Monday, November 29, 2010

Access To Knowledge In The Age of Intellectual Property

edited by Gaëlle Krikorian and Amy Kapczynski

  From Zone Books.  It may either be purchased in hard-copy or downloaded for free, and redistributed on a non-commercial basis.  Derivative works are not permitted.

The end of the twentieth century saw an explosive intrusion of intellectual property law into everyday life. Expansive copyright laws have been used to attack new forms of sharing and remixing facilitated by the Internet. International laws extending the patent rights of pharmaceutical companies have threatened the lives of millions of people around the world living with HIV/AIDS. For decades, governments have tightened the grip of intellectual property law at the bidding of information industries. Recently, a multitude of groups around the world have emerged to challenge this wave of enclosure with a new counterpolitics of “access to knowledge” or “A2K.” They include software programmers who take to the streets to attack software patents, AIDS activists who fight for generic medicines in poor countries, subsistence farmers who defend their right to food security and seeds, and college students who have created a new “free culture” movement to defend the digital commons. In this volume, Gaëlle Krikorian and Amy Kapczynski have created the first anthology of the A2K movement, mapping this emerging field of activism as a series of historical moments, strategies, and concepts. Intellectual property law has become not only a site of new forms of transnational activism, but also a locus for profound new debates and struggles over politics, economics, and freedom. This collection vividly brings these debates into view and makes the terms of intellectual property law legible in their political implications around the world.

Download now or preview on posterous
ZoneBooks_A2K_.pdf (6593 KB)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Death of French Culture?

After a few minutes of listening to the podcast to which this description refers it becomes clear that what they are really talking about is the decline of the influence of French culture in the rest of the world. Even Donald Morrison, the author of the book, seems to concede that culture is thriving within France. He simply judges it to be the wrong kind of culture on the basis of its unexportability. He ascribes this to extensive French subsidies for the arts. As Noelle Lenoir points out, however, the government subsidized just as much culture in the 60's, when France was a global cultural powerhouse. So maybe the suggestion of Laurie Taylor, the host of the show, is the correct one: France has simply been steamrollered by Anglo-American culture (with an emphasis on the American) because it has been steamrollered by America's global economic clout. The fact is, however, that I cannot begin to judge the inherent worth of contemporary French culture because I know so little about it...much less than I knew about 60's French culture at the time.
Has French culture become provincial and inward looking? France aspires to be a global cultural power. But a new book - 'The Death of French Culture' - argues that its government creates a walled garden producing cinema and literature for its own market but not for the world. Gone are the days of geniuses like Emile Zola and Francois Truffaut who spoke to millions. Laurie Taylor is joined by the book's author Donald Morrison and by Noelle Lenoir, a former French minister for European affairs. They consider whether protectionism has caused a decline in French creativity and if state subsidies produce mediocre art.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Who Owns Yoga?

Yoga is practiced by about 15 million people in the United States, for reasons almost as numerous — from the physical benefits mapped in brain scans to the less tangible rewards that New Age journals call spiritual centering. Religion, for the most part, has nothing to do with it.

But a group of Indian-Americans has ignited a surprisingly fierce debate in the gentle world of yoga by mounting a campaign to acquaint Westerners with the faith that it says underlies every single yoga style followed in gyms, ashrams and spas: Hinduism.

The campaign, labeled “Take Back Yoga,” does not ask yoga devotees to become Hindu, or instructors to teach more about Hinduism. The small but increasingly influential group behind it, the Hindu American Foundation, suggests only that people become more aware of yoga’s debt to the faith’s ancient traditions.

That suggestion, modest though it may seem, has drawn a flurry of strong reactions from figures far apart on the religious spectrum. Dr. Deepak Chopra, the New Age writer, has dismissed the campaign as a jumble of faulty history and Hindu nationalism. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has said he agrees that yoga is Hindu — and cited that as evidence that the practice imperiled the souls of Christians who engage in it.

The question at the core of the debate — who owns yoga? — has become an enduring topic of chatter in yoga Web forums, Hindu American newspapers and journals catering to the many consumers of what is now a multibillion-dollar yoga industry.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Lessig Calls For WIPO To Lead Overhaul Of Copyright System

Intellectual Property Watch
5 November 2010

Lessig Calls For WIPO To Lead Overhaul Of Copyright System

By Kaitlin Mara @ 3:47 pm

Influential copyright scholar Larry Lessig yesterday issued a call for the World Intellectual Property Organization to lead an overhaul of the copyright system which he says does not and never will make sense in the digital environment.

A functioning copyright system must provide the incentives needed for creative professionals, but must also protect the freedoms necessary for scientific research and amateur creativity to flourish.

In the digital environment, copyright has failed at both, said Lessig.

“And its failure is not an accident,” he said. “It’s implicit in the architecture of copyright as we inherited it. It does not make sense in a digital environment.”

The copyright system will “never work on the internet. It’ll either cause people to stop creating or it’ll cause a revolution,” said Lessig, citing a growing system of copyright “abolitionism” online in response to a worrying tendency to criminalise the younger generation.

“If and only if WIPO [the World Intellectual Property Organization] leads in this debate will we have a chance” at fixing the copyright system, he said.

Lessig spoke at the 4-5 November WIPO Global Meeting on Emerging Copyright Licensing Modalities – Facilitating Access to Culture in the Digital Age. This event is a part of the ongoing implementation of the WIPO Development Agenda. Lessig is a professor at Harvard Law School.

He also spoke on video with Intellectual Property Watch after his speech, which can be seen below.

Larry Lessig speaking to Intellectual Property Watch
at the World Intellectual Property Organization, 4 November 2010.

Copyright Online: What has Changed?

Reading a book in physical space is unregulated, said Lessig: reading, lending, or reselling a book is not “fair use” – it is free use. They are unregulated acts.

But online, every use is a copy. This is “not about a generation that can’t respect the rules, it’s a problem in the design of the system.”

“Most of us can no longer spend even an hour without colliding with the copyright law,” Lessig said, quoting University of Michigan Law School Professor Jessica Litman.

“At the turn of the century, US copyright law was technical, inconsistent and difficult to understand, but it didn’t apply to very many people or very many things.… Ninety years later, the US copyright law is even more technical, inconsistent and difficult to understand; more importantly, it touches everyone and everything,” Litman wrote.

Francis Gurry, WIPO director general, said in his opening speech that the technical infrastructure of the digital environment is both key to the description of what is lacking about copyright and key to the solution.

“An idea whose time has come” is a global database of repertoire, which called “an essential piece of global infrastructure or as an essential global public good.” This was mentioned frequently in subsequent panels at the event.

WIPO Blue Sky Commission

Creative Commons licences, a suite of licences that build on copyright law by allowing a user to select allowed freedoms, have helped but are not enough, said Lessig.

WIPO needs to form a “blue sky commission,” a “group that has the freedom to think about what architecture for copyright makes sense.”

This architecture must be: simple – “if it’s going to regulate 15-year-olds it should be something that 15-year-olds can understand”; and targeted – regulation makes sense in some areas, such as protecting professionals, but not in others, such as in amateur remixing. It also must be effective, and realistic in consideration of “actual human behaviour.”

This realism involves acknowledging what has changed since the advent of the internet, and also what has not.

For all of human history, Lessig said, human culture was “read-write.” That is, people participated in the creation and recreation of culture. The 20th century has been unique in human culture, because the development of technologies of broadcasting and vinyl records produced an environment which enabled “efficient consumption, but inefficient amateur production.” This created a world that was “read only,” a “passive, consuming culture.” The internet has brought back that read-write environment.

The war on piracy has been going on for 10 years. “For some, the response to a totally failed war is to up the stakes, to punish more vigorously.” But this will only fuel the copyright “abolitionist” movement, said Lessig, adding he was “against extremisms, because both lead to destruction of core value of copyright.”

“We are not going to kill these technologies,” Lessig said. “We can’t stop the kids’ creativity, only drive it underground. [We] can’t make our kids passive, we can only make them pirates.”

Larry Lessig and Francis Gurry speaking at WIPO.


Kaitlin Mara may be reached at


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Study Of Public Domain, Copyright At WIPO Offers Recommendations

Intellectual Property Watch
26 November 2010

Study Of Public Domain, Copyright At WIPO Offers Recommendations

By Catherine Saez @ 8:48 am

A better definition of the public domain is needed, but copyright and public domain are not antagonistic, said a study commissioned by the World Intellectual Property Organization presented this week. Also this week, a book on the role of copyright in access to knowledge in Africa was launched.

The study was presented in a side event to the WIPO Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP), which monitors the implementation of the 45 recommendations of the WIPO Development Agenda and is meeting from 22 to 26 November. Among those recommendations, some are specifically targeted towards the preservation of the public domain.

The public domain is an important part of copyright and IP in general, said study author Severine Dusollier, professor at the University of Namur (Belgium). The study was completed in May, and commissioned by WIPO as part of a series of studies and surveys to address concerns raised under recommendations 16 and 20 of the WIPO Development

Dusollier presented the study during the side event and at the plenary on Tuesday.

Recommendation 16 asks to “consider the preservation of the public domain within WIPO’s normative processes and deepens the analysis of the implication and benefits of a rich and accessible public domain.” And Recommendation 20 asks to “promote norm-setting activities related to intellectual property that support a robust public domain in WIPO’s member states (…).”

There is no antagonism between copyright and public domain, Dusollier said. The role of the public domain is to promote cultural heritage, and make it available. It allows low-cost access to works and can even give “a new life” to works out of copyright, and new interest from the public, she said, giving the example of the work of Freud which went into the public domain in Europe last year. In only the first six month of 2010, a number of new editions of Freud’s work were released, she said.

One of the main problems of the public domain is a question of definition, she said. It is by default defined by elements not protected by copyright. However, there is need for a more positive definition, not only the inverted image of copyright, she said. This leads to a situation where there is no protection of the public domain as such and no fixed boundaries as the public domain is linked to variations of copyright laws.

The difficulties related to the public domain definition also come from the principle of territoriality which makes it very difficult to identify the public domain in a cross-border project for example. The temporal scope of the protection also varies widely from one country to another, she said. The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works gives 50 years minimum protection but most countries have 70 year term of protection, up to 100 years in Mexico. A number of countries have repeatedly extended copyright term, which has led to increasing criticism from civil society.

The study offered a set of recommendations. To address identification issues, the rule of territoriality should be discussed, said Dusollier. Also, work should be done on the validity of the relinquishment of copyright, such as the publishing of works under a Creative Commons licence, and some international effort should be put into developing infrastructures for data. On availability and sustainability, the study recommends an enhanced role of cultural institutions such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and libraries.

Work should also be undertaken to assess the effect of any extension of copyright on the public domain, Dusollier said, adding that renewed exclusivity in public domain material by IP rights or technical measures of protection on this material should be prohibited.

Dusollier made a personal recommendation to pay special attention to technical protection measures, which have been applied to music because music is not protected by neighbouring rights, but could prove problematic if applied to other areas such as e-books. A new Shakespeare edition with two new introduction pages could be copyrighted for those two pages and have technical protection measures preventing access to the rest of the text, though it is in the public domain.

Access to Knowledge in Africa and Copyright

Separately, on 23 November, Geneva-based think tank IQsensato and the African Copyright and Access to Knowledge Project (ACA2K) launched a book entitled, Access to Knowledge in Africa: The Role of Copyright.

The book aims to provide readers with a clearer picture of the legal and practical issues created by copyright for access to learning materials in Africa and provides information on best policies and practices that would enable a wider access. The book is based on the work of ACA2K and focuses on access to knowledge in eight African countries: Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa, and Uganda.

Licensed under creative commons, the book can be downloaded here.

Catherine Saez may be reached at


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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Adventures In The Economy of Attention

In a post published earlier Tuesday on his blog, Four Four (, Mr. Juzwiak, a senior editor at, recounted how he and Kate Spencer, the editor of the VH1 site, came up with the idea for a video compiling Ms. Swift’s facial reactions to her victories at the Country Music Association Awards, the Grammys and other awards ceremonies. On Nov. 16 they published their video, “Taylor Swift Is Surprised,” at Four Four and

That same day, Mr. Juzwiak said, he was contacted by Sean O’Rourke, a research coordinator for “The Tonight Show,” who wanted to use the video on the broadcast. In that conversation and in several subsequent exchanges, Mr. Juzwiak said, he expressed concern that he and Ms. Spencer be properly credited for their work.

The montage Mr. Leno played on Monday night seemed to take its inspiration from “Taylor Swift Is Surprised,” using several of the same awards-show scenes in the same order for the same duration. (The “Tonight Show” segment, however, uses some high-definition video where Mr. Juzwiak and Ms. Spencer’s segment used YouTube clips or video they recorded on their DVRs.)

But when Mr. Leno introduced the segment, he told Ms. Swift, “We put together a little montage of you being surprised.” Neither Mr. Juzwiak nor Ms. Spencer was mentioned, and Monday’s “Tonight Show” carried no closing credits.

In his post on Tuesday Mr. Juzwiak wrote that he wasn’t going to “stand by and watch when someone’s going to be so rude as to swipe something I worked on just because it was made for the Internet.”

He continued: “Newsflash to the mainstream media: just like you have actual human beings making you work, so does the Internet! A little respect for the people providing your content would be nice!”

This is a situation Mr. Juzwiak has found himself in before. In May NPR ran a correction to a report it had broadcast on “Morning Edition” and posted on about cellphones in contemporary horror movies, acknowledging that it “did not adequately attribute” a video Mr. Juzwiak posted in 2009 that the report drew on. (The NPR correction was published after Mr. Juzwiak waged a very public complaint campaign on his blog and on his Twitter account.)

In the case of “Taylor Swift Is Surprised” Mr. Juzwiak said that he had been told by “The Tonight Show” that he and Ms. Spencer would receive attribution on Tuesday for their contributions, an account that was confirmed by a press representative at NBC.

Early Wednesday morning, just before Mr. Leno signed off for the night, “The Tonight Show” made good on its word: a credit appeared that read, “Last night’s Taylor Swift montage provided by Rich Juzwiak of and Kate Spencer of”

In a telephone interview on Wednesday morning Mr. Juzwiak said he almost preferred that “The Tonight Show” had credited him and Ms. Spencer after the fact rather than up front, explaining that this paid him higher dividends in “the economy of attention.”

“It’s preferable just in the sense that it gets me more attention,” he said. “A lot more people cared. I feel like a few people would have high-fived me on Twitter if they had seen this thing go down. This reached people who don’t care about Jay Leno whatsoever, who weren’t watching his show anyway.”

A press representative for “The Tonight Show” declined to comment further on Wednesday.

Copyright: what do we want it to do? |

Teenage girl watching YouTube YouTube’s users produce 29 hours of video every minute, the vast majority of it independently produced material. Photograph: David J. Green/Alamy

A recurring question in discussions of digital copyright is how creators and their investors (that is, labels, movie studios, publishers, etc) will earn a living in the digital era.

But though I've had that question posed to me thousands of times, no one has ever said which creators and which investors are to earn a living, and what constitutes "a living".

Copyright is in tremendous flux at the moment; governments all over the world are considering what their copyright systems should look like in the 21st century, and it's probably a good idea to nail down what we want copyright to do. Otherwise the question "Is copyright working?" becomes as meaningless as "How long is a piece of string?"

Let's start by saying that there is only one regulation that would provide everyone who wants to be an artist with a middle-class income. It's a very simple rule: "If you call yourself an artist, the government will pay you £40,000 a year until you stop calling yourself an artist."

Short of this wildly unlikely regulation, full employment in the arts is a beautiful and improbable dream. Certainly, no copyright system can attain this. If copyright is to have winners and losers, then let's start talking about who we want to see winning, and what victory should be.

In my world, copyright's purpose is to encourage the widest participation in culture that we can manage – that is, it should be a system that encourages the most diverse set of creators, creating the most diverse set of works, to reach the most diverse audiences as is practical.

That is, I don't want a copyright system that precludes making money on art, since there are some people who make good art who, credibly, would make less of it if there wasn't any money to be had. But at the same time, I don't think that you can judge a copyright system by how much money it delivers to creators – imagine a copyright system for films that allowed only one single 15-minute short film to be made every year, which, by dint of its rarity, turned over £1bn. If only one person gets to make one movie, I don't care how much money the system brings in, it's not as good as one in which lots of people get to make lots of movies.

Diversity of participation matters because participation in the arts is a form of expression and, here in the west's liberal democracies, we take it as read that the state should limit expression as little as possible and encourage it as much as possible. It seems silly to have to say this, but it's worth noting here because when we talk about copyright, we're not just talking about who pays how much to get access to which art, we're talking about a regulation that has the power to midwife, or strangle, enormous amounts of expressive speech.

Here's something else copyright can't and won't do and doesn't do: deliver a market where creators (or investors) set a price for creative works, and audiences buy those works or don't, letting the best float to the top in a pure and free marketplace. Copyright has never really worked like this, and it certainly doesn't work like this today.

For example, it's been more than a century since legal systems around the world took away songwriters' ability to control who performed their songs. This began with the first records, which were viewed as a form of theft by the composers of the day. You see, composers back then were in the sheet-music business: they used a copying device (the printing press) to generate a product that musicians could buy.

When recording technology came along, musicians began to play the tunes on the sheet music they'd bought into microphones and release commercial recordings of their performances. The composers fumed that this was piracy of their music, but the performers said: "You sold us this sheet music – now you're telling us we're not allowed to play it? What did you think we were going to do with it?"

The law's answer to this was a Solomonic divide-the-baby solution: performers were free to record any composition that had been published, but they had to pay a set rate for every recording they sold. This rate was paid to a collective rights society, and today, these societies thrive, collecting fees for all sorts of "performances" where musicians and composers get little or no say. For example, radio stations, shopping malls, and even hairdressers buy licences that allow them to play whatever music they can find. The music is sampled by more or less accurate means and dispersed to artists by more or less fair means.

Fair for all?

Of course, some artists argue that the sampling and dispersal are unfair, but it's a rare artist who says that the principal of collective licensing is itself a form of theft. No one wants to get a phone call every 15 minutes from some suburban barman who wants to know if playing their 20-year-old hit on the karaoke machine is going to cost 15p or 25p in licence fees.

There is an ancient copyright agreement that Victor Hugo came up with called the Berne Convention that most western nations are parties to. If you read the agreement closely, it seems to make this whole business of blanket licensing illegal. When I've asked international copyright specialists how all these Berne nations can have radio stations and karaoke bars and hairdressers and such playing music without negotiating all their playlists one at a time, the usual answer is: "Well, technically, I suppose, they shouldn't. But there's an awful lot of money changing hands, mostly in the direction of labels and artists, so who's going to complain, really?"

Which is by way of affirming that grand old Americanism: money talks and bullshit walks. Where the stiff-necked moral right of a copyright holder to control usage rubs up against the practicalities of allowing an entire industry's capacity for cultural exchange and use, the law usually responds by converting the moral right to an economic right.

Rather than having the right to specify who may use your works, you merely get the right to get paid when the use takes place.

Now, on hearing this, you might be thinking: "Good God, that's practically Stalinist! Why can't a poor creator have the right to choose who can use her works?" Well, the reason is that creators (and, notably, their industrial investors) are notoriously resistant to new media. The composers damned the record companies as pirates; the record labels damned the radio for its piracy; broadcasters vilified the cable companies for taking their signals; cable companies fought the VCR for its recording "theft." Big entertainment tried to kill FM radio, TV remote controls (which made it easy to switch away from adverts), jukeboxes, and so on, all the way back to the protestant reformation's fight over who got to read the Bible.

Given that new media typically allow new creators to create new forms of material that is pleasing to new audiences, it's hard to justify giving the current lotto winners a veto over the next generation of disruptive technologies. Especially when the winners of today were the pirates of yesteryear. Turnabout is fair play.

So the best copyright isn't the one that lets every creator license every use of her work piecemeal. Instead, it's the system that allows for such licensing, except where other forms of licensing – or no licensing at all – makes sense. For example, in the US, which has the largest, most profitable broadcast and cable industry in the world, the law gives no compensation rights to rightsholders for home recording of TV shows. There's no levy on blank cassettes or PVRs in exchange for the right to record off the telly. It's free, and it has conspicuously failed to destroy American TV.

There are whole classes of creation and copying that fall into this category: in fashion, for example, designs enjoy limited or no protection under the law. And each year's designer rags are instantaneously pirated by knock-down shops as soon as they appear on the runway. But should we protect fashion the way we do music or books?

It's hard to see why, apart from a foolish consistency: certainly, every currently ascendant fashion designer who'd benefit from such a thing started out by knocking off other designers. And there's no indication that fashion is under-invested, or fails to attract new talent, or that there is a lack of new fashion available to the public. Creating exclusive rights for fashion designers might allow more money to be made by today's winners, but these winners are already making as many designs as they can, and so the net diversity of fashion available to the world would fall off.

It's all about balance

Back to the question: what does a good copyright look like?

Well, it's got to be both evidence-based and balanced. For example, if architects come forward with the claim that they need to be able to control photos of their buildings or no one will invest in an architect's education, they'd better have some pretty compelling evidence to back up that claim. On the one hand, we have the incontrovertible fact that today, prospective architects spend a lot of money on professional training without any such guarantee.

Of course, it's easy to imagine that more people would enroll in architecture schools if designing a building gave you a copyright in its likeness – everyone who wanted to photograph a public road would have to pay you a licence fee for the use of "your" building. But given that there's no evidence that architecture programmes are wasting away for want of students, and given that architects seem to be thriving as a trade everywhere, the evidence suggests that we don't need to give architects these rights.

That's evidence, but what about balance? Well, say that tomorrow, the number of architects did shelve off radically, and no one could find anyone to draw up plans for a new conservatory or mansard roof anymore.

How could we save architecture? Well, we could give architects a copyright in the likeness of their buildings, and essentially put architects in the rent-collecting business: rather than devoting all their time to designing buildings, architects would spend most of their time sending legal threats to sites like Flickr and Picasa and TwitPic whenever some poor sod uploaded a picture of his flat's exterior Christmas decorations and inadvertently violated the architect's copyright.

This would certainly make more money for some architects (especially ones whose buildings were situated near public webcams – everyone who operated one of those would have to stump up for a license!). But the public cost would be enormous. Instead of the mere absurdity of coppers going around ticking off tourists for photographing public buildings (as though bombing was a precision undertaking, requiring that terrorists photograph buildings in detail before wandering into them with bombs under their coats and blowing themselves up); we'd have vast armies of private security guards representing the far-flung descendants of Christopher Wren and that miserable bastard who designed the awful tower-block at the end of my road in 1965 or so, hassling anyone who took out a camera to snap a picture of the car that just ran them over, or their kids adorably eating ice-cream, or their mates heaving up a kebab into the gutter after a night's revels.

Google Street View would be impossible. So would holiday snaps. Amateur photography. Fashion shoots. News photography. Documentary film-making.

Essentially, the cost of recording your life as you live it, capturing your memorable moments, would go to infinity, as you had to figure out how to contact and buy licences from thousands of obscure architects or their licencees. Surely in this case, the costs outweigh the benefits (and yes, I'm perfectly aware that certain European countries were stupid enough to give architects this right – there are also places in the world that prohibit women from driving cars, where they chop down rainforests to graze cattle, and where the used car adverts feature florid men wearing foam cowboy hats screaming into a camera – if everyone in France jumped off the Eiffel Tower, would you do it too?).

Making copyright work right online

So a balanced and evidence-based copyright policy is one that requires creators to show a need for protection, and also that the protection sought will deliver more benefit than the cost it implies.

How would this apply to the internet? Take music downloads. By the music industry's own account, the pay-per-download systems only capture a minute fraction of the music traded on the net. But a blanket licence that ISPs could opt into that entitled the ISP's customers to download and share all the music they wanted would deliver evergreen profits to the record industry – without necessitating spying, lawsuits, and threats of disconnection from the internet.

If the price was right, practically every ISP would opt into the system, since the cost of the legal headaches attending the operation of a service without such a licence would be more expensive than getting legit. Then we could focus on making the collection and dispersal of fees and the sampling of music downloading as transparent as possible, bringing 21st century metrics to bear on making sure that artists are fairly compensated (rather than spending vast sums figuring out which music fans to send legal threats to this month).

Now, take $300m CGI summer blockbuster films: if the producers of these things are to be believed, the ongoing capacity to produce glitzy, big budget productions demands that services like YouTube be shut off (see, for example, Viacom's lawsuit against Google over YouTube).

If this is true – I'm no movie exec, maybe it is – then we need to ask ourselves the "balance" question: YouTube's users produce 29 hours of video every minute and the vast majority of it is not infringing TV and movie clips, it is independently produced material that accounts for more viewer-minutes than television. So, the big studios' demand amounts to this: "You must shut down the system that delivers billions of hours of enjoyment to hundreds of millions of people so that we can go on delivering about 20 hours' worth of big budget film every summer."

To me, this is a no brainer. I mean, I love sitting in an air-conditioned cave watching Bruce Willis beat up a fighter jet with his bare hands as much as the next guy, but if I have to choose between that and all of YouTube, well, sorry Bruce.

The rejoinder I hear from the film industry in these discussions is downright bizarre: they cite the fact that all those billions of hours' worth of material on YouTube cost very little to make, and consequently, YouTube is able to pay very small sums of money in ad revenue and still get all that video. To hear an industrialist damning a competitor because he's figured out a way of making a competing product that costs a lot less is just weird. There is no virtue in spending a lot of money.

Anyone can do it. Spending small sums of money to make something great – well, that's just magic.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

SNL Kagan: TV Subscribers Down for Second Consecutive Quarter - The Hollywood Reporter

NEW YORK - Research firm SNL Kagan made it official on Wednesday - the U.S. multichannel TV industry experienced its second subscriber decline in the third quarter following a drop in the second quarter.

And one of its analysts weighed in on the cord cutting debate that has gripped the industry, suggesting that it is real and that new online video, or so-called over-the-top, options may indeed play a role in the trend and make it a fundamental challenge for cable operators.
Cable executives on the other hand have pointed to a weak economy and other factors - such as accelerated growth in last year's digital TV transition that saw customers sign up, often thanks to special promotions, that are now in some cases leaving - as key drivers of what they argue will be a temporary phenomenon.
Total industry subscriber count fell by 119,000 customers in the third quarter, compared with a 346,000 gain in the year-ago period. For the second quarter, it had recorded a decline of 216,000.
The culprit were cable operators, which lost 741,000 basic video customers in third quarter, the single largest quarterly drop for cable since SNL Kagan began compiling data in 1980.
Telecom firms added 476,000 customers, and satellite TV providers added 145,000 subscribers, according to SNL Kagan.
"Operators are pointing to a continuation of the forces that pushed subscriber gains into negative territory in the second quarter, including the weak economy, high unemployment and elevated churn of former over-the-air households,” said SNL Kagan analyst Ian Olgeirson. “However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to dismiss the impact of over-the-top substitution on video subscriber performance, particularly after seeing declines during the period of the year that tends to produce the largest subscriber gains due to seasonal shifts back to television viewing and subscription packages.”

In an event organized by the Paley Center for Media, Time Warner chairman and CEO was asked about the second straight pay TV subscriber decline.
Citing heated competition for subscribers between cable, satellite and telecom firms, he said there could be a situation where people could cut their cable suscription cord. But he also highlighted the current recession as a key driving force. The good news for cable network owners like TW though is that the overall long-term trend has been up in subscribers, advertising revenue and the like.

Business Models For Musical Performers: A Mimiandeunicean Perspective

Stealing Labor:


Stealing Labor

Killing Music:

Killing Music


from Nina Paley's Mimi & Eunice


Sunday, November 21, 2010

"Put up or shut up" time for US Copyright Group

The US Copyright Group (USCG) has sued more than 16,000 people this year for sharing movies online, with the lawsuits all based on anonymous IP addresses—but it has yet to actually name a single defendant. When an ISP looks up the subscriber name associated with an IP address, USCG doesn't immediately add that name to its lawsuit; it sends out a settlement letter, asking the person to pay a few thousand dollars in order not to be sued.

How long can this go on before the lawyers either have to sue or stop threatening to sue? Not long. Federal Judge Rosemary Collyer, who oversees several of these cases in the DC District Court, wants to see action. In March 2010, USCG brought cases for the films Far Cry and The Steam Experiment, and Collyer set an initial deadline to name defendants in July, later extended to November 18. When November 18 came along, USCG asked the judge to extend their time again… for nearly five years.

The request stems from the fact that ISP Time Warner had earlier complained about the cost of processing all these lookups. As a result, Time Warner only has to do 28 USCG lookups each month—and those are split between the two separate cases. In the Far Cry case, for instance, this means that USCG will only learn the identities of 14 people each month. With almost 800 IP addresses to look up in the Far Cry case alone, this could take 58 months to resolve, and the lawyers want that entire length of time before they have to name anyone in a federal lawsuit.

Collyer is having none of it. "The request is patently unfair and prejudicial to all John Does who have been identified by an ISP," she wrote on Friday. 

Instead of five years, USCG has until December 6 to name those it wants to sue (and it can only sue those it believes the court has personal jurisdiction over). The order only applies to the IP addresses for which ISPs have provided a name; those IP addresses that have yet to be looked up are exempt, but Collyer has no intention of letting the whole process drag out for years when accused file-swappers are already filling her docket on a daily basis with complaints about jurisdiction. If USCG has the names, it needs to act.

One attorney representing file-sharing defendants told Ars this weekend that the order was "what it looks like when a judge starts to lose her patience," and that Collyer wants USCG to "sh-- or get off the pot." Another attorney called it a "step up or step off" order.

Since USCG already knows most of the names behind the 4,577 Far Cry and the 1,653 Steam Experiment IP addresses, we should—finally—know within weeks who it actually intends to sue in these cases.

Oringinality, Tradition and the Individual

Melvin Bragg, on the BBC radio program(me) In Our Time, conducts a fascinating discussion on the idea of "originality" in art.  Participants dicsuss, at several points, this remarkable essay by T.S. Eliot on Tradition and the Individual Talent.




How Can Technology "Want" Anything?

NPR's Radiolab brings us a fascinating discussion...

Download now or listen on posterous
radiolab_podcast10tech.mp3 (23254 KB)

Johnny Cash, Paradoxicalist

Description from an auction catalogue:
A Johnny Cash handwritten "To Do" list that reads as follow: "1. Not smoke, 2. Kiss June, 3. Not kiss anyone else, 4. Cough, 5. Pee, 6. Eat, 7. Not eat too much, 8. Worry, 9. Go see Mama, 10. Practice piano." In the "Notes" section, Cash has written, "Not Write Notes." This item can be seen on page 64 of the book, Cash: An American Man, published by Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster, 2004. 8 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches

Friday, November 19, 2010

Where Are They Now?

Both of my kids, Ruth and Joel, were born and raised in Park Terrace Gardens.  Ruth is currently in her second year at Grinnell College in Iowa...but she doesn't seem to have generated any publicly-accessible Web presence lately -- except this.  Joel, who graduated Oberlin College in Ohio a year and a half ago, now works (via AmeriCorps VISTA) as a "Green Jobs Coordinator" at a non-profit in Cleveland, called Hard-Hatted Women.  He has, for some time (and on and off) maintained a politics-centered weblog named Citizen Obie.  He calls it  "a work in progress(ive) activist-analysis blog dedicated to the development of civic identity and agency".

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pulling a Tinkerbell

I stand accused, in semi-public, of being a thieving, traitorous hijacker merely for having started this website.  I will spare you the details unless you ask me to share them but be warned:  it isn't as interesting as it sounds.  Let me say that I believe that my motives have been misinterpreted and the facts of the matter misunderstood; the accusation has NOT caused me to go into any tailspins of self-doubt.  Those accusations do, however, make me wonder if this site is worth continuing.  This question, in turn, leads me to pose a question which I hadn't intended to pose for a few months yet:  Should I continue this website?  Do you care if it lives or dies?  Clap if you believe in fairies (I know I'll be sorry I said that...)

Putting this website together has been an effort and keeping it going will require an ongoing effort.  If you would like to see it continue please either comment below or send an email to "ptgreview" at  I'm thinking ten or fifteen "yeas" will be enough to convince me to keep going for awhile...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sita on the Big Screen – Free! Monday

Nina Paley writes on her blog:

The Big Screen Project is a giant 30 ft. x 16.5 ft. HD screen located in a public plaza behind at 6th Avenue between 29th and 30th Street in New York City. They haven’t officially launched yet, but they have started screening films, including Sita Sings the Blues. Although they plan to screen Sita several times in the coming days, this Monday Nov. 22 will be special, because I will be there!

Mon., Nov.22 – 7:00-8:30 pm

Please come on by, it’ll be more fun if there are some Sita fans around. It’s free and open to the public, everyone is welcome (they’ll try to sell you food and drinks, but no purchase necessary). Audio is provided through FM headsets, supplied for free in the food hall/bar area adjoining the plaza. It’ll probably be cold outside, so I plan to watch indoors, through the gigantic plate glass windows, perhaps while nibbling something tasty. I’ll bring my merch bag, too, if anyone wants to buy DVDs and trinkets from the source.

Other planned screening times (I won’t be there):

Tonight (Nov. 17) from 9:00-10:30
Wed. Nov.24 – 10:30-12:00
Sun., Nov.28 – 8:30M-10:00AM
Sun., Nov.28 – 3:30-5:00

Social Network Analysis -- Correspondence In the 18th Century

Here is a significant new(ish) tool for understanding the humanities. We may very well gain new insights into the development of thought, the exercise of influence, the evolution of the written word (perhaps even the spoken word), the contexts of debate and creation, and numerous other fascinating topics. It is, however, a tool of understanding. We will be wise to remember that data derived from these techniques will require analysis as careful as (if not more careful than) the scholarship which has preceded it. The facts, in these matters, do not speak for themselves. They may, however, be more noticeable...


Stanford technology helps scholars get 'big picture' of the Enlightenment

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hollywood studios sue over "bowdlerized" DVDs

The big studios are on the warpath against the Family Friendly Edited DVDs company, which deletes the risque content from Hollywood fare for resale online. A small truckload of movie makers have sued the outfit in an Arizona federal district court. The plaintiffs include Paramount, Warner Brothers, Sony, Disney, Universal, and Fox.

"Defendants are in the business of preparing, copying and distributing bowdlerized versions of movies, including the Motion Pictures, to which Defendants do not own the copyrights. This constitutes willful copyright infringement," their complaint charges.

Out bleeped spot!

"Bowdlerized"—now there's a word you don't see in print too often any more. Thomas Bowdler was the editor of his Family Shakespeare, first released in four volumes in 1807. It cleaned the nasty bits out of The Bard's major works.

"I acknowledge Shakespeare to be the world's greatest dramatic poet, but regret that no parent could place the uncorrected book in the hands of his daughter, and therefore I have prepared the Family Shakespeare," Bowdler famously declared.

Thus Lady Macbeth's famous utterance "Out, Damned spot" became "Out, Crimson spot," and Mercutio's "the bawdy hand of the dial is now upon the prick of noon"  became "the hand of the dial is now upon the point of noon."

Whatever you think of this sort of editing, Bowdler had an advantage over his heirs. Shakespeare's works were in the public domain. The flicks that Family Friendly tidies up and resells for ten bucks a pop are not. They include Bravehart, Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, and Glory.

The studios don't appreciate this sort of service. They want a "temporary, preliminary and permanent" injunction against Family Friendly's activities, plus an order requiring the company to "deliver up for impound and disposal" its inventory. Looks like the outfit is already working on that, advertising a "liquidation" sale of all their fare.

This isn't the first time this sort of controversy has come up. There were similar enterprises in the middle of the decade, but most got their clocks cleaned by infringement suits.

We contacted Family Friendly for comment but received no reply.

Oh, Boy! PTG Review Has Its First Twitter Follower!

...and she sells plastic surgery in a bottle!!/EGSkincare

If you would like to be notified of PTG Review posts via twitter you need only look to the link (actually there are two, for redundancy's sake) to the right.  Come on, you know you're hanging on our every word!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Nazis Were Given ‘Safe Haven’ in U.S., Report Says -

WASHINGTON — A secret history of the United States government’s Nazi-hunting operation concludes that American intelligence officials created a “safe haven” in the United States for Nazis and their collaborators after World War II, and it details decades of clashes, often hidden, with other nations over war criminals here and abroad.

Dave Dieter/The Huntsville Times, via Associated Press

Arthur Rudolph, in 1990, was a rocket scientist for Nazi Germany and NASA.

Associated Press

Dr. Josef Mengele in 1956.

The 600-page report, which the Justice Department has tried to keep secret for four years, provides new evidence about more than two dozen of the most notorious Nazi cases of the last three decades.

It describes the government’s posthumous pursuit of Dr. Josef Mengele, the so-called Angel of Death at Auschwitz, part of whose scalp was kept in a Justice Department official’s drawer; the vigilante killing of a former Waffen SS soldier in New Jersey; and the government’s mistaken identification of the Treblinka concentration camp guard known as Ivan the Terrible.

The report catalogs both the successes and failures of the band of lawyers, historians and investigators at the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which was created in 1979 to deport Nazis.

Perhaps the report’s most damning disclosures come in assessing the Central Intelligence Agency’s involvement with Nazi émigrés. Scholars and previous government reports had acknowledged the C.I.A.’s use of Nazis for postwar intelligence purposes. But this report goes further in documenting the level of American complicity and deception in such operations.

The Justice Department report, describing what it calls “the government’s collaboration with persecutors,” says that O.S.I investigators learned that some of the Nazis “were indeed knowingly granted entry” to the United States, even though government officials were aware of their pasts. “America, which prided itself on being a safe haven for the persecuted, became — in some small measure — a safe haven for persecutors as well,” it said.


Quidditch World Cup 2010 - Live Coverage by Washington Square News

Colored Me – An Irish Historian Investigates American Racism, Eugenics Of The Past

When Nazi sci­en­tists looked for evi­dence to sup­port their eugenic the­o­ries, they gen­er­ally turned to the advanced work Amer­i­cans were doing on the sub­ject. Amer­i­can eugeni­cists would often use the phrase “final solu­tion” when talk­ing about the prob­lem of the unfit. They meant the elim­i­na­tion of the genet­i­cally infe­rior, through edu­ca­tional cam­paigns, restric­tive laws or by pro­grams of invol­un­tary sterilization.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

♡License to Love

Thanks everyone for your comments on Driving Without a License. Crosbie Fitch’s last comment inspired me to make this notice:

♡ Copying art is an act of love. Please copy.

What’s great about it is it’s plain old text – you can copy and paste that heart. There is no webding for the copyleft symbol. You could also use the filled-in heart instead of the outline:

♥ copying art is an act of love. please copy.

It could be shortened:

♡ Copying is an act of love. Please copy.

and varied:

♡ Copying art is an act of love. Love is not subject to law.

The ♡ could graphically substitute for a ©. For example:

♡ 2010 by Nina Paley. Please copy.

Don’t care about attribution? Keep it simple and mysterious:

♡ 2010

The ♡ can’t be trademarked (I hope), which means it can’t be controlled. That’s fine with me. Other people can, and do, use ♡ to mean all sorts of things. But it has a shared cultural meaning that transcends any use one person could put it to. Its power is that it’s not a license, not a trademark. It’s not subject to law.
Love is not subject to law.

What do you think?

Democracy (1945) -- An Educational Film

Here's another of those just-post-WWII educational films from Britannica. In some respects, as a commenter notes at, it has aged quite well. It is simplistic, of course, but that's to be expected in a film designed to be an introduction for school-age children. I do, however, have a few immediate observations about the rhetoric of the film.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Talk About Niche Programming!

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Despotism (1946): Encyclopaedia Britannica Films","scaling":"fit","provider":"h264streaming"}],"clip":{"autoPlay":true,"baseUrl":"","scaling":"fit","provider":"h264streaming"},"canvas":{"backgroundColor":"#000000","backgroundGradient":"none"},"plugins":{"audio":{"url":""},"controls":{"playlist":false,"fullscreen":true,"height":26,"backgroundColor":"#000000","autoHide":{"fullscreenOnly":true}},"viral":{"url":"","embed":false,"email":{"texts":{"subject":"Internet Archive video -- Despotism","template":"{0} Video Link: <href=\"\"></a>","message":"We will fill out the video link, title, and subject for you. You may add an additional personal message to the body here"}},"share":{"title":"Click an icon to share this recording (allow pop ups for this feature)","description":"Despotism at","livespaces":false}},"h264streaming":{"url":""}},"contextMenu":[{"":"function()"},"-","Flowplayer v3.2.1"],"playerId":"flowplayerdiv"}" />

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Panellists: Copyright Law’s ‘Byzantine Maze’ Stalling New Business Models

Panellists: Copyright Law’s ‘Byzantine Maze’ Stalling New Business Models

By Kaitlin Mara @ 11:30 am

While piracy remains an oft-cited problem for the creative content industry, it is the ‘Byzantine maze’ of copyright law that is stalling monetisation of new business models better designed to deliver content in the digital age, panellists at the World Intellectual Property Organization said last week.

The internet has presented the “greatest opportunity in human history,” said Joe Kennedy, CEO of internet radio service Pandora (currently only available in the United States). The digital era has provided chances for “expansion of access to culture,” an inexpensive way of forging between people, and an “opportunity for millions of content creators to connect with billions of consumers around the world.” he said. “Creators benefit from [a] bigger audience [and] market; consumers benefit from greater choice.”

But the problem is that this market “is extremely inefficient” and copyright a “Byzantine maze” one must navigate, said Kennedy. “Copyright is more important than ever, but the copyright framework that exists today will not allow the opportunity to be realised.” `

Critical changes to the copyright system need to be made with the “same urgency” as the fight against copyright piracy, he said.

“We are going to end up in a purely digital world.” said Scott Martin, executive vice-president of IP and associate general counsel of Paramount Pictures in Hollywood. “The difficult part is the transition.” He predicted streaming, rather than downloading, would be the future for content.

New business models are already springing up, but it has proved difficult to make them work, said several speakers on a panel called Licensing Content Online: New Trends. The panel was a part of an event on copyright in the digital environment, held at the World Intellectual Property Organization on 4-5 November.

The system as it is set up “does not permit us to maximise the economic benefit to rights holders,” said Zahavah Levine of digital media giant YouTube.

“Millions of dollars in YouTube is sitting on the table unearned by YouTube or content owners because of the complexity of the [copyright] system,” which she agreed was a “Byzantine maze.”

Collective licensing approaches designed for digital music services and the “rationalisation of inefficient national services that ultimately conspire to diminish compensation to creators” are important steps, Kennedy said.

Other panellists said companies should look to online streaming rather than downloads, developing markets, and subscription services as potential future outlets for business in the creative arena.

New Models in Music

One potential new model that made headlines in recent years was the release of the album In Rainbows by Radiohead. The band released the album online and allowed users to pay what they wanted – including nothing at all – for the music during the first several weeks of its release. Another band, Nine Inch Nails, later released two albums under a Creative Commons licence. Radiohead’s manager, Brian Message, spoke to Intellectual Property Watch at the WIPO event. Message is also chairman of the Music Manager’s Forum (UK).

This “notion of control of [a] copyright” is a “fabulous financial engineering tool,” Message said in the interview. That mechanism for investing is attractive because it is “something that the financial world understands,” and that “drives capital into the business.”

Traditionally, artists sell or long-term lease their music to a record label. But that causes “disharmony” because one party has a different objective than another party, Message said. So there is an “artist versus label” mentality – “and it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Message is trying a new model. In music, as in any other business, you have small start-ups, he said. Young artists are like a start-up, and treating them as such yields a very different business model than the traditional one of fractured copyright ownership. Instead, there is an “investing partnership” where there is “aligned financial interest” between artists and manager.

In his model, artists retain their own copyright. “I like artists owning their own rights; it is very empowering,” Message said. This new investment model allows a great deal more creativity in how music is monetised, as the artist and manager “exploit the world together” in ways that can go far beyond just album sales and merchandise, he said. During the panel he also said he appreciated “new trends where artists and consumers can collectively work together, [and] a licensing arrangement that is not about control, [and] not about exclusive rights.”

One example of this is the band McFly, he said. After being dropped from their record label, the band launched a new website and charged £40 to be part of it, limiting the number of potential members to 10,000 people. They sold out in a morning, and had 55,000 requests, Message said. This is “not about hits or album sales but about the relationship between artists and the fan base,” said Message.

“One of the major trends [in the digital age] is the development of this two-way relationship between the creator and the fan,” said Message. Peer to peer sharing – often seen as an enemy by the recording industry – “forms an important part of that relationship, it’s an important dynamic,” he said. Several artists have used” peer to peer networking as a way to develop a business.

Brian Message speaking at WIPO
Another example is the band Metric, which sold stems to its songs (that is, the individual components of the songs, such as voice or base, separated to allow for easy remixing) for $2, encouraging people to remix them. Within four weeks, Message said, there were 12,000 remixes. These remixes were re-issued under a Creative Commons licence, useful for their flexibility. It is “not so much the existence of copyright but how it is used,” he said, adding “let’s liberate it.”

“Part of my challenge,” said Message, “is trying to get investing communities to see young artists and young talent the way they see young businesses.”

In a €1 billion euro investment plan intended to jump-start small businesses in the United Kingdom, none went to music. Message said he had tried with a start-up band called The Rifles but they were unable to get any banks to give them money. They were told, said Message that “if we were a Domino’s pizza franchise we would have gotten” the loan, but the banks cannot “get their heads around the complex environment of music.”

New Models in Video

Joe Kennedy at WIPO
“The biggest issue [in copyright] is administration … how can we pay you for what you control if we don’t know what you own?” said Levine, adding that collection societies often resist telling YouTube what they own and that there is no publicly available database that provides this information.

The video of a birthday party with a hit song in the background has several rights holders: the user who took the video (and owns the visual), the song (most likely owned by a record label), and then often several music publishers who own the music publishing. All must be contacted for the video to be monetised, and often country-by-country through different collection societies.

To make matters worse, it is often unclear what collection societies control what songs. “It’s a nightmare, and if we do not fix it, if we do not simplify licensing and create a global rights database, we will continue to leave millions and millions of dollars on the table,” she said.

Francis Keeling, vice president of digital for Universal Music International in London stressed that even with new models, “piracy is stunting the growth of everything we are trying to do. It is impossible to compete with free.” This launched an extended conversation on the oft-cited example of bottled water and whether or not it is relevant to the creative content industry.

Monday, November 08, 2010

World's most "notorious" piracy market: the Internet

Once a year, the US government engages in an odd exercise: calling out the world's "notorious markets" for copyright infringement and counterfeiting, often without any evidence that the markets in question are breaking either local or US law. Instead, the list is compiled from rightsholder complaints, and the US government then puts its imprimatur on them. And this year, the "notorious markets" list will be more prominent than ever.

The US Trade Representative has published such a list for years as part of its abominably named "Special 301" process, in which intellectual property rightsholders complain to the government about how other countries have terrible IP laws. This year, the notorious markets list will become a separate report and will focus not on laws but on private companies, and peer-to-peer file-sharing hubs now top the list.

USTR insists that "the list does not represent a finding of violation of law," but critics question what the point of it is, especially since USTR wants other countries to "step up efforts to combat piracy and counterfeiting in these and similar markets."

"This is at worst a contradiction, and at best a sign of the vague purposes of the notorious markets list," said Public Knowledge in comments recently filed with the agency. "The USTR cannot evade the role it has taken on: Creating a watchlist of foreign companies it claims violate the law is a fundamentally law enforcement activity, not a trade policy activity... [USTR] has pre-decided complex legal and factual issues. It is as though the French government had stepped in to preemptively declare that a French company was in the right in a billion-dollar lawsuit against an American company."

This isn't to say that the companies appearing on the list are exemplars of virtue; indeed, many are unbelievably dodgy if not clearly illegal. US judges have already ruled against sites like IsoHunt, for instance, while Sweden has done the same to The Pirate Bay's operators.

But for other sites, legality isn't clear. For instance, the motion picture industry filed its candidates for inclusion on the list last week, and they include the cyberlocker site RapidShare. Yes, RapidShare is awash in illicit content, but both US and German courts refused to sanction the company. Many of these services rely solely on user uploads, and in many countries, that raises complicated legal questions involving safe harbors, inducement, etc.

As Public Knowledge complains, "If the USTR is going to take sides in the matter, it should articulate its reasons. What is its basis for declaring that a [Korean] webhard service is a 'notorious' infringer, and how does this service differ from an ordinary, non-infringing web host or online file locker? What is the specific factual and legal basis for placing Baidu on a watchlist, but not Yahoo or Google?"

Still, USTR is going ahead with its list. What's likely to be on it? The MPAA filing gives us a hint. Here's what the motion picture industry sees as its highest P2P priorities:

  •, Sweden
  • Demonoid, Ukraine
  • IsoHunt, Canada
  • Kickasstorrents, Sweden
  •, Russia
  • The Pirate Bay, Sweden

Next come the cyberlockers:

  •, Mexico
  • Megaupload, Netherlands
  • RapidShare, Switzerland/Germany
  • Webhards, Korea

Finally, a newsgroup site ( makes the list, its very existence showing just how willing people are to pay for content. With 200,000 regular users and subscription plans starting at US$10 a month (i.e., more than a Netflix subscription, though Netflix is not available outside the US), MPAA estimates that the site clears around €100,000 a month.

And physical markets still matter. The MPAA calls out of host of colorful operations including the Cheriomushkinsky Market in Moscow and places in Ukraine, Thailand, Indonesia, Colombia, and China. Not all markets are in distant places, however; Toronto's "Golden Horseshoe Area" flea markets also made the list.

Further reading

I don't like what the USTR is doing, here. It is NOT a law enforcement agency.

Phonology and Phonetics 101 « Replicated Typo

What I’m going to try and do in this series of posts is follow my phonology module at Cardiff. As such, these posts are essentially my notes on the topic, and may not always come across too clearly. First, I thought it would be useful to give a quick definition of both phonology and phonetics, before moving on to discuss the anatomical organisation of our vocal organs.

Phonetics and Phonology

To begin, phonetics, often referred to as the science of speech sound, is concerned with the physical production, acoustic transmission and perception of human speech sounds (see: phone). One key element of phonetics is the use of transcription to provide a one-to-one mapping between phones and written symbols (something I’ll come back to in a later post). In contrast, phonology focuses on the systematic use of sound in language to encode meaning. So, whereas phonetics is specifically concerned with human speech sounds, phonology, despite having a grounding in phonetics, links in with other levels of language through abstract sound systems and gestures. SIL provides a useful little diagram showing where phonetics and phonology lie in relation to other linguistic disciplines:

I’ll get into the nitty gritty of these two areas in the next post. For now, all I want to get across is that there’s a difference between these two overlapping subjects. One last note before moving on: much of what I will cover in the rest of this post is more concerned with phonetics than phonology.

Vocal Organs, Sound and Voice

Probably the most important organ involved in language, and ironically the one I’m not going to discuss in this post, is the brain. After all, not only is the brain used to produce and comprehend aspects of language, it is also partially shaped by the socio-cultural environment in which it is embedded — a large portion of which involves being exposed to language. I’m going to also skip over our ability to hear sounds: clearly a highly relevant feature for most of us language-users (obviously not so relevant to those of us who use sign language), but the physics of causing particles of air to move and push against other particles of air, and how our ears are anatomically designed, is something I’ll come back to at a later point. With auditory phonetics and acoustic phonetics out the window, I’ll instead focus on the other sub-discipline of phonetics: articulatory phonetics.

Articulatory Phonetics

Articulatory phonetics is primarily concerned with the airflow through the vocal tract. Specifically, it refers to how this vocal apparatus creates variation in air pressure, which in turn can be represented as sound waves that are then perceived by the human auditory system as sound. Phoneticians distinguish between two main types of sound sources within the articulatory system: periodic and aperiodic. A periodic sound follows a fairly predictable cyclical pattern (see right insert: sine wave). In language, a periodic sound is generally made at the glottis through vocal fold vibrations (although there are instances where periodic sounds are made using the tongue, as in alveolar trills). Vowels and voiced consonants are examples of periodic sounds. Conversely, aperiodic sounds are characterised through their non-repetitive patterns (see noisy sound below). The turbulent noise of fricative consonants are good examples of what phoneticians refer to as aperiodic sounds.

Next, I shall look at the airstream mechanism. At its most basic all languages make different speech sounds by moving a column of air through part of the upper body and creating various kinds of vibration and noise as the air moves (Kreidler, 2004):

It is possible to use air that is drawn into the body from outside (try to say ‘Yes’ while inhaling). A more familiar way of using ingressive air for sound-production is to produce a click, such as the tongue-tip noise which we represent as tsk-tsk, or the clucking sound that is sometimes used in getting a horse to move. To produce such clicks we create a vacuum in the mouth, then open suddenly so that air rushes in. Another way of producing an air stream is to gather a quantity of air in the throat and then eject it all at once. In almost all of our speaking, however, we use a column of air which moves up from the lungs and out the mouth or the nose or both together, and we modify the air in its passage.

You may have noticed the term ingressive in the cited paragraph, which is simply a way of describing those sounds in which the airstream is coming inward through the mouth or nose. This is in contrast to egressive where sounds are created by pushing air through the mouth or nose. For the most part, I’ll be focusing on a particular type of egressive sound known as pulmonic egressive: sounds in which the air stream is created by the lungs, ribs and diaphragm. The vast majority of languages, including English, tend use sounds that are mostly pulmonic and egressive. The specific name for stop consonants using pulmonic egressive sounds is a plosive. For example, the /p/ sound in pig is an initial voiceless plosive, which is made through a strong release of air (aspirated). Other consonant sounds include glottalic egressive (egressive), glottalic ingressive (implosive) and velaric ingressive (clicks). I’m not going to get into the specifics of these until the third post in the series on consonants, so don’t worry if you’re feeling slightly overwhelmed by all these new technical terms. The important point to take away is that different combinations of air stream mechanisms will produce different types of speech sound.

Thus far, we have basically summarised speech as the following: a sound, or collection of sounds, made by an obstruction or near obstruction of the airflow. Below is a picture of most of the vocal organs. As you might’ve already noticed, one obvious absence is that of the lungs: these are crucial in that their expansion or contraction will determine when air is let in or let out. Air released from our lungs will travel up to the second notable exception: the trachea (also known as the windpipe). We now arrive at the larynx (see below): here, the primary vibration needed for speech is produced by the vocal cords. At the pharynx, located just above the larynx, the air stream can go up into either the oral cavity or the nasal cavity. In the diagram below, the soft palate or velum (just above the arrow for pharynx) will allow for air to pass through both the nose and mouth. Normally, the soft palate will be raised in speech, stopping air from escaping through the nasal cavity. Sounds such as /k/ and /g/ are examples of what we call velar consonants: when the tongue is in contact with the bottom side of the soft palate.

We are now at the ‘roof of the mouth’, technically known as the hard palate. The sound /j/ in yep is made by moving the tongue close to the hard palate. These are known as a palatal sounds. Between the hard palate and the tongue is the alveolar ridge. Sounds such as /t/, /d/ and /n/ are made through the tongue touching the ridge. As Roach (2009) notes, the tongue is “a very important articulator and it can be moved into many different places and different shapes”. Even though there are no clear cut physical divisions, we can divide the tongue into abstract parts: tip, blade, front, back and root. Lastly, we reach the teeth. In English, /θ/ and /ð/, found in the sounds at the start of thick and this respectively, are made with the tongue touching the front teeth. These are known as dental sounds.

Right, that’s a very, very basic introduction to articulatory phonetics. In the next post, I will briefly introduce the concepts of vowels and consonants, before moving on to a fuller treatment of short vowels, long vowels, dipthongs and tripthongs.


Collins, B and Mees, I.M (2008). Practical Phonetics and Phonology. Routledge.

Kreidler, C (2004). The Pronunciation of English. Second Edition. Oxford: Blackwell.

Roach, P (2009). English Phonetics and Phonology: A practical course. Fourth Edition. Cambridge: C.U.P.

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