Saturday, September 22, 2007

All About the Attribution? Dump That Idea!

According to the Associated Press, a lawsuit filed in Dallas yesterday has named Virgin Mobile USA and its Australian counterpart, Virgin Mobile Australia, as defendants in a charge of libel and invasion of privacy of Allison Chang, who was unknowingly featured in an Australian advertising campaign ‘Are You With Us Or What?’. Captioned ‘Dump Your Penfriend’, the Virgin billboards and Website ads are alleged to have caused the Texas teenager grief and humiliation.

Interestingly, the suit names Creative Commons, the Massachusetts-chartered 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable corporation, as a co-defendant in the action, given that Virgin has been able to use the images because of CC licensing available on the Flickr website, where the image (titled ‘alison for peace’) is hosted. (It is to be noted that the image is now licensed under full copyright, although prior CC terms will persist.) The suit argues that Virgin Australia has not properly acknowledged the photographer, Justin Ho-Wee Wong, on its advertising, thereby not complying with the ‘BY’ attribution terms. As can be seen in a copy of the billboard also hosted on Flickr, there has been attribution made to the stream: Discussion has ensued about whether individuals should be informed that images are being used under CC, whether model release forms should be sought, and moral rights accrue to those photographed. Fundamentally, the mistake being made here is that this is NOT a copyright issue. It is an issue of defamation, and in certain jurisdictions, privacy. (See Lawrence Lessig's and Joi Ito's posts about the differentiation.) CC is not a scheme which contends with issues other than copyright. However, this will again be a major decision for the success of the flexible copyright scheme, as CC is alleged to be accountable for the actions of advertisers seeking to abide by their terms.

Creators may now come to question licensing under CC, as they may fear where their images ‘end up’. It is an unfortunate episode that the IP and issues of identity have been conflated. More commentary to come as Virgin Australia responds to the charges. In the interim, see more discussion on Slashdot, and on Flickr Central, where photographers are debating the merits of licensing.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Great Google Election '07

Is YouTube ‘more important to Mr Rudd than the national parliament of Australia’?

Liberal Party Minister Alexander Downer yesterday tagged Kevin Rudd’s plans to debate election issues on the Internet with PM Howard as ‘phoney’. Of three election debates, Rudd proposes to host one on YouTube. Downer retorted: ‘There'll be an election, and when there is an election, it won't be about YouTube debates, it will be about substance.’

This sentiment sits in direct contrast to Howard’s assertion that the Internet is ‘not some sort of gimmick’, as he sits primed for a conversation with voters through the tubes. Clearly, Downer needs to do a bit of searching for substance in Wikipedia himself, as he declared Australia’s parliamentary term as being three years and three months, rather than the Constitutional stipulation of three.

The world (including the Foreign Minister…) can now watch the news from the comfort of their Google homepage, with the launch of the 2007 Australian Federal Election site, an opportunity to ‘explore the Australian political landscape’ through YouTube videos and electorate-by-electorate announcements, overlaid on Google maps. At the site’s launch, ALP MP Peter Garrett notioned that this would probably be a ‘Google election’. All major parties have a presence on the web.

In addition to this, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is today launching a dedicated election page, which will feature the insightful graphics and new electronic pendulum tool of commentator Antony Green. With his usual astute observations and enviable manipulation of online tools, Antony analysed today’s Newspoll figures on Lateline, comparing Labor’s current standing to the equivalent election-lead-up in 1993, where the fall-off was earlier and their margin not so large. Whether swings will be consistent across the country is the great debate currently.

'If the swing was only 4 to 5 per cent, you could say that a marginal seat could help the Government hold on. They would actually hold on to some of those key marginals, make it harder for Labor to win. If the swing is still 6 to 7 per cent, then it's much harder for the Coalition to hang on to some of those marginals, and any they do hang onto maybe compensated for Labor by winning a seat beyond the uniform swing. So on these polls it's very hard to see how the Government can possibly win, but if they can claw back another two to three points and get the swing down to about 5 per cent, then you starting an election which will be much closer.'

More news of this, and a summary of last weekend’s Crikey events to come!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

On Being an Über Blogger: Cory Doctorow

Blogger Thomas Crampton shares with us the following video interview with Cory Doctorow on how to be noticed in the attention economy.

Drawing on his wealth of experience, particularly with Boing Boing, Cory emphasises that you’ve got to write relevant headers to be captured by RSS feeds. Leave the puns at home (awwww). Apparently Cory also points to the condensed wisdom of Jakob Nielsen on design.

Surprisingly, as someone who’s contributed to the International Herald Tribune and New York Times, Thomas’ video blogging skills need an instructional guide! Lose the long shot unless you're sure people don't want to converse in the middle of your set, lol!

I Want My MySpace TV

As if our lives didn’t unfurl before us minute-by-minute on Facebook these days, through continual status updates and being tagged in photo albums, MySpace TV will be launching a new series Quarterlife, apparently the place to be for the digerati. Writers Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick of ‘My So-Called Life’ construct this life with the aim of illustrating Generation Y’s fervent creativity, pursuit of pleasure, idealism, and search for meaning in this increasingly interconnected world. It’s billed as the twentysomethings’ coming of age in the digital generation.

The series’ central player is a ‘blabbermouth blogger’ called Dylan Krieger, a woman who divulges a few too many private moments of her friends online. Over the course of 36 episodes distributed online from November 11, viewers are invited to participate in the show’s success as a site for ‘truthful depiction of the way young people speak, work, think, love, argue and express themselves’ through discussing plot lines and extras on the site and through MySpace. To what extent contribution can be made to the show itself is of yet unknown. This is an interesting strategy for MySpace, as it battles to maintain its reputation alongside other web 2.0 sites. Chronicling the lives of six characters are they negotiate these decisions may indeed be the necessary ‘in’ to maintain interest.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Changes to the Landscape in Queensland

With the departing words ‘Queensland I love you!’, Peter Beattie vacated his position as Premier, and the station of self-confessed media tart. After nine years in the top job, Beattie let his emotion show. Associate Professor Heather Beattie was equally emotional to have her husband back in the family. Beattie’s departure has heralded a new direction for Queensland politics, in which females will play a prominent role: Member for South Brisbane, Anna Bligh, was this morning anointed as Premier by Queensland Governor Quentin Bryce. Anna moves from her position of Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure, and draws on her experience as Education Minister and her initial post as Minister for Disability Services and Families, Youth and Community Care.

In another significant gesture, the Treasurer of Queensland has been announced as MP for Mount Coot-tha Andrew Fraser. A passionate advocate for civic engagement, Andrew is 30 years old, and as such one of the youngest members of the Queensland Parliament. He has served as Parliamentary Secretary since July 2005, and has assisted in the beleaguered Health portfolio.

In an unrelated dramatic moment in my electorate last Saturday which certainly changed the landscape, a large warehouse down the road caught fire and exploded around 9.30am. Given that its roof was full of asbestos, Sherwood Road was closed for the day, and residents were asked to keep their windows closed.
Road Closed
The smoke was rather full-on during the evening, as ash landed in our yard. The next day revealed a smoldering wreck, which once housed 90 businesses and 400 storage units.
Sherwood Warehouse Remains Sherwood Fire 090907

Monday, September 3, 2007

Drowning in Quetchup

‘I don’t like SPAM!’ (wav)

Perhaps Jonathan Zittrain’s prediction that email will soon be dead is correct, if social networking tools don’t restrain their marketing ventures. The latest surge of inbox spam is being propagated by Quetchup, which wields the same-old yet-another-Web2.0-spiel: ‘Meet new people! Make friends! Start a Blog! Chat online! Play online games! Hang out & socialize!’ Unfortunately, the service has the fatal flaw of checking for friends (you may once have been able to call them that!) and then emailing everyone in your address book, without permission. So, this week I’ve received several invitations to join in across all my networks. And I’m not alone: Doc Searls and Howard Rheingold observe the trend. Smart mobs directs us to the following action:


Instead, please join me in sending a message to both and insisting that they sease and desist all spamming activity from their site immediately.

If you’re feeling in the mood to press things further (which I am), write a letter to their parent corporation, iDate, at:

iDate Corporation
6767 West Tropicana Ave.
Suite 207
Las Vegas, NV 89103

or contact their attorneys:

Loeb & Loeb LLP
345 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10154-0037
Tel: (212) 407-4000

Sorry, unsophisticated viral advertising is a real turn-off: it causes no-end of frustration as we unclutter our inboxes, and trust our contacts just a little less. If a product is worth joining, we’ll hear about it soon enough.