Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Brian Atene, Youtube, etc

via the Panopticist. Youtube has shown this over 100,000 times already. Brian Atene is presumably out there somewhere, knocking about, either aware of this clip having come to light 20 plus years later, or not. If not he will be pretty soon, I imagine. Maybe he will cringe with the unwelcome shock of recognition, having successfully avoided thinking about it for quite some time now.(Or maybe this is a joke, and Atene is roughly 20 years younger than he says.) Of course, this sort of unlikely artifact from an ordinary schmo's past will undoubtedly become more and more common in the future. How many people shooting the bird on myspace today will be taken to task for it by tiny grandkids in 2045 or so?

Myself, I'm not so worried about super 8 film projects that may have featured me in the mid-to-late 80s, but what will happen to IP law vis-a-vis our semi-open society? I see nefarious corporatists using embarassing incidents as an excuse to further clamp down on the social intercourse of a free society, ostensibly in the name of privacy rights. Ok, intercourse might not be the best word to use here, but what else do you call it? I don't want some upper-middle class jerk suing a filmmaker into penury because she inadvertently showed his car with the licence plate in front of his girlfriend's house in a movie she made, and somebody happened to tape it, and he wants to hold her responsible for his lousy divorce settlement. Less than a month ago Google bought youtube, and now they're supposed to be yanking all the Comedy Central clips off their site. I don't blame them for wanting to protect themselves, but it strikes me as a portent. Maybe I shouldn't make observations like this, because it makes me sound stuffy, like Sam the EagleĀ®.

update: the Youtube/Comedy Central/Viacom story is still playing. Nate Anderson of Ars Technica("YouTube Has to Compete Like a grownup") is missing the point: if you are going to have a decentralized communication portal with ordinary-people-driven information content that doesn't have to be filtered for content and acceptable ideological import by elites but still manages to reach a lot of people, you will inevitably have a lot of sloppiness with respect to minding the niceties of intellectual property law. The existence of such a decentralized (and democratic) communication portal as a social good is of greater importance to the functioning of a healthy, open society than whether or not the big corporate providers of entertainment content are constantly increasing their profitablity. Other industries increase profitability by increasing productivity. Can't we just tell Tom Cruise and Jim Carrey that if they want more money they need to make more movies? No wait...