October 31, 2006
October 31, 2006
Wendy Seltzer is leading a lunchtime discussion at the Berkman Center about how copyright works not just as law but as technology policy. Copyright tech has been shaping law and culture, she says. [As always, I'm paraphrasing, missing big chunks, making the elegant clunky, etc.]
She looked recently at the 1995 federal policy statement on the “national information infrastructure” (= da Net). It reads as if the Clinton administration wanted to promote the Internet by protecting “intellectual property.” But it turns out that the Internet has even more value by letting us communicate with one another. Yet, the copyrighted content has been wagging the dog, restricting what and how we can communicate. E.g., the DMCA (which encourages ISPs to take material down), restrictions on fair use, the anti-circumvention laws (including the Broadcast Flag). Laws that give an incentive to create can then become a barrier to communication and access, Wendy says. “So far this limited monopoly is the best way we’ve found to give artists and authors an incentive to create.” We don’t want to return on patronage, she says. The market seems to be the best mechanism. “But this market has its own inefficiencies.” E.g., every computer makes copies (just by visiting a page), so tightening copyright laws can inhibit us unnecessarily, not to mention preventing remixes and mashups that make political points.
While the Internet makes infringements easier, the laws passed in response have given copyright holders new tools to go after infringers, swinging the balance against users. E.g., section 512 of the DMCA says that ISPs should “expeditiously” take down material that someone—anyone—claims infringes. So, ISPs don’t have to examine every piece posted to their system, but the incentive is to err on the side of removing materials.
Q: I’ve heard that YouTube is only taking down potentially infringing clips longer than five minutes. [A quick search on YouTube for "daily show" clips supports this—weak evidence.]
Q: What’s going on with the counter-notice provisions of the DMCA (section 512g) which lets someone whose material was taken down complain.
Q: How should the industry respond to the real threat?
Q: The music industry doesn’t care about secure DRM any more. Will that happen to other industries?
Wendy hopes artists will insist on having more open licenses of their material.
Q: What should, say, Sony do?
Q: Isn’t the ease of ripping an argument for stronger IP, so Tower Records can stay in business?
Q: How about AllofMP3.com?
She says that she thinks the successful sites will be differentiated not by their content but by their navigability, guarantee of quality, etc.
Q: Protecting artists is a good ting. Art is a public good. You mentioned patronage. But in Europe, arts get funded through grants.
Q: How can the communication side make a claim against the entertainment industry?
Wendy likes subscription models that don’t track the data too closely (for privacy reasons) and that allocate revenues to the artists.
Q: If we were negotiating copyrights with individual artists, what would the DMCA look like?
Q: But when I listen, the artist would get ten cents…
Wendy: That’s what DMX does. Would artists give their rights over to bulk licensing agencies? Do what you will with the music and we’ll figure out who to give the money to? If the agency was transparent enough…
Ethan Zuckerman discovers that Google Coop’s roll your own search engine has high precision but poor recall, i.e., it gives few irrelevant returns, but misses stuff it should find.
[Tags: ethan_zuckerman google ]
Reddit, one of my favorite social front pages, has been acquired by CondeNet, the CondÃ©Nast online group. Good news for the Reddit folks. And maybe a very very smart move by CondeNet…if they let the Reddit folks heavily influence how the service is developed. [Tags: reddit news condenet media everything_is_miscellaneous ]
Categories: Uncategorized Tagged with: everythingIsMiscellaneous • media
Date: October 31st, 2006 dw
Yesterday, the Berkman Center hosted a small party for local political bloggers. John Palfrey had us pause for a moment so the attendees could introduce themselves. A sampling: Betsy Devine has tracked the NH phone bank scandal. A professor from Northeastern blogs as a media watchdog. Rick Burnes of FaneuilMedia is plotting political donations on Google maps. Several folks from BlueMassGroup, a Democratic blog that’s also a community, were there. Matt Margolis, founder of Blogs for Bush, a site that’s kept its flame alive two years after the election, was there; he runs a Massachusetts site to rally the state’s overwhelmed conservatives. Steve Garfield told how he posted fantastic footage he’d shot of Deval Patrick at a rally, while the conventional news media all missed the moment. And many more; I didn’t do a systematic job of writing down names and blogs.
My point isn’t that there was a cloud of luminaries at the Berkman last night, well la-di-da. I don’t think there was an “A-list” blogger among us. And that’s my point. As we went around the room, I got chills realizing how far we’ve come. Capturing remarkable moments, tracking scandals — every issue has her blogger — monitoring the media, rallying supporters, mashing up financial info…we’re doing it all. We take it for granted. But it’s changed how the world works. And we’re only at the beginning.
The Boston Globe’s circulation is down 7% this year, falling from 414,000 to 386,000. Boston’s other daily paper (well, not counting the Metro), fell 12% to 203,000. The Globe’s Sunday circulation fell 10% to 587,000.
The Globe was already in financial trouble. The path it’s currently on predictably leads to scaling back in coverage and running more syndicated articles. If the current decline continues it’s hard to see how the Globe can survive. And that would be a disaster. A newspaper is greater than the sum of the knowledge, talent and experience it aggregates.
Another reminder of how much things have changed: The discontent about the use of electronic voting machines has become an issue almost entirely because of the Web. The people who have made it an issue are not reporters but scientists and researchers who have published directly to readers. That’s how they’ve gotten traction. And that’s new. [Tags: media politics blogging berkman]
October 30, 2006
Scott Rosenberg has a great interview with Steve Johnson about Steve’s new book, The Ghost Map. It’s one smart writer interviewing another smart writer. Plus, Scott and Steve are both really nice, a virtue often under appreciated, especially when it shows up in folks whose egos could justifiably be way bigger than they are.
October 29, 2006
Jeff Jacoby is a conservative columnist for the Boston Globe, so I disagree with his conclusions quite frequently. But, over the years I’ve also disagreed with his reasoning almost as frequently. He seems to me to be one of those columnists who comes up with a provocative conclusion and then tries to figure out how he can support it…and doesn’t always succeed.
This morning he complains about people accusing their political opponents of “playing the race card.” That’s the new McCarthyism, he says. He points to the GOP ad that “pokes fun” at Harold Ford, a black candidate for Senate in Tennessee:
Ford went to a Superbowl party sponsored by Playboy, which clearly means he’s on the prowl for white “bimbos.” Nothing offensive about that! And talk about witty! [Note to the sarcasm impaired: That was sarcasm.]
Jacoby then lays the smack down (or whatever that slang phrase is that the kids are using):
Jacoby furthers his case:
Jacoby’s point is that the “ad would be precisely as effective if he [Patrick] were white.”
And on what basis does Jacoby claim this? Has he done a study to test the ad’s effect if the candidate were white or black? No. The best I can figure is that Jacoby means that the explicit argument made by the ad would apply equally to a black or white candidate. But, as he acknowledges, the “McCarthyites” who claim that this is a covertly racist ad point to implications and code words that only make sense within the context within which the ad is actually heard. In this case, everyone who sees the ad knows that Patrick is black, and many — thanks to Healey’s manipulative and cynical raising of the issue — know that the rapist in question is black. In a world truly free of racism, there would be no residue of former cultural associations between rapists and black men. But this is not that world.
So, let’s apply Jacoby’s “proof” to a hypothetical ad attacking Deval Patrick. In this ad, a gang of male, black youths are following a pretty young white woman through the darkened streets. “They’re over-sexed, and they want our women,” says the voice over. Then the ad shows a photo of Deval Patrick. “He’d be fine shining your shoes, but do you really trust him as governor?” According to Jacoby, this ad would be equally effective if Patrick were white because we’re all against crime, and you don’t have to be black to be a good shiner of shoes. But you have to have a brick ear not to recognize that my hypothetical ad is wildly racist. Jacoby’s test fails the real-world test in which ads have meanings beyond the literal words intoned. In context — that is, in the real world — the anti-Ford and anti-Patrick ads are racist, and I believe deliberately so.
Jacoby simply misses the point, not because he’s racist but because (I believe) he’s too intent on being controversial. Conclusions should come last, not first.
Or maybe just as Bush’s speechwriters talk about the “soft racism of low expectations” (a great phrase, despite how it’s used), we should talk about the “soft racism of ignoring racism.”
The Globe today warmly endorsed Deval Patrick for governor, pointing to his ability to listen to those who disagree and his refusal to polarize the electorate for his own personal gain. I’m an enthusiastic supporter — I’ve worked the phone banks for him — and hope that his resounding victory will help rip the Willy Horton page out of the Republican playbook.
I emailed Jeff Jacoby to tell him I blogged this. He wrote back and gave me permission to run his reply here:
October 28, 2006
Britt is an ever-youthful 64 today and writes:
I’ve spent the past couple of days going through the copy edit of Everything Is Miscellaneous. The copy editor, Christopher O’Connell, has done an incredible job. Not only has he corrected every bad comma, transformed every errant “that” into “which” and vice versa, and capped every uncapped capitalized word, but he’s also unearthed an embarrassing number of factual and thoughtual errors that would have mortified me if they’d seen print. I am impressed with the number of ways I’ve managed to go wrong, even though I was rather careful (or so I thought) when taking notes. I misspelled names, don’t know whether 350 BCE is in the third or fourth century BCE, and am wrong about the citizenship of some important historical personages. (What, Napoleon wasn’t Irish???)
It is a usefully humbling experience for which I’m very grateful.
October 27, 2006
Pito Salas explains how BlogBridge’s topic guides work, and how you can use their Feed Library software product to create your own. BlogBridge is a well-intentioned, free, open source blog aggregator that works across platforms. I’m a user and an advocate. (I’m also an uncompensated advisor: disclosure) [Tags: blogbridge aggregators open_source pito_salas rss]