[06/30] Of leetness

Day 06 – Your hobbies, in great detail:

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what separates a hobby from something more serious. Is DJing a hobby? Baking? Gaming? Hacking? Fucking?

If you spend a few hours a week on something, is that a hobby? What if you’re passionate about it, if it consumes you and you spend all your waking moments in pursuit of it? Is it still a hobby then?

I’ve got a thousand records or so, but I wouldn’t consider it a hobby. I’m not a record collector. I’m just someone who loves music, and records are a very enjoyable means to an end.

I don’t paint miniatures or collect stamps. I write music, take photographs now and then, play video games, go through a lot of books, listen to a lot of music, and have a lot of things to say about copyright.

I’ve been doing the online journal thing for fifteen years or so, and on the rare occasion write other things too. I used to develop and teach web design and computer security classes (and I think I was Canada’s first Certified Ethical Hacker instructor), and spend waaaaay too much time on Wikipedia.

Do those count?

Postscript: According to Harris Interactive, these are the 25 most popular hobbies and leisure activities in the US:

  1. Reading
  2. TV watching
  3. Spending time with family/kids
  4. Computer activities
  5. Going to movies
  6. Fishing
  7. Gardening
  8. Walking
  9. Playing team sports
  10. Exercise (aerobics, weights)
  11. Golf
  12. Church/church activities
  13. Listening to music
  14. Watching sporting events
  15. Shopping
  16. Socializing with friends/neighbors
  17. Traveling
  18. Playing music
  19. Entertaining
  20. Renting movies
  21. Eating out/dining out
  22. Hunting
  23. Crafts (unspecified)
  24. Swimming
  25. Camping

The War Against Free (or: Oh Crap!)

Why record labels will never win the war against free: An experiment.

The whole file sharing phenomenon (and legal music downloading) is largely driven by a powerful psychological aversion to being cheated.

It turns out that free is so powerful not because it’s free, but because it allows us to minimize the risk of being cheated. Duke University behavioral economist Dan Ariely conducted an interesting experiment to understand “free”, which he writes about in his book Predictably Irrational.

First, he and his colleagues sold random college students two kinds of chocolates. One was Lindt Truffles from Switzerland. The second was Hersheys Kisses. The truffles were 15 cents and the Kisses were 1 cent. The students reasoned that the difference in price between the two chocolates was due to quality. 73% chose the truffles and 27% chose the Kisses.

Then Ariely did something interesting. He introduced free into the experiment. He lowered the price of each chocolate by 1 cent, so the truffles were now 14 cents and the Kisses were free. All of a sudden, preference for the Kisses skyrocketed.

Ariely concluded that free is so enticing because it eliminates the risk of buyer’s remorse, or what I like to call the “Oh, crap!” factor. Nobody wants to buy something and then discover that it’s not what they expected. Even if the price of that thing is just a few cents, the psychological aversion still exists. When something is free, that risk is eliminated entirely. It may still not be what you expected, but at least you didn’t lose anything by paying for it.

$500 times 51,514 mp3s = $25,757,000 fine for me

The new copyright legislation is in the mail:

The federal Conservatives are set to introduce new copyright legislation that will include provisions to target users with a $500 fine for all illegal files transferred online, a move that legal experts say could see Canadians sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars if found guilty of infringement.

Sources have told the National Post that one of the provisions in the updated Copyright Act of Canada will include a fine for each “personal use download” found to be shared online through peer-to-peer software programs.

Other provisions in the bill, which is said to be tabled in the House of Commons tomorrow afternoon, will include measures to make it illegal to unlock cellphones or copy music from protected CDs to iPods as well as making it illegal to copy “time-shifted” shows on to personal video recorders if flagged by broadcasters.

Summary?

Loss of Copyright Act right to make a copy of music for personal use.
Modifying electronics that you own will be illegal
Ripping copy-protected CDs that you own to play on mp3 players that you own will be illegal.

No one knows yet if this is going to be tabled tomorrow or next week, and no one knows if it’ll be left to die over summer recess or pushed through; so look up your MP, give them a ring on the hill, and let them know what you think.

Almost there, B.D.

Depressing Thoughts For Thursday:

A report released by the Center for Biological Diversity reveals that in the first 20 years of the Endangered Species Act, 114 different species have vanished from the face of the earth forever. From the report:


While only 19% of the extinctions involved species on the endangered species list, a full 81% were not on the list. Lacking legal protection, recovery plans, critical habitat, and recovery funding, these species went extinct due a lack of commitment and attention. “Virtually all of these species could have been saved if the Endangered Species Act was properly managed, fully funded and shielded from political pressure,” said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity and one of three authors of the paper. “Instead they were sacrificed to bureaucratic inertia, political meddling, and lack of leadership.”

The American Department of Justice has announced a massive worldwide bust of copyright infringers:


Operation Fastlink is the culmination of four separate undercover investigations simultaneously being conducted by the FBI, coordinated by the FBI Cyber Division, and the U.S. Department of Justice, coordinated by the Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) of the Criminal Division. As a result of Fastlink, over 120 total searches have been executed in the past 24 hours in 27 states and in 10 foreign countries. Foreign searches were conducted in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden as well as Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Operation Fastlink is the largest multi-national law enforcement effort ever directed at online piracy. Nearly 100 individuals worldwide have been identified by the investigation to date, many of whom are the leaders or high-level members of various international piracy organizations. As the investigations continue, additional targets will be identified and pursued.

Since last monday, the events of Doonesbury have taken a drastic turn. B.D., who we all know and love (the guy with the helmet) has been injured while serving in Iraq. He lost his helmet, and his leg. For those of you who don’t follow Trudeau’s work, this is A Big Deal. B.D. has been around for as long as the strip has, even serving in Vietnam during the 70s. He’s always worn a helmet, signifying that he’s a team player — the team itself is mostly irrelevant, what’s mattered is that he supports it. The decision to maim a thirty-five year old character didn’t come lightly, I’m sure, and the removal of his helmet alongside the injury is in no small way communicating Trudeau’s feelings about the overseas war.

(You may dismiss it as a silly cartoon gimmick, but Trudeau has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning, and President Gerald Ford once stated that “There are only three major vehicles to keep us informed as to what is going on in Washington: the electronic media, the print media, and Doonesbury – not necessarily in that order.”)

BRITS!

From an interview with Sleazy, in regards to his recent move to Thailand from the UK:

More or less everything (food, rent, utilities, transport, but not Apple Macs’) is about a quarter the price of the West especially the UK, so a modest Coil income goes four times further.

There are some things in Thailand that present problems though. The main one for me is that in the UK it’s easy to be motivated to do a lot of work (or a lot of very expensive ‘play’) since there’s basically nothing else to do! In Thailand there are a million beautiful ways to pass the days, so motivating myself to get things done there is much harder.

The England that I grew up in, which was an inspiration to me for so long, has changed a great deal and I am no longer able to see any good side to it. […]

It seems to me that now virtually all artistic endeavour in the UK is actually regarded simply as a means to an end; a means of obtaining fame, a lifestyle, a flat-screen TV, an Audi or the right flowers in the right pot. I’m including people starting up as musicians, artists and fashion designers, the people who will shape the cultural identity of the country in years to come. Nobody seems to be doing these things just because they are driven to, any more. So their work is compromised.

[On Downloading Music]

The debate of the relative merits of ownership of special things vs. the possession of special information will never die. I prefer the latter but Jhonn the former. To be sure, the experience of holding an object, especially a hand-made object will not be equalled electronically for many years. I’d like to think Coil are weeks rather than months away from offering our work as downloads.

More Filesharing Stuffs

I received this email today from Downhill Battle:

Hey everyone,

This is a very important heads-up to anyone who’s a musician, or who’s connected to running a record label. The Future of Music Coalition is running a survey now, in partnership with the Pew Research Center, of musicians’ attitudes towards the Internet. Within just a few months, we could see laws pass that would start sending people to jail for filesharing. The major record labels lie to the public that they’re doing this to protect musicians, so right now it’s vitally important that the public hear what most musicians really think. The Pew Research Center is a respected institution, and when they release a study like this it makes news; you’ve got an opportunity here to make your voice heard. Take the suvey, and please pass this on to all of your friends who play music:

http://websurveyor.net/wsb.dll/11719/Music.htm

THE DEADLINE FOR THIS SURVEY IS APRIL 15th. For more information about the study, and about the Future of Music Coalition, check out:

http://futureofmusic.org/research/musiciansurvey.cfm and
http://futureofmusic.org/manifesto/index.cfm

The survey isn’t especially good. There are lots of questions that are rather leading. For example: “Overall, do you think file sharing on the Internet poses a MAJOR threat to creative industries like music and movies, a MINOR threat, or that it poses no real threat at all?” They exclude the increasingly obvious answer: that filesharing is a good thing for the independent/underground side of the music business because it’s breaking the major labels’ monopoly. And they don’t ask the question: “Do you want to see working parents and students going to jail for sharing music?” –which is an important question to ask since it’s on the horizon. But try to work within the limited questions to get your message across.

And again, pass this around to your friends. We’ve only got four more days (’till Thursday)!

Ryan Malcolm knows what’s up.

Federal Heritage Minister Helene Scherrer has spoken. Although Justice Konrad von Finckenstein ruled against CRIA, she has decided to take matters into her own hands.

“As minister of Canadian Heritage, I will, as quickly as possible, make changes to our copyright law.”


Canada to Helene Scherrer: Suck My Balls.

The problem with this, of course, is that Canadian copyright law has been going through a slow and thoughtful reformation process. Since the unveiling of A Framework for Copyright Reform in 2001, a lot of progress has been made in updating the laws to reflect the needs and concerns of content producers, and the public domain.

Now, however, it seems that all of this work will be bulldozed by Helene Scherrer, who declared her intentions at the Juno Awards last night. (Public interest and existing law be damned, we’ve got businesses to cater to!)

If this bothers you, please contact the Copyright Policy Branch of the Department of Canadian Heritage at (819) 997-5638. It’s your country too.

From DB (post in progress)

Most people don’t know it, but when you pay for major label music you’re supporting some pretty nasty stuff. It boils down to two main points:

1) The major labels pay radio stations to play their songs. This is sketchy in itself–shouldn’t the music on the radio just be the best stuff? But the worst part is it means other labels are locked out of radio. If musicians don’t sign an exploitative contract with one of the majors, they don’t get on the radio.

2) This fall the major labels starting suing fans. So far, they’ve sued over 300 people, mostly working families with young children. And they say the suits will continue indefinitely. Whatever you think about filesharing, it’s just not okay for giant corporations to sue people with kids, living paycheck to paycheck, who can’t afford a defense. The lawsuits are literally pushing families into bankruptcy.

I have about 50 of these stickers, and I’m going to be making another (much larger) order very soon. [info]liquidab, [info]dirtybunny and I are going to be hitting some of the major retail stores before the x-mas rush, and we welcome and encourage anyone else who wants to contribute to our renegade sticker-the-fuck-out-of-walmart-and-hmv operation. If you want to get some stickers, you can order them at Downhill Battle, or you can contact me and I’ll add your order to my next one. The more people that order, the cheaper they’ll be.

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead

The RIAA continues its fight against filesharing and all its evils, suing a 12-year-old and forcing her into a $2000 settlement. Breathe easy, Madonna — you’re safe now.

Bill Joy, perhaps the greatest computer scientist who has ever lived, is leaving Sun Microsystems. (And here’s a link to why the future doesn’t need us, for those who have yet to read it.)

Also leaving us is Leni Riefenstahl, the brilliant Nazi propaganda filmmaker who wrote and directed “Triumph of the Will“.

And finally, our third brilliant departure for today is Warren Zevon, as remembered by Dave Barry. (Who once performed Werewolves of London with Zevon, Carl Hiaasen, and Stephen King.)

2002 in review (it rhymes!)

Got involved as a consultant in the Canadian Copyright Reform process.

Got fucked by roommates, lost my house (with a few thousand dollars in lease-breaking fees to go along with it), my job, and my (then) girlfriend in the span of a week.

Decided to move to Kitchener/Waterloo. Decided not to.

Moved to Ottawa. Met, fell for, and moved in with Leslie.

Turned 23. Best birthday in memory.

Found an angry duck in a public fountain. Named him Honkey.

Got a job. Signed a lease for a new place. Moved in with Leslie and the coolest roommate I’ve ever had.

Got back into DJing and Promotion, putting serious effort and hours into ‘the scene’, such as it is.

Had Krispy Kreme. Twice.

Got a tattoo at the first event Leslie and I both worked on. Bought and built a bigass 5-part 2-wall bookcase.

Hit Daniel Myer with a snowball.

Figured out where I want to be. Made the decision to do whatever it takes to get there.