post-lunch at NYLS Amateur Hour

All below the fold so as not to swamp the planets. Notes inside on panels from large broadcast media and ‘interactive content’, aka ‘games.’

New Opportunities in Amateur Interactive Content

  • panelist from MIT suggests that teachers have always sought the holy grail of learning through doing, and here we have a prime opportunity for children to learn through doing. So he is working on Scratch. Some graphical programming ideas similar to the old Lego Mindstorms programming environment, with graphical output (2d). Code is transparent, like ‘view source’ in web pages, allowing remix (for better and for worse.) Whole thing vaguely reminds me of Croquet, though in 2D. Nice reminder that ‘UGC’ is way more than video/text. Of course, one of the student projects is a Duck Hunt clone, so some of the same complexities are present in code as well as video/audio/text.
  • Halo 3 opened bigger than Spiderman; Wii has made Nintendo the second most valuable company in Japan. Video games are huge; we end up with things as simple as Miis and as complex as Red v. Blue. Everquest characters have been awarded in divorce proceedings. Discussion of Second Life, which of course mentions (though surprisingly glosses over, given the context) porn.
  • Apparently attendance at a Second Life town hall meeting helped create jurisdiction in the recent Second Life court case.
  • In SL/WoW/etc., you end up with the same questions: do you really expect people to understand these contracts and their interactions with IP law?
  • co-founder of Cruxy– not clear to me exactly what he does, but he does like Second Life. :) Poses some interesting questions about what it means when you play a boombox with Radiohead in second life- what license does that require? Argues that there may be more respect for IP in virtual worlds than in the web since the notion of exchange for virtual currency (and perhaps of sweat equity) are typically baked into both the software and the gameplay from go, unlike the web. (Left unsaid is the comparison to the Tim Berners-Lee scientific norm of free data exchange.)
  • panel moderator brings up the old assumption that where this is value, there must be a right; thinks that particularly where there is virtual world/real world overlap we should see this assumption challenged- no right in a virtual world to control to the virtual Times Square.

Amateur Content and Television, Broadcast, and Networks

reminder that these panelists are again not speaking for their parent companies, so I’ll just depersonalize them and not take notes on who exactly is saying what.

  • reminder that the old-media companies are not monolithic; they do want to produce content that is where people want to be. [Is our generation so monolith-phobic that this matters? e.g., can they sell it to us by being where we want to be?]
  • media guy claims it is hard to find porn on youtube, which is a… dubious claim. (As part of discussion about why they sued YouTube.)
  • another media person says the big problem for them is balance: they hate pirates, but they want to grow and use [Ed.: harvest? exploit?] UGC. So what do they do? They have a clickwrap agreement that gives them a perpetual, no-fee, etc. license to the material, though they don’t own it exclusively. You represent that it is original, and that everyone in the video has given permission to appear. They are deliberately becoming more sophisticated about this; no longer saying bluntly ‘we own it all!’ but being slightly more sophisticated, even if the result is similar.
  • If you’re hosting a mashup contest, you want a different license; you’re giving them materials so you don’t want them putting it elsewhere. You also don’t want them to be under 18, since the limited license you would give them wouldn’t be enforceable.
  • there are experiments in the intermediate as well- demo video of something like self-produced reality TV, where college students abroad film themselves and then it is edited/produced for TV.
  • Apparently some of the big content producers created some ‘ugc principles‘ recently; I’d missed that. My immediate thought is that the document (like much of this panel’s conversation here) views UGC as a source of content- something to be mined/channeled- rather than as a conversation. Obviously it isn’t all conversation, but much of it is -and it seems to me that the most persistent and long-lived part of it will look much like conversation as people try to form comfortable communities that they can share with.
  • One lawyer thinks that these suits are going to be shaped in large part by the (largely untested) contract law as it relates to clickwrap licenses. They note that when you’re actively soliciting for UGC contests, it is clear that you’re outside the bounds of the DMCA, but intermediate steps are more difficult.
  • Took $LARGE_MEDIA_COMPANY a year to launch their fan-generated/social content site, in large part because of legal analysis.
  • One lawyer notes that the next Stallone v. Anderson will almost certainly come by way of a site where someone uploads an idea to an owner-controlled website (like mashup.starwars.com) which is later turned into a sequel. Will be very interesting to see how that comes out.
  • ex-lawyer turned businessman: ‘the law is always chasing the business. It scurries around, trying to keep up.’
  • TV guy says clearly that this is an industrial-revolution-like feel here- everything is radically changing, and in particular the tech guys are doing it Because They Can, which appears to drive him nuts. ‘These are not people who are interested in business plans or solving a particular problem.’
  • notes that money wants to gamble- money wants to chase the new, rather than the old. So even if slightly/completely irrational, old media have market and investment-banker problems.
  • Notes that press is problematic from his perspective because they are fascinated by new/different rather than what is actually profitable, so old media bite themselves because they aren’t interesting/new enough. In combination with money and technologists, you create a perfect storm of turbulence for the industry.
  • Notes that Disney can’t really point to technological/strategy benefits from the Apple/Pixar deal; the actual value (so far) has all come from
  • q: how do people really interact with entertainment? a: they don’t really like lots of choices; most aren’t capable of using complex technology. Other than to point out that this benefits editor and polished content, he unfortunately doesn’t draw challenging conclusions from this and the perfect storm. Still, interesting analysis.
  • we finally have a laughing moment, where one of the industry panelists says something utterly ludicrous and laughable- he says Hollywood and the entertainment industry is about originality and new things, and that if you’re original, you’ll do well in Hollywood. At least no one laughed out loud in his face, as many people did to the RIAA rep at the Conference on the Public Domain. Overall, in general, the industry panelists (with this one exception) have seemed much more in-tune and forward looking than I’ve ever seen at this sort of event.
  • As soon as I say that, someone from industry describes DRM as ‘anathema’ to the tech industry, when what he should say is ‘fairy tale’ or ‘grotesque insult to consumers who actually want to pay.‘ Ironically (given the previous comments by another panelist), they then use Steve Carell’s completely unoriginal Evan Almighty to discuss the expense of movies.