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Archive for June, 2007

In an overwhelming 309-115, the House shot down the FCC and the Fairness Doctrine. To be more specific the FCC cannot spend any money in 2008 to reinstate it.

The Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters to offer competing viewpoints in a balanced manner when presenting controversial issues.

This whole affair seems to be more of an opportunity to name call the other party and heckle then on true newsworthiness. I think what’s more important to examine is that FCC declared the Fairness Doctrine unconstitutional in 1987.

Oh wait, it looks likeBroadcast and Cable point that out.

There is currently no legislation to reinstate the doctrine, which the FCC invalidated as unconstitutional in 1987, but several Democratic senators, including Dick Durbin of Illinois, John Kerry of Massachusetts and Diane Feinstein of California had gone on record supporting at least looking into reinstating it.

I think I’m more curious as too why this was even thought about. What does it say about the American people? Is this the Democratic party thinking we aren’t smart enough to figure out differing views on our own? Or it could be a conspiracy by the Republican party to remain in power with their brainwashing machine at work? I like to think it’s some super conspiracy by both parties not to deal with the real issues at the hand. It’s much more fun to say you aren’t given due justice. It’s much harder to take a platform and address it directly. Just thinking about it, I think I’m may be for option three. All the answers lie with Kang and Kodos. Aliens just explain everything.

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I have never heard anything by Girl Talk.

I’ve heard of Girl Talk, I’ve just never heard any of his music (perhaps making me not “tragically” unhip, but just minimally unhip). For those who, like me, are whatever variety of unhip in these matters, Girl Talk is a mash-up artist (real name Gregg Gillis). He remixes dozens of songs together at once on each track he makes, and his 2006 album, Night Ripper, is adored by just about anybody who is hipper than you and I. Including Congressman Mike Doyle. Rep. Doyle (D-Pittsburgh) told Congress about Girl Talk in March, at a House Telecom and Internet sub-committee hearing (via The 463):

Congressman Doyle: Mr. Chairman, I want to tell you a story of a local guy done good. His name is Greg Gillis and by day he is a biomedical engineer in Pittsburgh. At night, he DJs under the name Girl Talk. His latest mash-up record made the top 2006 albums list from Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and Spin Magazine amongst others. His shtick as the Chicago Tribune wrote about him is “based on the notion that some sampling of copyrighted material, especially when manipulated and recontextualized into a new art form is legit and deserves to be heard.” In one example, Mr. Chairman, he blended Elton John, Notorious B-I-G, and Destiny’s Child all in the span of 30 seconds. And, while the legal indie-music download site eMusic.com took his stuff down due to possible copyright violation, he’s now flying all over the world to open concerts and remix for artists like Beck.

The same cannot be said for Atlanta-based, hop-hop, mix-tape king DJ Drama. Mix-tapes, actually made on CDs, are sold at Best Buys and local record shops across the country and they are seen as crucial in making or breaking new acts in hip-hop. But even though artists on major labels are paying DJ Drama to get their next mixed-tape, the major record labels are leading raids and sending people like him to jail.

I hope that everyone involved will take a step back and ask themselves if mash-ups and mixtapes are really different or if it’s the same as Paul McCartney admitting that he nicked the Chuck Berry bass-riff and used it on the Beatle’s hit “I Saw Her Standing There.” Maybe it is. And, maybe Drama violated some clear bright lines. Or, maybe mixtapes are a powerful tool. And, maybe mash-ups are transformative new art that expands the consumers experience and doesn’t compete with what an artist has made available on iTunes or at the CD store.

Last week, Steven Levy at Newsweek brought Doyle and Girl Talk together to brainstorm about what sort of legislation would be needed to remedy the kinds of copyright conundrums mash-ups and the like introduce.

At our lunch, Doyle, 54 (whose own iPod is filled with the likes of Earth, Wind & Fire and Steely Dan), had a lot of questions for Gillis, 25. How many artists were sampled on his recent album “Night Ripper”? (Gillis: more than 167.) If he had to pay rights to every person he sampled, how costly would it be? (Gillis: who knows? But at the least, “we’d have to sell the album off the shelf for $100 a copy.”) Gillis said that he’d try to find a middle ground where some samples were OK because of fair-use provisions in the law and others paid for by a reasonable fee.

Most of my knowledge the fair use doctrine concerns video content; I have no actual idea how it has been practically applied to sampling and stuff like that. But I don’t understand why the kinds of things Girl Talk and DJ Drama do wouldn’t fall under fair use in the first place? It’s transformative content; using the material in a significantly different way than that in which it was originally used. It’s not decreasing the commercial viability of the original songs – in fact, both artists have noted that record labels and artists request their songs to be sampled. Solveig Singleton at Tech Liberation Policy brings a fair amount of snark to the whole thing:

Fair use? Transformative use? Why bother with the technicalities? Levy and a legislator like the fellow, so they weigh in on the side of legislating (yet another) exception. Maybe jam transformative and fair uses together into a whole new category, “rave” use, with a safe harbor for “hipster” use and for the older set “cool” uses?

But isn’t transformative use already an integral part of “fair use?” Why the separating them as if they’re two separate things here? And it doesn’t seem that any new sort of legislative exception would have to be made, because existing fair use protocols should apply, right? Am I completely off the mark?

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At The 463:

But, now that I am on Facebook and have prettied up my profile page, I feel like I just got to a party that has the nervous energy of bunch of people waiting around trying to figure what’s going to happen next (as they wonder to themselves whether this place looks like that old Friendster mansion). The vibe is: “sure, these party favors are pretty neat and my name tag is cool, but I’m the type that gets bored quickly so when are people going to start throwing each other in the swimming pool?”

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CDC sex survey results released last week, but I just noticed today. As one commenter at Pandagon pointed out, “it seems that all (these surveys) do is make people either feel like sluts, or like unfuckable goobs.” The median number of lifetime (hetero)sexual partners was seven for men and four for women. As is always the case with these sorts of things, there’s a flurry of commentary over whether the discrepency in the male/female numbers is accurate or more based on desirability bias (men more likely to up their reported number, women more likely to decrease it). On a personally anecdotal note, I generally know of little difference in number of sexual partners between my male and female friends. But I don’t find the 3-partner median difference too incredible either. Amanda Marcotte points out a survey that found the number of admitted partners went up for women and down for men when respondents thought they were strapped to a lie detector test. I’d be interested to see results based on age cohorts. The CDC study lumps together everyone 20-59 years old.

(I found a link to the actual report earlier and now I can’t find it, not even on the CDC Web site. Anyone got the link?)

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Shock and awe. Feminists aren’t all supportive of Hillary just because she’s a woman.

Um, duh.

Because maybe feminism really isn’t all about man-hating sister-solidarity. Maybe it really is about equal treatment of both genders, meaning you judge a person (or a politiian) based on who they are, rather than on their genitals. Imagine that!

I’m not meaning to criticize the author of this article, because she’s really just reporting on what is already a common conversational thread, and I think she does a good job pointing out various themes of it. But she does opine that Hillary doesn’t have a “woman problem,” she has a “feminist problem,” which I also think is a little simplistic. Just like you can’t say ALL women feel this way or the other about anything (although damned if people don’t try), you can’t really say ALL feminists feel one way or another about a political candidate. There are far-left feminists and moderate-left feminists and libertarian-feminists and even Republican feminists. I’m guessing the reasons why any of these groups would or would not vote for Hillary are pretty varied.

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Oh wow — investigative journalism abounding this week. Only this time our writer takes on a much more formidable crowd then some PR execs — a gaggle of ultra-conservatives floating at sea!

Amidst the National Review cruise, Johann Hari encounters a crowd that believes the Iraq war was a resounding success and, above all else, The Muslims Are Coming. If you’re not a TNR subscriber, you can’t read it, but I’ll give you a taste:

The conversation ebbs back to friendly chit-chat. So, you’re a European, one of the Park Avenue ladies says, before offering witty commentaries on the cities she’s visited. Her companion adds, “I went to Paris, and it was so lovely.” Her face darkens: “But then you think–it’s surrounded by Muslims.” The first lady nods: “They’re out there, and they’re coming.” Emboldened, the bearded Floridian wags a finger and says, “Down the line, we’re not going to bail out the French again.” He mimes picking up a phone and shouts into it, “I can’t hear you, Jacques! What’s that? The Muslims are doing what to you? I can’t hear you!”

Julian notes:

I never put much stock in the handwringing of those who fretted that the Internet would fragment information consumption, replacing a “daily we” with a “daily me.” But this is a portrait of a group of people stuck in a truly toxic feedback loop: They’ve managed to successfully isolate themselves from the ordinary signals from the outside world that keep ideology at least loosely tethered to the realm of fact—and the pundits manning the barricades have done such a good job that their own belated attempts to provide a reality check won’t be believed.

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Looking for even more ways to avoid interaaction with the real world? Ning is a “meta-networking” site that allows users to create their own social networks for whatever they want to. On the front page of the site right now (I’m assuming it changes daily) are networks for something called the Brooklyn Art Project, the “Sick Puppies Network,” and the “One Tree Hill VIP Lounge.” Ning’s passion, they tell us, is “putting new social networks in the hands of anyone with a good idea.”

With Ning, your social network can be anything and for anyone. You start by choosing a combination of features (videos, blogs, photos, forums, etc.) from an ever-growing list of options. Then customize how it looks, decide if it’s public or private, add your brand logo if you have one, and enable the people on your network to create their own custom personal profile pages.

I read about this today on Cultureby, and my first thought was, oh, that’s kind of cool, because I think I’m kind of conditioned to think that about every new Web platform that gets introduced. But then one of the commenters asked, “what is the value?”

Indeed.

What is the value added here? What do people get out of this? Why does everyone keep joining these things? At a certain point, do you really gain anything from joining a newer/bigger/more-compartmentalized/whatever network? Or do you just spend more time out of your day checking out 13.5 million sites, with absolutely nothing added for belonging to more than one? It’s kind of like blogrolls — the more blogs I read, the more other blogs I get led to, and the more blogs I, in turn, add to my RSS reader. At this point, I just look at my massive list of feeds every morning and feel daunted. I resort to skimming just about everything. I was probably better informed about life, the world and the blogosphere when I only read 5 blogs total.

(Another commenter at Cultureby pointed out that everyone keeps talking about how there needs to be one giant aggregator, something where you can combine Flickr, YouTube, blogging platforms, Facebook, LinkedIn, your RSS reader, etc., but if we got to that place, “would the security issues freak us all out?”)

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