Aussie Good News for Australia Day

I haven’t had the inspiration to write something new for Australia Day this year, so I’ll just bring you this glorious video that ’Pong mentioned.

If the embedded video isn’t visible, watch it directly on YouTube.

For me previous Australia Day posts, try Happy Aussie-Ox Day from 2009, my photographic post Great Australian Dreaming 1, sing our new national anthem and my essay Are you proud of your culture? That last one has an excellent photo.

Jetstar, Powderfinger to exploit fan’s enthusiasm

Australian airline Jetstar and the managers of rock band Powderfinger seem to think that waving the magic word “social media” means free labour. Exploitative cunts.

As mUmBRELLA reported:

Jetstar is continuing its drive into social media, funding an official blogger on Powderfinger’s farewell tour which is sponsored by the budget airline.

According to Jetstar: “Over 50 days, Jetstar’s official tour blogger will ‘Follow the Finger’ and produce daily blogs, video diaries, fan photos and Twitter updates. They will interview the band and support acts, interact with fans and locals and become a member of the tour support team.”

As well as covering travel and accommodation, the blogger will receive an allowance of $100 a day.

Right.

So in other words, for more than a month and a half, the “winner” of the “competition” will work as a writer covering the tour — call it journalism or blogging or whatever you like, it’s all the same thing. They’ll work as a producer, curating fan photos. They work as a PR assistant and “interact with fans and locals and become a member of the tour support team”. That’s a whole bunch of different media skills, a pretty special person indeed.

In return they get paid less than the legislated minimum wage.

The federal minimum wage is currently $15.00 per hour or $569.90 per 38 hour week (before tax).

Casual employees covered by the national minimum wage also get at least a 21 per cent casual loading.

I reckon “become a member of the tour support team” sounds like an offer of employment, yeah?

“Jetstar has been making a growing investment in social media,” says mUmBRELLA, but clearly not enough to pay a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.

Maybe Jetstar should try telling the roadies they’ll also get $100 a day “allowance” in return for the privilege of seeing all 34 concerts. To their faces. And I’ll sit back and watch…

Please insert a final angry sentence that includes the words “exploitation”, “unethical” and “pond slime”. And on Monday I’ll be phoning Fair Work Australia for an opinion.

Rock on.

Unless, of course, Jetstar get in touch before then to tell me they’ve decided to pay the winner the proper MEAA rate for freelance writers [PDF].

Short Story or Rock Band?

While reading about an unusual new embuggerance over at the always-excellent Language Log, I’ve been introduced to a curious theory about naming practices.

Has anyone ever explored the apparent lack of overlap between short story titles and rock band names? I mean, is there any doubt which category e.g. “The pit and the pendulum”, “A perfect day for bananafish”, “REO Speedwagon”, and “Neutral Milk Hotel” belong to?

I think Mark Liberman may be on to something here. Perhaps we need to test this theory, using something similar to Steak House or Gay Bar? or a gamed-up version of the rather awesome Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be thinking so early in the morning…

The 9pm Edict #4

The 9pm Edict

Kristina Keneally confuses mindless populism with leadership. The nimby-burghers of Glebe confuse concerns about the urban environment with selfishness. And the Vivid Festival… another white middle class baby boomer nostalgia wankfest.

Here, ladies and gentlemen, is episode 4 of The 9pm Edict. Finally.

You can listen to this episode below. But if you want them all, subscribe to the podcast feed, or even subscribe automatically in iTunes.

Play

If you’d like to comment on this episode, please add your comment below, or Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

[Update 6 March 2010: I really should link to the material I discuss. That’s the Harold Park redevelopment plan and the local residents’ objections, the Vivid Festival, Laurie Anderson’s Language is a Virus, Dom Knight’s The Premier, the portrait and the paedophile and NSW Premier Kristina Keneally’s video A New Direction.]

[Credits: The 9pm Edict theme by mansardian, Edict fanfare by neonaeon, all from The Freesound Project. Photograph of Stilgherrian taken 29 March 2009 by misswired, used by permission.]

Mark Thomas on UK Digital Economy Bill

The movie and music industries have been lobbying governments globally to introduce so-called “three strikes” laws. Three accusations of online copyright infringement — “accusations”, mind you, not proof — and you lose your internet connection.

Copyright-holders reckon this will help prevent copyright infringement. But the concerns are that we’re entering the realm of guilt by allegation, and potentially punishing innocent people by denying internet access to everyone in a household, not just the guilty party.

The internet is now central to everything from health and education to banking and politics, so that’s one heck of a big stick.

As this 10-minute video by comedian and activist Mark Thomas explains, the UK version of this proposed law, the Digital Economy Bill, has a nasty surprise. Section 17 would give the Secretary of State the power to amend the copyright laws without having to run them past Parliament first.

Um hello? “Parliamentary democracy”, anyone?

If the embedded player doesn’t work, you can watch the video on YouTube.

At this stage, the Australian Government is not yet considering laws like this. But that could change.

Earlier this month iiNet, our third-largest ISP, won a case in the Federal Court where Justice Dennis Cowdroy ruled that ISPs are not responsible for the copyright-infringing acts of their customers. I covered that for Crikey and in the Patch Monday podcast.

Since then, communications minister Senator Stephen Conroy has said he wants the copyright-holders and the ISPs to work out a code of practice on their own. However I reckon that’s just a delaying tactic to avoid discussing such a controversial issue in an election year.

The movie and music industries are fighting hard on this one. France and Japan already have three-strikes laws, to name just two. And the industries are devoting plenty of resources.

Mark Thomas points out they were late in using the internet to make money from their assets, and now they’re looking for someone to blame. Yes, the big players may well be making less profit that before. However the bulk of their profit was from distribution. Now the costs of distribution are almost nil — yet somehow they’ve managed to end up making less money. Fools.

They also reckon that if no-one can make money from their creative acts, it’ll be the death of creativity. But in the video, prehistoric musician Billy Bragg points out that while a few artists at the top end may be suffering, the internet has proved a boon for lower-ranked artists, allowing them to reach new markets at much lower cost.

This is a big issue. It’s a complicated issue. It won’t go away. We should all stay informed.