The Content MAFIAA vs. The People (Week 38/2010, MPAA > ACTA)

September 26, 2010

The EU, Gallo and ACTA

Bericht über “geistige Eigentumsrechte” passiert EU-Parlament (www.heise.de)

Auch Tote unterstützen den Gallo-Report (www.gulli.com)

The MPAA > ACTA link

MPAA Asks If ACTA Can Be Used To Block Wikileaks (yro.slashdot.org)

MPAA Wants To Know If ACTA Can Be Used To Block Wikileaks? (www.techdirt.com)

Civil Disobedience

Stallman Crashes Talk, Fights ‘War On Sharing’ (news.slashdot.org)

Disconnecting the People

In France, Hadopi Reporting Begins, With (Only) 10,000 IP Addresses Per Day (yro.slashdot.org)

Multinational copyright companies will require French ISPs turn over 150,000 subscriber names and addresses per day (www.boingboing.net)

US ISP Suddenlink Claims The DMCA Requires They Disconnect Users (www.techdirt.com)

US ISP Adopts Three-Strikes Policy (yro.slashdot.org)

US ISP Disconnects Alleged Pirates for 6 Months (torrentfreak.com)

Bill Would Allow US DoJ To Shut Down Piracy Sites Worldwide (www.osnews.com)

Extorting the People

ACS:Law Anti-Piracy Law Firm Torn Apart By Leaked Emails (torrentfreak.com)

ACS:Law (Gay) Porn Letters Target Pensioners, Married Men (torrentfreak.com) (This by the way is what you get when you preach “Freedom from porn (techcrunch.com).”)

ACS:Law Email Database Leaked onto The Pirate Bay (www.slyck.com)

UK Anti-Piracy Firm E-mails Reveal Cavalier Attitude Toward Legal Threats (yro.slashdot.org)

Leaked Emails Reveal Profits of Anti-Piracy Cash Scheme (torrentfreak.com)

*** *** ***

In other news…

Google, Apple Settle Justice Dept. Hiring Probe (yro.slashdot.org)

EU stellt Verfahren gegen Apple ein (www.heise.de)

Apple Passes PetroChina to Become Second-Largest Stock (www.bloomberg.com)

Facebook’s Zuckerberg Now Richer Than Apple’s Steve Jobs (blogs.forbes.com)

Some perspective on those last links…

From Steve Jobs to MPAA, MPEG-LA, ACTA and your life

Steve Jobs of course is not only the CEO of Apple, but used to be the CEO of Pixar, that was before he sold Pixar to Disney and subsequently became “Disney’s largest individual shareholder at 7% and a Director of the company” (see Wikipedia).

***

Now there is an organisation called Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

MPAA members include the “seven big” Hollywood studios:

Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group (The Walt Disney Company)

Sony Pictures (Sony Corporation)

Paramount Pictures (Viacom)

20th Century Fox (News Corporation)

Universal Studios (NBC Universal)

Warner Bros. (Time Warner)” (see Wikipedia)

***

And there is another interesting organisation called MPEG-LA (links to my related blog entries),

this is the patent pool behind H.264 and MPEG-2:

MPEG-2 is what everyone needs for a DVD.

H.264 is the codec used in basically any (prosumer) camera, including mobile phones like in Apple’s offerings. As previously discussed: you do not own your own H.264 footage, even transcoding will not help you in escaping the MPEG-LA’s licensing fees (for commercial use).

Apple of course is also an H.264 patent holder and was the only major player not willing to give some kind of official support to the free and open-source WebM project.

And of course you may not use any open-source codec if Steve Jobs will have it his way.

So there are two interesting sets of links to remember in all of this

Steve Jobs > Pixar > Disney > MPAA > ACTA > your (digital) life (think freedom of speech, WikiLeaks, …)

Steve Jobs > Apple > MPEG-LA > software patents > ACTA > your digital life (think fees for H.264, “freedom from porn“, freedom from…)

EU stellt Verfahren gegen Apple ein

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WebM (Google’s open video codec VP8) is here!

May 19, 2010

Maybe we now can make all of this about fair competition that serves the consumers/users/artists/filmmakers instead of a few wealthy companies/institutions…?

WebM an open media project (www.webmproject.org)

Introducing WebM, an open web media project (webmproject.blogspot.com)

“The WebM project is dedicated to developing a high-quality, open video format for the web that is freely available to everyone.”

(Update 1)

An introduction to the WebM project:

Google Frees VP8 Codec for HTML5: the WebM project (openvideoalliance.org)

The WebM Project : about : WebM Supporters (www.webmproject.org)

(Update 2)

The announcement/discussion on the web:

BREAKING: Google Opens VP8 Codec, Enables it on YouTube (www.osnews.com)

Microsoft: Internet Explorer 9 To Support VP8 (www.osnews.com)

Google, Mozilla, And Opera Take On H.264 With The WebM Project, A New Royalty-Free Video Codec (techcrunch.com)

Google tries freeing Web video with WebM (news.cnet.com)

Microsoft planning to support VP8 in Internet Explorer 9 – with a catch (www.neowin.net)

Google launches open WebM web video format based on VP8 (update: hardware partners and Microsoft statement) (www.engadget.com)

Theora Founder: WebM Project is ‘Wonderful’ (newteevee.com)

The first in-depth technical analysis of VP8 (x264dev.multimedia.cx) – [Wikitech-l] VP8 freed!(lists.wikimedia.org)

Software and Hardware Companies Jump on Google’s WebM Train (mashable.com)

Google launches open WebM web video format based on VP8 (update: hardware partners and Microsoft statement)


H.264 List of Shame: all the patent holders

May 18, 2010

The following organizations hold one or more patents in the H.264/AVC patent pool:

(Source: Wikipedia MPEG LA)

Apple Inc.
DAEWOO
Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corporation
Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute
France Télécom, société anonyme
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V.
Fujitsu Limited
Hitachi, Ltd.
Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.
LG Electronics Inc.
Microsoft Corporation
Mitsubishi Electric Corporation
NTT docomo
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation
Panasonic Corporation
Robert Bosch GmbH GmbH
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
Scientific-Atlanta Vancouver Company
Sedna Patent Services, LLC
Sharp Corporation
Siemens AG
Sony Corporation
Ericsson
The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York
Toshiba Corporation
Victor Company of Japan, Limited

Further reading

Why Our Civilization’s Video Art and Culture is Threatened by the MPEG-LA

No, you can’t do that with H.264


Is H.264 a legal minefield for video pros?

Why this list…?

It’s a reminder for myself when it comes to spending money or investing in equipement. And yes, I like to share this list with everyone who cares about free artistic expression and who thinks that the moving image is too important and precious and should not be controlled by anyone and surely not by corporations or patent pools. (Software) patents are the cancer of this economy: they encourage greed, create monopolies, discourage innovation and as we are now seeing with the H.264 licensing fiasco they can seriously harm your video business, specially smaller ones.


Save free web video incl. my own movie “Vincent”: vote with your browsers (dump all your Apple/MS browsers!)

May 16, 2010

If the MPEG-LA, the patent pool behind H.264 and MPEG-2, has it their way I am an endangered species: “Vincent“, being 44 min. long would not qualify for the MPEG-LA’s “free” offer, latest after 2015 and there is no way that I (or someone else) will be paying protection money to a fucking patent pool for “Vincent”.

My work would simply not be available online any more (thanks to software patents no alternative). Welcome to the age of Corporate Fascism. It’s standing at your and my front door. But you can still act now:

* vote with your browser: since Apple and Microsoft – both H.264 patent holders – are pushing for H.264 as the future web standard for video: simply dump your Apple/MS browsers now and use Firefox, Chrome or Opera. If not: you might be paying for the rest of your life with more ads (yes, H.264 is “free” for the end user…).

* let others know what is at stake here: those people would like to/are about to establish a MONOPOLY ON THE MOVING IMAGE (lock-in via video codec) – a pretty scary systemic change:

Why Our Civilization’s Video Art and Culture is Threatened by the MPEG-LA

And for all my younger – and not so young – readers: if this was a Harry Potter movie Dumbledore would say:

“Dark times lay ahead, Harry. Soon we’ll all have to choose between what is right — and what is easy.”


“The Hurt Locker”: here is one DVD buyer less now!

May 15, 2010

TorrentFreak reports that the makers of Kathryn Bigelow’s latest “The Hurt Locker” are going to sue “Thousands of BitTorrent Users.

I see.

And here in Europe there is now one buyer less for “The Hurt Locker” DVD: me.

I’m quite of a fan of Kathryn Bigelow’s work, I was hyping that movie (among my friends) long before everyone was only talking about the movie that brought DRM to the mainstream cinema, “Avatar” (and no, I still have not seen “Avatar” yet because of the DRM they use).

From now on I will write about individual Hollywood movies and pick them out for boycott – just like Hollywood picks out individual fans that they’ll sue!

I love (good) movies. I don’t “pirate” movies for one good reason: “piracy” simply helps promoting (Hollywood) movies and I wish people would stop distributing what I think is really to about 9/10 unwatchable anyway.

Yet if Hollywood continues to sue my movies loving brothers and sisters I will stop buying from Hollywood entirely and I will stop watching new Hollywood movies entirely.

And in the long run:

I hope that all sane and creative people will stop working for an industry that has lost its touch to the audience long ago.

And this is not even talking in detail about the incredible superficiality and the poor handwork (e.g. scripts) that Hollywood pushes on the market these days.

I am specially sad that the makers of “The Hurt Locker” are now joining in the corporate fascism tactics that Hollywood is using. This movie is an exception, it’s actually really, really good – yet I will not buy it on DVD now, the movie simply will not exist in my collection, it will be missed, yet this is what needs to be done now.

This system needs to be changed. I won’t shut up. Not me.


H.264 and The Tunnel of Babel

May 5, 2010

It’s (almost) free, use it…!!! *)

Every time I read a longer document or blog entry about H.264 licensing (www.engadget.com) my head starts spinning, every article that tries to explain H.264 gets complicated when it comes to the dreaded fine print of what you may or not may do…

And that’s the point, you see!

It’s the same trick as used on your average (mobile) phone/flat rate ad in the streets:

“It’s (almost) free to use, anywhere, anytime. Try it…!!! *)”

*) The fine print: It may cost you dearly.

The MPEG LA says they are “The Standard for Standards”. (How exclusive, almost noble that sounds…!) And to achieve that they have dug both very deep and wide and built something…

At least that’s how I think I dreamed it last night…

The Tunnel Of Babel

Here I was. A dark entrance. There was a sign but I did not have to read it, I knew that this was the entrance to

The Tunnel Of Babel

I hesitated. While being a film maker and looking for a good moving pictures (post) production infrastructure I knew what the deal was… By entering The Tunnel Of Babel you accept a set of rules:

1) Every motion pictures compression algorithm belongs to the Authorities Of The Tunnel Of Babel

2) No other motion pictures compression algorithm may exist outside The Tunnel Of Babel

3) Every time you use one of The Tunnel Of Babel’s Almighty Algorithms (known as TBAAs or ToBAAs), in particular the TBAA know as i.OU (sometimes also spelled i.Ou) you may – or may not – need to pay licensing fees. But no need to worry…! The Authorities Of The Tunnel Of Babel will let you know the moment your fees are due.

4) *New!* For distribution via the Intertubes there is now a special offer: for non-commercial use it’s free!!! *)

*) At least until 2015…!

Before I could decide not to enter The Tunnel Of Babel I woke up and realised that this was only a bad dream…

But then I looked around and saw my new Samsung WB1000 camera next to my bed and started thinking about that footage that I shot in the last couple of weeks, the footage that I now possibly can’t use commercially because it’s H.264 tainted (= possible licensing fees down the road) from the moment I pressed that record button.

Looking at the headlines on news.bbc.co.uk I was reminded of the financial situation in Europe…

What if one day I wake up living in a country that is (no more) an EU member and respects software patents…? Update 21.05.10: The EU is still standing, but software patents may be on the way to Germany

And thinking of my camera:

Could I shoot footage with that camera in a country that respects software patents and still 100% own my H.264 footage…?

Could I use H.264 recorded footage coming from a country that respects software patents…?

What about selling my footage to a country that respects software patents…?

Could I sell my camera on eBay to an American an s/he use it commercially…?! (Or is this where ACTA might come in one day, restrictions like the region code system on DVDs but for all sorts of goods…?!)

What about transcoding to an open format for editing? Where is the free, worldwide legal to use de-coder from the MPEG LA for H.264 to PNG etc. for H.264 camera owners in order to legally escape the lock-in…? Should that not be mandatory, an open-source app for all operating systems, available as a download from the MPEG LA’s site…?!

I realised I was daydreaming already and quickly got up.

And while drinking my coffee I started thinking about all the options I now still have when it comes filmmaking and staying 100% independent.


Steve Jobs, MS, MPEG LA: keep H.264, I’ll use VP8…

May 1, 2010

…since H.264 is patent encumbered. I’ll never use H.264 again and will re-encode all my online videos with VP8 (once open-sourced and usable).

Steve Jobs (quoted from Open Letter to Steve Jobs): “All video codecs are covered by patents. A patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other “open source” codecs now.”

And as it seems there is “a patent for everything”: MPEG LA

Good analysis: Jobs: Patent Pool Being Assembled To Go After Theora

Very interesting read, from the Theora mailing list: Mutually assured minefields

This is not only about video codecs, this is about the future of (free) video/moving images distribution (including post production) across a variety of devices and services. And it’s about (corporate) control over media content (via licensing fees, that you need to be able to afford, as e.g. big media always would…).


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