It’s been a good week for articles that interest me personally, a good thing as I’ve been asked to write this post about my favorites! First mention has to go to Jonathan McIntosh’s great recap of the problems he’s had to go through at the hands of Lionsgate. In short, despite his Twilight remix video having been mentioned by the US Copyright Office itself as an example of fair use, he still struggled to convince YouTube to keep it up since Lionsgate didn’t want to keep it up without obscuring it with ads (despite the current version being ad free and not monetized by McIntosh in any way himself). It’s a nice illustration of how even those who try to keep within the law fall foul of corporate greed if they decide they don’t like something. If something already illustrated as fair use can be treated like this, imagine the problems faced by anyone in a grey area!
On a similar note, rapper Kid Cudi yet again noted how disappointed he was in his label’s commitment to his new single, just one year after having similar problems with his last album. While some were noting that he was silly to have signed for a label in the first place, this was another illustration as to how even successful artists can be let down by the legacy industry and how many artists simply don’t need them.
Something slightly more disturbing to me personally is the story about a gambling software programmer being shut down and raided. The story appears to go that despite offering services that are perfectly legal everywhere that he licensed the software, he fell afoul of the US’s inexplicable anti-gambling obsession anyway because he’s based in the US and people in NY may have somehow touched his software. As someone who working in Gibraltar, a place whose industry is largely built by offshore gaming companies (some of whom were similarly attacked when US authorities suddenly decided that their companies were offering illegal products), this is a worrying trend. It also sadly means that my dreams of being invited to help set up a Las Vegas branch of one of those companies might still be a long way away!
On a lighter note, UK police were arguing about who first thought up their Twitter offers of free iPads to lure the stupidest criminals alive into their arms. Neither of them apparently remembering the episode of The Simpsons where Homer was successfully lured by the promise of a free boat.
Meanwhile, back in the entertainment industry, Sony offered the most naked example yet of profiteering and the back of what should be public domain material when they released a new Bob Dylan compilation entitled the “Copyright Collection Volume 1.” Regionally restricted, of course, and containing rare material that will inevitably be pirated as it’s not available anywhere else. It’s particularly odious because the mere 100 copies they released were openly intended to stop classic material from going back to the public under the original deal made when they were recorded. At least they’ve dropped the pretense of helping the fans, I suppose.
The movie industry also made some wrongheaded moves in an attempt to promote their silly Ultraviolet service (yet another in a long line of DRM that offer customers less than a pirated version under the pretense that it somehow benefits the consumer). The pretense is that by offering free movies with purchases of TVs and Blu ray players, they can convince people to use and love it. Having unfortunately tried it myself (unsuccessfully) on a movie I received for Christmas, I suspect it will just let people know not to bother.
Finally, on a lighter note, it’s nice to see some figures for Kickstarter’s year and their great success in funding a wide range of projects. Over 2 million people funded projects this year (myself included), so here’s hoping that many more independent artists get funded in 2013!