Esprit De Apple Corps

More corporate copyright capers. The Royal Courts of Justice in London swung to the sounds of the latest popular beat combos on the opening day of Apple vs. Apple, in which the Beatles’ record label is demanding damages from the computer giant for the alleged scrumping of its apple logo. QC Geoffrey “Loudmouth” Vos, resplendent in what excited journalists took to be an Adidas hoodie, chopped from the classic disco of Chic’s Le Freak to the big street hot riddims of Coldplay’s Speed of Sound while waving Hunter S Thompson’s pump-action wordage in the air –

the music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side. – Hunter S Thompson, Daily Variety (Sub Req)

This gave way to the tired realisation yesterday that iPods were now ordinary, that this was just another squabble between big corporations over copyright lucre. Mr Justice “Notda” Mann cut short an explanation from the lawyers of how Apple’s iLife suite works – “I’ve got it and I use it” – and thereby opportunities for any further zeitgeist-defining and/or legalistic sitcom moments.

Harmful If Swallowed

Yeah, the Kool-Aid does taste funny. Molly Ivins tears into the assumption that the newspaper business is dying because it isn’t delivering profits. Sure, there’s a steady decline in the industry over the long term. But profits are still happening. What’s killing newspapers is a mania for profits at any cost. Cut reporters and the space devoted to news. Profits will certainly go up. But then newspapers will certainly die. Which wouldn’t matter if newspapers weren’t fundamental to the creation of a well-informed citizenry.

Yeah, but – isn’t the growth of the blogosphere making up for this? And acting as an offshore balance to the power of the mainstream media? Please, don’t pass the Kool-Aid. Ivins is dismissive of bloggers – they don’t have the size, interest and skills needed to go out and gather news; they remain “opinion-mongers”:

No one should be allowed to write opinion without spending years as a reporter — nothing like interviewing all four eyewitnesses to an automobile accident and then trying to write an accurate account of what happened.

Molly Ivins, Alternet

Give some of them time, Molly. Otherwise, good stuff. Particularly if you think that Rupert Murdoch assigning you a friend when you sign up for MySpace is mildly creepy, indicative of what lies ahead.

Multitasking and the Journalist

A profile of Jon Snow, Channel 4’s chief news anchor, in which he does some “thinking from the mouth” (and nothing about his taste in ties, thank the gimmick editor):

As a journalist I think technology where it advances communication is plus, plus. Technology that merely inflects whizzbangs of information I think merely tends to get in the way of it. I’m against virtual reality, for example, because I think there’s nothing virtual about the reality of the news. But I’m absolutely in favour of blogging, vlogging and podcasting. My only anxiety is that there genuinely is a limit to what the individual journalist can do without beginning to degrade the quality of what they do.

Jon Snow, the Independent

Booted, Suited and Uploading

Viral video enthusiasts using YouTube: potential copyright infringers or corporate shills?

YouTube’s DIY video site includes clips “stolen” from big media companies, allege lawyers representing big media companies – the likes of NBC Uni, CBS and ABC.

But big media companies, or at least their marketeers, are starting to realise that mashed-up clips represent, forgive the marketing spiel, bottom-up branded content.

Loaded with slap-happy credibility because they appear to be generated by users rather than corporations, they create the buzz needed for ratings success – or so says YouTube:

There’s been a few examples of marketing departments uploading content directly to the site, while on the other side of the company their attorney is demanding we remove this content.

Chad Hurley, YouTube co-founder: the Hollywood Reporter

The New Game of Life

Fancy joining in a consensual hallucination? Will Wright, creator of the Sims, joins the jostling for supremacy by the different tech and media sectors, their battle for the living room and every other space in which media consumers, producers, participants may soon find themselves. He argues that games have the potential for subsuming almost all other forms of entertainment media. Personalized computer games will eventually recreate the world in our image, in our various images:

They will learn what we like to do, what we’re good at, what interests and challenges us. They will observe us. They will record the decisions we make, consider how we solve problems, and evaluate how skilled we are in various circumstances.

Over time, these games will become able to modify themselves to better “fit” each individual. They will adjust their difficulty on the fly, bring in new content, and create story lines. Much of this original material will be created by other players, and the system will move it to those it determines will enjoy it most…

They will allow us to express ourselves, meet others, and create things that we can only dimly imagine. They will enable us to share and combine these creations, to build vast playgrounds. And more than ever, games will be a visible, external amplification of the human imagination.

Will Wright, Wired Magazine

As a narrative of what lies beyond the current technical horizon, this isn’t bad. A coda to the geek’s Web 2.0.

At the moment, operating systems like Microsoft’s Vista provide the physical space for storing our files. As our files migrate online, search engines like Google and those web services which allow us to group and define files become more important. Online environments like MySpace, Flickr and, then, are early versions of the kind of “games” described by Wright, places, as he puts it, for creation rather than just consumption.

Comic Copyright Capers

Great new IP & Fair Use comic by Duke’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain:

Bound by Law translates law into plain English and abstract ideas into ‘visual metaphors.’ So the comic’s heroine, Akiko, brandishes a laser gun as she fends off a cyclopean ‘Rights Monster’ – all the while learning copyright law basics, including the line between fair use and copyright infringement.

– Brandt Goldstein, The Wall Street Journal online