by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jul 2nd 2010 12:04pm
Fri, Apr 23rd 2010 2:46pm
from the when-you're-in-a-hole... dept
by Dennis Yang
Tue, Apr 13th 2010 7:29pm
red letter media
from the MST3K2.0? dept
So, it's very sad to hear that Mike Stoklasa, the writer & director of the Red Letter Media reviews, is considering not producing any more reviews, out of fear of being slapped with a copyright lawsuit. Stoklasa says:
"The thing is, I'm no lawyer. But I had someone actually talk to a copyright lawyer, and they didn't know what to make of the reviews. It's a new thing, You can get away with using a clip from a movie for the purpose of review or commentary, but can you dissect an entire film like that? There's commentary and it's part satire [because of the character, Mr. Plinkett] and part review and part educational as well because there's elements of filmmaking insights."Stoklasa's reviews are innovative and entertaining and take movie reviewing to a whole new level by remixing movie clips into the review itself. In doing so, they are emerging as a whole new art form. While more traditional movie reviews and satire can use clips of movies as a result of fair use, Stoklasa could be treading on new ground with his works. That said, this could be an interesting case if he were to get sued, because he would likely win, which would then redraw the boundaries for fair use, which would be a great thing. So, Mike Stoklasa, please don't let the threat of copyright lawsuits stop you from continuing to produce your excellent reviews -- to do so would be a travesty.
by Michael Ho
Tue, Apr 6th 2010 2:47pm
from the extortion2.1 dept
In response, Yelp has explained (over and over again) that its algorithms are optimized to display the most "trustworthy" reviews of local businesses -- in a way that's completely unrelated to its sales efforts. Trying to put a friendly wrapping around its umpteenth explanation, Yelp has even created a cartoon to help educate everyone on its methods:
However, no matter how simply these explanations are conveyed, they have not been particularly convincing to small businesses who feel punished by bad reviews and see Yelp's services as a veiled threat to their livelihood. So Yelp has taken another step by announcing some changes to its services to avoid further confusion:
Yelp proudly states that it's increasing transparency with these changes, allowing businesses and users to peek into what its algorithms are filtering out behind the scenes. But it's not clear that anyone really asked for that feature -- and getting that look at the filtered reviews isn't going to ease the concerns that Yelp's algorithms are inherently weighted against small businesses who don't pay up for advertising space on Yelp.
Businesses can no longer buy a "Favorite Review" like they could before -- so that there's no confusion over businesses being able to influence reviews by paying Yelp. This sounds like a pretty big step towards making it clear that companies can't just buy better reviews, but what does this mean for companies that formerly bought "Favorite Reviews?" Those companies are being penalized with the unexpected removal of this service, and there's still no guarantee that ratings can't be manipulated by cunning business owners or competitors. Though, the conspiracy theorists may never actually be satisfied on this point, and gaming online rating systems will likely always be a nagging concern. Yelp is still keeping its review filtering algorithms a secret, but it will now display reviews that have been removed by its automated filters in an effort to allow users to see a bit of the reviews that Yelp deems suspicious or untrustworthy. However, Yelp is not exactly highlighting these filtered-out reviews -- just making them available to be viewed in case anyone is curious to see what kind of reviews are tossed out on a regular basis. Yelp is adding video ads as a service for businesses -- presumably to offset the loss of its "Favorite Review" feature. Yelp says it's created a Small Business Advisory Council for companies to give feedback to Yelp management. This is an interesting development, but it's not exactly easy to find out more information on how this council works. Granted, it was just announced, but its announcement seems to lack a bit of commitment when there aren't any obvious links about it on yelp.com (yet?).
The more significant change seems to be that Yelp is shifting away from a "Pay for Placement" business model with its reviews. Replacing its "Favorite Reviews" with video ads seems a bit odd, though -- but apparently video ads were a top request from merchants. So at least Yelp is listening to its customers and responding -- and if Yelp really wants to increase transparency, maybe we'll see how Yelp actually handles feedback someday. But since Yelp doesn't allow commenting on its own blog, chime in here and tell us what you think Yelp is doing wrong or right with its approach.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Mar 15th 2010 1:54pm
from the entitlement-culture dept
I'm not suing them over a bad review. The problem we had was the timing. Robert Koehler, the critic, could have put it on his own website. If he'd have written it for TheWrap it would have just been one of those things. The problem was that Variety should have waited until the campaign was over. They completely destroyed the campaign that they sold us.Basically, he seems to be suggesting that because he bought hundreds of thousands of ads from Variety, the magazine isn't allowed to post an honest review of the flick. Fascinating.
Newton, by the way, goes on to suggest that the business side at Variety knows it made a mistake, and that the recent firings of Variety's in-house movie critics is to more easily "control" movie reviews, so that Variety doesn't run reviews that trash movies that have paid lots of money to advertise with Variety. If true, of course, that would basically destroy whatever credibility Variety has left. Even so, though, suing over a bad movie review -- just because you bought ads in the magazine -- doesn't make much sense.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Mar 8th 2010 12:20pm
from the civil-disobedience dept
So what's happening with Assassin's Creed 2 -- the Ubisoft game that is using incredibly annoying DRM and has had trouble keeping its servers up. Well... reader Aaron points out that for the PC version of the game Amazon appears to be showing no reviews at all. Either it deleted them or has proactively blocked the reviews. Of course, the reviews somehow are magically working for the PlayStation3 and Xbox versions of the game... Funny how that works.
Update: Some are pointing out that since the PC version isn't officially released until tomorrow, that could explain the lack of reviews on Amazon. They also note that elsewhere, such as in the UK, there are numerous angry one-star reviews...
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Mar 5th 2010 10:33am
Horror Blogger Threatened With Defamation And Copyright Lawsuits After Writing An Open Letter To Horror Magazine
from the now-that's-horrifying dept
In response, however, after the blogger's comments were flooded with angry responses (allegedly a bunch all came from the same IP address, which is connected with Gorezone), Gorezone threatened legal action for both defamation and copyright infringement. Apparently, this would be in the UK, where (as we know all too well) defamation laws are pretty ridiculous. Even so, it's difficult to see how anything in the original post is libelous. As for the copyright infringement, the blogger had used (but has since taken down) an image of a recent cover of Gorezone to prove his point. It's difficult to see how this would be considered infringement as well, as the blog post was clearly commenting on the image, and certainly wasn't competing with Gorezone. Of course, again, this is UK law, but there is the concept of fair use/fair dealing in the UK, and it's difficult to see how this wouldn't be covered.
As the link above suggests, this sounds like a SLAPP situation, where the magazine doesn't like the criticism it's received, and its response is to threaten the blogger to try to bully him into taking down the content. We see this all too often, and it's why the world needs more anti-SLAPP protections and laws.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 15th 2010 1:52pm
from the do-not-mess-with-the-people dept
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Oct 19th 2009 12:15pm
from the just-can't-get-enough dept
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Sep 22nd 2009 12:39pm
Mark Helprin: All The Reviews Of My Book Sucked Because Publishers Assigned The People I Insult To Review It
from the interesting-theories dept
Besides, there were many other problems with Helprin's book. It came across much worse than many of the commenters he attacked. It was filled with ad hominem attacks against these "digital barbarians" and repeatedly got basic facts wrong. Amusingly, considering he spends so much time mocking people for not understanding what he really was saying, the most incredible thing is that he does the exact same thing to almost everyone he criticizes. But, in the end, the biggest problem with Helprin's book was that it just wasn't very good. He gets so focused on his own use of language, that he fails to make a very strong point. And... nearly every single review of the book found exactly that.
But, Helprin is apparently not one to back down. Rather than respond to any of the complaints against his book -- including the massive factual errors -- Helprin has written up a 2,400 word screed slamming everyone for the poor reviews of his book. You see, it wasn't that the book was bad, but that, once again, no one actually understood what he was writing. And why? Well, according to Helprin, because every publisher assigned the book to the very "barbarians" he was trying to insult with the book. And, since we're all so clueless and inbred, of course we couldn't understand it:
Nearly every publication, left, right, and center, assigned the book, with digital in its title, to a resident digeratus, a member of the very tribe I provoke, and thus it was that I came to sell rosaries in Mecca.Again, he fails to respond to a single point raised by any of the reviews. Instead, he just whines that people thought he was clueless, but he insists he's not. How could he be clueless? He quoted famous people!
It is why in making my argument I cite, and count as allies, Churchill, Thomas Hardy, Flannery O'Connor, Shakespeare, Yeats, Montaigne, and even Charles de Gaulle, among others.But, the most ridiculous part of Helprin's whiny defense of how every single reviewer got his book wrong is his reference to one particular passage that many reviewers pointed to:
It would be one thing if such a revolution produced Mozarts, Einsteins, or Raphaels, but it doesn't. It produces mouth-breathing morons in backwards baseball caps and pants that fall down; Slurpee-sucking geeks who seldom see daylight; pretentious and earnest hipsters who want you to wear bamboo socks so the world doesn't end; women who have lizard tattoos winding from the navel to the nape of the neck; beer-drinking dufuses who pay to watch noisy cars driving around in a circle for eight hours at a stretch; and an entire race of females, now entering middle age, that speaks in North American chipmunk and seldom makes a statement without, like, a question mark at the end?This bit of luddism provoked a bunch of responses, suggesting that Helprin was reaching the "get off my lawn, kids!" stage of life. However, the real problem wasn't just Helprin being an old fuddy-duddy, but the fact that he's flat out wrong. Mozart, Einstein and Raphael did what they did without copyright for the most part. Mozart's best works were actually highly derivative and he created his music at a time when copyright did not cover musical works. Raphael lived in a time before copyright. And Einstein's works had nothing to do with copyright at all.
Perhaps there's a simpler explanation for why no one liked your book, Mr. Helprin: it's just no damn good.