2004 June

Macworld UK

Press Robot, June 7th, 2004

Ebook Seller Offers AAC” By Macworld staff

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Garageband adds Creative Commons

Matt Haughey, June 7th, 2004

Wired has a short write-up of the GarageBand (the website for musicians, not the Apple software) annoucement to include a Creative Commons license during song uploads. If you’ve never tried out GarageBand, sign up and give it a whirl. Listeners rate song samples as one vs. another, and you can view the top rated songs in numerous genres. There’s an impressive array of music, all from unsigned bands. On the musician side of things, you can upload music and get feedback and ratings from fans, sort of like a musical HotOrNot.com.

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Harry Potter and Wizard People

Matt Haughey, June 7th, 2004

The NY Times has an interesting story of a new movie project called Wizard People, Dear Reader. It’s a derivative work where the first Harry Potter movie plays while artist Brad Neely creates his own soundtrack to the film. It falls into a gray area of law and Warner Brothers declined to comment on it.

If you can’t make it out to one of the live shows, the Illegal Art site has the soundtrack available for download, which you can set up to watch at home if you have a copy of the Harry Potter DVD.

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Brazil Re-cap

Glenn Otis Brown, June 7th, 2004

A few more words about the iCommons Brazil launch. It is hard to do the event justice. It was completely overwhelming, a true celebration, and we’ve only now recovered from the whole thing and regrouped.

As you know, iCommons Brazil made its debut at the 5th Annual Software Livre conference in Porto Alegre. An afternoon plenary, attended by an audience of about 1000, was the stage for the announcement.

Claudio Prado, Coordinator of Digital Culture of the Ministry of Culture of Brazil and one of the visionaries behind Brazil’s many tech initiatives, moderated the dozen-or-so panelists. The first to speak was Joaquim Falcao, Dean of FGV Law School, iCommons Brazil‘s lead institution. Prof. Falcao told a story about Amerigo Vespucci, the explorer, and his famed correspondence from his travels in the “New World.” Vespucci’s letters gained life, and a broad and prominent readership (including Sir Thomas More and Machiavelli), only as his readers and re-publishers began to build upon his letters. Some added illustrations to Vespucci’s original text. Others translated the Italian into Latin. Someone gave the collection of letters a zippy new title. In an early example of adaptation, Thomas More drew from Vespucci in writing his Utopia. So central were the letters to the early identity of the land that it later became his namesake. But not before being feminized (that is, once again re-tooled): America. In the modern age of maximalist copyright, said Joaquim, such collective authorship would stand little chance.

Lawrence Lessig followed Falcao on the dais. (You may recall that Lessig has allowed free derivatives of his new book Free Culture, and that a downright Vespuccian flourishing of formats has resulted.) Lessig stirred the crowd with a theme (“free speech, free markets, free software, free culture, free will”), marveled over the conference’s teeming enthusiasm for software livre, and said the U.S. should learn to follow Brazil’s example in the field.

Next came Ronaldo Lemos, iCommons Brazil‘s leader and director of FGV Law School’s Center for Technology and Society. Ronaldo introduced the excellent Portuguese versions of Get Creative and Reticulum Rex, and I giddily watched from the cheap seats, high-fiving FGV staffer Jorge Rosa, who along with Ronaldo, Carlos Affonso de Souza, and Bruno Magrani, translated the cartoons.

Ronaldo explained the natural match between Creative Commons and Brazil, noting that CC’s collaborative ethos echoes that of Tropicalism, an artistic and political movement of the ’60s and ’70s that celebrated Brazilian culture as a hodgepodge of high and low, indigenous and import, old and new. Ronaldo then announced the retirement of the name “Sampling license” and the birth of Recombo, a change I explained in an earlier post.

Berkman Center faculty director William Fisher also spoke, sketching out the many possible futures of music online and putting the day’s events in context. Linux International president Jon Maddog Hall received the warmest audience welcome . . . until Minister Gilberto Gil, delayed by a cabinet meeting in Brasilia, entered the massive room from the back and made his way up the center aisle like a prizefigher approaching the ring, waves of body guards, flashbulbs, and admirers trailing him. Gil took the stage and shook Maddog’s hand. Maddog wrapped up his address — about the birth of the piano as open-source instrument, among other things — and received a standing ovation. (Read
Maddog’s account
of the conference.)

Minister Gil then spoke, waxing eloquent about technology and culture and even performing a dramatic reading of John Perry Barlow’s “Selling Wine Without Bottles.” A handful of speakers followed Gil, among them my friend and free software force Marcelo Branco and anthropologist/music expert Hermano Vianna, and the session concluded with Gil’s ceremonial signing of the Recombo license as his song “Oslodum” played over the PA.

Later Gil rocked the Santander Cultural Center in downtown Porto Alegre with a powerful show: classic crowd pleasers (e.g. “Aquele Abraco”), a cleverly re-arranged Marley cover or two, and plenty of audience participation. VJ Pixel poured psychedelic images across the stage, including some mind-bending manipulations of the Creative Commons animations and icons (Ryan Junell‘s original handiwork). It was an amazing media moment when Gil’s live image hovered on the wall alongside his animated likeness, from Reticulum Rex, as the crowd danced with abandon.

Finally, a Creative Commons camera crew was onhand to capture all the action. We’ll keep you posted on the short video we’ll produce from the event. In the meantime, we cannot thank the iCommons Brazil team, the Software Livre conference participants, and Mr. Gil enough.

(Here’s another account, if you read Portuguese.)

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Copyright and the death of Public Enemy’s sound

Matt Haughey, June 6th, 2004

Stay Free Magazine has a great interview with Chuck D and Hank Shocklee from Public Enemy. In it, they discuss how lax copyright laws of the late 1980s allowed them to produce thickly sampled songs for their first two major label releases. “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” and “Fear of a Black Planet” were revolutionary albums that changed the landscape of hip-hop, but due to groups sampling larger portions of songs, record companies came back against their own rap artists, demanding higher and higher license fees for each and every sample.

As Chuck D and Hank Shocklee attest, this change in licensing and law changed the sound of Public Enemy forever as license fees for samples became prohibitively high. They describe their more recent releases as sounding “soft” because they’ve resorted to recreating samples in the studio using live instruments, to get around master sampling license fees.

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Recombo Brazil

Glenn Otis Brown, June 4th, 2004

In about an hour the official launch celebration of Creative Commons Brazil will begin. Neeru and I are here at the 5th Annual Software Livre conference in Porto Alegre with the iCommons Brazil team from Rio’s FGV Law School, as well as William Fisher, faculty director of Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center. Our chairman, Lawrence Lessig, arrives shortly. The event will feature addresses by Lessig, Fisher, Jon Maddog Hall, FGV dean Joaquim Arruda Falcao, and many more, plus the debut of FGV’s Portuguese translations of the Creative Commons animations. (Watch them now. They’re totally amazing.) And for the grand finale, Minister of Culture Gilberto Gil will officially release a few of his songs under the License Formerly Known as Sampling, which, from this moment forward, will be called Recombo, a name inspired by the Brazilian art collective re:combo. Minister Gil was in Lisbon last week, playing with Paul McCartney and others, and just earlier this week he inaugurated the Brazil v. Argentina futebol match with song on national television. Needless to say we are humbled and thrilled beyond belief to have him preside over this important day. And as if that weren’t enough, Mr. Gil is playing a live show later tonight. Recombo-licensed songs will be featured.

Brazil offers two gifts to the world today: Recombo creativity, and the music of Gilberto Gil.

More soon. Stay tuned.

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Panorama Ephemera

Matt Haughey, June 3rd, 2004

This week’s featured content is Rick Prelinger‘s new film Panorama Ephemera, produced entirely with short government clips from the 1940s-1970s. For those in the Bay Area, it will be shown at the San Francisco Cinematheque on Sunday, June 13 at 7:30 pm. The clips range from the everyday normal to the absolutely bizarre and together form an amusing collage of how life used to be.

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Mike Linksvayer, June 2nd, 2004

Legal ports to Brazilian law of Creative Commons 2.0 licenses are now live.

Glenn Otis Brown and
Neeru Paharia are at Software Livre 2004 in Porto Alegre for the launch celebration. Chairman Lawrence Lessig will arrive later this week for the official announcement, which will be led by Brazilian Minister of Culture Gilberto Gil.

Thanks to iCommons partner institution Fundação Getulio Vargas’ Law School in Rio de Janeiro and project lead Ronaldo Lemos da Silva Júnior for making CC-Brazil a reality.

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BBC opens up to CC

Matt Haughey, June 2nd, 2004

The BBC recently announced they’ll be opening up their archive and applying Creative Commons licenses to the works. A group of interested folks have started a list to talk about the release and produced a petition to support the decision.

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CC Featured at Ibiblio

Mike Linksvayer, June 2nd, 2004

Creative Commons is one of this month’s features on the Ibiblio home page.

Ibiblio hosts Creative Commons’ movies and mailing lists, among many other resources. “The public’s library and digital archive” lives up to its tagline. Browse their virtual stacks.

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