While last week’s protest over Minister Sean Sherlock’s proposed copyright amendments to law which may lead to court injunctions that force ISPs to block websites suspected of copyright infringement gathered over 75,000 signatures in a week, a battle may be brewing in a larger European context.
In a similar vein, the ACTA anti-piracy treaty signed in the European parliament by member countries including Ireland last week could have wide-reaching ramifications for internet use. Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA are also on board and the concerns centre around the lack of transparency in the negotiations and potential criminal prosecutions for internet piracy infringements.
The concerns all boil down to one thing. Mistrust that private companies like the major music labels will be allowed to dictate the digital rights of others through vague laws. It’s quite incredulous that the music industry has been dealing with piracy online for the last 12 years and the answer to it still appears to be blocking and criminal prosecution.
Entertainment products like Spotify, Turntable.FM and Netflix don’t get to ubiquity fast enough because we live in a world where global innovation is stifled by outmoded local copyright and licensing laws. Spotify or TurnTable.FM still have not launched in Ireland and Netflix, which launched a few weeks ago suffers from a poor choice in its film catalogue when compared to the US version.
When you offer people these services but hamper them with restrictions, is it any wonder that people go back to using Torrent files to get their fix? There is no such thing as a worldwide licence but there needs to be if the innovation that Sean Sherlock claims to represent as Minister is to flourish. Like it or not, people are used to getting their media fix instantly. If that’s not addressed, we’ll still be talking about blocking and piracy in another 12 years.
The big blog buzz of the week (besides Lana Del Rey think pieces of course) is for Chairlift’s second album Something, a gratifying collection of ’80s synth and new wave sounds paired with Caroline Polachek’s singularly strong pop vocals. Just don’t mention the name. Listen to the album on Soundcloud
Miike Snow feat. Lykke Li
Superproducers Miike Snow return with fellow Swede Lykke Li for the atmospheric and building arpeggiated synth tune Black Tin Box. It’ll appear on their second album Happy To You in March.
First capturing the attention of bloggers in 2010 with their “couple live on a boat and make music while sailing the Atlantic” shtick, Tennis are back with a second album of more full bodied breezy indie pop songs. Set sail. facebook.com/tennisinc
Reverberating piano chords and twisted vocals combine to devastating and uplifting effect in HurtLove, the disintegrating new single from Manchester’s No Ceremony.
She’s been called the Australian Nicki Minaj. She’s also been called the Australian Kreayshawn. She’s also been called a “femcee”. Let’s not utter that word ever again. Time will tell on that who she really ends up like but for now, enjoy her bad-attitude rap style on My World.
Santi White is back with a block-rocking frenetic new single called Big Mouth in which she calls out Lady Gaga and appears alongside her awesome SG1 dancers in a crudely animated video. Santigold > M.I.A.
Keith Mannion from Ballyshannon in Donegal is the lone creator behind SlowPlaceLikeHome, a project of rich instrumental electronic music which could be described as expansive, pensive and seductive. Music to watch fields by.
Described by one music blogger as “the dubstep of indie-rock” and counter-acted by The Blue Walrus with “pigeon-hole these Leeds boys at your peril”, Alt-J are actually ambitious in doing their own unique thing. One of this year’s ones to watch…
It was a temporary victory for the power of the internet. On January 18th, in opposition to the proposed US anti-piracy legislation of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), huge websites such as Wikipedia, Google, WordPress, Flickr and an estimated 115,000 other sites either blocked access to their services or publicly opposed both acts. Wikipedia’s 24 hour blackout page was accessed by 162 million people worldwide, 2.2 million tweets with the hashtag #SOPA were sent and 3 million emails were sent via the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other digital groups. The result of the blackout was a huge shift in opinion against SOPA/PIPA in the US Congress.
It’s worth reading up on why SOPA and PIPA are not ideal (If you’re stuck for time, The Oatmeal’s animated gif at theoatmeal.com/sopa explains it pretty succinctly). Their heavy handed answer to online piracy gives a lot of power to large entertainment companies to shut down and block access to sites it suspects of listing copyright infringement whether the sites exist in the USA or outside it. This means that sites such as Youtube, Facebook, Tumblr, Soundcloud and thousands upon thousands of blogs and sites could not operate as they now do. In an extreme case, Twitter could be shut down because of a single infringing tweet. (more…)
You’ve heard of getting rid of old CDs you don’t want but how about those pesky MP3s that take up hard drive space that you never listen to? Rather than send them to the recycle bin, Redigi.com asked a different question. What if you could sell them to others?
Redigi calls itself the “online music marketplace for used digital music” and offers music fans the ability to buy music from other users at a knockdown price and to sell MP3s that they don’t want. One big problem though… the music industry aren’t happy. Major label EMI have decided to sue and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) have also sent a cease and desist letter to the company citing major copyright infringements.
It’s easy to see why. Redigi claims to be a legitimate service and that no copying takes place saying their technology is “far superior” to any others. But the copying of digital files certainly seems to be taking place in each transaction on the site. Whether a person uploads the MP3 to an intermediary server before it is bought, it’s still copied in one form or another and the law is unclear on digital goods. Redigi have said they will fight the lawsuit “vigorously’. Meanwhile, I would like to fight them for choosing that awful name.
Besides, social behemoths Facebook are continuing their plan to make music more social, so MP3s, nay recycled ones may be ripe for deletion in future. Last week, they launched the ‘Listen With Friends’ feature, which means if you use any of the current streaming music services like Spotify and Deezer, you can invite a friend to listen at the same time and shoot the breeze over chat. The move also challenges the popularity of Turntable.FM, the DJing chatroom that rose to prominence last year.
2012 will be the year that music streaming convinces everyone it’s here to stay. There’s no going back now. Youtube is already the biggest music platform in the world and while iTunes will continue to assert its dominance in the download store arena, even Apple have conceded that streaming is here with the launch of iCloud and iMatch, two services that stream and share content to different devices. Elsewhere we have Amazon and Google with their own cloud-based streaming music projects, Netflix launching a badly-needed streaming movies and TV platform in Ireland any time now and Deezer, the latest streaming music service on the block, hit over 130 countries including Ireland last month and offers multi-device and mobile access to a claimed 13 million songs.
As ambitious as Deezer’s plans are, we’ve seen companies in the past year fall at the licensing hurdle. We7 launched last January with a similar offering and before the end of 2011 had shifted focus from a massive streaming music library to recommendation-based internet radio. No doubt that decision was informed by lower license fees for internet radio compared to on-demand streams.
Spotify is still the best hope for a major platform breakthrough worldwide. Its agreements with major labels bring with them lower license fees that allow them to expand, but not everyone is happy – independent labels have been pulling out of the service in protest at the small revenue payments offered in recent months.
Perhaps the most important thing for new services gaining ground this year will be Facebook’s Open Graph. You used to wear your favourite band t-shirt so the world knew your individual music tastes. No longer Sonny Jim! Zuckerberg’s company is already putting the songs you’re listening to on almost all of the above services right into your Facebook news stream, right in front of your friends’ eyes so maybe he holds all of the access keys to popularity already.
Tis the season to be jolly… and LOL and gasp “WTF? Spend some quality time ROFLcoptering with the family with Day & Night’s top 10 viral video countdown…
1. Rebecca Black
The modern story of a 13 year-old tween pop star. A Youtube-uploaded video for a song called Friday received over 60 million views in a month. The majority of people hated the auto-tuned track and its silly lyrics and thus, helped spread it even further. Black has so far had the last laugh, with an appearance in a Katy Perry video and healthy interest in her more recent music videos from a tween audience.
One owner loses control of his dog in London’s Richmond Park. As the dog herds some deer, the howls of a man who is also about to lose his mind were heard around the world, thanks to the internet. “FENTON! FENTON! JESUS CHRIST!”
3. Chuck Testa
A hilarious advertisement filled with awkward acting for a taxidermist which spawned a catchphrase (“Nope! Chuck Testa!”) and a series of images based on the idea.
A real-life short film version of Super Mario Bros where the two plumbers are doing too many mushrooms and star pills and attempt to get the princess back.
5. Jetpack Fail
17 seconds of the best live news broadcast fail of the year. “And it starts right nowww….. nggghhhh (splash)”.
With all the platforms available to us through technology, we often resort to cruder outlets of creativity in order to make our voices heard. Through Twitter hashtags, image macros, digitally altered photographs and captioned images, we disseminate our responses to the world. Sometimes, those voices are heard and helps fuel political change like the Arab Spring earlier this year. They are exceptional circumstances. Normally, these memes are just the mood rings of internet culture. With that in mind, here are some of the year’s best memes.
An idea that spread from Twitter hashtags and beyond over the course of a few years, First World Problems really came into its own in 2011 when it came into common lexicon. These tongue in cheeks sentiments highlight the trivial inconveniences of modern life in a self-aware fashion. Favourite whines include “I tried to spread butter on my toast and the bread fell apart”, “I’m so tired of eating at all of the restaurants near work”, and “I want to change the song on my iPod but it’s too cold to take my gloves off”. See more at whitewhine.com and knowyourmeme.com/memes/first-world-problems.
Thank goodness for Photoshop and the many free image editing programs out there. Their common usage has given us some of the most enduring and hard to forget images of the year. Take Chicks With Steve Buscemi Eyes the pasting of the actor’s famously sunken peepers over the faces of many a famous female celebrity from Christini Ricci to Adele to Paris Hilton. Positively retina-burning. On a similar tip, Michele Bachmann’s wide-eyed stunned gaze which featured on the cover of Newsweek sparked off a slew of crazy looking cut and keep-in-your-memory-forever faces.
Closer to home, the successful presidential campaign of Michael D Higgins was marked with edited campaign posters and many Photoshopped images taking advantage of his diminutive stature while Ireland’s win over Australia in the Rugby World Cup was celebrated with Keith Earls’ flying try placed into endless other scenes.