Category Archives: copyleft

don’t let the EU censor your internet: stop ACTA

ACTA infographic

You might have heard that SOPA got stopped (for now) in the USA, a bill to censor the internet and limit online freedom for everyone. An even worse deal is going down on our EU-side of the globe unfortunately, where ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) has already been signed, but not yet approved (luckily).

ACTA – a global treaty – could allow corporations to censor the Internet. Negotiated in secret by a small number of rich countries and corporate powers, it would set up a shadowy new anti-counterfeiting body to allow private interests to police everything that we do online and impose massive penalties — even prison sentences — against people they say have harmed their business.
avaaz.org

So it’s about time to do something about this before this bill gets voted in the EU Parliament and gets adopted globally.
First you can start by reading about ACTA, find out what’s wrong with it, sign the petition and act against it.

For those in the US, you can go sign the White House petition. Do it, because this deal is worse than SOPA, as it spans beyond the internet and deals even with regulations on medication and food.

The oppressively strict regulations could mean people everywhere are punished for simple acts such as sharing a newspaper article or uploading a video of a party where copyrighted music is played. Sold as a trade agreement to protect copyrights, ACTA could also ban lifesaving generic drugs and threaten local farmers’ access to the seeds they need. And, amazingly, t he ACTA committee will have carte blanche to change its own rules and sanctions with no democratic scrutiny.
avaaz.org

Spread the word, sign the petition, just do something so this is stopped just like SOPA was.

Afterwards, you can get back to your memes and lolcats. :)

 

paniq is making an album

That’s right. The final goal has been reached, so Paniq & Sylvia now have all the funding they need to can this awesome piece of free music in the next months.
It’s great, it’s awesome and it’s gonna be free for everyone and all over the web (I think). Well it should be at least, so keep an eye open for this one cause this could be the start of a great new (r)evolution in online art and music making (see this post by @Kurreltheraven about it as well)  and it only took 190 folks to donate.

From Paniq’s post:

You people are awesome. I simply don’t know what to say other than: thank you, times and times again. Never would we have believed that it takes only 190 people and a few days to make something good happen.

Wicked. Now go make a smashing album!

going commercial

creativecommons.org

A while ago there was this product that came out on the Belgian market that allowed shopkeepers, barbers and anyone who was having a business to bypass the Belgian version of RIAA called SABAM by offering royalty free music in a box. You just had to hook up the little box to an audio system and it would play hours of music that SABAM could not claim any royalty fees for.

Since that little device isn’t cheap I figured the home-made way would be cheaper. You could use an old PC or a laptop and hook that up to your audio system. After all there’s tons of free music out there on archive.org and other sites right? Yes there is. But when I started digging around for some examples it turned out that even though that music is licensed under a Creative Commons license, most of it is restricted from commercial use.

The thing is that this “no commercial use” clause seems to make perfect sense when you publish something online at first. You don’t want someone use your music or pictures just like that and get filthy rich off it, without effort? But the thing is that this clause also prevents all sorts of indirect commercial use that’s not meant to make money off the sweat of your back. Someone might want to use that awesome photo in a business presentation. No can do. Someone might want to play your music in his bar. Nope, can’t do that either. That person might even be a DJ playing at a paid gig. In theory he can’t play any tunes licensed under the non-commercial clause, but you might want that promotion right? Non-commercial turns out to be a bit of a grey area it seems, and it’s clear that the Creative Commons lads are struggling with it as well.

So the question is: what’s the risk of putting your stuff out there under a Creative Commons license that does allow commercial use? Are you going to be ripped off? Maybe. But people are ripping off copyrighted material every day. So it doesn’t matter what kind of license you slap on it? If someone wants to violate it, they will, no matter what. Publishing material under a more liberal license just opens more possibilities for people to use it for all the right reasons. Isn’t that what we are aiming for in the first place? Look at the Open Source movement as an example. There’s no clause in the popular licenses that prevents commercial use. In fact, that’s one of the reasons that Open Source Software is so mature and widely used this day.
I know that software and finished products like music, photo’s, video’s and text are not the same. Software is never really a finished product as it continuously evolves, but the idea is the same.

Paniq does it for all his music for example. He does it for the above mentioned reasons and services like Jamendo sell his music to shopkeepers, barbers and bartenders so they can play this royalty free music without having to pay fees to a silly copyright organisation like SABAM. They pay the artist a percentage of the sales afterwards, so it’s good karma all around.
So I thought I’d go commercial too where I can. My Flickr pictures can now be used commercially, and these awesome wallpapers (if I may say so myself) as well.

Just think about it, the next time you pick a cc-license.

Photo by Andrew*, cc-licensed.

about licensing

Franz Patzig's CC eyesI was thinking about writing a post about licensing stuff online because I find that it would be just dandy if more people would publish their works under a more liberal license. My idea is that a lot of folks don’t do this this simply because they don’t even know about it, so their creations fall under the default full copyright clause.

Recently however another angle came up giving me another reason to write something about licensing. As you might have noticed I use pictures from other people in this blog published under a Creative Commons license. This allows me to use those sweet visuals without having to ask consent of the author for every pic, as long as I attribute him. I’m doing that by linking back to their Flickr site where the original is hosted. This is handy because I don’t have to email everyone and ask them if I can pretty-please use their picture in a blog post, and wait until they send me a reply back. That last bit can take a while because you can never tell when somebody will check their email, and find it in their heart to reply your request.

Sometimes however people haven’t taken a lot of consideration while slapping that CC license on their pictures. Afterwards it turns out that they don’t like the idea of their shots being used in some blog after all, and ask me to change it again. Since I’m a nice guy I have a habit of doing this. But once you’ve set your mind on using a certain visual for your post, it sucks having to remove it and find yourself another one.

So here’s a few things to consider when you’re putting any kind of content or art online:

  1. Whatever license you use, there’s a chance it will be violated. Some people won’t know they are violating it because of their ignorance. Others will but simply don’t give a toss. If you’re serious about your works not being used without permission, consider not publishing them online at all. I know this isn’t very encouraging, but this is a fact of cyberlife.
  2. Even working within the rules set in your chosen license, it’s possible your work will be used for something you don’t like. Let’s say you created a piece of kick ass music you’re proud of and you decide to put it online for others to enjoy freely. You choose a Creative Commons license that allows other to use it non-commercially as long as they attribute you. Someone looking for a soundtrack for his Youtube video on some extreme kind of radish fetish decides to use your beautifully crafted musical masterpiece, and attributes you as he should. You however are a radish-friend, and feel appalled as you find your music used in such a radish-unfriendly manner. Tough luck however. There was nothing in your CC license mentioning any kind of limitations concerning radish pornography.

So it’s good to ponder these above points, and see if this kind of permissive license is something you want to choose for your creative brain farts.
However, I’d suggest you look on the bright side of things and consider all the good things that can come from them as well. Or better, what’s the worst that can happen, and is it really that bad? It’s like Matt from the WordPress team said in his post about people doing unwanted things with his open source blogging software.

“Good people will do good things with it, and bad people will do bad things with it”.

Instead of looking at the bad ways your product is being used, you should concentrate on the good stuff, which is why you made it in the first place.
If you think about how many people that might benefit from your free or permissive license, and that those people might be doing creative things with it in ways you couldn’t even think of, then I guess it’s all worth it. If you want other people to benefit from your work, expand upon it, and perhaps take it to another level, by all means use a CC license and allow them to do so easily.

To close off, here’s another quote from the post by Matt:

“First you have to figure out who you’re fighting, who you’re trying to help, and if the price of freedom is something you’re willing to embrace”

flickr now more secure… bugger

Yep, Flickr.com got a bit more “secure” recently, if you can call it that, and I have to say that I’m sorry to find out about it.

You see, flickr users posting their nifty pics could disallow surfers like myself from viewing the original photo and only allow the preview on the main photo page.
This makes sense of course, as some people in there are professional photographers who want to store their hi-res pictures on flickr but don’t want just any bozo (like me) to be able to rip and download their pictures for free. These guys have their property and income to protect right? The fun part however was that the protection was only half arsed. Yep, it’s was pretty easy to bypass, and you could nicely download the original if you knew the naming scheme flickr used for the original.

Now this has changed sadly enough. There’s no way you can get to the original, since the name now seems to be in no way related to the other resized versions, and well… that means I won’t be able to get those bitching backgrounds on my desktop anymore from the pros. It’s sad, yet understandable. *sigh*.

Luckily however, there are also more generous folks in there, shooting professional pictures and allowing them to be downloaded, or even better… share them under a CC license.
Bravo!” I’d say to those, and just because we like them so much, here are a hand picked examples of such great snips of those oh-so generous flickrites.



Pretty darn good stuff isn’ it? And if you click the pictures, you’ll get more eye pleasing goodness from the camera of the same photographers, and if you just can’t get enough… there’s always the Flickr CC search!

python http log downloader

Digitouch by rent-a-mooseIf you happen to host your own blog on a domain of your own with a hosting company, you might have access to your raw HTTP log files just like me.
Since those raw logs are first of all quite interesting to have some statistics tool run on, and secondly are taking up precious disc space on your webserver, you might want to download those now and then to make sure you don’t run out of space and into trouble.

Since I’m that kind of guy that rather have his computer perform tedious tasks for him instead of having to do them himself, I wrote a little Python script to get the latest logfiles for me, and store them somewhere on my local machine for later processing. It leaves the logfile for the current day untouched, and downloads any other logfile (provided the logfiles have the date in their filename). So if the script didn’t run for a few days, it’s picking up those old logs as well the next time it is ran. Kinda sweet isn’t it?

The script is written in the mighty Python language, and licensed under the GNU GPL, and comes without any guarantees, wheee! You can get it right here as a zip archive. To make things work, you just need to fill out your domain and ftp account data in the downloadlogs() function call at the bottom of the script.

The trick is it gets the list of logfiles on the server, sorts them alfabetically and downloads all but the last, which if your files are named like exYYMMDD.log is the file for the current day. If this is not the case, you might not wanna use this script and avoid having your files deleted. Of course the script already downloaded the files before deleting them, so you should be find in case this would happen anyway.

I hope this is useful for some folks out there, so enjoy.

free brainfood (as in books)

It’s time to feed the brain once again with a selection of free literature, downloadable in PDF format off the infamous internet. Yes indeed, and I think there’s some for everyones taste for once, and not only the geeks amoung us.

Talking geeks, lets kick off with seeing to their needs. How about some security tips? We can sure use those in these OS exploiting trojan days can’t we?

Well these free security guides for Windows and the Internet might be just what you are looking for (thanks Lifehacker). Even if you think you know pretty much everything there is to know about the subject, it’s still interesting enough to take a peek at them. You’re bound to learn something new in this pretty extensive guides.
There’s a hardware security guide in there as well, but that link didn’t quite work for me unfortunately. I was quite curious as to what that would be all about. Hanging a bill ball’o chain on your laptop perhaps? I’d like to know!

But enough geeking out already. How about some good old literature? Like the good old classics such as Dante’s Inferno or Shakespeare’s Hamlet?
Well you can download these and other out-of-copyright books straight off Google’s Book service these days. All you need to know to get your ass some yummy oldskool text is published on the Google Blog.