Tag Archives: United States

Havard Law Students Take on the RIAA

Harvard Law School Langdell Library in Cambrid...
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There’s a very important case brewing in Boston where Joel Tenebaum is being sued by the RIAA for what could be $1,000,000 all for downloading seven songs from a popular P2P network.

ArsTech has been covering the story and they have a great overview/update of it on their blog.  Here’s a taste:

[Harvard Law Professor] Nesson took the case, acting as Tenenbaum’s attorney, but he outsourced the work of research, strategy, and brief writing to a set of eager Harvard Law students. The students would quickly mount an ambitious defense, not just of Joel Tenenbaum, but of the claim that the RIAA legal campaign was unconstitutionally excessive and improper. Armed with a law library, Twitter, a Web site, and caffeine, the students have already made sure that the upcoming Tenenbaum trial will eclipse the Minnesota Jammie Thomas case for sheer spectacle.

This is great reporting by ArsTech on a story everyone should be following.

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Fox News Tries to Bully Bloggers – We All Fight Back

Fair & Balanced graphic used in 2005
HA!

I have been following the story of Progress Illinois, a group that has posted a number of videos that criticize FoxNews and, under the well-accepted legal concept of fair-use, include clips of the FoxNews programs in question.

Via TechDirt:

The YouTube account had been taken down following multiple DMCA takedown notices from Fox, leading YouTube to institute its usual policy of shutting such accounts down. Progress Illinois sent a counternotice, and after Fox failed to sue the activist group, the account was turned back on. Paul Alan Levy points us to some more troubling details about the discussions between Progress Illinois and Fox. Apparently, Fox sought to have Progress Illinois waive its fair use rights on all future Fox material and demanded that it be allowed to run ads on the Progress Illinois site in exchange for allowing the content to be placed on YouTube. On top of this, Levy notes that Fox is apparently preparing a deal with another video site (that will include its desired ads), which Fox will apparently demand sites use in reporting on Fox News reports.

In support of Progress Illinois, embedded below is one of their videos including a FoxNews clip.  Hey Fox, why don’t you come after me, too? I’m just itching to counter-sue someone…

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Sarkozy Attempts to Bury French Teens in Dead Tree Media

Front page of the New York Times on Armistice ...
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In case you haven’t heard, newspapers, at least in their hardcopy form, are not long for this world.  Aside from the inheirant costs of physically printing and distributing a newspaper there is that little thing called the internet where a growing number of people are now finding their news.

In response to this natural technological evolution, French President Sarkozy is instituting a plan to give free newspapers to all the country’s teenagers.  I think BoingBoing‘s Cory Doctorow said it best:

I wonder if he’ll also give out free bridle and tackle to instill “the habit of dressage.” How about stimulating the French press by giving all the kids free, uncensored broadband?

These sorts of programs do such a wonderful job of illuminating just how far out of touch many leaders are with their younger constituents.  It gives me a lot of hope to finally have a president who is, if not a native techie, is definitely a heavy user.  One cannot imagine Obama coming up with something this far off-base when it comes to his technology initiatives.

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Free Anti-Piracy Advice to NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX et. al.

According to a post on NewTeeVee:

Regardless of how many ads were shown, 90 percent of ABC.com viewers continued to say they’d rather get the show for free than pay to get it without ads.

Why aren’t the TV networks releasing copies of their shows to pirate sites complete with the ads built in?  While I do love my ad-free TV torrents, I tend to watch on Boxee even with the ads since there is simply no wait.  However, I miss being able to download and watch the show on other devices or outside of a wifi hotspot.

I think most people would be perfectly ok with downloading a show with the ads built in.  Sure, one could fast-forward past them but most people don’t bother, especially if the ads are short and varied.

Not only would the networks actually get to show advertisers an ever larger pool of eyeballs but they would be putting the pirates right out of business.

Just thinking aloud…

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IFC and VBS Hope Porn Will Boost Viewers – Sasha Grey, Too

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Tilzy.TV has a very good post on two conceptually  similar webseries each of which focuses on an erotica/pornography photographer primarily as an excuse to show a whole lot of naked women and girls.

IFC.com is presenting The Stagg Party, a sort-of reality show format following the life and work of professional photographer Ellen Stagg.  Meanwhile, VBS.TV is going with Shot By Kern in which we watch Richard Kern take pictures of young porn stars like Sasha Grey intercut with harmless interviews with the girls.

Now, I am not saying there is anything wrong with this but as Tilzy points out, it’s too bad the filmmakers didn’t explore some deeper issues and themes.  Instead, we get a lot of the same stuff we’ve heard before about the intersection of art and porn.  If this was your only glimpse into the world of pornography you’d think everyone involved was just as well-adjusted and happy and emotionally sound as one could possibly be.

Sure, it’s trendy right now to view much of porn as some sort of later-day post-feminist political movement but the truth is most of it is just people having sex on camera so other people can masturbate.  Again, not saying there is anything wrong with that but coming from sources like IFC and VBS it would have been nice to see a some actual meat on the bone.

Here’s an episode of SHOT BY KERN (NSFW):

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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HBO, Facing Obsolesence, Tries Threatening Inaugural Ball ‘Tubers

www.Army.mil
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HBO, which has a completely obsolete business model at the moment, took a shot at relevance by securing the exclusive rights to film and air Barack Obama’s Inaugural Ball.

Now, via TechDirt, comes word that HBO is attempting to force the takedown of personal videos posted on YouTube that were shot by regular folks lucky enough to be in attendance last night.

The majority of these videos seem to be short clips shot on cellphones and it is pretty hard to imagine how their presence online could harm HBO’s “exclusive” rights.  Nobody is going to watch those videos as a replacement for HBO’s professionally shot and produced video nor will anyone mistake those videos for the work of HBO.

Not only is it just plain mean to attempt to stop folks from sharing their personal looks into a major historical moment but it makes HBO look bad.  Considering how few reasons there are to pay for HBO, you’ve got to wonder why they would risk web backlash…unless they were blind and ignorant when it comes to New Media.

Nah…

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The YouTube Dilemma – Users vs. Copyright Protection

Jeong-Hyun Lim performs Pachelbel's Canon in o...
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There is simply no denying that YouTube is still the most important video-sharing site, at least in the United States.  It is not likely to see this position change much, at least not in the next year.

As YouTube has grown it has been forced to decide if they want to side with the users who have made the site what it is or the rights-holders to a lot the material that users have posted.  More and more, YouTube is siding with rights-holders, even in cases where fair-use can easily be argued.

YouTube is trying to avoid a never-ending string of lawsuits (justified or otherwise) from RIAA, DMCA, et al. with pre-emptive actions against their users.  Unfortunately for both YouTube and its users this means that the site is rapidly becoming a very unfriendly destination for the kinds of “mashup” entertainment that independent video creators and viewers so enjoy.

Here are just a few of the things YouTube will take down and eventually ban users completely for doing:

1) Dancing to a pop song not in the public domain

2) Remixing videos to existing songs not in the public domain

3) Using TV news clips to make a political statement

4) Kids singing Hannah Montana songs at a birthday party

5) Video-collages of Hollywood movies. (like every time they say “fuck” in Pulp Fiction)

The really sad part is that the vast majority of these kinds of videos are completely fair-use but there is no way to argue that with YouTube.  It is also incredibly short-sighted of rights-holders not to understand the intrinsic value of being used and exposed via these kinds of videos.  It is hard to imagine how Warner Music loses money when a teenager lipsyncs to the latest top-ten single.

The end-result will be that people who want to create these types of videos are going to find a new host.  And a smart host could make a good amount of cash providing a legal safe-haven.

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