Freedom to Ring

Previously I had mentioned an “interesting” case about American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers asserting that when somebody’s cell phone’s musical ringtone sounds in a public place, they are infringing copyrights.  Here is the update about the case from EFF:

A federal court yesterday firmly rejected that argument, ruling that “when a ringtone plays on a cellular telephone, even when that occurs in public, the user is exempt from copyright liability, and [the cellular carrier] is not liable either secondarily or directly.”

The ruling is an important victory for consumers, making it clear that playing music in public, when done without any commercial purpose, does not infringe copyright. That’s thanks to Section 110(4) of the Copyright Act, which exempts public performances undertaken “without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage.” In the words of the court, “customers do not play ringtones with any expectation of profit.” This ruling should also protect consumers who roll down their car windows with the radio on, who take a radio to the beach, or who sing “Happy Birthday” to their children in a public park.

Long live the right to whistle, sing and roll down your car windows!!!

New Media BA/MA Program @KadirHasUniversity

After two years of planning (and a huge amount of paperwork) and half a year of waiting for approval, we are proud to announce the founding of a new program at the Faculty of Communications at Kadir Has University: New Media (BA/MA)

An undergraduate (BA) program and a graduate (MA) program in New Media are both open and accepting students as of September 2009.

MA Program Information (English)

MA Program Information (Turkish)

NM_ilan1_CONV

The New Media Department at Kadir Has University, Faculty of Communication offers an interdisciplinary course of study of the convergence and development of the systems, technologies, history, design, and theory of communication, media and information. With a focus on interactive design, internet application development, e-commerce and mobile computing, the curriculum will prepare students to be technologically capable, articulate thinkers, and creative media professionals. Prospective students need to be passionate about design, the web and new technologies.

Ethics? Anyone?

When it comes to the issue of online file sharing the representatives of the copyright  industry (RIAA, MPAA etc.) often play the “moral” card (e.g. you would not steal a bread would you?, pirated DVD’s help terrorists etc).  A relatively recent book by Tarleton Gillespie (Wired Shut: Copyright and the Shape of Digital Culture) provides a very good analysis of the rhetorical tactics employed by the copyright industry, so I am not going to dwell on these rhetorics or the false assumptions the copyright industry wants legislators and the public to make about theft and intellectual property (maybe in the future, I will).

On the other hand, please see the news piece below about the “moral” choices movie makers can make when it comes to making a few more bucks (Source: Techdirt).

Movie Makers Use ‘Fake’ Piracy Numbers To Score Distribution Deal

The NY Times recently had a blog post noting that the makers of an $850,000 romantic comedy called X’s and O’s were thrilled that their movie was widely shared on file sharing networks, because the attention it got helped land them a big DVD distribution deal, and potentially a television deal, helped along by the attention received from that file sharing. Of course, there’s just one little problem. The FreakBits guys noticed that the number of downloads the movies’ creators are citing are almost certainly false. Apparently some sites post fake download numbers as a part of their advertising, and the movie makers used those fake numbers. But… it seemed to get them attention to get more deals, so more power to them. No matter what, it suggests that (once again) obscurity is a much bigger problem than piracy.

I am not even sure if this news piece requires any further comments.

The hidden cost of e-books

As a person who spends about 12 hours a day in front of the computer screen, one thing that I can never do is read an article or a book from the computer screen.  Even with a two-page article, my impulse is to first print the article and then read it.  For this, I apologize to all the environmentalists who rightfully should blame me for killing trees.

On the other hand, as Kindle and other options for reading e-documents, e-articles and e-books become increasingly popular, the question becomes why we should be  willing to submit ourselves to the misery of agreeing to license contracts that impose important limitations on how you use a piece of content you own (“you can read but….can’t share, can’t sell, can’t lend”–and the list goes on).

Why should a reader be required to let the Amazon.com servers record every book they read? Why should that reader be forced to forfeit rights afforded to him or her by the existing copyright laws just because the contract that they never have actually read says so?

And who gives the right to Apple or Amazon.com to decide, “hey this is our device, so you can’t consume this content on it” or “well, we decided to remove the content from your device, without even asking to you“?

So, risking to sound as archaic as can be, here is the solution: continue flipping the paper pages for as long as we can. And here is why the book should (but will probably not) win over e-book. And if nothing else works to convince my readers to opt for hard copies of books, apparently e-books may be bad for physical health, too (bad for the eyes, dangerous if you have heart batteries and may explode!!!)

Kadir Has University Department of Advertising New Pamphlet and Logo

As some readers may know, I am currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Advertising at Kadir Has University.  One of our recent graduates–Mustafa Karamangil–designed our new logo and a pamphlet for the department. The pamphlet displays recent work from our students.

Advertising LogoYou can view the pamphlet online:

E-pamphlet

Or download the PDF:

Pamphlet PDF

Beware what you read and what you opt out of…

A few years ago, in an article published in New Media & Society (2007), I attempted to draw attention to a recurring problem with respect to user privacy online: the lack of transparency surrounding the data collection/sharing/use practices make it almost impossible for even the most “savy” user to actually challenge corporations’ “interpretations” about who we as individuals are… The problem gets even more complicated when we start confusing “data security” with privacy and somewhat falsely believe that coupled with higher consumer knowledge, opt out systems will be able to protect the privacy of individuals (no…not consumers, we are individuals).

In a recent entry, blogger, security and privacy analyst Christopher Soghoian provides some very useful examples from Google.  For those of you who are too busy to read the rest, the gist is that when you opt out of Google’s web history etc. all you are doing is stopping Google from using the data (but the data remains in their servers):

Consider this snippet from the Frequently Asked Questions page for the Google Web History service:

You can choose to stop storing your web activity in Web History either temporarily or permanently, or remove items, as described in Web History Help. If you remove items, they will be removed from the service and will not be used to improve your search experience. As is common practice in the industry, Google also maintains a separate logs system for auditing purposes and to help us improve the quality of our services for users. For example, we use this information to audit our ads systems, understand which features are most popular to users, improve the quality of our search results, and help us combat vulnerabilities such as denial of service attacks.

As this page makes clear, Google does not promise to delete all copies of your old search records when you delete them using the Web History feature. No, the company will merely no longer show them to you, and will no longer use that information to provide customized search. I’m sure this was an honest mistake on Mayer’s part, right? As the company’s vice president of search products and user experience, its not like she should actually be expected to understand the fine grained details of the company’s policies for search and user privacy.

In other words, shall the Big Brother or one of the smaller brothers need data about you, it stays there. And all you are left with is the rightfully and comfortingly false belief that Google or Yahoo or else is protecting your privacy.