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DailyDirt: Eating At Chipotle (Too Much Free Time)

by Michael Ho

from the urls-we-dig-up dept on Friday, August 28th, 2015 @ 5:00PM
Some people really like eating at Chipotle. It's supposed to be healthy (although it really depends on what you order). The ingredients are often (but not always) from sustainable sources, and customers enjoy their meals. A few really fanatical eaters have devised some bizarre eating games with Chipotle food. Almost every fast food restaurant has a "secret menu" of some kind nowadays, but if you really like Chipotle, here are some extreme eaters who have documented their Chipotle purchases. After you've finished checking out those links, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.
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Universal Music Has No Sense Of Humor, Takes Down Hilarious Twitter Profile Pun Parody Of Nirvana Song (Culture)

by Mike Masnick

from the get-over-yourself-UMG dept on Friday, August 28th, 2015 @ 3:23PM
Earlier today Techdirt writer Tim Geigner pointed me to a YouTube video that used Twitter user names to create a punnish version of the 80s hit "Tainted Love" retitled Tweeted Love. It's pretty amusing:
In checking out the YouTube account of the guy who created it, Jim Mortleman, a more recent video posted just a few days ago popped up, entitled Nerdpunna - Smells Like Tweet Spirit. This was the same style video, using Twitter usernames to create an absolutely hilarious version of the famous Nirvana song. It was so well done (perhaps because Kurt Cobain's lyrics are so unintelligible) that I couldn't believe it had only around 2,000 views. So I tweeted it, joking that people should check it out before it got taken down.
A bunch of people started retweeting and linking to it, with many of them commenting on how great the video was or how funny it was. Even people who aren't Nirvana fans were talking about it. A few examples:
And there were many more like that. In short: the damn thing is really funny and super well done. After realizing that his video was suddenly getting an influx of traffic, the creator of it, Jim Mortleman (who says that the videos are actually a group project in finding the profiles, which he then puts together in the video) tweeted me that he was pretty sure he was safe because he'd been alerted that UMG was "monetizing" his video -- which is one of the options in YouTube for copyright holders if they want to make money on someone using their work, rather than taking it down.
From his YouTube screen, it actually showed that Universal Music had blocked the video in one country while monetizing it elsewhere:
However, just a few hours later, as the video started getting more and more attention, views and tweets... apparently Universal changed its mind -- and if you now visit the page, this is what you see:
Mortleman says that within YouTube it's now officially blocked in all countries. This is a ContentID match, rather than a direct takedown, though the company clearly made the decision to switch it from monetizing it to taking it down -- so someone made a decision.

And it's a hellishly stupid decision. The video was fantastic and didn't take anything away from the song. It certainly wasn't a replacement for the song and, if anything, was likely to draw a lot more interest to the song and remind people of its existence. I'm not a huge fan of the song, but have been humming it to myself all afternoon because of that video (which I ended up watching a few times).

Also, this seems like a pretty clear care of fair use -- though I imagine some will disagree. The hilarious use of twitter user names to create alternative lyrics to the song is quite transformative. No one was watching this video as a replacement for the original song, but because the video itself sort of celebrated the song with alternative lyrics made up entirely of Twitter profile names where "Here we are now, entertain us" because "Huey Long Gnarl Emma Talus" (if you haven't seen the actual video... it's much funnier in the way it was presented). And now it's all gone and you can't see it.

All because of copyright law and UMG's total lack of a sense of humor.

Even if you think the fair use case is bunk and that the video is infringing and UMG is totally, 100% in the right to do what it did, I'm curious how this helps UMG in any way, shape or form? It doesn't help them get any more money, and it just makes people pissed off. How is that a smart business decision?

Update: Jim has now posted a silent version of the video so you can see what it looks like, though it's really not the same effect (though you can try to line up the audio with it to try to replicate the effect):
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American Teen Gets 11 Year Sentence For Pro-ISIS Tweets That Taught People How To Use Bitcoin (Legal Issues)

by Mike Masnick

from the really,-now? dept on Friday, August 28th, 2015 @ 2:32PM
Earlier this summer, the DOJ proudly announced that a Virginia teenager, Ali Shukri Amin, had taken a plea deal for "providing material support to ISIL" (the terrorist organization that everyone outside of the US government calls ISIS). This is back in the news now that Amin has been sentenced to 11 years in prison. Let's get this out of the way: ISIS is clearly a horrific and dangerous organization. But does what Amin did really deserve 11 years in prison? The details of the case against him also seem to raise some serious First Amendment questions about what counts as "material support."

First: the one area where Amin's actions do seem fairly questionable are when he helped another Virginia teen travel to Syria, apparently to join ISIS. That part definitely seems like it stepped over the legal line. But, the rest of the charges against him seem... like a teenager using Twitter and other social media to discuss stuff he's interested in. Amin ran a Twitter account called @AmreekiWitness, which had about 4,000 followers. He tweeted pro-ISIS propaganda, but that still seems to be a form of protected speech, last I checked. And, his big "crime" appears to be linking to an article about why ISIS supporters should use Bitcoin.
The following are examples of the defendant's use of Twitter in furtherance of his conspiracy to provide material support to ISIL:
On or about July 7, 2014, using the @AmreekiWitness account, the defendant tweeted a link to an article he authored entitled "Bitcoin wa' Sadaqat al-Jihad" (Bitcoin and the Charity of Jihad). The link transferred the user to the defendant's blog, where the article was posted. The article discussed how to use bitcoins and how jihadists could utilize this currency to fund their efforts. The article explained what bitcoins were, how the bitcoin system worked and suggested using Dark Wallet, a new bitcoin wallet, which keeps the user of bitcoins anonymous. The article included statements on how to set up an anonymous donations system to send money, using bitcoin, to the mujahedeen.

On approximately August 1, 2014, the defendant showed support for ISIL and his desire to help garner financial support for those wanting to commit jihad. Through @AmreekiWitness the defendant discussed methods to provide financial support for those wanting to commit jihad and for those individuals trying to travel overseas.

On approximately August 19, 2014, the defendant showed support for ISIL and desire to support ISIL. The defendant tweeted that the khilafah needed an official website "ASAP," and that ISIL could not continue to release media "in the wild" or use "JustPaste." Through various tweets, the defendant provided information on how to prevent the website from being taken down, by adding security and defenses, and he solicited others via Twitter to assist on the development of the website.
The defendant also operated an Amreeki Witness page on the website ask.fm. The defendant used these accounts extensively as a platform to proselytize his radical Islamic ideology, justify and defend ISIL's violent practices, and to provide advice on topics such as jihadists travel to fight with ISIL, online security measures, and about how to use Bitcoin to finance themselves without creating evidence of crime, among other matters.

The defendant also created the pro-ISIL blog entitled, "Al-Khilafah Aridat." On this blog, the defendant authored a series of highly-technical articles targeted at aspiring jihadists and ISIL supporters detailing the use of security measures in online communications to include use of encryption and anonymity software, tools and techniques, as well as the use of the virtual currency Bitcoin as a means to anonymously fund ISIL.
Tweeting about Bitcoin and saying that ISIS needs a website is a crime? One that deserves over a decade in jail? Obviously, aiding ISIS in any way is incredibly stupid, but it seems like a pretty slippery slope to argue that teaching people how to use Bitcoin or saying that ISIS needs a website rises to the level of "material support for ISIS" by itself. It seems like such a definition could lead to many, many people at risk. If you disagree with US policy for dealing with ISIS and say so -- at what point does it cross over the line? It seems way too easy to twist this into criminalizing dissent, rather than actually supporting a designated terrorist organization.

I'm all for coming up with ways to stop the spread of ISIS, and to prevent further attacks by the group. But jailing an American teenager over his tweets seems... excessive.

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Kenyan Copyright Collection Society Shockingly Found To Be Paying Artists Very Little (Failures)

by Timothy Geigner

from the no-way! dept on Friday, August 28th, 2015 @ 1:07PM

The very existence of copyright collection societies, those organizations that try to find any way to squeeze any amount of money of any businesses that in any way do anything with any music, is predicated on one excuse: they do all of this for the artists. Yes, throughout the world, benevolent money-changers are digging through the pockets of mostly small business owners, just trying to get some coin for song-writers and musicians. Nevermind that they'll occasionally jack up the fees they collect when they find they actually have to do the job of protecting artists. Nevermind that the disease of corruption appears to find these collection societies to be particularly good hosts. It's for the artists, maaaan.

Except it never really is. People who aren't paid to say nice things about these collection groups seem to know this intrinsically, the same way a child somehow knows not to reach to scratch the underside of a wasp's chin in order to make a friend. Here to serve as one good example of just how not-about-the-artists these collection societies are is the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK), which is being given a stern talking to by the Kenyan government for paying artists less than a third of the money it collects on their behalf.

The MCSK boss, Maurice Okoth, is said to have appointed Nasratech as a Premium Rate Service Provider to licence and collect royalties from ring tones. His wife Shamillah Kiptoo has controlling shares at Nasratech.

The licence allows Nasratech to exploit the catalogue on any platforms as ring tones and ringback tones or any other tones required by a client. Attempts to reach Okoth for comment were futile as he did not answer calls or reply to text messages. The board says it has noted the ratio of royalties to expenditure from MCSK's audited accounts amounts to 58.9 per cent of collected revenue. Only 29.2 per cent is left, or is spared, for royalties. The other 21.9 per cent is used for other activities.
I humbly suggest that we refer to this as the Kenyan Collection Society Trifecta. You take equal parts nuptial nepotism, money-grubbing, and money-hiding -- and you have the kind of story that makes one wonder why any artist would want to be associated with these people at all. Kenya, by the by, has established guidelines for the ratio of royalties to expenses these collection groups are supposed to follow. Those guidelines require 70 percent royalties to artists and 30 percent expenditures. In other words, MCSK isn't even remotely close. In fact, it almost looks like MCSK misunderstood the ratios, in the reverse. Except that wouldn't explain the ongoing trend at MCSK.
The amount of royalties to artistes has been decreasing every year. Royalties paid in June 2014 were less than those paid in June 2013, according to Kecobo executive director Marisella Ouma. The MCSK has ignored Kecobo's requests to provide a breakdown of expenses.
In other words, MCSK isn't confused. It would simply like to keep more money, please, because this isn't about the artists and never was. This was about taking copyright law and converting it into a skimming scheme. Anyone really want to suggest that the collection societies in North America and Europe are any different?

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Steve Ballmer Shrugs Off $60 Million TV Offer For Clippers Games, Considers Streaming Instead (Culture)

by Timothy Geigner

from the tick-tock dept on Friday, August 28th, 2015 @ 11:48AM

It was really only a matter of time. As cord-cutting continues as a trend and the cable TV market as we know it today struggles to stay relevant by grasping at major pro and college sports broadcast deals, the injection of a tech-industry giant into the sports ownership arena meant that the chance of streaming for sports could only increase. Truthfully, When Steve Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion, he wasn't the first tech celebrity to own an NBA team. Mark Cuban, after all, has owned the Dallas Mavericks for some time now. But Ballmer has been quite progressive in a traditionally conservative league in pushing the Clippers forward into modernity. Given the state of the team's business practices when he made his purchase, there was always going to be a lot of heavy lifting to do. Still, it seems that Ballmer isn't going to let that keep him from considering some very big ideas.

And one of those ideas appears to be transitioning the broadcast of games away from the television model to a streaming model. The New York Post reports that Ballmer has turned down a $60 million per year contract offer from Fox and is mulling over plans for an over-the-top streaming network instead.

If he follows through on the plan, Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft, would be the first owner of a major US sports team to deliver games direct-to-consumer via a Web-based service and not through traditional cable or satellite companies, sources said.

Clippers games are now aired to roughly 5 million Los Angeles-area homes through Fox Sports’ Prime Ticket regional sports network in a deal that runs through the 2015-16 season. Prime Ticket currently pays the team a rights fee of $25 million a year — and offered a 140 percent increase, to $60 million, but the billionaire Ballmer turned it aside.
There are hurdles to be jumped over to make this work, of course. Production of the games is a job currently done by the networks, meaning Ballmer's service would need to come up with its own crews, commentators, and production values. That said, it feels silly to suggest that he isn't capable of that jump. More difficult would be creating a subscription model for the broadcasts, which is what the link above seems to think is the plan.
While he may have the technological smarts to pull it off, Ballmer may find it hard to earn more than $60 million in revenue a year from a single sport streaming RSN, experts said. The Clippers would have to sign up around 10 percent of LA’s 5 million households and get a pretty high price for the service, those people said.

“If it costs $12 per month, multiply that by 12 months in 500,000 homes, it would add up to $72 million — but then you’d have to produce the games and market the product,” said one.

And that’s if Ballmer can give fans a reason to subscribe during the five-month off-season. If he can’t, revenue would only come to $42 million.
And? The Clippers' deal with Fox currently stands at $25 million per year. Even under the notion that a $12/month subscription is the model, surely some percentage of fans would sign up. But, actually, I don't particularly understand why a subscription should be necessary to start with. Instead, free the product and let it grow in a streaming service that would be watchable on any internet-connected device. This means smart TVs, devices hooked up to regular TVs that can stream content, phones, computers, tablets, etc. If the accessibility of the games means that more viewers and fans can get the stream for more games than they could under the broadcast product, the advertising premium should see a correlative jump as well.

That extra revenue ought to make up for the lack of a subscription, I think. Meanwhile, you become the team with the most accessible product on the market, allowing the fanbase to grow. They might end up being America's basketball team, leading to even more revenue. Either way, streaming might be a win for Ballmer's Clippers.

And another nail in the cable coffin.

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