Thursday, March 22, 2007

Howard on Iraq

John Howard gives a speech on Iraq the night before I'm drawing up some notes for a discussion on Ausralia's involvement in Iraq for uni. Timing, huh? Plenty I could vent about, but suffice it to say that I'm amused by the headlines describing Howard's speech as a commitment to stay the course in Iraq. Didn't take long for that particular buzzphrase to return, did it?

Also, from Howard's speech:
In Kevin Rudd's case, it's unclear whether he is auditioning for the editorial board of The Weekly Standard or to be Australia's answer to Michael Moore.
Strange that Howard would compare Rudd to American political institutions rather than Australian ones. Was his speech perhaps more for the benefit of an American audience than an Australian one?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Viacom sues Gootube

YouTube/Google sued by Viacom for a billion bucks

I'm not remotely suprised that Viacom was the content provider who did this, given their strident, shortsighted, longstanding, not to mention abusive attitude to copyrights and copyright law.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Howard's powergame as seen by a first-year uni student

One useful aspect of starting to study humanities at university is that it exposes me to far more thorough and far more rigorous investigations of concepts that I've been previously been mulling here. Take a little concept by a person named Steven Lukes about "the three faces of power", for instance. He described power as having three faces:
1. Decision-making. The most obvious face, where an entity makes a decision and enforces it.
2. Non-decision-making, or agenda-setting. A more subtle exercise of power where the actual decisions that can be made get constrained somehow.
3. Shaping desires. An even subtler face, in which power is exercised not to coercively over-ride someone else's decision, but to actually change what they want, so that they come to the "correct" decision.

I'm pretty sure that the Howard government has actively focused on exercising the second and third face of power: convincing people that the most important issues on the agenda (agenda-setting) is the economy and anti-terror, and that economic rationalism and a militant attitude to tackling jihadism will give people what they want out of life (shaping desires?). I note that Labor under Rudd has apparently made some inroads on Howard by some agenda-setting of their own, specifically Rudd's repeated references to "compassion" as being something which should shape government policy.


Users are going to make copies of your copyright content, so you may as well get used to it and embrace it. Video content companies ought to make it even easier for “fans” to use unauthorized copyright content uploads, instead of trying to deprive them of the content they are “fanatics” about.

What will the video content owners really get out of their “fans” exploiting unauthorized uploads of their copyright content? That is still Googley “unclear.”

So sayeth Google CEO Erich Schmidt, as reported by one of ZDNet's blogging types in this article: Why Google will never pay for content.

Content owners are far from thrilled at the idea that Google can basically make a profit through advertising via people watching the video content on Youtube which Google didn't purchase and which is very frequently in blunt violation of copyright law (and I was enjoying those illegal uploads of entire episodes of NBC's series "Heroes" until the uploader's account was suspended, too. Damn the Man!).

I'm not sure how Us copyright law works in this situation. The DMCA provides a safe harbour for Google from prosecution for contributory copyright infringement if they're not notified that a copyright violation is occurring on their system I think. But if they're provided formal notification, then the allegedly infringing content must be removed (a so-called "DMCA takedown").

It seems both Google and content owners feel that this system as it currently stands is unworkable. The'yre probably right. The sheer volume of content involved makes formal notification difficult, and formal policing costly. A lot of the dispute seems to revolve around the policing. Content owners want Google to do the policing, but Google wants content owners to pay for the policing. Google call this a "service" I guess, but content owners apparently prefer to call it a "shakedown".

I suspect that there'll be a lot of lobbying for changes in US copyright law from both parties. Interesting to see who wins out. Content providers seem better established to demand a stricter enforcement regime than the DMCA allows through its pro-business position, but, bluntly, Google's CEO basically articulated what the vast majority of Youtube users actually want, ethics and law be damned. To quote from one of the many people who left comments praising the "Heroes" uploader's efforts in providing full episodes to those not in the US and who are blocked from watching at the official NBC website: "dude, you're the Robin Hood of Youtube". Google would have popular opinion on its side.