Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rhode Island Pub Owner Faces Suit Over Music Copyrights

Thought this was an interesting example of what we had discussed in class:

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — In February, some patrons at Patrick’s Pub, which sees as many politicians as any government building, cobbled together a band. Their gig was unmemorable — until it sparked a lawsuit that could shut the bar down.

The bar’s owner, Patrick Griffin, is being sued by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, or Ascap. The organization says the bar violated federal copyright law during the show and is seeking up to $120,000 in damages.

The lawsuit is hanging over this bar, which serves as a virtual annex to the nearby State House. Patrons, who are just about everyone who is anyone in Providence, are flocking to the defense of Mr. Griffin, a native of Ireland who opened the bar in 1992. He works at City Hall, approving all paychecks, and organizes the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.

“He came from Ireland, and the first thing he did as a good Irish immigrant, and he’s a friend of mine, was get a city job and open a pub,” said Vincent A. Cianci, the former mayor of Providence who spent five years in prison for corruption. Mr. Cianci, who is known as Buddy and now is the host of a radio show, invited Mr. Griffin and an Ascap lawyer onto his program two weeks ago to “bring them together,” he said.

Mr. Cianci is a fixture at the bar’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, where the beer flows freely and chivalry abounds — both bathrooms are reserved for women that day, while men are relegated to a portable toilet out back. It also holds a number of political fund-raisers.

Still, Mr. Cianci said, the bar “isn’t breaking any records in terms of attendance.” Mr. Griffin said Ascap offered to settle the case for $17,000, but he does not have the money, and he said he could not get a bank loan.

“We don’t have enough liquid cash in the business,” he said. “Right now we’re lucky to have the doors open.”

According to Ascap’s complaint, it made numerous efforts by mail and other communications over many years to inform Mr. Griffin of copyright violations. “Defendants have continued to perform copyrighted music without permission, abetting the public performance of such compositions in any such place or otherwise,” the complaint said. A lawyer for Ascap did not return repeated calls.

Mr. Griffin acknowledged that he ignored some of the letters and calls and said that he did not understand the point of others. He said he thought performers had to pay for copyright licenses.

To play live or recorded music in their establishments, business owners typically pay a licensing fee to three agencies — Ascap, BMI and Sesac — that represent millions of songwriters.

Mr. Griffin’s lawyer said an Ascap agent was at the bar in February. According to the complaint, four licensed songs were played — “Friend of the Devil” made famous by the Grateful Dead, “The Waiting” by Tom Petty, “Is This Love” by Bob Marley and “Ventura Highway” by America.

Mr. Griffin said he did not remember the show. He has stopped live entertainment and said he understood the need to protect artists. “I do believe that artists and songwriters deserve their share of royalties,” he said. “It’s the method by which they’re collected that’s a scam. It’s been a big education.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I'd be willing to put up with "Igloo Tycoon" or "Moose Rider"

Here's an interesting article about the representation of the "global" in the supposedly globalized stories of some video games. They appear to be still plagued by stereotype and often, simply neglect of the complexity of the rest of the world.

Facebook Defeats Terrorism; State Department to hold event

Matt Armstrong ponders the possibility of facebook defeating terrorism:

Maybe. From Gutenberg to pre-Revolutionary pamphleteers to the Internet, increasing the access to information has been a catalyst for change. Yesterday, Steve Corman looked at this question and noted that

[w]hile Facebook played an important role in the development of the protest march, it can be better described as a catalyst than a cause.

The media, formal and informal, new and old, is the oxygen both terrorist and counter-terrorist movements require to exist and thrive. The advantage of the latter over the former is truth, transparency, and promising futures. New Media’s ability to engage, mobilize, and empower transcends geography and time. It simultaneously reaches locally and globally, providing instant and “time-shifted” access to text, pictures, and videos. It also fosters trusting peer relationships that add credibility to messages and the movement itself.

He then notes a upcoming State Department event:

Facebook, Google, YouTube, MTV, Howcast, Columbia Law School and the U.S. Department of State Convene the Alliance of Youth Movements Summit.

More here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cars, Balloons and too much spare time.

So, these links I find fascinating. It’s an alternative example of the merging of different medias. The blurring between news and marketing. Basically, in New Zealand, Ford was broadcasting an advert depicting cars tied to balloons floating away, clearly computer generated. A short while later, the second link was found on youtube, of Kiwi students apparently successfully mimicking the Ford advertisement. It looked like a home made video of 'Kiwi ingenuity'

In response to this, one of NZ’s main news shows, TV3 News, picked up on the story and aired a prime time report investigating the authenticity of the stunt. They proved it was also computer altered imagery (in reality there’s a crane lifting the car) commissioned by Ford using paid actors. See link three. The youtube video and news coverage was a publicity stunt that generated a huge amount of press for Ford.

Original Ad



I couldn’t find the original news story online but in searching for it I came across several newspaper articles, blogs etc on the story.

It also reflects transnationalism in the media, many of the blogs on the story are American, Australian or British.

It may also reflect the need for NZ to find some real news...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

"Grown men have been known to weep for joy in the mere presence of Alton Brown's vinagrette"

As I mentioned earlier, Alton Brown, who I am obsessed with, has his own version of Chuck Norris quotes - apparently, there is also a version of these for Vin Diesel, Mr. T, Neil Patrick Harris, Bill Brasky (?)and Jack Bauer. For the sake of adding some relevance of this to our class discussion, I'll say that it's interesting how the internet helps create these kind of internet phenomenon, where you might not even know who someone like Chuck Norris is and then he becomes so ubiquitous and such a cult legend to the point that he enters pop culture as we know it. And now even this style of joke has entered our popular consciousness for a whole number of random people.
So here's the first 10 Alton Brown facts, you can see the rest here:

#1. Alton Brown grinds his own peppercorns. With his teeth.

#2. Alton Brown's chili cheese fries are healthier than raw carrots. Even after he adds the bacon and lard.

#3. Alton Brown brushes his teeth with wasabi and gargles with pickle brine. But still his breath smells like lemon merengue.

#4. Alton Brown can boil a three-minute egg in thirty-seven seconds.

#5. When Alton Brown was born, he collected the hospital slop they'd left for his mother and made it into an zesty, appetizing goulash. The dish fed the entire maternity ward for a week.

#6. In the first, as-yet-unaired episode of Iron Chef America, Alton Brown single-handedly defeated an all-star team of Bobby Flay, Cat Cora, and Hiroyuki Sakai. The secret ingredient was 'whimsy'.

#7. Alton Brown doesn't reduce sauces. He demoralizes sauces.

#8. Alton Brown prepares his fugu blindfolded, with one chopstick and a plastic spork. Alton Brown ain't afraid of no chump neurotoxin.

#9. Alton Brown's blender has four speeds: 'stir', 'mix', 'frappe', and 'plasmify'.

#10. Alton Brown can split a pineapple in half using only his pinkies. For coconuts, though, he has to use his thumbs.

One more thing - today we talked about different kinds of networks, and I watched a repeat of last night's Colbert Report where he brought us another one. To the list of social, economic, financial, etc, we can also add: Fried Cheese Network.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama's Victory

Obama's Victory

When I read his book 5 months ago, I knew that Obama was different. People talk about Obama with their hope and their belief. For the first time, I see something in their eyes when they talk about Obama. As an outsider, I came to a middle ground by not to look at his policy but by listening to what he said, to understand who he is and to watch his steps. Most Vietnamese are skeptical about the election results. Some do not believe in someone who has such charisma. Some do not believe in a former soldier who will try everything to bring down one of the 3 socialist countries in the world. Some said they like a lawyer. Some doubt ...

Personally, as with other students in AU, I believe that Obama will bring change to this nation. America is waiting for so long for such a president. As it is said by his opponent, are you ready for an inexperienced to lead? When white votes for black, I believe they are ready. Politics is dirty, basically speaking. For a person to go that far, change is what lies ahead.

This is a belief I hardly to explain in words, I just know it as people always say: change and hope is what they believe in the new President of the United States.

Discussing about US Foreign Policies with Vietnam?

Obama is a lawyer on human rights which might be an obstacle for the relation between Vietnam and US. In addition to that, he might not support free trade, increase protectionism ... However, many Vietnamese are still very optimistic about relation between two countries in the coming future. In Obama's administration, there are many experts on Southeast Asia, Asia Pacific and Vietnam. Not to mention that there is a rumor that the new Foreign Minister is John Kerry, a former soldier in Vietnam who actively supports the improvement of the relationship between the two countries.
Comment on Obama's internet campaign:

I was surprised by the article discussing the campaign of Obama by Ogilvy agency. As a former employer of Ogilvy Agency, I was shocked by what they discussed that honestly about their strategy to PR Obama in public, not to mention that he is going to be the new president in January. Personally, I think it is a mistake. Professionally, it's a good PR for Ogilvy.

Too dramatic???

Congratulations to all the Americans!!!
Whoever you support, I think it is great to have a fresh air in the politics!!!

I was shocked by how an American media showed International crowds reacted to the result of election. Of course their whole purpose was to show how happy everybody in the world was. However, it just seemed to me "festivals" throughout the world, which do not reflect exactly how people thought about it. I think "the world" has more things to say.

We all know how major part of the world has always been pro-Obama. This election definitely proved the US's privileged position in the world. The world witnessed the result.
However, it does not necessarily mean that the world celebrated the result as Americans did.

What I saw yesterday was scenes of celebrating people from Chicago, Washington to Indonesia, Kenya and Japan, Obama city... I saw the image of citizens in "Obama city (name of a city in Japan)" dancing and singing to celebrate the victory. Yes, they did. They were happy to see some connections (well, in this case they have common name!). However, media reported as if the entire Japanese population were having celebrating parties, which I had a little problem with.

Now there is a mixed feeling in Japan. Public opinion is getting through uncertainty, doubt and hope for the future of US-Japan alliance. The article on the Japan Times reflects it. Japanese media now tend to congratulate progressive decision American public made and try to figure out how this decision will affect us, Japan.

In our class, we talked about how the media sometimes portray only a part of story to make it dramatic. And I thought it was the case in this election report as well.

What do we talk about now that the election is over?

It's interesting to think - with every last inch of the long election season being analyzed and overanalyzed to death in the media, what will the media do now that they have lost their favorite topic? I know I for one am ready to be done with on-the-dot reports on what the voters think about this candidate's word choice or that candidate's connection from years past or I dunno, what color pantsuit Hillary is wearing. Even today, going through news shows on tv and reading various newspapers and blogs online, besides talking about how happy the whole world is about our wonderful new president-elect, one of the most popular topics has already become that key question: what do we talk about now? There is of course the talk about how many problems Obama will face in office, and whether or not he can really do it. Cabinet picks will probably be a big deal, like today's pick of Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff. Now and then we'll probably get an update or two about how Palin is doing, especially when Bristol gives birth. We'll probably hear what every other human being thinks of the upcoming president - today I've already heard from Oprah, Jesse Jackson, Maya Angelou, and Madonna, and I'm sure many more are coming. Some of those will probably last a good day or so worth of discussion, such as the undying talk about Jesse Jackson's tears last night at Obama's victory speech in Chicago. If we're lucky, maybe some juicy secrets will spill out of what went on in the McCain campaign, though that seems unlikely. Joe the Plumber might realize his 15 minutes are truly over and could try to cash in before we forget him forever. And of course, I know I will look forward to hearing about plans for the inauguration party - after all, is any pre-inauguration question as important as that of who is going to design Michelle Obama's dress?

Personally, there is one topic I really look forward to hearing about for the next two and half months, which my favorite blog, Jezebel, exemplifies in this article's title: First Things First: What Kind of Dog Should the First Puppy Be? It's really a whole new world when we're discussing poodles and schnoodles* rather than vague political connections and the cost of campaign wardrobes, and I am grateful for that.

Any other presidential topics people are interested in hearing about now that the election is over?

* Real dog breed, seriously. Look at the article.

Will social media be used as well now that the election is over?

This is a very a very intersting article about the use of social media.

I liked the question presented here : whether and how the Obama-Biden administration will use social media and online communities to continue to engage with people when they are in power?

Any thoughts?

and another interesting article: New Media Key to Obama's Campaign

World Views of the Election Outcome

So I was trolling the BBC this morning, thinking about foreign coverage of the whole shebang last night, and I found a map where readers can provide their thoughts on the election outcome and how an Obama presidency will affect their lives. It's only a macro look at the answer to this question, but it's interesting nonetheless:
(It might help to zoom out a bit when the map loads.)

To me, it's fascinating to see what the little comment pins pop up and where they don't. I think I also heard on a cable network this morning that an Israeli or Lebanese paper had a headline about "Black Kennedy" being elected. I'm sure this term isn't new, but I'm still trying to figure out if it's a good or bad term with foreign audiences.

Anyway, just thought I would open this topic up. I think it's really interesting so if anyone else finds interesting graphics or article, please share!

Friday, October 31, 2008

How media shapes your thought?

I found this article interesting and want to share with you. Personally, if I were the captor, I would rather say I would kill him instead of beating.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bollywood: It's all true

This article touches on the strange intersection of mob culture and the crazy world of bollywood film production.

Facebook Revolution

The following article details the use of Facebook as a means to criticize (and bring down) the Egyptian government.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Back to the Future: Problems with Russian News Media

Paul Goble has a sobering take on the state of Russian journalism these days. Shades of Soviet era censorship.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Oh Hollywood

We've spent a fair amount of time reading and talking about cultural imperialism and the dominance of American media abroad, specifically the dominance of Hollywood. I was on today and I noticed they had a list of the top grossing movies of the weekend.
  1. Max Payne
  2. Beverly Hills Chihuahua
  3. The Secret Life of Bees
  4. W.
  5. Eagle Eye
  6. Body of Lies
  7. Quarantine
  8. Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist
  9. Sex Drive
  10. Nights in Rodanthe
My first thought was, I can't believe Beverly Hills Chihuahua is doing so well. My second thought was how diverse these movies are. From the action movie Max Payne, Oliver Stone's political commentary "W", the CIA thriller "Body of Lies," the tween-tastic "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" and the comedy "Sex Drive" all in one category. Obviously different films are made for different audiences but what do you think this variety says about American society? How do you think that these 10 movies contribute to a positive image or foster a negative image of America?

Hollywood movies make a significant amount of profits from the foreign box office. Hollywood films are successful in foreign markets partly because the distribution system of Hollywood is so well developed, partly because the production techniques are so advanced and partly because the themes of some movies cross over to other cultures easily. This is not always the case, however. Movies such as "Forrest Gump" did not succeed outside of the American context. Do you think movies such as "W" taken out of the America would be popular abroad or do you think on a whole people would not be able to understand it?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Talking about problems with the media...

We only talked about him a few moments ago, and what do you know, the AP Press has an article about "Joe the Plumber", who isn't happy that they mentioned him so many times in the debate rather than talk about actual issues. Choice quote: "I'm kind of like Britney Spears having a headache. Everybody wants to know about it." Check it out here.

Interesting tidbit


Russians Not Following U.S. Elections
Almost two-thirds of Russians are not following the presidential election campaigning in the United States, Interfax reports, citing a national survey conducted by the Levada Center. Only 6 percent of Russians are following the elections closely.
Of the Russians who have taken an interest in the elections, 35 percent want to see Barack Obama win. Fourteen percent support John McCain, and an equal number cannot decide. Thirty-seven percent say they have no preference.

The survey was conducted October 10-14. The U.S. presidential elections take place November 4.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Nonexistent Financial Crisis

It seems as if the Russian media's approach to the current financial crisis is to simply ignore that it has had an impact on the Russian economy. The Moscow Times reports that:
The main channels have either downgraded or ignored altogether Russia's financial turmoil since it began in mid-September, according to media monitoring companies and research by The Moscow Times. On Monday, for instance, none mentioned the meltdown in Russia or any possible repercussions from the crisis. Only the smaller Ren-TV and Zvezda channels mentioned the stock plunge, according to Medialogia, a private company that tracks the media. ...

The Kremlin recently instructed both state and privately owned television channels to avoid using words like "financial crisis" or "collapse" in describing the turmoil in Russia, said Vladimir Varfolomeyev, first deputy editor at Ekho Moskvy radio.

"Specifically, the blacklist includes the words 'collapse' and 'crisis.' It recommends that 'fall' be replaced with the less extreme 'decrease,'" Varfolomeyev said in comments posted on his LiveJournal blog late last week.

This media blackout is similar to ones that occurred in the Russian media after the Beslan massacre and the sinking of the Kursk. When the effects of the crisis become visible and palpable, I think a lot of people will be wondering where it came from. Since the media has refused to cover this, I think it will simply delegitimize the current Russian mainstream media and cause them to seek alternative media sources which actually cover crises.

Lawrence Lessig on Digital Piracy

The irony, of course, is that this repost from the WSJ is from subscription-only content:

n early February 2007, Stephanie Lenz's 13-month-old son started dancing. Pushing a walker across her kitchen floor, Holden Lenz started moving to the distinctive beat of a song by Prince, "Let's Go Crazy." He had heard the song before. The beat had obviously stuck. So when Holden heard the song again, he did what any sensible 13-month-old would do -- he accepted Prince's invitation and went "crazy" to the beat. Holden's mom grabbed her camcorder and, for 29 seconds, captured the priceless image of Holden dancing, with the barely discernible Prince playing on a CD player somewhere in the background.
[In Defense of Piracy]

Ms. Lenz wanted her mother to see the film. But you can't easily email a movie. So she did what any citizen of the 21st century would do: She uploaded the file to YouTube and sent her relatives and friends the link. They watched the video scores of times. It was a perfect YouTube moment: a community of laughs around a homemade video, readily shared with anyone who wanted to watch.

Sometime over the next four months, however, someone from Universal Music Group also watched Holden dance. Universal manages the copyrights of Prince. It fired off a letter to YouTube demanding that it remove the unauthorized "performance" of Prince's music. YouTube, to avoid liability itself, complied. A spokeswoman for YouTube declined to comment.

This sort of thing happens all the time today. Companies like YouTube are deluged with demands to remove material from their systems. No doubt a significant portion of those demands are fair and justified. Universal's demand, however, was not. The quality of the recording was terrible. No one would download Ms. Lenz's video to avoid paying Prince for his music. There was no plausible way in which Prince or Universal was being harmed by Holden Lenz.

YouTube sent Ms. Lenz a notice that it was removing her video. She wondered, "Why?" What had she done wrong? She pressed that question through a number of channels until it found its way to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (on whose board I sat until the beginning of 2008). The foundation's lawyers thought this was a straightforward case of fair use. Ms. Lenz consulted with the EFF and filed a "counter-notice" to YouTube, arguing that no rights of Universal were violated by Holden's dance.

Yet Universal's lawyers insist to this day that sharing this home movie is willful copyright infringement under the laws of the United States. On their view of the law, she is liable to a fine of up to $150,000 for sharing 29 seconds of Holden dancing. Universal declined to comment.

How is it that sensible people, people no doubt educated at some of the best universities and law schools in the country, would come to think it a sane use of corporate resources to threaten the mother of a dancing 13-month-old? What is it that allows these lawyers and executives to take a case like this seriously, to believe there's some important social or corporate reason to deploy the federal scheme of regulation called copyright to stop the spread of these images and music? "Let's Go Crazy" indeed!

All Mixed Up

People are increasingly creating something new out of the old. Here are some examples of music, art and video built on existing songs.

[girl talk]

The band, whose sole member is 26-year old Gregg Gillis, has become known for its mashups. Its fourth CD, "Feed the Animals" (due out Oct. 21 but available online now), is built on samples of about 300 songs. (,

[holden lenz]

After Ms. Lenz posted a video of her son dancing to Prince on YouTube, it was taken down due to copyright issues. She has filed a lawsuit against Universal Music Group. (watch Ms. Lenz's video)

[candice breitz]

The South African-born artist staged an exhibit in London last year showing 25 John Lennon fans singing some of his songs. She's done similar exhibits of fans singing the music of Bob Marley, Michael Jackson and Madonna. (

[danger mouse]

In 2004, Danger Mouse put together "The Grey Album," which combined vocals from Jay-Z's "The Black Album" and samples from "The Beatles" (known as the White Album). It was leaked online but never officially released.

It doesn't have to be like this. We could craft copyright law to encourage a wide range of both professional and amateur creativity, without threatening Prince's profits. We could reject the notion that Internet culture must oppose profit, or that profit must destroy Internet culture. But real change will be necessary if this is to be our future -- changes in law, and changes in us.

For now, trials like Ms. Lenz's are becoming increasingly common. Both professionals, such as the band Girl Talk or the artist Candice Breitz, and amateurs, including thousands creating videos posted on YouTube, are finding themselves the target of overeager lawyers. Because their creativity captures or includes the creativity of others, the owners of the original creation are increasingly invoking copyright to stop the spread of this unauthorized speech. This new work builds upon the old by in effect "quoting" the old. But while writers with words have had the freedom to quote since time immemorial, "writers" with digital technology have not yet earned this right. Instead, the lawyers insist permission is required to include the protected work in anything new.

Not all owners, of course. Viacom, for example, has effectively promised to exempt practically any amateur remix from its lawyers' concerns. But enough owners insist on permission to have touched, and hence, taint, an extraordinary range of extraordinary creativity, including remixes in the latest presidential campaign. During the Republican primary, for example, Fox News ordered John McCain's campaign to stop using a clip of Sen. McCain at a Fox News-moderated debate in an ad. And two weeks ago, Warner Music Group got YouTube to remove a video attacking Barack Obama, which used pieces of songs like the Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House." (Spokesman Will Tanous of Warner Music Group, which represents the Talking Heads, says the request came from the band's management.) Around the same time, NBC asked the Obama campaign to pull an ad that remixed some NBC News footage with Tom Brokaw and Keith Olbermann.

We are in the middle of something of a war here -- what some call "the copyright wars"; what the late Jack Valenti called his own "terrorist war," where the "terrorists" are apparently our kids. But if I asked you to shut your eyes and think about these "copyright wars," your mind would not likely run to artists like Girl Talk or creators like Stephanie Lenz. Peer-to-peer file sharing is the enemy in the "copyright wars." Kids "stealing" stuff with a computer is the target. The war is not about new forms of creativity, not about artists making new art.

Yet every war has its collateral damage. These creators are this war's collateral damage. The extreme of regulation that copyright law has become makes it difficult, sometimes impossible, for a wide range of creativity that any free society -- if it thought about it for just a second -- would allow to exist, legally. In a state of "war," we can't be lax. We can't forgive infractions that might at a different time not even be noticed. Think "Eighty-year-old Grandma Manhandled by TSA Agents," and you're in the right frame for this war as well.

The work of these remix creators is valuable in ways that we have forgotten. It returns us to a culture that, ironically, artists a century ago feared the new technology of that day would destroy. In 1906, for example, perhaps America's then most famous musician, John Phillip Sousa, warned Congress about the inevitable loss that the spread of these "infernal machines" -- the record player -- would cause. As he described it:

"When I was a front of every house in the summer evenings you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or the old songs. Today you hear these infernal machines going night and day. We will not have a vocal chord left. The vocal chords will be eliminated by a process of evolution, as was the tail of man when he came from the ape."

A professional fearful that new technology would destroy the amateur. "The tide of amateurism cannot but recede," he predicted. A recession that he believed would only weaken culture.

A new generation of "infernal machines" has now reversed this trend. New technology is restoring the "vocal chords" of millions. Wikipedia is a text version of this amateur creativity. Much of YouTube is the video version. A new generation has been inspired to create in a way our generation could not imagine. And tens of thousands, maybe millions, of "young people" again get together to sing "the songs of the day or the old songs" using this technology. Not on corner streets, or in parks near their homes. But on platforms like YouTube, or MySpace, with others spread across the world, whom they never met, or never even spoke to, but whose creativity has inspired them to create in return.

The return of this "remix" culture could drive extraordinary economic growth, if encouraged, and properly balanced. It could return our culture to a practice that has marked every culture in human history -- save a few in the developed world for much of the 20th century -- where many create as well as consume. And it could inspire a deeper, much more meaningful practice of learning for a generation that has no time to read a book, but spends scores of hours each week listening, or watching or creating, "media."

Yet our attention is not focused on these creators. It is focused instead upon "the pirates." We wage war against these "pirates"; we deploy extraordinary social and legal resources in the absolutely failed effort to get them to stop "sharing."

This war must end. It is time we recognize that we can't kill this creativity. We can only criminalize it. We can't stop our kids from using these tools to create, or make them passive. We can only drive it underground, or make them "pirates." And the question we as a society must focus on is whether this is any good. Our kids live in an age of prohibition, where more and more of what seems to them to be ordinary behavior is against the law. They recognize it as against the law. They see themselves as "criminals." They begin to get used to the idea.

That recognition is corrosive. It is corrupting of the very idea of the rule of law. And when we reckon the cost of this corruption, any losses of the content industry pale in comparison.

Copyright law must be changed. Here are just five changes that would make a world of difference:

Deregulate amateur remix: We need to restore a copyright law that leaves "amateur creativity" free from regulation. Before the 20th century, this culture flourished. The 21st century could see its return. Digital technologies have democratized the ability to create and re-create the culture around us. Where the creativity is an amateur remix, the law should leave it alone. It should deregulate amateur remix.

What happens when others profit from this creativity? Then a line has been crossed, and the remixed artists plainly ought to be paid -- at least where payment is feasible. If a parent has remixed photos of his kid with a song by Gilberto Gil (as I have, many times), then when YouTube makes the amateur remix publicly available, some compensation to Mr. Gil is appropriate -- just as, for example, when a community playhouse lets neighbors put on a performance consisting of a series of songs sung by neighbors, the public performance of those songs triggers a copyright obligation (usually covered by a blanket license issued to the community playhouse). There are plenty of models within the copyright law for assuring that payment. We need to be as creative as our kids in finding a model that works.

Deregulate "the copy": Copyright law is triggered every time there is a copy. In the digital age, where every use of a creative work produces a "copy," that makes as much sense as regulating breathing. The law should also give up its obsession with "the copy," and focus instead on uses -- like public distributions of copyrighted work -- that connect directly to the economic incentive copyright law was intended to foster.

Simplify: If copyright regulation were limited to large film studios and record companies, its complexity and inefficiency would be unfortunate, though not terribly significant. But when copyright law purports to regulate everyone with a computer, there is a special obligation to make sure this regulation is clear. It is not clear now. Tax-code complexity regulating income is bad enough; tax-code complexity regulating speech is a First Amendment nightmare.

Restore efficiency: Copyright is the most inefficient property system known to man. Now that technology makes it trivial, we should return to the system of our framers requiring at least that domestic copyright owners maintain their copyright after an automatic, 14-year initial term. It should be clear who owns what, and if it isn't, the owners should bear the burden of making it clear.

Decriminalize Gen-X: The war on peer-to-peer file-sharing is a failure. After a decade of fighting, the law has neither slowed file sharing, nor compensated artists. We should sue not kids, but for peace, and build upon a host of proposals that would assure that artists get paid for their work, without trying to stop "sharing."

—Adapted from "Remix" by Lawrence Lessig, to be published by The Penguin Press on Oct. 16, 2008. Copyright by Lawrence Lessig, 2008. Printed by arrangement with The Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Lawrence Lessig is a professor of law at Stanford Law School, and co-founder of Creative Commons.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fidel Castro. Blogger

I guess retirement has been good for Mr. Castro. At least he has time to blog.

BBC gets criticized for being profitable

Variety has the scoop on how an ostensibly public-backed media outlet evolves into a globally profitable venture. Can the founding mission be reconciled with the global market?

The Gov is interested in your social network

As usual, reality trumps my syllabus schedule (we'll be talking about this in a few weeks). Here's an interesting article on how the government (in this case, the intelligence community) is looking into online behavior in various social networking communities.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Night Watch and Day Watch

Here are the English-language trailers to the Russian fantasy movies, Night Watch and Day Watch. Basically, the immortal forces of good and the forces of darkness have operated under a centuries-old truce, while the rest of the population remains ignorant of the 'cold war' between these two groups. The symbolism is pretty blatant. The good guys operate as workers for the state power utility company, while the hedonistic bad guys live it up as rich oligarchs / mafiosos.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Nick Couldry during classtime next week

Next week - we'll be heading to a presentation by Nick Couldry, entitled "An Ethical Deficit? Accountability, Norms, and the Material Conditions of Contemporary Journalism." It will be in Battelle Atrium at 2:00pm, so we will all rendezvous there for class.

He is one of the preemint scholars on media, and it's a great opportunity to hear him speak. Here's a bio: Professor of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London where he is Director of the Centre for the study of Global Media and Democracy. Previously, he taught in the Departments of Sociology and Media and Communications at the London School of Economics between 2001 and 2006. His interests include media power, ritual dimensions of media, audience research, media ethics and the methodology of cultural studies. He is the author or editor of 7 books, including The Place of Media Power: Pilgrims and Witnesses of the Media Age (Routledge 2000), Media Rituals: A Critical Approach (Routledge 2003),
Listening Beyond the Echoes: Media, Ethics and Agency in an Uncertain World (Paradigm Books, USA, 2006) and (with Sonia Livingstone and Tim Markham) Media Consumption and Public Engagement: Beyond the Presumption of Attention (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007). He is currently working on books on mediation and society and on voice.

Monday, October 6, 2008

How do you think the media will be in 2013?

I found an interesting article posted on a blog.
The title is Do you know where your news is? Predictions for 2013 by Media Experts.
It lists views of media experts on future of the media, whose focuses include advancing ICT influences, role of journalists and their reporting styles.

I, more or less, agree with Jonathan Krim's idea which says, "the traditional story telling model, based on objectivity, will be abandoned and journalists will seek to attribute all points of views to others." Nowadays news flashes are posted on blogs or Internet forums faster than mainstream media report. When news is on TV or radio, discussions on the topic has already started on cyberspace citizen media. Traditionally one of the main roles of mainstream media was to deliver news to public, however the role has been taken by emerging citizen media.

Then how should mainstream media/professional journalists distinguish themselves?
Or should they stay how they are now?

I think their major role will be 1)to provide news based on the most reliable sources using their privileged position which allow them to have direct contacts with politicians, experts and corporate leaders (due to information overload, people will have more difficulties in knowing what to believe), and 2)to integrate themselves into public sphere to share what they know and what they think as a professional journalist. It means journalists will be required to carefully consider their sources of information and be able to provide their own views or analysis.

I would argue, in the future, what journalists think and say and where the news come from will matter more than how fast they report.

I am curious about who you agree with.
How do you think the media will be in 2013?

News and the public sphere

Here's an interesting short blogpost on why increased access to "high quality" news might be decreasing levels of political participation.

North Korean Propaganda

We're still a few weeks out from our public diplomacy readings, but I thought this might be of interest to some. More can found here.

Friday, October 3, 2008

As mentioned in class...

Anyone else see the resemblance at all?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

"Gazing at America, the French still see a wild frontier"

And here is yet another article about how yet another country looks at the U.S election - France. It's interesting that every country kind of adds their own perspective and culture to how they examine what is going on here, for instance this article at one point talks about France's laissez-faire spirit and how that affects the way they think about the candidates. Maybe we could argue this is a kind of glocalization of the U.S election, with the U.S election being a kind of commodity of its own? Can anyone else think of examples from around the world where we could apply this kind of argument? One to think about...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Glocalization? Hybridization?

In one of the articles assigned last week Hybridization and the Roots of Transnational, Geocultural, and Cultural-Linguistic Markets, Staubhaar argues that the term glocalization fits better Japanese process of accepting foreign cultures or systems rather than hybridity. It confuses me...

What is the difference between hybridity and glocalization???

He says it is questionable whether the concept of hybridity fits the Japanese pattern because borrowings from European culture were very selective under the guidance of the government.

I agree that Japan is a country which has always been modernizing itself by borrowing ideas or systems from other countries and japanizing them. Japanization of British-style broadcasting system after WWⅡ is an example.
However, isn't it still hybridization???

How about in the case of commercials and popular culture?

Gayatri previously put a video of Coca Cola's commercial as an example of glocalization.
Here is a Japanese version of Coca Cola Zero commercial.
Is it glocalization? Can we say it is hybridization?

How about this new type of music becoming very popular in Japan. It is a fusion of Japanese traditional three-stringed instrument Shamisen and Western rock and jazz music. Blending “the desired modernity” with “traditions we do not wish to cast away” created this type of music.
However, this blending is exactly what one of the main theorists of hybridity, Canclini, explained as current aspects of hybridity.
Here is a video of Shamisen Rock.
Do we call it hybridity? glocalization? or both?

Blogging the U.S. election, Egyptian style

Check this out... an article discussing Arab blog reactions to the U.S. presidential elections.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Since we were talking about global ads and hybridization, I thought I'd share some very localized ads for some global brands as a contrast to the last conversation.
Since I am familiar with India, thats what I am using. But its interesting how localized, large business conglomerates can get. As I said in class the last time, I feel brands like Coca Cola which are aimed at almost everybody in the international markets they enter, they have to become localized to sell. And so products like Coke which are going to be accessible to all, adopt very local flavors to their ads. Incidentally if you see this ad, there is a very strong message of national integration. When you see this ad, you will see many socio-economic classes of India, and the message of the ad is that Coca Cola binds us all (lol). I would be interested to hear what you say.

click on the link below to see the ad

The first is a coca cola ad

Another thing that I found interesting in India this summer was the rise of the Indian music bands using Western popular music formats. There were these new bands singing in what could be defined as traditional Western rock, electronic, experimental and house music that were really being noticed in a big way. They sang in English, Hindi or Bengali, but as we discussed in other examples for class, they were using Western formats for expression.

They have always been around since I can remember, but they are only now gaining popularity in a big big way with the help of new music labels, clubs which encourage live music, etc. This new music video by one of them really caught my eye, as I was watching it on VH1 India.

Click on the link below:

The band is called Shaa'ir and Func by the way and the song is called OOPS

Once you see the video, do you think this is hybridity? In my opinion, to a outsider looking in, this could be another example of hybridity in the way Homi Bhabha talks about it, when he refers to “cultures of postcolonial contra modernity” that are in fact “resistant to…..oppressive assimilationist technologies….but they also deploy the cultural hybridity of their borderline conditions to ‘translate,’ and therefore reinscribe, the social imaginary of both metropolis and modernity”.

Enjoy the videos and let me know what you think.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Global Electoral College

Building on the other blog discussion we had about the U.S election in the global media (and by the way, anyone else really upset the debate on Friday may not happen?), The Economist website has an interesting little online tool called the "Global Electoral College". It sets up every country with a number of electoral votes and shows who those votes would go for. You can pretty much guess the outcomes in most countries, but it's still a fascinating idea - what if the whole world was allowed to vote for the U.S president, if it truly was a global election?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Banal Globalism

Do images like this one make "global" synonymous with "ready at hand", " a backcloth to a world of exceptional co-presence"(as Urry would put it) and can this "banal globalism", which creates "communities in anonymity", really be a substitute for nationalism while making "individual nations common property"? (Marx)

I am interested in what you all think...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

School Shootings, warnings and the role of the media

Today at work I was reading a couple of articles about that Finnish school shooting in which 10 people were killed and the shooter committed suicide:

I found a couple of things interesting about this case. I always assumed that these mass school shootings were an American phenomenon, I didn't realize that the trend had spread to other parts of the world. What really surprised me though is that the shooter put up a suspicious video on youtube the day before of him at a shooting range exclaiming at the end of the video "You will die next." The Finnish government knew about this video and the police questioned him the day before the shooting but did not see a need to revoke his gun license.

What I thought was interesting is the role that youtube played in this event. Youtube videos are a sort of media from the people, not from a broadcasting company. With so many videos and so much media out there, how do you know what information is ignorable and what might actually have an impact? People can choose what to believe or what not to believe but how do we deal with this "information overload?"

In between his shooting rampages, the Virginia Tech shooter sent a video explaining his actions to NBC. These shooters want to be heard on some level by the world and use different forms of media to do so. How do you think that the coverage of American school shootings affect phenomenon around the world?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Yes I am going to be posting a lot of videos, embedding is fun!

So in this past week's readings as well as in the class discussion we talked about how while you can find examples of the media reinforcing a sense of nationalism, we don't see as many examples of the media reinforcing globalization. Well last night while watching the absolutely amazing season premiere of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (if you haven't seen this show, it's GLORIOUS) and this Microsoft commercial came on. I have a feeling Bill Gates has been reading that Waisbord article because I think he's trying to start the globalization - media bandwagon. It's a really short and effective commercial, and with statements like "I'm a PC...and I'm connected to thousands of others around the world", I think the message of globalization is so clear in this ad.

I have a feel that after this week, I'm going to be searching for these kinds of messages all the time in the media...

Oh and here's the Microsoft website about the "I'm a PC" campaign, where you can connect with other people around the world by putting up a picture of yourself with your computer. Globalization full circle!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

How would this play outside the US?

I've been talking about the consequences of media globalization a lot lately. One of the implications is the easy by which media content can be appropriated and thus "travel" to media outlets around the world. This shocking video about the "protests" against the RNC in St. Paul, MN provides some food for thought. How might this "speak" for the U.S. to the rest of the world, especially when U.S. public diplomacy rhetoric tries to articulate the values of U.S. democratic institutions and culture.

Of course, posing this question raises another - who is actually hunting for stuff like this, and do levels of internet access constrain the impact of videos like this?

Media Hub in Dubai and also a Special Guest is coming

According to Ernest Wilson III, the dean of the Annenberg School of Communication at USC, Dubai is emerging as a site for new public dipomacy efforts as much as it is a burgeoning center for Arab media production.

Here's the article in the Khaleej Times.

To talk about this and other State Department activities, we're going to have a special guest next week from the State Department. Mr. Dan Sreebny is the State Department's Senior Advisor for Regional Media and Director of the Department's Regional Media Hubs Initiative, and he'll be talking to us about how the U.S. is using it's media hubs to promote U.S. interests and advocacy.

Voice of America website about the Election

Here's the official VOA website about the U.S. election, which explains our electoral process and the issues at stake in the election.

There will also be an event next Friday put on by the VOA discussing how international audiences view the U.S. election. Looks like a pretty interesting event.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

On a lighter note...

One topic that has been on discussion in the U.S media lately is sexism regarding political candidates, in this with everyone's favorite Alaskan bear hunter, Governor Palin (yeah yeah, I know we're all getting a little sick of her at this point, but hey why not). Well there's a video that's been circulating the internet that many of you may have already seen, and if not you should see. It's from the Daily Show, talking about discrepancies in the news on the topic of sexism against female politicians, and hey, life's just a little bit better when you get your daily dose of Jon Stewart:

Now, while of course the topic of the video can bring up a whole slew of issues that have to do with politics and the media, one that I thought would be interesting to think about is the topic of humor, especially in relation to the news. I once watched an episode of the Daily Show where the conversation turned to the legitimacy of the Daily Show as a news source, to which Gore brought up the metaphor of the medieval court jester, which he reitereated in this Politico article: "What I do think is interesting is that some of the comedy news programs are so frequently more successful than the established news programs in presenting some of the more provocative — dare I say inconvenient — truths that emerge from the daily narrative of American democracy...Just as the court jester was sometimes the only truth sayer who could avoid having his head off in medieval feudal courts, a similar phenomenon appears to have emerged in our culture."

I personally think the role of humor in the media is fascinating, in that it has fewer limits than are other mediums. What do you guys think? Is humor an effective media tool in getting a message across, or is it just a joke that shouldn't be taken so seriously? Is there too much humor in the media, or maybe too little? Should Jon Stewart be taken less seriously than he is?

Oh, and Palin ranting is welcome as well :D

Monday, September 15, 2008

The United Rumor & The Power of Aggregated News

I should note before diving into this topic that it's related to the post below this one on the financial crises.... but since I haven't posted on the blog yet, I figure this is worthy of its own thread. :)

Through reading news and talking with my roommates today, I learned that last Monday, a report that United was filing for a second bankruptcy made its way around news websites across the U.S. and caused the company's stock to plummet (from $12 a share to $3 a share) in the early hours of market trading on Sept 8. The only problem? United never filed for a second bankruptcy! By the end of the day, the rumor was cleared up and the share closed at $10.92, which was only a 11 per cent loss. But with a loss of $1 billion recorded at one point throughout the day, this clearly shook up both United and the markets. The full NY Times story is here:

Of course, the big question afterwards was: Who was to blame for all this? The story goes that an Chicago Tribune article (about the first and only United bankruptcy filing in 2002) was posted to The South Florida Sun-Sentinel Web site and included in a report by Income Securities Advisors, a business research firm, on company bankruptcy filings for 2008 (because the date when it was reposted was fresh). This report was posted to a Web page on Bloomberg News, and the headline was included in a news alert (text, E-mail, etc. I'm guessing) for Bloomberg subscribers. I think it's pretty safe to assume that many people on Wall Street did not fact check that headline before plunging into trading action.

I think this example raises a lot of issues with the lightning speed spread of news around the world. I can't even begin to fathom how many minor headlines are picked up each day by Google (thanks to software that aggregates keywords and relevant information) and circulated around the country and world. I've participated in many conversations in past journalism classes about the importance of fact-checking all information before relaying it on to an audience, even if you risk being the last source to report that story or information. (Better to lose a few readers than lose your credibility!) Of course, the Chicago Tribune claimed the 2002 story can only be found in the newspaper's online archives, and nobody has assumed full responsibility for starting the rumor. So perhaps credibility doesn't even become an issue anymore, if the information goes through so many different sources?

Just some things to ponder. The American economy is very sensitive to the news of major U.S. business collapses (sorry, not very savvy with the business/economic lingo!) these days, and rumors like that have the power to do notable damage to the stock market once people accept them as fact... which can happen almost immediately. What kind of power does this give Google? Could this kind of crisis happen again, or have investors and news aggregators/analysts learned their lesson? What impact could a false news rumor like this create in the future? I should probably stop here-- I have a tendency to write a lot-- but thoughts on this are very welcome!

Financial Meltdown

Many of you may realize that global financial markets are susceptible to perceptions as much as actual negative data. Consequences of the current Lehman Brothers collapse have started to radiate out into global markets. My question here is: how much of this is sustained, amplified, or at least framed by foreign media outlets? What kind of narrative will emerge from this outside the U.S.? And, is it something that the U.S. can possibly control?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Global Media and trend diffusion

Reading the Washington Post Book World, this weekend, I came across the article on Thomas Friedman's New Book on the environment.

If history is to be believed, then I think that when Friedman writes a book on the environment, everyone stands up and listens. He told us about the contradictory drive for prosperity and a search for identity in the 90s with his book the Lexus and the Olive Tree. Then in the early part of this century, he told us how the world order is changing, how Americans should be aware of the carpet shifting under their feet, and he was once again globally applauded in explaining a complex world through his concise, direct and no-nonsense style.

And so it seems to me, that if Friedman is talking about the environment, then the circle must be complete. The environment debate has been on the table for long, and indeed, people like Al Gore have done a lot for the cause. But Friedman, with the kind of influence he has, will be read more. I can almost imagine pirated copies of this book being printed in the narrow streets of Bombay where it will soon be sold on traffic lights for mass consumption that Mr Friedman will never know about (or get the money for), but will definitely benefit from.

In this light, my question then much do we rely on the global media for diffusion of world trends. Would 'globalization' as an ideology be as big, had the media not had a domino effect in proclaiming its arrival across the world. Would the Olympics be in our consciousness or collective history in the same way, had the TV channels not broadcast the living daylights out of us? And indeed, would the millions of people across the world who wear jeans, watch American sitcoms and lap up Michael Phelps glory on the news have America on their minds if it was not for the media? Have you noticed any other recent trend diffusions in the media?

Do let me know what you think

Monday, September 8, 2008

News from the other side

If any of you recall, during our first class we discussed Russian news/propaganda for a minute when I introduced myself as being from Russia, and I thought maybe it would interest people to see some of the articles I was referring to. The main site I like to look at is - if the name seems familiar at all, it's because Pravda was the name of the main Soviet newspaper, which I've seen referenced a lot in pop culture (I once heard a joke - what's black and white and read all over? Answer: Pravda), though this isn't the exact same one because that Pravda was closed down when the Soviet Union fell, although apparently some of the editors/writers of the Russian Pravda were connected to the Soviet one.
What I think is especially interesting though when looking at these is thinking just how closely "politics" and "media" really are - in this case, wars are not always secluded to a battlefield, and there are more than just soldiers, politicians, and diplomats involved. The whole idea of "hearts and minds", more often than not, is a strategic reality.
Now, I'll forewarn you: Pravda is known for being a tad bit more sensationalistic and nationalist than other sources, but it really gives a good representation on how people in Russia (as well as Russian people in the U.S, such as most of my relatives) tend to think - other sources such as or are more discreet but for the most they share the same opinions.
So here's a few articles I thought were really interesting. And please remember: while they are kind of funny, a lot of people take them really seriously, and have the same reaction of "what propaganda!" when they read Western news. Always at least two sides to a story...

Russia Stands Up From Its Knees
Russian FM: Georgia's Treacherous Attack
Western Media Blatantly Misinterpret Conflict in South Ossetia
Cindy McCain Visits Serbian Kosovo (opinion article)

P.S In researching the history the Pravda, I found a funny Russian saying that had to do with the name of Pravda (which means "truth"), and the name of the other important Soviet newspaper, Izvestia (which means "news") - v Pravde net izvestiy, v Izvestiyakh net pravdy, which means "In the truth there is no news, and in the news there is no truth." Cynical, but considering some of these stories as well as the one on Iran posted before, it has some truth to it...

International politics of the image

Some of you are aware of how Iran faked the pics of its missile test launch recently. It does, however, raise some interesting questions about the role of media in crafting arguments in international relations and indeed, justifying policy reactions. This incident also touches upon continued debates about the viability of visual argumentation in general.

Here's the article.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Global Election

Has anyone been following the presidential election on foreign media outlets? I can tell you this will be a recurring theme of the course. In the meantime, I am digging up some interesting clips. But here's something to consider - what does foreign media coverage of the election say about how the rest of the world perceives the U.S. democratic process? Does the election function as good "public diplomacy?" Or, does it track U.S. style political coverage?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Global Media and Vegas?

I just spent the weekend in Las Vegas for a wedding. I was wondering if anyone had a sense of how Vegas was "constructed" in other media around the world? Also, are marketing slogans, like "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" being broadcast in other countries? Vegas is an interesting case, because it relies heavily on its tourism industry and is increasingly looking to foreign tourism. What might also be interesting, I think, is how symbols of "the foreign" are themselves represented in architecture of Vegas hotels.

Looks like their local industry is at least saying they're doing something about it. I'd like to see what that looks like.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Here's the inaugural post of our course blog. Please feel free to post your thoughts, comments, and observations here - as well as other media that you may find useful for the class (such as video clips, images, etc.) I look forward to your commentary!