Saturday, January 12, 2013

I Don't Understand Youtube Copyright

Their guidelines aren't very helpful.

OK so it seems simple right? Don't use copyrighted material in your work. OK. Simple.

So a while ago I monetized my videos - not due to any misguided impression that I could make any money off them but because Youtube kept bugging me to do so because it... likes me? A robot wanted fresh ad space? Well I had a few videos up which I generally had avoided anything that wasn't %100 mine with a few exceptions which weren't so blatant as to set off sirens deep in the offices of Google's offices. COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT! COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT!

In my video Eric Roberts Thinks I'm pretty I have an image of The Master from the Doctor Who movie and a still from The Dark Knight to show the audience who he is. That's apparently fine despite me not being from Fox or Warner Brothers. Fair use?

Another video called A Day in the life of an Aspiring Author had nyan cat playing in it as well as The NaNoWriMo Song by ALL CAPS which I appropriately credited in the description. The cool thing about DFTBA records is some artists allow you to use their stuff in your videos as long as the other elements of that video are your original work and you credit them with a link back to their website. I did that, but I don't think that means I'm allowed to use the work for commercial purposes so despite Youtube saying "yeah make money off this!" I was like "Whoa! No. I have to un-monetize this. Surely that's not allowed."

So Youtube seemed to be pretty lax when it came to enforcing what I perceived Copyright Law to be. This was all uploaded prior to me monetizing my videos so they all were monetized by default (after some amount of review) when I became a partner. All subsequent videos are reviewed upon upload.

Then I uploaded a video with my Furby in it and that was a big no. Can't do that. OK so I'm assuming that's because I don't own the Furby logo and the sounds it makes right? Well my wall is covered in copyrighted images of posters. My shirts have Comic Book characters on them with tiny TM symbols on them. I've used a sonic screwdriver in one of my videos and I didn't own that noise (I think, or was that my other channel?) How particular am I meant to be here about what gets displayed? Because when it comes to making films at Murdoch they won't allow ANY FORM OF LOGO OR TRADEMARK. We cannot show brand names on our clothes, when filming cars we need to frame out things like "TOYOTA" and if we get anything accidentally in there we either have to reshoot or go into After Effects to blur it out frame by frame.

Then I uploaded something with about 2 seconds of robot noises and that was also not allowed to be monetized. What kind of complicated program would they be using to figure out if that robot noise wasn't mine? It wasn't, but from where I had got it I got the impression it was OK to use. Once youtube said no you can't make money off this video I won't really argue with them. It's really not important seeing as I don't make a living off this (or... anything really).

OK so I'd gone from being able to use parts of songs to not being allowed to use short sections of robot noises. Next up was a short video where I used static noise which I believed was under the Creative Commons License attribution 3.0 (I'm starting to actually research copyright things now) which I was under the impression made me free:

  • to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work
  • to make derivative works
  • to make commercial use of the work

Under the condition I credited the original author, which I had.

Now I might be able to go click on a button that proves that this means I can use it... or it might be because I quoted song lyrics in it "Shake it like a polaroid picture" repeatedly. It was just one line though, even if it was repeated. And I got away with part of a song with music earlier? And popular youtuber DailyGrace uses copyrighted music occasionally and doesn't credit it but she can still make money off videos like SEXY 911 PHONE CALLS. (I've seen it with and without pre-roll ads and I'm not sure if this varies from view to view or just means it is no longer monetized?) I see in the comments fights about this about copyright vs fair use and frankly I wouldn't trust a Youtube comment section as a reliable source of information even if the discussion was about how annoying Youtube comments sections are. It has taught me nothing.

The impression I get is that I clearly don't understand copyright. That or Youtube is a bit selective in what it does or doesn't allow based off how popular you are. Though it seems a bit petty to try and blame favouritism on this so I'm going to go with the very obvious and objectively true thing that: I just don't seem to get copyright. It is not as simple as I had previously believed it to be.

I don't really care that I'm not making a whole 21 cents on these videos that aren't allowed to be monetized (besides the Furby one, which would've made probably at least $8 by now probably. Wow, big bucks), but it kinda annoys me whenever I see that tiny ! symbol next to my video that goes "YOU CAN'T DO THIS!" Because there's a thing saying "Copyright strikes" and right now it's green but it kinda weighs on me this idea that all this tiny little stuff ups aren't making me look all that great... like I'm some sneaky little vlogger trying to fool Google into giving me money I don't deserve by trying to sneak little copyright things in. Mwahahaha. No. No I'm not trying to get away with making money off other people's things, I'm just not entirely clear on the differences between what I can or cannot use commercially and the fact that they don't give you a reason when they deny your monetization request doesn't help me figure it out.

Is it because they don't believe that static noise is really Creative Commons? Is Creative Commons different in US than it is in Australia? Or is there an issue with the quoting of lyrics? Is that fair use? Is it allowed under use for the purposes of critiquing or reviewing the original work? Each online institution seems to have a varying harshness to their restrictions... Should I bother to try and get my latest video monetized on principal of understanding copyright better despite it not actually making money? Hmmm.

Hmm. I wish they'd taught us more about this at Uni... I never thought I'd be so interested in properly researching Copyright law.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Wow I'm Unobservant...

As a film student/content creator on Youtube I've done my fair share of editing. I usually edit my own stuff. Editing involves reviewing the same footage over and over and over again continuously, tweaking this, tweaking that, rearranging it, watching it back to see if it flows right, wait what's wrong woops I did that bit wrong I need to tweak it some more. And so something short can take a long time to make properly and by the end you'd think I'd know the footage better than the back of my hand.

Well, sometimes yes. (Also word of advice: if you ever edit a music video... DON'T make it to a song you really enjoy because by the end you would've heard it 300 times on repeat and will loathe it.) But sometimes I miss things.

For a film I made in highschool there was a scene where the character (played by me, because I'm a man of many trades and little friends to do things for me) walks onto the road and gets hit by a car. It was the biggest thing I'd embarked on so far, took ages, required a lot of editing, and so I proudly showed it off to the class to see what they thought. The character gets hit by a car and someone goes "what happened to his jacket?"


Wait... what? Turns out there was a massive continuity error where in one shot he's wearing a jacket, and in the next he's not. Which meant I had to reshoot the scene. I somehow hadn't picked up on this despite watching it several dozen times over and over.

*face palm*

This complete lack of observance of what's actually happening in frame in the aim of making sure the footage fits properly still continues. For instance my latest youtube video I briefly mention the idea that "shaking it like a polaroid picture" is as widespread a myth as a duck's quack doesn't echo.

Problem is I said "a duck's echo doesn't quack"

...*double face palm*

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Year of Books

2012 was the year I decided to read at least one book per week on average. Not as some new years resolution sort of thing, but because I bought so many books that I now have books stacked horizontally on books, and books stacked on top of each other on my desk. I have many books and I haven't read half of them. So I'm fixing that one book a week.

I read a few John Swartzwelder books:
  • Dead Men Scare Me Stupid
  • The Exploding Detective
  • Earth vs Everybody
His writing style may seem simplistic and his characters lack depth but gosh darn they are hilarious books. He was the writer of 59 episodes of The Simpsons (more than any other writer) back in the days of classic episodes that everyone quotes and it shows why he's probably written one of your favourite classic Simpsons line. Brilliantly absurd, amazingly funny, they are instantly loveable short pieces of humour.
  • Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson
  • Crunk Juice by Steve Roggenbuck (a book of poetry, which I reread multiple times. It's funny, it's uplifting, it's strange)
  • Watchmen by Alan Moore
  • Excelsior! by Stan Lee
I read multiple Terry Pratchett Books:
  • The Last Continent
  • The Colour of Magic
  • The Light Fantastic
  • Mort
  • The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
  • Witches Abroad
The Hunger Games trilogy (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay) by Suzanne Collins. I had heard about it before and saw that it was being made into a movie so decided to read the books first so I could be adequately excited by the news. Little did I expect that they were published by Scholastic and actually written for a far younger audience. You know, books about dystopian societies about children brutally murdering each other and civil war is just the kind of thing you expect in a young teen book.
  • Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now by Andrew Jordan
  • If You're Happy and you know it... by Andre Jordan
Dark humoured or outright depressing. It jumps between the two and so becomes a heartfelt and beautiful collection of drawings that is endearing despite its simplistic style.
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
  • A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
To be honest, I really relied on the Nadsat dictionary I printed off from Wiktionary because the Nadsat is just so thick in the beginning. Though eventually I did rely on it less and less until I didn't even have to consciously think "word A means B in English" it was just reading it casually as if it was just part of my language. It was really cool this idea of conditioning the reader on how they read a book by making them learn part of a "language" in a book about conditioning someone on how to think.

Nearly EVERY JOHN GREEN BOOK EVER (that he is the sole author of).

In order of reading (I think)
  • The Fault in Our Stars
  • Looking for Alaska
  • An Abundance of Katherines
  • Paper Towns
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson (co-authored by David Levithan)
The Fault in Our Stars is my favourite book of 2012. I absolutely adore it. I read it in 2 days. It'll make you cry. Go read it now. I have yet to read Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances, which is co-authored by Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle.
  • Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
  • The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Footrot Flats 9 by Murray Ball
  • V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • Umbrella Academy: Dallas by Gerard Way
  • Spider-man J: Japanese Knights by Yamanaka Akira
  • Spider-man J: Japanese Daze by Yamanaka Akira
Spider-man manga. Brilliant. It's so corny and ridiculous.
  • Moab is my Washpot by Stephen Fry
By Tom Taylor I read:
  • Star Wars: Invasion: Revelations
  • The Deep
He's a pretty cool guy and I wish the Star Wars: Invasion series wasn't currently going nowhere because I really enjoyed reading it.
  • Torn by Andrew Constant, (art by Nicole Scott, John James)
  • The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman
  • Machine of Death by various
By Justin Randall I read both Changing Ways book 1 and 2. The artwork is just astonishing and the story intriguing. I can't wait for book 3, but considering book 2 was released this year and the art isn't really simple it'll be at least a year or two before the next one. 
  • Fight Club by Chuck Palahnuik
  • Unlikely by Jeffrey Brown
  • The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson
  • The Scott Pilgrim series (1-6) by Bryan Lee O'Malley
I love Scott Pilgrim. I decided to reread it for the 3rd or 4th time. It's amazing. I love the magic realism, the video game references, the humour, everything. It is amazing. Scott is a cheating, rude, self absorbed and delusional moocher yet he's still loveable to us. And Wallace. Oh Wallace is the best thing ever. He's seriously my favourite character.

  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Vampire Breath by R.L. Stine
Oh man the nostalgia. I don't remember reading that particular one as a kid but it's great picking up an old Goosebumps book. They're funnier than I remember and wow so short. Back as a kid that was a reasonable read, now I look at it and go "Wow. It would've even take me a couple of hours..." and the chapters are a few pages long at best! There's moments of suspense every 5 minutes, it's great.
  • Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
This book had moments where I wanted to highlight certain sentences or bookmark pages because of cool phrases or sections I enjoyed. Particularly there's one quote "peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God" that I really like. The Book of Bonokon is filled with interesting tidbits of scattered philosophy that aren't necessarily applicable to real life, but cool nonetheless. There's an odd structure to this book that isn't immediately unusual, but the chapters occasionally will end halfway through conversations. It's like they end on punchlines and the chapter was part of the set up for the "joke". Sometimes it's funny, sometimes I guess that's just a convenient spot to end. Anyway, it's an fascinating book and I do suggest you read it.
  • RoosterTeeth comics Year 3 - Griffon Ramsey
I got these at Supanova. It's signed by Burnie Burns and Gavin Free, despite neither of them really working on it, just being inspiration for some of the comics within it. Good enough.

And that's it. That's what I completed last year. Though I did nearly finish The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler and I started reading The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling, both of which are quite large so you can see why I didn't finish them.

This year I think I'll tackle Ulysses by James Joyce. Just because I can. It can't sit on my bookcase forever being ignore in favour of smaller books.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Preaching about Jesus on the Train

Train rides aren’t normally interesting. Today though, halfway towards Perth a man got up, an open bible in his hand, and stood in at the front of a row of seats. He spoke out, calling to us that he had something important to say. That’s when he began preaching about the good word of Jesus Christ and how we should all accept him into our lives. The young teens standing behind him scoffed and quietly mocked him before going back to their conversation. He ignored them as if they weren’t there and continued to speak to us.  He told us about how he is a Noongar and grew up near drugs and alcohol and how Jesus improved his life.

There was a passion to how he spoke. He was not a ranting lunatic; he did not rave or appear incoherent. This was not a hellfire and brimstone sermon like a preacher spreading the fear of God into those before him. All he wanted was to share the good word of the Lord to those who would listen and the thing is people did. There were only a few I saw before him (though I did not turn back) who turned their heads to ignore him. I was really worried that people would get offended and tell him with disdain to stop shoving his beliefs on others (though he did say he did not condemn us for our lives, but wished that we would consider how we dealt with sin) but no one did. A man who stood beside him shook his hand before leaving and he carried on. To be honest he was far more interesting of a preacher than the people at Church. He wasn’t telling people what they came here to listen to, he was there to win over hearts of non-believers and see the way he did, to see that there was glory in things through God.

As far as ways to convert people over, randomly starting to preach to a train cart is a bit unusual but I’m sure you could probably think of a stranger example. I was worried at first that people would jeer at him and try and boo him into sitting down but they didn’t. I didn’t hear any mutters of him being crazy or annoying, if people didn’t care they just didn’t listen.

I admired the man’s faith and commitment even though I didn’t agree that this was the best platform to spread his message. Although I disagreed with him as he moved through the seats I reached out to shake his hand.

As we reached Perth he told us all that if they wanted to accept Jesus they could talk to him and he’d give them a simple prayer to accept him into their lives. My journey continued on towards Murdoch station so I did not get off with him but I saw out the window that he was standing there waiting for passengers to pass him. A few that had been sitting not far from him stopped to talk to him and I was still worried he would be met with harsh words or criticism, but they seemed interested and shook his hand to congratulate him.

If you had asked me before today if anyone could start preaching on a train during the middle of the day and not got told to shut up by those around him I would’ve thought it absurd.

Getting Drunk on New Years Eve

First step is to go to a bottle shop for supplies. I'm not much of a drinker so I had my handy friend (who is younger than me) as a guide to what I might theoretically enjoy. I wish I could remember the name of the place we went to. It was this big place devoted to discount alcohol. You could get $3 wine. It was like the IGA of alcohol.

Next step is pausing to go for a swim because it's summer. The water was warm. None of that refreshingly cool getting in step by step because it's so cold sort of nonsense here. Nah, the water is just a little bit cooler than the air so is technically an improvement. My left ear got blocked up because of this. Spoilers: this is relevant to the story later on. Read on excitedly to find out how! (Then be disappointed when it isn't too amazing).

Then... onwards! To the middle of nowhere where the roads don't have curbs and just kinda fall apart into rough edges that turn into gravel or dirt and there's no street lights to show you the way if you were driving in the dark. Yep, we went into the country to get drunk. There were tents to sleep in! More on that later.

This property was huge. We explored barely a fraction of it. There was considerable space for parking near some rusted old greenhouses (well, I think they were greenhouses. They could've been sheds with the sides fallen off) that overlooked a bunch of trees that went off into the distance. Nearby was a room with flashing lights bound to cause seizures in anyone with epilepsy for the sake of dancing in. A path was paved through a garden, lit with christmassy lights and fibre optic lights, that led to the open area outside the back of the house where a karaoke machine stood playing nostalgic music from a decade ago, and some less nostalgic music from only a few years back too...

Then there was the tent area near the pool (a drink is to be taken every time the host said "no glass in the pool area", though I don't think anyone bothered with this drinking game). The odd thing was the grass squished beneath my feet, like the ground beneath it wasn't compacted at all. It was uncomfortably soft.

"It sinks when I step on it! IT MAKES ME FEEL FAT!" I yell out to whoever I was talking to at the time.

Later on, with alcohol in me, uneven ground that sinks when you step on it, and a problem with my left ear, I noticed that balancing was a gauntlet I had not prepared for! But I did not fall over. I got used to it eventually.

I didn't get as drunk as I expected myself to get. I'd brought a ridiculous amount of alcohol (vodka, red wine, white wine, margaritas, and some premixed cocktail stuff in a box because I'm classy like that) that I did not expect to get through. I think I did surprisingly well when it came to good decision making while drunk. I deliberately made sure I stopped talking to people I wasn't sure would be comfortable around me while drunk (and it's not like drunk me would pick up on that so safe bet is to let them be with closer friends), whenever I was approaching a small group of people I'd inquire if they were having a private conversation first to know if I should come join or walk away, I didn't make out with my friend who was strangely eager to do so, etc...  so good work drunk me for not being obnoxious or doing anything regrettable! Yeah!

We counted down to new years and then there were hugs constantly given to anyone nearby for the next 5 minutes.

Long story short (, it's been going on for 9 paragraphs so far) I didn't end up sleeping in the same tent I had originally planned. I had to find an alternative tent to sleep in, which ended up being Alex's. Thankfully wasn't too awkward sharing a tent with him and his girlfriend, though I wish I'd thought about bringing a pillow... I had brought a sleeping bag, but it was too hot to put it on, so I was sleeping on it with a bit of it scrunched up like a pillow but it was subpar. Everyone else was still awake and being noise so despite it being 4am, I was still awake.

It started becoming light and I realised I was still awake. I watched the sun rise on a new year...

Then collapsed and tried to freaking sleep. JUST SLEEP DAMN IT. The flies got into the tent and irritated my feet. Damn it. Sleep. Want sleep. So when it was 7am and I had woken up I wasn't sure if I felt worse because of the alcohol or the lack of sleep...

I feel good about this new year. Sure, it'll have the same problems and troubles as the last one probably, but it'll be better because I've learned a little from last time... Even though I don't believe in New Years Resolutions I know I'll find some way to try and improve myself.