Talking digital copyright on 3RRR’s Spoke

3555 logoMy recent critique of Attorney-General George Brandis’ comments about copyright reform in the digital age attracted plenty of positive comments — and also some media attention.

That critique was my ZDNet Australia column on the day of Brandis’ speech, Friday 14 February, What the Dickens will Brandis do to copyright in the digital realm?

The first piece of media interest was from Michelle Bennett, presenter of Spoke, the weekly social issues program on Melbourne community radio station 3RRR. The interview was recorded on Sunday 16 February and broadcast in the Spoke episode of Tuesday 18 February.

The conversation wasn’t just about Brandis’ comments, but also some of the background — including the so-called iiTrial between the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) and internet service provider iiNet, the graduated response or “three strikes” rules for tackling copyright infringement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty, and the idea that internet access can be considered a basic human right.

I also mentioned Dr Rebecca Giblin’s research paper, Evaluating Graduated Response, which looked at those three strikes rules. The conclusion was that “there is little to no evidence that that graduated responses are either ‘successful’ or ‘effective’.”

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The interview is ©2014 Triple R Broadcasters Ltd. Over at their website you can listen to the full program.

Talking with Sir Tim Berners-Lee for iiNet

Still from video interview with Sir Tim Berners-Lee: click for the videoEarly this month I recorded a video interview with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, for internet service provider iiNet as part of their sponsorship of his TBL Down Under tour. That interview was published this week — and here it is.

Joining Berners-Lee and myself are Simon Hackett, founder of ISP Internode and all-round geek, and British actor, writer and comedian Robert Llewellyn, best known for playing the mechanoid Kryten in the TV science fiction comedy Red Dwarf.

We discussed Berners-Lee’s childhood trainspotting hobby, the NeXT computer on which he created the web, the politics of open standards and open data, the semantic web, the future of computer interfaces and why 3D interfaces didn’t take off — amongst many other things.

On a personal note, I found it interesting being involved in a corporate video rather than one for news media. Up front, there was a lot more stress (by others) about what my questions would be. Afterwards the edit, which I wasn’t involved with, had to be approved by Berners-Lee’s agents in London as well as iiNet. That presumably explains the long turnaround. Around 40 minutes of recorded material was trimmed back to a 20-minute interview.

In the news media, especially on a daily news cycle, I’d have prepared the interview questions the day of the interview. Then, once it was recorded, we’d have done a quick edit and it would’ve been online the next day.

Thank you, Pia Waugh, for recommending me for this gig. And, before anyone whinges, I haven’t embedded the video here because the videos on iiNet’s Freezone aren’t embeddable.

Linux.conf.au coverage trimmed: January a writing write-off

So my January was a bit of a failure. I didn’t do much reassessment of the journalism and other writing I do. The cancellation of the Patch Monday podcast and my Linux.conf.au coverage killed off income. And I spent too much money. Sigh.

If you’re not interested in my personal thought processes, skip this post. I know I would.

Linux.conf.au first. While I did think about ways to generate funding for coverage at the same level as last year, the time was too short. If I got to Canberra somehow, I could still pitch stories to editors as usual, but cashflows were tight. Then Pia Waugh invited me to interview Sir Tim Berners-Lee for iiNet as part of their sponsorship of the TBL Down Under Tour. Two nights accommodation were offered. So hey, I went to Canberra for a couple days.

I ended up filing just one story. Instead of a solid income-generating week to counteract the December-January slump, it was a loss-maker.

Want a picture? I’ve added January to my chart of stories written, and I’ve changed the title to “media objects” because I’ve added the Patch Monday podcast to the ZDNet total. I’ve also added a mysterious black line. The recent slump is clear.

Chart of media objects produced 2011-2013

So, the current status of my thinking-about-writing thing since my last update?

Continue reading “Linux.conf.au coverage trimmed: January a writing write-off”

Weekly Wrap 99: Perth, privacy and poor photographs

My week from Monday 23 to Sunday 29 April 2012 covered the entire continent from Sydney to Perth and (at least later today) back again.

That’s Perth in the photo, with the Swan River just visible between the apartment buildings of East Perth. The photo was taken with my bashed-up HTC Desire phone and processed through Instagram.

Heck, if Zuckerberg reckons it’s worth a billion dollars I might as well have a look, right?

I’ll comment on Instagram itself later, and figure out a better way to integrate the photos into this website. Meanwhile, here’s a gallery of my Instagram photos, updated automatically.

And now on with the show…

Podcasts

  • Patch Monday episode 135, “iiNet wards off AFACT, but what next?” A summary of the High Court’s decision in Roadshow Films and others versus iiNet Limited, the initial reactions, and a wide-ranging discussion with Dr Rebecca Giblin, a copyright academic and geek from Monash University’s law school, who literally wrote the book on this subject: Code Wars: 10 Years of P2P Software Litigation. Keywords for the other things we mention are SOPA/PIPA, peer-to-peer production,

Articles

Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

  • I wasn’t paid to present at DigitalMe, they did cover travel from Sydney to Perth and one night’s accommodation at Aarons Hotel including breakfast. Wine by Brad provided booze for the welcome drinks, as well as a bottle to take home. Food was supplied by Sorrento Restaurant, Northbridge.

The Week Ahead

A busy week of writing lies ahead, including a story for CSO Online and my presentation for the Saasu Cloud Conference the following week. I’ll also continue work on the feature story I’m writing for ZDNet Australia

I believe I’ll be back in Wentworth Falls for most of the week, but this could change at short notice. The Dopplr widget on the left-hand side of every page of my website is usually updated within an hour of plans changing, so always check there first — but bear in mind it has odd ideas of what day it is.

Elsewhere

Most of my day-to-day observations are on my high-volume Twitter stream, and random photos and other observations turn up on my Posterous stream (or they used to before my phone camera got a bit too scratched up). The photos also appear on Flickr, where I eventually add geolocation data and tags.

Talking the #iiTrial decision on ABC 702 Sydney

The big internet-related story in Australia today was the High Court’s decision in the so-called #iiTrial. I wrote the lead story in Crikey — read that now for the facts and my analysis — and just spoke about it on ABC 702 Sydney.

The High Court decided, as outlined in its summary [PDF], that internet service provider iiNet was not responsible for the copyright-infringing acts of its customers. But as explained in their full decision, that decision was based on “all the facts of the case”. That is, things might have turned out differently had the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) or iiNet handled things differently. We’ll never know.

Since I wrote for Crikey, my ZDNet Australia colleague Josh Taylor has been tracking the reactions. I daresay there’ll be more to come across the weekend.

Now when I spoke to the ABC’s Richard Glover just after the 4pm news this afternoon — that’s the audio you’ll hear here — the scene was set first by Glover’s slightly-misleading introduction involving pubs and then AFACT’s managing director Neil Gane. So I was working within that framing. I’m not sure how well I did.

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Obviously time was limited. Had I had more time to speak, I would have said:

  • We do keep talking about the experience of the music industry, but that’s because they’re further down the path of replacing traditional distribution mechanisms with the internet. It might be worth the film and TV industries having a look at that and seeing what they can learn, rather than just being in denial.
  • Yes, the economics of making a big blockbuster movie are very different from making a music album. But the film industry decided to take the blockbuster path with all the expensive hangers-on that that business model entails. No-one is forcing them to do it that way.
  • With distribution costs tending to zero, those who run the traditional distribution models need one heck of a lot better argument to justify the amount of money they charge than “Oh no, it’s all different now”.
  • They talk about the industry being in decline, but that’s because they only count themselves. As a totality, people probably spend more on entertainment than they ever have done. It’s like the Myer and David Jones and Harvey Norman stores whinging about the decline of retail. No, retail overall is doing just fine. The bit that’s failing is them — the people doing things the same old way and not adapting to the change.
  • No business model has a right to exist. Maybe the age of big movies and big TV productions is over. It wouldn’t be the first time a form of entertainment had died because it was no longer viable, and it wouldn’t be the last.

The audio is of course ©2012 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, but as usual I’m posting it here as an archive.