Archive for April, 2009

Warner issues take down DMCA notice to Larry Lessig’s presentation

This is just plainly, fucked up.

They issued a take down notice for this video. Two things are happening here:
1. An stupid clerk issued the DMCA notice, without really understanding what he’s doing.
2. A legal team of Warner Music specifically decided to go against Lessig, and destroy fair use via legal precedence.

Of course, Larry Lessig‘s videos are fair use. Even if he makes money from his presentations and books, Lessig’s videos are more educational & journalistic (which are fair use points), than all Warner works put together. More over, Warner Bros will never be able to prove that they lost money on the examples Lessig shows on his presentations.

Not only that, but what’s really interesting here, is that Lessig’s part of the presentation that supposedly infringes are the parts where fair usage examples are shown. So basically, the “infringing” parts, are simply in there as EXAMPLES of fair usage. So, Warner Music will not only have to fight Lessig’s presentation, but they will have to DOUBLE-prove non-fair usage on the included remixed videos too. Good luck with that.

Which makes me believe that point number 1 above is true: some idiotic clerk, issued a take down notice, and now Warner Music will have to battle the bad PR. They won’t be able to battle this case in a court. If they go ahead, then there are some sinister reasons behind the whole thing, where they would use Lessig to “destroy all free thinkers out there”. A political move, in other words. If they win the double-fair-usage point I made above, then they will have destroyed fair use in the US.

The case of the iPod Nano

We are flying to Europe soon, and I was keep trying to convince JBQ to get a protective case for his 4th Gen iPod Nano. There’s no time now to go to Frys to get one, so I thought he will fly without a case.

I went to Longs pharmacy today to buy some masks (we will be changing 3 planes, so better safe than sorry), but they were out of them. In one of their baskets full of random items sold at 1/3 of their price there were some iPod cases (yes, sold at the Longs pharmacy). Anyways, they didn’t have any for the 4th Gen Nano, so I thought that this is it, JBQ won’t have a case for his player.

Fast forward 15 minutes. I was walking back home, when I literally stumbled into this, red color, perfect condition. In the middle of the street. I took it home, sanitized it, and it looks like JBQ will have a Nano case after all. It’s all kind of funny, really.

RCRD LBL

From wikipedia: “RCRD LBL is an exclusively-online record label that offers all of its music for free via Mp3 downloads, while generating 100% of its revenue through advertising and sponsorship. Developed and run by Downtown Records CEO Josh Deutsch and Engadget founder Peter Rojas.”

The site adds new songs every day for free, legal, download, very often from well known artists (e.g. recently from Wolfmother, The Sounds etc) as well as indie artists. You can download for example one of the best songs of 2007 (according to critics), Blitzen Trapper’s “Wild Mountain Nation“. Today, I added quite a few of their free songs on my “best free songs list” to save you the hunting for the best of the best.

Recently they also started offering for free Bloc Party’s “Signs” remix, which is a fantastic track, and way better than the original mix. So good, that the band will release the remix as single soon. Here’s the official video for the song, as good as the song. There are a few scenes in it though that are not safe for work, so be aware!

People On Wheels

A great HV20 video by fellow Greek, George Hantzis. Very good editing and vision throughout the video. HD version here.

Say hi to your corporation overlords

Copyright term for music recordings must be extended from 50 years to 70 years, says legislation adopted on Thursday by the European Parliament. […] Composers already enjoy copyright protection for 70 years after their death. More here.

If this is not a fucked up system, just like in the US, I don’t know what is. They say copyright exists just so artistic innovation keeps happening, but I fail to see how this helps the artist after his/her death, and especially the human culture. This was voted just so the corporations, that usually own the copyrights of their artists’ works, can keep making money.

Personally, I believe that musical copyright shouldn’t exist for more than 10 years, just like it should be with medical patents. For audiovisual, maybe 20 years. For software patents, it should be no more than 5 years. If I was a rock star, I would move my work to CC-BY 10 years after the original publication and transfer the copyright to the Creative Commons organization too.

In other news, if I get swine flu, I am dead. My body is very frail already, it wouldn’t manage that kind of flu.

Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes)

As I am writing this there are tears in my face. I am listening to the song “When Water Comes to Life” from Cloud Cult‘s latest album “Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes)”. I don’t know if it’s the sad violin riffs or the lyrics that make me cry, or maybe both. The song was written by the Cloud Cult’s main singer/songwriter, Craig Minowa, for his lost young son. Actually, the whole album is about dealing with that loss. This is one of the few albums that I pay extra attention to the lyrics.

Also, this is one of the best albums I have ever listen to in my life. It is one of the most different albums I have ever encountered. It is experimental alright, but in a good way — it’s actually listenable. It wakes up weird feelings in me, something that other albums just don’t. It accesses weird parts of my brain that other artistic works don’t. Some critics have compared the Cloud Cult to Flaming Lips and Arcade Fire, but I think that the Cloud Cult are one step beyond them with this album. The Flaming Lips’ best album, the “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots”, sounds self-indulgent compared to this album, and Arcade Fire’s both albums just feel “indie rock with a twist” instead. In fact, I *don’t* like the previous albums of Cloud Cult as much as this one, exactly because they were also “indie rock with a twist”. This album instead is more twist than indie rock, but without losing its solid harmony and melody. It is musically complex with many genres popping up in a single song (including classical, rock, hip-hop, electronic, folk), sometimes there’s no repeating chorus, and in general, the songs don’t follow the buildup-chorus/rinse-repeat pattern found on most pop songs. Some critics didn’t get the album at all, but the ones who did, put it up on their list of their top-10 albums of last year, along Blitzen Trapper’s “Furr” (another crazy/good album)! This is the kind of music that people will be listening to in the year 2030.

“Feel Good Ghosts” is of course not for everybody. It’s like sushi. You can’t just “like” sushi when you are over 25 years old and you are tasting it for the first time (like in my case). 95% chance is that you will hate it. Sushi grows on you though. You will have to “get it” to “like it”. Without “getting it”, there’s no “liking it”. Same with this album, you will have to be in the right state of mind, and yes, with the right cultural background to really appreciate it. Best songs in the album: Everybody Here Is a Cloud (free), The Tornado Lessons (free), When Water Comes to Life (also free), Its What You Need (I wish it was longer than its mere 1′:07″), Hurricane and Fire Survival Guide, and Love You All. The rest are also good, but they require extra brain power. But of course, in this specific case, it’s about listening to the whole album, not just a few songs.

The weirdness of the band doesn’t stop in the music though. Check this out:
– Craig Minowa lives in his organic farm, somewhere so far inland that there are no maps (the MTV crew had trouble finding him when they were trying to do a feature for the band).
– He uses recyclable materials for most of his belongings, along geothermal energy rather than electricity.
– His non-profit label uses recycled materials for its CDs and donates all its profits to charity.
– For every 1000 CDs sold, the band plants 10 trees, to absorb any pollutants that their manufacturing might have introduced.
– The band uses a biodiesel van, and it has solar panels on top of it.
– The band also has non-musicians: two painters. They paint while the band is playing live, and then they auction the paintings on the spot.
– This is the last Cloud Cult album, possibly ever. The band members will now focus on family, they said.

JBQ tonight asked me to buy “Use somebody” by Kings of Leon (a popular hit rock song) on iTunes. I was in the midst of listening to the Cloud Cult tonight when I loaded up the iTunes Store to buy the song he requested. I previewed it, as I always do. And while I like rock music a lot, and I like the particular song too, while previewing it amidst the Cloud Cult’s listening session, I felt that I was purchasing some shallow, flat, bad-taste, kits Britney Spears crap. And I even like Kings of Leon.

Once you go Cloud Cult (and sushi), you can’t go back. True story.

Can you believe these are legally free?

I cleaned up my massive indie collection today and kept the songs I like only. My library now consists of 5 GBs of iTunes purchases, 2 GBs of free indie promotional tracks, and ~500 MBs of CD rips. We have 35+ GBs worth of rips from our 400 bought CDs, but I haven’t move them over from JBQ’s library yet — JBQ is the Amazon CD guy and I am the iTunes gal in terms of our music purchases. There’s a small fortune we have spent for music in the last 10 years.

So, while I was cleaning up my indie collection all day today, I thought I should put together a top-60 list with the best of the best for you, complete with download links! The promotional mp3 tracks below are given away, legally as far as I can tell, either by the bands themselves via their site or their iLike/Garageband pages, or by their label, or by their marketing/PR teams.

Please do download these a-m-a-z-i-n-g tracks and check these artists out! And if you like their work, don’t forget to buy too! Alphabetically:

UPDATE: THE MUSIC LIST HAS BEEN MOVED HERE.

Amazing songs you never heard of

Some of the best songs I have heard in the last 1-2 years that most people never heard of. I wish these songs could get some radio play. Check them out on iTunes or youtube.

Let Me Go On – Seabird (alternative rock)
Big Coat – Wiretree (indie pop/rock)
Make Things Happen – Wiretree (alternative progressive)
Better Than Life – People In Planes (alternative progressive)
Jails Everywhere – Magnolia Sons (rock)
Sirens In the Deep Sea – Longwave (shoegazing)
The Devil and the Liar – Longwave (shoegazing)
Fallen – Death In The Park (indie rock)
Nailbiter – Damiera (alternative)
Even Though She Knows – Cold Hot Crash (alternative)
Work It Out – Capital Lights (powerpop)
Mile Away – Capital Lights (powerpop)
Frank Morris – Capital Lights (powerpop)
Save – Timmy Curran (singer/songwriter)
Slow – Timmy Curran (singer/songwriter)
Can You Feel It – Timmy Curran (singer/songwriter)
Sci-Fi Kid – Blitzen Trapper (indie rock)
Gold for Bread – Blitzen Trapper (indie folk rock)
Quiet Nights, Quiet Places – Malbec (electro-pop)
If Looks Could Kill – Music For Animals (pop-rock)
Robot High School – My Robot Friend (electro-rock)
Man Down – The New Frontiers (alternative)
The Keys – Dolorata (classic rock)
Shaky Like The Flu – Loquat (ambient rock)
Harder Hit – Loquat (ambient rock)
Bright Side – Rantings of Eva (alternative melodic rock)
Fracture – Rantings of Eva (alternative melodic rock)
Need – Dangermaker (pop-rock)
Sleep On It – TV/TV (Powerpop)

The NAB non-show

What a freaking let down. RED, JVC and Sony revealed no new products or updates whatsoever, while Canon rehashed their older ones. Unless Canon announces new prosumer products tomorrow, I will completely lose my faith on that company. They make no sense anymore.

Panasonic on the other hand already announced a bunch of stuff, including a very impressive 3D camera that uses AVC-Ultra (200 mbps bitrate!), and the HMC-40 (press release, news report, big picture). The important thing here is that Panasonic realized that there’s a hybrid consumer-prosumer market (and they even called the HMC-40 a “hybrid”). They are the firsts to do so, as far as I am concerned. I have been burbling about that hybrid need for 1.5 years now!

The camera uses three 1/4.1″ sensors, 12x zoom, 21 to 24 mbps VBR AVCHD recording (unfortunately, no constant recording at 24 mbps), 24p/30/60i at 1080p, up to 60p at 720p, cine-gamma presets, manual controls, enough buttons and focus ring, 2.7″ touchscreen, XLR/handle-bar add-on (sold separately), and Panasonic’s dynamic range stretching algorithm. Price is a bit steep at $3200 though for these specs.

The real let down on this camera is the sensor size though. Even if it has 3 sensors, each is still of minuscule size, and the lens seems to be consumer grade too. Which means that background blur will probably be worse than the $500 HV20’s. This is a deal breaker for me. I would have preferred a single 1/2.0″ sensor rather than three at 1/4.1″.

So, even after the much awaited NAB show, there’s still no camera that does what I need. This HMC-40 came SO CLOSE. So close. But still no cigar. However, there are rumors that Canon will update the Canon’s 5D Mark-II firmware with more video abilities, so if that happens and they add 24p frame rate, zebra support, and shutter speed support, that’s the camera I will be getting — even if it doesn’t have other features that camcorders do. We have about 15 lenses that go on the 5D anyway.

Enough with this shit though. This was a letdown.

condition:human, Episode 2

The second episode of the very nice, HV30-shot, no-budget sci-fi, drama is out: