Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Copyright But Were Afraid to Ask

If you’ve got 80 minutes to spare, watch RiP: A Remix Manifesto, a probing investigation into how culture builds upon culture in the information age.

If you’ve got 20 minutes to spare, watch Professor Lawrence Lessig‘s TED Talk, where he shows how current laws strangle creativity.

But if you’ve only 3 minutes to spare, watch Madeon‘s live mashup of 39 songs while asking yourself this: Should each of the sampled artists have the power to demand this video be removed due to copyright infringement?

Copying Is Not Theft


Copying Is Not Theft is the first meme in the Minute Memes series, and was supported by a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Animation, lyrics, and tune by Nina Paley. Music arranged by Nik Phelps; vocals by Connie Champagne. Released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license.

Copying is not theft.
Stealing a thing leaves one less left
Copying it makes one thing more;
that’s what copying’s for.

Copying is not theft.
If I copy yours you have it too
One for me and one for you
That’s what copies can do

If I steal your bicycle
you have to take the bus,
but if I just copy it
there’s one for each of us!

Making more of a thing,
that is what we call “copying”
Sharing ideas with everyone
That’s why copying

Watch This 80 Minutes Film And Become An Informed Citizen of This Digital Age

In RiP: A Remix Manifesto, web activist and filmmaker Brett Gaylor explores issues of copyright in the information age, mashing up the media landscape of the 20th century and shattering the wall between users and producers. The film’s central protagonist is Girl Talk, a mash-up musician topping the charts with his sample-based songs. But is Girl Talk a paragon of people power or the Pied Piper of piracy? Creative Commons founder, Lawrence Lessig, Brazil’s Minister of Culture Gilberto Gil and pop culture critic Cory Doctorow are also along for the ride.

Check out the film trailer:

You can watch the film on DVD or VOD.

YouTube to Viacom: YOU LIE!

Suing YouTube for 1 billion dollars, Viacom in their opening statements (which have been made public today) claimed the leading video site does not do enough in dealing with copyrighted material; To which YouTube retorted:

For years, Viacom continuously and secretly uploaded its content to YouTube, even while publicly complaining about its presence there. It hired no fewer than 18 different marketing agencies to upload its content to the site. It deliberately “roughed up” the videos to make them look stolen or leaked. It opened YouTube accounts using phony email addresses. It even sent employees to Kinko’s to upload clips from computers that couldn’t be traced to Viacom. And in an effort to promote its own shows, as a matter of company policy Viacom routinely left up clips from shows that had been uploaded to YouTube by ordinary users. Executives as high up as the president of Comedy Central and the head of MTV Networks felt “very strongly” that clips from shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report should remain on YouTube.

Oh snap!

To fully understand the absurdity of all this you might want to check out my post titled Gaining Better Understanding of Our Digital Age.
I’ll let Professor Lawrence Lessig summarize:

Video: Home Taping is Killing Music

Musician Dan Bull, whose letters to Lily Allen and Lord Mandelson both became YouTube hits, has done it again; His latests piece is about the music industry’s consistent refusal to accept or adapt to new technology, from the gramophone to the jukebox to commercial radio to the internet. His song, and accompanying video focuses on the most famous campaign, the ill-judged 80s classic; Home Taping is Killing Music.
Check out the British campaign against the Digital Economy Bill at DontDisconnect.us
Lyrics after the jump.
Continue reading Video: Home Taping is Killing Music

President Peres on YouTube: All Our Rights are Belong to Us

A couple of days ago Israeli President Shimon Peres has launched his very own YouTube channel. While this is a great idea, it allows me the opportunity to demonstrate more evidence that Israel is stuck in the 1990’s:
YouTube Channel Comparison: President Obama's White House versus President Shimon Peres
The President’s press office took the initiative to mark every single video as ‘all right reserved‘. Legally this means you may be allowed to watch the videos, but probably not to show them in a classroom and most definitely not to sample or re-edit them.
The American President also has a YouTube channel, but it is clearly marked ‘public domain‘. This means anyone can use its content in any way they see fit: watch it, show it, embed it, mix it, basically do everything with it without asking for any permission and with no need to credit the original work.

Of course ‘all rights reserved’ and ‘public domain’ are not the only options. The Creative Commons initiative enables anyone to choose just the right license for their work and allow certain uses of it while forbidding certain others. Unfortunately, while the president across the pond clearly shows 21st century mentality when it comes to sharing, most people around here do not – and apparently this goes up to Israel’s number one citizen.

Another major difference between the Israeli President and his American counterpart, is that while Obama knows enough not to wing it and almost always works off a script – Peres apparently ad-libs his messages. This results in his Hanukkah video containing the following phrase: “There are many dangers, like the Iranians”.
While the Iranian regime might be harmful, the Iranians people are clearly not. In fact we were BFFs back in the days.

Update: You can read this post in Hebrew here.

War, A Rock Opera – Now Available For Free Download

After watching the brilliant Israeli rock opera ‘War’ on stage, and blogging about it, I have been corresponding by email with musician Kobi Vitman who created it based on his experiences in 2002 as a reserve infantry soldier during Operation Defensive Shield, and the PTSD that followed. A couple of months ago, when the original cast recording was issued, I tried to convey to Vitman my own experiences as a listener and a fan of the genre, emphasizing the difficulty in trying to track down these musical gems once the curtain closes on the original show. In accordance with my beliefs about file sharing, copyright laws and my own experiences searching for recordings of Israeli musicals, I tried to push for making the entire album available online.

Well, I am so very happy to announce that as of this week, the album is indeed available online and for free. You can still purchase the physical CD, booklet and all, for 40NIS, but if you just want the MP3 files, they are now legally available on WarRockOpera.com. You can still watch the show live in its acoustic version. Check the website for details.


Look! Everybody’s Here Again!

When it comes to television programming it seems that the pendulum is close to the edge. People have stopped watching TV, that is except for 14 year olds who are keen on buying whatever TV is selling. Whether the medium will die or correct itself in time, I guess we’ll find out sooner or later.

In this atmosphere of 57 channels and nothin’ on, the one thing that almost never disappoints is nostalgia. Israel Educational Television (IETV) has just announced that its programs, both classic and new, will be made available for online viewing on its new website. Established in 1965, IETV has produced shows that taught us English, math, and road safety, and gave us our very own sitcom in Hebrew.

Since many of these modern classics are already available on YouTube, I guess the folks at IETV figured if they can’t beat them, might as well join them and make the materials legally available for free.

Since the website will not be launched until next week, here are two teaser ads to tickle your taste buds:

This Book Cannot Be Read Aloud

Illustration: Amazon Kindle 2 Warning - This Book Cannot Be Read AloudIf you had any doubt we are amidst a cultural war, what with file sharing, digital rights management and the free culture revolution, the dinosaurs in suits over at Amazon.com had just decided that the Text-To-Speech option on the new Kindle 2 will be disabled if the book publisher chooses that. This means that book publishers will be able to control a right that they do not possess. Read more on this at Professor Lawrence Lessig’s blog.

For us Israelis this triggers a flashback to the Anti-Mehikon: up until the 1980’s the Israeli television broadcast was in black and white as the government thought this would bridge the gap between the haves and the have-nots, those who can afford to buy a color TV set, and those who cannot. As idiotic as that plan sounds today, it worked for a few years until a device was invented to restore the color bursts that were deliberetly erased at the Israeli Broadcast Authority.

All this may have sounded like fun nostalgia, if only the people of yesterday would have given up on their futile attempt at stopping the natural evolution of technologies.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Download some text2speech audio files (MP3 and WAV) of the phrases ‘Amazon sucks’ and ‘Amazon’s Kindle 2 sucks’