Copyright and The Common Good

Our IP system is broken. Not as spectacularly broken as John Oliver demonstrates the US system is. Copyright’s equally absurd – just look at Happy Birthday. And in the US, copyright has already been extended twice (1976) (1998) just before Micky Mouse was due to come out of copyright (it’s now due out in 2023…). And in the US the following books have become public domain in the past five years because their copyright expired. Indeed the current system of copyright in the US is so toxic to older books that in 2013 Amazon had more books from the 1880s than the 1980s.

But Britain isn’t the US. So what’s that to do with us? We actually have had books coming out of copyright for the past 20 years. The only thing is that the books that came out of copyright last year also came out of copyright in 1994 and were then taken out of the public domain by 1995 legislation (imposed on us by the EU)*. And our term lengths are the same.

The current copyright system is broken and corporate controlled. It needs a radical overhaul

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The Corral: Gold and Fiat Currencies

Money is a consensual myth. We currently have fiat money – money that is ultimately imaginary and only worth something because a government says it is, and people believe it and choose to treat it as if the money were real. And people work this out and think it’s ridiculous (it is). And that because it can print more money the government can devalue your savings (if your savings are in a sock under the bed it can; a house remains a house and a company a company regardless).

They then jump from there to one of a number of solutions – normally the Gold Standard, but there are other functionally indistinguishable ones including the Silver Standard, a price-fix based on a basket of commodities, and Bitcoin. And they all have the same flaws as fiat currency – you can’t eat them or take shelter under them and are only worth what people think they are. But rather than having a potential for the government printing more and thus reducing savings, they all suffer from the same thing. The Scrooge McDuck tax on everyone’s work.
Scrooge McDuck jumping into a pile of money

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A guide to tactical voting for pragmatists

“I want to vote Green, but it might let the Tories/Lib Dems in.” – a common refrain for anyone who spends long round the Green Party. I used to hear simmilar round the Liberal Democrats, and I’m sure some UKIP supporters hear the same thing.This is very seldom the case as our First Past the Post system has many issues.

In March 2015, the Electoral Reform Society declared the results of 364 of the 650 (56%) seats being contested. Their equivalent prediction in 2010 was 99.5% accurate (they  can’t predict personal scandals in the run up to the election). It’s unusually low this year due to the unprecidented rise of the SNP.

So where does tactical voting make sense? And in specific where will voting Green give the Tories a chance of getting in? To find out, we’re going to look at the Labour Party’s own numbers, as leaked to Buzzfeed last month. Continue reading

Lucky number seven? Or Master Debaters at work?

So yesterday was the seven way leaders’ debate. Or a seven way pile up, however you want to look at it. And most of the analysis I’ve seen so far in the national press is banal, trite, and misleading. And that includes the polling companies who are simply asking the wrong questions. “Who won the debate” is not a terribly useful question (the answer was, of course, Nicola Sturgeon). The interesting question is “What did each party want to get out of the debate and what did they get – and how useful is that?”

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Wikipedia’s ArbCom: Busy doing nothing

So. ArbChttps://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/61/Wikimania_2007_puzzle_ball.jpg/240px-Wikimania_2007_puzzle_ball.jpgom have finally voted on GamerGate; my preliminary analysis was in my last post – but things subtly and significantly changed after that. What did ArbCom actually decide in the end? To put it simply, they punted. They made sure their result was fair so no one could accuse them of bias (we all know how well that went), and they made their scope of direct interventions as narrow as possible, trusting to the Admins to do the actual work. Which ultimately means they did very little about GamerGate as it applies to Wikipedia that the hard working admins already covering the article wouldn’t have done themselves. And the whole thing has ended by taking a long time to do not very much. Continue reading

Actually it’s about ethics in Wikipedia Journalism

Update 29 Jan 15: Arbcom has made its decision, and I’ve shown what they’ve actually done in my latest post.

Give it its due, GamerGate seems to be a tire fire where the Cracked I posted a month ago about Gamergate – the internet gaming cultural movement with ethical issues. A small, technically adept group trying to pretend it’s bigger than it is and to become a social movement. Of course they are going to make a push at Wikipedia. And of course other people are going to push back. And of course this is going to create chaos that gets escalated to the highest level; The Arbitration Committee (or Arbcom for short). Arbcom are in the process of making their decision, and using a misleading blogpost as source, The Grauniad (copied on RawStory), The Mary Sue, and Gawker are both claiming that something that hasn’t happened yet (24 January 2015) is something that’s already been done and been done badly.

My audience is mixed so I’m going to start with a basic overview of Wikipedia and Arbcom. Feel free to skip to the horizontal line. But it’s important to remember that by Wikipedia standards Gamergate is nothing compared to e.g. Israel/Palestine.

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A backdrop for the girls and boys who just don’t know or just don’t care

Auto Tune and lip synching.  The scourge of modern music.  It wouldn’t have happened back in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, right?  People believe music back then was authentic.  And great acts like Queen would never mime.  Right?

Some of the most blatant miming ever – and still a command performance by Freddie Mercury.

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