recognizing Arthur C. Clarke’s third law

Archive for the ‘copyright’ Category

I got a silver machine, it flies sideways through time

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On Demand BooksIt won’t appeal to Kindle fans, but I’m pleased to see that another Espresso Book Machine has found a home, this latest time in the Northshire Bookstore of Manchester Center, Vermont.

On Demand Books, the company behind the EBM, now has nearly 2 million book titles from major publishers available for secure and licensed publishing on demand, in addition to many books that are in the public domain. The machines also can handle memoirs, poetry collections, novels, cookbooks, and other books written by the customer who brings them in.

“The idea is that soon we’ll be able to print out any book that’s ever been printed,’’ said Northshire Books manager Chris Morrow. “That could really change people’s image of the small bookstore.’’

Morrow added that the success of self-publishing was a pleasant surprise. Northshore charges these customers a $49 setup fee plus 5 to 9 cents per page (depending on length). The store also maintains a network of professionals who provide editorial and design services.

(Title lyric from Hawkwind.)


Written by chris

July 6, 2009 at 9:53 pm

The stars belong to everyone

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moby-waitforme-cover-webMoby sent an email to Bob Lefsetz regarding his new album Wait for Me [lala link]. In it, the recording artist shared the news that his album would be No. 1 in Europe if it weren’t for Michael Jackson. But then he said it was funny that the best-selling iTunes track is Shot in the Back of the Head.

To quote Moby’s email: “Why is that funny? Because it’s the track we’ve been giving away for free for the last 2 months and that we’re still giving away for free.” (Here, among other places.)

Having an official video by David Lynch certainly helped, but the iTunes sales are an excellent example of the famous bottled water analogy: even when something is available free, people will pay to get it in a manner that suits how they wish to acquire and use it.

(Title lyric by Brown, Henderson and DeSylva via Frank Sinatra.)

Written by chris

July 5, 2009 at 8:59 pm

Posted in copyright, marketing, music

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You’re listening to the Streets, original pirate material

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home_taping_is_killing_musicBad Science’s Ben Goldacre has taken on pirate downloading statistics in, “Home taping didn’t kill music.”

He reads through newspaper stories on a report by the government’s Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property (SABIP) and notes that the estimated amount of illegal downloads music in his native United Kingdom is 4.73 billion items a year worth about £120 billion. Goldacre does the math and notes that equals about a tenth of the country’s GDP and means each illegal download is worth about £25.

Goldacre further calculates that these numbers work out to £175 a week per person. Since this is about a third of the average UK wage, he wonders: “Is this really lost revenue for the economy, as reported in the press?”

Adding to his skeptism, Goldacre researches the original documents and learns that the original executive summary and press release were incorrect by an entire decimal point. His subsequent conversation with SABIP makes for entertaining reading.

(Title lyric by Mike Skinner, The Streets.)

Written by chris

June 13, 2009 at 7:52 pm

Posted in copyright, Internet, music

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Bring it in and let us see it

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openvideoconferenceThe first Open Video Conference, being held in NY on June 19-20, is bringing together producers, techies, distributors, lawyers and others involved in “the growing movement for transparency, interoperability, and further decentralization in online video.”

The conference is a production of Yale Internet Society Project, Participatory Culture Foundation (creators of the open source Miro internet TV player) and Kaltura (developers of a full open source video platform), in partnership with Mozilla, Creative Commons, and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.

Among the many speakers and presenters are producer Ted Hope; Daily Show and Air America co-creator Lizz Winstead; CEO Mike Hudack; John Lech Johansen (famed DVD DRM cracker and co-founder of the Doubletwist universal media platform); Eirik Solheim, project manager and strategic advisor at the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (where they’ve launched a promising initiative to distribute TV programs using P2P); Jamie King, director of the Steal This Film documentary and co-founder of Vodo; Clay Shirky, author and professor at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program; and Yochai Benkler, Professor at Harvard’s Berkman Center and author.

(Title lyric from British Sea Power.)

Say what you want, ‘cos this is a new art school

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Dark Kniight of the SoulSpeaking of mashing and remixing, the entire new album from Danger Mouse can now be heard here as part of NPR’s Exclusive First Listen series. Dark Knight of the Soul is an impressive document of artistic collaboration, the DJ/producer/artist working with Sparklehorse and guests including Iggy Pop, Frank Black, Vic Chesnutt, the Flaming Lips, the Strokes’ Julian Casablancas, Super Furry Animals’ Gruff Rhys, the Cardigans’ Nina Persson, The Shins’ James Mercer, Jason Lytle, Suzanne Vega, and probably others.

So can you buy this album? Kinda. You can purchase a jewel box containing a poster and a “custom designed” blank CD-R for $10 or, for $50, all that plus a limited edition (5,000 copies) hand-numbered art book of original photographs by film director David Lynch.

Why is the CD-R blank? The official statement explains: “Due to an ongoing dispute with EMI, Danger Mouse is unable to include music on the CD without fear of legal entanglement. Therefore, he has included a blank CD-R as an artifact to use however you see fit.”

My cynical nature twitches at this non-explanation explanation, especially remembering that Danger Mouse zoomed into the public consciousness with the Grey Album, a critically acclaimed project that threw down a virtual gauntlet to the traditional music industry. But regardless of its genesis or motivation, I think the project is genius.

(Title lyric by Paul Weller/the Jam.)

Written by chris

May 23, 2009 at 1:05 pm

Bugs Bunny had the props on the Eastside spots

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cabcallowayI’m a huge fan of remixing, collage, and other artistic endeavors made possible by technology. I think copyright laws need to be revised to acknowledge the digital age. And I love animation. So I’m unsettled but not dissuaded by a DVD currently being advertised on TV.

Hip-Hop Nursery Rhymes strips the audio from classic public domain cartoons and replaces it with nursery rhymes declaimed in a rhythmic, semi-hip-hop style. Even worse, the ad warns that this is only Vol. 1.

There’s no way I’m going to taint my memory of these cartoons by watching this stuff, but I’m amused at their inclusion of what I’m pretty sure is Fleischer Studios’ wonderful The Old Man of the Mountain. It features Betty Boop at her sexiest, a fabulously rotoscoped Cab Calloway and His Orchestra (the archetypical hep cat, pictured), and an unmistakably lascivious title character; in fact, in its day there were calls for it to be banned from theaters.

There’s a blog, too! My favorite entry so far is a complaint that a major retailer refused to carry the DVD on the grounds that it is “stupid.” The company interpreted that rejection as evidence that major retailers think African-Americans won’t buy “good, clean music for their kids.”

(Title lyric is from Coolio, Ghetto Cartoon.)

Written by chris

May 23, 2009 at 10:37 am

I don’t wanna be a tattooed millionaire

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Simon on No Rock and Roll Fun wrote an impassioned and logical deconstruction of an editorial U2’s manager Paul McGuinness wrote for Le Figaro (that was picked up by The Guardian newspaper). In it, McGuinness declares his love for the new French law that ultra-criminalizes Internet-enabled piracy. This legislation mandates ISPs to police their content and provides tiered penalties that begin with a warning email, then a letter, and then completely disconnects the miscreant from the Internet for between two months and a year. McGuinness warns against thwarting the stadium-sized aspirations of rising musicians; Simon sees a digitally-enabled world in which, “You might not have the sort of career where you wind up with so much cash sloshing about in your pockets you can buy luxury hotels and massive ranches in LA. But you can make a decent living, and provide for your family.” [Title lyric by Bruce Dickinson.]

Written by chris

April 8, 2009 at 4:34 pm