Category Archives: Fair Use

BMG Taking down Candidate Romney and President Obama Video Clips

BMG has apparently been caught with some egg on their faces. They issued a YouTube media take down on a Romney political ad that had a small clip of the President singing Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together”. After being called out on it, and told that the same clips of the President Singing was on a huge number of YouTube clips they started issuing take down’s of those videos as well.

So I guess now BMG considers the President a copyright violator! I wonder what he thinks about BMG’s actions.. Do you think they will sue both the Romney and the President for 8 seconds of signing? Sad that BMG considers the President Singing 8 seconds of that song not fair use.

It is obvious to me typical political game play with a backfire, BMG got caught trying to smack down on Candidate Romney. BTW If you search YouTube there are a lot of people singing that song, with much longer versions that are still online.

[Source: TechDirt]

Image: Al Green by BigStock

Tesco and Blinkbox – Buy the DVD, Watch it Online

Tesco Blinkbox Online MovieSupermarket Tesco and on-line movie site Blinkbox have introduced a new innovation to the UK where the purchase of a physical DVD or Bluray at Tesco also buys an online copy at Blinkbox. At today’s launch there are only about 25 movies included in the offer but more will be added to the service over time. The big blockbusters available now are Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II and Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon.

Tesco customers tie their Clubcard account to their Blinkbox account and then qualifying purchases of DVDs in retail stores (or online) will automatically be added to Blinkbox. Once in Blinkbox, customers can watch the films through PCs, Mac, PS3 and certain smart TVs. For non-UK readers, Clubcard is Tesco’s customer loyalty programme and there are 16 million active Clubcard members.

Richard Brasher, CEO, Tesco UK said “Customers know that Tesco is a great retailer for new technology.  This innovation with blinkbox will help start a digital revolution, combining the physical with the digital for the first time.  Starting with the magic of Harry Potter, there will be many more great titles to follow for customers to enjoy online wherever and whenever they like.

Michael Comish, CEO, blinkbox said “To be able to bring this truly ground-breaking service to consumers is very exciting for blinkbox. Our customers already know that we are the number one choice for the latest new movie titles the day they released on DVD, so working with Tesco to give them access to both a physical and a digital version allows them choice and the best of both worlds.”

For those outside of the UK, this is probably all a bit “so what?”given the offerings from Amazon and others. However, here in the UK, the law still currently prohibits format-shifting, even if no-one pays attention, even if the law isn’t enforced. By effectively purchasing both copies at the same time (or buy one, get one free), this gets round any issues with the law. If this way of thinking takes off, other companies will follow with similar products in the UK, so it’s good news all round.

Hauppauge Colossus HD Video Recorder PCI Express Card

Ken Plotkin, the CEO of Hauppage (, describes the Colossus HD H.264 Video Recorder PCI Express card for the PC. The Colossus card is designed to record high definition video from sources such as an X-Box 360, Playstation 3, as well as high definition video coming from a cable TV or satellite box via component video outputs on those devices, thus avoiding the DRM problem. The Colossus HD Video Recorder retails for $169 dollars, available in the first week in February 2011. According to Plotkin, the Colossus is the only recorder solution available that can record high definition video from component video outputs.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

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Is Content Demand Being Met?

Is Content Demand Being Met?New technology always disrupts. This has always been true, whether it was the invention of the wheel, the automobile, or modern electronics. With each new disruption, interactive business and social commerce is disturbed. Established business and social models are suddenly rendered partially or fully dysfunctional. For every new disruptive technology that comes along, an old business model is broken and new opportunities are created.

It has often been noted that people and organizations both don’t like change. There are some basic reasons at play that make this true.

In the workplace our brains go through an initial learning curve and automates much of the work we do so that we don’t have to continually think about it in detail. Introduction of a new disruptive program or process forces people to relearn what they already knew how to do in a different way, and thus they often become frustrated with it until they absorb and automate the changes.

Organizational change can be far more difficult, and often proves to be impossible. There’s this thing called “corporate culture” that is both a blessing and a curse for organizations. When a new employee comes to work into an existing organization, they quickly “learn the ropes” of what is expected of them. Existing employees often establish their own little kingdoms complete with pecking orders. These pecking orders are often enforced via subtle intimidation through systems of rewards and punishments. The person at the top, whoever is running the business, typically establishes corporate culture, whether they are aware of it or not. They tend to surround themselves with like-minded people they can dominate. In this sort of “look to the top” power environment it often becomes impossible for businesses to fully respond to changing market conditions, and the business dies. That’s why corporations have life cycles.

In today’s world, new disruptive technologies are coming along almost on a moment-by-moment basis.

Fast-forward to modern computers, wireless broadband and smart phone devices. Consumers of media demand the ability to consume the media of their choice wherever and whenever they want on the device of their choice. A tremendous amount of this demand has yet to be met. Old school content creators are reluctant to release their grip on breaking and broken appointment-based content delivery models. The reality is some of them will probably perish as they cling to those dead and dying delivery models. New ones will inevitably come in to fill the real-world demand.

Illegal Downloaders Do Spend More Money on Music

The London-based think tank Demos has concluded that illegal downloaders spend more money on music. The headline figure, based on the survey of over 1000 people between 16 and 65, is that the average spend per annum on CDs or vinyl was £75 (GBP) for file-sharers compared with only £51 for all surveyed.

The notion that illegal downloaders actually spend more money on music has always had its supporters but it’s good to see that this can now be backed up with some hard data, at least for the UK. However, there’s some much more juicy information, but remember that this is representative sample of the online population, not the whole population and not just music aficionados or games players.

69% of those questioned had used official or legal sources for music such as iTunes or YouTube. Physical media still dominates purchasing with 65% having bought CDs or vinyl against 33% who purchased downloadable music.

A third had used peer-to-peer technology or search engines to find free music but only 9% actually confessed to illegal downloading. Almost everyone knew that sharing purchased music was not “fair use” but 81% of people who had purchased their music thought that “fair use” should include the ability to move the music between different players easily.

47% would be interested in a monthly subscription service with the optimum price point being £5 per month but it would have to be simple and convenient to use.

There is only a slight male bias of 57%:43% in illegal music downloading (which is far less than I would have expected) and 46% gave “because I can” as a reason for doing it. (I think in the old days, this would’ve been known as “troughing”).  Unsurprisingly, two thirds of this group also engaged in the illegal downloading of movies, games and other software.

The full “Digital Music Survey” is available to download from the Demos website and it’s a fascinating read into the state of music consumption.  Recommended.

Note for readers – as far as I’m aware and I’m not a lawyer, the UK does not currently have a “fair use” provision in its copyright legislation.

Unscrupulous Scruples: Watch where you click.


I’ve been seeing this more and more. You have to upgrade a product – a home (free) edition or something. You press the link and it sends you to a page that talks about upgrading. In fact, everything this page screams is “We don’t have the free version, you must buy an upgrade to continue”.

But if you scan the page, you see on the bottom in small print “No thanks. Register the Free version”.

Another case in point: I was searching for Drivers for a friends computer. I got to the companies webpage and selected what I thought was the driver. Instead, it shuttled me to download a program that would then collect information on my PC and find the right drivers.

It was not malware, but more of Bloatware. And that program wasn’t afraid to do the same thing – ask to install more Bloatware.

This practice is on the verge of misleading. You have to really scan pages to make sure you are selecting the right option.

Case in point #2: There is a great website out there that helps webmasters. We won’t get into the name, because this is not a witch hunt. I will say that when you purchase something on their site, you are taken to a page that looks like you have to press an “OK” button. However, this button is not to OK the purchase, but to add additional services. By scanning down the page, you find the “No thanks – Continue” option stuffed in the bottom part of the page.

In advertising creation, you learn a little trick. When an eye hits an ad, they instinctively start in the middle and work clockwise around the ad. Therefore, you put your “Hook” in the middle and the other items on the sides, including the name of the product.

What these sites have done is made the ad, but then put the “No thanks” in a spot where upon first glance, the eye will miss.

I just bought my ticket for Blogworld / New Media Expo. I used a discount site to purchase the plane ticket and hotel. After making the initial purchase, I was inundated with options I should look at. I suppose it’s so the discount site can offer lower fares. Once again, I had to carefully scan for the “No Thanks” option, although those other buttons looked like they were part of the processing.

Recently, people have been finding extra charges on their credit cards. They went to an online shopping site and chose the great deal of the day. They then pressed a button that looked legitimate to sign up for monthly deals (or something like that). Of course, those deals came with a price.

I really think that the FTC needs to start recognizing these little nuances in websites. It would be like if you went to the grocery store and the clerk started asking “Should I also add in a gallon of milk?” even if you didn’t grab milk.

As for this upgrade – I understand you need to make money off the product, but being sneaky about doing it is only going to make me go somewhere else. Put the “No thanks” in a more visible area. The consumer will buy your product if they don’t feel they are getting swindled.

Want to see an Internet Oxymoron?

Check out this screenshot. Tell me why it’s an Oxymoron:

The Internet Oxymoron

If you said “This is an Associated Press article – I CANNOT share it on Mixx, Buzz, Digg, Reddit, Facebook or Newswire”, then you are correct!

If you go to the A.P.s site, you do not see any sharing widgets. However, if you go to the sites that pay for the content, they could have these little add-ons to try and promote their brand. But with these widgets, they could be in breech of their contract.

The Associated Press has said it doesn’t want to squelch new media, but it will go after sites that post it’s content and make money on it. Isn’t that like EVERY site on the Internet?

Back in June, the AP told their reporters to police social media like Facebook and Twitter. The idea would be to identify and irradicate any posts that violate their usage policies. So you could get a take down notice if you post  or “Re Tweet” those A.P. articles.

If you have a website and you have A.P. content on it, you might want to think about those little blurbs to suggest sharing the articles. You may be inadvertently breaching your contract.

I wonder if someone should start a list of Websites that use A.P. so we all know not to share the data from it. Of course, I am not going to rock that boat. However, if you know of a website that is an Associated Press site, you might want to comment on it below…

The Kindle, Copyright, and Neil Gaiman

Amazon has announced the release of the second version of the Kindle. Not available for sale yet, it promises to have some pretty nifty upgrades. It is thinner, lighter, has longer battery life, holds more types of files, etc. And, for those of us serving people with disabilities, one very promising update has been offered to the Kindle. It now comes with a developing text-to-speech function. This means that you can plug in headphones and listen to the book.

Don’t get any grand illusions that using this function will give you the true experience of an audio book. An audio book is professionally recorded, using a human voice, and plenty of post-production work to make it perfect. Hearing audio produced by text-to-speech software has no pre- or post-production; it reads the words straight off the page, in a monotoned electronic voice. It’s not something most people would choose to listen to. Its true value exists for those in the disabled community who for whatever reason cannot read traditional printed text. For these people, text-to-speech is a God send. Text-to-speech allows them equal access to materials we certainly take for granted, like web pages, books, newspapers, blogs, etc.

But of course, any time something like this is introduced, author groups and publishers, ala the RIAA, have to scream copyright infringement. This time, it’s the Authors Guild, who has informed its member literary agents that the Kindle 2’s text-to-speech is a violation of copyright because using such a thing makes it a derivative work and therefore illegal to use.

“They don’t have the right to read a book out loud,” said Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild. “That’s an audio right, which is derivative under copyright law.”

Mr. Aiken is misguided. The purchase of a book gives me the right to do what I want with it, including reading it aloud, or having someone read it aloud for me. I can use it to prop up the leg of a coffee table if I want, too. That could, on the fringe, be called a “derivative work” as well. But no, the book is mine, I can read it out loud, I can even record it onto tape and play it in my car if I want. I can read it out loud to my kids, or read a passage or two of interest to a friend or colleague. I can even type a paragraph or two of a book right into my own blog, which is considered fair use by all copyright standards. The text-to-audio feature of the Kindle 2 is no different than using the buttons on the Kindle to enlarge the text, in my opinion.

And I’m not alone. Neil Gaiman’s blog entry for yesterday gives his short version of the argument he had with his own literary agent over this issue, along with his assertion that text-to-audio software is no different a use than reading a book out loud with your own voice. Neil Gaiman is one of those artists who “get it,” and has for a long time. Kindle’s new and wonderful feature is not in any way a threat to publishers and artists. Believe me, no person wants to listen to software text-to-speech conversion unless they need to. It’s not something anyone would pay money to buy. And besides that, the person with the Kindle presumable already purchased the book, or it wouldn’t be on the Kindle in the first place.

California Charging for Laws

Todd had the story in the podcast last week about California charging citizens to download or get paper copies of laws. One patriotic guy was distributing them online for free. This guy is a hero and will have to go court to be vindicated in some people’s eyes but not mine. Just because some government says something is illegal like this guy giving away information on laws & state codes does not make it wrong. You would think the courts will rule in his favor but I would not bet on it. You see the court’s judges are part of the same government that is responsible for this stuff. This is the most egregious abuse of authority (ask yourself where authority comes from & you will be close to freeing your mind) I have seen in a while. The state is using copyright to keep their little monopoly going. They say they are “doing it to raise money for the people of California”. The “people” are the ones paying! They pay if they break a law or a commit a code violation. But they have to pay first to see if they are about to do something wrong. Ignorance of the law is supposedly no excuse for breaking it. But to charge people just to see the laws is criminal. California has a huge economy so their “public servants” cannot keep their hands off all that money. His website is here.

Copyright Owners Must Consider ‘Fair Use’

Have you shot any video of your kids lately and had some music on? Did you know that if you posted that video to YouTube that companies like Universal would often have that video removed for copyright violation.

A Judge ruled today in the nations first such ruling that copyright owners must consider “Fair Use” of their works before sending takedown notices to online video-sharing sites.

This is a huge win everyone. The doctrine of the DMCA already permits limited use of copyright materials without the owners permission especially when it is associated with positive and negative reviews.

This ruling is a big win, and one that we should all applaud because to many times artist and companies are able to invoke so called copyright violation to squelch any type of public discourse. This hopefully will allow more babies to be recorded acting out or dancing to the music. [Wired]