Piracy – A no way or the only way?

Medosch argues that: “piracy, despite being an entirely commercially motivated activity carried out in black or grey markets, fulfills culturally important functions” (Reader, page 318).

AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by Travelin’ Librarian

Medosch (2008: 81) argues that, “Piracy, despite being an entirely commercially motivated activity carried out in black or grey markets, fulfills culturally important functions.” It is true that piracy, most of the times is a commercially motivated activity, involving the process of ripping of the original data and as a result make their own profit with it. However, despite this commercially motivated purpose, piracy on the other hand, fulfills other functions that are important and essential in one’s cultural society.

For example, we will take a look at the recent development of Indonesia’s Hollywood movie distribution. In February 2011, the Indonesian government has decided to increase levies charged on the foreign films, especially those from Hollywood. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) finds this to be unfair. Based on a news article, I found out that, “In the past, the MPAA paid only $20 per meter of film but now that’s increased to $43 a meter, as well as 24% import duty tax and an income tax of 10-15% of profits.” The purpose of this increase, according to the government is to encourage the viewership of local films.

Until this moment when this article is published, the Indonesian movie importers have stopped importing Hollywood movies as a ‘war declaration’ against government’s policy that has raised different kind of responses, which mostly are rage and disappointment.

With such development, there is no other way for moviegoers in Indonesia to enjoy the Hollywood movies, except by the way of piracy, whether from the means of file sharing or the means of pirated DVD purchases. Piracy, despite its already wide practice then, has now become the only way that bridge the gap between Indonesia moviegoers and the movie itself.

Out from Indonesia, and setting our eyes into countries where many foreign cultural goods are completely inaccessible, piracy does fulfill an important role by giving such access. China, where the government system doesn’t allow such access or Brazil, where in many parts of the country, is places full of slum-dwellers and people that are too poor to get access to modern technologies, relies heavily on piracy as their only way to access ‘the world out there’. This is in support of Medosch (2008: 81) statement that, “piracy not only serves to provide access to the products of mainstream commercial movie industries, it also fills gaps in provision and provides access to art movies and more difficult fare which does not get official distribution for whichever reason.”

To conclude, I am with Medosch with his point that piracy, despite of being judged as a crime that is as punishable as theft, has become an effective way to bridge a gap between cultures and places where without it, it will be impossible in some places for one to access the world of information, be it because of poverty or government regulations, whichever that may be.

 

 

References:

Medosch, A. (2008) ‘Paid in Full: Copyright, Piracy and the Real Currency of Cultural Production’ pp. 73-97 in Deptforth. TV Diaries II: Pirate Strategies. London: Deptforth TV.

Link to news article: http://english.ntdtv.com/ntdtv_en/ns_life/2011-02-22/310247258664.html

Creative Commons – Sharing is Caring

AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by Jens Rydén

Following week 10 tutorial’s exercise, explain why you chose the Creative Commons license that you added to your blog and discuss the relevance (or not) of adding the license.

 

Thomas Jefferson, architect of original American copyright law, argued that, “Ideas should remain in the public domain rather than bound by legal restrictions.” He then saw a tension growing between “the need of a democratic citizenry to have access to cultural creations and the need to provide a limited monopoly to creators of artistic work as an incentive to create.” These will eventually birth out the concept of ‘intellectual property’ (Garcelon 2009: 1308).

With the arising concern of this issue, Creative Commons devised a novel strategy that gives current copyright holders an option of making their work available for tweaking, copying and its distribution by granting various kind of rights exception (Garcelon 2009: 1309).

Creative Commons has six different licenses, to suit the each and every person’s needs. I choose the Attribution-Sharealike Creative Commons (CC BY SA) to be used in my blog due to several reasons.

The CC BY SA license, as described in the website, lets others remix, tweak and build upon my work, even for commercial purposes. All they have to do is credit me and eventually license their new creations under the same similar terms. This type of license is often associated with the “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. The essential thing about CC is that all new works based on the original work will have to carry the same license. Such license is also used by Wikipedia, and is mainly used for materials that would benefit from similarly licensed projects.

I have decided to use the CC BY SA license as what Garcelon (2009: 1310) has mentioned, we have to ensure that resources will not end up depleted, especially the ‘non-rivalrous’ ones and there is a need for a license where one can safely tweak those resources and build upon it to create something new, something better. I do not mind upon people taking my work and build upon it for commercial purposes, as what Frida mentioned in her blog post, that if they have the ability to build something new based on a few of my ideas, and they want to commercialize it, they should deserve it as long as they put some credit upon my work that they have built upon.

Being said that, I simply put the license as a legal and a guide of ethics for those who wanted to build upon my work and creating something new out of it. After all, this blog was not created in the first place for commercial purposes and I myself doubt that the works here are going to be used by anyone. In the sense of naivety, I will choose to trust that the people who will use my works here in the future, that they will give a proper credit at the end of the day to the works that I have established here.

 

 

References:

Garcelon, M. (2009) ‘An Information Commons? Creative Commons and Public Access to Cultural Creations’, New Media & Society, 11 (8): 1307-1326

Link to website: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/

Link to blog post: http://fridamedk.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/creative-commons/

YouTube Stars – From Zero to Hero?

Burgess and Green argue that: ordinary people who become celebrities through their own creative efforts “remain within the system of celebrity native to, and controlled by, the mass media” (Reader, page 269).

After several controversies and several other praises, YouTube has established itself as a more accessible new media technology and platform that can open up possibilities for the commercialization of contents, even the amateur ones, and in some cases, has the power to transform those amateur video producers into ‘celebrities’ (Burgess and Green, 2009: 24). However, Burgess and Green (2009: 24) argued that despite of certain cases that caused a rocketing fame of certain personality from zero to hero, these ‘YouTube celebrities’ can’t be considered as one due to the nature of YouTube that has its own, internal system of celebrity based on and reflecting values that don’t match up neatly with the dominating main media stream. Burgess and Green (2009: 24) asserted that, “Even when ordinary people become celebrities through their own creative efforts, there is no necessary transfer of media power: they remain within the system of celebrity native to, and controlled by, the mass media.” I agree to Burgess and Green on their argument that YouTube personalities, are stars rather than celebrity.

In 2006, Ryan Higa, together with his two friends, created a YouTube account where in it, they posted comedy-related videos. The videos range from lip-synching performance which then expanded to “How To Be” series, advertisement spoofs and only recently, short featured films. The account, has now reached over 3,000,000 subscribers, making it the first to do so and until now still, the account with the highest number of subscribers.

His popularity has brought him to success, not only by advertisement deals but also by the concert revenue that he earned whilst touring around places, making appearances here and there. However, despite its success, as mentioned by Min in her blog post, it would be difficult to discuss or even talk about him with people outside the site due to its spatiotemporal popularity, unlike the ‘main stream media’ celebrity, like Brad Pitt for example.

On contrary, despite of the cynicism and the prejudice that Burgess and Green dropped against these “ordinary” celebrities and the assumption that they will only be able to get as far as being a YouTube star due to its internal system, there are a very few exceptional cases. Such an exceptional transformation from zero to hero is Justin Bieber. From a hometown boy to the celebrity of the year, it all started with amateur singing, sometimes competition videos being uploaded by her mother in YouTube. It then attracted professionals who are working in the main media stream and eventually able to take him to where he is right now.

To conclude, I agree with Burgess and Green that YouTube personalities can only go as far as being famous and being called a “star”, however not celebrity as a celebrity “status” requires more than fame but rather someone who is rather controlled by the main stream media than a media platform such as YouTube. Being mentioned this, it is not impossible to see a very few exceptional cases that may occur.

References:

Burgess, J. and J. Green. (2009) ‘YouTube and The Mainstream Media’ pp. 15-37 in YouTube: Online and Participatory Culture. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r56jqb-fWVM&feature=channel_video_title

Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csymVmm1xTw&feature=related

Link to Min’s blog post: http://minhwi1.wordpress.com/2011/05/08/blog-post-4-ordinary-to-extraordinary-week-9/

YouTube – Interface, Popularity, Ranking, Online Communities

While discussing YouTube, José van Dijck argues that the site’s interface influences the popularity of videos through ranking tactics that promote popular favourites (Reader, page 94). How do ranking tactics impact on the formation online ‘communities’?

Just like other researcher in digital communication, Jane Mitchinson-Schwartz (2009:13) believes that the very nature of the “affiliations” component of participatory web culture forms a community membership where it attracts like-minded individuals into a space where similar ideologies are shared. This of course shows an active participation of the users where they are expected to find their own space with the help of media, for example YouTube or MySpace. However, van Dijck (2009: 45) argues that we may have neglected the substantial role that a site’s interface plays in steering individual users and communities they are end up with. I agree with van Dijck’s argument that despite its  truth that online communities today are formed with an active participatory culture of the online individuals, the site’s interface does play a big role in gathering the individuals with a common ideology across the net.

An example of a site’s interface that helps to steer and manoeuvrings the online individuals are YouTube’s where undisclosed coded mechanisms are used. Promotion and ranking tactics, measuring of downloads, promotion of popular favorites are processed with the help of algorithms (van Dijck, 2009:45) and eventually used to ‘manipulate’ the users to the forming of their communities.

A screenshot of a YouTube’s user statistic where information such as a particular video’s total views, demographics and the popularity of the video in where it is being accessed.

Some rights reserved by jurvetson

In YouTube’s Community Guidelines page, it is mentioned that, “Remember that this is your community! Each and every user of YouTube makes the site what it is, so don’t be afraid to dig in and get involved!” With this being mentioned, it actually seems that YouTube is encouraging the online users (while they do), to participate as much as possible, whether it is to watch, like, share or even to write down a certain comment on the video so that at the end of the day, they can find their own online community where a similar ideology is being shared.

However, with YouTube’s interface that has the capability to lead users to a certain “Top favorites” and “Top rated” videos, users may not realize that they are being manipulated or as Frida mentioned in her blog post, “steered” into popular categories of video. Nonetheless, I am with her in this that I can not blame YouTube for doing this. With such interface, YouTube has actually bridged a gap between the online users and the media that they are trying to access. With millions and growing still of media collection, it is essential for such interface to help and bridge the gap that many users, some less tech-savvy in fact, to find an online community where with their contributed participation, can share similar constructive ideas.

References:

Dijck, J. V. (2009) ‘Users Like You? Theorizing Agency in User-Generated Content’, Media, Culture and Society, 31: 41-58

Mitchinson-Schwartz, J. (2009) ‘Participatory On-line Cultures: The Formation of Community’, Media Convergence and Participatory Cultures, 1:1-20

link to backstory of Jane Mitchinson-Schwartz, accessed 03.06.2011: http://janemitchinson.ca/

link to YouTube’s Community Guidelines page, accessed 03.06.2011: http://www.youtube.com/t/community_guidelines

link to Frida’s WordPress post, accessed 03.06.2011: http://fridamedk.wordpress.com/2011/04/29/youtube-steering-you-since-2005/

Mark Zuckerberg’s Comment on Sharing (start at 0:26 – stop at 0:39)

Analyse critically the following statement by Mark Zuckerberg while comparing it to privacy issues raised by online social networking collaborative practices.

Video of Mark Zuckerberg’s comment on sharing and privacy.


Quoted are his statement.
“When people have control over what they share, they are comfortable sharing more. When people share more, the world becomes more open and connected, and in a more open world, many of the biggest problems we face together will become easier to solve.”

In the world where information is easy to access and within reach, it is not as difficult as years back in obtaining a certain private information, especially when people “voluntarily” put them in display for others to see, as seen in many networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace. Mostly done this as to enable easier and flawless communication between their friends and colleagues, to stay connected and to keep one updated about recent happenings through the web. As good as it may seem, it turns out that some dislike the free flow concept of communication. Boyd (2008: 14) presumes that the discomfort comes from the issue of one’s exposure and invasion. Due to these concerns, a new level of privacy control where one is able to manage and control the visibility of certain activities in Facebook is introduced.

When people share more, it shows that there are a free flow of information and data. This free flow of information will be beneficial directly or indirectly to the cyber users around the world and yes a free flow of information will result in a world that is more open and connected in many ways through the large information cloud. When this occurs, the world can become more open and connected and will eventually result in big problems becoming easier to solve, this I agree to Zuckerberg’s earlier statement. However, this is only true when the information being shared are those imbued with values and purposes. To contribute to a world where some of the biggest problems can be solved with the help of free sharing and flow of information, personal information does not help much.

Some examples of irrelevant and unimportant Facebook statuses can be found here.

Some of the examples found from the website:

  • “Just got home, about to shower.”
  • “My dog chewed my sandals while I was in the shower!!!”
  • “Still wet from the shower, ’bout to eat, yummm!”

Just by looking at the kind of private and some may say, irrelevant information sharing in most Facebook status updates, one doesn’t have to hold a Communication degree to tell that these information will not help to make the world a better place.

Referring back to Zuckerberg’s statement, “When people have control over what they share, they are comfortable sharing more. When people share more, the world becomes more open and connected, and in a more open world, many of the biggest problems we face together will become easier to solve.” While the example of unimportant private information being shared by people in Facebook doesn’t directly support Zuckerberg’s goal, it does actually help in promoting users’ comfort in sharing information. When they get comfortable in sharing information, even the kind that is irrelevant in many ways, they will eventually, out of their comfort, share more in the future, and when that happens, the world can indeed be a place where biggest problem can be solved with the help of free flow of communication and information.

References:

Boyd, D. (2008) ‘Facebook’s Privacy Trainwreak: Exposure, Invasion and Social Convergence’, Convergence: The International Journal into New Media Technologies, 14 (4): 13-20.

The Facebook Blog (2009), An Open Letter from Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg, https://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=190423927130 2nd December, accessed 02.06.2011.

FunnyCrave, Worst Facebook Status, http://funnycrave.com/the-5-worst-possible-facebook-status-updates/8117/ accessed 02.06.2011.

BookRags (2006), Information Cloud Summary website, http://www.bookrags.com/wiki/Information_cloud October 2006, accessed 02.06.2011.

Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWDneu_w_HQ&feature=player_embedded