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Posted on Techdirt - 12 January 2013 @ 12:00pm

PaulT's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

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!

Posted on Techdirt - 19 February 2011 @ 12:00pm

PaulT's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

This weeks’ “favorites” post comes from PaulT, an English sysadmin living in Spain, who frequently chimes in with smart observations from his perspective.

As is becoming traditional, I’d like to start by both thanking Mike for the opportunity to write this post, but also noting that it’s a bit more work than I’d originally thought it would be!

As a foreign resident in Spain, who suffers no end of problem because of the entertainment industry’s regional policies, I found Alex De La Iglesia’s comments to be heartening. The distribution of legal content in this country is a mess, and a full decade behind the US and my native UK in many ways. It’s great that such a talented director is using his position to protest the more backward direction his peers wish to take, though it’s a shame that he’s abdicating his responsibility in order to do so.

While the music industry is a little bit ahead of the movie industry in their adaptation to the modern marketplace, they do still seem to miss the point on a regular basis. Recently, one of the things that illustrated this was Nokia’s “Comes With Music” platform, which seemed to offer very little to address piracy. I predicted that it would be a failure from the start, due to its built in content expiry date and platform restrictions. These not only make it a poor competitor to legal services such as iTunes and Spotify, as well as highly inconvenient compared to piracy. Hopefully, its failure will hammer these lessons home again so that the music industry can concentrate on more viable models.

Thirdly, we have a nacho cheese lawsuit that I’m sure will bring repeats of an ongoing argument. As Mike correctly notes in the article, the McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit from a few years ago is a dividing issue with people holding it up as both a valid suit and the epitome of frivolous actions. I’m on the side that feels it’s valid (she should have been more careful, but it should not have been served so hot), but we’ll see how this new action turns out. I feel that the parents should have been more careful, but it’s right for Disney to be punished if their cheese was excessively hot.

A little late to the game, but it was nice to read a rundown of the ridiculous Fox News claims about the videogame Bulletstorm and its supposed incitation to rape. It’s nice to see not only that such blatant lies are addressed, but also a mini masterclass in the various ways in which such things can be intelligently and effectively debunked.

Talking of ridiculous claims, we have a few stories about copyright that show how the system is being misused. Rihanna was sued due to some frankly quite generic S&M images in her new video being of some passing resemblance to a photographer’s previous images. We have the TSA claiming that copyright is the reason they can’t pass over images of their security scans. We also see the interesting question as to whether or not a recent technological marvel only succeeded by violating copyright. Such innovations may be in jeopardy (no pun intended) if the copyright maximalists get their way.

Another theme that seems to have emerged this week was the issue of internet censorship and its misuse, along with unfortunate collateral damage along the way. As the UK is apparently willing to follow the US’s lead and France implements internet censorship on the pretense of fighting child porn, there were a few stark reminders that such things tend to have a lot of unintended consequences. Hopefully, Hillary Clinton will follow through and actually enable internet users to be free from this kind of thing, but I somehow doubt it.

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