Category: "culture/news"

Free Culture links

If you're interested in learning some more about culture and copyright issues, here are some links:

Free Culture
This is the web site for the book. If you want to download it or buy it, start here.

Lessig Blog
Lawrence Lessig's blog. He's a law professor at Stanford and a graduate of Cambridge and Yale. His blog can keep you informed.

Public Library of Science
This is a project Lessig has worked with. It's a solution to the problem of the high cost of scientific journals, which makes it hard for libraries to offer journals for free. Scientists can upload articles, which are peer reviewed and then offered to the public for free.

Electronic Frontier Foundation
"A nonprofit group of passionate people--lawyers, volunteers and visionaries--working to protect your digital rights." You can find links about lots of legal issues here.

Creative Commons
"Some rights reserved." An alternative license that creators can use to give more rights to their readers. I'm going to look into choosing a CC license for this blog.

Free Software Foundation
The home of the GNU project, which gave us Linux and lots of other open source software. Their huge philosophy page can explain why this is so important to them.

Internet Archive
This is my favorite. It's a project to record as much information as is legally and technically possible. It includes the Wayback Machine (enter an address and see how what a site used to say) and a great audio section. I downloaded an entire live show from Waterdeep.

Free Culture and file sharing

No up-to-date book on copyright law would be complete without a section on music file-sharing. Free Culture doesn't deal with it much, but Lessig does have some comments in the afterword that are worth repeating. He says that file=sharing is a complicated problem because there are different types of sharing.

A. There are some who are using sharing networks as substitutes for purchasing CDs.

B. There are also some who are using sharing networks to sample, on the way to purchasing CDs.

C. There are many who are using file-sharing networks to get access to content that is no longer sold but is still under copyright or that would have been too cumbersome to buy off the Net.

D. There are many who are using file-sharing networks to get access to content that is not copyrighted or to get access that the copyright owner plainly endorses

Type A sharing is illegal and for good reason. It's still up for debate whether file sharing hurts cd sales, but this type of sharing goes against the spirit and the letter of copyright law, which is designed to promote progress by giving artists access to the benefits of their creation. Type D sharing is totally legal and very useful. The tricky thing for lawmakers and programmers is to find a way to cut down on type A sharing without inhibiting type D. But what about types B and C, are they wrong? Is downloading a song to see if you want to buy a cd any worse than listening to the radio? Is downloading a song that can't be bought on cd any different from rescuing a tape from the dumpster behind the record store? The RIAA wants to fight type A sharing, but they treat all p2p sharing as if it were this type. They don't care about the fact that Napster had several legal uses. If the different kinds of sharing can be understood, then maybe we can come up with some reasonable regulations.

I should also point out that when the big companies and lobbyists start panicing about piracy, they're usually wrong. They were sure that the VCR would decimate the box office. It didn't. They thought CD burners would eliminate CD sales. Nope. Now they're saying the DVD burners and back-up software will kill DVD sales. Don't count on it. And p2p file sharing won't send P. Diddy to the poorhouse

Free culture and lobbyists

More from Free Culture:

So long as legislation can be bought (albeit indirectly), there will be all the incentive in the world to buy further extensions of copyright. In the lobbying that led to the passage of the Sonny Bono Copy-right Term Extension Act, this "theory" about incentives was proved real. Ten of the thirteen original sponsors of the act in the House received the maximum contribution from Disney's political action committee; in the Senate, eight of the twelve sponsors received contributions. The RIAA and the MPAA are estimated to have spent over $1.5 million lobbying in the 1998 election cycle. They paid out more than $200,000 in campaign contributions. Disney is estimated to have contributed more than $800,000 to reelection campaigns in the 1998 cycle (226).

This is a big problem, and not just with the copyright issue. We shouldn't really blame the companies, what they're doing is legal. But it's a bad system. If legislators have to think about the interests of their favorite lobbyists, then how can we expect laws that make sense for everyone else?

Well, I just finished reading the book on my PDA. I ordered a print copy because Sara wants to read it, too. In the end Lessig finally gives some concrete ideas on where to go from here. I'll post some of those soon, but next up I'll take a look at his thoughts on music file swapping.

Why American young people don't vote

If US politicians want to get the young vote out, they should take a page from Pakistan's book:

Man campaigns with rat in mouth

Top 5 Top 5 Lists

If you thought I was the only one....

5. Top 5 Nestle and Ralston-Purina Combinations
This is an anomaly in an otherwise unfunny site. Two stock brokers trying to be funny: it won't take any insider tips for you to know how funny the rest of this site is. (Or isn't).
Don't check out The rest of the site

4. Ethan's Top 5 Stupidest Lines from The Rules
Okay, so this guy wrote a book I've never heard of about Urban Tribes (something I also know nothing about, considering I live in Adrian, MO). Some of his lists are on the dry side, but this one is hilarious.
Check out What this guy's book is all about, then tell me. I'm interested, but otherwise engaged (i.e. watching Dawson's Creek)

3. Top 5 Movie ***Holes
The premise for this list is great: What is the comedy equivalent for a drama's villain? The ***hole. As Badmouth explains, "a great comedy requires a great ***hole--not a true villain--but a person who is so instantly dislikable, that we don't mind when they are tormented the rest of the movie."
Don't check out The weird and somewhat disgusting thumbnails on the left side of the page

2. Top 5 Lists about the Top 5 lists in High Fidelity
Talk about meta-communication. (Little inside joke for all the COMM majors.) Anyway, this site urges you to "Send us your most grossly oversimplified ways of looking at the world, and we'll post them here." I wonder where I could find material like that.
Check out The list of the top 5 clips most likely to be seen on home video shows

1. Top 5 lists at
I've found another time-waster. Here, you can view lists and even submit your own. Hours of enjoyment had by all (or at least by all the cynical wannabe musicians with obscure taste in music and doubtful level of skill).
I especially enjoy the "Five Least Favourite Uses of Pop Music in Advertising" and "Five Records You're Proud to Own But (Secretly) Never Listen To"
Check out "Five Examples of Mangled Grammar or Factual Inaccuracies in Song Lyrics"
(Van Halen's Why Can't This Be Love? "Only time will tell if we can stand the test of time."

who doesn't like free (and legal) mp3s?

Roger McGuinn, lead singer of the Byrds, appeared on The Screen Savers last week. He showed how he recorded his last album at home, using Adobe Audition. He also mentioned that he has recorded some folk songs and made them available for free on his website. Watch out, though, some of the older songs are in Real Media format.

Great news

Don't believe everything you read

Wired has two interesting stories right now.

Attack of the Movie Clones
Check out the website for the Godsend Institue, which claims to be able to clone lost loved ones. But look closely at the picture of the doctor on this page. Looks a little like Robert DeNiro, who is set to star in a new film about cloning called Godsend. It looks like more Blair Witch type PR. The movie comes out April 30.

Onion Taken Seriously, Film at 11
This is all about lazy journalists who have taken Onion articles seriously. It includes my all-time favorite, the Harry Potter article that passed through every evango-fundamental emailbox back in 2002.

Tolkien = Chester

Loyal blog readers,

Your help is needed., host of this blog, website of my good friend, is holding a web poll to determine the 'Chester of the Year.' A chester is just brendoslang for a very cool person or thing. The current leader is Wesley Clark, former single-digit presidential candidate. While he is probably very chesterly, he can't compare to J.R.R. Tolkien, who is running a close second. I can't stand by and watch this great author get defeated by a presidential drop-out. So please, go to the poll and vote for Tolkien. Voting ends on April 10, so vote as many times as you can, and tell your friends!

Swim accross Australia

Dave Barry points out this strage news story: Cross-Australia Swim Revs Up

A group of swimmers has begun an ambitious journey, swimming across Australia in a pool attached to the back of a truck.

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