10.19.2004



This land is NOT your land! (Not without permission, anyway)


Wired's report on Attorney General John Ashcroft's new zealous war on media piracy has me feeling a bit uneasy. It's not that I don't value copyrighted material -- on the contrary, I have copyright material out there, and honestly I really would like to make money on it. But Ashcroft's various corporate allegiances make me suspicious, so when he says, "With the recommendations put forward by the task force, the department is prepared to build the strongest, most aggressive legal assault against intellectual property crime in our nation's history," I get worried.

Jason Schultz, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says, "This report shows that they want to use copyright infringement as a mechanism for them to expand the scope of who they can snoop on. That's obviously something that we're very concerned with."

Yeah, no kidding. But don't just take his word for it. Ask the UCLA students who've been put in an electronic quarrantine.

With the Woodie Guthrie estate's recent threats over the alleged theft of his music in Jib Jab's siily political satire, This Land .

Jib Jab's lawyers struck first, asserting fair use rights that, until recently, were universally recognized when it comes to political satire. But what about you or me or the kid with the zits who can't get on the net in Westwood?



Big Hairy Monsters Unite!


Just when HBO is puckering up to retain control over its contents, the NY Times reports a CNet News feed: Web Radio Gets $1.7 Billion Boost. They're going kicking and screaming, but the various parties in the music industry are starting to sort out how to function in this new online economy.

Still, it's not all smooth sailing yet:

Beyond programming royalties, a number of parties, including consumer groups, electronics companies and record labels, are squaring off in an effort to establish antipiracy standards for digital radio networks. In that debate, the RIAA has asked the Federal Communications Commission for legislation that would prevent listeners from archiving songs downloaded via the Web without paying for them--and from trading recorded songs online.

Have you ever seen War of the Gargantuas? [Rotten Tomatoes] [Stomp Tokyo] Two big ugly hairy monsters fight each other, wrecking much of Tokyo in the process. In the movie, the brown gargantua is good and the green one is bad. Given the age, it could be cheesy metaphor for the Cold War. But now it's a metaphor for the monstrous international conglomerates and big money interests fighting each other, stomping us in the process.



HBO Declares War on Patch Cables


There was some discussion happening at Slashdot about HBO's brilliant (heh) decision to crack down on bad consumers who might be copying their programming.

What the megacorps don't get is that their whole marketing/sales paradigm is rapidly becoming outmoded.

If you own a mall and play music from the speakers in the mall, you have to pay ASCAP and/or BMI blanket fees to cover royalties for the publishers and artists. It's not a ton of money -- not so much that management is tempted to cheat. It's just not worth the hassle. The same kind of thing is going to have to happen in this digital age, or the whole media economy is going to choke on encrusted '60s-era business mindset placque in the revenue arteries.

Ultimately, if the price is right, people will pay for premium access to premium programming. And if reruns are affordable enough to access, then nobody will bother trying to copy things onto local media.

Alas, it will take a maverick success from the margins, some original thinking by the old white men in the board rooms, or a trainwreck before these monkeys will let go of the cookies in the jar.

Nobody got rich by disempowering the customer ... or not as rich as they might have. The customer is always right, even if wrong.

(As for what this means for the news, well, that's another story. Jon Stewart said it best last Friday.)



girl with a movie camera


Somehow I stumbled across this blog. I don't know if her movie is any good -- I hope we'll get to see it someday -- but her writing takes me back to the days of film school, when we ate, drank and breathed film day and night. And her gumption makes me feel young again. (Okay I'm not that old!) She also has the prettiest wallpaper.

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