Posts archived in Music

For several years, the various Recording Artist Associations (eg: RIAA) have been on a campaign to prosecute their customers. These associations claim they do it to protect the rights of their members. In reality it’s all about increasing profits for certain key members - that is, large record companies.

Last week came news from the UK of the latest attempt by these organisations to stick it to ordinary consumers for something which is, really, fairly innocent. What’s the problem? Some employees of a car repair company played their radios a little bit too loud.

The Performing Rights Society (the UK’s version of the RIAA) is seeking £200,000 (AUD$450,000) in damages for this obvious heinous crime.

Seriously, there needs to be a complete change in copyright law. For a long time these large organisations (and don’t kid yourself, they are giant corporations, not struggling musicians) have been steadily edging out what we would all consider fair use. It should not be a crime to listen to the radio at work, or to play a CD for friends at a private party. 

The way things are structured at the moment, it’s better (financially) for me to drive a car at well above the legal speed limits, placing people in serious danger - than it is to play a radio a little loud, or to share a song with a friend.  This is not the way things should be. We need to say enough is enough, and tell our elected representatives to change these obviously stupid copyright laws.

Delicate Genius points out the recent Sydney Morning Herald article about Virgin Mobile Australia being sued for using Alison Chang’s picture in their advertising campaign.

image
Another girl who’s likeness was used in the Virgin Mobile campaign. Credit: Jason Meredith
“It’s fine to text about someone, just don’t send it to them by mistake” says Virgin Mobile.

Some quick facts, for those of you who aren’t aware of the background on this:

  • Virgin Mobile Australia ran an ad campaign called “Are you with us or what?” earlier this year.
  • The ads used pictures which were obtained from Flickr – a photo sharing service.
  • The photographers who posted the photos on Flickr marked them with a Creative Commons licence of some variety – although apparently not all of them allowed commercial usage.
  • Model releases were not obtained by Virgin Mobile/Advertising Company/Photographer – Which is required for commercial use (with some disclaimers) , but not non-commercial use (such as posting to Flickr)
  • Neither Virgin Mobile nor their Advertising/Marketing agency contacted the photographers to let them know their photos would be used.
  •  Some of the pictures were not exactly flattering, and the captions (added by Virgin Mobile) could possibly be offensive to those pictured.

I find it interesting the viewpoints of some of the people commenting about this.

With the exception of someone shooting with the intent to use pictures commercially; I don’t believe it should be the responsibility of the photographer to obtain model releases for all those featured in a shot.  Many apparently disagree with me, for example the first comment by ‘wjkocik’ on this photo 

There’s also some confusion about the role of the Creative Commons folks in this. The Sydney Morning Herald says “Creative Commons Corp, [is] a Massachusetts nonprofit that licenses sharing of Flickr photos”.  The Creative Commons folk simply provide a way for people to use a pre-prepared licence for their works which clearly states what the work can be used for.

I’ll be watching the lawsuit to see what happens.

I got an email on the 17th of August announcing State of Play V was open for registrations. The conference is on… err, well now actually (August 19th to 22nd) – in Singapore.

That’s okay, I guess since State of Play IV was rescheduled from January 7-9 2007, to “June 2007″ – with less than 2 weeks notification (the change notice was sent out on the 15th of December 2006).

Without knowing the background on why such a major change was scheduled, it looks like someone needs to revise their idea of ‘timely notification’.

Ohwell – They didn’t have Neil Stephenson lined up as a speaker, so it’s of less interest to me anyway.

Man, I should have had this before I went to Italy. 

From Italy from the Inside (via Roberto D’Angelo’s MSDN Blog)

US Senator, Ted Stevens – the same person who made the phrase “The Internet is a series of tubes” famous last year – is at it again.

From the Neowin article:

Early in January, Stevens introduced Senate bill 49, which among other things, would require that any school or library that gets federal Internet subsidies would have to block access to interactive Web sites, including social networking sites, and possibly blogs as well. It appears that the definition of those sites is so vague that it could include sites such as Wikipedia, according to commentators. It would certainly ban MySpace.

Look, here’s a free bit of advice for all concerned, but technologically handicapped, parents, law makers, and bystanders:

Stop Shifting Responsibility

Parents, Guardians, and (when at school) Teachers/School Staff have a responsibility to monitor their child’s behavior. If you’re not doing that – you’re just plain irresponsible and possibly negligent. 

Would you subscribe to a pay-TV service that had open-access pornography or other particularly violent content, and just let your child have free reign over the TV? No, of course not – you’d keep an eye (and ear) on what they’re watching.

Would you let your child wander off alone through the streets, without ensuring that they have some sort of supervision? Again, no – of course not.

Internet access is really no different. It’s just like a city street running right to your computer, with all the disturbing behavior just around the corner.

As your child matures, you make judgement calls as to giving them greater freedom and responsibility: They can stay up later, watch more mature movies, and go meet with friends without direct supervision. You set boundaries (“be home before 5pm”, and “No MA-rated movies”), and see how it works.

The same judgement calls need to be made about Internet usage. Having their own email account, and IM accounts is a gradual trust thing.

Dictating that Schools should ban certain types of sites, and expect that it’ll be a cure-all, is just pure self delusion.

— On a side note, gotta love this spelling suggestion.

I was listening to the first backstage.bbc.co.uk podcast* today, they talk about Digital Rights Management, and it’s related subjects – specifically as it applies to the BBC’s situation as a public broadcaster in the UK and the changing methods of media consumption.  

There’s a wide range of viewpoints expressed, and it’s really a good listen. They don’t go into a lot of technical detail, but there is a lot of discussion of a very broad range of really new technologies – so you might need to have a web browser handy.

There’s two things I got out of this:
First of all, I’d really love to work for the BBC’s R&D Labs (either that, or Google). Michael Sparks (I think) mentions a number of very cool sounding things that they’ve been.. err… researching and developing, and it sounds like it could be a fantastic opportunity to put all those crazy ideas I’ve had to the test.

Secondly, the podcast reveals that there’s a very complex legal environment around digital distribution of BBC content, particularly as it relates to access control and things like that.

An example is given where The BBC tried to find just one piece of work in the massive BBC archives which they owned all the rights to.  It turns out that they had to actually examine the contracts and manner of employment for all the people involved in the production of that one musical recording – not just the musicians, but the conductor, sound engineers, editors, etc.

There is also discussion about how external content-creators are reluctant, or unwilling to set a specific price for online distribution in many cases.

Miles Metcalfe makes this wonderful comment towards the end (~49:29):

“What content creators are arguing – and I think it’s not a very nice thing to argue – and what they’re saying is: Look, our customers are bastards, they’re thieving monkeys, and we don’t like them. We want them to buy the stuff, and we won’t trust them not to be anything else.”

I think it fairly well sums up what the various media companies’ attitudes in regards to DVDs, Games and Music.

* Folks, you need a shorter name – y’know: “BBC Backstage Podcast”.

Edit: and, of course – I hit Publish in Live Writer, instead of Save Draft. 

I meant to add a bit more on how the BBC is setting an excellent example which our (Australia’s) own ABC would be well advised to emulate.  That discussion however, quickly leads to the sad state of broadband in Australia…  (Not so much speed and reach/coverage, so much as data costs). Which I’ll leave right alone (for now).

Havard and MIT have released the results of a study into online security indicators.

As the New York Times reports, the study showed that 58 out of 60 BoA customers happily continued on through their banking tasks, despite the SiteKey image being missing.

“The idea is that if customers do not see their [personalised SiteKey] image, they could be at a fraudulent Web site, dummied up to look like their bank’s, and should not enter their passwords.”

Although I havn’t read the paper, it is fairly obvious that more effort needs to go into user education. This is evident by the success of viruses and spyware – most of which now require the user to take some form of action (opening an attachment, or authorising an install) on modern up-to-date PCs.

Of course – social engineering comes into it, which is something so very difficult to teach people about. So many people also tend to “leave the brain at the door” when it comes to computers.

Perhaps some of the blame can be laid with the IT industry. In the end though, it really doesn’t matter how well you design a system. User education is the key.

On a side note:
It’s part of the reason why I’d love to implement Internet Licensing requirements. I’m only partly kidding by the way – some people should be banned from touching an internet connected computer.

(via Slashdot)

Jennifer Laycock, a work-at-home breastfeeding blogging mother created a line of humorous T-shirts for other Breastfeeding mothers (“Milk Jugs”, “Nip/Suck”, “That’s my baby’s lunch you’re staring at.”, etc). The issue? The (US) National Pork Board takes objection to use of “The Other White Milk” on a t-shirt.
Read More at Jennifer’s blog: Overzealous Big Pork Stomps on Breastfeeding Blogger

The only thing I can say is that atleast the National Pork Board didn’t call the Boston police and report them as “suspicious packages“.

Perhaps Jennifer should add a new t-shirt to the line up: “Just so we’re clear – these arn’t pork”, and maybe send a few over the the National Pork Board while she’s at it.

(via Digg)

This Reuters article in SciAm, amongst others, has a quote by someone* from the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS).

From the article:

It said Microsoft’s XAML markup language was “positioned to replace HTML,” the industry standard for publishing documents on the Internet. XAML would be dependent on Windows, and discriminatory against systems such as Linux, the group said.

Uhh… XAML is positioned to replace HTML? Looks like someone is somewhat lacking in the “checking facts before making ass of self” area.

As Wikipedia puts it:

When used in WPF, XAML is used to describe graphically rich visual user interfaces, such as those created by Adobe Flash. XUL and UIML are other examples of XML-based user interface languages. The language allows for the definition of both 2D and 3D objects, rotations, animations, and a variety of other effects and features.”

Sorry folks, but it’s meant for “rich” interfaces – like for traditional applications such as Word, Media Players, or 3D Games.

Sure, you can embed it in a web page – but it won’t replace the web page. It’s also highly dependant upon having a rendering engine (typically Windows Presentation Framework) available. It’ll spread to desktops running Windows XP, and the .NET 3.0 Framework, and also Windows Vista – you might even get some people creating browser-based applications, but they’ll probably be for either a custom deployment environment (Kiosks, POS Machines, etc), or for corporate Intranet things.  In that case, it’s no different to having an ActiveX control, or Java applet embedded in a page - it requires something else to run it, even though it’s started through your browser.

* = I can’t figure out who it should be attributed to – there’s three different people all mixed in there

Wired has an article this month from Lawrence Lessig on “Net Neutrality” – I Blew It on Microsoft.  (via Slashdot)

It’s an interesting article, and Lessig goes into a lot of detail.  Good read.