Categories
copyright ethics life

Larry Lessig on TED

This summer, while working at a camera/photography store in Lethbridge, one of the jobs I did was Photoshop work and printing photos.

One day a middle-aged woman came into the store carrying an old 8×10 of her deceased parents. She explained that the photo had been damaged when it fell off the wall and the glass protecting it, broke and cut into the image. She asked if we would be able to photoshop the damage out and make a new copy.

Before I could speak, the manager of the store pulled the image from my hand and inspected the photograph.

“Who took the photo?”

There was no stamp on the back and she didn’t know. She explained, “It was taken about 30 years ago by a photographer that their pastor hired to take family photos at their church”.

He told her due to copyright laws, he would not print her a new image. (Nevermind the illegally copied Photoshop program he was using to charge $45/hour to make other’s copies).

Should it be illegal to recover the woman’s photo? Common sense revolts at the idea.

But she never did get it fixed.

Update: I’ve since learned the manager has been “let go”.

See this great TED talk by Larry Lessig speaking about the shortcomings of our dusty, pre-digital intellectual property laws.

Categories
biology documentary ethics

Richard Dawkins’ Nice Guys Finish First

When I was enrolled in University, one of the classes I wanted to take was Philosophy of Game Theory. Unfortunately, disillusioned by my lack of interest after taking the introductory class (a prerequisite) I decided that Philosophy wasn’t for me after all.

Game Theory (Wikipedia) however, is still a very fascinating topic. Couple that with an interest in biology, sociology, and economics and the short documentary, “Nice Guys Finish First“, by Richard Dawkins becomes a tremendously interesting look at how selfish and altruistic behavior can be the greatest benefit or harm to the individual—and consequently also to the group.

Hit Play or Watch at Google Video.

Categories
ethics

Niall Kennedy Goatse’s Microsoft Blog

When Niall Kennedy found out a creative commons licensed photograph he had taken was being misused by Microsoft, he did what any net savvy blogger would do: he replaced the image with goatse. (Ok, personally I wouldn’t have gone that far, but it definitely got their attention).

From his site:

I license my text and image creations under Creative Commons licenses in the hope they will help other people tell a better story or unleash some sort of increased creativity upon the world of content I enjoy every day. When that content is used beyond the terms of my published license I choose to take various forms of action ranging from e-mailing or sending an instant message to the person (if I have it or can query accurate information without much effort) or by issuing legal documents of copyright violations to the offensing site or host.

Read the whole story: Handling of Microsoft’s copyleft violation.

Categories
ethics games

Columbine Massacre Video Game

Super Columbine Massacre RPG screenshot

I just finished reading an interesting piece on watercoolergames.org about the Super Columbine Massacre RPG, a video game in which you take the role of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the Columbine killers, on that fateful day in the Denver suburb of Littleton. How many people they kill is ultimately up to the player.

Judging from some of the harsh comments and some of the news articles written about the game from journalists that never even bothered to play the game it seems to me that a lot of people can’t comprehend the possibility that a video game could be a potential medium for provoking thought or education. Not that playing the game is a particularly enjoyable endeavour, but as compared with the documentary, the movie, or the multiple number of books written on the subject, why is it assumed that “the game” would automatically be something that condones their behavior whereas these other mediums get a pass?

One commenter had the nerve to go so far as to say,

“If your purpose in this game is to ‘understand’, my question is why do we need to understand? Understanding evil is not important—knowledge is not power. Evil is present and does great harm in our world. A better choice is to empower through ministry that heals. It’s my thought that your game doesn’t minister or provoke healing discussion—rather, it fuels the negative impact, divides people from Truth rather than lead them toward it.”

To me, a comment like this is so out-of-touch that it’s shocking. I can understand that at first appearance the idea of making that fateful day’s events into a game may seem trivilizing, but after having taken a few minutes to try it myself, I can say it allows for an interesting perspective that isn’t exactly possible in other forms.

If you’re not convinced, then I recommend checking out the fascinating interview about the game with a Columbine survivor and another one with the game’s creator which, after reading, may cause you to adjust your preconceived notions about the game.

Categories
advertising article ethics

Wired Magazine on Click Fraud

Wired has an intriguing article on the state of online advertising and the use of click spam to defraud advertisers.

Pay-per-click is the fastest-growing segment of all advertising, reports the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Last year, Yahoo! alone ran more than 250 million individual listings, according to Michael Egan, the company’s search-marketing director of content strategy. Yahoo! doesn’t break out PPC earnings separately in its financial statements, but Goldman Sachs analyst Anthony Noto believes that keyword advertising accounted for about half of the company’s estimated $3.7 billion in revenue for 2005. PPC is even more lucrative for Google. According to Noto, Google will end 2005 with $6.1 billion in revenue. About 99 percent of that revenue comes from keyword ads (over 56 percent from AdWords, according to the company’s most recent quarterly financial statement, and 43 percent from AdSense), making Google a bigger recipient of ad dollars than any television network or newspaper chain. All of which is to say that little blue text links, a type of advertising that barely existed five years ago, are poised to become the single most important form of marketing in the US — unless click fraud ruins it.

How Click Fraud Could Swallow the Internet