Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New MTV Video Site's Censorship -- Bleeping out Names of File-Sharing Software

MTV has just launched a new online video site. While I won't go through the trouble of mocking the site (or the TV network) for its irrelevance (please visit this slashdot thread for plenty of that), it is worth noting that it does have one feature that other video sites do not: in-video censorship! As this observant slashdot commenter says:

I was perusing this yesterday, and came across the Weird Al video "Don't Download This Song". One line in the original song goes:
o/~ Like Morpheus or Grokster or Limewire or KaZaA o/~

But the version on the new MTV site goes:
o/~ Like *beep* or *beep* or *beep* or *beep* o/~

Does anyone know if it was aired on MTV/VH1 this way, or is this unique to the web version?

MTV: []
Youtube: []

More coverage: Slashdot Techdirt

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Interesting New Perspective on DRM

While browsing a Slashdot thread about a purported "open-source DRM" product I came across an interesting comment by a guy named Sancho. While I had always viewed DRM as a uniquely new development, he ties it to practices that have been occurring in the recording industry for some time:

I tend to think of it as ensuring repeated sales of their art throughout their lifetimes.

For a while there, ensuring this was as easy as making sure that your music was released on the format du jour. Records, 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs.... With the advent of digital music sans a physical medium, this trend of rebuying all of your albums is at risk. Suddenly, you're faced with customers never having to rebuy the White album, and you see your sustained profits going down the tubes.

DRM solves that. Now, rather than coming out with a new format every few years, you just have to come up with a new DRM scheme and turn off the old servers. Because the devices playing the music are somewhat general purpose, it's easy to move quickly--you don't have to worry about market penetration for the players, because it's just a free software update away.

One small point: in the old days, format upgrades, say from tape to CD, often brought with them added benefits (better sound quality, more convenient access to songs, larger storage space, etc.) so there were actually justifiable reasons to upgrade. Now, switching from one DRM-encumbered format to the next offers no such incentives for the consumer.

Friday, October 10, 2008

wmctrl and friends

wmctrl seems like an awesome utility. I first read about it in Kyle Rankin's Linux Journal column here. The wmctrl project page also has links to a bunch of other desktop-automation and related utilities. This is all going in the "to learn when I have some spare time" file along with screen.