by Mike Masnick
Tue, Dec 27th 2011 11:14am
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Dec 15th 2011 11:13am
from the so-what's-going-on dept
Almost none of this made sense. We'd heard from various sources that Wigmore doesn't even appear in the video at all and had nothing to do with the song. Furthermore, the will.i.am stuff was really confusing. First of all, if he hadn't agreed to this, why did he say things about how wonderful MegaUpload is on video? He must have agreed to do that. Second, even if he didn't agree to it, at best there's a contractual claim there and/or a publicity rights claim. There's simply no copyright claim. His words are not his to copyright, as they're not fixed in any medium. Whoever made the video would hold the copyright -- which, in this case, is MegaUpload. Even more ridiculous was the notion, floated by some in our comments, that will.i.am's contract with Universal grants them automatic copyright, which is why UMG could issue a takedown. Again, this makes no sense for a variety of reasons. First, the same reason as above, without the works being fixed, there's no copyright in those words for will.i.am to assign to Universal. Second, UMG can't claim copyright on everything someone says. Third, even if this preposterous claim was true, will.i.am still would have no right to send a takedown, because he wouldn't own the copyright either. UMG would.
MegaUpload, has now hit back. It notes that Gin Wigmore does not appear in the song, did not write the song, and has absolutely nothing to do with the song. The company had apparently spoken to her about participating, but eventually went with Macy Gray instead. So the claim that this is under UMG copyright because of Wigmore doesn't appear to be true. Furthermore, MegaUpload provided the contract signed by will.i.am (embedded below), allowing them to make use of his words... the company's boss claims that will.i.am personally insists that he did not authorize a takedown. That raises questions about whether or not will.i.am's lawyer was confused or if he was just acting on his own.
"On December 12, 2011, I spoke directly with will.i.am about this issue, and he personally advised me that he absolutely had not authorized the submission of any takedown notice on his behalf."In the meantime, it looks like the judge is skeptical. Judge Claudia Wilken has given UMG until the end of the day to respond and explain the takedown...
Either way, this is going to remain quite the fascinating case to watch.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Nov 3rd 2011 1:33pm
from the plenty-of-non-monetary-benefits dept
Why is it a success story?I think this is an interesting point that often gets lost in these discussions. Not every specific project needs to be directly "profitable." Many work as a way to build the framework for future successes. Hell, that's the very basis for marketing. You spend money in the hopes that down the road it pays off. Marketing is always an expense, but in the long run, you hope that it's indirectly profitable. Those who seem to insist that every project must be directly profitable are missing out on a ton of opportunities to lay the groundwork for profitability down the road.
Because a ton of good things came out of it. New connections with talented artists, a film to highlight my work and the violinist's, new audiences for the work (the staff at Noteflight for a start) and a list of 34 people who've already given money to support my work (including a fair number of complete strangers). It's also given my closest friends and family a taste of what it's like to write checks to make these things happen - that will make it easier the next time around when I'm looking for more money. That's really valuable.
Also, because I successfully managed a kickstarter project I've become a kind of resource to other artists who are thinking about doing similar things. This hasn't led to any revenue yet, but it has led to some great conversations, helping on awesome projects, and again, more connections and potential audience and supporters for my next project.
As we do with our posts about case studies on Step2, we're turning off the comments here, but urge you to head on over to Step2 to take part in the discussion there.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Oct 21st 2011 2:18pm
from the idea/expression? dept
So it came as little surprise that Rihanna has "settled" the lawsuit with LaChapelle, meaning that she gave him a bunch of cash to go away. The lesson in all of this? Homage is expensive. You're best off not bothering.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Sep 28th 2011 8:36am
from the but-after-the-conviction dept
The problem? It took a year and a half, but investigators finally realized that some of the incident was caught on police video... and it showed that London's window was shut at the time she claimed Green threw a bottle and that bottle hit her head. Even worse, London repeated that story under oath in court as part of what got Green convicted. Cook County prosecutors have now dropped the conviction and have apparently filed charges against London instead.
It's stories like these that, once again, remind people why it should be encouraged to film police -- and why honest police shouldn't have a problem with it.
by Michael Ho
Wed, Aug 24th 2011 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- Fix your shaky home movies with some image stabilization software. A nice benefit from military research to make your kid's first birthday videos watchable without Dramamine. [url]
- Being John Malkovich could be a lot easier than crawling down some dark tunnel. Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich.... [url]
- Disney and Carnegie Mellon researchers are working on software to make animated faces look more realistic. And actors will eventually need to be Andy Serkis. [url]
- This HDR video system merges three simultaneous images to obtain some really cool-looking shots. The software that creates these videos lets the director choose some nice lighting effects. [url]
- To discover more tech-related content, check out what's currently floating around the StumbleUpon universe. [url]
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Aug 18th 2011 2:23pm
from the all-sorts-of-ways dept
There is a basic principle working here (scary, if you're in the TV business) that I've personally been dealing with on The Guild with a mere 2 DAYS! delay of releasing content: People want content immediately, wherever they like to view things. They don't care if you're trying to pay production bills, they don't care if it's the only way to fund things, they want it NOW, they want it CONVENIENT to them personally. Whether this is a reasonable attitude or not, it's what people are used to in this day of streaming on demand, and it's only going to get worse, because cord-cutters are getting more and more common. Long view=not good.From there, she picks up on the trend of cord cutting we've been discussing, echoing to some extent Wil Wheaton's recent comments about the backwardness of many in the TV business today:
To me, the cable box seems like Tower Records 10 years ago, or Borders just 2 years ago. Look at how music and books have shifted to digital, on-demand purchasing. Cable companies are the "brick and mortar" place for video, and that business is dying. People don't have enough time for 140 channels, they have enough time for maybe 10 shows, that's it. Why pay 140 bux a month to watch that many shows when you can buy them individually? Or stream The Wire on Netflix for 8 bux a month, because you missed it the first time? Or play a video game? Or just surf the net?But then she asks a final question, which is basically, "but how will we continue to produce videos" in this world? I should be clear: she doesn't seem to be doing this in the same "but you must save us" way some in the industry have done. She's just asking an honest question she has about where the world is going, because she's unsure:
So my question is: What happens to all those shows when they fragment like that? Who is gonna pay to produce them? What is the future? (And "funded by viewers" model is not the answer, only 1% of people ever really contribute, and the up-front costs of producing video are WAY higher than making a record or a book, etc. Believe me, I understand this personally.)First off, one quick point before delving into the larger question: the whole "only 1% of people ever really contribute" claim is a common one, but I think it's a misleading one. While it lets some people write entire books on evil free riders, it's really meaningless. If you can get more than production costs out of that 1%, the fact that it's just 1% really doesn't matter, right? And, no, I'm not saying it's easy to cover production costs from 1% -- it's not for most productions. But I'm just showing that 1% by itself, without context, is meaningless. What if, for example, that 1% is made up of super wealthy patrons who are happy to fund the full production? Or, more realistically, what if those 1% are people who represent companies willing to buy advertising? Just because it's 1% doesn't mean you can't have a viable business model. The % is meaningless. All that matters is the absolute dollars.
But on to the larger point of what happens to video in a fragmented world? Well, I sense that it's going to be awesome. As with music and books, it will allow all kinds of niche productions to show up, which would simply never make it at all in a "network" world. In fact, this is already happening -- and Day's been a part of some of that with things like The Guild and Dr. Horrible. As for how to fund it, well, again there are a variety of options. One of the things that changes is that there's no longer "one clear path," but that hardly means there's no way to make money. It may take more experimentation, but there are all sorts of options, mostly involving a hybrid of models.
For years, of course, we've talked about how the new business models are built off of the formula of connect with fans, while giving them a valuable scarce reason to buy, and that certainly applies to video as well. In the past, for example, we've listed out 10 forms of scarcities that can help you figure out good "reasons to buy," and most of them apply to video as well. Let's take a look:
- Access: This remains a huge one, of course. We mentioned a study in the past where 19% of music fans said they would pay anything to meet their favorite star. That's hyperbole, of course, but people are willing to do crazy things to meet their favorite stars. With a video, you could make it even more interesting by doing things like offering up the opportunity to be "an extra" on a shoot or something. How much would fans of The Guild pay to show up in an episode, even if briefly?
- Attention: Here's an obvious one. When you have an audience, their attention is a scarcity that can be sold. Day, for example, has had success selling sponsorship deals for The Guild. That's an example of selling attention, and is basically the way lots of video (hello, network TV) has been funded for ages. Just because that attention is now online, it doesn't mean that the value of that attention goes away. Yes, it's absolutely true that online video attention isn't valued nearly as high as attention on TV, but it doesn't always have to be that way. And, there are even a few examples of shows online being able to command higher rates than shows on TV.
- Authenticity: This isn't necessarily something you sell directly, but the more authentic you are, the more people will respond to that. Again, it's something that Day has mastered as well (as you can even see in the post that she wrote and her discussions on the matter both on Google+ and Twitter). Follow Day on either platform and it's just oozing with authenticity, and what that does is really build up her core and loyal audience. While she may say that only a small percentage will actually pay, never underestimate the ability of truly loyal "true fans" to help you figure out how to make money. Authenticity has a way of increasing such fans.
- Exclusivity: This can be a tricky one, because some people think it means "locking stuff up" to make it exclusive. But we're talking about other forms of exclusivity, which don't involve pissing off other people. How about the ability to buy an old prop from a show? Or a chance to play WoW with the cast of The Guild. These are things that can very reasonably be exclusive. Day has done some stuff with offering The Guild slightly earlier, and as she notes in her post, that just seems to upset people. Doing anything that involves this kind of artificial exclusivity can be tricky -- especially when it's something that has a social component. While The Guild is a broadcast video, part of any really successful cultural content is the fact that you share it/discuss it with others. That's what makes it culture. Limiting when people can see content can actually take away value in that it harms that form of "sharing" (no we're not talking about "piracy" here). The ability to discuss a favorite show with others is, in many ways, part of the appeal. Taking that away through fake exclusivity can backfire.
- (New) Creation: Any work before it's created is still scarce. Another way of looking at this is effectively the ability to do custom or commissioned creations. Imagine an offering where you could write a "fan" script of your favorite shows (within reason, of course). How many people would jump at the chance?
- Tangibility: A scarcity that still sells. Never doubt the potential for tangible merch to sell. While it's something of a joke that people (falsely) claim that the business model we suggest for everyone is "sell t-shirts," that doesn't mean you should ignore the potential of t-shirts. They can be quite lucrative (and, yes, for all the people asking, we really will be restocking our own t-shirts soon).
- Time (saving or making): If you can help people save time or make more time, people will often pay. This is one that may be a bit tougher to apply to TV, but I'd be interested in hearing suggestions. I know that some podcasting products have things like "double time" that let you listen to the same podcast at a (pitch-corrected) sped up pace. I wonder if there would be a market for "sped up" video too? Perhaps not, but just tossing it out there for brainstorming.
- Convenience: Day mentioned this in her post. People want convenience above all else. This part is less about what an individual show can do, probably, and more about the platforms. If Netflix/Hulu/YouTube/BitTorrent/some-other-platform can make a work more convenient, then it becomes important to figure out how to embrace it... or else your fans will go there without you.
- Belonging: Never, ever underestimate how important a sense of belonging can be to a group. This can be manifest in a variety of ways (including some listed above). But it certainly opens up opportunities for things like fan clubs, where a small subscription fee gets you cool "extras." This also goes back to the tangible merch as well. One part of belonging is showing off that group you belong to.
- Patronage: This one is still looked down upon by some, and it's rarely a good option if you're betting entirely on it, but serious opportunities can come out of just asking people to support an artist -- especially one who really connects with the fans in an authentic way. Sure, perhaps only 1% of the people will be willing to act as patrons, but combined with other things listed above, you can build a really strong business model.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jul 27th 2011 7:23am
Idea/Expression Dichotomy Is Dead; Judge Allows Photographer's Lawsuit Against Rihanna To Move Forward
from the general-frantic-mood dept
For instance, the court pointed out that the video's "Pink Room Scene" and LaChapelle's "Striped Face" photograph both feature women dominating men in a domestic scene. That subject is not protectable, the court noted, because "the subjects flow naturally from the chosen idea" of sadomasochism.General frantic mood? General frantic mood?!? How is that a fixed expression? And it's not that not all the details were identical. It's that the details are extremely different.
But the particular way that Rihanna's video portrayed the scenes--including the set, wardrobe, "generally frantic mood" and lighting--was "substantially similar" to LaChapelle images, even if all the details were not identical, the court concluded.
"Both works share the frantic and surreal mood of women dominating men in a hypersaturated, claustrophobic domestic space. Thus, I find that an ordinary observer may well overlook any differences and regard the aesthetic appeal of “Striped Face” and the “Pink Room Scene” as the same," Judge Shira A. Scheindlin wrote in her decision.
The judge is apparently also not a fan of fair use:
The judge dismissed Rihanna's fair use defense out of hand, saying it was so misguided and "unavailing" that the pop singer failed to raise a fair use defense at all.I'm not sure that sentence makes any sense. At the beginning it says the judge dismissed her defense, but at the end of the sentence it says she failed to raise the defense. But, still, it seems like you could make a really strong fair use case here, if you actually believe that there is protectable expression being copied (which I still don't). The purpose seems totally transformative. The amount used seems tiny. And the impact on the market for the photographs seems like it's only likely to be positive, not negative. How wouldn't there be fair use here?
Of course, this is good news for the other photographer making very similar claims against Rihanna, as well as plenty of other photographers who think someone somewhere has done something marginally similar to their work.
from the on-purpose? dept
Please be assured that TSA’ s goal is to protect passenger’s rights, including the right to record at passenger screening checkpoints, while ensuring that passenger screening operations can take place in an effective and efficient manner.While the TSA may be telling the press that... it appears they forgot to tell the actual TSA agents on the ground who continue to threaten people for filming their activities.
The latest incident took place in Baltimore. The videotape was uploaded on July 10.These kinds of stories seem to keep popping up every week or so. Even more ridiculous, the guy in the video who claims he's the supervisor says that the checkpoint is "classified." Later, a second TSA official says she has to delete the video. None of that is true. In fact, it's outright ridiculous.
The action starts at 1:24 when a woman is videotaping the checkpoint process, waiting for her husband to walk through.
A TSA supervisor confronts her, telling her she is not allowed to videotape the checkpoint.
But she continues to videotape, asking him for a document that confirms it is not allowed.
He tells her he doesn’t have the time to show her, but will gladly call police and then have her removed from the airport.
At 3:16 in the video, a second TSA screener storms up and tells her to stop videotaping, but she continues to do so. When she continues to question their authority, the second TSA screener tells her she is allowed to videotape on the other side of the metal detectors but not once she is inside the checkpoint area.
That, of course, is not true.
Later, the TSA agents appear to be entirely vindictive, asking for ID so they can write up a report. When asked why, the agent says he finds the questions asked "particularly... disturbing" because "there were children in the background" and the guy had asked whether or not the naked scanners could see his penis.
Once again, it seems like the TSA is making a mockery of the Constitution.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jun 30th 2011 3:46pm