Posts Tagged ‘Copyright’

The ongoing battle between Google and Apple is more important to us than I think most of us realize. “Apple is suing Samsung for copyright infringement”; so what? Is it really our problem? I think that if we gave it some thought, we would see that this battle is not just about copyrights and market-share, this is a fight that will determine the future of the mobile-web.

The very architecture of the Internet enables a free flow of information without any central hub, every node is equal, and no one is there to decide what we can and cannot do. It is decentralized, and very democratic in its philosophy. With this in mind, I want to go back to Apple and Android (Google) and look at their different ideologies.

The beautiful design of the IPhone, as well as it being very easy to manage has made it a worldwide sensation. Having an IPhone has almost become some sort of trend; a fashion that everyone has become very fond of. One of the many arguments that are used to complement the IPhone is exactly that of it being easy to handle, but this pleasure comes with a price: Centralized computing. Unlike Androids, Apple let’s no one explore and play with their hardware or software, the applications on an IPhone has been approved by Apple, some call this a “walled garden”, others call it a sterile disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers.

Apples’ vision is to be able to control the user, the content, and the platform being used. Although the company offers to the public a brilliant piece of technology, this product grants the Apple company extreme powers. I think the ideology of Apple is one incongruent with the Internet. Instead of being decentralized it is centralized, instead of allowing, it denies, and instead of keeping every node equal, it constructs a hierarchy.

I am personally very happy with my Android, but sometimes I find that things do not work on my phone because it has only been adapted to the IPhone or the IPad. To me, this is a sign of one company’s control and powerful deals made with other companies sharing its’ ideology. I also find Apple’s patent-raid to be a terrifying example of how one company can kill innovation by limiting creativity.

Google’s Android may invite a few viruses from time to time, and in some cases people find it harder to manage, but I value their philosophy enough to learn. Android vision is participation, collective intelligence, and distributed control to all users. As an open source technology it can be liberally extended to incorporate new cutting edge technologies as they emerge. [It will] evolve as the developer community works together to build innovative mobile applications. The way I see it, Android is maintaining the very architecture of the Internet, encouraging creativity and innovation.

So the future of the mobile-web is important to us. We all enjoy the Internet, we all react when we hear of bills like SOPA, PIPA or CISPA which threatens our online freedom, so maybe we should start reacting a little stronger towards Apple and their IPhones as well.

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I love media convergence! Suddenly we all became these nerdy civil journalists that were able to speak our minds to the world. To me this ongoing dynamic is great and I get to exploit it in many cool ways. I now have a smart-phone which allows me, not only to make phone calls, but to check my g+ account, send a tweet, capture a photo instead of a mental picture and even film it if I need to! Obviously that is just a few examples of what I can do, my point is that convergence has made my cell-phone become this multimedia platform compared to what it used to be 10 years ago.

I cannot remember the exact model of my first cell-phone. It was year -98 or -99 and the phone was very yellow, very heavy and very cool. With it, I was able to text and talk basically 🙂

With today’s cool new technologies, and of course with the Internet onboard, we become “prosumers” (Mitew 2012) instead of consumers, meaning that we are able to produce new content or modify already produced content: Rip, mix & burn (I did not say we were allowed). This used to be a privilege for only the wealthy industries given that the production used to be very expensive, that was also the time when I used to pay a heavy price to watch a good movie at the cinema. But the Internet changed this. It is now free for a person like me to produce content online as well as publishing it, this obviously also makes me able to watch content for free online – great huh? Not so great for the big conglomerates though. Scarcity is money for the industries. Ownership and control of content is the key in their business-model, so the concept of media convergence is not speaking to them as it does to me.

We should not underestimate these big industries. As the world become more convergent they see the need to protect their content through patenting and stricter copyright laws, and we are definitely witnessing this today; license agreements (EULA), patent-wars and user content being removed from the web due to copyright infringements.

Convergence is also challenging to old business models. Take the good old bookstore! Although we see a survivor here and there from time to time, this business is basically dead, replaced by Amazon’s kindle and online book outlets. The same happened to photo-shops which also moved online. The list of obsolete business models is only getting longer. That fact that I find media convergence to be great is a statement made by looking from my own perspective. Many people lose their jobs due to this dynamic, it is hard to adapt and modify a whole society into a technological era, but it is happening, and personally I think it is for the better. Our options are increasing, our knowledge is shared and to be honest, having things online just makes things easier and more convenient.

Reference:

Mitew, T 2012, Transglobal entertainment and media convergence, lecture, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 27 August.

Who would have thought that information and ideas would become so important that it would shape a whole new economy. Given that products and created out of ideas the information becomes a commodity, and of course then the importance of owning the idea and being in control of how it is used is crucial to ensure the economic profit of it. This brings us to the issue of copyright which can be defined as “a bundle of intangible rights granted by statute to the author or originator of certain literary or artistic productions, whereby, for a limited period, the exclusive privilege is given to that person (or to any party to whom he or she transfers ownership) to make copies of the same for publication and sale.”

For a limited time? The first time someone was granted monopoly it was for 14 years, but today it is for 70 years after the author’s death or 120 years after creation if it is a corporate authorship (Mitew 2012), and in some cases e.g. videogames, it appears to be forever! Not so limited anymore.

It is hard to take a stand regarding copyrights. I see that a business/person wants to defend its rights to the commercial part of its own idea, but has it gone too far? When a company argues it has patent on the shape  “rectangular”, I feel we are moving towards a locked and limited society where we put a lid on ideas and enhance control.

With the Internet in mind I fear the war on copyright will exist forever unless they start censoring it, which is not an alternative. Billions of dollars are spent on court-cases to resolve disputes, a real waste of money really. From this perspective the idea of removing copyrights as a whole looks good, at least it would be interesting to see how it would work or if it WOULD work. But I guess I need to do a lot more investigation into that before I make a statement.

Meanwhile I suggest we take a look at the concept of “fair use” which ought to be less strict. Someone I know uploaded a video to YouTube and was asked to remove it because the music which was being played in the background (not provided by the creator of the video, but recorded randomly in the video) was copyrighted. If that is not an example of fair use, then I do not know what is.

Mitew, T 2012, Against the Law: Intellectual Property and Content Control, lecture, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 20 August.

Introduction

Convergence is defined by Henry Jenkins (2006) as “the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behaviour of media audiences.” The ongoing process of convergence is creating a more participatory society for the user by changing the dynamics of media technologies and opens up for new business-models for the industries, like it did with the idea of Transmedia. New technologies enable us to take pictures, record sounds, write and film, and because of the Internet we also have the opportunity to upload, download, remix and share content that are already flowing online. We have become more like “prosumers” (Mitew 2012) instead of consumers.

The audiences’ future is looking bright, but convergence also carries negative baggage. With these new technologies we have started to act as we please online, and thus a fight for survival between audiences and industries has emerged. In this essay I argue that convergence has affected the audiences’ use of technologies and respect for copyrights, the audiences’ choice of technologies, and the emergence of censorship due to the audiences’ use of new technologies. I will use Flickr as an example of technology throughout the essay.

Copyrights

The Internet and our new media platforms enable us to create mash-ups and remixes of the content online, and currently we are actively taking advantage of this. At the same time the copyright rules we have today are very strict, and because of our increasing level of participation the Media Industry keep lobbying for even stricter laws. Many users are frustrated with the copyright regulations, because the things that they create are removed from the web and sometimes the user even gets sued, but we should not forget that copyrights are a necessity and that they are made to protect our intellectual properties as well from being used as others.

We should think twice about using copyrighted material and give the industry another reason to fight for their content, instead we should embrace the solutions that are already out there. Maybe the media industry softens as time goes by, and realises that we are only using their work for new ideas and creativity. It is actually interesting to see how some users complain on copyrights, but still their own work is guarded and cannot be shared or copied.

Trey Ratcliff (2012) says “a pure artist has two motivations: creation for the sake of creation and sharing for the sake of connecting with the world.” If we want to use other peoples’ content to create new material, we need to allow other people to borrow our content as well. By committing to Creative Commons (2012) anyone can use your content as long as they acknowledge you and ask for permission if it is for commercial purposes.

The photo sharing site Flickr has enabled Creative Commons licenses (Flickr 2012) for a long time and it shows how sharing and attribution can be practised. You can choose which images you want to keep as private and which ones you want to share with the public, this way you provide images and videos for other people to use freely. With an open sharing ideology your content can travel all over the world via other peoples’ blogs, newspapers and online albums, and can even result in actual revenue! Although there will always exist thieves we must believe that most people are honest and willing to pay for the work of others, and most importantly this must start with ourselves and our own ideologies.

Generative platforms

A media platform today is expected by the user to grant us constant and immediate access to the world. It must enable us to multitask, and provide a place where everything can be produced, stored and shared. If a media platform cannot follow up on all of these “minimums”, it will be replaced by a more innovative technology. These technologies have “become interfaces to the flow of content” (Mitew 2012) that comes with convergence.

What I think few people realise is that we should choose wisely when we decide which platform to use for participation. There are several industries that fight to regains control of both users and content, and thus construct the platforms to do so. Facebook and Apple are both examples of media platforms that are locked appliances. Everything you post on Facebook are owned by Facebook, and by using it you agree to give them the rights to distribute “your” content as they wish. Apple provide a “walled garden” (Mitew 2012) for its users, a garden where Apple has already decided which applications you are allowed to use, and it is not possible to explore anything else.

I believe that in an era where we are fighting for Internet freedom and milder copyright laws, we should we be aware of ideologies where the Industry controls everything we can and cannot do. There are other media platforms which operate in freer environments, where the users own their own material and are even welcome to explore and improve the operation systems. In a Top Ten (2012) review of Flickr it was said that Flickr “want to get photos and video into and out of the system in as many ways as [they] can: from the web, from mobile devices, from the users’ home computers and from whatever software [the users] are using to manage their content.” In addition to this, Flickr also invite users to construct their own applications via their Application Programming Interface (API) (Flickr 2012).

I believe that by choosing a media platform or technology which is open and generative, we build an environment for ourselves where the flow of content between us and our media platforms flow freely.

Censorship

We are “the people formerly known as the audience” (Jay Rosen 2006), and with our media technologies and platforms today we now have the ability to use these technologies to freely express our opinions and share our knowledge with the world, it is the closest we have ever been to democracy. Social media platforms are increasingly popular in our daily lives; even the industries are finding new and innovative ways to implement these platforms into their businesses. For advertisers sites like Facebook act like a buffet of what is popular and what is not (Li 2012), some newspapers welcomes citizen journalism through to their news via blogs, images and videos (CNN-IBN 2012), politically Twitter has been used efficiently to organize demonstrations in the world and lately news have travelled faster via social media sites than anything else.

As it get more difficult for the media conglomerates to maintain control, they now try to lobby our Governments for a more definite form of control; censorship. Bills like the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) and the “Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act” (CISPA)keep sneaking up on us, claiming that they are there to protect against online theft, but the intended result is to set us back as pure consumers by gradually blocking social media sites which will be blamed for hosting infringing links.

Our new media technologies and platforms can be used for creative purposes, but now more than ever we must remember what they are fundamentally constructed to do; spread messages. Several social media sites have demonstrated against these bills, Flickr for instance, was part of the campaign where they blackened, or censored, a lot of the pictures online to demonstrate what SOPA would look like. So far, the Internet and its users have won the battles, but given the different interests between the media conglomerates who wants to be the sole producers, and us who wants to participate, the war is far from over.

Conclusion

Flickr is a photo sharing site which enables its users to share “objects, knowledge and resources” (Weiss 2005). It was one of the first websites constructed to function in the web2.0 era, and for a very long time it was a revolutionary website. As a member on Flickr you create a profile, you connect with friends and people you choose to follow and you can comment on your own as well as other images. Flickr is a brilliant host for pictures; it is perfect for sharing and having your images discovered, but lately the photo sharing site seem to suffer by a lack of innovation (Dimech 2012). As the ongoing process of convergence continues, we are constantly presented to new technologies and innovations, and the contest is hard between the components. The one which is the most user-friendly and up to date wins the audience. I find it ignorant to choose a media platform or media technology solely on its design and functions, when there are many other important things that should be considered: Are you the owner of your own content? Are you allowed outside of the “walls” of your technology? Is your media platform supporting CISPA? Sites like Flickr, supports our freedom as users and that ought to be a strong argument for choosing it.

Kirby Ferguson suggests in his blog that “Everything is a Remix“. Collecting material, combining it and transforming it are the same skills or methods that are used even if it is the first, second or fifth time it is produced. When I come to think about it there are really not much originality left in new movies, songs or games that we are introduced to us today. Take for example Michael Jackson’s “Wanna be startin’ something*, have we not heard his phrase in a number of songs now? Akon, Rihanna and Glee have all used it to create either a new remix of the song or created content for a musical. This is not illegal, it is just to demonstrate that remixes are produced all the time and that not much is original anymore. What is worse is when material is produced and claimed to be original when it is not, which I have just learned that Led Zeppelin might be responsible for with a lot of their songs.

There is also the music genre; breakcore, or breakbeat hardcore, which is quite unique when it comes to copying and creativity. Breakcore tends to take use of rearranged breakbeats to create new music. The history of breakcore goes back 40 years and roots in gospel, funk, hip-hop, rave, jungle and d’n’b (Whelan 2012).

A breakbeat is a certain part of a song, often a very popular or exceptionally cool part of a song, which is taken out of its original song and used repeatedly and excessively in another. The song *Amen Brother* by Jester Hairstone (1963) has the most used drum sample in the world (Whelan 2012).

At the same time as breakcore broke out, in the late 90’s, filesharing and mp3’s also spurred and the three of them together made a cooperative team! Between 2002 and 2008 filesharing were responsible for 40-60% of all usage bandwith (Whelan 2012). This is of course a huge problem coming to copyrights. I actually find the whole music genre of breakcore a bit infringing! It is weird that there can be a whole music culture out there, producing music based on other artists music, while other people are being asked to remove their content from for example YouTube because a song is being played in the background, unintentionally. Maybe it is a matter of fair use, but I still find the rules a bit blurry and variable. Another thing I thought of, is if Kirby Furguson is right, that everything is a remix, we really ought to rethink our copyright rules.

Reference:

Whelan, A 2012, Rip/Mix/Burn, lecture, BCM112, Convergent Media Practices, University of Wollongong, delivered 23 April.

I have earlier discussed the major conglomerates and their goal to gain total control over media content and users. At that point I was referring to copyright and how our rights as participants are being restrained. Most people today own a mobile phone and the opportunity of being online is constantly there, “our phones become an interface to the internet” (Mitew 2012).

Since we use our phones to this extent, should not the restrictions built into them worry us? Many industries today try to regain control over the market after the Internet came, and we should be aware of some of their ideologies. Look at Facebook or products from Apple, these are media platforms used by millions of people, and no one think about how controlled these mediums are. They are closed platforms, with “walled gardens of applications” (Mitew 2012), meaning that the producer decides what you as a user can do. They have taken complete control over the media-platform and the content in it. If you post something on Facebook which they do not like they will remove it, keeping you from the right to express yourself. It reminds me of the big media conglomerates.

Android phones and Flickr are examples of open media platforms. They give the user full control of the content and allow them to participate. Take Flickrs API page as an example. API stands for “application programming interface” and gives the user the possibility to create its “own program to present public Flickr data (…) in new and different ways”. Wikipedia (2012) states:

“The practice of publishing APIs has allowed web communities to create an open architecture for sharing content and data between communities and applications. In this way, content that is created in one place can be dynamically posted and updated in multiple locations on the web.”

There is a backside of many users being able to create and control, viruses for instance, but the way I see it we have two choices: Open or closed? I also see two ideologies: “The industry controls you or you control you own choices” (Mitew 2012). Our lecturer asked us this question yesterday: Which philosophy empowers users the most?

We are afraid that the media conglomerates will take too much control over us, why are we not more worried about the philosophy of Apple and Facebook? They are doing the exact same thing! They want to control you, control what you say, what you share, what you can do, what you buy, what you listen to etc. In the long run this can be a matter of freedom of speech, and that is a something that ought to concern us all. Freedom of speech is a human right and in a way all that we have. Wikipedia defines free speech like this:

“Freedom of speech is the political right to communicate one’s ideas via speech. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.”

This is exactly what some industries are trying to prevent us from.

Reference:

Mitew, T 2012, Platforms, permissions & ideologies in technological convergence, BCM112, Convergent Media Practices, University of Wollongong, delivered 19 March.