Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Twitter as a newspaper?

Virtual crossover as any Twitter feed becomes a newspaper.  You can find my main Twitter feed here, thus displayed.

This is a further example of how putting up paywalls can only harm traditional publishing - as the thirst for reading content generated in a crowdsourced and unpaid context only grows.

As curator of a Twitter feed which can now generate a newspaper, I wonder how this will affect who we follow and why.  It was always a conditional relationship - nothing wrong in that.  Now it may become a tool for substituting the high-priced content the media moguls claim we need.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

How the real crime is market failure confused as crime

This is a lovely piece of synthesis:
‘Piracy’ is a clear example of a market failure that’s being mistaken for a crime.
And this is also pertinent:
The classic example of this is The Beatles. I’ve said before that if you have any Beatles songs on your iPod then you have broken the law. The Beatles music is not legally available in MP3 format and ripping a CD to your MP3 player, so-called format shifting, is a breach of copyright law.

Where the blame lies for The Beatles’ absence from MP3 stores is anyone’s guess but Sir Paul McCartney placed it firmly with EMI in an interview with the BBC last week. Regardless of blame, I doubt anyone will feel they have done anything wrong if they have ripped legally-purchased Beatles CDs to their MP3 player. And EMI is likely to turn a blind eye to such behaviour.
More from Shane Richmond, writing in the Telegraph along similar lines, here.
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As a postscript to all of this, I recently bought a Toshiba VHS/DVD/HDD recorder from Amazon which allows you to copy VHS tapes to DVD - and possibly to the internal hard drive as well as other external USB devices (I still haven't had time to fully investigate its copious documentation).  If this kind of format-shifting is possible, what's the point of me spending £200 on a device which can do something I'm not allowed to do?  Or, indeed, what moral right does a company like Toshiba have to design and manufacture such a device with so many legal caveats?

As a further postcript, I've had a DivX DVD player with a USB port for almost a year now - and still have been unable to find a reliable source of legal DivX content.  I did use Vuze right at the beginning, but one of the files which appeared to be legal downloaded with a virus attached to it - so, unhappy with that experience, I'm afraid I've gone back to renting and buying DVDs from my local supermarket.

As a final postscript, I also acquired a portable Samsung USB hard drive not long ago which came with a digital copy of Michael Jackson's recent film "This Is It".  Great film and pretty decent quality too - only downside I could see is that you can only install it on three different devices, all of which must be Windows.  If you want to stop people downloading content illegally, you really have to do better than that.  If DVDs can work on Windows, Apple, Linux and standard DVD devices, then their virtual equivalents must absolutely do no less.

"A vault of darkness"

An interesting phrase from Alan Rusbridger, the editor of the Guardian, in this report on the imminent paywall the Times is going to have to shortly deal with.
However, though claiming it would be crazy to be "fundamentalist" about staying free if The Times succeeded, the Guardian editor went on to nail his colours to the mast by saying "if you erect a paywall around your content you kind of go into a vault of darkness".
Rusbridger goes on to say:
He believed openness to and collaboration with the wider internet "ecosystem" were key assets in future journalism.
Interesting also that access to Sky News' website will remain open.
Rusbridger also noted that Murdoch's Sky News website would still provide free news competition, memorably saying: "Rupert Murdoch is having it both ways at the moment and he would as readily stab you in the back as the front."
So is this part of a wider and longer-term strategy by Rupert Murdoch to increase users at the fiercely partisan, Tory leaning and Fox-like Sky and neutralise any remaining latency of true liberalism at the Times?

(This, incidentally, all came my way via Ian Bissell's Twitter feed.)