• March 2007
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This is effectively what this study commission by HP says. Although old news, it recently made it into business 2.0 “dumbest moments in business. Apparently smoking pot has less of an impact on you than using a blackberry and receiving phone calls all at the same time.

This one caught my eye not because it was dumb but that I wonder if this is a generational thing. I have no doubt that my kids and other teenagers can probably run circles around me in things like video games or other action related online games. I also think that the next generation is growing up in a much more wired, always-on, and multi-tasking environment, with your phone, your IM, your TV and your browser (and maybe a game or so) all on at the same time.

Outside of the natural bias of an IQ test, I have to wonder if this is not simply a matter of a generational thing and that as we get older we become less suited for multi-tasking anyway and hopefully our experience will aid us in becoming more efficient and effective for what we lack in vitality in energy?

Dell in China announced that it will sell a computer for 2,599 Yuan (that’s approx. USD 320). The small computer was designed in Shanghai said Michael Dell: “We need to adjust our business to meet the needs of these new customers in fast-growing and emerging markets.”

This is certainly an interesting development, a computer this cheap equipped with Windows XP and all the other benefits that go with a system like that could have some potential market implications with regards to increased PC penetration and development. Although your average Chinese can probably still not afford this, it’s very affordable for the bulging middle class.

This blog.hellokitty.com/angelfabad writes about Thailand’s increasing fuel burning. A similar issue exists in other countries such as China where the economy requires more energy and alternative energy sources are either too expensive or not available for multiple reasons.

Viacom has decided to sue the owners of YouTube (i.e. Google).

There is a discussion going on over the web right now…about the right and wrong on this approach….I will post some thoughts on this topic when I have a bit more time.

This is the headline that you get for browsing a Video that was taken down by Viacom’s recent takedown action.

The news that Google and Viacom don’t get along  has been reported over extended periods of time and Viacom has successfully ordered YouTube to remove  Video’s that are infringing to Viacom in some way.

I certainly don’t disagree that materials under copyright or trademark that are published without permission should be removed. YouTube is full of videos which are not legitimately licensed and Google acknowledges as much in trying to fight that in various public statements and actions they have (or will take).

Recently I was looking for a Video to show to a friend that I very much enjoyed for its humour - an 11+ minute parody called Ultimate Utopia (a pun on Final Fantasy) featuring, at that time, a bunch of teenagers making a really funny video for those that have played any kind of Japanese made RPG Videogame and are familiar with the subject (especially with the Final Fantasy series). When I first watched this, almost a year ago, I believe it had almost a 600,000 views from various online channels put together (but I might be wrong, but whatever the number, it was a lot).

That Video was pulled with the message below saying:

This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Viacom International Inc.

This was also confirmed by the creators website  that he received a notification, which appeared to have come from YouTube that the material was pulled due to 3rd party notification of an infringement against Viacom International, Inc.

The author makes a point that he believes of all the companies, Viacom makes the least sense and he was not told why it was an infringement just “that it was” and therefore it’s gone now.

For those of you who have seen this parody, I agree that I don’t understand why Viacom has an issue with this. If Square Enix has a problem with it, I can understand why (although I still probably wouldn’t agree with it.). The Lightsabre sequence may raise an eyebrow with the Star Wars Franchise, some scenes possibly with people in the Bollywood scene, but Viacom?

Quite separate from the issue that the kind of work that Ultimate Utopia was would have probably fallen under the Fair use doctrine and would have likely not infringed any rights, the fact that the Video was pulled so rapidly does make you wonder. The EFF posted a Video on YouTube recently about being unfairly caught by Viacom’s legal dragnet and also issued a press release on this.

Take a look at this video yourself and see, what was so infringing for a bunch of teenagers in ragged home made costumes, waving around sticks with an amateur video camera and some amateur special FX out of a desktop computer, poking fun at a very successful Video Game that was not even made by Viacom?

What was the motive of Viacom have pulled off a harmless parody of a Video Game that Viacom has no (known) affiliation with?

Why did YouTube pull the Video without proper explanation, giving the author time to respond to the allegations that were made? That Video is still available from other people via YouTube anyway, although the viewcount is much lower and it probably doesn’t matter since it’s become insignificant. Another 100,000 Videos were pulled including one entitled Sunday Nite Dinner at Redbones Mass, the link also includes the original copyright notice received.

Maybe this is all just an honest mistake, but even if that is the case, therein lies the problem.

Censorship has just been practised and if it was a mistake, innocent bystanders were hurt for no reason whatsoever. Worse, if it was not a mistake (i.e. the Video was deliberately targetted) then this is even more concerning. Where do you draw that line?

For Viacom (and similar media) this encourages them to go after ALL sorts of Hobby videos that may even have as much as a highly improbably case of copyright violation or in some cases are not related at all. The YouTube Channel as it is sometimes referred to  is taking away viewer time, so why not try and remove as many successful Videos on YouTube and similar services? Copyright or not, if you can scare people to stop producing derivative works, parodies or even unrelated media providing less content that could possibly drive people away from their own Channels then this is a Victory of a different kind to Viacom. Afterall, once you pull 100,000 Videos, and Viacom admitted to making a “few mistakes”, let’s say 5% that’s still 5,000 Videos which would be reinstanted, the more likely scenario is that the other tens of thousands of Videos would be gone. Viacom so far has admitted to 60 mistakes.

More importantly however, those that were successul with high viewcounts that were original works would have lost their status as “highly viewed, highly rated” videos which is currency of its own. Successful creations encourages more creation and more viewership. Viacom has just managed to take that away from them, even if the Videos will “live on” in the virtual world. They have just successfully struck back at the Independent Artists who don’t need or want the likes of Viacom to succeed.

For services such as YouTube this is a big loss too, it is a loss for the creator and the consumer who enjoys this sort of production. Google should not have allowed for this to happen this way, proper notifications with explanations should have been sent out and the Video should only have been taken down after the author has had an opportunity to appeal. This approach was guilty before proven innocent. If Google/YouTube simply submits without question it could possibly erode the faith of its users and could hurt the arguably already unstoppable user generated content movement.

Is this really about Copyright? If this truly the case then why not try and pull out this (and other Videos) in all the other services? How many are really prepared to stand up and fight against this kind of action, even if it is deeply unfair? Many of these kind of hobby creators wouldn’t want to fight with a Giant like Viacom, afterall in most of these cases it’s not about the money because there isn’t any! Distribution of media, thanks to the Internet and services like YouTube has become cheap, and the barrier to entry low. The doomsday scenario is that by introducing a powerful legal equation (and cost) the barrier to entry has just risen, probably just enough to discourage your average hobby creator to publish his work via the Internet.

A recent commentary from Philippe Dauman, CEO of Viacom in a ZDNet blog post stated:

We are very pleased to have more traffic now since we took down our content from YouTube on our own site because we are able to monetize that for our own pockets as opposed to having somebody else monetize at our expense.

I suppose more traffic includes Videos not related to Viacom as well, afterall, if there is less content (and consequently less choice) with distribution channels that have high barriers to entry for your independent artist and creator, we can go back to the way we used to watch media and buy music, that would be nifty for the likes of Viacom wouldn’t it?

I get this asked enough times that I’m putting a blog for this particular purpose….check it out at the Link to Windows Optimization Page/. It’s quite basic but I will be updating this page on a regular basis with new Windows optimizations that I find useful (and free).

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