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.

Kraftwerk: Pioneers of Electronic Music

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

I hadn’t heard of the German band Kraftwerk until I read this Pitchfork interview with Ralf Hütter from Kraftwerk.  Kraftwerk is considered by many to be pioneers of German electronic music.  According to Wikipedia, “The signature Kraftwerk sound combines driving, repetitive rhythms with catchy melodies, mainly following a Western classical style of harmony with a minimalistic and strictly electronic instrumentation.”  Today, electronic music is relatively popular and common.  However, it was not so common 30 years ago.

Additionally, Kraftwerk uses many visual elements in their live shows.  “This included back-projected slides and films, increasingly synchronised with the music as the technology developed, the use of hand-held miniaturised instruments during the set, and, perhaps most famously, the use of replica mannequins of themselves to perform onstage during the song ‘The Robots’.”

Kraftwerk’s live show with mannequins

From the Pitchfork interview:

Pitchfork: How did the 3-D aspect of the show come about?

RH: Our music is always, as you know, very spacey– computer graphics, music, images, lyrics, and visual art we make ourselves, or that we make with artists. And it’s all synchronized. The premiere was at the Volkswagen factory when we played there in April. It went so well that we decided to do it again in the summer when we played for the Manchester Velodrome, where we had the British Olympic cycling team riding on the track and then later during the show, after our robot performance, we continued about five or six compositions with 3-D graphics and the audience put on the glasses. It was fantastic.

 

Pitchfork: Was there, when you were a young person and you were first seeing live music and performing live music, perhaps in the late 60s, was there anyone you saw that was an inspiration for this kind of multimedia show?

RH: No, nothing special. I think it was more like an awakening in the late 60s of the whole living situation– the German word is einfach musik. Everyday music, like– it’s more like discovering the tape recorder for us. Like, the world of sound: Everyday life has a sound, and that’s also why our studio is called Kling Klang studio because “kling” is the verb and “klang” is the noun for “sound.” So it means “sounding sound.” That’s really what Kraftwerk is about. Sound sources are all around us, and we work with anything, from pocket calculators to computers, from voices, human voices, from machines, from body sounds to fantasy to synthetic sounds to speech from human voice to speech synthesis from anything, if possible. We don’t want to limit ourselves to any specific sound like that was before when we were brought up in classical music. Then it had be strings, it had to be piano, blah blah blah. We wanted to go beyond, to find a new silence and from
there to progress to continue walking into the world of sound.

Pitchfork: Kraftwerk exists as not just an art object, like in a museum, but there’s always an element of popular culture, where it’s received by large groups of people. This is opposed to some people, who experiment with sound and they might do a sound installation in a museum. But it seems like there’s always been a popular element to what Kraftwerk does.

RH: Yes. That developed for us, when we started in the late 60s in art galleries and student clubs, there might have been 50 people or whatever, and it just developed this way. Then in the early 70s and with Autobahn, suddenly the world was– it was possible for us to tour around the world. Well, in France, Italy, and America. And then from there on, it was for us like a vision of electronic music as a universal language. It became our reality.

Pitchfork: Something I’ve always found interesting about Kraftwerk is that even when your music is electronic music and it’s, as you say, immaterial. It sort of exists independent of physical formats. There’s always been a strong feeling for the body in your music, that there’s always a physical manifestation of it, whether it’s through dancing or inspiration in something like cycling. Is that, the interface between electronics and the human body, is that of particular interest to Kraftwerk?

RH: Yes, I think that’s best expressed in the words the “Man-Machine”. It’s this combination of human sounds and machine sounds, so as you probably know, electronic music has been very, very intellectualized in the 50s, 60s, or whatever, and I think we always felt strong elements ourselves of these machine rhythms, repetition and charm. Like the motor humming on Autobahn, radio waves playing in fantastic melodies in the air. All these ideas have been in our minds and we try to combine them into the different albums.

 

I really like this idea of “Man-Machine”: creating music by combining human and machine sounds.  This is the foundation of electronic music as we know it today.  Even though there was electronic music before Kraftwerk, they helped to popularize it and greatly influenced the genre.

 

And to top it off, the music video for “The Robots” by Kraftwer

Google Music Search

Posted in Uncategorized on November 18, 2009 by lindahurd

Is the new Google music search part of Google Audio? I posted a couple of weeks ago about how Google was about to launch Google Audio.  Go to http://www.google.com/music and check out their amazing new music search.  Search albums, artists, song lyrics, and Google will show you anything and everything related to it.  The coolest feature of this music search function is that it allows you to stream songs for free.  This is through Google’s partnerships with imeem, Pandora, Myspace, Lala, and Rhapsody.  However, you can only stream a song one time, after that it plays a 30 second preview.  Still, it’s pretty neat.