Archive for the ‘intellectual property’ Category

No Protection: A Filmmaker Against SOPA

Friday, December 16th, 2011

As a filmmaker, I’m a content creator. I’m an “artist.” I want to be able to make a living doing creative work and I do want to be paid for work I do. But I do not support copyright law as it is today. I do not support the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and I do not support the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The reason is simple. I am a practical person. If something is essentially unenforceable then there is a problem with it as a solution. If to be enforceable, the law needs to shut down free speech, security and the general mechanics of unrelated businesses, I don’t think it spells pragmatic.

I would like innovators to come up with a way for creative people to make more money from their work. I do not care all that much if giant conglomerates suffer in the meantime. They should not be permitted to force even more corporate welfare down our throats in the form of legislation that benefits a very narrow group of powerful companies. They have fed someone the line that their protection benefits artists, when that is almost never the case. The vast majority of artists benefit far more from innovative sites like Etsy or Vimeo whose very existence is threatened by this type of legislation.

I have been worried about various threats to innovation on the internet, for example in the broadband monopoly in the US. But that nearly every internet company has come out against this type of legislation has not been able to stop the force of the MPAA and their lobbyists. Even a bipartisan effort in the Judiciary Committee seems to be yielding little return.

I saw a tweet yesterday that said “If SOPA passes, I’m moving to Canada.” It does sound tempting, but if SOPA passes, the internet will be affected everywhere. The U.S. is still leading the way in web innovation. But if you make obvious activity illegal, we’ll all be criminals.

Call your Congressperson today.

Dead media, resurrected: extraMUROS

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Among the many cool things I’ve encountered lately, one I want to share in particular is extraMUROS, a project based at Harvard that was pitched at the Digital Public Library of America meeting a couple of weeks ago in DC. Much like Mozilla’s cool project Popcorn, extraMUROS is an open-source web-based media manipulation tool.

Built in HTML5 using a framework that builds on another Harvard product, Zeega, extraMUROS seems to have the potential to be transformative. With this online software, you could pull files from places like the Smithsonian collection or the National Archives via DPLA or through Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo or other media sites. You then could use the tool to edit those files into a new work. It will allow you to apply real time tools like maps, Twitter, or any other number of applications, creating a dynamic, living project.

This has amazing implications for access to creative storytelling and creating interesting connections. There are also exciting intellectual property issues. It’s also worth checking out the DPLA and what’s happening in general in the quest to digitize national assets for free dissemination.

CopyNight & Copy/Right(?)

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Two fun copyright geekery events this week. First, CopyNight returns, hosted by me and Fred Benenson at Swift Bar 34 E 4th St (between Bowery and Lafayette), tomorrow, Tuesday 4/27 at 7PMish. This is a social night which is open to anyone who likes talking IP and drinking beverages, possibly in that order.

On Saturday, Pratt hosts Copy/Right(?) a symposium about copyright, creative commons, fair use and library science. Good Times!

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.

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?

RiP: A Remix Manifesto in the tradition of mainfestos past

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

I recently got a chance to check out RiP: A REMIX MANIFESTO, the Canadian documentary that takes a look at copyright (and the mashup artist Girl Talk) in a kind of method way- the producers, EYESTEELFILM, and director, Brett Gaylor decided that since the costs of licensing all the expensive music in the film would be prohibitive, and since the film was about these costs, it would essentially be fair use to go ahead and use whatever they wanted (including network footage, usually very expensive) and just see what happens.

It’s a pretty interesting concept, and though the film does paint the issue in overly black and white terms (the CopyRIGHT vs. the Copy LEFT), by the end, Gaylor has raised some interesting issues about the state of copyright, though I’m not sure many of them are answered. Hope to have a discussion with one of the producers which will be here soon.

It’s definitely worth seeing especially if you enjoy the Girl Talk phenomenon- I met him a few weeks ago at a show and was impressed- he’s totally into giving a great performance- which is all the more remarkable given that his performance is pushing some buttons. And, in keeping with the mashup philosophy, if you don’t like the film (or especially if you do) you can make your own version at OpenSourceCinema.

Patently True

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Geeked out today in the Patent and Trademark Office. Along with the exciting new iPhone developments (which did not tell me whether my new mobile device will have the black plastic or aluminum back, anticlimactically), I fooled around looking at new concepts for media delivery on various platforms and DRM solutions for their “protection.” One patent of interest was awarded on 5/6/06 for “method and apparatus for delivery of targeted video programming” to track audience viewing habits and deliver media based on individual patterns and preferences.

There is more and more content available and people seem to be at least somewhat interested in it. Still what most people are interested in is content that not only fits their basic interest profile but is also mnemonic. It seems like there may be some people who will want a lot of control over the media they see and be willing to spend time filtering it themselves, but most people will prefer to make some basic choices of customization and then have a quality selection service to give them their optimal feed. This could be a successful way to sell media, but it will also mean media may be saleable only when it’s easy to categorize.