Congressional Techno-morons

Computer Consultants
Computer Consultants

The Hollywood-funded SOPA1 debate has been tabled for now, to be taken up again next year. Maybe by then Congress can figure out what exactly they are proposing to do.

Or not:

It’s of course perfectly standard for members of Congress to not be exceptionally proficient in technological matters. But for some committee members, the issue did not stop at mere ignorance. Rather, it seemed there was in many cases an outright refusal to understand what is undoubtedly a complex issue dealing with highly-sensitive technologies.

When the security issue was brought up, Rep. Mel Watt of North Carolina seemed particularly comfortable about his own lack of understanding. Grinningly admitting “I’m not a nerd” before the committee, he nevertheless went on to dismiss without facts or justification the very evidence he didn’t understand and then downplay the need for a panel of experts. Rep. Maxine Waters of California followed up by saying that any discussion of security concerns is “wasting time” and that the bill should move forward without question, busted internets be damned.

The fact that there was any debate over whether to call in experts on such a matter should tell you something about the integrity of Congress. It’d be one thing if legitimate technical questions directed at the bill’s supporters weren’t met with either silence or veiled accusations that the other side was sympathetic to piracy. Yet here we are with a group of elected officials openly supporting a bill they can’t explain, and having the temerity to suggest there’s no need to “bring in the nerds” to suss out what’s actually on it.

“No legislation is perfect,” Rep. Watt said at one point, continuing the insane notion that the goal of the House should be to pass anything, despite what consequences it may bring. Later, Iowa Representative Steve King tweeted, somewhat ironically, about surfing the internet on his phone because he was bored listening to his colleague Shiela Jackson speak about the bill. Then, even more ironically, another representative’s comments calling him out for it were asked to be stricken from the record.

This used to be funny, but now it’s really just terrifying. We’re dealing with legislation that will completely change the face of the internet and free speech for years to come. Yet here we are, still at the mercy of underachieving Congressional know-nothings that have more in common with the slacker students sitting in the back of math class than elected representatives. The fact that some of the people charged with representing us must be dragged kicking and screaming out of their complacency on such matters is no longer endearing — it’s just pathetic and sad.

(click here to continue reading Dear Congress, It’s No Longer OK To Not Know How The Internet Works | Motherboard.)


  1. Stop Online Piracy Act. Wikipedia entry []

Embedded Metadata Initative

I strongly support this initiative: I can think of no reason that metadata of photographs should be removed. I’ve discovered a few photos of mine, stolen by large corporations1 – if my EXIF information was still attached, the battle would be easier to conduct.

Photographers, film makers, videographers, illustrators, publishers, advertisers, designers, art directors, picture editors, librarians and curators all share the same problem: struggling to track rapidly expanding collections of digital media assets such as photos and video/film clips.

With that in mind we propose five guiding principles as our “Embedded Metadata Manifesto”: 1) Metadata is essential to describe, identify and track digital media and should be applied to all media items which are exchanged as files or by other means such as data streams. 2) Media file formats should provide the means to embed metadata in ways that can be read and handled by different software systems. 3) Metadata fields, their semantics (including labels on the user interface) and values, should not be changed across metadata formats. 4) Copyright management information metadata must never be removed from the files. 5) Other metadata should only be removed from files by agreement with their copyright holders. More details about these principles:

1: All people handling digital media need to recognise the crucial role of metadata for business. This involves more than just sticking labels on a media item. The knowledge which is required to describe the content comprehensively and concisely and the clear assertion of the intellectual ownership increase the value of the asset. Adding metadata to media items is an imperative for each and every professional workflow.

2: Exchanging media items is still done to a large extent by transmitting files containing the media content and in many cases this is the only (technical) way of communicating between the supplier and the consumer. To support the exchange of metadata with content it is a business requirement that file formats embed metadata within the digital file. Other methods like sidecar files are potentially exposed to metadata loss.

3: The type of content information carried in a metadata field, and the values assigned, should not depend on the technology used to embed metadata into a file. If multiple technologies are available for embedding the same field the software vendors must guarantee that the values are synchronized across the technologies without causing a loss of data or ambiguity.

4: Ownership metadata is the only way to save digital content from being considered orphaned work. Removal of such metadata impacts on the ability to assert ownership rights and is therefore forbidden by law in many countries.

5: Properly selected and applied metadata fields add value to media assets. For most collections of digital media content descriptive metadata is essential for retrieval and for understanding. Removing this valuable information devalues the asset.

(click here to continue reading Embedded Metadata Initative.)

For instance, here are a couple of screenshots of a photo’s EXIF information.



EXIF info1
EXIF info1.PNG

Flickr, for instance, keeps this information intact, though gives photographers the option to hide it, while Facebook seemingly strips out EXIF information, for some reason.

  1.  a future blog post will explain, once my lawyer send the demand letter []

Jimi Hendrix Is Cited During Supreme Court Arguments

Whipped Into A Frenzy
Whipped Into A Frenzy

The times they are a-changing…

Jimi Hendrix made an appearance at the Supreme Court on Wednesday in an argument over whether Congress acted constitutionally in 1994 by restoring copyright protection to foreign works that had once been in the public domain. The affected works included films by Alfred Hitchcock and Federico Fellini, books by C. S. Lewis and Virginia Woolf, symphonies by Prokofiev and Stravinsky and paintings by Picasso.

The suit challenging the law was brought by orchestra conductors, teachers and film archivists who say they had relied for years on the free availability of such works.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. posed the general question in the case this way: “One day I can perform Shostakovich. Congress does something. The next day I can’t. Doesn’t that present a serious First Amendment problem?”

Then the chief justice, a pioneer in the citation of popular music in legal discourse, asked the question slightly differently, invoking Hendrix, the great rock guitarist, to test the limits of the government’s position. “What about Jimi Hendrix, right? He has a distinctive rendition of the national anthem, and assuming the national anthem is suddenly entitled to copyright protection that it wasn’t before, he can’t do that, right?”

The solicitor general, Donald B. Verrilli Jr., making his debut in the post, said there were good reasons to allow Congress to restore copyright protection to works that had entered the public domain, even at some cost to free expression by performers and others. Responding to the chief justice’s hypothetical question, Mr. Verrilli said that “maybe Jimi Hendrix could claim fair use.”

(click here to continue reading Jimi Hendrix Is Cited During Supreme Court Arguments –

fair use since the Jimi Hendrix version alters the anthem a bit, but unfortunately, even fair use is a tenuous legal foundation these days. Just ask Scott Baio, or Shepard Fairey

Near the end of his argument in the case, Golan v. Holder, No. 10-545, Mr. Falzone returned to the chief justice’s reference to performers like Hendrix.

“There can’t be any doubt, as I think Chief Justice Roberts got at, that the performance has a huge amount of original expression bound up in it,” Mr. Falzone said. “It’s the reason it’s different to see King Lear at the Royal Shakespeare Company; it’s the reason it’s different when John Coltrane plays a jazz standard.”

Work Made For Hire As A Sound Recording

Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians - Full Dimensional Stereo
Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians – Full Dimensional Stereo

Speaking of slimy music corporations, remember when this happened?

“As a sound recording.”

Margaret Cone read that innocuous-sounding legislative language and her heart skipped a beat. The time was last November, during the closing days of last year’s congressional session. Cone was a veteran Washington lobbyist.

She’d been tipped off that an amendment to a pending bill — quietly inserted without debate — would reclassify under the nation’s copyright laws all sound recordings, like cassettes and CDs, as “work made for hire.”

If true, that slight change would mean musicians would never again be able to own their recordings. Instead, record companies would become the sole legal owners of a record over its legally copyrightable life, currently 95 years.

Talking to a friend on the phone as she sifted through pending legislative bills, Cone recalls having “a sinking feeling that something wasn’t on the level.” She checked one bill that dealt with copyright; no mention of work for hire. She sifted through another, Title I of the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act, and found nothing.

Then, “on a fluke,” she went to the buried “definitions” section of that second bill and there she found this:

“(e) WORK MADE FOR HIRE-Section 101 of title 17, United State Code is amended in the definition relating to work for hire in paragraph (2) by inserting “as a sound recording.”

“My knees literally gave way,” says Cone, who often represents artists on Capitol Hill and instantly understood the ramifications of the proposed copyright change. “I told my friend on the phone, ‘I gotta go! I gotta go!'”

She dashed to the offices of the Courts and Intellectual Property Subcommittee to try to get some answers. “I wanted to find out how bad it was,” she recalls.

That was Nov 16. Two days later, despite Cone’s frantic back-room protests and pleas, the work-for-hire amendment, attached to a massive 1,740-page omnibus spending bill, passed the House and Senate. President Clinton signed it into law Nov. 29.

Early this August1, after months of public and often hostile debate, the record companies, lead by the Recording Industry Association of America, finally agreed to ask Congress to essentially repeal the work-for-hire amendment Cone discovered that day.

The battle represented a rare victory for musicians on both Capitol Hill and in the business arena.

(click here to continue reading Four little words – Eric Boehlert –

Kraftwerk - Electric Cafe
Kraftwerk – Electric Cafe

  1. 2000 []

Song Rights Reverting to the Artists

33 1/3 RPM soul
33 1/3 RPM soul

I bet some record label execs are gnashing their teeth as these Termination Rights become more widely known…

Since their release in 1978, hit albums like Bruce Springsteen’s “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” Billy Joel’s “52nd Street,” the Doobie Brothers’ “Minute by Minute,” Kenny Rogers’s “Gambler” and Funkadelic’s “One Nation Under a Groove” have generated tens of millions of dollars for record companies. But thanks to a little-noted provision in United States copyright law, those artists — and thousands more — now have the right to reclaim ownership of their recordings, potentially leaving the labels out in the cold.

When copyright law was revised in the mid-1970s, musicians, like creators of other works of art, were granted “termination rights,” which allow them to regain control of their work after 35 years, so long as they apply at least two years in advance. Recordings from 1978 are the first to fall under the purview of the law, but in a matter of months, hits from 1979, like “The Long Run” by the Eagles and “Bad Girls” by Donna Summer, will be in the same situation — and then, as the calendar advances, every other master recording once it reaches the 35-year mark.

The provision also permits songwriters to reclaim ownership of qualifying songs. Bob Dylan has already filed to regain some of his compositions, as have other rock, pop and country performers like Tom Petty, Bryan Adams, Loretta Lynn, Kris Kristofferson, Tom Waits and Charlie Daniels, according to records on file at the United States Copyright Office.

“In terms of all those big acts you name, the recording industry has made a gazillion dollars on those masters, more than the artists have,” said Don Henley, a founder both of the Eagles and the Recording Artists Coalition, which seeks to protect performers’ legal rights. “So there’s an issue of parity here, of fairness. This is a bone of contention, and it’s going to get more contentious in the next couple of years.”

(click here to continue reading Springsteen and Others Soon Eligible to Recover Song Rights –

Rock Records
Rock Records

Seriously, this will severely impact the bottom line of corporate behemoths, and they won’t walk away without a legal battle. They’ve already lost the PR battle, especially with comments like Steven Marks of the RIAA:

“This is a life-threatening change for them, the legal equivalent of Internet technology,” said Kenneth J. Abdo, a lawyer who leads a termination rights working group for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and has filed claims for some of his clients, who include Kool and the Gang. As a result the four major record companies — Universal, Sony BMG, EMI and Warner — have made it clear that they will not relinquish recordings they consider their property without a fight.

“We believe the termination right doesn’t apply to most sound recordings,” said Steven Marks, general counsel for the Recording Industry Association of America, a lobbying group in Washington that represents the interests of record labels. As the record companies see it, the master recordings belong to them in perpetuity, rather than to the artists who wrote and recorded the songs, because, the labels argue, the records are “works for hire,” compilations created not by independent performers but by musicians who are, in essence, their employees.

Right, because when consumers purchase 1978 albums like The Jam’s All Mod Cons; Bob Dylan’s Street Legal; Elvis Costello’s Armed Forces; The Clash’s Give ‘Em Enough Rope; Talking Heads More Songs About Building and Food; Tom Waits Blue Valentine; Willie Nelson’s Stardust; or even The Rolling Stones Some Girls: listeners are really concerned about paying salaries for corporate label morons like Steven Marks. The label is more important than the work of the artists in his view. Uh, huh. Could you tell me, without looking, what label each of these albums was released on? I’m a music nerd, and even I could only guess two of these correctly.

Vintage Vinyl Records
Vintage Vinyl Records

Also, the law has yet to be honed in court, there are several still unanswered questions about details:

The legislation, however, fails to address several important issues. Do record producers, session musicians and studio engineers also qualify as “authors” of a recording, entitled to a share of the rights after they revert? Can British groups like Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, and Dire Straits exercise termination rights on their American recordings, even if their original contract was signed in Britain? These issues too are also an important part of the quiet, behind-the-scenes struggle that is now going on.

Given the potentially huge amounts of money at stake and the delicacy of the issues, both record companies, and recording artists and their managers have been reticent in talking about termination rights. The four major record companies either declined to discuss the issue or did not respond to requests for comment, referring the matter to the industry association.

But a recording industry executive involved in the issue, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak for the labels, said that significant differences of opinion exist not only between the majors and smaller independent companies, but also among the big four, which has prevented them from taking a unified position. Some of the major labels, he said, favor a court battle, no matter how long or costly it might be, while others worry that taking an unyielding position could backfire if the case is lost, since musicians and songwriters would be so deeply alienated that they would refuse to negotiate new deals and insist on total control of all their recordings.

iTunes Royalties and the End of Corporate Media

Hard to be sympathetic to music label corporations – they’ve made many artists suffer through the years, and don’t have many friends in the industry.  They used to have vertical integration all sewn up: if you were a touring musician, there was no way to survive without using the clout of a music label for distribution of your music. But that era is vanishing, and quickly.Sunset 7 3680

Last year, global revenues from recorded music fell by 8.4%. A Universal Music Group insider recently told me that its owner, French media group Vivendi, has ordered the label to cut costs by $100m this year, meaning we’re likely to see more redundancies. No wonder the label is trying to downplay the implications of a recent US supreme court decision to turn down its appeal of a verdict stating that Eminem and the producers who helped him achieve success should get 50% of all revenue from iTunes downloads – around three times more than what the label has paid them so far.

The manager of FBT Productions, who first signed Eminem and continues to collect royalties on his music, told the New York Times that this means Universal owes the company $17-20m in back-payments. Considering that downloads of music Eminem (who was not party of the suit but stands to earn millions from it) keep selling, it could cost the label an extra $40-50m in the next five to 10 years. But it doesn’t look like Universal’s headache will end there. The estate of the late funkster Rick James has already filed a federal class action against the label, inviting other artists to join in, claiming that it should also have been paid 50% of all sales of digital downloads and ringtones.

At the centre of these lawsuits is the question of whether a download is a licence or a sale. A normal record deal today would usually give an artist 12-20% of revenue from sales depending on how successful they are at the point of signing (only the bigger artists get anything close to 20%). But if a song is licensed to be played in, say, a TV show or a film, they receive 50% of revenue. Buying a download on iTunes may make you feel like you own it, but the fact is that you’ve just bought the rights to play it. And so the court agreed with FBT that the Eminem downloads counted as licences.

Universal argues that it was simply the wording of Eminem’s specific contract that resulted in them losing the case, and it’s true that standard contracts have changed since the advent of iTunes and now clearly state that download sales count as sales. But thousands of artists signed their deals way before iTunes. If they did so before 1980, chances are they’re on a sales royalty rate that is lower than 10% – some artists from the 60s and 70s were on 4%, minus packaging deductions – which means they can up their digital royalty rate more than tenfold. It’s common that bigger artists, who are still signed to the same label, renegotiate their deals throughout their careers. Those artists will most likely have a clause about digital downloads in their contracts.

A series of successful claims could spell a much bigger problem for Universal than cutting $100m out of their budget: it could feasibly bankrupt every record label.

(click here to continue reading Behind the music: Why Eminem could spell major trouble for the major labels | Helienne Lindvall | Music |


links for 2011-03-28

  • The Transportation Security Administration is reanalyzing the radiation levels of X-ray body scanners installed in airports nationwide, after testing produced dramatically higher-than-expected results. The TSA, which has deployed at least 500 body scanners to at least 78 airports, said Tuesday the machines meet all safety standards and would remain in operation despite a “calculation error” in safety studies. The flawed results showed radiation levels 10 times higher than expected.
    (tags: tsa travel)
  • The American right is trapped in a hyperbolic and dysfunctional worldTo have credibility within the Republican party is to have none outside it. They act as if all their Kool-Aid has been spiked  Polls suggest there are between one in three and one in four Americans who would believe anything. More than a third thought President George Bush did a good job during Hurricane Katrina; half of those thought he was excellent.
    (tags: Rethuglicans)
  • Eminem sued his record label, the Universal Music Group, over the way royalties are computed for digital music, which boils down to whether an individual song sold online should be considered a license or a sale. The difference is far from academic because, as with most artists, Eminem’s contract stipulates that he gets 50 percent of the royalties for a license but only 12 percent for a sale. “As of now it’s worth $17 million or $20 million, but on a future accounting basis, five or 10 years from now, it could easily be a $40 million to $50 million issue,” said Joel Martin, the manager of F.B.T. Productions in Detroit, which first signed Eminem
  • By now, you may have heard of the little app that could(n’t), Color. Funded to the tune of $41M pre-launch, co-founded by a prestigious Silicon Valley entprepreneur and already brimming with 27 employees, you’d expect the product to be decent if not extraordinary. And you’d be wrong.
    (tags: mobile iPhone PR)
  • In the wake of the demonstrations during the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, the city produced a white wash entitled “What Trees Did They Plant?” TV Stations that broadcast the film had to offer equal time to those speaking in opposition. One group was the Youth International Party or Yippies who produced this film. Paul Krassner wrote the script. Some classic film footage was re-mixed with footage shot during the demonstrations. There is some missing audio from this copy.

Frack You Google

Alternative Google

For quite a while, I’ve been using Google’s Picasa image hosting service. Mostly, I uploaded images of vintage advertisements, funny old photos, as well as photographs I’ve taken myself, photos from my iPhone, of paintings, and so on. There were over 1,000 images last time I looked (a week or so ago).

Today when I wanted to upload an image to use in a blog post, I discovered all of the images were deleted, with the cryptic notice saying:Fuck Google

This content has been removed because it violates our Terms of Service

So, everything was gone. No way to contact Google to complain, they didn’t give me a heads-up, explaining: image so-and-so violates our Terms of Service because…

No, just zapped it all, every single item. Photos of my cat, photos of jazz albums from another era, everything, gone.

Fuck you, Google, for being evil, tone deaf, and profoundly customer unfriendly. Would it really have been so difficult to send an email explaining, and giving me a chance to rectify whatever problems you thought you found?


hottentot Venus.jpg

update 3-11-11

Sometimes bitching on Twitter has positive consequences. This morning, a representative from Picasa looked into my case, mostly because I complained I didn’t get the email I was supposed to get. Apparently, someone clicked the “Report Abuse” button, and this lead to my account being zapped. Since I didn’t get notified, my account has been made active again. I’m grateful for that, but still seems like a flaw in the process if getting someone’s account suspended is so simple. Probably a paid representative of the Tea Baggers objected to something factual, and decided to irritate me.


links for 2011-03-10

  • Mr. Draft: “Why are you blaming the agencies? I would blame the clients. … Everybody talks about procurement, but fuck procurement. … I don’t think the clients are structured in such a way today to work with the agencies. … Just like we built siloed agencies … they have all these different departments that work with different agencies that don’t communicate with each other. The agencies are willing to change, but are clients going to change fast enough to do what’s right for them?”
    (tags: agency)
  • To assist with the investigation, the police department released the video to the Associated Press for broadcast. The news service, in turn, sold the film to CNN, Fox News, ABC and Clip Syndicate—a violation of Petretti’s copyright, according to the complaint. He alleges that the wire service sold the footage again on each anniversary of the bombing.

Francis Ford Coppola Sees the Future For Artists

Francis Coppola Claret

Francis Ford Coppola sees the future, and for the artists among us, you better plan on having a day job, or a patron:

I once found a little excerpt from Balzac. He speaks about a young writer who stole some of his prose. The thing that almost made me weep,  he said, “I was so happy when this young person took from me.” Because that’s what we want. We want you to take from us. We want you, at first, to steal from us, because you can’t steal. You will take what we give you and you will put it in your own voice and that’s how you will find your voice.

And that’s how you begin. And then one day someone will steal from you. And Balzac said that in his book: It makes me so happy because it makes me immortal because I know that 200 years from now there will be people doing things that somehow I am part of. So the answer to your question is: Don’t worry about whether it’s appropriate to borrow or to take or do something like someone you admire because that’s only the first step and you have to take the first step.

Q: How does an aspiring artist bridge the gap between distribution and commerce?

We have to be very clever about those things. You have to remember that it’s only a few hundred years, if that much, that artists are working with money. Artists never got money. Artists had a patron, either the leader of the state or the duke of Weimar or somewhere, or the church, the pope. Or they had another job. I have another job. I make films. No one tells me what to do. But I make the money in the wine industry. You work another job and get up at five in the morning and write your script.

This idea of Metallica or some rock n’ roll singer being rich, that’s not necessarily going to happen anymore. Because, as we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I’m going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money?

In the old days, 200 years ago, if you were a composer, the only way you could make money was to travel with the orchestra and be the conductor, because then you’d be paid as a musician. There was no recording. There were no record royalties. So I would say, “Try to disconnect the idea of cinema with the idea of making a living and money.” Because there are ways around it.

(click to continue reading Francis Ford Coppola: On Risk, Money, Craft & Collaboration :: Articles :: The 99 Percent.)

Or as in my case, not care. My art1 is a hobby that gives me pleasure, so I do it. I have no expectations of selling my work to be hung on Steve Jobs’ wall, or used in a Coppola film. I just do it because I want to. Sometimes I sell my work, and this is good too, satisfying even, but I don’t expect to sell enough of my work to quit my day2 job.

Speaking of which, if you want a print of something I’ve done, just ask, and I’ll make arrangements. Eventually.


p.s., Mick Jagger said something quite similar a few months ago

  1. such that it is []
  2. well, literally, day and night job []

Reading Around on January 20th

Some additional reading January 20th from 12:07 to 17:38:

  • Stuart Carlson – 2010-01-18 – Satan’s tools, Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh

  • DIY Refrigerator Care Saves Money, Keeps Refrigerator Alive Longer – Saving Money – Lifehacker – Pippen becomes famous for his refrigerator love
  • Devotion to CTA is tattooed on her foot – CTA Tattler – This woman loves maps so much — and the CTA — that she has the rail system map tattooed on the top of foot.

  • Open Letter From OK Go – OK Go – Fifteen years ago, when the terms of contracts like ours were dreamt up, a major label could record two cats fighting in a bag and three months later they’d have a hit. No more. People of the world, there has been a revolution. You no longer give a shit what major labels want you to listen to (good job, world!), and you no longer spend money actually buying the music you listen to (perhaps not so good job, world). So the money that used to flow through the music business has slowed to a trickle, and every label, large or small, is scrambling to catch every last drop. You can’t blame them; they need new shoes, just like everybody else. And musicians need them to survive so we can use them as banks. Even bands like us who do most of our own promotion still need them to write checks every once in a while.But where are they gonna find money if no one buys music?

The Nation versus Buzzflash

I received1 this same email solicitation from The Nation as Mark Karlin did. I’ve been a subscriber to The Nation since before there was such a thing as a browser, but I’ve been a reader of BuzzFlash for nearly their entire existence as well. The Nation’s attack seems a bit odd, why attack fellow progressives when there are so many other, juicier targets?

Lower Congress Parkway

In the meantime, we were a bit astonished to receive a mass solicitation e-mail on December 16 from Katrina vanden Heuvel (the editorial and marketing genius currently publishing “The Nation”) — whom we deeply admire — accusing BuzzFlash, among others, of running “Nation” stories “without contributing a penny to support and produce the journalism we invest in.”

We don’t mind being called out by name by people who have a different opinion, but it’s another story when a publication you deeply admire slanders you. The fact is that we post headline links to “The Nation” stories from which they derive more hits because of our size, and they then can charge more money to the likes of Coca Cola and Discover Card for running ads for those corporations. BuzzFlash has never reproduced, copied, nor violated the copyright of any “Nation” article, and many of “The Nation” writers, including Jeremy Scahill whom vanden Heuvel mentions, read BuzzFlash and have been interviewed by BuzzFlash.

In short, as far as BuzzFlash is concerned, Katrina vanden Heuvel is defaming our proud and unblemished heritage.

Furthermore, BuzzFlash is probably the largest non-bookstore seller of Nation Books on the Web and plans to continue selling Nation Books, just as we plan continuing linking to “Nation” articles.

Vanden Heuvel, with whom we have communicated positively and admiringly in our early years (including an interview we did and posted about her book “Dictionary of Republicanisms”; BuzzFlash also sold her tome, “Meltdown”), also should know that BuzzFlash has a staff, posts much of its own original content on our blog, runs advocacy campaigns such as Turn Off Fox, and has created a marketplace for progressive writers, musicians, actors, Fair Trade (living wage), and eco-products. Our staff has broken and brought to the forefront many a story over the years.

In fact, BuzzFlash has played an instrumental role in publicizing and distributing Nation Books such as “Blackwater” and “Republican Gomorrah” and many others. Katrina vanden Heuvel sits on the Board of the Nation Institute, which publishes Nation Books (through Perseus), and the Nation Institute is strongly affiliated with “The Nation.”

In short, when vanden Heuvel writes in her e-mail fundraising plea, “While I suspect you may have read Scahill or Roston or Jones — and other Nation investigations — on Common Dreams, Alternet or Buzzflash, please remember that these ‘aggregator’ websites use our work without contributing a penny to support and produce the journalism we invest in.”

I can’t speak for Common Dreams or Alternet, but vanden Heuvel is making the same argument that Rupert Murdoch does, which makes them a very odd couple indeed. Let’s see: BuzzFlash links directly to Nation articles, which drives up their “hits” and page views, which means that they can charge Coca Cola more money to greenwash itself! And BuzzFlash promotes “The Nation” writers and books through interviews.

[Click to continue reading In Desperation for Funds, “The Nation” Slanders BuzzFlash: Progressive Sites Need More Financial Support So This Doesn’t Happen |]

Daily News

I tried to find an example of a Scahill article lifted from The Nation, and could not find one. There are links like:

Who will mete out justice for America’s merchants of death? Jeremy Scahaill brilliantly analyzes Blackwater USA after their deadly shootout in the streets of Baghdad. This article will be printed in the Oct. 15th, 2007 edition of the Nation.

[Click to continue reading – Progressive News and Commentary with an Attitude | Fight Ignorance: Read BuzzFlash]

but that’s pretty clearly a link to The Nation’s website, and is no more than a teaser. BuzzFlash does post a lot of links to other places, but they don’t excerpt much of the original story; if a reader was interested in the topic, they would click through the link to read the rest at the original publisher.

There is even a FAQ entry about the practice:

Why just the links?

Our job is made much simpler and legally safer if we point you to the articles, instead of copying, formatting, and posting them to the BuzzFlash site.

So I don’t understand the slam. If The Nation wants to hide itself behind a paywall, just do it already. I hope they don’t, I like directing people who are not subscribers to read articles at the Nation website, but if Ms. Vanden Heuvel is worried about copyright theft, she should take action and stop pointing the finger at fellow travelers like BuzzFlash.

  1. and responded negatively to []

Reading Around on November 9th through November 10th

A few interesting links collected November 9th through November 10th:

  • What’s Alan Watching?: Mad Men, “Shut the Door. Have a Seat”: We’re putting the band back together – “Shut the Door. Have a Seat” felt very much like a caper movie: the jazzy piano music, the intrigue, the plan unfolding perfectly as Lane walked in, got fired by St. John, and walked out happily, leaving a dumbfounded Moneypenny in his wake. Specifically, though, the episode felt like my favorite part of any caper (or other kind of ensemble adventure) movie: the gathering of the team. I have been, and always will be, a sucker for those sequences in movies like “Ocean’s Eleven,” “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Magnificent Seven” where the two leaders (there are always two guys at first, aren’t there?) travel around to assemble the perfect team of experts, explaining their value and using various tricks of persuasion along the way to get them on board.
  • The Watcher: Checking in with Conrad Hilton: ‘Mad Men’ actor Chelcie Ross speaks – I think [Conrad Hilton is] a zealot, and his zeal was focused on one particular area — his business. They don’t get into it on the show but Conrad Hilton’s private life was just about as rocky as Don’s. He left behind women, he worked all the time. But his zeal for what he’s doing relates to his business and his belief in God and America and what it can bring to the world. He feels that’s his mission — to bring America to the world, and he has bought into it 100 percent.
  • Mad Men Postmortem – The Daily Beast – It’s so unambiguous to me that this marriage is over, but the audience seems to cling to the idea that they should be together because we want to believe in those things. The marriage was not good. It was built on a lie and the lie was exposed. In the end, Don coming clean really damaged his relationship with her, more than the lying, her seeing who he actually was. I do believe when he says his mother was a 22-year-old prostitute that Betty is looking at something that is very far from what she had planned for herself… That was the whole story of the season. When Henry Francis (Christopher Stanley) came on to her… a switch went off in her head of what was missing in her life, which was a true, romantic attachment. In the end, that combination with her gut feeling that something wasn’t right in her marriage and finding out the truth, they don’t belong together anymore, kids or not. You’ve got to take it pretty seriously when someone’s flying to Reno to get a divorce.
  • Mad Men Confronts Heaven and Hull: The Season 3 Finale: James Wolcott | Vanity Fair – Although this episode began with ominous echoes of The Godfather…it pedaled into an inspirational tale–an entrepreneurial vision of A Christmas Carol, where everyone comes together under one roof not out of love or family ties or sentimental obligation but out of mutual economic self-interest and buccaneer solidarity, sink or swim, eat or be eaten. “Well, it’s official,” toasts Roger after he, Don, Bert, and Pryce form their rebel alliance. “Friday, December 13, 1963: Four guys shot their own legs off.” The shark cunning entailed in starting up this new agency may seem cold, bloodless, and mercenary—an Ayn Rand mission minus the rhetorical bombast–but the collaborative enthusiasm of this breakout operation was brisk, invigorating: it gave you a lift being in an adult universe where talent and initiative were on the move and mediocrity left behind to fend for itself.
  • The Watcher: Sterling Coup: A terrific ending to ‘Mad Men’s’ season – ” I was just transfixed by Sally’s watchful brown eyes. She just kept looking from parent to parent, waiting for someone to tell her the truth. More effectively than anyone else has ever done, she called Don on his b.s. “You say things and you don’t mean them! You can’t just do that!”

    Later, we see Sally once again in front of the TV, her comforter, her friend. Carla and the TV are the most stable forces in Sally’s life. Truth be told, Carla being the biggest influence on Sally’s life would not be a bad thing at all.

    Later when Bobby was clinging to Don’s body like a little monkey, unwilling to let go, holding on tight with every limb — that was heartbreaking.”

  • Footnotes of Mad Men: Goodbye, All Our Pretty Horses | The Awl – Don’s revulsion at being sold off has to do both with his free-pony-roaming the-silvery-plains sense of individualism (DREAMY) and also McCann Erickson’s noxious reputation in the 1960s. ‘Giantism’ was their business ethos. Beginning in the early 1960s, McCann-Erickson, then known as Intergroup McCann-Erickson, gobbled up a mid-sized shops and retained them under one umbrella, but still forced them the compete for clients. This had an upside: two agencies could be under the McCann Erickson parent with one shop servicing American Airlines and the other shop servicing TWA. And a downside: the fear, at the time, was there would be leaks and betrayals between agencies. In 1964, Nestle left McCann-Erickson because they also serviced Carnation. Continental also withdrew their business because McCann was in bed with other airlines. “Bigness is an evil,” a Nestle executive explained, “that strains relationships that ten years ago were very warm and close.”
  • Eschaton – Evil Google – “As is occasionally pointed out when journalists and news business people complain that Google is stealing their content, if they don’t want Google to index their pages they can simply… tell Google not to index their pages by inserting a bit of code into them. What they really want Google to do is pay them for the privilege of making money from a derivative of their product, the way book reviewers always pay novelists, for example.”

View my photos at

Zazzle and Dale Chihuly suck

A while ago1, before Flickr became my website of choice to host photos, I made some t-shirts and posters at the online print shop, Zazzle, from photos I took. I made a few for myself, but afterwords, left the account there, active, in case somebody stumbled upon one of my designs and decided to buy it. Not likely actually, and exactly zero people have done so in the six years or so I had the account.2

Today I got an email from Zazzle, reading:

Thank you for your interest in, and thank you for publishing products on Zazzle.

Unfortunately, it appears that your product, Garfield Conservatory, contains content that is not suitable for printing at

We will be removing this product from the Zazzle Marketplace shortly.

The details of the product being removed are listed below:

• Product Title: Garfield Conservatory

• Product Type: Print

• Product ID: 228639274743114826

• Result: Not Approved

• Policy Violations:

o Design contains an image or text that is copyrighted.

If you are interested in purchasing Official Licensed Merchandise from Zazzle please visit:

I’m pretty sure the image was this photo of a Chihuly exhibition at Garfield Conservatory.3

Garfield Redjar susume.jpg

Notice that I had modded the image in Photoshop so that it resembled nothing so much as just a magic marker sketch4. So for all the Zazzle zealots knew, I drew the image by hand. Is copyright law really that much in favor of factory artists like Chihuly? He’s famous for churning out thousands of glass pieces in his sweatshop, touching none of them, having his interns do all the actual work, he just markets the pieces. So my manipulated photo violated this copyright, somehow. Seems like this would be protected under “fair use” doctrine, especially since it isn’t a straight photo.

Strange world we live in.

I have deleted the remaining four items that were still listed at Zazzle, and have requested my account be deleted as well.

Funny also, on the Chihuly wikipedia page:

In 2006, Chihuly filed a lawsuit against a pair of glassblowers, including Robert Kaindl, whom he accused of copying his work. Chihuly was unsuccessful: the glass blower federation argued that Chihuly’s designs feature basic shapes; therefore any novice would be able to create the spiral glass which is featured in many of Chihuly’s composition

Looking at the simple vase floating in a pond – how could you copyright something as mundane?

  1. somewhere around 2003 []
  2. of course, I haven’t added any new items there in six years either – my initial experience was pretty shitty to tell the truth. The shirts were poor quality and the prints faded within a few wash cycles. I recall the entire “creation” process being incredibly awkward and cumbersome – the tools were poorly engineered and clunky. They might have improved since 2003, or maybe not []
  3. can’t tell for sure because the image had already been deleted and long ago that Google cache no longer had a copy []
  4. my Photoshop skills not that polished at this time. Ahem. []

Reading Around on August 14th

Some additional reading August 14th from 12:05 to 12:45:

William Blake:


  • Think You Can Rip Someone’s Image From the Internet and Use it For Free? Think Again, You Just May End Up Sued and Lose | Thomas Hawk Digital Connection – “It was interesting to hear yesterday from photographer Christopher Boffoli who has done a lot of freelance work lately for the West Seattle Blog. Boffoli wrote me and told me about a situation where a Seattle based Realtor, Laura Miller with Catalyst Commercial Partners, used an unauthorized photo of his for a real estate listing (photo above) of hers and ended up having to pay him a $1,000 small claims court judgment over it.

    I’ll let Boffoli tell part of the story”

  • Change of Subject: Getting aboard a health plan — it’s time to throw a lifeline to 60 million Americans – “they’re fine with the idea of providing coverage to everyone. But only if it costs them nothing and leaves them with all the advantages, priorities and prerogatives they currently enjoy. In other words, the old “I’d haul you up, but you might swamp my rowboat” argument.

    Others tell me they view access to quality health care as something they’ve earned — either by working hard or being related to someone who works hard. And if others want it, let them earn it too — the old, “Go build your own rowboat, you slacker!” argument.

    Still others say that those without coverage can always fall back on the patchwork of public hospitals, charity and Medicaid — the old “You don’t need a rowboat. Driftwood will do” argument.

    Obviously, though, too many swimmers are drowning:”

  • Krugman- Republican Death Trip –
  • – “President Obama is now facing the same kind of opposition that President Bill Clinton had to deal with: an enraged right that denies the legitimacy of his presidency, that eagerly seizes on every wild rumor manufactured by the right-wing media complex.”
  • Court extends Tribune Co. control of Chapter 11 case — – “A bankruptcy judge said Tribune Co. can keep control of its Chapter 11 case for three-and-a-half more months as it looks to sell off some assets, including the Chicago Cubs, in its bid to exit bankruptcy protection.

    Judge Kevin J. Carey of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., on Monday gave the publisher of the Chicago Tribune an extension to Nov. 30 to file its reorganization plan to emerge from bankruptcy and to repay creditors. He also set a March 15, 2010, deadline for the media giant to win creditor support for a plan.”

  • delicious blog » Sharing Made Easier: Email and Tweet Your Bookmarks – “If you use Twitter and want to send bookmarks to your Twitter feed, associate a Twitter account (only a single Twitter account can be associated at one time) by logging into Twitter under the Twitter panel. You have the option to send all your saved bookmarks to Twitter by selecting the “Tweet all bookmarks unless private” checkbox when you add the Twitter account. If you’ve selected this option, your Twitter account will appear by default in the Send field.”
  • Juan_Gris
  • Juan Gris