Regulating Culture: Venezuela

Venezuelan Strongman’s New Gig: National Disc Jockey

Deep in Venezuela’s new, cumbersome Social Responsibility Law is an item that requires radio stations to play more – much more – Venezuelan music. The idea, the fiercely nationalist government says, is to promote Venezuelan culture over foreign culture, particularly American rock, which has dominated radio airplay for years.

If the measure seems obscure, its effects have not been. From the techno-pop wizards of cosmopolitan Caracas to the folksy crooners of this cattle town, Venezuelan musicians say they are reaping benefits from President Hugo Chávez’s efforts to regulate culture.

Editing, Music and Creativity

From Friday’s NYTimes, a fun example of remix culture: His ‘Secret’ Movie Trailer Is No Secret Anymore

A few weeks back, he said, [Robert Ryang] entered a contest for editors’ assistants sponsored by the New York chapter of the Association of Independent Creative Editors. The challenge? Take any movie and cut a new trailer for it — but in an entirely different genre. Only the sound and dialogue could be modified, not the visuals, he said.

Mr. Ryang chose “The Shining,” Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror film starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. In his hands, it became a saccharine comedy — about a writer struggling to find his muse and a boy lonely for a father.

To save their server, here’s a local copy.

Paramount: “Why Decide?”

In DVD Format Split, Paramount Goes 2 Ways

Recognizing that a split over the format of the next generation of digital video discs is deepening, Paramount Pictures said yesterday that it will make DVD movies in the Blu-ray format as well as in the HD DVD standard.

Paramount is the first major studio to say publicly that it will produce DVD’s in each of the two formats, which both promise high-definition pictures, enhanced audio and five or more times the storage space on a disc. Until now, the big Hollywood studios have supported one format or the other.

Trying to Avoid Google’s Fight

For as long as we get to keep a public domain, I guess. I still expect to see some fights, though. After all, it took a fight by JibJab to find out that the song at question *was* in the public domain: Yahoo to digitize public domain books

“If we get this right so enough people want to participate in droves, we can have an interoperable, circulating library that is not only searchable on Yahoo but other search engines and downloadable on handhelds, even iPods,” said Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive.

The project, to be run by the newly formed Open Content Alliance (OCA), was designed to skirt copyright concerns that have plagued Google’s Print Library Project since it was begun last year.

The Authors Guild sued Google last week, alleging its scanning and digitizing of copyright protected books infringes copyright, even if only small excerpts are displayed in search results as Google plans. Google argues that the project adheres to the fair use doctrine under U.S. copyright law, which allows excerpts in book reviews and the like.

Unlike Google, Yahoo will scan and digitize only texts in the public domain, except where the copyright holder has expressly given permission. The OCA project also will make the index of digitized works searchable by any Web search engine. Because Google is restricting public access to excerpts of copyright protected books, it is maintaining control over the searching of all the digitized texts in its program.

Slashdot: Yahoo Competes with Google in Book Scanning

Profiles in Spoofing

The Piracy Arms Race [pdf]

Although Val Thomas and Jed McCaleb have never met, their careers have been locked in a hostile embrace for much of the last two years.

From his office in Midtown Manhattan, Thomas commands a virtual army of more than 4 million simulated humans that fed a steady diet of fake songs, films and other digital goods to unsuspecting downloaders. One of his prime targets has been the eDonkey file-sharing network, a hotbed of online piracy.

Just a few miles away in Lower Manhattan, Jed McCaleb and his colleagues at MetaMachine Inc. defended eDonkey against attack, making it a more efficient and reliable file-sharing tool. In effect, they created markets that were hard for Thomas’ cyber army to overrun.

[…] The outcome of that fight could transform the entertainment industry because “peer-to-peer” systems such as eDonkey enable perfect copies of songs and movies to be shared with millions of people around the world.

[…] “In many ways, this is a numbers game, and you match firepower with firepower,” said Marc Morgenstern, CEO of Overpeer. “It’s definitely an arms race. The fact of the matter is that the content industries recognize that it takes a lot of firepower to protect their assets, and they’re willing to take the steps necessary to do so.”

A Defendant Who’s Pushing Back…Hard

Slashdot (Another Victim Countersues RIAA Under RICO Act) has an article that points to this blog entry: Oregon RIAA Victim Fights Back; Sues RIAA for Electronic Trespass, Violations of Computer Fraud & Abuse, Invasion of Privacy, RICO, Fraud. However, I urge you to read the filing itself in this District Court case: answer and counterclaim. Here’s the opening sally:

1. For a number of years, a group of large, multinational, multi-billion dollar record companies, including these plaintiffs, have been abusing the federal court judicial system for the purpose of waging a public relations and public threat campaign targeting digital file sharing activities. As part of this campaign, these record companies retained MediaSentry to invade private home computers and collect personal information. Based on private information allegedly extracted from these personal home computers, the record companies have reportedly filed lawsuits against more than 13,500 anonymous “John Does.”

2. The anonymous “John Doe” lawsuits are filed for the sole purpose of information farming and specifically to harvest personal internet protocol addresses from internet service providers.

3. After an individual’s personal information is harvested, it is given to the record companies’ representatives and the anonymous “John Doe” information farming suits are then typically dismissed.

4. The record companies provide the personal information to Settlement Support Center, which engages in prohibited and deceptive debt collection activities and other illegal conduct to extract money from the people allegedly identified from the secret lawsuits. Most of the people subjected to these secret suits do not learn that they have been “sued” until demand is made for payment by the record companies’ lawyers or Settlement Support Center.