Archive for the ‘free’ Category

Lessig on curation/freedom

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Oddly this video does not seem to be sharable!

Can freedom produce quality? An ongoing debate. (A better example for “economies without money involved/being important” than romantic relationships may need to be cited…)

The Cobbler- A new model for entertainment artists

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Have an article up at about a new approach for filmmakers and other entertainment artists in the reproductive economy. Sample:

For the first time, it is possible for a filmmaker to make a film on a very small budget, use promotion and distribution methods that are low-cost or free, and find enough revenue to break even and possibly to support themselves in a basic fashion. It means you probably won’t become a millionaire, but in return your chances of being able to support yourself through your work go up, and they go up more the better your work is.

Brian Newman at DIY Days on Free

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Missed Brian’s presentation at DIY Days so it’s great that our new online video technology can bring it to us on demand.

Digital Watermarks: Can they save copyright?

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

Everyone knows that illegal downloads can’t be stopped (except, maybe the MPAA, but they’ve been deluded for a while about speech issues). That could seem kind of depressing if you are a filmmaker who’s just maxxed out a few credit cards and hit up every friend you have making a movie with no obvious hope of recouping. Some people have said that we should just dump copyright altogether since it’s unenforceable. But copyright was created to protect artists who put their original ideas and execution into a work so that they could control how money is made from the work. This doesn’t seem like an idea that should be abandoned just because technology has changed.

One potential solution might be digital watermarking. Instead of DRM, which tried to determine where the content can be used, watermarking just tries to track where the content is going and what is its source. The watermark, which is invisible, can be embedded with other useful information like film title, cast list, synopsis, etc. so that it is desirable to retain for those exchanging the file. It’s a way for the filmmaker, distributor, or content provider to mark otherwise anonymous files as having a maker. The Digital Watermarking Alliance, an advocacy group for watermarking technology, commissioned a study that claimed that using a digital serial number rather than DRM would cause “Active sharing via file-sharing applications [to] decline by one-half overall, a little less among
BitTorrent users, a little more among P2P network users.”

Watermarks have their problems. They are relatively easy to break or “attack” though some argue that there is less reason to destroy a watermark than DRM since it doesn’t impede the user experience and in fact can enhance it. But once a file with a broken watermark is released to the downloading stream, it will propogate.

The ideal watermark would not ever prevent the viewer from watching the file. If a user attempted to remove the watermark, the file might become degraded. The same thing might happen if the file were altered. Of course, anything you can do to something digitally can be cracked. But if there wasn’t a motive for the average user to get rid of the watermark, it seems like it could gain traction.

In the future, it seems likely that the per-user costs really will be free or subscription-based. But commercial uses, i.e. the content providers, cable companies, Netflix, etc. who are making money from having the content, should still be on the hook. Watermarks might be a way to preserve authorship while keeping the files flowing.

Are the days of artists owning their work over, when work can be infinitely replicated? Should content producers just look for new revenue sources?

Free screening: RiP: A Remix Manifesto

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

“Mashing Up Copyright” – a screening of the new NFB film RiP: A Remix Manifesto and a discussion. Presented by the NY Film and Video Council.

WHEN: Friday May 1st; 6:30 pm

WHERE: The Cooper Union’s Wollman Auditorium, 51 Astor Place.

RSVP: 212-330-0450. The event is free.

Free movies, only not that many

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

A few weeks ago, Snag Films announced, by way of their subsidiary media outlet indieWIRE, that they had just closed an exciting deal with Cinetic Rights Management that would add over a hundred films to their catalogue and (in a curious bit of math) “add hundreds” more films to the documentary sharing widget’s playlist.

Cinetic has been very aggressive in their placement of films, and if one looks at the various online film channels and markets, the fruits of their labour are evident. Joost, Jaman, Hulu, Snag, Amazon, Netflix Watch Instantly, E-Z Takes and others are all flush with the riches of Cinetic filmy goodness. The same titles, in fact, on most of these online venues are featured (primarily because Cinetic seems to be repping a handful of high-profile catalogue titles and a host of things that no one has ever heard of).

This wouldn’t be so noticeable if so few other “independent” distributors had come in quite so vigorously. Magnolia and IFC are making a push; as VOD distributors already, going to the internet for some beta distribution there seems natural. Criterion is online on their own site / The Auteurs, but isn’t sullying itself so far by spreading out into ad-supported channels and other free options. Right now, free is largely owned by studios, TV, and Cinetic.

But are free channels like Joost appealing if the selection is limited? Have you come across free movie sites with more selection of quality film? Does something like The Auteurs fill this niche, or Jaman? Do enough people really care about independent film to make it viable and profitable in an ad-supported model? Can Cinetic make money if they are competing with themselves?

Boxee is a DIY-style solution for streaming to your TV

Friday, February 13th, 2009

I admit while I have been tempted by the Roku Box, I haven’t actually watched much of anything on a TV in quite a while. This will change as I am going to take the plunge with Boxee, the open-source solution from NYC that allows you to hook up a Mac or Linux computer to your TV (but in a user-friendly way) to watch online video including Netflix Watch Instantly and DVDs, photos, etc. It also works with the Apple TV box. The NY Times says the company has a problem because it is replacing too many of the revenue streams that make these type of consumer sales possible- but for the time being, it’s pretty cool!

You gotta give for what you take

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

Wired has published 6,000 words of editor and Long Tail author Chris Anderson’s new book Free on its site. Anderson, who has been busy promoting the economics of Free around the internet, also gives an interesting interview to EconTalk host Russ Roberts over at the Library of Economics and Liberty, who challenges Anderson on several things.

The Long Tail is a semi-genius approach to the new socioeconomic order of internet culture. Free seems to be a little less considered. There are definitely things that seem “free” like Wikipedia, or blogger for that matter. They are “free” for users. But there are costs in their creation (servers, maintenance, etc.) and someone has to pay for them. Twitter is a good example of how this can go wrong.

What’s more, Anderson seems to acknowledge operational costs (though he doesn’t think they count in the Friedman “free lunch” shibboleth) but hasn’t addressed that I’ve seen the bothersome problem of media creation. Sure, we could all watch YouTube videos shot in someone’s house and film be damned, but until recently, the trend has been more and more expensive films and fewer to choose from. Will the daunting realities of Free make mumblecore the dominant style of American cinema?

One thing that’s suggested by Anderson and Roberts is that the provider could be very important in the process. Just as people now pay Comcast or Time Warner $30-$50 per month as a utility cost to get online, if the provider is the one charging another $10-30 for media access, chances are, people will pay. For example, cellular technology has only gotten more expensive in the last 5 years, which doesn’t make that much sense except people sense value and want the service. I am not sure if that additional revenue will offset the lost revenue of DVDs but there is ultimately a bigger market for a utility-based service than an optional DVD or theatre-ticket buy. How to divvy the spoils will be the next question.