The leading high tech trade associations has criticized a District Court order that requires interactive television companies to track the viewing behavior of their customers. The group filed an amici brief today in the case of Paramount Pictures Corporation et al. versus Replay TV, Inc. et al.
"When the courts take on the role of software engineer, software engineers and consumers need to start worrying. Not only is the potential for unintended consequences extremely high, but the decision also sets dangerous precedents. In a time when consumer 'trust' is central to industry success, forcing companies to abandon their contracts with consumers could be catastrophic. In addition, such court-ordered redesign could effectively bankrupt smaller technology companies with limited resources. With so much at stake for the industry and consumers, it is disturbing that the court would take this decision so lightly," said Jonathan Zuck, president of the Association for Competitive Technology.
From where I sit it's long overdue for these Hollywood executives to get an education or stop playing dumb. They can't have it both ways.
For years Hollywood has been courting the computer industry in an effort to make the work and costs of productions better and cheaper. The courting and wooing of Silicon Valley and the technical centers of this country by Hollywood was a past time that has gone on for the past 15 or more years. I know because I was there. I have been a designer, witness and a participant to the process.
Over 12 years ago I wrote up a short paper on the Convergence of Digital Media outlining in general details the use of computers and digital storage for audio, video and film transfer. I outlined how peer-to-peer direct connection products could and would make it possible for someone like me, who hates the drive in and out of LA, would be able to work from my home studio with others in their home studios all by way of a proper high-speed internet connection. Nearly everything but "finaling" a piece could be done in this manner. This would save vast amounts of production costs and make it possible for work to be done by the best people wherever they were living. .
For me it was ideal and from my point of view the idea was nothing remarkable. The concept was just a logical extension of the way I had worked before on parts of a production using the internet or closed network service. I had done it before-- but we'd really never told anyone. We just did it and kept our word that nothing would ever get out into the public were it didn't belong.
However when I published the paper online, you would have thought I'd committed blasphemy.
Why? Because I dared to take the "control" of a production out of the realm of the "post house." I was advocating that editors, special effects people and directors could work better remotely and alone in the post production process without the direct supervision and control of a post house. Post houses who are very highly capitalized digital editing facilities rent a considerable amount of space to production companies while producing a television, audio or film product saw this "idea" as a threat to their gravytrain and did nearly everything possible to kill it.
Or so they thought. ...And the Hollywood executives remained clueless by choice.
Byting the Hand the Feeds You
Over the past several years, since I vowed never to drive into LA again for work, I've taken projects that allow me to edit only if I can do the work remotely in my bunny slippers at home. Meetings are normally over the phone and occasional trips into the studios are made for the important, but rare, face to face meeting. And I'm not the only one doing it! Literally hundreds of video, film and audio professionals work everyday at home recording, tweaking, cutting and logging thousands of hours of music, film, graphics and video from the sanity of their home or home studio in an environment where they want to work-- and work very productively.
Over 75% of the tools we use are stock, off the shelf software and compression codecs, like Mp3s and video formats. And we transfer our work to one another by FedEx or using the internet.
The funny thing is: every DMCA crazed Hollywood executive knows we do it. So how do you propose we put the genie back into the bottle?
There isn't a beancounter in LA who will tell an executive straightfaced that we remote-working folks aren't saving Hollywood money. Between us and the Vancouver productions, we are the reasons why Hollywood has been laying off the large in-house staff people who once ran up their payroll. The exec's like Eisner love that we use this technology to give him better profit lines.
So who's he kidding? Oh yeah-- it's a matter of control.
Eisner and his Hollywood cronies want to control who has the technology. That who is YOU the customer. It's a shame he still hasn't learned the lesson on how to put the genie back into the bottle. Because-- you can't.
Always Play to Your Audience or How Playing the Right Song Can Literally Save Your Ass: [Thanks to Cory Doctorow for this one.] I don't know Joey deVilla, but I think I want to! It appears Joey was on his way to the O'Reilly Conference from Toronto the other day. Because of a screw up with his free ticket-- it didn't arrive on time. [Been there. Done that!] However because Joey is Filipino, carrying an accordion, and had bought a one-way-replacement ticket-- in cash, Joey fit the dreaded PROFILE of a potential terrorist. [A yeah rite sure!] So after a talk with the wonderful folks of the U.S. Customs and Immigrations, they searched his belonging, asked a couple questions and then... asked him to PLAY HIS ACCORDION! Now what, pray tell would someone play for a Customs and Immigrations Official you ask? THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER of course!
Joey-- Sorry I dont' know you. However should we meet I owe you a drink for making me laugh so hard I nearly... nebber mind. But damn this is one of the best stories of "Playing the Game of Customs" I've heard of in years!
It's been pretty interesting to be sitting here at home the past couple days and reading Doc, Dave, Ev, Dan and other doing blogs in livetime, or blogging by the seat of their pants at various conferences around the country. While the dynamics of blogginglivetime have been barely explored, because it's new and we're still trying to figure out where this is going, I have begun to take a enjoy the voyeurist point of view of following these events.
From where I sit here's what I'm learning:
1. I need to learn to type faster. Doc, David, Dave, Ev and Dan have all taught me that to keep up to speed with the average speeding speaker, typing speeds of 100 wpm are necessary to transcribe a speakers talk to a blog.
2. If that fails it still takes one hell of a good typist to think, phrase and type logical online notes that make sense to everyone, including the writer later.
3. The impressions of multiple people blogging at a single event are a good way to evenly judge the messages and impressions being given by the speaker.
4. The collective collaborative environment does have the power to influence a speaker or panel, if they are reading what's being blogged in livetime. I suspect it has the potential to be very un-nerving to a speaker. (Like what happen at PC Forum this year.)
5. The collaborative environment of blogging allows the writer to attempt to express a complete thought, pick it up and rephrase or clarify it as needed.
6. An interesting idea would be to have someone connect the various bloggers impressions of a speaker or event under an event website. (Link everyones weblogs together to get an even impression of an event, speaker or presentation.)
For many years I've used Instant Messaging to keep in contact with various people while in teleconferences or webcasts. (Remember to mute the audio output on your computer, otherwise it's either annoying or a give-away!) It is a G*dsend to be able to insure we get questions answered, or share impressions. Similar things could be done between bloggers. Recently during the DMCA Town Meetings and Roundtable meeting, I was both in a chat room, IMing and writing up my own notes in real time. The panel members webcasting were able to answer questions posed by the chat room and email. This clarified a considerable number of questions from the listeners at large.
Declan is circulating a '"celebration" of the DMCA on May 16 in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington. Hosted by Jack Valenti, Hilary Rosen and chiefs of various publishing, film and other organizations in the business of advocating the maximal leverage of intellectual property law. The "invited guests" include ... what is that, the Judiciary Committee? Biden, Hatch, Helms, Leahy, Coble, Berman, Conyers, Dingle, Hyde, Frank, Markey, Sensenbrenner and Tauzin. Plus Ambassadors from 33 countries, none, oddly, in downtown Europe.
Not you, me, or any artists, writers, film makers and other first sources of "content."
No lie. From the invitation list it appears to be a Who's Who of the Clueless. If they were to invite us, it might surprise them to learn the real truth. Heaven forbid.
I can't remember if I've ever posted this here before, but in case you haven't seen it, The Wheels on the Bus by Mad Donna is pretty funny. I dare you to try and get the song out of your head today. (Requires Flash.)
I should also mention that there are lots of great songs on the Mother Goose Rocks CDs, and that you'll be the life of any party to which you bring them. They're also great for remixes for friends (that's still legal, right?).