There’s been a mostly fantastic discussion about fair use in this neighborhood for the last few days.
It started when a photograph of Lane Hartwell’s was used in a video spoof of the Billy Joel song “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”
The first I heard of this was in a Twitter post of hers where she said she was turning off access to her entire Flickr collection because this picture was used without permission. A series of communications with the people who did the video resulted in the video being taken down.
Later Mike Arrington, who is a lawyer, wrote a piece saying she didn’t have right on her side, and that the video’s use of her picture was probably fair use. I found Mike’s piece compelling. Others took offense. It thought it was a useful part of the discussion.
I understand Ms Hartwell’s point of view. I hate it when people copy a whole post of mine and paste it into theirs. But then I grab bits of images and put them on my blog and people rarely complain. The blogosphere is built on being loose about copyright and fair use.
I’m doing a deal with a content company and all these issues are coming up. We haven’t been able to write a contract that covers all the things they want covered and make it possible for me to do what I need to do, and they want my product to work. It’s a real mess we’re in. Bloggers are supposed to be radicals when it comes to fair use and copyright, but that generalization doesn’t work with many creative people. Hartwell’s position in some ways is like the RIAA or MPAA, who bloggers often dismiss as clueless. How can we have it both ways? How can some defend her position yet not defend the entertainment industry?
There’s a lot to discuss here, and a lot of the discussion on the blogs has been informative and respectful. Not all of it, but to an unusually high degree.
So, I am interested in doing an in person “flash conference” on the subject of fair use in a few weeks.
I’d say next week if it weren’t Christmas.
Most conferences are so boring. I want to do a conf on a hot subject when it’s still hot in the blogosphere. This may be a good subject for such a quickly organized conference.
What do you think of the flash conference idea for this??
I think I know how spammers are going to enter the Twitter world. It’ll come in the form of replies, which basically function like email. You can direct a message with a url to anyone as long as you know their username.
Here’s a screen shot that illustrates spam being sent to a hypothetical user. I didn’t send it of course.
Another problem, the destination of the url is likely masked through the use of a shortener so the user could be clicking through to some really nasty place, with no way of knowing in advance that’s where they’re going. (Such messages probably wouldn’t alert you in advance that they’re about meds or poker or sex.)
The press and bloggers will run stories saying “Spam Comes to Twitter” and they’ll be right, even though it won’t be the main part of Twitter. Users will expect the company to do something about it, but I don’t see what they can do other than eliminate the feature. Users will certainly want the ability to completely opt-out of replies.
PS: I received direct messages saying that the JetBlue account is spam (screen shot), but it is not spam, it’s commercial information. Big diff. I would have to opt-in to see these messages in my stream. And if I got tired of it, I could opt-out. Spam is stuff that intrudes that you can’t easily turn off.
Here’s a zip archive containing the source of the last 10 years of Scripting News.
Since Scripting News existed before blogs were invented, I went ahead and included the stuff that I blogged before there were blogs.
I hope this isn’t too confusing!
PS: Scott Karp asks if blogs can do journalism. Try this question. Can journalists do journalism? At best they seem to be able to copy each other, so mistakes propogate.
We’ve made so many accomplishments, both before and after the coining of the term, Karp for example starts with VIgnette. In 1997 if you told someone the functions of Vignette could be provided to millions of people virtually for free they wouldn’t have believed you. (This is factual btw, I did, and wasn’t believed.)
They also thought syndication would be done by the big publishing companies, something unweildy called ICE. We thought it should be simpler so that anyone could support it on both ends, and we won. The journalists have no record of this probably because they believed the big companies behind ICE and ignored the low-tech stuff. Jorn Barger used my software to do his “web log” — why isn’t that part of the story? Well it isn’t if all you think is important is the choosing of the name.
Here’s a formula that calculates how many years old Scripting News is on any given day.
double (clock.now () – date (“4/1/97″)) / (60*60*24*365.25)
The answer is: 10.71110623.
It counts the number of days since its inception and divides by the number of days in a year. It accounts for leap years, assuming there is an extra 0.25 days each year.