The Free Internet will not set you free

A well argued piece from someone with real skin in the game.

For the Internet to progress, for society to progress, we need an Internet where businesses operate on principles that respect individuals, not just exploitation and the bottom line.”

Read more at:

http://observer.com/2015/03/dead-kennedys-east-bay-ray-the-free-internet-will-not-set-you-free/

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Inuit Sled Dogs – What Really Happened?

When I made The Last Dogs of Winter back in 2012, I had to make a difficult judgement call about whether or not to repeat the assertion that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police slaughtered Inuit dogs in a deliberate genocidal programme.

Personally, I doubted this was the case, though I have no doubts that many thousands of dogs were shot.

My conviction is that these killings were part of a sad historical process, an inevitable outcome of cultural and economic changes that overtook the North from the middle of the 20th century.

Here’s an interesting recent article on the topic:

http://fortheloveofthedogblog.com/news-updates/the-inuit-sled-dog-killings

The Last Dogs of Winter has been available on DVD from my web store at http://www.costabotes.net.nz for some time. Many thanks to all who have supported this title.

I have now made it available for online rental and downloads from vimeo.com.

Go here:

In order to access you have to sign up for a vimeo account, but it’s easy, fast, and free. And it enables access to a convenient download service that’s ethical and respectful of creators rights. The small sums we ask for go towards making a small creative business viable. Please respect this and avoid pirate and freeloading sites that destroy livelihoods.

If the link above takes you just to a trailer, then try googling this instead: Last Dogs of Winter Vimeo On Demand.

Thanks!

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Is Google Evil?

Yes, Virginia, I’m afraid it is.  In, oh,  so many ways.

Read this:

http://googlemonitor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Googles-Anti-Conservative-Values-CPAC-Presentation.pdf

The paper is written by a self avowed conservative. But actually, when one gets into the bullet points, even the most dyed in the wool lefty might find it hard to disagree with his conclusions.
Further to the left/right and ‘free internet’ implications, I always try and remind people arguing strenuously against policing of copyright infringement on the internet that there has never, EVER, been any impediment to artists freely sharing or giving away their work online, if they so chooseBut the opposite is not true.
Instead, we get the likes of Google coming up with horrific euphemisms, like “Permissionless Innovation” .
Translation: I’ll take your stuff thanks, and I’ll figure out ways to make money off it, and neither ask permission, nor pay you a cent; and if you don’t like it, tough shit, because I’m never going to admit I’m doing it, or I’ll dance around behind the skirts of DMCA safe harbour protection, and treat you – the victim – as an aggressor, a Luddite, or even a criminal, when you try and assert your legal and moral rights (see Google’s Chilling Effects.org for just one disgusting manifestation of this company’s asshole hypocrisy in action.
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Myths about Copyright

It’s a pervasive article of faith amongst the digital believers in a future utopia that copyright is a bad thing. That it retards creativity and innovation and protects the entrenched privileges of powerful corporations.

In a word, this is … CRAP.

Crap in its purest form.

This pernicious belief was seeded and propagated by self interested web entrepreneurs who saw the benefit to them of appropriating other people’s creations and using them to turn an easy buck.

Unfortunately, a bunch of academics weighed in, confusing the practice of freely sharing the fruits of their labours in universities with what professional writers, musicians, and film makers do.

Well, hello Lawrence Lessig, and many others of that ilk. Freely sharing your creative work is all very well when you’re a tenured professor on a fat annual salary. It’s not the same for the average songwriter, or struggling Indy film maker.

So, between cynical exploiters and Ivory tower ideologues, a whole generation of freeloaders have built up some damned erroneous ideas about what is fair, and right; and especially about what copyright actually is, and what it does and does not do.

For instance, there are a lot of people who have no idea that copyright and patent protection are two completely different things.

So, for the benefit of anyone who actually wants to learn something about copyright, here’s a marvellously straightforward explanation. You might be surprised.

http://copyright.nova.edu/copyright-does-not-stifle-innovation-creativity/

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How to issue a DMCA strike notice against YouTube

The trouble is this debate has become about the future of the internet rather than the future of professional creative people …

Have you had your work illegally ripped and posted up on YouTube?

People do this for a variety of reasons. Ignorance, or some misinformed sense of entitlement. They also do it for the oldest reason of all. They’re greedy. Because they can make money off any clicks on their YouTube channels.

There are many people operating on YouTube who create their own stuff. They do interesting things, and collect a fan base. The more people watching the more money they make. It’s not much, but for a lucky few, the rewards can be significant.

And then there are the cheating scum who just post up entire movies that they’ve ripped off a DVD, or downloaded (illegally) from a Torrent site. They care nothing for the rights of the copyright holder, and YouTube doesn’t care either. Or at least, there is nothing in their operating procedure which creates a barrier or check.

There is NO other publishing medium in the known universe that works like this. Everywhere else, whatever the art form – music, film, or literature – one is required to provide verifiable chain of title, on pain of significant legal penalties.

But the internet, apparently, is special. And internet companies got accorded privileged protection by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1999, which places all the onus for reporting and policing copyright infringement on the victims, rather than perpetrators. After fifteen years of this evil rot, the consequences have been disastrous for the music industry, and the film industry is also well advanced down the same slippery slope to ruin.

So, back to the original question … you’ve had your work stolen and now there it is, sitting on half a dozen different YouTube links. What do you do?

Well, as mandated by their parent company, Google (if it’s Evil, we’re in!), YouTube are incredibly slippery. But they are bound by DMCA, and that cumbersome, extremely onerous mechanism is the only quick recourse for removing copyright infringing material.

You may already be familiar with the process … but in case not, here’s a handy guide:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vOd_d8FhFyE

Or go straight here:

https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2807622?hl=en

NB: You can issue strike notices against multiple titles on the same form.

This whole system is a Kafkaesque farce, of course. Copyright holders should not be required to police the internet. No other publishing medium is allowed to get away with this kind of perfidious larceny.

YouTube makes much of its vaunted Content ID partnership plan, but unless you’re a very large company representing hundreds, or even thousands of titles, forget it. They won’t let you in. And even for big companies, it’s all a barefaced cynical con. Here’s a quick explanation why these assholes cannot be trusted:

http://thetrichordist.com/2015/01/20/google-may-continue-driving-traffic-to-pirate-sites-after-dmca-notices-by-using-its-google-alerts-product/

The more I look into this stuff the more outraged I get. They are making the whole business of independent film making completely untenable.

As I said above, YouTube are slippery. Their business model is voracious, and wilfully immoral. They’re all about swallowing and monetising as much content as they can, and while they will act if copyright infringement can be shown, their modus operandi is modelled on Sgt Schultz (We know nothing, see nothing, hear nothing …).

Worse, even when a copyright holder asserts their rights, YouTube bends over backwards to help wrongdoers. Look at their advice pages devoted to copyright. Most of the advice is directed at people posting stuff that’s not theirs, helpfully suggesting ways they can frustrate and impede copyright holders. Topsy turvy world!

See also YouTube’s ChillingEffects.org – where the personal details of copyright holders issuing strike notices are listed. What is that all about? You assert your rights, and they parade you like a criminal, and potentially set you up for personal attacks.

This disease will continue up until suchy time as internet companies are allowed privileged protection from prosecution by the DMCA act. The trouble is this debate has become about the future of the internet rather than the future of professional creative people. The truth is, enacting fair laws that protect copyright and enable people to make a living will NOT ‘break the internet’. They might break YouTube, and curb Google, but that is not the same thing

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The Sony Hacking Part 2: The Plot Sickens

First up, the first published analysis of how The Interview is doing in its novel  simultaneous release. The answer seems to be, it’s doing better than the average Indy release, but pretty crap for a Hollywood flick that might, in different circumstances, been able to look forward to a full release on 3000 screens.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/26/the-interview-theaters-on-demand_n_6383452.html

Likelihood of profitability for a production that cost only 40 million (a very modest Hollywood budget), less than zero.

So anyone who thinks Sony orchestrated all this brouhaha just so they could get their leg over at the box office … please pause for a reality check.

And now, the plot thickens …

If you’re like me and don’t believe in coincidences, sift through this next link and ask yourself if there isn’t a very interesting pattern showing in the shadows.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/12/23/googles_driveby_shooting_of_jim_hood_takes_out_key_critic/

Private information gleaned from the hacking was used to create misinformation for a propaganda campaign intended to discredit an elected official who has been quite rightly hounding Goliath over matters of genuine legal impropriety.

“In my 10 years as attorney general, I have dealt with a lot of large corporate wrongdoers. I must say that yours is the first I have encountered to have no corporate conscience for the safety of its customers, the viability of its fellow corporations or the negative economic impact on the nation which has allowed your company to flourish.”

And then they sued him. Shock and awe. For the first time in history, we have a supra national entity which thinks it is above the law, and is fully prepared to throw its weight around. 

What’s really at stake here? Quite simply, it’s Goliath’s business model. And the amoral, conscienceless way they choose to pursue it. Anything that makes money for Goliath is … okay. Anything that stops them making even more money is … not okay.

As per the terrifying metaphor in David Eggers prescient novel, The Circle, what we have here is the multinational corporation as a voracious electric shark, devouring every single living thing in its tank.

https://ncadd.org/in-the-news/1087-google-isnt-doing-enough-to-stop-illegal-drug-sales-online-some-attorneys-general-say

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/google-faces-new-pressure-from-states-to-crack-down-on-illegal-online-drug-sales/2014/04/15/6dfc61fa-be6d-11e3-b195-dd0c1174052c_story.html

http://www.inforocked.com/e-commerce-news/70-google-settles-another-lawsuit-regarding-illegal-drug-sales

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The Sony Hacking: Who really did it and why?

At first I bought into the idea that North Korea was behind the Sony Hacking.

Having reflected on developments over the last couple of days, and digesting further information, I have changed my mind about North Korean involvement. Of course one can’t rule it out completely yet, but consideration of motive has led me to a different theory.

Motive is key to any criminal act. The offender must have something to gain. And there was nothing clearly evident about what the Guardians of Peace wanted, beyond binning The Interview.

Ergo, they were an agent of a foreign power that desired the film to be binned. It seemed a simple enough case of an offended dictator reaching out to slap the face of his tormenters.

But now, it’s blindingly clear what the hackers were after all along, and that Sony have neatly given it to them on a plate.

Yesterday, The Interview was released online. In most territories, ahead or instead of being released theatrically or on DVD. That is unheard of for a Hollywood film. Why? because traditional ‘windowing’ (releasing first in theatres, followed by DVD, and finally online) makes much more money. It just makes business sense to do it this way.

For more than a decade, Big Technology pundits have been castigating Hollywood and the MPAA for ‘clinging to outdated business models’. The wet dream of online providers and consumers alike has been that Hollywood change its ways and release films instantaneously, on every platform, everywhere at once.

Well, now, by an act of precisely targeted audacity, somebody has got a Hollywood studio to do exactly that.

I predict that this is the first rolling pebble of a coming avalanche. The hackers have forced a studio into a process that would have started anyway, but not perhaps for another few years.

There’s no profit currently in releasing films this way. So only fear could serve as an inducement to start.

So, whodunnit? Well, I’m not sure. But I think it’s likely there was someone on the inside, who provided access and targeting; most probably working with a group of clever hackers.

But was this attack only ideologically motivated?

Perhaps that was motive enough – a devastating ‘freetard’ attack on the ‘free’ internet’s most determined and capable obstacle – a rich, conservative, old world media company.

Maybe. But here’s the thing. I don’t believe it. Freetardists have been doing stupid stuff for years. Pushing their line of opinionated, self serving crap in every way possible. Films are routinely stolen and released into the wild, sometimes even before their official release. This is done in the name of ‘freedom’ – which is really the most exquisitely pure form of B.S.

This was much more clever. And diabolically effective.

I believe this was a deliberate act of industrial sabotage. Disruption is a key tenet of Big Tech philosophy. The Sony Hacking is a supreme example of disruption in action. It has cracked a dam that has held fast for 20 years.

The finger of blame needs to be pointed at one or other of the likely recipients of the changes (and wealth) that will flow from that crack.

Who stands to gain most? A really obvious answer leaps to mind immediately. Yes, we need look no further than Goliath … the big G. If we are talking motive and means, then there is a company that has both of these things in epic proportions. And has proven itself to be consistently ruthless and duplicitous in pursuing its aims.

For instance, see:

http://www.citizen.org/documents/Google-Political-Spending-Mission-Creepy.pdf

Means? Forget about it. They can now do anything.

Motive. Well … that’s pretty easy too. With moves afoot in Washington to create new laws to regulate the dissemination of illegal, copyright infringing content, Goliath’s business model is under threat. Sure, they’re trying their hardest to buy enough influence to bury these proposed laws, but the harm of piracy, and the blatant unfairness of privileging Big Tech companies over creatives – large and small – these have become obvious enough that the tide of opinion could sway lawmakers.

http://www.districtdispatch.org/2014/12/son-sopa-internet-killing-mpaa-horror-sequel-garners-serious-screams/

So, forcing an evolution in the movie supply chain is a pretty damned good way to ensure that a Search Engine company is kept working overtime. It’s a form of hedge, if you will, against a future where the internet might have more fences on it. Better believe it – the Wild West got fenced. So will the Internet. It’s called civilisation.

Well, that’s my theory. It’s only a theory, but until more facts emerge, none of us can know anything for sure.

For the record, I don’t love Hollywood. I don’t believe everything should stay the same. I think it would be great if a viable market for films was developed online. But freetardists have got the wrong end of the stick completely.

The demand for free content is unfair and destructive. As is the banal demand that producers MUST release their films everywhere at once. I’m not going to spend ten pages detailing why this would be both impractical and ruinous for any creators except maybe Hollywood.

The blatant lack of understanding or respect shown by many consumers towards the people who make the things they profess to love is just plain disgusting. Witness the lip smacking jubilation shown by websites picking over the rotten meat thrown to them by the Sony hackers.

P.S: Actually, the real message of the leaked personal emails might have been missed. Folks in Hollywood are as human as anyone else. And maybe just as trapped by forces they cannot control. Why else would a rational Studio boss greenlight a 200 million dollar biopic about Cleopatra? 

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