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The You in Youtube – Conclusion for Travelogue 4

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Concluding post: What makes people collaborate online?

The answer is: a mixture of circumstances. Some of them we can’t control, but in general what the leader of the project does or doesn’t, either helps or complicates the process of online collaboration. The key element? Planning.

During the past 3 weeks, I tried to get people to share pictures of interesting situations they encountered in the subway. I tried with a web page, a Facebook Fan page, and a Twitter account. What I got was collaboration from my own social network—friends, or friends of friends submitted some stuff, but always with a short-spanned interest. The next attempt was to tap directly on audiences already interested in the subject—Flickr groups that shared subway pictures. I also added the competition factor—first, the prize was only about prestige: getting voted as the best picture. Then, I finally got an online photography blog interested in publishing the winner picture on their site.

I hoped that would spark interest a bit more, but the fact is that the new collaborations continued to spring from my previous social network and its subsequent effects. That is, when I launched the contest, I got more response from my original Facebook group (which had grown from my own contacts and the “work” I’d previously done on that platform) than from my call for Flickr collaboration. Even though I tapped on the communities that were already interested in the topic (three groups focused on underground transportation photography) and got “professionals” involved by getting them to publish the winning picture on their sites, my guess is that the Flickr group didn’t find enough reasons to take me seriously: I’d never been an active participant in Flickr before, all of my photos are uploaded on Facebook, and I’ve previously “worked” that audience much more.

What did this experience bring? A lot of learning. Not just based on my own travelogue, but I tried to learn from Leslie’s excellent results what had worked in her case as well.

I’d like to share my findings in this video:

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As sidenotes:

Even though the contest wasn’t successful, I did receive some great pictures, and I’d like to share with you the most popular:

metro zocalo

Author: Davii Rangda.  Caption: A night before the “Day of the Dead” in Mexico City.

I will submit the picture to http://lagiraffe.com/, the site that was most interested in publishing the contest pictures.

Special thanks to Leslie for her help and sharing.

“Mashup Conclusion” (TDMC Remix)

Music and video mashups continue to proliferate in this digital age.  Proprietary laws which protect artists and their affiliated companies from having their material stolen or used without their permission will continue to be criticized and circumvented by other artists.  With such acclaimed artists like DJ Danger Mouse and Girl Talk who have left their mark on mashup culture, I believe that we will continue see more and more artists like these in the future.

Hopefully, businesses will continue to adapt to these cultural changes and work towards a compromise or better solution instead of simply just continuing to tighten or extend the years of proprietary laws.  The current model of copyright laws are based off of greed, control, and exclusion benefiting more of the companies than the individual artists.  On one hand, artists should have rights to protect their works and the incentive of financial gain if anyone wishes to use it.  However, the prices to which other artists or individuals must pay in order to sample or use one’s material is too high.  As a result of these outrageous fees, individuals will continue to challenge and circumvent the systems in place with the risk of being sued.  However, the question remains – are companies going to sue everyone or just those who they feel are extensively profiting off of their material?  Is it just a matter of ethics or a matter of money?

“Everyone has access [to content]. Enforcement is a global problem. It is a practical problem, because of the reach of where the content might appear.  Finding [infringed copyrighted content] is harder.  One issue the law has to deal with is this new sense of a user ‘right’, referring to that of mashup creators.  User-generated mashups are changing the face of copyright laws, which have to evolve to catch up with the Internet generation.  Laws need a way to catch up with changing culture.  This could be in a greater recognition by the courts of the social use of user expression, or legislative change.  On the part of businesses, having a solid online business model will help prevent broadcasters from taking down every use of their content.  Businesses should have a clear and robust revenue stream online. We’re not there yet.” Mary Wong, an expert on intellectual property (IP).

Music and Videos are data that have a code.  They can be sliced, spliced, edited, and mashed together to get an entirely different code.  Remixing or mashing up the code in one’s own unique way allows a person to potentially enrich the value of the existing program.  While artists can conjure up their rights to “Fair Use” = an exemption in U.S. copyright law that allows limited use of works under copyright without permission from the rights holders.   Parody, teaching, news reporting and commentary are some of the uses allowed under fair use, the stipulations under which one can use copyright material without the owner’s permission seems limited and weakly defined.  “Transformative works” need to be better defined.

Mashups will continue to challenge the system of copyright while copyleft and other alternatives challenge the traditional statues and ideologies.  One of the biggest downsides to this debate is the incentive for artists to create an original work and have someone take it without permission, recognition, or even payment.  Of course, this is extreme, however, defenders and advocates for mashup and remix culture will continue to push for a more open system.  Lastly, people need to recognize the significance that whole new genres have been birthed due to sampling, remixing, and mashups.  Consider this in a brief article by Grant Gross,

Artists shouldn’t face threats of huge fines and prison time for sampling from copyright works, said filmmaker Nina Paley, creator of the film “Sita Sings the Blues”, Paley, speaking at an event in Washington, D.C., called for a wholesale rewrite of copyright law to allow mashup artists to create new works without threat of lawsuits or prison time.  Paley’s 2008 film uses several songs from 1920s jazz singer Annette Hanshaw, and copyright holders demanded she pay US$220,000 for use of the works. Paley eventually settled for $50,000.

$220, 000 US dollars?  $50, 000 dollars?  Honestly, who can afford to pay money like this to use other people’s work?  I would argue that the average person cannot.  No wonder people are so vexed at the current proprietary system.  Peep the video.  Thanks.

Bonus listening: If you want to you can also listen to this song that I made using parts of a sermon by a Christian apologetic Ravi Zacharias and Common’s instrumental to his song “Resurrection”.  It took me a couple days to fit things together the way that I wanted to.  I can only imagine trying to fit together an a cappella  and an instrumental let alone put together a song using sampled-snippets of other songs.  Like hip-hop producer 9th Wonder exclaimed, it’s not as easy as it looks/sounds.  Enjoy.

Resurrection (Ravi Zacharias Remix)

Until next time, try not to get sued-  Clear your samples and get permission if you can afford it.  :)

Why are tampon ads so obnoxious?

That’s what Kotex wants to know.  In this travelogue I decided to ditch the movie format and go for podcast/slides.  While I did have fun learning a new program and working on the movie for last week, I felt – and several of you commented – that the movie didn’t actually contain very much information.  So, I tried again with a different rich media.  Your feedback is welcome!

Travelogue 4 from Alexandra Cale on Vimeo.

Music/Video Mashups: What’s at Stake?

I apologize for the late post last week, here it was again in case you missed it>

One person’s copyright infringement is another person’s creative expression.” – Michela Ledwidge

Yesterday, when disco and hip-hop DJs of New York City were sampling different songs and weaving them together using different parts, instrumentals, vocal clips, and more, they originally had to acquire the vinyl record through legally purchasing it… unless someone was generous enough to give them the records that he or she did not want (Hunsicker, 2010).  Now a days, one can easily circumvent the economic laws of copyright and even purchasing property with the internet.  Peer-to-peer sharing and other video sites such as Youtube make viral proliferation of content and information easy as 1-2-3.  That being the case, copyright dilemmas have continued to grow in this digital age where consumers users are fighting back against the few, elite hegemonic powers and authorities who control so much of today’s intellectual and artistic content/property.

Furthermore, the economic system of music and online videos have greatly been affected by the popularity of music, file, and other video sharing websites.  This phenomenon has changed the way in which consumers people legally buy or illegally distribute music and other video content on the internet.  Besides, everyone is becoming their own DJ or mashup artist given the customizable playlists, sampling technologies, and other ways of individually tailoring someone else’s music to suit your own desires.  Hunsicker further asserts, “Not only is music more convenient to listen to, it also feels more personal, your own mix that you can be proud of.  With the right equipment, everyone can be a DJ.”

With regards to more or less music, artists like Girl Talk, DJ Danger Mouse, DJ Shadow, and many others have found Grey areas or ways to navigate outside the legal confines of copyright laws.  While there are those who would argue that these artists have infringed heavily upon copyright laws, others would defend them arguing that the very proprietary laws which protect certain artists, stifle other artists from re-appropriating it into something new.  Hunsicker proposes a comprise between copyrights and mashup artists:

What a mash-up artist is doing is taking DJing to a whole new level, they are creating entire new tracks, using pieces of a whole to create new songs.  There is an argument for a fair amount of creativity here, but the artist did not create each of the clips.  This is where there needs to be a compromise!  Laws need to be revised, so that a certain percentage of the royalties could be paid to the record companies, not in full, and so that the mash-up artist may be motivated to pay while still receiving individual benefits for his songs.

Okay, so what’s the big deal one might ask? What’s at stake?

“Basically, the music industry is slipping towards anarchy , and the record companies are trying to keep control of their revenue streams,” said Professor Sam Howard-Spink, professor of music copyright law at Steinhart School of Media, Culture, and Communications at New York University.  It has been widely accredited that the artist Girl Talk, a.k.a. Gregg Gillis, is a famous mash-up artist who uses an average of 21 music clips per song. If he paid, the cost would average $260,000 per song and $4.2 million per album according to “RiP: A Remix Manifesto.”

Where is the line drawn between mashups/remixing and stealing?  For many, the answer seems to lie in giving credit to the original.  Still, many would go further and ask for some sense of monetary compensation for using the original.  Obviously, being sued by someone for copyright infringement is the greatest risk at stake.  But then, how do artists like Girl Talk or DJ Danger Mouse find “legal loopholes” or ‘getting away’ with creating some of the most successful and acclaimed mashups to date?  According to a blog article from GENYU.NET, “This success does not go unnoticed by the music business—mash-ups are so popular online that the music industry has become more selective with their legal attacks, looking for a way to harness this genre without the legal complications.”

More artists are recognizing the potential in releasing their music or videos to the public for marketing purposes to create mashup contests.  This is an amazing way in which the public can participate in remixing/mashing up the artist’s original work and being recognized for it with a monetary prize or other awards.  For example, K-OS, a critically acclaimed Canadian hip-hop artist, released his last album to the public creating a remix contest.  He then released the remixed album containing the best remixes for sale on iTunes and throughout other music distributors sites.

Be careful Youtube (Google)?

>Lastly, since 2007 Viacom has accused Youtube (Now Google) of profiting from thousands of videos in a whopping 1 billion dollar lawsuit.  The impending future implications that the resulting lawsuit could have for not only Youtube but for copyright and mashup culture in general are vital.  Greg Sandoval, writing for CNET News online states,

“There’s a lot at stake, including the $1 billion damage amount Viacom seeks. Depending on how the dispute is decided, it could mean content-sharing on the Web will be far more restricted than now. On the other hand, for film studios, music labels, and other content creators, a Viacom loss could mean protecting copyright online becomes much more expensive and labor-intensive.”

In a bitter legal war, both Google and YouTube will have until April 30th to file motions for a summary judgment (basically the judge reviews the evidence on both sides and determines whether the case has enough merit to go to trial or not).  After that, then they would likely set a trial date for later this year.

Then why do it?

Because we live in an society enveloped by various juxtapositions of power and control that are constantly challenged such as the  rich vs. poor; open source vs. close source; creative commons vs. copyright; pay vs. pirate; etc.  DJ Danger Mouse exclaimed about the Grey Album (2004), a highly acclaimed mashup of The Beatles White Album and Jay Z’s Black album acapellas:

“A lot of people just assume I took some Beatles and, you know, threw some Jay-Z on top of it or mixed it up or looped it around, but it’s really a deconstruction. It’s not an easy thing to do. I was obsessed with the whole project, that’s all I was trying to do, see if I could do this. Once I got into it, I didn’t think about anything but finishing it. I stuck to those two because I thought it would be more challenging and more fun and more of a statement to what you could do with sample alone. It is an art form. It is music. You can do different things, it doesn’t have to be just what some people call stealing. It can be a lot more than that…This wasn’t supposed to happen… I just sent out a few tracks (and) now online stores are selling it and people are downloading it all over the place.” Burton denied being the agent provocateur, saying it “was not my intent to break copyright laws. It was my intent to make an art project.”

In a day called “Grey Tuesday” coordinated on February 24, 2004, Downhill Battle, an activist group, posted copies of Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album for free download on various participating websites in protest of EMI’s, a record company that ordered cease and desist of the mashup album.

Here’s this week’s mashup that I put together. Enjoy >

Thanks to/References:

A Few Good Men (1992); And Justice for All (1979); The Matrix (1999); Braveheart (1995); Lawrence Lessig; Training Day (2001); and Copyright Criminals (2009), Outkast+Queen Mashup from VillexHermannixValo.  Hopefully, my own mashup falls under the Fair Use Doctrine under educational use/criticism/teaching purposes.



Face Off – How do people react when their online identity is questioned?

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Voices of Dissent: How Indians and Pakistanis are using Social Media to air their opinions!

The best ideas come to us by chance, and that is exactly what happened to me while writing this week’s travelogue… I was struggling to compile a video / slideshow of clips from various videos and blog posts I found online,when I came across some satirical cartoons mocking the on again-off again India-Pakistan peace efforts, and a new idea for a travelogue was born.

I decided to juxatapose images, cartoons, opinions (from blogs and discussion forums) to show the two sides of this complex issue. I’ve done this in two parts –

1) A video with images of peace the two media houses from India and Pakistan are using to promote their cause, however each alternating slide is a (political) satirical cartoon I have found online on independent blogs. (P.S. – the background song is the anthem of the Campaign)

2) A slideshow of the varied and differing opinions that Indians and Pakistanis are voicing online via Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere.



The digital afterlife: what happens in social media when we die? Part I

As I laid out in the introduction of my travelogue, I will explore various aspects of death and social media. How is death experienced in our digital age? How does it affect the mourning process? And what new rituals emerge? But first of all, I will explain what policies exist for the digital afterlife in social media. Can family members or friends access the account of a deceased person? Should you put logins and passwords in your  will? As our lives and belongings become part of the Internet, death poses particular challenges to our legacy.

Click on the image to listen to the podcast

[podcast]http://blip.tv/file/get/Nw546-DeathAndSocialMediaWhatHappensToYourProfileWhenYouDie694.mp3[/podcast]

For further information:

Post-mortem policies of social networks:

Facebook: if you’d like to report the death of a loved person, this is the contact form, for general information consult What happens (online) when we die: Facebook
Google Buzz: Accessing a deceased person’s mail
Twitter: What happens (online) when we die: Twitter
MySpace: How can you delete or access a deceased user’s profile?

Companies that can take care of your digital legacy:
AssetLock
LegacyLocker
DeathSwitch

About your digital assets:
FarmVille and SecondLife and how virtual estates lead to real-word headaches

Other resources

The Digital Beyond

Marketing Peace: Aman ki Asha + Social Media

A few months ago, two media houses – The Times of India Group and the Jang Group of Pakistan – launched a new project called AMAN KI ASHA (Desire for Peace), a joint initiative to foster cultural and diplomatic relations between two countries that have been at odds for over 60years.

On the face of it the project seems to be a noble one, attempting to bring together people and cultures that are historically entwined and share many commonalities. It is spearheaded by two large media conglomerates that have the means and power to bring together many influential and important people from both countries in order to have a meaningful dialogue. The push has been largely cultural so far with print and broadcast media being the main outlets for the campaign.

The photo posted above, alongwith the official articles and television commercials that can be found on youtube and elsewhere on the web attempt to mingle identities, icons and highlight the similarities of the two nations that were formerly one.

For me, personally the campaign, which I consider a publicity gimmick,  became interesting when someone directed me to their Facebook Page, which has a mere 16000 + fans. This led me to explore the websites set up by each media group respectively, and then the blogosphere to see what buzz this’ long-awaited’ campaign was creating online. My finds(and lack thereof) have been quite intriguing so far …  so through this travelogue I aim to the following

a) Discuss the various voices of dissent, cynicism and negativity that I can see  online

b) Video Interview and discuss with young Indians and Pakistanis the potential of such a project offline and online

c) Figure out how to better the digital footprint of this  project and how important is the social media aspect of such an initiative (which so far seems untapped)

Most importantly though, I”m wondering, is this just clever marketing? Or can non-governmental corporations create borderless media / mediums via which we can promote and produce better communication and peace processes between nations ?

** Introductory Podcast  coming up as soon as it converts to MP3 without freezing my computer **

Mirrors and Masks – performing identity on the web

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