level, they are feeling - consciously or unconsciously - the anxiety, fears, urges, dislocations, ruptures - as a result of these changes. While this may sound very theoretical, when the global world is viewed this way, things fall into place.
So we shouldn't be surprised that there are riots in Israel because gay Jews marched through the holy city and that the Vatican, Muslim clerics and Orthodox rabbis formed an alliance in opposition. Strange times of space and flow.
Choose your other examples of the dislocating effects and resulting violence in our lifetime: the War in Iraq, Afghanistan, 9/11, Yugoslavia, etc., destruction of the environment, use of copyright to prevent third world countries from pursuing medical patents, etc. Our over-networked world has never become more complex.
Thus, change must come, but we must first accept that change is always difficult. Patience and strategic thinking will be required.
What this means is that religious identity as we traditionally understand it will have to change. People like Josh Kun in their re-discovery of forgotten Jewish vinyl music is one wonderful, strange example.
So spiritual matters will reveal themselves in new ways, in re-discovering the past and re-mixing it. It will be global. So to end on a positive note: there is a world-wide creative class, ironically largest in US, Brazil AND Iran. Perhaps, we should combine humility with a desire to reach out and learn from those truly different. To see spirit in the act of reaching out, which for some is much more risky than others.
Friday, November 10, 2006
The article proceeded to scare me when Ratner alludes to a "new media" deal to produce content online:
Mr. Ratner, the director, was driving down Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood when he noticed a going-out-of-business sign at Tower Records, the music retailer that once thrived on selling the music of superstars like Prince, Elton John and Madonna. Many here, like him, fear that the problems that plagued the music business are heading their way.
“What happens if the film business is not ahead of the curve?” he asked. “What is going to happen to me? To all of us?”
Mr. Ratner said he had been well compensated as a director. Still, he has urged the Directors Guild of America to look at several issues facing directors, including the fact that they are not paid when music videos they direct are sold on the Internet.
But he is not waiting around to see what the guilds will do or studios will offer either. Mr. Ratner said he was close to announcing a deal with an Internet company to create his own “Saturday Night Live”-style program that he would own outright and distribute online. Then he can bypass studio bosses altogether.
“I could make a lucrative deal for myself,” he said. “This is just the beginning.”
I just finished watching X-Men III. At least, Ratner's early stuff were watchable. X III (why'd Singer have to leave) was best watched in fast-fast forward while focusing on my Online Comm homework. It's worth catching the ending just in case they let a director show some craftsmanship in the next one.
But there are dynamic, truly new business models being created.
Live entertainment a la Betalevel new fusion models is such a more dynamic offering. Or, a low budget film like mine. But if new media just ends re-cycling old media cliches, opportunity will be lost.
Brewster Kahle posts:
Kahle v. Gonzales is going to be argued by Larry Lessig on Nov 13th at, maybe 10 or 11AM.
What is at stake is libraries being able to have out-of-print books on their digital bookshelves as they have out-of-print books on the physical shelves we grew up with.
James R. Browning US Courthouse
United States Court of Appeals - 9th Circuit
95 Seventh Street
San Francisco, California 94103
Courtroom 2, 3rd Floor
11/13 UPDATE: Lessig posts on the hearing:
We alleged a change in perhaps the most fundamental “traditional contour” of copyright protection — the shift from the opt-in system that copyright was from 1790=1976 to the opt-out system that copyright has become in the period since.
Lessig goes into even more detail in this post
Thursday, November 09, 2006
But no doubt these ads freak the SHIT out of some people (especially those who've been searching for KY and butt-plugs).
Amazon's Omakase links (Omakase is Japanese for [roughly] "it's totally up to you.") "show an Associate's visitors what they're most likely to buy based on Amazon's unique understanding of the site, the user, and the page itself."
How well does this work? See for yourself and let me know in the comments below.
Check the sidebar here: http://netzoo.net/...
Most reviews of Omakase (and Dave Taylor has an extensive one here relate the product as Amazon's answer to Google's Adsense. But my understanding is that Adsense content is based on the context on a particular PAGE, where as Omakase links are unique to the USER. Gigantic difference, no?
Plus, only the Associate knows what's going on since you have to BE an associate (anyone can, I believe) to read the FAQ.
I did make my first Amazon Associate cent (yes - exactly $.01) recently off some blog visitor who apparently purchased A Pilgrim in the Ruins: A Life of Walker Percy -- which, it turns out was purchased for only ONE PENNY (hardcover even). I mostly think it's cool to post images of books / CDs of interest (and from my experience in the record industry -- labels and artists often stand to make more money via an Amazon order than a direct-from-label's site order).
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
The record label will get over $1 for each $250 Zune sold and claims it will extend half of what it receives to the artists. The Zune digital media player hits stores next Tuesday and, yes, it's available in doodie brown.
In trying to compete with iPod, Microsoft is turning the digital audio industry on it's head -- and once again Universal is saving itself from the costy litigation route.
Historically -- and as decided in court -- labels have never been compensated for the sales of digital audio players that can potentially play "illegally" acquired songs. In the case of Apple's iPod, labels receive a percentage of every download via the iTunes Music Store. But clearly, this didn't cutting it for the labels and Universal -- the money-hungry bullies they are these days -- threatened to give Microsoft hell (imagine that).
A recent study estimated that Apple has sold an average of 20 songs per iPod — a fraction of its capacity. The rest of consumers’ music files — 95 percent or more — come from ripped CDs, possibly including discs from their own collections, and illegal file-trading networks, the study said.
The article, complete with a lil' nut graf referencing the 1999 Diamond Rio decision, includes "we make the rules now" sentiment from Universal's whiny chairman, Doug Morris and even David Geffen. Microsoft will happily pimp the same buck n' change to the other majors.
(A review in the same NYT Technology section harps on the Zune as an "unabashed copy" of the iPod.
It's great to hear of such wackiness. But enjoy for yourself:
Nearly two years ago, Denay said, she had applied to trademark the terms "hot mom" and "hot mom's club" but had not applied for the rights to those terms in TV. So, Denay said, in August she applied to expand her trademark to include use of "hot moms" in all media. A week later, Medicis and the "Hottest Mom" producers filed their own application to trademark the term "Hottest Mom in America." Both applications are pending approval. Medicis attorneys wouldn't comment on details of the dispute but in a company statement said Medicis with Buzznation "created and developed the concept for this program entirely independently, and this individual's unfounded allegation to the contrary is false. As substantial momentum builds for this program, it is unfortunate, though hardly surprising, that this sort of opportunism would occur."
Sure, Diebold tried to get HBO to cancel it, actually calling bullshit on them despite never having actually bothered to screen it. i think we know who the real hacks are here.
WIPO is the UN agency that creates copyright treaties -- it has the same relationship to bad copyright law that Mordor has to evil. The Broadcast Treaty is a sleazy attempt to create new rights for broadcasters and webcasters that trump the rights of the public and of actual creators. It's been a flashpoint for activist groups, who have started to show up in force, questioning the treaty's legitimacy.
The Development Agenda is the plan to reform WIPO as a real humanitarian UN agency, something it promised to do when it was chartered. The idea is to force every WIPO treaty to justify itself in terms of international development for poor countries, instead of just creating windfall profits for multinational copyright companies. It's a global scandal that developed nations are planning to sabotage it.
On the proposed broadcasting treaty, the report said that several members, as well as others not in the room, "will be making sure the diplomatic conference does not go ahead smoothly this week." In the end, it was agreed to schedule the diplomatic conference, or high-level treaty negotiation, for late 2007, after more meetings and another General Assembly.Link
Monday, November 06, 2006
More and more people are now accustomed to / hooked on RSS Newsreaders, thanks to great advancements in Google Reader, among other apps, and new browsers (Flock) and extensions (Hyperwords) lifting and reappropriating content from Web sites and RSS feeds (with attribution) is easier than ever.
"Does RSS Imply Permission To Reuse Content?," a recent article by Jason Lee Miller of WebProNews ponders the Q:
A content provider distributes his or her content through the use of an RSS feed. This feed is open to any who would subscribe. The first question is: Is there an implied consent to repurpose that material by republishing it (with proper credit) on a blog or Website? The act of syndicating (distributing) content may imply that permission.
The second question is: How are splogs (spam blogs) that are set up as aggregators of content to attract keyword-driven traffic, that publish only the headline and snippet of text, that link out to the original source, and that make money from AdSense different from Google and other search engines? Doesn't Google do, essentially, the same thing?
The short answer is that the legal system hasn't really decided for certain.
As Matthew Ingram details in this post, some bigger-name bloggers are uppity-in-arms and fanning flames over so-called "RSS-stealers."
RSS is also called "syndication." As with any sitcom in syndication, it is open for anyone to pick up, a sort of implied license. At least I'm sticking to that opinion, although while this should be easily inferred by the concept, I think it's also implied that syndicated material can only be used with original attribution.
All that said, there's not much on either side of the debate in the Wikipedia RSS entry and I can't seem to locate any address to this matter by RSS visionary Dave Winer, but considering the guy never thought once about patenting XML, etc -- I'm betting he's a believer in the implied consent to share RSS'd content.
I was lucky to attend most of Sunday Remixing the Archives Events @ USC Annenberg center. More free events and lectures - Upcoming later in the Year
I missed the first event, the winner of USC's Free Culture NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD remix competition. I did check the winners out, Sami Kriegstein - Night of the Living Advertisements (YouTube) (Internet Archive)and Michael Rossmassler - Sugar on My Tongue (YouTube) (Internet Archive). Rock on!!!!
Imagine a brand new cinema: one that goes back in time and follow the road not taken when those Hollywood Pirates left the East Coast and committed themselves to a passive theatrical experience. The panel discussion,THE ROOTS AND FUTURE OF REMIX with Barbara Lattanzi, Anne McGuire, Sean Deyoe and Aram Sinnreich took us back in time to the early 20th Century when film - believe it, we saw the examples - was an active medium with Karaoke features embedded in the viewing experience.
Is remixing really new? Hasn't it been around for centuries both as an artistic practice and maybe since the beginning of this century? Aram jump-started things with an interesting opening. He's been focusing on the organization patterns in culture, with a focus on music creation, to develop a workable theory of network culture. Basically, he's looking at the radical changes in music and what that presages about our uncertain cultural moment, one where Gnarls Barkley/Danger Mouse CRAZY, a remix, is the top summer hit. His point is that it's never been easier to de-fragment, re-fragment the piece of content to make something new. There's a litany of other remix examples....
Next Barbara Lattanzi gave an amazing presentation. She traced back to early, early 20th Century film and showed how, at the beginning, there was a fork, the road not taken. This road gave audiences a hilarious degree of agency. We watched shorts from I think 1920's where audiences would sing back and follow songs, almost karaoke-like, before a feature. It's a radical thought: one would have happened in film became an active, agent experience where the audiences was mobilized?
She gave numerous examples in her work where she's breaking down the passivity model using idiomorphic software. My favorite was her work on the Zapruder-Kennedy assassination reworking and examples of her C-SPAN Karaoke, my favorite being the Alberto Gonzalez karaoke. I can't recommend enough that people check out her website and follow her work.
Why start the Titantic leaving the East Coast? I'd prefer to see the film start with Kate as an old woman. Anne McGuire showed how to do this. Anne presented her remixing, deconstructing, remaking of class films, renamed ADVENTUR POSEIDEN, THE [get the joke Warner Brothers] (The Unsinking of my Ship). We watched how she had the perfect content to remix so that the film starts with the helicopter dropping our lucky group INTO the Poseiden and the ship then unsinks itself. All the content, all day, was great and you should check out her films where possible. What a happy ending!!!!!! The ship rights itself!
Finally and perhaps most interestingly to me given my Online Community focus, there was Sean Deyoe from Betalevel. Betalevel creates and offers remix parties/events/salon - literally creates community where it did not exist employing remix tools. I'm most attracted to the "Swap Meet
Piracy - Karaoke - Conviviality." These are events where people come together to share musical files, but more importantly to gather and sing karaoke. What's so fascinating, what Sean himself finds remarkable about the events is simple: People are far less interested in "stealing"/"sharing" each other music, although they do share music. But the focus always is on the singing/enjoying each other's company.
This gets back to BIG MEDIAS' need for Psych 101 re-education. You don't make honest people dishonest and you don't scare dishonest people into being honest by stupid intimidation tricks. Put another way: human nature did not change with the invention of Napster. If you're the music business, you simply alienate and lose a whole generation of users.
Betalevel shows a third day: you build trust, create a connection between fans, allow them to come together (off AND online) and share, and boomm, you'll make a boatload of money and your fans will be happy.
One theme that emerged in the panel discussions was the sense of "something" emergent or ambient. That is, all the panelists spoke of something "special," almost a magical fusion generated between fans/users and artistic forms. New remix technologies strives to share this content and empower this connection. This sharing, this radical digital transformation of content and space is something new. I found the language to be spiritual in the native-american spiritual ecology sense of connecting to something larger when you share yourself within or with a larger entity.
This is a unique, strange time.
The grand finale was a bravura performance by TV Sheriff and the Trailbuddies. The crowd loved it. So did I. During the performance, a little girl, one of the TV Sheriff's guys' daughter, danced by the stage, roaming around the front.
I couldn't resist the feeling walking to my car that "that something" is already being lost amidst all this "connecting". At the very least, it is becoming more and more concealed, harder to imagine, to see amidst the clutter (no mas Web 2.0 hype) of our mediated society. Children don't understand organizational forms of culture, boingboinging, axis of evil and such. They simply like to dance while their dad plays in a band.
Friday, November 03, 2006
In counter-point to Forbes' Daniel Lyons' hysteria over Richard Stallman and the tensions in negotiating the new Open Source/GNU license, the New York Times runs an interesting article (headline: "2 Giants in a Deal Over Linux") noting the partnership between Microsoft and Open Source company, Novell, and how this is a logical, development. Linux software, improved by its open source foundation, has a symbiotic relationship with the Free Software movement.
What's most striking is the contrast in tone. Reading the Times, the development actually makes sense. Over at Forbes, folks are getting a wee bit hysterical, Daniel Lyons' (headline: "Microsoft Linux!") seems shocked that the Open Source movement can ACTUALLY GET ALONG with the big, bad Microsoft. But, this is a natural, healthy development.
It's becoming clear that the old poles are dissolving. Those media outlets wedded to the black and white binaries will have a hard time adjusting. Those wedded to the old ways of thinking won't have any choice but change. And they not like it (who does?). But here's for the open-source, free software, and proprietary business models all mixing and matching.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Yes, this is the very definition of evil.
Mark Cuban posted a note from a "trusted digital media business veteran" alledging the above in disturbing, though not surprising, detail. read it here.
As Google has grown cozy as the powerhouse of Bubble 2.0 it seems to have cozied up with the early 21st century corporate-political philosophy of: Trust me, I'm [Google] [the president] [your local utility company]. Are they succumbing to the weak-ass corruption at the top of the service industry food chain?
What's even more frightening is that a majority of the old money keeping Google afloat has about as much of a clue as to what it is or will be and the service it provides as they thought they knew when they put all their money into the iOmegas and Pets.coms of yesteryear.
Worse, the biggest consumers of Google and especially YouTube's services, belong to a generation that has grown immune to the hypocrisy of corporate leadership, practically expecting scandals to be exposed as if they are just another element of democracy in action. How many of today's youngest voters can actually name the presidents who preceded their existence (14 years ago, Clinton became president).
Last, will the public and media response to Google's endeavors w/ YouTube and big media -- essentially spending billions to ensure a monopoly on the market before they become stale and "so last year" to today's youth (see Yuki Noguchi's piece in the Sunday WaPo) -- just as the public and media responds to all other corporo-political infringements on democracy (think the ongoing Iraq war)?
BONUS COV'G: MySpace now claims to be using GraceNote to flush it's supposed tens of millions of users of copyright-infringing files.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
The article is a good overview of the dilemma facing the Free Software and Open Source movement in the next round of Linux licenses. What I find interesting is how the absence of a "intellectual goods knowledge ecology" counter-narrative to the Forbe's dominant narrative.
Forbes caricatures the Free Software programmers, led by Richard Stallman, as radical demagogues. While we don't have to agree with Stallman's objectively extreme position, Forbes intentionally omits how the Free Software movement believes human rights and issues of freedom of knowledge are involved.
We shouldn't expect Forbes to offer a Free Software defense. What is interesting is that the Free Software and Free Culture movement have failed in their communication strategy. There simply is no mention of their position that issues of access to knowledge or an "ecology of intellectual goods" is in play. Until that camp improves their PR strategy, we should not expect the Free Software movement to be painted as anything but extreme.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
ABC News reports that the problem has existed for more than five years.
Chicago Tribune reports election officials claim to have patched the more than 5-year-old problem.
Can you imagine how much money may have been made by hackers over the past five years who accessed this info? I mean charging just 2 cents per SS# could provide nearly $30k toward an entire year's tuition at USC.
ABC News report
Illinois Ballot Integrity Project
Monday, October 23, 2006
A machine running on the same software version (4.3.15c) defined in the source code sent to Kagan was thoroughly hacked into and documented in September by Princeton's Ariel J. Feldman, J. Alex Halderman, and Edward W. Felten in the 26-page "Security Analysis of the Diebold AccuVote-TS Voting Machine" (view PDF, "Internet Christian minister" Rev. Bill McGinnis summarizes it here).
Kagan's story was first reported last Friday in Baltimore Sun by reporter Melissa Harris.
An accompanying letter refers to the State Board of Elections and calls Kagan "the proud recipient of an 'abandoned baby Diebold source code' right from SBE accidentally picked up in this envelope, right in plain view at SBE. ... You have the software because you are a credible person who can save the state from itself. You must alert the media and save democracy."
No matter how or even if Kagan's story is true, a crime, or whatever -- it remains both ironic and suspicious that the one company authorized to make electronic voting systems in this country has kept their source code bottled up as if it contained the ingredients for Coca Cola's secret syrup. Opening source code to independent professional reviewers and critics who may find bugs and other flaws should be mandatory for a company that for months has represented itself with broken HTML code on their home page (see http://www.diebold.com/dieboldes/).
(Coincidentally 2 men pleaded guilty this morning in the FBI investigation into stolen Coke "trade secrets.")
Joe Strupp, of the newspaper industry watchdog Editor & Publisher asks, "Is Press Taking Possible Voting Problems Seriously?" (ABC's World News Tonight is devoting a fair amount of programming to the issue.)
Kagan, a Democrat, is the executive director of the Freeman Foundation -- a philanthropic community-focused charity -- and is a noted critic of her state's election chief and the Diebold voting systems. She said she's been in contact with the FBI and intends to cooperate with any investigation.
Maryland's deputy elections administrator claimed the disks contain "nothing that's being used in this election." Which is quite a suspicious thing to say in and of itself.
In other election season news, Google Earth has new layers and placemarks with useful 2006 election info.
(In Barry Levinson's "Man of the Year," Robin Williams stars as a comedian-turned presidential candidate who is elected only thanks to a bug in the electronic voting system that skews results).
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Oddly, no byline on this tight report from the AP's boy scout beat:
"Working with the Boy Scouts of Los Angeles, we have a real opportunity to educate a new generation about how movies are made, why they are valuable, and hopefully change attitudes about intellectual property theft," Dan Glickman, chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, said in a statement Friday.
Contact Victor Zuniga, head of Boy Scouts LA to find out the nature of these "merit badges."
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Three of the four major music companies — Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, Sony and Bertelsmann’s jointly owned Sony BMG Music Entertainment, and the Warner Music Group — each quietly negotiated to take small stakes in YouTube as part of video- and music-licensing deals they struck shortly before the sale, people involved in the talks said yesterday. The music companies collectively stand to receive as much as $50 million from these arrangements, these people said.
This payoff will certainly materialize faster than any potential compensation from a lawsuit would. But the possible catch -- doesn't part-ownership also entail liability for any future content-related lawsuits filed against YouTube?
Earlier this week, Universal sued video-sharing portals Grouper and Bolt, demanding 15 grand per infringement and telling the press:
"Grouper and Bolt... cannot reasonably expect to build their business on the backs of our content and the hard work of our artists and songwriters without permission and without compensating the content creators," a Universal spokesman said..
Yeah, I'm sure they're worried about 50 Cent appearing on a mini-YouTube or Mariah Carey being compensated (doesn't she have like a $20M contract)?
Last month it seemed Universal woke up thinking it was still 1999, only big mama RIAA is at bay (or, more likely, abusing the courts and/or high school kids).
Will there be more juicy details on this YouTube + Big 3 of 4 so-called partnership? Or is the new YouTube opaque?
Is the industry *finally* comin round the bend? The article -- titled "Record Labels Turn Piracy Into a Marketing Opportunity" details what could be considered (to put it nicely) the industry taking a wide turn. An alternate (if not more accurate) title in a more reality-based publication could be "Record Labels Think p2p is Just Another Way to Own You."
According to the WSJ, the old-school "decoy" technique, in which bad-karma'd companies like ARTISTdirect flood the p2p networks with fakes of "as many as 30 of the Billboard Top 100" to frustrate users to endlessly search for a legit copy of a song instead of hearing it once and then buying the record (not to mention, the title of the song spikes up to the top of the search charts as a result of the neverending-search-for nothing corporat practical joke). Since this is a Public Diplomacy course, let's just make a stretch and call it the carrot-stick approach.
Unfortunately, big media still thinks it has the upper hand and somehow must *fight* p2p and other "free" media-sharing, especially in light of the 2005 Grokster decision. From the WSJ article:
Before the ruling, record labels worried that they might undercut their legal arguments if they used peer-to-peer sites for their own purposes. Now, "we're basically free to exploit these billions of fake files we're putting out," says Randy Saaf, chief executive of MediaDefender.
MediaDefender is the p2p-weasling company that was bought out by ARTISTdirect last year. Somehow -- or I'm not reading it right -- the WSJ scribes are buying into MediaDefender's notion of "marketing," but frankly it's no different than me sharing a hundred fake mp3's on the old Napster and listing them as Metallica cuts.
The chart to the left, featured in the WSJ article, is from BigChampagne, the same online media measuring company that confirmed that -- in terms of "moving units" -- Danger Mouse's "Grey Album" was in a stratosphere to itself on Feb. 24, 2004, or Grey Tuesday, when we all went grey and/or hosted the Album. Today, BigChampagne has courted Nielsen and claims to be "the leading provider of information about popular entertainment online."
Jay-Z, needless to say, never had a problem with the mashup concept and lo, his fortunes have only grown. Nearly two years later, might *some* of the majors be finally getting it? Turn up that Young Dro and stay tuned . . .
(More digressive irony: The top Google results for listen to the grey album are ARTISTdirect-hosted pages.
Search via Yahoo! audio search, however, and it's all there!)
Monday, October 16, 2006
According to the paper "Consumers, Fans, and Control: What the Games Industry
can teach Hollywood about DRM" by Landau et al from Sun Research, which will be presented in two weeks at the 6th ACM workshop on DRM, the answer is probably yes.
The paper claims that Hollywood's current DRM models might be too "restrictive", in the sense that they only allow viewing a film, rather than actively editing or changing it. The authors then postulate that Hollywood can benefit from applying more "flexible" DRM models to their content, which would enable users to make edits and changes, in a similar way MMORPG gamers can change, edit and contribute to different popular online gaming environments ("Second Life", for example).
This idea sounds reasonable, right? the users will be happy since they will be able to edit and change the content as they wish, and the studios will profit more by selling many editable copies. Well, not quite... with a DRM system in place, Hollywood can still have a saying on what changes it approves and what changes it does not. While this might be OK with some users, others would not like such constrainsts. What about buying an editable version of a film, changing it and then releasing it anonymously? will that be possible with a DRM system in place? I doubt it... And these are just a couple of examples illustrating why there should not be any DRM systen in place to begin with.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Garland spoke of just how clueless media companies are and how they're entering a new stage of DRM conflict with the tech giants themselves, ie, Universal Music's rumbling of discontent toward Apple and Myspace and all of Hollywood now aiming their guns at YouTube. Garland used the metaphor of friction, of how Hollywood. The media companies keep putting up more friction, preventing users from exploiting their media on the internet, driving them off the grid into Pirate territory!!!
Temperatures will be rising.
Demers endorses remix culture and advocates new criteria in promoting "original" remixed content. One, the transforming remix should not decrease the marketability of original material. Two, the transforming artwork does not harm the reputation of the creators.
But Demers never answered this question: who exactly will adjudicate and utilize this criteria. Does she count on the courts, the public, the corporations? Unfortunately, we ran out of time to pursue this. Also, it remains unclear why music labels and their conglomerate owners will have a change of heart?
Together, both guests paint a picture of a digital future with conflict, opportunities, implosions, imaginings and uncertainty.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
In the same breath as pocketing a cool $1.65B in Google stock, licensing and copyright-protection agreements were made with the likes of Warner, Sony/BMG, Universal, CBS (it's looking like one singular beast of a media mongrel at this point).
You Tube has been all the rage for it's year-and-a-half existence, but -- isn't YouTube's success primarily a result of its lax oversight and takedown policies? Surely, Chad Hurley and his couple dozen of employees at You Tube don't care anymore -- as long as they sell their Google stock in the near future. But once you can't get anything you want on You Tube, the traffic will most naturally channel itself elsewhere.
Alex Veiga wrote about this today for the AP, and the article's a good read, complete with a variety of quotes. The basic drift is:
[R]ecent agreements with high-profile content creators require YouTube to deploy an audio-signature technology that can spot a low-quality copy of a licensed music video or other content. YouTube would have to substitute an approved version of the clip or take the material down automatically.Veiga predicts that YouTube's anti-piracy platform will resemble the nightmare watermarking techniques of Audible Magic. Competitor Guba uses content-comparison software called "Johnny" to filter out copyright infgingements on videos uploaded there.
CJR's Gal Beckerman says the deal is "doomed just because it is." YouTubers are "gravely concerned," summarizes another article.
The real winners here are the VC's, like Sequoia Capital, which invested 11 million into YouTube and come out of the deal with a whole lot more, writes Staci of Paid Content.
Sure, Google and YouTube will most likely come out OK. The real losers, however, are the users -- that is to say everyone save for the handful of jackasses makin a mean living by hording and raping other people's property (not the kind of OPP that any content producer or consumer would be down with).
Is Google lining up to be the darling sweetheart of government-sponsored corporate Internet ownership? Google does publish a little one-sheet guide to Net Neutrality, deep in their help section). I'm guessing there aren't many Save the Internet badges floating around Mountain View.
(Apparently you'll never find out what's going on at Google if you're using Yahoo Maps). Which reminds me of a prank Yahoo! pulled when they launched their new Maps beta last year. The address for Google was listed as "The Dude's Fish Store." It's hilarious -- read about it here. Perhaps the grey boxes on Y!Maps are just retribution.)
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
By including Macrovision with its products, TiVo is designing a product that is intended to control its owner and treat its owner (TiVo's customer) as an attacker. They've added a swatch of functions that act directly against a user's interests (there's no time at which it's in a user's interest to have her device refuse to record a show the user wants to record). In so doing, they've created a bunch of potential failures in which the user is locked out of her own equipment.
It's like those movies where an accident or a bad guy triggers the "self-destruct button" on a spaceship. Often the self-destruct button is locked away behind plexiglas and padlocks for safety, but wouldn't it be safer not to include a single command that blows up the whole space-ship?
TiVo's problem is a "glitch" but the reason they're having this kind of glitch is that there's a single command that can tell the TiVo to stop listening to its owner. Wouldn't it be better if TiVo didn't build in any technology that attacks its customers?
Our initial test was smooth: we got high-def HDMI output to the JVC receiver and the attached HDTV, and a simultaneous standard-def signal from the TiVo's S-Video and composite outputs (which we were watching on separate monitors). But when we moved onto another program--Revenge of the Sith, recorded off of HBO-HD--the screen suddenly went gray, with a TiVo warning emblazoned across the bottom: "Viewing is not permitted using the TiVo Digital Media Recorder. Try another TV input." Several other programs--Empire of the Sun (HDNet Movies), Simone (HBO-HD), and episodes of Battlestar Galactica (Universal HD) all yielded the same result. Further investigation revealed the culprit: hitting the Info button from the program listing page (TiVo's Now Playing screen) on these programs included a section called "restrictions": "Due to the policy set by the copyright holder, this recording: Cannot be transferred to VCR, DVD, or any other media device. To learn more, visit www.tivo.com/copyprotection."
Visiting that link will reveal apparent culprit: TiVo's Macrovision copy protection. Apparently, these programs were flagged as "copy never," so the box was dutifully following orders, and allowing video only via the copy-protected HDMI output (which is, to date, impossible to record). This isn't new: as far back as 2005, there were reports of TiVo boxes imposing restrictions on the viewing of certain TV shows. At the time, TiVo blamed the restrictions on "false positives"--saying the viewing restriction technology, ostensibly designed for pay-per-view and video-on-demand programming, was being turned on (by the cable companies) to cover a wider array of programming.
When we contacted TiVo about the issues we were having, a company engineer was stumped: he reiterated the same claim from last year, that the content flags should be appearing only on PPV and VOD programs. He suggested that the problem was twofold: our local cable company was "overflagging" its content, and/or the JVC receiver was not properly interpreting the copy-protection flag.