What Louis CK knows that most media companies don’t — Tech News and Analysis – Good round up of Louis CK’s online non-DRMed release of “Live at the Beacon Theater”. While a direct plea to fans didn’t prevent pirate versions altogether, CK’s fantastic online sales and healthy profit within 4 days show that this is a huge success (and arguably the torrent versions may still be helping with publicity).
Facebook riot page: Danny Cook jailed for 30 months [BBC News] – “A man has been jailed for 30 months for creating a Facebook group page called “Letz start a riot”. Danny Cook, 22, of Marlpool Place, Kidderminster, admitted intentionally encouraging or assisting in the commission of theft or criminal damage. Worcester Crown Court heard he made the Facebook page during the August riots. The judge, Mr Justice Butterfield, said: “I would be failing in my public duty if I did not impose a substantial custodial sentence.””
Louis CK – Live at the Beacon Theater Statement – Comedian Louis CK released his new standup video “Louis C.K. Live at the Beacon Theater” online for $5 via PayPal, available anywhere in the world, which in his words has “No DRM, no regional restrictions, no crap. You can download this file, play it as much as you like, burn it to a DVD, whatever.” A bold experiment in doing away with any sort of rights restrictions or DRM, Louis CK has released a statement thanking his fans and showing that this experiment has been a huge success. After just 4 days of sales: “As of Today, we’ve sold over 110,000 copies for a total of over $500,000. Minus some money for PayPal charges etc, I have a profit around $200,000 (after taxes $75.58).”
Google buys licensing firm RightsFlow [guardian.co.uk] – “Google is getting serious about paying artists royalties for songs that are used as soundtracks or videos on YouTube. The company said on Friday that it has acquired RightsFlow, a New York-based company that will help it identify the owners of music that people use in videos they post. “YouTube has had a long-standing commitment to solving the really tough challenges around online copyright – how to manage content rights in a quickly evolving technology world,” said David King, YouTube’s product manager, in a blog post. “We’ve already invested tens of millions of dollars in content management technology such as Content ID. We want to keep pushing things forward.” The deal should help YouTube, part of Google, manage the complex relationship it has with content owners, who are rarely consulted when their work is put online for free.”
No Copyright Intended [Waxy.org] – Great post from Andy Baio on the immense confusion around copyright and remix: “These “no copyright infringement intended” messages are everywhere on YouTube, and about as effective as a drug dealer asking if you’re a cop. It’s like a little voodoo charm that people post on their videos to ward off evil spirits. How pervasive is it? There are about 489,000 YouTube videos that say “no copyright intended” or some variation, and about 664,000 videos have a “copyright disclaimer” citing the fair use provision in Section 107 of the Copyright Act. […] On YouTube’s support forums, there’s rampant confusion over what copyright is. People genuinely confused that their videos were blocked even with a disclosure, confused that audio was removed even though there was no “intentional copyright infringement.” Some ask for the best wording of a disclaimer, not knowing that virtually all video is blocked without human intervention using ContentID.”
Judge Hits Blogger with $2.5 Million Charge for Not Being a Journalist – In a case that’s sending a frightening message to the blogger community, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that a blogger must pay $2.5 million to an investment firm she wrote about — because she isn’t a real journalist. As reported by, Judge Marco A. Hernandez said Crystal Cox, who runs several blogs, wasn’t entitled to the protections afforded to journalists — specifically, Oregon’s media shield law for sources — because she wasn’t “affiliated with any newspaper, magazine, periodical, book, pamphlet, news service, wire service, news or feature syndicate, broadcast station or network, or cable television system.” The Obsidian Finance Group sued Cox in January for $10 million for writing several blog posts critical of the company and its co-founder, Kevin Padrick. Obsidian argued that the writing was defamatory. Cox represented herself in court.”
H&M;’s New Lingerie Models Are Computer-Generated [The Cut – NY Mag] – “The models fronting H&M;’s new holiday lingerie campaign are unreal, literally. Jezebel translated an article from Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet in which H&M; press officer Håcan Andersson confirms that their new lingerie-clad bodies are “completely virtual.” For H&M;’s website or catalogues, much of the store’s clothing is now shot on mannequins, which are then humanized via photo-editing software — which explains the eerily uniform pose now increasingly commonplace online.H&M; also shot real models for the campaign, but only to superimpose their heads on the standard body form. Aptly, H&M; calls them “facial models,” who are apparently aware of their abridged role in the finished catalogue shots.”
Swiss Govt: Downloading Movies and Music Will Stay Legal [TorrentFreak] – “One in three people in Switzerland download unauthorized music, movies and games from the Internet and since last year the government has been wondering what to do about it. This week their response was published and it was crystal clear. Not only will downloading for personal use stay completely legal, but the copyright holders won’t suffer because of it, since people eventually spend the money saved on entertainment products. In Switzerland, just as in dozens of other countries, the entertainment industries have been complaining about dramatic losses in revenue due to online piracy. In a response, the Swiss government has been conducting a study into the impact downloading has on society, and this week their findings were presented. […] The report states that around a third of Swiss citizens over 15 years old download pirated music, movies and games from the Internet. However, these people don’t spend less money as a result …”
Many Online Book Buyers First Shop Around in Stores [NYTimes.com] – “Bookstore owners everywhere have a lurking suspicion: that the customers who type into their smartphones while browsing in the store, and then leave, are planning to buy the books online later — probably at a steep discount from the bookstores’ archrival, Amazon.com. Now a survey has confirmed that the practice, known among booksellers as showrooming, is not a figment of their imaginations. According to the survey, conducted in October by the Codex Group, a book market research and consulting company, 24 percent of people who said they had bought books from an online retailer in the last month also said they had seen the book in a brick-and-mortar bookstore first. Thirty-nine percent of people who bought books from Amazon in the same period said they had looked at the book in a bookstore before buying it from Amazon, the survey said.”
Zynga Sets Offering Price at $8.50 to $10 a Share [NYTimes.com] – “Zynga set the price range for its initial public offering at $8.50 to $10 a share, a highly anticipated debut that could value the company at $7 billion. At the top end of that range, the company, a four-year-old online game maker, is on track to raise $1 billion, which would make it the largest United States-based Internet offering since Google in 2004. […] Zynga, unlike many of its peers, is churning out a profit, a crucial selling point as it starts its road show on Monday. It recorded earnings of $30.7 million for the first nine months of this year, on revenue of $828.9 million. The company, which makes the bulk of its money from the sale of virtual goods, is the top game maker on Facebook, with some 227 million monthly active users. Its latest franchise, Castleville, which started about two weeks ago, has already attracted about 20 million users on Facebook, according to AppData, a site that tracks online games.”
9 In 10 Moms Are Facebook Friends With Their Kids [All Facebook] – “While 90 percent of mothers are friends with their children on Facebook, 46 percent of them restrict their kids’ access to their profiles, according to a study by the publisher of Parenting and Babytalk magazines. This percentage is significantly higher than what we’ve seen in a Kaplan survey of teens, about 65 percent of whom said they are Facebook friends with their parents. We wonder whether the moms have a more idealized view of things, but it’s possible that some of these mothers might have separate, made-up aliases for befriending their kids on Facebook. Meanwhile, other findings from the email survey of 1,146 mothers by The Parenting Group are: 33 percent of mothers allowed their children to create Facebook pages by age 12, despite the age limit of 13 set by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and the social network’s own rules. 73 percent of moms who aren’t Facebook friends with their kids monitor their Facebook usage by accessing their pages as someone else.”
Facebook Extends Maximum Status Update 12-Fold [All Facebook] – “Facebook has extended the maximum length of status updates to 60,000 characters, 12 times what it used to be. Perhaps this move intends to offset the site’s recently announced plan to end support of RSS in the Notes application.The change might offer longer thoughts better visibility in the news feed than the old Notes had. However, longer statuses don’t jibe with the ticker, which tends to clip posts after a period mark.”
Fail! Qantas red-faced after Twitter campaign backfires [Perth Now] – Social media #fail: “It probably seemed like a great idea in the marketing meeting. But a social media campaign in the midst of a bitter industrial battle spilling over to thousands of angry passengers has backfired for Qantas. The airline posted a seemingly innocent tweet this morning using the hashtag #qantasluxury asking for entries to a competition with suggestions for a dream in-flight experience: @QantasAirwaysTo enter tell us ‘What is your dream luxury inflight experience? (Be creative!) Answer must include #QantasLuxury. Little did they know just how “creative” – and angry – the responses would be as Twitter users seized the opportunity to have their say in their hundreds. While many of the tweets were sarcastic, most were from passengers unhappy with the state of the airline or who had experienced the disruption first-hand. timwattsau#qantasluxury was being abandoned at Heathrow for 4 days in the snow with no customer support while trying to get home to 8mo pregnant wife!”
Google Chrome hits 20% global share as Microsoft continues browser slide [Network World] – “Google Chrome’s rise in popularity has been remarkably fast and it’s just hit a new milestone: more than 20% of all browser usage, according to StatCounter. Chrome rose from only 2.8% in June 2009 to 20.7% worldwide in June 2011, while Microsoft’s Internet Explorer fell from 59% to 44% in the same time frame. Firefox dropped only slightly in the past two years, from 30% to 28%.”
Angry Birds film takes off [guardian.co.uk] – “An Angry Birds movie is slingshotting its way into development with the announcement that former Marvel Studios chairman David Maisel has been recruited as a special adviser by Rovio – the mobile game company that developed the popular pig-popping franchise. “There has been so much chatter about an Angry Birds movie, but it’s now real,” Maisel told Variety. “The process is starting now.” Maisel, who was responsible for shepherding mega-hits such as Iron Man to the big screen while at Marvel, said he was interested in the “emotional connection” that players have with the Angry Birds characters.”
Australian Social Trends, Jun 2011 – Summary data released in the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2011 about social and cultural trends in Australia (as measured by a variety of stats). Useful for lectures.
Chinese faked photograph leaves officials on street of shame [The Guardian] – “For government officials in Huili, a distinctly modest county in a rural corner of south-west China, attracting national media coverage would normally seem a dream come true. Unfortunately, their moment in the spotlight was not so welcome: mass ridicule over what may well be one of the worst-doctored photographs in internet history. The saga began on Monday when Huili’s website published a picture showing, according to the accompanying story, three local officials inspecting a newly completed road construction project this month. The picture certainly portrayed the men, and the road, but the officials appeared to be levitating several inches above the tarmac. As photographic fakery goes it was astonishingly clumsy.” [Gallery of photoshop ‘responses.]
Credit Is Due (The Attribution Song) [YouTube] – Nina Paley’s excellent short video explaining why copying WITHOUT ATTRIBUTION is plagiarism. (And why that’s wrong.) Surely this clip will find its way into first-year university lectures everywhere!
Logies 2011: Twitter Banned [The Age] – “When Australian television’s biggest stars walk the Logies red carpet on May 1, there will be one notable absence. This year, Twitter is not invited to the party. Having snaffled back-to-back awards for Most Attention-Seeking Performance in 2009 and 2010, Twitter has been effectively blackballed by organisers of this year’s awards. Invitations to the ceremony at Crown carry, in very small print, the words: ”Please note, mobiles will not be permitted. Your co-operation is appreciated.”” Unsurprisingly, tweeting celebs and followers alike are unimpressed.
Google ‘to boost spend on original YouTube content’ [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – Broadcast YourTV just doesn’t have the same ring to it: “Google is strengthening its relationship with Hollywood and online programme-makers in an attempt to reposition YouTube for the rise of internet-connected TV. The world’s most popular video website will invest tens of millions of dollars in professionally-produced original programming as more viewers watch YouTube from their living room. Google is also reported to be planning a “major overhaul” of YouTube this year, with the introduction of channels for topics such as arts and sports. About 20 of these channels would feature several hours of professional programming a week, according to the Wall Street Journal. The move would represent a big shift away from the user-generated video that made YouTube the third most-popular site on the planet.”
‘School asked us to airbrush class photo,’ company says [The Age] – “A photographic company that digitally altered the school portraits of six Melbourne students says the girls’ college at the centre of the controversy specifically requested for the images to be airbrushed. Parents were outraged yesterday when their daughters returned home from Our Lady of Sion College in Box Hill with school photographs that had been touched up to change hairstyles, hide ears and eliminate earrings. Several students’ had their ponytails removed, while one parent, Mary, said her 16-year-old daughter had hair drawn across her ears and ended up sporting a ridiculous ‘‘bouffant’’. ‘‘It didn’t even look like her in the end, it just didn’t look like her at all,’’ said Mary, who did not want to reveal her name to protect the identity of her daughter. ‘‘My daughter said to me, ‘What was wrong with me mum? Why did they need to do that?’ It’s just sending the wrong message to the girls. Their self-esteem isn’t the best at that age.’’”
Amazon’s new Cloud Drive rains on everyone’s parade [Technology | The Observer] – A solid piece which explains why Google, Apple and the music companies are probably feeling a little threatened by Amazon’s new Cloud Drive and, more importantly, the CloudPlayer which makes Amazon purchased music or any other music you own accessible on smartphones and other mobile media devices as streaming media.
‘Angry Birds Rio’ a Big Hit: 10 Million Downloads in 10 Days – “Angry Birds fans can’t get enough of the bird-hurling application and game franchise from mobile developer Rovio. Angry Birds Rio, the latest iOS and Android edition of the game, features a theme based on the upcoming FOX animated motion picture Rio. The app saw ten million downloads in its first ten days after release. The milestone metric spans all free and paid versions available in the App Store, Android Marketplace and Amazon Appstore. The stat was first announced on Rovio’s Twitter account.”
tiltshiftmaker.com – Transform your photos into tilt-shift style miniatures – “Tilt-shift miniature style photos are pictures of real-life scenes that are manipulated to look like model photographs. Now you can easily transform your existing digital camera photos into tilt-shift style miniatures using tiltshiftmaker.com.” (A fairly minimal setup, but with the right photographs, these can look impressive.)
Mouthwash linked with increased cancer risk [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – “Dental experts are warning mouthwash could cause oral cancer and should be made available on prescription only. A review published in the Australian Dental Journal has linked mouthwash containing alcohol to an increased risk of developing the deadly disease. The alcohol in mouthwash is believed to allow cancer causing compounds to attack the lining of the mouth more easily. The review author, Michael McCullough, is an Associate Professor in Oral medicine at Melbourne University.”
Links for December 30th 2008 through January 1st 2009:
Principles for a New Media Literacy by Dan Gillmor, 27 December 2008 [Center for Citizen Media] – “Principles of Media Creation: 1. Do your homework, and then do some more. … 2. Get it right, every time. … 3. Be fair to everyone. … 4. Think independently, especially of your own biases. … 5. Practice and demand transparency.””We are doing a poor job of ensuring that consumers and producers of media in a digital age are equipped for these tasks. This is a job for parents and schools. (Of course, a teacher who teaches critical thinking in much of the United States risks being attacked as a dangerous radical.) Do they have the resources — including time — that they need? But this much is clear: If we really believe that democracy requires an educated populace, we’re starting from a deficit. Are we ready to take the risk of being activist media users, for the right reasons? A lot rides on the answer.”
Participative Pedagogy for a Literacy of Literacies by Howard Rheingold [Freesouls, ed. Joi Ito] – “Literacy−access to the codes and communities of vernacular video, microblogging, social bookmarking, wiki collaboration−is what is required to use that infrastructure to create a participatory culture. A population with broadband infrastructure and ubiquitous computing could be a captive audience for a cultural monopoly, given enough bad laws and judicial rulings. A population that knows what to do with the tools at hand stands a better chance of resisting enclosure. The more people who know how to use participatory media to learn, inform, persuade, investigate, reveal, advocate and organize, the more likely the future infosphere will allow, enable and encourage liberty and participation. Such literacy can only make action possible, however−it is not in the technology, or even in the knowledge of how to use it, but in the ways people use knowledge and technology to create wealth, secure freedom, resist tyranny.
Israel posts video of Gaza air strikes on YouTube [Australian IT] – THE Israeli military has launched its own channel on video-sharing website YouTube, posting footage of air strikes and other attacks on Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. The spokesman’s office of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it created the channel — youtube.com/user/idfnadesk — on Monday to “help us bring our message to the world.” The channel currently has more than 2,000 subscribers and hosts 10 videos, some of which have been viewed more than 20,000 times. The black-and-white videos include aerial footage of Israeli Air Force attacks on what are described as rocket launching sites, weapons storage facilities, a Hamas government complex and smuggling tunnels. One video shows what is described as a Hamas patrol boat being destroyed by a rocket fired from an Israeli naval vessel.”
No terminating the Terminator … ever [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – “Time will not be allowed to terminate The Terminator, the US Library of Congress said overnight. The low-budget 1984 action film, which spawned the popular catchphrase “I’ll be back”, was one of 25 movies listed for preservation by the library for their cultural, historic or aesthetic significance. Other titles included The Asphalt Jungle (1950), Deliverance (1972), A Face in the Crowd (1957), In Cold Blood (1967) and The Invisible Man (1933). The library said it selected The Terminator for preservation because of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s star-making performance as a cyborg assassin, and because the film stands out in the science fiction genre. “It’s withstood the test of time, like King Kong in a way, a film that endures because it’s so good,” Patrick Loughney, who runs the Library of Congress film vault, said.”
Webisodes Bridge Gaps in NBC Series [NYTimes.com] – Takes a look at the late 2008/early 2009 webisodes from NBC (particularly for Heroes and Battlestar Galactica) and the way these online stories are used to keep fans engaged with television series (or, really, television-spawned franchises) during breaks.
Nintendo to offer videos on Wii [WA Today] – “Nintendo will start offering videos through its blockbuster Wii game console, the latest new feature for the Japanese entertainment giant. Nintendo said it would develop original programming which Wii users could access via the internet and watch on their television. It is considering videos for both free and fees. The game giant teamed up with Japan’s leading advertising firm Dentsu to develop the service, which will begin in Japan next year, with an eye on future expansion into foreign markets.”
Links of interest for September 12th 2008 through September 14th 2008:
YouTube bans terrorism training videos [SMH] – “Terrorist training videos will be banned from appearing on YouTube, under revised new guidelines being implemented by the popular video-sharing site. The Google-owned portal will ban footage that advertises terrorism or extremist causes and supporters of the change hope it will blunt al-Qaeda’s strong media online campaign.” [Via] I wonder what definition of ‘terrorism’ YouTube and Google will be using to enforce this rule?!
Video Game Snapshots [Gamasutra – Persuasive Games] – Ian Bogost review the emerging design-your-own-videogame tools and suggests they might best be considered tools for personal and social communication rather than meaningful game design platforms. This is not so much a criticism as a look at computer games through the eyes (and rhetoric) of Web 2.0: “There is simply no magic box we can put in front of the world which, when a button is pressed, turns what it sees into a video game. … There are lots of things one can do with web-based game making services. One of them is to try to create hit games that generate ad revenue and earn public renown. Another is to create art games meant to characterize the human condition,… But perhaps the most interesting uses of these tools are the informal ones that so closely resemble snapshots in spirit and function.”
Interesting links for August 19th 2008 through August 20th 2008:
Facebook, MySpace users warned of cyber crime risk [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – “The Victorian Government has warned users of social networking sites not to post private information online. The Government has released a list of security tips for users of social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace in response to the emergence of cyber crime, such as identity theft. Tips include urging users to think twice before posting private information such as addresses and phone numbers online.”
I Was There. Just Ask Photoshop. [NYTimes.com] – Photoshop, from realfact to goodfact: “REMOVING her ex-husband from more than a decade of memories may take a lifetime for Laura Horn… But removing him from a dozen years of vacation photographs took only hours, with some deft mouse work from a willing friend who was proficient in Photoshop, the popular digital-image editing program. Like a Stalin-era technician in the Kremlin removing all traces of an out-of-favor official from state photos, the friend erased the husband from numerous cherished pictures taken on cruises and at Caribbean cottages, where he had been standing alongside Ms. Horn, now 50, and other traveling companions. “In my own reality, I know that these things did happen,” Ms. Horn said. But “without him in them, I can display them. I can look at those pictures and think of the laughter we were sharing, the places we went to.” “This new reality,” she added, “is a lot more pleasant.””
Unleashed VC is a blog’s best friend [The Australian] – Steven Schwartz on being Australia’s first blogging Vice-Chancellor: “…the blog has given me the opportunity to express my views on such issues as “the idea of a university today”, reprising Cardinal Newman’s famous essay in a new context; the development of a new code of ethics at the university; if governments can make us happy; how to develop a fairer higher-education system; and expanding equality of opportunity in universities. I have also discussed philanthropy, research, innovation, the role of the humanities, what the future may hold, health, depression, literacy, education, marketing and, by way of making an argument about the importance of scholarship, Tiger Woods. It has been rewarding, and a lot of fun. There is a downside to blogging: a large amount of spam that needs clearing out each morning, and some comments are rude, hostile, or unintelligible.” [Via Andrew Bartlett]
Is Jon Stewart the Most Trusted Man in America? [Television – NYTimes.com] – An engaging profile of Jon Stewart and The Daily Show, charting where politics met parody: “Mr. Stewart’s comedic gifts — his high-frequency radar for hypocrisy, his talent for excavating ur-narratives from mountains of information, his ability, in Ms. Corn’s words, “to name things that don’t seem to have a name” — proved to be perfect tools for explicating and parsing the foibles of an administration known for its secrecy, ideological certainty and impatience with dissenting viewpoints.”
Gaming surgeons quash technology fears [The Australian] – “”…playing smarter computer games can actually help modify our abilities in problem solving, visual attention, working memory, forming and modifying strategies, even creativity.” Professor Westwell said the study on keyhole surgeons, published by the Archives of Surgery, found that while operating and playing computer games, the doctors made decisions and responded quickly to the consequences of those decisions and any unexpected changes that occurred.”
IOC Wants Olympic Torrents Off The Pirate Bay [TorrentFreak] – “In an official letter to Swedish Minister of Justice Beatrice Ask, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has asked for “assistance” from the Swedish government with preventing video clips from the Olympics in Beijing to be shared on The Pirate Bay. The Pirate Bay, however, does not plan to take anything down, and renamed their tracker to The Beijing Bay.”
Google must divulge YouTube log [BBC NEWS | Technology] – “Google must divulge the viewing habits of every user who has ever watched any video on YouTube, a US court has ruled. The ruling comes as part of Google’s legal battle with Viacom over allegations of copyright infringement.”