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Fair Use 101 (Part Deux) February 21, 2010

Posted by friedgreenbananafish in Around the Blogosphere, Facebook, Journalism, Twitter, Youtube.
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According to Scott Simon, of National Public Radio:

“Every time you listen to your iPod, every time you use your TiVo, every time you watch “The Daily Show,” you’re participating in something called fair use. It’s what makes documentary films and news programs… a lot easier to produce. But unless youre an intellectual property lawyer, you probably don’t spend much time thinking about fair use.”

The Center for Social Media believes that we are living in a “remix culture.”  

Take online videos, for example.  How many viral videos have we seen that are a hybrid of two or more videos that came before it?  (Case in point: “David after Dentist” meets “Christian Bale’s rant” in this hilarious mash-up).  

There are even entire websites devoted to it.  The Trailer Mash is a site that encourages users to switch the genre of their favorite movies and make new trailers for them.  (Trust me, you haven’t truly lived until you’ve seen the romantic-comedy version of “The Shining.”)

But do these goofy little time wasters really violate the terms of fair use?  Not necessarily.  

Fair use permits people “to quote copyrighted material without asking permission or paying the owners.”  

It also states that works should be “transformative,” in other words, created for a purpose different from the original work. So when makers mash up several works to make a satire, parody, negative or positive commentary, illustration, diary, archive, pastiche or collage, they aren’t necessarily stealing. They are quoting in order to make a new commentary on popular culture, and creating a new piece of popular culture.

That’s how the makers of Family Guy got away with the full-length feature film Blue Harvest, (and why I don’t have to accredit the photo on the right) and why South Park’s Cartman character can sing Lady Gaga songs without paying royalties.

Speaking of Lady Gaga, have you heard that she “totally looks like” Slim Jim?  That’s protected by fair use as well. 

So what exactly is NOT protected by fair use?

Using things in their original context.  

For example, an author known as “JD California” was prohibited from publishing an unauthorized sequel to JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye in which a 76-year-old Holden Caulfield wakes up in a nursing home in New York.  

Since the book was not a parody, satire, commentary, etc. on the original, but rather an attempt to take another author’s character for one’s own use, it violated U.S. copyright law and even forced the reclusive Salinger out of hiding to defend his work.

But don’t think the world of books and the internet have different rules.  A big debate on fair use is coming straight from one of the internet’s biggest powerhouses — Google.

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has declared an “e-war” with the company.  He says he’s “fed up with Google’s search engine serving up the journalistic content of his news outlets without any compensation.”  

He states that after his media companies go behind a pay wall, he will block Google searches from providing his company’s material for free.  (Read more about it here.)

It could be the bravest thing anyone has ever done to fight copyright infringement on the internet.  

It could also be Murdoch’s own kiss of death.

(To be continued…)


Fair Use 101 February 20, 2010

Posted by friedgreenbananafish in Around the Blogosphere, Facebook, Journalism, Twitter.
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(The First of Five Parts)

Due to the popularity of my last webserial, I have decided to try it again on another issue; one that is far too important to contain in just one post.  


Photo courtesy of mrselfdestruckt at Photo Bucket

What exactly is “fair use”?  In it’s most basic form it is defined as:

“The conditions under which you can use material that is copyrighted by someone else without paying royalties.”

It can also mean the doctrine of U.S. copyright law that regulates the use of other people’s work without their permission.  

For years authors, artists and songwriters have been protected from having their work stolen.  But the internet has opened a whole new can of worms.

Who is protecting the information we blast out into cyberspace?  The articles bloggers write, the artwork that pops up on Google Image, and even the status updates we post on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter?  

It turns out we are giving away a lot more than our opinion…

(To be continued)

Chinese New Year 4708: Year of the Google February 14, 2010

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Last year, on the 20th anniversary of the massacre of Tiananmen Square, something “strange” happened in China.

TV screens went black, pages were ripped from magazines, and computers flashed HTTP 404 error messages.

The country experienced a media blackout.  There was no way the Chinese government was going to let its citizens commemorate the anniversary of its most shameful moment in history.

But there was a small light that managed to shine through the darkness.  Social media

According to blogger Michael Anti, censors in China aren’t equipped to screen out the flow of this user-created information.  He says they “need time to figure out what it is.”

Photo: Xinhua Photo

Fast forward to 2010 and internet giant Google rebuking China for hacking into its citizen’s Gmail accounts.

So far, Google has bowed to the sleeping dragon, scrubbing its Chinese version of controversial images.  But not anymore.

Google is stepping up its game.   If the Chinese government won’t allow them to provide the same search results they do in other countries, the company is threatening to leave China – and give up nearly $1 billion a year to prove their point. 

And after a recent speech on internet censorship made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it seems Google has chosen the right time to do so.

There are critics of Google’s decision.  Some say it’s a PR scheme, or a cover-up for the fact that Chinese hackers actually got into Gmail’s source code.

But with 92% of Chinese citizens using social media, the country is emerging from behind the Iron Curtain, whether the powers that be like it or not.

The People’s Republic is using technology in ways never imagined by the generation that witnessed the events of Tiananmen Square.

It’s time for a revolution.  And this new year will show us just how far it can go.

Keeping up with the Joneses January 31, 2010

Posted by friedgreenbananafish in Around the Blogosphere, Assignments, Facebook, Journalism, Twitter.
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…and the Smiths, and the Johnsons, and the Williamses, and… 

Real time web is the newest trend to hit the net.  Ironically, it is a technology devoted to helping us spot… well, trends.

It allows users to receive information as soon as it is published, rather having to manually check for it.  An offshoot of social media, it is based on the idea of Facebook’s live newsfeed and the constant updates of Twitter.

By getting these “real time” updates on what their social circles are doing, users can spot the latest trends of what people are talking about.

Internet pundits are having a heyday monitoring the “latest” topics people are commenting/blogging/tweeting about; using this knowledge to engage other in conversation and bring traffic to their own sites.

Several companies have even developed free customizable widgets so users can stream this real-time content directly on their computers.

Despite its fancy new name, this is a concept we’re all familiar with.  How many times have we researched something further after seeing it posted on a friend’s Facebook page?  Or clicked on a feed in our CNN ticker to read the full article?  Or checked our RSS feeds over the first cup of coffee in the morning?

But although it may be old hat for us, the real news story is how Web 1.0 giants like Google are trying to keep up with this recent advancement.

In his personal blog, social media guru Michael Brito says that today’s technology isn’t fast enough to monitor these live conversations.

Traditional web searches crawl and index web pages periodically, seldom returning results differing from the day before.  But real time web search results change hourly; sometimes, by the minute. 

Last year, Google tried its hand at real time web by introducing its “Latest Results Box”.  A quick search for “Haiti” or “State of the Union” and you can see the latest results from Twitter, news organizations, and blogs galore.  

Truly, the real-time web is redefining what we mean by “breaking news”.

Blogger in the Rye January 30, 2010

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“Publishing is a terrible invasion of privacy.”

– J. D. Salinger

Why then, are millions of bloggers compelled to do it?  At this very minute, ordinary citizens around the world sit at their keyboards typing out every thought that comes to their heads; publishing it for many other millions to see.

But why?

J. D. Salinger died yesterday at the age of 91.  He once said, “There is a marvelous peace in not publishing.”

And yet we can’t seem to help it.   Even Salinger’s own death has triggered a blogging storm.  Whether you loved him, or hated him, or just delighted in making fun of his writing, no one can seem to stop talking about him.

 I can’t say why we’re compelled to blog.  While there are many theories, including narcissism, soapboxing, or just plain boredom, the mystery of the blogosphere is as deep as the mystery of Salinger’s reclusive lifestyle.

Although I preferred Seymour Glass to Holden Caulfield, (note name of this blog) I can relate to Holden when it comes to blogging.  He believed himself to be a “catcher in the rye”; a guardian to prevent children from falling off a cliff. 

Maybe we bloggers serve a similar function; we help save untold stories from slipping away into the oblivion.

IDK, my BFF Jesus? January 26, 2010

Posted by friedgreenbananafish in Around the Blogosphere, Facebook, Journalism, Youtube.
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By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he blogged.

 Ok, so I’m not the world’s preeminent scholar on The Book of Genesis.  That would arguably be Pope Benedict XVI.  But phony quotes aside, His Holiness does have a few new ideas for the Vatican. 

Over the weekend, Benedict (who just last year showed his disdain for technology by urging Catholics to give up all forms of social media for Lent) asked priests to: 

 “…proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue…”  

In other words, the Pope is goin’ techno. 

This user-friendly message came during his announcement of the 44th annual World Communications Day (set for May 16, 2010); a time when the Angels & Demons-like secrecy of the Vatican eases up a bit to answer questions from the faithful. 

Benedict continued by saying that he hopes by embracing these forms of communication, the Church can reach out to a new generation of Catholics, as well as nonbelievers across cyberspace. 

And Benedict is practicing what he preaches.  Tech-savvy worshippers can follow the Pontiff on the Pope2You portal, a website that links you Benedict’s personal Youtube channel, Facebook fan page, and iPhone app that sends you updates on his trips and speeches. 

Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters

But Benedict also warns priests to use technology in compliance with the Church’s theological and spiritual principles, and not to strive to become stars of new media.  

“Priests… should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart.” he says. 

After all, his doesn’t want to start getting tweets like this: 

@SwissGuard: OMG do theez stripes mke me look fat? ROFL

Blogs to help Bloggers January 24, 2010

Posted by friedgreenbananafish in Around the Blogosphere, Assignments, Journalism.
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1. Soshable

Soshable encourages its users to help them sort through the myriad fads of social media; to pick out the best of the best of social media and examine how it will change the future.  I like the idea of a blog being a two-way street — instead of just ranting, I’d like to hear others’ opinions on the topics I post about.

2. Social Media Blog

A great example of a personal blog.  Michael Brito has worked for Silicon Valley giants such as HP, Yahoo! and Intel, and considers himself one of the pioneers of social media.  I hope his successful real-world experience will help me in writing my own personal blog.

3. Smart Mobs

Howard Rheingold, author of Smart Mobs, believes that instead of letting social media control you, you should control your use of social media.  His blog offers suggestions on how to use technology as a tool to connect to others.

4. Socialbrite

The goal of Socialbrite is online philanthropy.  They offer tips and techniques to help bloggers use this media to “advance the social good.”  Hopefully, I can pick up a few pointers on how to make my blog meaningful to society, and stand out from all the other cyber soapboxes.

5. Technosailor

To truly keep up-to-date on trends in blogging and social media, you must also know how users are going to view the content you post.  Technosailor investigates which smart phones/browsers people are using, and its writer boasts the creation of “The WordPress Bible.”

6. The Blog Herald

The Blog Herald was founded in 2003, and was the first blog designed to exclusively cover the news of the blogosphere, including the latest updates on Blogger, and WordPress to name a few.  A must for any newbie.

7. The Blogger’s Blog

A bit silly, a bit snarky; The Blogger’s Blog is to social media what The Daily Show is to traditional media.  Still, the site is awash with story ideas and links to more reputable sources.

8. The Buzz Bin

The Buzz Bin tries to examine everything it can from the view of social media — from current events and entertainment news to the cyber “age gap” and gonzo advertising, it provides great statistics and links to articles around the ‘sphere.

9. The Huffington Post

As an avid reader of The Huffington Post, I just had to list this one on my blogroll.  While stories about social media aren’t its main focus, I find it is one of the most accurate, reputable blogs out there about the world and its issues. 

10. The Social Networking Weblog

The Social Networking Weblog is great tool to keep up with all things social networking.  From Facebook to MySpace, its writers give you pointers on how to increase traffic to your page… or how to keep it private.