Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The New Media Legal World: Not worth livin in?


I have one word for this: AAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGG

CNET’s Declan McCullough has the scoop on a new bill backed by the Bush Administration and about to be introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) that will greatly expand the digital copyright restrictions in the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act). Moreover, the draft legislation, the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2006, will also expand federal police wiretapping and enforcement powers.

McCullough says the bill goes to great lengths to expand the punishable acts of copyright infringement. For example, attempted copyright infringement would become a federal crime punishable by up to ten years in prison.

Even worse, the bill would expand section 1201 of the DMCA that bars trafficking in or distributing software capable of bypassing DRM systems to make it a crime to “make, import, export, obtain control of, or possess” such software. The legislation would also permit wiretaps in cases involving copyright infringement, boost the jail time for copyright infringement, create a new unit in the FBI for investigating copyright crimes and, most problematic of all, permit copyright holders to impound “records documenting the manufacture, sale or receipt of items involved in” infringements.

And it get's worse. From The Inquirer (http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=31256)

Piracy worse than child pornography

Society's new perspectives

By Nick Farrell: Wednesday 26 April 2006, 06:44

THE NEW look Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) seems to be giving the world an unusual moral code.

Details of the upgraded act, which has the blessing of the music and film industry and the Bush administration, are now coming to light. It appears that the DMCA will have a maximum sentence of ten years inside for the crime of software and music piracy. It will also give the FBI the powers to wiretap suspected pirates.

Although sentencing varies in the US, the new law does send a very strange message as to what the government considers 'bad' in the 21st century.

For example assaulting a police officer will get you five years, downloading child porn will get you seven years, assaulting without a weapon will get you ten years and aggravated assault six years.

So in other words if you copy a Disney CD and sell it you will be in the same league as a paedophile who is distributing pictures of sexual attacks on children.

If you copy Craig David's CD you get ten years, but if you punch him in the face and pummel him into a seven day coma you will only get six. You are more likely to get the respect of the prison population with your six year sentence as well.

Like I said: AAAARRRRRRRGGGGG

I have no problem with protecting intellectual property. That's a good thing. What I do have a problem with is giving a federal government that doesn't have much of a track record on applying laws in the interest of we, the people, in an overly fair and well thought out way yet more power to enforce much of anything. These guys have been showing us that they think having a little means they think they can take alot. At this point, at least for me, it's a trust issue. Can we honestly trust our federal government with powers like this? Based on the last few years, I'd say: not likely.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

A high school teacher's experiment in fascism










Click on the title above (or cut and paste this into your browser):

http://www.vaniercollege.qc.ca/Auxiliary/Psychology/Frank/Thirdwave.html

Read it all. Don't wimp out. Ask yourself: can this happen again? Ask yourself: do our political leaders use tactics like this today? Even a little? Just a enough to bend things and create, at least in shadow form, some of what the world experienced in the late 1930's and 1940's? You know.. 'just a little'?

Friday, April 21, 2006

China and the startup world

This is an interesting one.

My company is in the process of working through the creation of a company in China as a partnership with a Chinese company and a European company. China brings, well, China, among other things (like high level government contacts, licenses to do business in China, localized knowledge, distribution, etc); the EuroCo brings cellular technology for OTA (Over The Air) type digital content delivery and we (ClickCaster) bring the content/delivery platform.

Intriguingly, what seems to make this venture so interesting to everyone involved is the fact that an American internet startup is involved. It seems to have a sort of cache that is getting people's attention (from government and industry to investors in Asia).

We're working with a very high energy women who is an executive of the Chinese company and would be at home in a fast paced American company (she speaks perfect American English with just a faint twinge of English accent periodically creeping in) and she's got honest to god vision.

Now, having working in China before in my Motorola days, this is more than a little unusual. And she honestly gets what the whole user generated media world is about. During one of our regular weekly progress calls (currently we’re co-writing the overall business plan), I brought up the potential of bringing in the US Television folks (I recently spent a week in LA with some true Hollywood types- I’ll blog about that one in the near future) and the initial response was 'well, we could do that, but why? This is about replacing the old media'.

Well, damn. She sounds like she lives in Boulder or Silicon Valley and like she's the CEO of a small user generated social networking focused software startup company we know and love! (yea.. us). Heh. Whodathunkit.

More on this as it develops. Compared to my past China business experiences, this is more than just refreshing, it's downright exciting.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The personal economics of blogging

I haven't really thought a lot about this until just recently, but what are the personal economics involved with blogging?

By personal economics, I mean the cost, and the payoff, to the blogger of fulfilling the need to write what amounts to a personal journal that the entire world can see real-time.

I know many of us think we have a lot to say. That we're somehow unique in our point of view. That we have some specialized set of knowledge worth sharing. And some of us use it as a way of expressing our creativity, or our angst and anger at the world.

I know bloggers that share knowledge of their industry that's invaluable to their readers. There's a fellow here in Boulder (Brad Feld at www.feld.com) who's a Venture Capitalist and who writes about the VC world, and his life in general, regularly. The knowledge he imparts, at least to a specific audience, is literally invaluable. He also shares some of his passions. He is a marathon runner and is running in the Boston Marathon this year. He was invited to do this because of charity work he did for an associated to the BM charity, and, well, he's a marathoner.

I know he was very happy to have this opportunity (not everyone get's to run that marathon) but when he blogged about it, one of his readers sent a scathing letter belittling his 'buying his way in' to this rather elite runners event. He posted some of it (with a thoughtful and measured reply). What this person wrote was more than hurtful. It was bordering on vicious.

By his reply it was obvious that he was taken aback. This was a special event for him. Something he'd worked toward (in ways he's particularly gifted at) and rewarded for. And he shared that goodness with his readers only to be lambasted and ridiculed.

Many would hang up the blog after something like that. He, of course, took it in stride, but it had to hurt.

We share our experiences and, in some ways, we teach using blogs. We teach about things we've learned in live. We impart knowledge and experiences. And we're, often, rewarded by our readers with notes of thanks and encouragement. But we pay a price as well. We open ourselves up to attack from people we often don't even know (but who feel they know us because they read our blogs regularly, and take a little tiny piece of our minds with them).

When someone like Brad who's blogging truly adds back to the world has something like this happen, you have to wonder if the price is worth it.

In a limited way, I suppose it's a little like becoming a celebrity to a very specific audience. He has several thousand regular readers who know him pretty intimately through his blog. Many, I'm sure, feel he's their 'friend'. It really is in a (very small) way like being a movie star. People feel they can say things to you (because of what, to them, is intimate familiarity) they would never say to someone they'd never met before.

As with most things, it's a two edged sword. The good (kudo's encouragement and thanks for your insights and observations) countered by the unbalanced and irrational attacks of someone who, I would guess, couldn't get into the Boston Marathon and was pissed off Brad did, so attacked. Hard.

It does make you wonder though. It is worth it? Maybe it's a 'that's life' thing, but it never ceases to amaze me how people can take the good someone does and turn it into pain.

I doubt it will change Brad's blogging much. But I would bet it'll change what he writes about to some degree. And I'd also bet that he'll think more about what he puts in his blog and the reaction they may or may not evoke (at least for awhile).

The personal economics of this? You’d have to ask Brad, but there’s most definitely a cost.



Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Non Blogging Lifestyle

I'm beginning to wonder if blogging is really such a good idea.

I know that transparency is considered good in all things web. But, is it such a good thing regarding your own personal view of the world? We are tracked, categorized and pchyographed every moment we're on the web. Ever clean your cookies out? Notice how, no matter how often you do this, there's always more? More tracking. More 'where's he been, what's he doing' all the time.

And do our friends and family really need to know how pissed/sad/lonely/regretful/happy/satisfied/enter adjective we are at any given moment?

Sometimes I think it might be better if we just live our lives and not spend so much time analyzing, comparing and obsessing over things that, in the long run, just don't matter.

Think I’ll go do some living now. ;-)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Good podcasting industry overview





Every so often, a really good overview article comes out on what we're doing over at ClickCaster (i.e. podcasting).

This one:

http://www.alwayson-network.com/comments.php?id=14457_0_11_0_C

(or click on the title of this blog) is one of the best we've seen in awhile. Yes, ClickCaster is mentioned (a few times) but he's got a great overview of the industry in general, and all of the significant players.

It's from Always On. As they say:

"AlwaysOn's goal is to keep its global members in front of the most powerful players in technology, media and entertainment in an innovative blogging and social networking environment."


Worth a read if you're interesting in the wild wooley world of podcasting.