Viewing entries tagged
Open media web


The Right Tool for the Right Job

[cross-posted from]

One of the core messages that came out of the Media Web Meetup III: the Producers was this:

Copyright laws, DMCA, etc. were tools that were instituted to help large organizations protect themselves from large organizations, it did not imagine the negotiations of individual producers in the Open Media Web. Instead of bringing the massive amount of baggage these tools wield into our communities of indie content producers, we should start talking about how - as a community - we need to figure out an ethical set of protocols for how to handle these negotiations...and these protocols needs to be flexible, relationship-based and anchored in social capital.

Ironically, these protocols appear to exist moreso in the world of text than they do in the world of multi-media. What do I mean by that? Think about what happens in blogging communities. Very early on in the days of blogging, a community protocol was established around attribution, even when attribution desires were not voiced. If you were blogging about an idea that someone else had or using a quote from another blog, it was attributed and there was a link back to the original idea/text. Now, if you didn't do that, you weren't served a takedown notice, you may be seen as a jerk (relationship based) and people would lose respect for you (the loss of Social Capital) and they would stop reading your blog (real social consequences). There are grey areas to this (flexible), but in general, successful bloggers err on the side of caution and attribute as much as possible.

And this works great. It not only keeps people honest, but it has benefited the entire community, circulating ideas and helping encourage more people to contribute those ideas (the myth of the 'stolen ideas' is busted when bloggers get recognition and prestige from publishing theirs openly, which encourages others to do the same). There were no laws separating bloggers from bloggers here. No centralized rulebook. It happened organically through a series of communications and experiences in the early growth of the community.

But when it comes to multi-media, we somehow passed over an early opportunity to establish similar protocols. Images, audio files and videos are constantly passed around online without attribution, used without permission and then big, expensive, heavy legal tools are wielded to stop this behavior. When a photographer's image is posted on a website that doesn't attribute or get permission, the same social stigma doesn't take place. Photographers are told, "That's what happens when you post your work online". And, more often, a photographer won't find out that their work is being lifted anyway, since multi-media isn't as searchable (a simple filename change throws off the trail).

Even though their heart is in the right place, Creative Commons doesn't really alleviate this situation, and it may even exacerbate it. Many photographers find that it further harms the perceived value of their work, as lack of education leads to the interpretation of a CC license to mean, "It's Free!" And, since it is a legal tool (and not a community agreement), it remains an externalized barrier that stands between personal drives to resolution that should be taken up within the web community.

We should really look at this as an issue to solve with community tools, not more legal clout.

The wonderful panel that included Jason Schultz (EFF), Lane Hartwell (photographer), Heather Champ (Flickr) and Jim Goldstein (photographer) would all probably agree with me when I say that this is a real issue of the Open Media Web. One that we should be as conscious of as the early bloggers were of the flow and exchange of their own intellectual property (with a lower case i and p).



One Small Tweet for Songbird, One Giant Flap for the Media Web

Songbird Developer Center As TechCrunch reports over here, Songbird has released 0.3 and launched their shiny new developer site (thanks to the help from the talented PM of Jeffrey McManus and some creative derailing by us *sorry Jeffrey!*).

Why is this significant? Well, #1, I've been really excited about the future of the media web ever since the whole Radiohead thing and the launch of the Amazon MP3 store. Don't get me wrong, I heart my iTunes/iPod experience, but I think it seriously sucks that Apple is the gatekeeper to my media consumption.

#2, Songbird certainly isn't ready for a full-on customer experience at 0.3, but they are ready for a stronger, more involved developer community (this new version is more stable), which will get them there faster. Because it is an open platform, people can develop all sorts of cool things. We think of it as a cauldron in which anyone can mashup media services. It's kind of limitless. Personally, I'd love to take my data and run it against Flickr to find great concert shots. Or perhaps someday Songbird will help me discover non-signed artists all over the web because it knows who my Twitter friends are discovering. Or it could even automagically create a Pandora station for me based on the artist I'm reading about. I don't know. The possibilities are endless.

Either way, I always loved Mozilla's statement that their goal is to promote choice on the web and Songbird is doing this for the media web. Choice is good for all of us.

Going forward, we will be putting together a list of events and working on creating some incentives to start working on extensions, etc. The first event we've put together is the Tuesday after next (November 13) at Songbird's very cool offices, the Media Web Meetup discussing Rock'n'Rebirth. Everything is still in very early stages, but I see a total revolution happening in this area of media and's been a powder keg for some time now.

So, congrats Songbird! I look forward to 'playing the web' with you at a future date. :)