silentbrad writes: Almost a billion viewers across the planet know him as the Star Wars Kid, but they’ve never heard him speak, until now. Ghyslain Raza was a normal high-school student in small-town Quebec back in 2002, a shy 14-year-old who liked to make videos. In 2003, classmates posted one of those videos on the Internet without his knowledge–in it, Raza wields a makeshift light saber, clumsily imitating a Star Wars Jedi knight. The video went viral, and the Trois-Rivières teen became one of the earliest and highest-profile victims of a massive cyberbullying attack, one that played out among classmates and strangers online. Recorded while Raza was “goofing around” alone at his school’s TV club studio — the group had been working on a Star Wars parody — the video had soon been seen by tens of millions, all the more remarkable in a pre-YouTube world. Raza said he lost what few friends he had in the fallout, and had to change schools. “In the common room, students climbed onto tabletops to insult me,” he told L’actualité. Raza, now a law-school graduate from McGill, said he was driven to speak out by the recent spate of high-profile cases of cyberbullying, some of which have pushed their victims to commit suicide. If the same situation were to happen today, he said he hopes school authorities would help him through it. “You’ll survive. You’ll get through it,” he said. “And you’re not alone. You are surrounded by people who love you.”
silentbrad writes: "It's a deal with the devil," one studio executive told TheWrap. "Cinedigm is being used as their pawn." Cinedigm announced this weekend that it would offer the first seven minutes of the Emily Blunt-Colin Firth indie "Arthur Newman" exclusively to BitTorrent users, which number up to 170 million people.... Hollywood studios have spent years and many millions of dollars to protect their intellectual property and worry that by teaming up with BitTorrent, Cinedigm has embraced a company that imperils the financial underpinnings of the film business and should be kept at arm's length. "It's great for BitTorrent and disingenuous of Cinedigm," said the executive. "The fact of the matter is BitTorrent is in it for themselves, they're not in it for the health of the industry and Cinedigm is being used as their pawn," the executive added. Other executives including at Warner Brothers and Sony echoed those comments, fretting that Cinedigm had unwittingly opened a Pandora's box in a bid to get attention for its low-budget release.... "Blaming BitTorrent for piracy is like blaming a freeway for drunk drivers, " Jill Calcaterra, Cinedigm's chief marketing officer said. "How people use it can be positive for the industry or it can hurt the industry. We want it help us make this indie film successful."... "We'll be working with all of [the studios] one day," [Matt Mason, BitTorrent's vice president of marketing] said. "It's really up to them how quickly they come to the table and realize we're not the villain, we're the heroes."... "I really missed them being at the forefront of the piracy issue," the studio executive said. "I don't remember them going, 'Naughty, naughty, don't use our technology for that.' They don’t give a shit."
silentbrad writes: From Vice: "You know what's a complete waste of time, money, and effort? Eating. I mean, wouldn't you rather just ingest a tasteless form of sustenance for the rest of your life and never have to go through that tedious rigmarole of opening and eating a premade sandwich or feasting on a pile of fried delicacies ever again? Rob Rhinehart—a 24-year-old software engineer from Atlanta and, presumably, an impossibly busy man—thinks so."
The article continues as Vice interviews Rob about his drink Soylent, which contains "Everything the body needs—that we know of, anyway—vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients like essential amino acids, carbohydrates, and fat"; why he stopped eating, "I started wondering why something as simple and important as food was still so inefficient, given how streamlined and optimized other modern things are. I also had an incentive to live as cheaply as possible, and I yearned for the productivity benefit of being healthy"; the merits, drawbacks, and more.
silentbrad writes: The Hollywood Reporter has a story about a playwright who has filed a lawsuit claiming that Zorro is in the public domain: "For nearly a century, the masked outlaw Zorro has been a popular character who in books and films has been featured defending against tyrannical villains who seek to oppress the masses. Zorro has been played by Douglas Fairbanks, Antonio Banderas and others.... But now comes a big attempt to free Zorro from any intellectual property grip. On Wednesday, a lawsuit was filed that asserts that Zorro is in the public domain, that trademarks on the character should be canceled and that the company currently professing rights on Zorro has perpetrated a fraud and that the masses should be able to exploit Zorro as they wish. According to complaint, "Defendants have built a licensing empire out of smoke and mirrors." The lawsuit, filed in Washington federal court, comes from Robert Cabell, who says that in 1996, he published a musical entitled "Z — The Musical of Zorro," that's based upon author Johnston McCulley's first Zorro story published in 1919 and the Fairbanks film that was released the following year. Cabell now says that he has been threatened with litigation after licensing his musical so that it can be performed in Germany this summer. The threats allegedly come from John Gertz, who owns Zorro Productions Inc. As a result of the reported threats, Cabell has gone to court with a complaint that's similar to the one that was recently filed in an attempt to declare "Sherlock Holmes" in the public domain. Except this one goes even further by alleging fraud on Gertz' part. "Specifically," says the lawsuit, "Defendants have fraudulently obtained federal trademark registrations for various 'Zorro' marks and falsely assert those registrations to impermissibly extend intellectual property protection over material for which all copyrights have expired. Defendants also fraudulently assert that copyrights for later-published material provide defendants with exclusive rights in the elements of the 1919 story and the 1920 film." In a 2001 decision, in a footnote, a federal judge said, "It is undisputed that Zorro appears in works whose copyrights have already expired, such as McCulley's story 'The Curse of Capistrano' and Fairbanks's movie, 'The Mark of Zorro.'" Cabell says that despite the ruling, Gertz and his company have fraudulently obtained multiple trademark registrations on "Zorro" and after allegedly duping the Trademark Office, have been using the registrations to prevent others like him from exploiting expired Zorro intellectual property. Cabell now seeks a declaration of non-infringement, permanent injunctive relief and cancellation of trademarks. He's also seeking damages for tortious interference, fraud and violation of the Consumer Protection Act.... Read the entire lawsuit here.
"The video game industry is just that.An industry. Which means that it exists in a capitalistic world. You know, a free market. A place where you’re welcome to spend your money on whatever you please or to refrain from spending that money.... Adjusted for inflation, your average video game is actually cheaper than it ever has been. Never mind the ratio of the hours of joy you get from a game per dollar compared to film. To produce a high quality game it takes tens of millions of dollars, and when you add in marketing that can get up to 100+ million. In the AAA console market you need to spend a ton of cash on television ads alone, never mind other marketing stunts, launch events, swag, and the hip marketing agency that costs a boatload in your attempts to “go viral” with something.... Another factor to consider is the fact that many game development studios are in places like the San Francisco bay area, where the cost of living is extraordinarily high. (Even Seattle is pretty pricey these days.) Those talented artists, programmers, designers, and producers that spent their time building the game you love? They need to eat and feed their families.... I’ve seen a lot of comments online about microtransactions. They’re a dirty word lately, it seems. Gamers are upset that publishers/developers are “nickel and diming them.” They’re raging at “big and evil corporations who are clueless and trying to steal their money.” I’m going to come right out and say it. I’m tired of EA being seen as “the bad guy.” I think it’s bullshit that EA has the “scumbag EA” memes on Reddit and that Good Guy Valve can Do No Wrong.... If you don’t like EA, don’t buy their games. If you don’t like their microtransactions, don’t spend money on them. It’s that simple.... The market as I have previously stated is in such a sense of turmoil that the old business model is either evolving, growing, or dying. No one really knows. “Free to play” aka “Free to spend 4 grand on it” is here to stay, like it or not.... People like to act like we should go back to “the good ol’ days” before microtransactions but they forget that arcades were the original change munchers. Those games were designed to make you lose so that you had to keep spending money on them. Ask any of the old Midway vets about their design techniques. The second to last boss in Mortal Kombat 2 was harder than the last boss, because when you see the last boss that’s sometimes enough for a gamer.... If you don’t like the games, or the sales techniques, don’t spend your money on them. You vote with your dollars."
silentbrad writes: From a blog I came across: 'Remote working has existed for centuries. And now is the perfect time for it’s comeback.... Prior to the Industrial Revolution, goods were manufactured by contracting individual craftsmen who worked out of their homes. The merchant would drum up sales, and would coordinate the production with at-home sub-contractors.... This all changed with the Industrial Revolution: production was centralized in factories and cities. For merchant capitalists, this made sense: it was cheaper and more efficient to produce goods in one place, with machinery.... We’ve been in the Information Age for at least 25 years. We’ve made huge leaps in technology. Many of us would describe ourselves as Knowledge Workers: we don’t work in factories, we work at desks in front of glowing screens. We don’t make goods with physical materials, but rather things made out of bits. The great thing about bits + the internet is that the materials and means needed for production aren’t dependent on location. But here’s the funny thing: the way work is organized hasn’t changed. Despite all these advances, most of us still work in central offices. Employees leave their computer-equipped homes, and drive long distances to work at computer-equipped offices.... CEOs, like Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer and Apple’s Steve Jobs, think that a central office fosters more innovation and productivity. I think they’re wrong. We’re still early in the research, but recent studies seem to dispute their claim.... Managers have developed centuries worth of habits based on the central workplace. The hallmarks of office work (meetings, cubicle workstations, colocation) need to be seen for what they are: traditions we’ve kept alive since the Industrial Revolution. We need to question these institutions: are they really more innovative and efficient?'
silentbrad writes: The biggest danger facing the success of Steam Box or any other PC ecosystem hoping to find space in the living room is Apple, according to a lecture given by Valve co-founder Gabe Newell to a class at the University of Texas' LBJ School of Public Affairs. "The threat right now is that Apple has gained a huge amount of market share, and has a relatively obvious pathway towards entering the living room with their platform," Newell said. "I think that there's a scenario where we see sort of a dumbed down living room platform emerging — I think Apple rolls the console guys really easily. The question is can we make enough progress in the PC space to establish ourselves there, and also figure out better ways of addressing mobile before Apple takes over the living room?... We're happy to do it if nobody else will do it, mainly because everybody else will pile on, and people will have a lot of choices, but they'll have those characteristics. They'll say, 'Well, I could buy a console, which assumes I'll re-buy all my content, have a completely different video system, and, oh, I have a completely different group of friends, apparently. Or I can just extend everything I love about the PC and the internet into the living room.'... I think the biggest challenge is that Apple moves on the living room before the PC industry sort of gets its act together."
silentbrad writes: From IGN: "... the patent application was filed on 9 December 2012 by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan, and will work by linking individual game discs to a user's account without requiring a network connection meaning any future attempt to use this disc on another user's console won't work. The patent explains that games will come with contactless tags that will be read by your console in much the same way as modern bank cards. When a disc is first used, the disc ID and player ID will be stored on the tag. Every time the disc is used in future, the tag will check if the two ID’s match up and, if not, then the disc won’t work. The document goes on to explain that such a device is part of Sony's ongoing efforts to deter second-hand games sales, and is a far simpler solution than always-on DRM or passwords. It's worth noting that Sony has not confirmed the existence of the device, and the patent doesn't state what machine it will be used in, with later paragraphs also mentioning accessories and peripherals.... There's also the issue of what happens should your console break and need replacing, or if you have more than one console. Will the games be linked to your PSN account, meaning they can still be used, or the console, meaning an entire new library of titles would need to be purchased?
silentbrad writes: From Forbes: "The dark days of SOPA and PIPA are behind the US, at least temporarily as copyright tycoons reground and restrategize, attempting to come up with measures that don’t cause the entire internet to shut down in protest. But one country has already moved ahead with similar legislation. The government of the Philippines has passed the Cybercrime Prevention Act, which on the surface, as usual, sounds perfectly well-intentioned. But when you read the actual contents of what’s been deemed “cybercrime,” SOPA’s proposed censorship sounds downright lax by comparison. Yes, there’s the usual hacking, cracking, identity theft and spamming, which most of us can agree should be illegal. But there’s also cybersex, pornography, file-sharing (SOPA’s main target) and the most controversial provision, online libel.
silentbrad writes: From the Wall Street Journal: "Forget the maps farrago. Look at Apple's agony over the TV puzzle. Apple is frustrated because there is no solution to TV that will let Apple keep doing what it has been doing. Like schnauzers overreacting to the postman's arrival, the tech press was in a tizzy a month ago on reports that Apple was talking to the cable industry about bringing cable's linear channel lineups to a future Apple device. But the technical feat is no technical feat. Time Warner and Cablevision managed to roll out iPad apps within days of the device's debut 2½ years ago. These TV apps proved unsatisfactory not because of any lack of Apple magic, but because only certain channels were available, and because consumers were allowed only to watch in the home (the whole point of an iPad is its portability). Even so, the Hollywood studios that actually own the shows sued saying the apps violated their contract rights. Apple's fans imagine the company can do for TV what it did for music: breaking up the existing distribution model. Forget about it. Television is about to demonstrate the inadequacy of Apple's own business model.... Can Apple CEO Tim Cook and company make the turn? Two years ago, in a column on the Microsofting of Apple, we noted that a company preoccupied with products was in danger of becoming a company preoccupied with "strategy"—which we defined as zero-sum maneuvering versus hated rivals.... A similar miscalculation led Microsoft to treat Netscape as a mortal threat and into a self-defeating tussle with a reciprocally purblind Justice Department. The Web did indeed create enormous opportunities that were seized by companies other than Microsoft, but Microsoft is still around and doing fine. Let it be said that some techies see evidence of a more rational impulse within Apple. They say Apple's browser and HTML5 support are conspicuously superior to Android's. Within Apple apparently there are teams committed to making sure Apple devices are competitive in the open-ecosystem world that is coming. The real test will be for senior management. The time to worry will be if Apple's quixotic quest for TV leads it to block more realistic solutions that emerge on the open Internet. When Apple admits defeat about TV, that may be the best sign for the company's future."
silentbrad writes: The CBC (among others) reports: "A Facebook spokesperson is denying reports that private messagessent by users on the social networking site have become public. The purported glitch began generating attention Monday after French newspaper Metro reported that private messages dating from 2007 to 2009 had become accessible to friends and acquaintances on their profile pages. Other newspapers across the country began reporting similar incidences, citing reports from the site's users. The issue may be related to Facebook moving to its Timeline layout worldwide.... The company issued a statement in response, saying: "A small number of users raised concerns after what they believed to be private messages appeared on their timeline. Our engineers investigated these reports and found that the messages were older wall posts that had always been visible on the users' profile pages. Facebook is satisfied that there has been no breach of user privacy." TechCrunch.com wrote that there was no evidence the messages in question had been private, and posted an explanation from a company spokesperson. "Every report we’ve seen, we’ve gone back and checked. We haven’t seen one report that’s been confirmed [of a private message being exposed]. A lot of the confusion is because before 2009 there were no likes and no comments on wall posts. People went back and forth with wall posts instead of having a conversation [in the comments of single wall post.]“
silentbrad writes: The National Post reports: "The [Royal Canadian] Mint recently issued a warning to Halifax-based folk music singer Dave Gunning — whose upcoming album depicts pennies on both the front and back cover — that he has violated the government’s copyright on the currency. Most of us have probably never thought of inspecting our money in great detail, but Canadian bills do indeed contain a copyright notice in the lower right corner, and coins are covered under the same provisions. The album, entitled No More Pennies, includes lyrics about the coin and features a man sitting in a coffee shop with a bunch of pennies strewn across the counter on its front cover. On the back is a picture of a giant penny falling below the horizon like a sunset. The Mint says it will not charge Mr. Gunning a fee for the first 2,000 albums he produces, but will levy a charge of $1,200 for the next 2,000 copies — a cost this struggling artist says he cannot afford. According to one government bureaucrat, however, the Mint is helping 'this guy out by giving him a break.'... 'It is pennies to them but is pretty substantial for me,' said Mr. Gunning, who has launched a 'Penny Drive' to try and raise the money to pay this unexpected tax.... The Canadian dollar is not the only major currency protected by copyright — the British Pound and the Euro also feature copyright notices. But the idea that the government can own the copyright on its works is a concept that’s completely foreign to Americans and citizens of many other countries. Under this country’s Copyright Act, all government works 'belong to Her Majesty' and remain copyrighted 'for a period of fifty years following the end of that calendar year.' This is known as 'Crown Copyright,' which is different from how public works are handled in countries such as the United States, where government documents are automatically put into the public domain."
silentbrad writes: From GamesIndustry International: "Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot has told GamesIndustry International that the percentage of paying players is the same for free to play as it is for PC boxed product: around five to seven per cent.... 'On PC it's only around five to seven per cent of the players who pay for F2P, but normally on PC it's only about five to seven per cent who pay anyway, the rest is pirated. It's around a 93-95 per cent piracy rate, so it ends up at about the same percentage. The revenue we get from the people who play is more long term, so we can continue to bring content.'... 'We must be careful because the consoles are coming. People are saying that the traditional market is declining and that F2P is everything — I'm not saying that. We're waiting for the new consoles — I think that the new consoles will give a huge boost to the industry, just like they do every time that they come. This time, they took too long so the market is waiting.'
silentbrad writes: From IGN: "GameStop’s bosses are obviously tired of hearing about how used games are killing gaming, about how unfair they are on the producers of the games who get nothing from their resale. One astonishing stat is repeated by three different managers during presentations. 70 percent of income consumers make from trading games goes straight back into buying brand new games. GameStop argues that used games are an essential currency in supporting the games business. The normal behavior is for guys to come into stores with their plastic bags full of old games, and trade them so that they can buy the new Call of Duty, Madden, Gears of War. GameStop says 17 percent of its sales are paid in trade credits. The implication is clear — if the games industry lost 17 percent of its sales tomorrow, that would be a bad day for the publishers and developers."
silentbrad writes: From the Globe and Mail: "The first Olympic broadcast crackled over the airwaves 64 years ago in London, as a few thousand people who lived near venues were able to pick up some events on their black-and-white televisions. The decades since then have been kind to Olympic broadcasters, who raked in billions of dollars from advertisers eager to get their products in front of the massive worldwide audiences glued to television sets. As the Games return to London, that model is coming apart... The future is so unclear that all of Canada’s broadcasters have pulled out of bidding for the 2014 and 2016 Games because they aren’t convinced the old model will still work only a few years from now as more consumers move online.... Sixty-four years after television came to the Games, the Olympic Broadcast Service employs 13,000 to produce 2,500 hours of content covering virtually every sport. Canada’s Olympic Consortium – 80 per cent owned by BCE Inc. and the rest by Rogers Communications Inc. – will send more than 5,000 hours of content to televisions, phones and computers. Unlike the Canadian broadcasters who are threatening to walk away completely because of high costs, NBC doesn’t have the luxury of sitting out the next time Olympians gather to compete. It signed a $4.38-billion deal last year that will see it broadcasting through 2020.