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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)

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”.

The death of Web 2.0 January 28, 2010

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Web 2.0, known to its friends as social media, passed away on January 27, 2010.  It was born to Darcy DiNucci and Tim O’Reilly in the early 2000s.  It is survived by an older sibling, Web 1.0, along with several nieces and nephews.

Services will be held on PCs, laptops, and iPhones throughout the world.

An online battle is brewing.  

In one corner, we have the incumbent advocates of social media, touting its convenience, amiability, and usefulness in providing a free public forum.  

In the other corner, we have a populist uprising urging people to “go outside” and “meet your real neighbors again.”  They cite issues like Facebook owning their users’ “private” information, and that people aren’t really connected to all their online “friends”.

Some may think now that the internet has evolved from “web-as-information-source” to “web-as-participation” platform there’s no turning back.  But a new weapon has emerged in this war that may change everything.

Introducing the “Web 2.0 Suicide Machine.” 

Based in The Netherlands, the Suicide Machine is a free service that “kills” you off MySpace, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  It originally applied its craft to Facebook as well, but a recent cease and desist letter (along with a block on the machine’s IP address) has temporarily thwarted any further attempts. 

Their coup de grâce consists of:

*Deleting your friends

*Leaving all groups you were member of

*Excluding your account from public search

*Removing all email notifications

*Deleting all wall posts

*Uploading a new profile picture

*Changing your username and password (and not telling you what they are)

They claim this is more effective at removing your information that simply “deactivating” your account.  Furthermore, the online Kevorkians can do it in far less time than it would take to do it yourself.

(But you have to be sure.  Once the process begins, it cannot be stopped.)

So far, the machine boasts over 1,800 “Social Network Suiciders” with almost 300,000 tweets removed.

A similar service is Italy’s Seppukoo, a play on the ancient samurai practice of disembowelment.  A bit less dramatic than the Suicide Machine, users can reactivate their account anytime they want, and even earn high scores based on how many of their friends commit seppukoo with them.  Although not yet blocked by Facebook, the website has received their own cease and desist letter.

But if you think these measures a bit too extreme, there are alternatives.  John Haydon of Socialbrite.org suggests timing how long you spend on social media sites.  In a clever checklist, he provides information on how to program your computer to clock the amount of time you spend on these sites.

While the idea of getting off the computer, going outside and interacting with the real world is an excellent idea, we should have the fortitude to do it for ourselves, rather than depending on the internet (the same medium that got us into this mess) to do it for us.

Move over, Leo — Colton’s got Facebook January 21, 2010

Posted by friedgreenbananafish in Facebook, Journalism, Twitter.
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We all remember Leonardo DiCaprio’s character from Catch Me if You Can Frank Abagnale Jr. who, while still in high school, experienced life as a pilot, doctor, lawyer, and counterfeiter extraordinaire.  

The decade of the sixties was a simpler time — less airport security, fewer paper trails, no ghost-like watermarks of dead presidents on our currency to discourage counterfeiters.  I remember sitting in the movie theatre, wondering if it would be possible to pull a con as legendary as Abagnale’s in today’s high-security world.  

But apparently, it’s easier than ever.  

Courtesy of Island County Sheriff's Office

Meet Colton Harris-Moore.   

To date, the 18-year-old fugitive has stolen two small airplanes (which he totaled after “learning” to fly on the internet), two boats, several cars, and items from over 50 homes. 

The police in his hometown of Camano Island, Washington, have been searching for him for almost two years – but are far from catching him. 


So how do they know he’s still alive? 

 Well, they can follow his tweets, for one.  Or they could always check his fan page on Facebook.   

Through these social networking sites, the legend of “Barefoot Harris-Moore” has exploded into a cult phenomenon — with people writing him songs, plastering his face on t-shirts, encouraging his flight from “the man” and even offering their addresses as safe harbor to him via Twitter. 

A few months ago, Facebook temporarily shut down Harris-Moore’s fan page before quietly restoring it due to protests by its nearly 16,000 angry members. 

For all we know, Harris-Moore may go live with one of his Twitter followers, or he may get caught in an undercover sting. 

But until that day, this boy genius will continue to puzzle us with his paradox of staying connected to the world through social media, yet living his life just off the radar.