Donna Wentworth
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About this weblog
Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.

What Does "Copyfight" Mean?

Copyfight, the Solo Years: April 2002-March 2004

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Monthly Archives

March 20, 2007

The "OK Go Phenomenon"

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

A friend pointed me to this and I'm still trying to decide how much to make of it.

First, watch the original OK Go video for A Million Ways. It's catchy and it's funny. The band is clearly unselfconscious and making an art of low-budget video production.

So what do fans do? Well, fans appropriate. They imitate their favorite pop stars. Always have, probably always will. Only now we're doing it in the age of YouTube, so we get things like The OK Go Phenomenon, and The OK Go Phenomenon, Volume 2.

Because now you don't just do this with a few friends. You do this with a few friends, and post it. And find others who do it. And someone takes all those postings and creates a mashup of THAT. The 'phenomenon' is a meta-commentary on the popularity of the band and video as well as a form of creative art reflection that wasn't really possible without the technological underpinnings.

Most new art forms tend to begin by imitating previous forms. If YouTube and its contemporaries are media for the creation of new art forms then what we're seeing are just the first baby steps, and already they raise interesting questions of imitation versus originality. See, for example, what happens when the 'phenomenon' spins off what can only be called a derivative work: Wakamatsu and Fecteau ice dancing.

As I said at the start, I find this kind of thing fun and funny. I'm not sure it has any significance, yet, but I'm quite sure it will grow some significance, and probably soon.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Big Thoughts

March 6, 2007

Yes, Call Congress to Ask for a Halt to Copyright Charges

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

As I guessed yesterday it does appear that nothing short of Congressional action is going to halt the Copyright Board's new rate structures.

Pandora sent out an email asking its listeners to call Congress (I happen to live in Ed Markey's district) and pointing to some very detailed discussion on Broadcast Law Blog.

Today's update on Radio Paradise has several links people can use, including an online petition and links people can use to look up the names and numbers of their Congresscritters.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Laws and Regulations

March 5, 2007

Copyright Office Set to Kill Web Radio

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Radio Paradise is begging for help. No, this is not the usual "please make donations so we can continue to be free" kind of request that RP and other listener-supported radio stations make This time it's "please stop the US Copyright Office from killing us."

For quite a while, digital (Web) radio has had to pay significantly higher performance royalty rates than analog broadcast services. In effect, analog radio gets for free what Web radio pays through the nose to stream. That has hampered the growth of the industry and stifled any number of free, independent and likely new creative Web radio initiatives. But it gets worse.

On March 1 of this year, the Board issued new rates and decided to base those rates on a "per play" computation scheme championed by (wait for it...) the RIAA. The computation itself is based off an assumption of mass audience and significant commercial revenue. If you're a big Clearchannel station the assumptions behind this new fee schedule make total sense.

However, if you're small/independent/not-for-profit or otherwise outside the big media mainstream, well, you're screwed. RAIN (Radio And Internet Newsletter) has a concise breakdown of the fee schedule, and agrees with RP's claim that the schedule amounts to over 100% of station revenues in a typical situation.

What can we do? I'm honestly not sure. I know that ratepayers affected by the Copyright Board's decision have a time period to appeal. RP asked for people to blog about it, digg it, make the public aware, and so I'm doing that. I don't see any obvious mechanism under which the Copyright Office is collecting citizen comments - perhaps a message from Congress is required?

Comments (7) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Laws and Regulations

March 1, 2007

Do Schools Teach Legal Self-Defense?

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Once upon a time college campuses were plagued by a particularly nasty wave of attacks and harrassment aimed at women. As a result, physical self-defense classes for women sprung up on many American campuses. Women were taught a lot of self-awareness, some martial arts, and in general became less victims and more participants in their own security.

I was reminded of this by an announcement by the newer more efficient Cartel jihad that they have plans to sue more college students in the next three months than they have in the preceding three years. It seems like the appropriate response to this kind of mass assault is a series of legal self-defense seminars for students.

According to the AP wire story (here on the RIAA have sent surrender terms... err, early settlement offers to hundreds of college students. Just as the new efficient machine is attempting to enlist ISPs as part of its enforcement arm, this part of the effort attempts to dragoon university officials who are supposed to do the Cartel's dirty work and associate IP addresses with students in order to expedite the process of squeezing them for cash.

Because, you know, suing customers has been such an effective strategy against music-sharing so far.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Abuse