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Fri, Apr. 13th, 2007, 11:14 am
krustad: Save Internet Radio!

Listen to KSPC's online stream or Pandora? Like being able to stay in touch with your favorite radio station from home (in my case 89.3 The Current) while at school in Claremont? Concerned about media consolidation and democratic values?

Then you should care about this.

Under heavy pressure from the RIAA, the Copyright Royalties Board has set new royalty fees far more costly than any current webcaster could ever hope to afford. The new technology of Internet radio, so necessary given the ClearChannel monoculture of terrestrial radio these days, is in danger of being squashed. Not because Internet radio isn't profitable, left alone--because the new fees far exceed both their revenues and the fees paid by their terrestrial radio competitors! The new fees make it so that only huge media corporations like AOL, which could eat those exorbitant costs, could afford to host Internet radio stations--and this was the intention of the RIAA who lobbied for it:

Damning quotation from the RIAACollapse )

Want to do something about this travesty of politics?

Read about Radio Paradise, a prominent webcaster in danger of being legislated out of business, and its fight against the new rates.

Read user testimonials and other information at Save Our Internet Radio.

There are two petitions going around: one here and the other here. You should sign them!

To find your representatives and send them dead tree mail, click here.

Fri, Mar. 30th, 2007, 10:13 pm
krustad: Face 2 Face : Peer 2 Peer

Hey, it's another event! Free Culture 5C will be hosting a Face 2 Face Peer 2 Peer mixtrade/flash mob/etc event on Sunday, April 1. (No, not an April Fool's joke. :) ) We'll be burning mixes of our favorite music and giving them to others in exchange for new mixes and new music we've never heard! I may bring some media kits, stickers, and other assorted surprises as well. The event's at 3 PM at Walker Beach at Pomona (see our graffiti on the wall advertising the event). Come one, come all! And bring your friends!

Some open source CD burning programs:

InfraRecorder (Windows)

Burn (Mac)

Mon, Mar. 19th, 2007, 10:15 pm
krustad: Wizard People Dear Reader showing on Friday!

Free Culture 5C will be hosting a screening of "Wizard People Dear Reader" on Friday, March 23 at 8 PM in Humanities Auditorium at Scripps College.

Our alum/member Sophia will be making vegan snacks for the occasion. Come and enjoy tasty treats and illegal video art!

From the student-l notice:

Wizard People Dear Reader is an alternate story of Harry Potter's first year at Hogwarts Academy. Similar to 'Dark Side of the Oz,' creator Brad Neely recorded narration to be played while watching 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' on mute. Neely's remix of Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone is unauthorized and likely illegal. Nevertheless, it is a well-received piece of video art.

Thu, Mar. 30th, 2006, 04:52 pm
krustad: 5C remix contest!

Announcing the first annual (?) Free Culture 5C music remixing contest!

Why should I participate?

First, everybody knows that people with madd remix skillz get all the ladies. Second, the top three entries (as judged by members of Free Culture 5C) will receive some totally kickin' prizes. Finally, EVERYONE who participates in the contest will get a mix CD of all the contest entries, so everybody wins!

What are the rules?
  • The first rule of remixing club is you do not talk about remixing club. Actually, that's a lie. Tell all your friends.
  • Your entry must incorporate part of one (or both) of the following samples:
    Blue Ocean by Colin Mutchler (vocals)
    Photo Theme: Window Like by Andrei Raijekov
  • Your entry may also include any public domain, Creative Commons, or original work you want. (See "Where do I find material" below.)
  • Are you a student at the 5Cs? Good. This contest is just for us Claremonters.
  • We must receive your entry on or before April 30...so get crackin'!
How do I enter?

Well, you're going to have to get your entry to us, along with some contact information. A few suggestions on how to do that:
  • If your email provider will allow it, just email us the audio file (.mp3, .ogg, .wav, whatever). Our email address is freeculture5c@gmail.com.
  • Host your remix on your student webspace (or other webspace, if you have it), and email us a link. Your school's IT website should have a guide for using your student webspace--here is Scripps'.
  • Join CCMixter! CCMixter is a really cool social network/Creative Commons remixing site. Both of the contest samples came from there (see here and here). You should join, post your remix, and send us a link.
  • Another option for hosting your entry is the Internet Archive. Note: It usually takes the archive folks a couple days to put material up, especially if you're a new user.
Where do I find material?

Lots of places! Here's a list to get you started:
So what's this Creative Commons stuff, anyway?

Creative Commons is an organization devoted to making it easier for artists, scientists, teachers, and others to build on the works of others. Current copyright law makes it difficult to tell what materials are safe for people to use and what uses might get them sued. Thus, Creative Commons offers a variety of licenses that work as a companion to copyright--allowing people to know in advance how an author wants to see her work used and built upon, without an army of lawyers.

There's a cool little CC intro video here.

Fri, Mar. 3rd, 2006, 12:24 am
krustad: FC5C paints mural to protest HR 683

In response to the proposed Trademark Dilution Revision Act, or HR 683, Free Culture 5C got out their brushes, spray paint, and skills of an artist and graffiti-ed Walker Wall at Pomona, urging fellow students to write their senators and reject the bill. You can find more photographs of our handiwork here! And here's our summary and analysis of the bill.

By the way, if you haven't already, you can tell your senator to reject HR 683 here!

Sat, Feb. 4th, 2006, 01:06 pm
krustad: Revision to trademark law threatens free speech

There is currently a bill up before the Senate called HR 683, or the "Trademark Dilution Revision Act." If it passes, there's going to be some dire consequences for free speech and fair use. Why?

According to Edward Greenberg, HR 683

will serve to eliminate the current protection for non-commercial speech currently contained in the Lanham Act. It will prevent businesses (artists)and consumers from invoking famous trademarks to explain or illustrate their discussion of public issues.

Basically, any company can claim that ANY use of their trademark--even just repeating a catch-phrase, like "Have it your way"®--is an infringement just by saying that it "dilutes" the value of their trademark. This pretty much puts all the current exceptions to trademark protection--fair use, non-commercial use, reporting/journalism, commentary/criticism--in jeopardy, for how does one distinguish, without an army of high-price lawyers, whether or not a use "dilutes" a trademark?

Already an artist named Donald Stewart got cease-and-desisted on similar grounds by Volkswagen® for this light-hearted drawing. If HR 683 passed, such suits would become even easier.

What would be the consequences of this bill's passage for art? Could we ever have another Warhol? What if the "dilution" (infinite reproduction) of commercial icons is the message that the art piece is trying to express? How about the drawing on my wall (pictured) that I made for fun in Beginning Drawing last year? Will political cartoonists have to stop featuring Hummer® vehicles in their cartoons about America's gas-guzzling ways? This law clearly poses a significant threat to a whole slew of artistic expression.

Trademarks don't apply just to images, of course--they apply to words and phrases, too. As such, there are plenty of scary consequences outside the realm of art as well.

Over at Penny Arcade®, there's recently been discussion about the creepy ways that viral ad agencies market their products, cultivating brand recognition in public discussion forums. Earlier than that, there was a bit of a stink about McDonald's® offering to pay rappers to mention Big Macs® in their music. I still think these practices are kinda creepy. However, I also think they're a sign of how completely wrongheaded this bill is. Letting people talk about your products isn't dilution. It's dissemination! Viral, word-of-mouth propagation is supposed to be the Next Big Thing. Why on earth would corporations want to make it illegal?

Because the purpose isn't to silence all brand-name discussion. The purpose is censorship. Anyone who wants to talk about Microsoft Windows® or Coca-Cola® will have a sword hanging over head. Speak well of the iPod nano®, and Apple® will leave you alone. Criticize the product too loudly, however, and Almighty Zeus shall rain lawsuits about your pitiful head.

Right now HR 683 is being considered by the Judiciary committee. The members of the committee include:

Arlen Specter - PA
Orrin Hatch - UT
Patrick Leahy - VT
Jeff Sessions - AL
John Cornyn - TX
Sam Brownback - KS
Tom Coburn - OK
Edward Kennedy - MA
Dianne Feinstein - CA
Joseph Biden, Jr. - DE
Herbert Kohl - WI
Russell Feingold - WI
Charles Schumer - NY
Richard Durbin - IL
Mike DeWine - OH
Jon Kyl - AZ
Charles Grassley - IA

If you can plausibly claim constituency in any of these states (I plan to mail Senator Feinstein, citizenship be damned), bother your senator! This thing has already been voted up by the House--only the Senate stands in the way of this thing becoming law. If it gets stopped in committee, so much the better.

Tue, Dec. 13th, 2005, 07:14 pm
krustad: Free Culture 5C "doesn't" participate in Gray Tuesday

Free Culture 5C had been planning to set up a table in front of the dining hall today to hand out burned copies of Dean Gray's "American Edit", a mash-up of Green Day's "American Idiot" banned by Warner Records. However, due to the Scripps College administration's inability to determine the legality of authorizing such a protest in time, the tabling was unable to proceed.

Thus, Free Culture 5C was unable to participate in Gray Tuesday. It was not able to give out burned CDs to friends and random people, or leave copies of "American Edit" in public places on campus like dining halls or coffeehouses. It was certainly not able to volunteer webspace to host "American Edit" for others to download.

Certain students who just happen to be members of Free Culture 5C, on the other hand... ;)

Tue, Nov. 29th, 2005, 07:44 pm
krustad: Warner Records censors American Edit

"American Edit" was an excellent remix album of Green Day's album "American Idiot," using a variety of materials including Bush quotes, the Mission Impossible theme, and The Who. Put together by three artists known collectively as "Dean Gray," the album was available on http://www.americanedit.net/ for free, with links to three charities that Green Day supports.

The remix didn't compete with "American Idiot." It's hardly likely that someone would not buy the original album because this remix was available for free--the sound was plenty different! (Personally, I'd pay *more* money for the remix than the original, but that's just my taste.) Nevertheless, as reported on BoingBoing, Warner Records freaked. Yesterday, only ten days after the album was released, the site was shut down with a cease and desist order. No more "American Edit." No more creativity that isn't produced outside the patronage and control of the big labels.

I'm rather peeved about this. I really like the remix, and I was planning to recommend it on my webcomic and elsewhere. I'll try and bring it to the meeting on Thursday, so all y'all can listen to it. But there's got to be more we can do...

And there is. People aren't sitting tight about this. There's movement to hold a "Gray Tuesday" (after a similar civil disobedience event supporting the Grey Album) on December 13, where people all over the Internet would volunteer to host "American Edit" for 24 hours in defiance of Warner Records.

Do we want to participate in this somehow? What else could we do to raise awareness of these stifling abuses of copyright?

Sat, Nov. 19th, 2005, 02:27 pm
krustad: Copynight--info, free drinks, propaganda

Free Culture 5C will be hosting Copynight--an information session on copyright law and other assorted issues--next week. The first fifteen people to attend will receive a coupon for a free Motley drink, so come early!

Where: Motley to the View Coffeehouse
When: 8:00 - 10:00 PM on Monday, November 21
Why: To raise student awareness of copyright issues

We're creating some lovely propaganda for the event on a variety of subjects. The two pamphlet-type thingies for Copynight I have so far are located on my Scripps webspace--the copyright primer and the intro to Free Culture. Those I don't have should either email me a copy so I can put it up, or host it themselves and comment here with a link.

This is so FC5C members can see what's being done, make suggestions, upload revised versions, etc.

[Edit: And now... some information about WIPO!]

Sun, Nov. 13th, 2005, 01:40 pm
krustad: The Sony dogpile grows...

So we knew that Sony's DRM includes a dangerous rootkit and that Sony makes users jump through hoops to uninstall it. But Sony has announced that they are halting the production of CDs with First 4 Internet's rootkit-laden DRM. Problem solved, right? Wrong!

According to Freedom to Tinker, Sony also uses another kind of copy-protection software--SunnComm's MediaMax. And while MediaMax may not include a rootkit, it has some nasty effects of its own.

1.) It installs without your permission. Before you even click "Agree" on the EULA, you've already got 12 MB worth of copy-protection software sitting on your hard drive. And even if you decline the agreement, MediaMax stays installed.

2.) Older versions of MediaMax have no uninstaller. Later ones do have an uninstaller, but it leaves important parts of MediaMax, including the protection driver, still on your system and active. That means that other programs (like iTunes) would still be unable to access your music.

3.) Like Sony's rootkit, MediaMax also "phones home" (establishes a connection with Sony) each time you play the CD. Even more damning, the address MediaMax contacts is /perfectplacement/retrieveassets.asp . "PerfectPlacement", hm? As in the feature of MediaMax which (as advertised on SunnComm's website) allows Sony to "[g]enerate revenue or added value through the placement of 3rd party dynamic, interactive ads that can be changed at any time by the content owner"? Basically, it appears that Sony is collecting data on you (or at the least is capable of doing so) so they can target you with ads. Just as with Sony's rootkit, this "phone home" behavior is explicitly denied by the EULA, Sony's website, and Sony executives. Liar liar, pants on fire.

Sony may be halting the use of rootkits in their DRM software, but this isn't stopping them from using copy-protection that abuses consumers. Especially when taken with other current events:

1.) The justification for the use of these DRM tools is that Sony wants to protect its copyrighted content, right? Well that's funny, because their rootkit code apparently infringes copyright on the open-source, LGPL-licensed LAME mp3 encoder. What?

2.) Extremist DRM doesn't just apply to Sony's music products. Sony just took out a patent which would essentially tie their video games to a single PlayStation machine. If your PS3 breaks, all your games are worthless. This would also kill the video game aftermarket and such benign uses as playing your games at a friend's house.

As BoingBoing puts it:

This "new business model" business is really bogus. They take the media that today lets you do everything copyright permits -- timeshifting and quotation, format-shifting and backup -- and they take away all those things. Then they painfully dribble each of those rights back as a "feature" that you pay extra for.

Drip, drip, drip -- each drop of functionality painfully and expensively squeezed into your living room, every time you want to do something you used to do for free.

That's not a business-model. That's a urinary tract infection.

Is it still too early to say that Sony distrusts, abuses--even hates?--its customers?

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