Archive for November, 2009

Virgin Media’s Filesharing Tracking System

Posted in copyright with tags , , , on November 29, 2009 by lindahurd

This is an interesting article about Virgin Media’s trial of its new filesharing monitoring system.  It says that right now they are using this technology merely to gather information about the amount of copyright infringing filesharing that’s occuring in the UK, and that the data they collect will be anonymous.  It may be anonymous right now, but what does the future hold for this monitoring system?  Will the British government eventually use it to prosecute copyright infringers?

From the article:

“To begin with at least, Virgin Media’s implementation will focus on music sharing. The ISP is preparing a legal download service in partnership with Universal, the largest of the four major record labels, which it hopes will be the “carrot” to Lord Mandelson’s “stick” of technical measures against those who persistently infringe copyright.

“Understanding how consumer behaviour is changing will be an important requirement of Virgin Media’s upcoming music offering and, should they become law, the Government’s legislative proposals will also require measurement of the level of copyright infringement on ISPs’ networks,” said Jon James, Virgin Media’s executive director of broadband.”

 

Anamanaguchi: Awesome 8-bit Music

Posted in Musicians with tags , , , , on November 28, 2009 by lindahurd

You’ve probably (hopefully) heard 8-bit music, or chiptunes, even you aren’t aware of what it’s called.

From Wikipedia:

8-bit refers to a style of electronic music inspired (and performed) by the sound of old computer consoles from the 8 bit era of video games. This music will often reflect sounds from technology that is seen as primitive or “outdated” such as the Game Boy and home made synthesizers.”

 

I recently read an interview on createdigitalmusic.com from the band Anamanaguchi.  Anamanaguchi makes ridiculously awesome chiptune music from a hacked NES.

 

From Createdigitalmusic.com:

Vijith: How do you do write these sequences?

Pete: It’s a [DOS] program called Nerdtracker 2 that apparently writes music in the language that the NES can understand. It’s a really home-brewed program. It was made in 1998 by a bunch of Swedish dudes, and it never got out of beta, and it’s prone to crashing, and it has all these terrible bugs in it, half the features don’t work.

And the decision to mix it with guitars?

Pete: I started messing around with it and sending songs back and forth with a friend of mine, and in the beginning, the music I wrote kind of sounded “videogamey,” but as I continued writing, my actual musical influence kind of started to get in there. And at that point, it made a lot of sense to put it as an instrument in a full live band setting, with guitars and drums and that sort of thing. Right before going to NYU, literally NYU move-in day, I released the Power Supply EP through 8bitpeoples, which I had recorded totally by myself at my house except for one track which we recorded with James. All I had was a shitty mic and a shitty guitar and a shitty amp and just recorded what I knew, without any kind of formal training.

 

Do you write using a guitar or a Nintendo?

Pete: It’s a mixture of both. Certain songs, I’ll get the idea as a melody in my head. The music is pretty melodic, so it’s pretty transferable from instrument to instrument. Anything I write on guitar I can put on the Nintendo, and anything I write on the Nintendo I can usually play on guitar – unless it’s way too fast, which it usually is.

Recently, I’ve been getting more into making sounds on the Nintendo that can’t be reproduced by instruments, doing stuff that only the sound chip can do. But more or less I like to create a skeleton of the song on the NES. Ary, on the Game Boy, makes some absolutely ridiculous stuff that’s really fucking weird, like, really just straight-up the weirdest music I’ve ever heard. And the way he does it is not so much thinking musically, but technically. When I came into the 8-bit world, I was definitely the opposite. Any time there’s electronic music, you have people who are thinking technically, and usually that’s music that I’m not very interested in, because it’s kind of cold, usually. I came into the 8 bit world with a very musical background, being in bands growing up and stuff, as opposed to a programming background. But recently I’ve been getting really into making strange sounds on the Nintendo that, like, “Whoa, I didn’t know you could do that with that sound chip.” At the same time, I’m mixing that with that simple pop sensibility.

What I usually like to do is to harmonize everything. Why not? You have two square channels. What else are they going to do but harmonize each other?”

Another interview with Anamanaguchi from Geektro:

http://www.myspace.com/anamanaguchi

http://www.anamanaguchi.com/

Steal This Film

Posted in copyright with tags , , on November 28, 2009 by lindahurd

This is another must-see film for those interested in piracy and copyright disputes.  This documentary is about intellectual property, copyright, and how the Internet has contributed to the copyright war.  It tells the story of The Pirate Bay and the multiple lawsuits filed against them. 

From the Wikipedia page:

Steal This Film is a film series documenting the movement against intellectual property produced by The League of Noble Peers and released via the BitTorrent peer-to-peer protocol.

Two parts, and one special The Pirate Bay trial edition of the first part, have been released so far, and The League of Noble Peers is working on “Steal this Film – The Movie” and a new project entitled “The Oil of the 21st Century”.[2] Boing Boing‘s Cory Doctorow called it ‘an amazing, funny, enraging and inspiring documentary series’.

Part Two of Steal This Film[8] (sometimes subtitled ‘The Dissolving Fortress’) was produced during 2007. It premiered (in a preliminary version) at the “The Oil of the 21st Century – Perspectives on Intellectual Property” conference in Berlin, Germany, November 2007.[9]

Thematically, part Two examines the technological and cultural aspects of the copyright wars, and the cultural and economic implications of the internet. It includes an exploration of Mark Getty‘s infamous statement that ‘intellectual property is the oil of the 21st century’. Part two draws parallels between the impact of the printing press and the internet in terms of making information accessible beyond a privileged group or “controllers”. The argument is made that the decentralised nature of the internet makes the enforcement of conventional copyright impossible. Adding to this the internet turns consumers into producers, by way of consumer generated content, leading to the sharing, mashup and creation of content not motivated by financial gains. This has fundamental implications for market-based media companies. The documentary asks “How will society change” and states “This is the Future – And it has nothing to do with your bank balance”.”

 

http://www.stealthisfilm.com

http://www.hulu.com/watch/107001/steal-this-film

RiP: A Remix Manifesto

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on November 28, 2009 by lindahurd

If you’re at all interested in remixing, mashups, copyright, RiP: A Remix Manifesto is a must-see film.  It follows mashup artist Girltalk and goes in depth about the mashup culture.

From ripremix.com:

“Immerse yourself in the energetic, innovative and potentially illegal world of mash-up media with RiP: A remix manifesto. Let web activist Brett Gaylor and musician Greg Gillis, better known as Girl Talk, serve as your digital tour guides on a probing investigation into how culture builds upon culture in the information age.

Biomedical engineer turned live-performance sensation Girl Talk, has received immense commercial and critical success for his mind-blowing sample-based music. Utilizing technical expertise and a ferocious creative streak, Girl Talk repositions popular music to create a wild and edgy dialogue between artists from all genres and eras. But are his practices legal? Do his methods of frenetic appropriation embrace collaboration in its purest sense? Or are they infractions of creative integrity and violations of copyright?

You be the judge by watching RiP: A remix manifesto.”

You can watch it for free at Hulu.com or download it here and pay what you want for it.

The coolest thing about this film is that you can contribute to it, remix it, etc.  For example, they had a times square clip on their website that they got people to remix, and then used it in the film.

The Bliptronic 5000: An Affordable Version of the Tenori-On

Posted in Instruments with tags , , on November 27, 2009 by lindahurd

I wrote about the Tenori-On a few weeks ago.  After watching several demonstration videos and how Paul De Jong used his magical-awesome music skills to make beautiful music with it, I was in love.  However, the Tenori-On is well over $1000.  Yikes.

I just read about the Bliptronic 5000 on CreateDigitalMusic.com.  It’s basically a cheaper version ($50) of the Tenori-On that you can buy on ThinkGeek.com.  The interface is really similar to the Tenori-On, but it has fewer “modes” and the sound quality is not as good.  But hey, maybe that’s the type of sound that you’re going for.

The coolest feature of the Bliptronic that the Tenori-On lacks is a collaborative function.

According to ThinkGeek.com:

“An infinite number of Bliptronics can be attached together using the link ports and included cables. When one Bliptronic reaches the end of it’s pattern, the next Bliptronic is instantly triggered to start playing. This allows you to make longer songs where each person controls a section of the song. You can even set the tempo and instrument differently on each Bliptronic in the chain to achieve unconventional musical results.”

From CreateDigitalMusic.com:

“You know the grid craze is in full steam once ThinkGeek offers a $50 clone. The Bliptronic 5000 is somewhere between the Tenori-On and monome. It certainly looks like the monome, with an 8-by-8 grid of light-up pads in a square form factor. But like the Tenori-On, it has built-in sounds and speaker, it’s made of aluminum, and it runs on batteries. The Bliptronic also simplifies its user interface. Its 8×8 pads are simply an eight-note octave with eight steps. There’s a play button, and knobs for tempo and tone selector. There’s also the ability to link up devices and play them together – bonus points for that, as aside from basic MIDI function, the Tenori-On as shipped by Yamaha failed to deliver some of the original collaborative features promised by designer Toshio Iwai’s original proposal.

The “old-skool” sounds are pretty lo-fi-sounding from what I can tell, but this unit does have a certain charm. If you’ve got a monome and a Tenori-On and a Launchpad in every room, you can amuse your friends by keeping one of these in the lavatory. And who knows, someone might pick this thing up and do something terrific with it. (I sure can’t argue with the price.)”

I know what I’m adding to my Christmas wish list this year.

Britain’s “Three Strikes” Law

Posted in copyright with tags , , on November 24, 2009 by lindahurd

In August 2009, the British government proposed  “three strikes” law to combat piracy on the Internet.  It cuts off Internet access to households that are accused of copyright violation three times.  This proposed law caused a lot of commotion and controversy.  For a while there was even a petition circulating to stop this law from being passed.

The Digital Economy Bill was summarized a few days ago in the Queen’s speech, and it sounds even more restrictive and anti-copyright than ever.  The three strikes law is just part of the Digital Economy Bill.  It also includes age ratings for video games.

The introduction of the three strikes law is a two-step process. “Initially the government will aim to educate consumers and, those identified as downloading illegal content, will be sent letters.”  Then, households even suspected of copyright infringement via the Internet will be cut off completely after three violations.  This portion will be enforced in Spring 2011.

Copyright protection is important, but not at the cost of hounding so-called “pirates”.  This law is protecting and limiting the digital industry, not encouraging expansion, innovation, and creation!  Is protection at the expense of the freedom of the citizens really worth it?  And who really benefits here?  With regards to music, the three-strikes law is more for the protection and profit of the record industry, not the musicians.

According to Cory Doctorow, my favorite blogger and proponent of Creative Commons, the Digital Economy Bill includes:

“£50,000 fines if someone in your house is accused of filesharing. A duty on ISPs to spy on all their customers in case they find something that would help the record or film industry sue them (ISPs who refuse to cooperate can be fined £250,000).

But that’s just for starters. The real meat is in the story we broke yesterday: Peter Mandelson, the unelected Business Secretary, would have to power to make up as many new penalties and enforcement systems as he likes. And he says he’s planning to appoint private militias financed by rightsholder groups who will have the power to kick you off the internet, spy on your use of the network, demand the removal of files or the blocking of websites, and Mandelson will have the power to invent any penalty, including jail time, for any transgression he deems you are guilty of. And of course, Mandelson’s successor in the next government would also have this power.

What isn’t in there? Anything about stimulating the actual digital economy. Nothing about ensuring that broadband is cheap, fast and neutral. Nothing about getting Britain’s poorest connected to the net. Nothing about ensuring that copyright rules get out of the way of entrepreneurship and the freedom to create new things. Nothing to ensure that schoolkids get the best tools in the world to create with, and can freely use the publicly funded media — BBC, Channel 4, BFI, Arts Council grantees — to make new media and so grow up to turn Britain into a powerhouse of tech-savvy creators.”

 

BBC News: Government Lays Out Digital Plans

What does this law do?  It stifles creativity and forces people to live in fear of copyright violations.  In regards to the evolving record industry (and the digital economy as a whole), they can’t just STOP copyright infringement with this strict law.  They need to change their business model and take the industry as a whole in a new direction that involves embracing creativity and liberal copyright laws.  Copyright laws shouldn’t be so open to adjustment.  Peter Mandelson should not have the power to spy on citizens and make up punishments.  The Digital Economy Bill sounds a bit too much like 1984.  It’s scary, really.

Electronic Rock Guitar Shirt

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on November 23, 2009 by lindahurd

Electronic Rock Guitar Shirt

 

This is an interesting idea: an Electronic Rock Guitar Shirt sold by, of course, ThinkGeek.com.  Have you ever wanted to play guitar on your shirt?  Well, now you can.  The electronic rock guitar shirt allows you to play guitar on your shirt.  Each button on the shirt is a chord.  To top it off, the shirt has a miniature amp attached to it.  It sounds like something that would be fun to make, but probably pretty annoying in practice.