Old Media Dips Into New Media Waters

November 10, 2008

In Ars Technica today: film studio MGM has partnered with video-sharing site YouTube to deliver full-length movies online. In the NYTimes: book publishers have signed a deal with e-giant Google (which also owns YouTube) to sell electronic versions of out-of-print, copyrighted works.

Both are obviously landmark deals that test possible unions between old and new media — parties that have been wary of each other, but whose business futures are hugely co-dependent.

Both also highlight a persistent (historically-pressing) need to redefine/rethink the role of the media creator (authors, musicians, visual artists, etc.). And her rights to her own produced, reproduced, and distributed works.

The 2007-8 Writers’ Strike is just one vivid illustration that the increasingly digital and transnational mediascape has far outgrown already-deficient intellectual property protections.

As more and more of old media creeps into the internet, the challenge will be to keep new media from morphing into the closed institutions and lopsided relationships it sought to tear down. The more things change the more they stay the same?

Let’s hope greater reach translates into greater financial support for media creators, not just middlemen. Information wants to be free! Yes, indeed. But artists need to be protected and compensated as well.

Note: Larry Lessig (Stanford University/Creative Commons) talked about copyrights and creative freedoms at this enlightening TedTalk back in March 2007.
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BayWords: Uncensored Blogging from The Pirate Bay

April 17, 2008

The Pirate Bay, a controversial Swedish group that runs the “world’s largest BitTorrent tracker“, continues its daring and defiant quest to liberate file-sharing on the Internet by launching a new blogging service called BayWords. Expanding its persistent defense of freedom of speech and uncensored, open-source web, The Pirate Bay started BayWords to provide bloggers with a secure hosting service (using WordPress as its blogging engine) that will not shut down sites due to deviant content. From its manifesto-like homepage:

“Many blogs are being shut down for uncomfortable thoughts and ideas. We will not do that. Our goal is to protect freedom of speech and your thoughts. As long as you don’t break any Swedish laws in your blog, we will defend it.”

Since WordPress (blixity’s host) is based in the U.S., BayWords (like most of The Pirate Bay’s recent activities) is headed for an interesting adventure. In TorrentFreak yesterday, Matt Mullenweg of WordPress seemed cautious:

“WordPress.com supports free speech and doesn’t shut people down for “uncomfortable thoughts and ideas”, in fact we’re blocked in several countries because of that. However as a US-based companies we must comply with US laws, which means if the primary purpose of a blog is distributing illegal material it’s not a good fit for WordPress.com.”

Fortunately, The Pirate Bay has other open-source “No Copyright No License” projects in the works. BayImg is an uncensored image-hosting service, “a place where you can host all your images”. Slopsbox is an email service that protects users’ privacy. And as of May 2007, an uncensored video streaming site to compete with YouTube is apparently on the horizon. We love Pirates!