Archive for March, 2010

Keep questioning copyright: All Creative Work Is Derivative

All Creative Work Is Derivative


This is the second “minute meme” from Nina Paley for Question Copyright. Be sure to check out her walkthrough of her “Free Culture Lunch” process.

I’ve been using Nina Paley as the standard bearer for the modern notion of copyright in my classes. Some students have readily embraced the concept and others have pushed back (hard) that the corporatist copyright ethos will never die. But every single person admits that the system is broken. It has been a fascinating conversation and one that would have been much less lively without Nina’s example. Most important, though, is the fact that all of the students are questioning copyright. That is a victory in and of itself.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

March 4: two campuses, two experiences

I received the following update and photo gallery from my cousin, Kat Williams, who is a doctoral candidate at UCLA:

We had fun yesterday [Ed. March 4]. I made the banners. Actions were fairly decentralized. My department lost the big march early on as we were carrying large drums. We had a nice slow-motion procession through Royce Quad carrying the banners in a line. Lots of people taking pictures, though I haven’t seen any yet. Then we met up with other protesters for the sit-in at the Chancellor’s office, bringing a dance party to that hot hallway. You can find video of it on Facebook. [Ed. I haven’t found this yet video at The Daily Bruin.] While there, we also did a couple of rounds of Guerilla Yoga Drill to bring some meditative mindfulness to the sit-in. Though asked not to leave, we took our dance party/march to south campus and the court of sciences. About 8 bike cops were following us until we did more Guerilla Yoga Drills, then they took off. We headed back to our recently-renovated million dollar lawn (Dickson Plaza) for a picnic. We spotted Peter McLaren on the way and brought him along for a sandwich. Good times in the fight for public education. We took this quote as our guide:

“If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be a part of your revolution.” -Emma GoldmanKat Williams
UCLA doctoral candidate, folklorist

Video: AggieTV

Excellent student journalism from UC Davis' AggieTV. Watch as UC Davis students peacefully march and protest in support of public education. Eventually, they encounter police in riot gear who beat the students with batons, shoot them with pepper balls and use TASERs on the students (only one TASER is visible in the video, though the sickening sound of the TASER is quite audible in the background). Uploaded to bring this video out from behind the walls of Facebook.

And then, there was UC Davis. Another case study in how a police force can commit acts of violence and terror against a student population, release a statement saying that “no one was injured”, get it reported by the mainstream media to the entire world and everyone can just switch back to watching The Bachelor. Take a look at the on-the-scene reporting from UC Davis’ AggieTV with reporters Ericka So and Nicki Sun. They did an excellent job of bringing the story to the world. Ms. So and Ms. Sun did a far better job than the pap I saw on CNN anchored by Ali Velshi on March 4 and continue to find on cnn.com right now.

Really CNN? The lead point in the headline is that traffic is snarled? Not that police beat a female student unconscious (see video) with a baton at UC Davis? Oh yeah, you COMPLETELY LEFT THAT OUT OF YOUR REPORTING. Why CNN refuses to report on police brutality against American students continues to elude me. Honestly, if there is an explanation other than that they implicitly support a fascist police state, please leave it in the comments because I am all eyes and ears!

The key phrase to listen for in the video is “You guys ready to augment?” That is when the shit is about to hit the fan. I guess any of you potential protesters out there should memorize that phrase and know to cover your soft bits if you hear it.

When confronted with these two divergent experiences within the same University system, it is important to remember that March 4 wasn’t just about these two campuses. It was a nationwide Day of Action.

There have been clashes with police. Most notable was the takeover of a freeway in Oakland which ended, one officer estimated, in 150 arrests. One student was injured in that incident, though reports differ as to the severity of his injuries. Students were also arrested or detained in New York, in Michigan, and elsewhere, though rarely in large numbers…[but] today’s protesters rarely articulated immediate demands, and administrators rarely engaged with them. Today was more about activists talking to each other, working with each other, than it was about talking to or working with — or working to overthrow — university power structures. That part comes later. That part starts March 5.Angus Johnston
Historian, Blogger

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Facebook censors dissent among users

facebook screenshot

Facebook won't allow users to post messages critical of their privacy options, or so I discovered this afternoon.


In the midst of trying to warn my friends, family, colleagues and cohorts on Facebook about a major hole in their privacy and security, I discovered that the problem is far worse than even what I initially was complaining about. I attempted to post the following text as a status update:

Just discovered that facebook implements their security settings haphazardly. So, for instance, if you have a list of people set up so that they don’t have access to your wall, that does not mean that they will, in fact, not have access to your wall. Yet another reason why you should not trust this privacy abomination.

I was subsequently confronted with this error message:

Facebook’s systems block chain letters — like this one — that contain false and misleading information. Please be careful when deciding whether to pass along messages like this. To learn more please read this blog post.

See the screenshot above for evidence. Needless to say, I’m disgusted. This isn’t the first time that Facebook has unjustly censored individuals. Good thing I have my very own trusty news machine, already set on “BLAST”, to fire off this alert to the interwebs.

So what to do now? Quit Facebook? Unfortunately, that doesn’t work. Once you join, they’ve got you. Literally, forever. Well, that’s a bit dramatic. They have you until such time that a non-human citizen of the United States of America (a “corporation”) such as Facebook, one that exists solely to mine data of consumers such as you and me for profit, would freely destroy that data that they are serving to their clients on their far away servers and protected from your prying eyes by byzantine EULAs (ex. 1, 2, 3), swarms of attorneys and spanking-new patents, hot off the printing press. Wait, I guess I wasn’t being dramatic.

Here’s what I recommend: don’t put any information, be it picture, video, thought, phrase, anything you care about, on Facebook, starting today. It isn’t a safe place and anything you put in there, you are likely forfeiting your rights to it. Worse, you may be accepting the onerous task of a prolonged legal battle should you ever want to claim rights to whatever content you are sharing again.

I am not an attorney and this should not be construed as legal advice.

There are plenty of good alternatives out there. Use Twitter and Flickr, or start a blog of your own. It really isn’t difficult, I swear, and with these options you have much more control over your data. You still have to be wary of EULAs, but so far, these organizations haven’t shown the menace that Facebook is brandishing.

I’m now going to try to post this article on Facebook. We shall see what happens. I’ll keep you updated with any developments. Who knows, I may get myself scoble-ized momentarily!

[Update: It posted! Their logic eludes me.]

Tags: , , , , , , ,