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SOPA/PIPA Blackout Protest Day

January 18th, 2012 No comments

The timing is terrible for me to have the time to write a proper post. In short, SOPA and PIPA are a bad thing for freedom and the Internet and the American public needs to make sure neither become law. I may not have time to write a long post but I made the time to call my reps.

For now, some links:

SOPA Resistance Day begins at Ars

LA Times:Where’s my Wikipedia? SOPA, PIPA blackout coming

Mashable: Why SOPA Is Dangerous

Why SOPA Threatens the DMCA Safe Harbor

No Flying Cars – Technology wins and losses – Harvard Law School Blog Post

Call, speak to person, don’t just click some online petition. Call, write a paper letter. Be impossible not to notice.

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Why YouTube’s ‘adoption’ of CC licensing is self serving Bull$#!^

June 3rd, 2011 No comments

YouTube, for those who haven’t noticed is a Google owned and operated service wherein users can upload and share video and Google can sell advertising against it.

Now, beyond the obvious problems wherein Google can’t (and shouldn’t actually be forced to) police the uploaded content to ensure the rights exist for the user to upload it , the core issue is Google makes money off the ads and the content creators don’t.

(Yes there are limited ways a content creator can make some ad revenue by embedding the YouTube hosted video in their own page and other methods but YouTube’s purpose is to get ad impressions for Google, not the content creator. Arguing about the option to embed etc. is arguing a distinction without a difference.  People who want their video to be seen as a YouTube Phenom will give up the all or most of the financial benefit of ad impressions. Period.)

For essentially all cases Google is the collector and reporter of the usage data. Google chooses the ‘relevant’ advertisers. Google makes the money.

So, now, in an act of empty magnanimity, Google is enabling users to flag the content users upload as licensed under ‘Creative Commons’ but only under this specific license: Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0). which I’ll summarize as: Share it, change it, adapt it, remix it, do as you please commercial or not as long as you give the source(s) credit.

If you’re a creator and you see content an uploader has flagged CC on YouTube, don’t be silly and assume you’re indemnified from liability if you intercut that content with other things and try to sell it. I’m not a lawyer and I don’t play one on TV (though I have been a technical consultant to a few on these kinds of issues) but indemnified means you can’t be sued because the other guy, the uploader will take the heat. They won’t.

If you mash up Happy Birthday and Steamboat Willy with some Casey Kasem Dialog intercut with U2 concert footage and dollop of George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord I think you should expect to be in some deep yogurt lawsuit-wise.

Beyond that, though, is the simple fact that not only is Google going to sell ads against your original or remixed work but the second you click that button you are giving Google and anyone else the right to sell it, rent it, bend, fold, spindle or mutilate your work for money and money you’ll never get any of.

Now, I am a huge fan of freely sharing my creative work but I think any reasonable person would say I have the right to set conditions for how what I choose to share is used. Conditions like “use this however you like except to resell it (or usage of it) to make money if I don’t get a piece of the action”.

Several Creative Commons licenses actually help ensure this (and other things) but Google chose the one that requires the creator/remixer to give up the most rights.

There’s a reason most creators choose other more restrictive CC licenses. They either want to get paid if anyone else does or they want to insist that their contributions to the world are matched and equally shared by others.  And you can even expect this mutual sharing and still let everyone still be free to make money:  http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/copyleft.html There’s a company listed on the NASDAQ doing a VERY nice job of just that:   and even cooler is the NYSE actually runs the exchange on this ‘free’ product.

So, as I have said countless times before….

Want to watch great cat videos? Enjoy YouTube!

Want to watch pirated content with a thin veneer of protection because it’s not Limewire? Look for it on YouTube before it’s taken down. Enjoy YouTube!

If you make actual content. Material with intrinsic value? Put up a trailer on YouTube if you must but host the actual content yourself and sell your own ads against it.

Needless to say, I disagree with Janko Roettger’s impressions of Google’s CC support as written in gigaom.

Google’s implemention of Creative Commons licensing is entirely self serving. You decide if that’s OK with you. Meanwhile, remember, if you do have the rights to what you upload, you can still put a title card in the video and a copyright notice with any license terms you like. Heck, you could even have a license that says “Use of this video is conditional on your agreement to switch to Bing as your default search engine.” it’d probably be legal if unenforceable and it sure would be funny. The CC feature Google’s implemented is only meaningful to users if they use the YouTube Video Editor and that, well let’s say  iMovie’s better and leave it at that for now…

 

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TV Dinner

February 11th, 2011 No comments

As broadcast TV continues it’s slow death, and really, it’s basically over, content creators have allowed and even propped up more intermediaries. Intermediaries that mean consumers will pay for more and more services to get access to ‘big budget media’.

The content producers are allowing themselves to get squeezed into a constrained income by their intermediaries and consumers are allowing themselves to be roped into spending money for things they have already paid for once. (Paid for with spectrum allocation, advertising views or, in the case of public television, tax money and donations and corporate underwriting [it's called underwriting not advertising].).

The changes in the media economy have hurt content producers and consumers and propped up cable companies and ‘internet cable companies’ like Apple iTunes and Netflix (and Hulu <smirk>).

The ‘video rental store model’ and, perhaps sooner than we’d like the physical media model (DVD/BluRay) are eaten by Netflix too.  For now, Netflix is a benefit to consumer cost, convenience and variety but as Netflix gets more control, that will change unless the Cable Companies fight back more effectively.

What’s ironic and interesting is that now, many people would actually be better off with no cable and with Netflix andrabbit ear antenna for ‘loca’l tv.  For now, bundling  internet access with cable services props up the cable companies. Cable company efforts to undermine net neutrality are their cowardice about the ‘the new world order’ threatening their business model. They’ll use a stick (traffic shaping) rather than risk inventing a carrot (viable alternatives to Netflix/TiVo etc).

The take-away, to me, continues to be:

- Content creators need to work hard to disintermediate the Cable Co.’s, Netflix and Apple or they’re doomed, especially independent content creators.

- Consumers need to be vigilant about how much they pay for services that take away their control (DRM, availability windows, bad law, (ACTA) etc.) in exchange for convenience. Consumer’s risks will include an ever-shrinking variety of editorial voices and an ever-growing portion of their disposable income spent on media as intermediaries take control. Control that is propped up by law and inertia.

Fear on the part of big media has allowed intermediaries to make things ‘safe’ for them in the short term and fatal in the long term for most (not all). Netflix and Apple brilliantly allowed content creators to think they were preserving old business models and surviving in the ‘new world order’. In fact, what was happening was intermediaries were taking new control over producers’ fate and access to their audiences.

What producers who actually care about quality (to the extent they still do) should be doing is resisting the obvious ‘business think’. Old busines-think has producers ‘adapting’ to the new realities in MBA-safe ways instead of radically mutating in anticipation of the new environment.

Sports and news are two spaces where the power balance is, to a point, still weighted toward the content owners. The news business is under obvious threat from the audience’s inability to know journalism from propaganda, commentary, guesswork or gossip or what was fashionably once gathered under the moniker ‘citizen journalism’. The sports business is trickier. I can’t really comment intelligently on how that’s shaking out because I’m not a consumer or even interested observer of sports content beyond Formula 1 racing. (And even that interest is waning as the sport is diluted by rule changes.)

Food for thought: “Is the current broadcast tv busines-model such that it will become necessary for broadcast tv to come down *against* network neutrality in order to survive since they’d get no traction legislatively imposing ‘must carry’ on Apple and Netflix?”

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