Laurel L. Russwurm

a writer, the copyfight and internet freedom

Archive for September 2010

ACTA is…

with 4 comments

I have written a lot about ACTA mostly in my other blogs. But this little film distills it’s into an easily digestible morsel which beautifully explains what the fuss is all about.

It’s important to spread the word.

The world wears Mouse ears and reads ACTA attacks Internet is the La Quadrature Du Net ACTA Logo

ACTA Stop the Kraken

For free software users I’ve loaded the highest quality
ogv version I could get here

along with a smaller version here.

And this is the transcript of the text from the film.

Or you can watch it on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlFyoEKV0dE

[Thanks Wayne & ppi!]



OGG transfers via TinyOGG
Released under a Creative Commons
Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike License (CC by-nc-sa)
Credits:
Video & Audio: Anonymous
Music by Wasaru – New Andromeda Theory



Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

September 21, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Creative Freedom

with one comment

NOTE: although “published” I will be working on editing & adding to this post through the day.

Cover art for my novel locked in a jail cel secured with a padlock marked with the copyright symbol

Bill C-32 would lock up my novel

Copyright is a big issue for me, and seems to crop up more often than not all through this, my personal blog.
Because of Bill C-32 and ACTA, my Oh! Canada blog also has an increasing number of copyright posts. And of course since copyright is being used to attack net neutrality, it also features in my tech issue blog StopUBB.

As my personal Software Freedom Day initiative I’ve decided to begin compiling a list of important information about copyright law. As a writer, I am passionately opposed to Bill C-32, the supposed copyright reform currently before the Canadian Government. Written as though by foreign special interest groups, if passed Bill C-32 will place horrendous barriers to Canadian artists, musicians, filmmakers, writers, citizens, and students through it’s ironclad protection of DRM/TPM.

This law will make it possible to stop anyone who uses the Internet or other digital means to distribute/disseminate/share their own creative work. Currently 30% of the Canadian recording Industry is Independent of the big labels. This renaissance of Canadian culture could be stopped dead by Bill C-32. This is bad.

For me personally, passage of Bill C-32 would impede my ability to self publish and distribute my novel.
Copyright symbol with maple leaf

Copyright Links: Bill C-32

My initial StopUBB summary: Copyright Modernization Act: Bill C-32

One of the leading copyright authorities and resources is the University of Ottawa’s Professor Michael Geist who always makes available a good translations of copyright legalese that might be used to choke Canada’s creativity.

Russell McOrmond is my other leading source for copyright information and analysis although he’s not a lawyer, he is very knowledgable about copyright issues. McOrmond’s Digital Copyright provides a Conservative Copyright Bill C-32 page which guides visitors through the Copyright Bill C-32 issues.

Practicing Canadian IP Lawyer Howard Knopf provides insight into copyright law in his blog Excess Copyright

Like me, Wayne Borean is affected by copyright issues on a number of fronts. He’s been putting together some excellent material in the copyright segment of his blog Through the Looking Glass.

Other Great Sites that discuss Copyright issues:
Question Copyright
Project Gutenberg News
Gutenberg Canada
boing boing
Public Knowledge
Knowledge Ecology International

reportage

TechDirt always has lots of good coverage, but I particularly liked this one TechDirt: Canadian Music Industry Spokesperson Claims User Generated Content Supports ‘Piracy’ since this is what I believe to be the real purpose: to stop people from putting their own content online. The growth of independent creativity is cutting into the bottom line of powerful corporations.
Jesse Brown is a good resource in general; this copyright podcast highlights the idea that Canadians are tired of fighting the same issue over and over again.Search Engine with Jesse Brown: Audio Podcast #43: So Bored of Copyright
CBC online is the only mainstream news media to cover StopUBB issues. Along with the other mainstream media they seem willing to cover some of the Bill C-32 issue, although none of them seem willing to cover ACTA. I think C-32, the UK Digital Economy Act ( DEAct) and the American Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) are all “warm-up acts for ACTA. One of the key stumbling blocks to completing the ACTA negotiations is that each country will have to alter domestic law in order to be able to ratify it. The DEAct succeeded remarkably well in passing domestic law even worse than ACTA requires, which is why UK

It is disturbing that this has been revealed: Michael Geist: “We Don’t Care What You Do, As Long as the U.S. Is Satisfied”

Michael Geist: DMCA-Style Reforms: “Not a Reasonable Policy To Foster Innovation or Respect for Copyright”

Unexpected Effects

One of the byproducts of laws like this one that have been playing out in the UK (Digital Economy Act) and the USA (DMCA) has been the rampant often specious lawsuits which often have no merit, but can be very profitable when used to extort people into settling them from fear. We can assume that this is one of the things Canadian will have to look forward to as well.

Of course since these negative effects have already happened as a direct result of the American DMCA and the UK DEA, should the Canadian government pass Bill C-32 it will be way past “unexpected” when the same effects ensue here.

Which is why I wanted to include this link The RIAA? Amateurs. Here’s how you sue 14,000+ P2P users

Why I don’t Like DRM:  DRM is BAD

ACTA

Thank you, Nina Paley, for this cartoon which made my day:

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

September 18, 2010 at 12:30 pm

CC is for Creator’s Choice

with 7 comments

I am amazed at how quickly technology has progressed to the point where we have the tools to inexpensively create and share all types of media.   I think we may be at the point where the most expensive aspect of creating a piece of artistic media is the human labour.   When I went to school for Media Arts (film, video, audio, a/v) that certainly was not the case. The equipment was expensive: we could sign out Nagra sync sound recorders that I recall cost a great many thousands of dollars, particularly for struggling students. But the cost of Film stock was very very expensive.

film

Which is why I was so incredibly impressed with filmmaker Robert Rodriguez‘ Cinderella tale of becoming a feature film director. His ingenuity allowed him to make El Mariachi for much less than the going rate if making a movie trailer.

film maker Robert Rodriguez in stubble, camo & a baseball cap at a press function

Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player was terrific.  Not just because the book is as well written a “making of” as you’re likely to find, but because young Rodriguez figured out how to become a feature film maker by thinking outside the box. He bypassed the crushing weight of the most expensive part of film making: the cost of film stock and prints for distribution.

[Even cooler, Rodriguez was willing to talk about it and share his insights with other filmmakers in an attempt to help those coming after.]

As it happens, the digital revolution which followed substantially lowered the barriers to entry and today digital imaging is the next thing to free. Movie theaters are switching to digital transmission for the same reasons.

[Note to filmmakers: You can still learn lots about film making from Robert Rodriguez' Film School Shorts.]

music

The singers squeezed into the control booth dominated by a massive mixing board, manned by sound technicians.

It used to cost tens of thousands or perhaps even hundreds of thousands of dollars to outfit a music recording studio.  So naturally cutting a record was a pricey affair.

Once all the tracks were laid down and mixed you had the associated costs of artwork, pressing and distribution. An expensive proposition.

But just like the film world, media technology has gone digital and today, if you’re organized, it is possible to cut a full length commercial CD in a professional studio for around a thousand dollars. A tech savvy musician can DIY commercial quality product in their basement for next to nothing.

the written word

Big changes are afoot in the world of newspapers and magazines.   It used to be that the only market for short fiction and nonfiction articles used to be newspapers and magazines (with the occasional second life collected in book form). Like the music and movie industries, magazines and newspapers were in business by virtue of owning the infrastructure (print facilities and distribution).

Syd Field Screenplay ORIGINAL cover art

The same was true of book publication. Certainly publishers have editorial staff. They employ readers and editors and typesetters. One of the best books I’ve read on screenwriting was written by Syd Field, a Hollywood reader who distilled what he learned as a reader into practical writing advice in a book called Screenplay.

The editorial staff edits and assembles the product. One important function they have traditionally provided was to filter out the very best material.  And never forget that the addition of editorial input often improved the work.   Traditionally there has been lots of expertise in the publishing industry, but the bottom line was always that the guy who owns the presses and the distribution network is the guy in charge. The most brilliant book editor could always be over ruled by the publisher. (Or the publisher’s girlfriend.)

There is great deal of turmoil in all types of publishing today as the entire world has been altered by the Internet and the accompanying technology.

media evolution

In real terms this media revolution– not just for film or music but photography, writing, software and art– really anything that can be digitally reproduced — has made it possible for pretty much anyone to be a media creator. The monetary costs involved boil down to the initial outlay necessary for equipment and digital storage. After that the outlay is minimal

I remember when a blank video tape cost $20. That could hold one movie you taped off TV.   Of course that was back in the day when the cable companies encouraged Canadians to use this new technology to “time shift.” Today that’s one of the many diverse activities that are lumped together under the umbrella label of ‘piracy.’

The Nightengale and the Rose - One of the many public domain books preserved in a digital format and released without restriction by Project Gutenberg

About ten years ago or so I remember my sister had an unimaginably huge hard drive – far and away the largest of anyone I knew — on her computer. Today that 2 gigabyte drive is laughably tiny. At this point 2 gigabyte flash drives are routinely used to transport assignments between school and home (and probably at the low end).

And now I just read Michael Hart‘s observation about his seventy five dollar “terabyte pocket drive” (for books digitized by Project Gutenberg) that is:

no larger and not much heavier than a book, and it will hold 2.5 million such books in .zip format.”

Project Gutenberg: Timeline Events

One of the interesting things I’ve learned about recently from Wayne Borean’s excellent series on Copyright in his Through the Looking Glass blog, where Wayne describes this kind of revolutionary technology that changes the way the world functions as a “Disruptive Technological Change“.

Add the Internet to the mix and you have a perfect distribution medium that’s virtually free.
[With the proviso that net neutrality is protected Internet access won't be degraded via 'throttling' and and carrier/ISPs won't be able to price it out of the range of ordinary people with Usage Based Billing.]

This means we’re living in a world where we can all create.

Under Canadian copyright law any art we create is automatically protected under copyright law.

Since we all have the ability to be both content creators and distributors as well as content consumers, every citizen needs to have a say in the copyright debate and the eventual revision to our copyright laws.

Copyright = All Rights Reserved

copyright symbol - letter c in a circle

all rights reserved

The thing about art and culture is that it is for sharing.   I can’t think of any art in any medium that is created out of a vacuum. Everything is built on something else. This has been going on since the beginning of time.   Before we had written words, verbal histories were handed down.

We are all informed by our culture; all creators are influenced by others.   Everything we learn, everything we see, hear, feel and touch goes into our experience pool and will have an effect on our creations.    Shakespeare’s plays are re-mixes of other works,  and today we would call the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale aggregators.    In their day they had to physically travel all aver Europe to gather up all the best stories.   Today we just need a good search engine and enough bandwidth to get it done.

Teacher Raffaella Traniello holds up some movie making tools A standing joke firmly rooted in reality is that the only way to sell a movie idea to Hollywood is by comparing it to another.

And have you ever noticed that an overwhelming majority of Disney theatrical feature films are based on stories in the public domain?

Corporate agendas have been pushing for increasingly rigorous copyright law, detrimental to creators.   What’s good for a corporation that controls copyright is not necessarily good for the artists who created the copyright work. As a creator I think copyright terms we have alone in Canada are seriously detrimental to creators.

Creative Commons logoWhich is why I am extremely grateful for the development of Creative Commons Licenses that offer creators a variety of alternatives.

Creative Commons licensing is a marvelous tool that allows creators to get around the detrimental and restrictive aspects of copyright law. Creators can release their work in the way that they want to.

The reason I love Raffaella Traniello’s film so much is  because it does such a good job getting the message across.   Every song I’ve heard, every movie I’ve watched, every picture I’ve seen, every bit of  art I’ve ever been exposed to, everything that has danced across my senses has been absorbed and makes me who I am.   The creativity of others has become part of my life experience, and as it’s distilled through my unconscious and forms the basis of my own creativity.   No art comes out of a vacuum;  it collaborates with a culture.  Art needs to share and be shared, which is why I believe that the current copyright law has already gone too far.

Creative Commons License = Some Rights Reserved

Creative Commons logo: cc inside a circle

Some Rights Reserved

Creative Commons defines the spectrum of possibilities between full copyright and the public domain. From all rights reserved to no rights reserved. Our licenses help you keep your copyright while allowing certain uses of your work — a “some rights reserved” copyright.

What is CC

Copyright terms constrain other creators.

I try to generate all the images for all my own blogs, but sometimes that simply isn’t possible.   At this point with everything that’s happening in copyright law around the world, I’m less inclined to want to use “fair dealing” images; particularly as what is covered may well change.  So any time I do an image search,  I search for Creative Commons licensed Images. When searching either Google Images or Flickr Images you can select “advanced search” and choose “labeled for reuse”. Most if not all images in Wikimedia Commons are released under a CC license. And now the Creative Commons search page can direct your searches as well.

Creative Commons Attribution Symbol

Attribution (cc by)

This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered, in terms of what others can do with your works licensed under Attribution.

Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike Symbol

Attribution Share Alike (cc by-sa)

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial reasons, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use.

Boy Mouse says to Mouse girl who is fixing equipment, Hallo Fräulein, könnten Sie mich wohl zu einem Techniker bringen?

Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives

Attribution No Derivatives (cc by-nd)

This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.

painted on road BACKWARD I READ THINK ENGINEERS HIGHWAY

Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial

Attribution Non-Commercial (cc by-nc)

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

CD cover art - bearded guitar playing caricature

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Sharealike

Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike (cc by-nc-sa)

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. Others can download and redistribute your work just like the by-nc-nd license, but they can also translate, make remixes, and produce new stories based on your work. All new work based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also be non-commercial in nature.

Plaster heads of 7 world leaders assembled on the grass

Creative Commons Button indicating Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivative License

Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (cc by-nc-nd)

This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, allowing redistribution. This license is often called the “free advertising” license because it allows others to download your works and share them with others as long as they mention you and link back to you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

Creative Common Licenses don’t replace copyright law, they work in conjunction with existing copyright law.

A Creative Commons licenses allow creators to tailor the license to balance their comfort level with the needs of their project.

The greatest thing about Creative Commons Licensing is that it gives choices back to creators.


Image Credit:

Robert Rodriguez photograph under a Attribution Sharealike (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/) by Thomas Crenshaw

Lynn Russwurm’s photograph “The Laurie Bauer Singers in recording studio – circa 1970s” used with permission

Raffaella Traniello video under an Attribuzione 2.5 Italia license

Charles Robinson illustration of Oscar Wilde’s “The Nightengale and the Rose” is in the public domain; one of many great works preserved via digitization by Project Gutenberg

Cory Doctorow” photograph by Joi Ito under a CC attribution (cc by) license

Sita Sings the BluesNina Paley – Creative Commons CC BY-SA

“Hallo Fräulein” cartoon oreillyblog cartoon (CC) BY-ND dyfa 2009

Ahead Stop image by XKCD. CC BY-NC 2.5

Performous Songs: Jonathan Coulton Collection available for legal download ZIP file (240 MB)under Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike License (cc by-nc-sa) via Performous Songs

“Big Heads” aka The Oxfam G8 Big Heads at Big Letters Performance by Oxfam (by-nc-nd)


Weeds

with 6 comments

The weeds have taken over the yard. This isn’t just a dandelion or two, it’s a forest of weeds. Waist high might be livable, well for her anyway, but some of these are taller than he is. The state this yard is in no one can get any use from it.

Well, he thinks, she’s lucky to have a good neighbor like him. He uses his clippers to prune the flowering shrub that’s overgrown and begun to block his entrance to her yard. He doesn’t know what they’re called, but the little white flowers smell quite nice.

Instead of tossing them on the pile he carries the armload of cuttings back up to the kitchen and puts them in a vase. He’ll have to look up the name later.

Back at work, he notes the foliage and brush is so thick she probably can’t even get down to the composter by the shed. Hoping his pruning shears are equal to the task, he hacks away at the overgrown rose bush. There are branches going every which way, and the thorns are really quite merciless. Damn. He pulls off her glove to suck a bleeding finger. He’ll need thicker gloves for this.

The sun beats down on him, sweat trickling between his shoulder blades as he plants his hands on his hips and surveys the enormity of the job. He mops his forehead then shakes his head at the stand of ragweed that encroaches the Muskoka Chairs ranged around the fire pit. As he gets closer he notes the presence of creeping charlie intertwined in the closest chair. Those chairs cost a bomb. What’s she thinking of to let it all go to hell like this? I guess it’s just been a bad time all around.

And the decaying wooden ladder propped open at the entrance to the garden plot has some kind of vine climbing all over it, a giant strain of creeping charlie maybe? Could be that stuff called kudzu. Or is that just in Florida? No matter, it is an eyesore. She ought to have burned the decrepit ladder in the pit last fall, it will be devilishly difficult to get it out now. Maybe a machete?

What a mess. So much to do, so little time. Well, physically shifting everything would take far too long. Maybe he better check the shed. There is probably still some pesticide in there. That will help soften things up, make it easier to clear out.

Returning to his own yard, he smiles at the uniform expanse of lawn and the precise placement of flowerbeds along the side, the picket patch of vegetable garden enclosed behind a freshly whitewashed garden fence that keeps the predators out. The ornate birdbath sits unused under a tree near the freshly filled feeders. He’ll get that woman’s yard looking just as good.

It’s what any good neighbor would do.


Grape vines clime the old wooden ladder

I wrote this bit of flash fiction for this weeks #storycraft challenge. Family things have kept me hopping so I’ve been forced to miss the last few.

This week’s “Antagonists” challenge was to write a scene in which an antagonist acts against the protagonist, from the antagonist’s point of view. I chose 3rd person intimate to get right inside the mind of the antagonist to understand all their motivations, one of my favorite things about writing! :D

Does it play?

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

September 5, 2010 at 1:36 pm

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