Copyright schmopyright

In a move that will definitely help to make TV-watching more viewer-friendly for people who hate silly or irrelevant ads, like me, the U.S Supreme Court has declined to hear a case on digital video recorder (DVR) technology put forth by network programmers like CNN and TBS against Cablevision, the New York-area cable operator. Cablevision wanted to offer a DVR system whereby viewers could use DVR technology from a server provided by them instead of a separate set-top box. The network programmers submitted that this would mean the cable company would then be making unauthorised use of copyrighted programmes, because people could (gasp!) fast forward ads placed in copyrighted programmes that they run. 

A lower court actually ruled in favour of the CNN/TBS lot (I’m sure that judge doesn’t watch any TV), but the U.S Supreme Court reversed that decision, leading Cablevision to say that the decision may mean that DVRs could become more accessible and they’d consider, for example, allowing advertisers to insert ads into recorded content. 

To me that completely defeats the purpose of the whole case. If I’m getting a DVR to avoid seeing ads, why would I buy/get access to it from Cablevision if they’re going to take me back to square one just to make some money? I’d be getting shifted wouldn’t I?

Whether or not Cablevision is able to put their awful plan into action, the truth is that crap ads are crap ads. By taking up the cause of advertisers and not seeing that people are likely to be ready to pay to be able to get rid of ads, they are being blind to the reality. Unless some sort of eye-sensor technology is invented that can scan the viewer’s eye and automatically serve up relevant ads, people will hate most ads, period. Or alternatively if all ads cease to be ads and become less commerce and more content. TV ads, other than infomercials, are still very much based on the principle of pure commerce. Till that changes, I’d rather pay NOT to see them if I can afford it. 


Technology and films

In the New York Times, Kevin Kelly writes about the advance of technology with regard to films. From the days of special effects in Star Wars, we’ve moved on to the kind of effects in Speed Racer, where, as Kelly says, “the spectacle of an alternative suburbia was created by borrowing from a database of existing visual items and assembling them into background, midground and foreground”. So now, not only can we create our own movies with iMovie, we can find three-dimensional set models on Google’s 3D Sketch-Up Warehouse and we can recognise objects in still images as Viewdle does with celebrity images. Then of course there are the mash-ups: TimeTube in fact tracks all videos linked to the most popular YouTube videos, including mash-ups. In conclusion, Kelly foresees a time in the near future where we can just drag images from films and transpose them into our own cinematic creations. 

Technology and the internet are also affecting TV – William at Made By Many recently wrote about why it pays to be young in TV, for example. All this set me thinking about citizen film-making, like citizen journalism. Citizen filmmakers already exist – as technology makes it easier for them, I predict that we will see a rise in their number, but, as with the internet, we will also see a lot of babble, which will need to be weeded out. And that will be a difficult task, begging questions of freedom of expression, to start with. 

Madison Men

Watching the Olympics on TV this morning, I tuned in at a time when the Men’s Madison cycling event was going on. The name of the event stuck in my mind because I hadn’t heard it before with regard to sports, and also because it reminded me of a TV series that has been in the news lately – ‘Mad Men‘, AMC’s drama set in (where else) the mad, bad world of advertising. From this article I also learnt that advertising honchos during the period the series is set in (circa 1960’s) were called ‘Mad Men’ because New York’s advertising hub was Madison Avenue and it was the masculine gender that ruled the industry then. Linking that back to the Men’s Madison cycling event, it is so named because the event was first held in Madison Square Garden, New York.

Random bits of information, but somehow I thought it all made for a nice post!

[via Noah]