Anti-Piracy

Posted: June 5, 2011 in Piracy

Music, film and TV on the internet – A guide for parents and teachers 2011. Copy the link below into your browser to view a digital version of the guide.

http://www.ppca.com.au/IgnitionSuite/uploads/docs/2011%20Childnet%20Brochure.pdf

The Australian version of the major consumer education campaign by the non-profit organisation Childnet International was released in March 2011, supported by a partnership between the music, film, and TV industries. The campaign started in the UK at the end of last year and has been rolled out in multiple countries and languages throughout the world.

Music, Film, TV and the Internet – a guide for parents and teachers provides straightforward, practical and jargon-free advice to parents and teachers on how children can enjoy and access entertainment safely and legally on the internet.

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The emergence of blogs as an ‘alternate’ form of media, from which public audiences could be perceived as receiving information on news worthy content instead of the mass media conglomerates, is fundamentally flawed as a direct result of its failure to distinguish between the two clear groups of bloggers and their respective relevance. While Russel is correct to identify blogger’s “editorial independence, collaborative structure and merit-based popularity” (Russel, et al. 2004) as their strengths in validating the content of their posts for an unfamiliar readership, the blogs that serve as true opposition to media outlets are often connected directly to the business, individual or party the ‘news’ directly concerns, have had attention drawn to their existence by media outlets or serves as branch off links for journalists of media outlets (Godwin-Jones, 2003).

According to Russel et al (2008), individuals now have the influencing power through the use of web 2.0 applications such as news blogs or social networking sites such as Twitter. A key example of this, occurred just days ago when the highly decorated NBA basket baller Shaquille ‘Shaq’ O’Neal, announced his retirement after an 18 year career via a Tout video blog (V-log) on his Twitter account. The video, which circled like wild-fire throughout basketball forums, NBA homepages and various other YouTube V-logs, depicts the power a substantiated blog can have in serving as an alternate news source to a media outlet. That being said, despite being a follower of Shaq’s Tweets, I first stumbled across the V-log as a feature story on ESPN’s online home page, before going back and checking my Twitter account.

Similarly, while not technically a blog, the local Australian designer and producer of the most recent iteration of the AFL Live video game franchise, Big Ant Studios, set up a forum on the popular AFL website FanFooty.com.au to release details and garner feedback from what would have been their key market audience. The collaborative nature of the forum allowed for the designers to not only cut out the media outlets as the middle man in the dispersion of their products development information, but allowed them to gather the feedback given by their readership in the comments section and integrate it into the development of the game before its release. Post release, the forum is still used to release details on upcoming patches soon to be available and will undoubtedly be reused in the same way prior to the release of the following iteration.

In contradicting, the belief that the only news relevant blogs are those written or posted by the individuals or businesses considered newsworthy, Perez Hilton’s ‘blog’, PerezHilton.com, is often referred to as an example of a merit-based blog which has collected a strong readership based on his extensive history of previous posts and thus, perceived knowledge. However, it is important to acknowledge that the majority of his blog’s fame came as a direct result of American celebrity tabloid news program The Insider’s, labelling his work as “Hollywood’s Most-Hated Website” following various posts attempting to ‘out’ closeted celebrities. Furthermore, its strong media coverage at the time rendered Perez some-what of a celebrity himself, allowing him access to Hollywood and various other entertainment industry events, thus validating the posts on his website for his audience an in turn giving him credibility as a source of information.

Russel is correct in identifying blogs as an alternate source of news worthy information, however he fails to attribute the most successful blogs to the audience’s perception of its poster’s ability to convey such information. Given the overwhelming majority of blogs serve as a creative outlet or medium for individuals to express their opinion, as well as the niche market most substantiated blogs are relegated to, I would strongly disagree with Russel that blogs are able to inform audiences as, or more ‘effectively’ than media outlets. Forms of amateur cultural production have existed for many years, but will always be in the shadow of traditional and commercial media outlets (Russel et al 2008, p.43), considering their ability to collect the newsworthy information conveyed within substantiated blogs and use them as sources for their own broad coverage.

References

Godwin-Jones, R (2003) ‘EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES:Blogs and Wikis: Environments for On-line Collaboration’, Michigan State University, retrieved from http://cursa.ihmc.us/rid=1131480053328_1801720929_4296/godwin.pdf

Russell, A., Ito, M., Richmond, T. & Tuters, M. (2008) ‘Culture: Media Convergence and Networked Culture’, in Kazys Varnelis (ed.) Networked Publics, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 43-76.

Lovink (Reader, page 219) argues that bloggers are creative nihilists “who celebrate the death of centralized meaning structures and ignore the accusation that they would only produce noise”.

David Michael Kleinberg-Levin argues that the modern epoch has ushered in a world in which nihilism is spreading (1988; pp. 5) He defines nihilism in its traditional sense as a “rage against Being… [concerning] the destruction of all Being, the Being of all beings, including that way of being which we call ‘human’ and consider to be our own” (Kleinberg-Levit, 1988; pp. 5). Kleinberg-Levin’s perception of nihilism is fundamental in analysing Lovink’s belief of the emergence of a creative nihilist born from a common distrust in the system which produces and circulates mass media. While not nihilists in the traditional sense of the word, creative nihilists exploit the globalised capacity of the internet and embrace the futility of their posts to produce an alternate point of view for a global audience (Lovink,2007). Bloggers are deemed to revel in the decentralisation of media conglomerates, generally acknowledged for their contribution to the decline of its influence within the now global news market, yet despite the attribution of their existence to a manifested cynicism in the output of mass media structures, how integral they have been to its deterioration as a “counter voice to the dominant news industry” (Lovink, 2007; pp. 21) is debatable.

The blogosphere is “rife with contradictions [of Habermas’ public sphere]: between what is being perceived to be public and private, between alternative and mainstream media identities and structures, between the citizen/activist and the media professional, and between alternative and dominant discourses and ideologies” (Cammaerts, 2009). Its diversity has both succeeded and failed in providing an alternative to mass media, for they have “zero[ed] out centralized meaning structures [via] a focus on personal experiences – not, primarily, news media” (Lovink, 2007; pp.21). While not to demean the importance of a participatory media culture through citizen journalism, the majority of blogs serving the purpose of self-management through expression have discredited the validity of the blogosphere as an alternative source of opinionated debate (see video below of a purely opinionated video blog serving no purpose besides personal ratification).

That being said, examples of true citizen journalism are evident in Bart Cammaerts’ analysis of the role the internet played in covering the 2003 Iraq war. He quotes the writings of pseudonymous blogger, Iraqi citizen Salman Pax, who writes;

“War sucks big time. Don’t let yourself ever be talked into having one waged in the name of your freedom. Somehow when the bombs start dropping or you hear the sound of machine guns at the end of your street you don’t think about your ‘imminent liberation’ anymore” (May 9, 2003; referenced in Cammaerts, 2009)

In reading his words more than eight years later, they still have a great impact. Why? Because the sense of realism and personality which could only be embodied within the blogging medium reflects his genuine personal involvement in the war, and carries the weight of the relatable fear and despair war brings. The effectiveness of his message can be directly attributed to the medium it was presented in, for no other avenue of publication could provide as significant a personal tone with which his plight could transcend borders, language and culture. If this does not exemplify the value of a decentralised, participatory media system in stimulating opinionated though and debate, I don’t know what will.

Unfortunately, the blogosphere is cluttered with bloggers who believe that just because they have the right to speak freely, they have a right to be heard. Consequently, no one in particular is listened to, sparking the belief that blogging wallows excessive triviality. Lovink’s argument that bloggers only produce “noise” is flawed, as it assumes all bloggers adhere to the belief that their opinion is equally as important as those of the media. While majority of blogs do exist to serve as a creative or emotional outlet for individuals pining to be heard (see above video), there are many just like the Iraq example which are able to stimulate opinion globally through their circumstantial or situational validity and knowledge based expertise. The term creative nihilists may refer to those who those who seek to destroy media conglomerates through productive means, however the hand they have had in providing a viable, alternative news source has been extremely limited. Globalisation and mass media’s logical adaption to survive in a digital environment should be rightly attributed to the decentralisation of media conglomerates; creative nihilists have merely discredited the blogosphere and hindered the progression of citizen journalism and a participatory media scape.

Reference list

Cammaerts, B. (2009) ‘Challenging the Ideological Model of War and Mainstream Journalism?’ http://obs.obercom.pt/index.php/obs/article/view/276/266, (Retrieved on 20/5/2011)

Kleinberg-Levin, D. M. (1988) ‘The opening of vision: nihilism and the postmodern situation’, New York, Routledge, Taylor and Francis

Lovink, G. (2007) ‘Zero Comments: Kernels of Critical Internet Culture’, New York, Routledge

Wow

Posted: May 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

Oh how the world has changed… where will the internet take us next

The social media scape is dominated by an ability to retransmit links of articles, videos, websites and more to friends or the world. Lawrence Lessig, founder and developer of Creative Commons, created them as a means to re-establish sense of freedom of information and ideas on the internet and challenge changes in copyright law which are narrowing access to creative works (Lessig, 2004). In choosing this creative commons license, my consideration for the global virtual culture, particularly my participation within it, ultimately determined a license that I, as a non-profit seeking ‘organisation’ myself, sought to align with my work.

Some rights reserved by TilarX

Creative Commons licenses operate by granting voluntary exceptions to their original rights under copyright laws which means that no legislative action is needed (Garcelon, 2009).The adoption, in fact the mere existence of the creative commons licences, puzzled me initially, as my general perception of internet etiquette revolved around YouTube’s remix culture, involving what seemed like a mutual understanding that ideas placed within its virtual space almost became property of its internet community; in so far as even the most minor tweaks to an original video, would warrant their own ‘remixed’ video. In fact the idea embodied by Creative Commons to form a “public domain from which anyone can draw without the permission of anyone else” (2005, 352), is advocated by Lessig while seeking to encourage the sharing of ideas.

In hindsight, my preconceived ideas concerning remixing an idea, were limited music videos, instrumental or vocal covers of songs, or montages of anything and everything. In attempting to choose an appropriate Creative Commons licence for my blog however, I was stumped by my realisation that I was no longer dealing with an art form, but my opinions and ideas.

If I had created a popular song or tune and someone had mashed it with another song or remixed it (just like DJ’s do every night at clubs around the world), I would be fine with that. Yet when it comes to my written ideas or opinions on a matter being used for financial gain or even self-promotion, I suddenly have an issue. According to Thomas Jefferson, the considered father of American copy-write law, “he who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light himself without darkening mine” (Katz, 2004). The founders of Creative Commons hoped to instill a system which embodied Jefferson’s idea, in-so-far as the manner in which ideas are expressed would be protected under copyright, rather than the ideas themselves. An ideal which I strongly believe applies to my selection of a licensing agreement.

If you said something contextually hilarious and no-one in the group but the person next to you heard it, repeated it and took what should have been your laughs, you’d be upset. This is the principle upon which I chose my creative commons licence. Despite my belief that a well-known song can be remixed at will online, this stems from the fact that its original artist is automatically credited through an audience’s recognition of the track’s beat or lyrics. However as an unknown personality, if your work is used and not credited in a profitable or non-profitable manner, you lose opportunity to be duly accredited or recognised for your expression, which is both unethical and unfair.

Thus, after reading through the terms of the available licences, I selected the Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC 3.0) Creative Commons licence to control the use and distribution of my blog’s content. Adhering to the perceived purpose of Creative Commons, the licence allows others a high level of freedom in actively accessing, sharing and remixing my work non-profitably, and ensures that I am credited for it.

REFERENCES

Garcelon, M (2009) ‘An Information Commons? Creative Commons and Public Access to Cultural Creations’, New Media & Society, vol.11, mo.8, pp.1307-1326

Katz, M. (2004) Capturing Sound: How Technology has Changed Music. Berkeley: UC Press.

Lessig, L. (2005) ‘Open Code and Open Code Societies’, in Feller, J, Fitzgerald, B, Hissam, S & Lakhani, K (2005) Perspectives on Free and Open Source Software, Cambridge, MA:MIT Press, pp.349-360.

Need I say more, he is one of many…

The first smash hit from the internet-born rap group ‘The Lonely Island’, ‘Dick in a Box’ premiered on the Christmas Special of Saturday Night Live, featuring lead Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake and fast became an internet sensation.

The Lonely Island have since recorded and released two studio albums, become the 23rd most subscribed channel on YouTube and amassed a total of over 529,000,000 views for there YouTube videos. Andy Samberg has also starred in the comedy movies ‘Hot Rod’ and ‘I Love You man’ since his internet debut.