How Might Copyright Threaten Free Speech? Let’s Count the Many Ways

On Techdirt recently Timothy Geigner wrote about David Newhoff’s guest posted on the blog of DC lobbyist outfit The Copyright Alliance. The crux of his argument is this: some people feel that existence of a stranger’s gay marriage threatens their own straight marriage. Similarly, some people (the “copyleft,” which is actually a type of licence, not a person or political party but I think he means people who are for a more reasonable copyright policy) feel the existence of someone’s copyright threatens free speech of others. Newhoff disagrees with both assertions, and so do I. After Techdirt wrote about his strange comparison of the issues Newhoff then responded bizarrely by promoting something cool he found on the internet to “Techdirt fans” to show he is not all “anti-Web” and stuff. He is essentially saying “Look, I don’t think copyright law can have a negative impact on free speech because I’m pro-web and I found a video about how people are helping others in the third world. And it’s on the web!” I’m sure it’s a great thing. But it is no defense of your position.

Most of the well-connected and most read people who are for copyright reform being less draconian are not making this claim that the mere existence of copyright threatens free speech. Not Mike Masnick, Lawerence Lessig, or Cory Doctorow. They all believe copyright has its place. They recognize the spirit and intent of Article I Section VIII of the Constitution. “The Congress shall have Power To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries…” For the sake of our argument it says Congress grants exclusive rights to authors since they are promoting the Progress of Science and useful Arts. They are promoting it to the public. Authors and Inventors have the exclusive rights for a limited time. Anyone with two brain cells would agree this is a fair deal. We have copyright so that we have the opportunity to do something with what we make. We can go after people who appropriate, and plagiarize. Creators have that right. After creators create they spend their “limited time” to figure out a way to get people to buy, and then people buy. That is acceptable. But that is not mentioned in the Constitution. There is no right to be paid for what you make. The market decides the value of your works. There is only the granting of an Exclusive Right. Our Founders were noble men, not capitalist maximalists. They fought the Revolutionary War against an Imperialism that was not too far off the mark from modern day capitalist extremism. Cultural wealth for the people, not monetary wealth of the few was embodied in the spirit of Article I Section VIII.

But in the last century, and increasingly in the last few decades, just like the anti-gay bigots who stretch the definition of “religious freedom,” the craftiest of middlemen (some book publishers, record labels, movie studios, TV producers and software companies) who place their lust of high profit margins above anything else have gone on to stretch the definition of “limited time.” They pay creators as little as they can get away with and then sell copies for as long as they can for as much as they can. Then these lazy, rent seeking middlemen who hate competition invest in means that allow for their tendency for greater monopoly power. In the US, since its founding, copyright terms have been extended at least 7 times. It started at 14 years with 14-year renewal. Then 28 years with 14-year renewal. Then 28 years with 28 year renewal. Then 75 years or the life of the author plus 50 years. Then they removed the requirement to renew. Then for person author life plus 70 years and for corporate authors 120 after creation or 95 years after publication. Then they retroactively extended the one that was 75 years to 95 years. Then they made it possible to have works taken down at mere accusation and put the burden of proof on the accused with no real penalty for false accusations and they made it illegal to do some things with things you legally bought know as anti-circumvention. Do you notice a pattern hear? Copyright gets longer and longer with more restrictions on making use of works by people and easier for the middlemen to implement. It is well known that Disney lobbied strongly for at least one, if not most of the extensions so that Mickey Mouse would not go into the public domain.

For most of the history of copyright, copyright made it possible for companies to licenses and then sell copies of works from other companies. But now, regular people want to make use of works. They don’t have teams of lawyers standing by to advise them on the legalities of the background music that happened to be on their YouTube video or know the complexities of licensing. And the media companies don’t even want to create an affordable licensing scheme for such use. The thing is, they shouldn’t have to, it’s fair use. People just want to share and remix, mostly in a non-commercial form, for fun. But now laws historically intended to stop or punish commercial mass reproduction is being applied to people. The people now have their own printing press, their own record press, their own ability to make film prints, and their own fleet of trucks and planes, all metaphorically, to distribute works to destinations all over the world via the internet.

One favorite assertion made by copyright maximalists is that everybody has lobbyists, not just the content lobby and that the Silicon Valley lobby showers much more money on Congress critters than the media companies. But according to my research on from 2009 to 2010, companies in the Online Computer Services sector gave $466,926 to Congress members while the Entertainment Industry/Broadcast & Motion Pictures sector gave $524,243. also breaks down other similar sectors. Cable and satellite TV production and distribution gave $934,077, TV Production and Distribution gave $224,650, Movie Theatres gave $33,050, Commercial TV and Radio Stations gave $382,000, Bands, Orchestras & other Live Music Productions gave $45,750. Now I am not going to add all of those sectors up and pit them against the Online Computer Services sector because I don’t know if the media sectors have any overlap with each other. And this is only what Congress is reporting, much is left out. But the Online Computer Services is known for not really wanting to play the “influence for money” game, and it is only recently that they have decided to play catch-up because they are the ones who are being outspent and out-influenced. I am open to being shown more evidence of this conspiracy that the Hollywood’s faith based lobby (Newhoff is an athiest, so I know this one will get to him) is outspent by the Silicon Valley’s evidence based lobby. Maybe it is outside of Congressional camping contributions.

I have counted the number of times Congress has extended copyright. Now lets count the number of ways IP law is abused. Sometimes it is to grab cash, injure competitors, or just bully, but other times it is to squash free speech. And it’s always in the name of IP.

In California we have the anti-SLAPP law (strategic lawsuit against public participation). Why? Because people with lawyers like to sue people they don’t like to make them stop what they are legally allowed to do. We have this law because clearly people like to use the legal system to bully weaker opponents. One example is Frank VanderSloot, a Romney finance co-chair who threatened bloggers with copyright infringement for mentioning VanderSloot’s political position on gay rights, of all things. His attorneys tactics included sending copyright certificate to the bloggers’ web host and suing to reveal blogger’s identities. Unfortunately, not all of his targets are in California.

Next, we take a look at a company called Bridgeport Music which forged George Clinton’s transfer of copyright to themselves solely so they can sue hip hop artists that sample George Clinton’s music. The don’t pay Clinton. They don’t represent any artist interests, they don’t make art. It is simply a way to use the legal system to grab cash. They also license music to anyone that can afford their high fees. Again, they are just copyright trolls, not musicians.

There is a entity called Lodsys that holds patents by inventors that never intended to have them used in the way they are: to sue independent mobile application developers that dare to include the “novel idea” of in-app payments. Most independent developers are one or two man entrepreneurial ventures that can’t afford to pay a license for what most software developers agree is an obvious idea. Luckily, some bigger names like Oracle and Apple are standing up to this patent troll.

Next we have the trademark toll, Monster Cable that is extracting money from just about anyone who uses the word Monster in their name from the employment website to Pixar’s film Monsters Inc. to Monster Energy Drink and most notably a small, family run business Monster Mini Golf. These products are wholly unrelated to audio, video, or power cables. But since Monster’s CEO and lawyers are bullies, they abuse their power and extract money.

Google recently released DMCA take-down filings made on behalf of rights holders. We can see patterns of abuse or neglect as well as take-downs that appear to be anti-competitive (taking a competing webpage out of Google search). Even Microsoft requested that Google take down allegedly infringing search results pages while leaving them up in its own search engine, Bing.

And lastly we have Rightshaven, a couple of lawyers who went after bloggers and news organizations who dared to make fair use quotes from the Las Vegas Review-Journal. After a series of blunders and having their operation declared illegally they were ordered to pay a defendant’s legal fees, failed, now their assets are subject to confiscation by the US Marshals Service. It’s good to see there is some justice in the world.

No one is saying copyright by itself threatens free speech. It is copyright’s mission creep aided by the middlemens’ lobbyists that are making it more difficult, expensive, and dangerous to simply create, share, invent, or be entrepreneurial. It is the potential for abuse in the name of precious copyright that has the power to threatens free speech. And when it comes down to it, free speech is more important then an artist’s right to make a living. But the pro-free speech fold are not syaing they don’t want artists to make a living. This is an extreme stretch of logic that the copyright lobby constantly makes because it sounds like such a zinger. It’s such a great sound byte. But nothing could be further from the truth. We don’t need tougher laws with more and bigger forms of oppressive punishment for violations described in TTP, ACTA, SOPA, or PIPA to keep creators employed. The eventuality of S.W.A.T. teams descending on our homes just because our kids committed a small commercial transgression is where we are headed. It has recently been shown that in North Korea the threat to one’s life for sharing contraband media is not even a deterrent. So while three strikes, financial penalties, or maybe even jail is not enough to stop behivor in the West, some will risk their lives. It’s the responsibility for the creators and middlemen to come up with a business model that works and does not create a generation of copyright hating criminals who are supposedly the creators’ customers.

The pending and horrendous Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (TPP) which would requires legal incentives for service providers to cooperate with copyright owners in deterring the unauthorized storage and transmission of copyrighted materials. This mean that for ISP and cloud storage services, when in doubt, take it down to save your own ass.

I have laid out multiple examples of ways in which bad people and bad corporation abuse the law to silence critics, attempt to profit off people who cannot afford to fight unfair suits or to discourage competition. I won’t even go into the attempts by foreign and domestic governments who try to silence or censor decent. In the last few years there has been at least one news headline a month on this topic (Occupy Wall Street, China, Egypt, Iran, Wikileaks, etc). George Orwell famously went into this scenario in its extreme form his his book 1984. Already we are seeing China and Russia squash dissenting speech by using copyright law to appease Western countries and it seems this behaviour will only get worse. So, on the topic of abusing copyright to silence speech either by governments or corporations, the pattern is clear. When governments or corporations can afford and/or get away with abusing or violating laws to protect their power positions, and there is no check on this power, they most certainly will abuse it. And it does not take a contortion of logic, a vibrant imagination, or paranoia to make this conclusion.

So summarize: copyright alone does not threaten free speech. But growing, uncheck power in the hands of a few, and in name of preventing copyright infringement is ripe for abuse by governments and corporations seeking to protect their power, influence, and money. The growing of this weapon is unwarranted and it’s wielding will not make people buy more creative works. To use a Newhoff’s favorite style of Kantian quip: His right to “protect” his works ends where my liberty begins, and I won’t get off your lawn. Good luck with your filmmaking.

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Lamar Smith: Here’s the Problem Language with Sec. 103 of SOPA

Lamar Smith, architect of SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) is on record saying:

The criticism of this bill is completely hypothetical; none of it is based in reality. Not one of the critics was able to point to any language in the bill that would in any way harm the Internet. Their accusations are simply not supported by any facts.

SOPA Section 103 (updated SOPA amendments) defines “DEDICATED TO THEFT OF U.S. PROPERTY” as an Internet site, or a portion thereof, that is a U.S.-directed site (marketed to US citizens) and is used by users within the United States (and has US customers) primarily designed or operated for the purpose of offering goods or services in a manner that engages in, enables, or facilitates a violation of:



  • the operator of the U.S.-directed site is taking, or has taken, deliberate actions to avoid confirming a high probability of the use of the U.S.-directed site to carry out acts that constitute a violation of section 501 (copyright infringement) or 1201 (circumvention of DRM) of title 17, United States Code;


  • the operator of the U.S.-directed site operates the U.S.-directed site with the object of promoting, or has promoted, its use to carry out acts that constitute a violation of section 501 (copyright infringement)
  • 1201 of title 17 (circumvention of DRM) United States Code, as shown by clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement.

Your site is “dedicated to theft of US property” if it does any of the following:

  • -is available and marketed to US visitors and sells content that infringes copyright, DRM removal tools, counterfeit goods, counterfeit goods that cause death or bodily harm, or replica goods

I think most people educated in technology can agree with the proceeding definitions with the exception of DRM removal and replicas. We have the right to use what we buy however we want. DRM not only punishes legitimate customers, but if publishers sell DRM free versions they reduce piracy. and we should have the right to buy items we know are fake (replicas) when they are not authentic, we just want to pay less for a “toy version.” If we only focus on selling of these, none of content that infringes copyright, counterfeit goods, and counterfeit goods that cause death or bodily harm, the following should not matter:

  • -is available and marketed to US visitors and posts content that infringes copyright, tells how to get DRM removal tools, tells where you can get counterfeit goods, tells where you can get counterfeit goods that cause death or bodily harm, tells where you can get replica goods
  • -is available and marketed to US visitors and allows users to post content that infringes copyright, tells where infringing contest is located, tells how to remove DRM, tells where you can get tools remove DRM, that tells where you can get counterfeit goods, tells where you can get counterfeit goods that cause death or bodily harm, and tells where you can get replica goods
  • -is available and marketed to US visitors and advertises content that infringes copyright, DRM removal tools, counterfeit goods, goods that cause death or bodily harm, and replica goods
  • -is available and marketed to US visitors and does not police user submitted content for talk about how to buy or receive content that infringes copyright, DRM removal tools, counterfeit goods, counterfeit goods that cause death or bodily harm, replica goods.

Any sites that is accused of the proceeding terms are subject to the following:

  • -your payment processors will be ordered to stop taking payments for goods and services you sell to your customers within 5 days of notice
  • -your advertisers will be ordered to stop showing ads including search ads within 5 days of notice
  • -your advertisers will be ordered to stop paying you within 5 days of notice

By allowing people to post and advertise illicit goods, we more easily find these seller and can go after them under existing laws.

Goals for those against SOPA regarding section 103:

Remove 1201 of title 17, United States Code; (circumvention of DRM) demo Sec 103 1, B, i, II. If you have rightfully purchased software, music, movies, or books, you should have the right to use it how you see fit. Otherwise, you may seek out versions that already have the DRM removed, usually for free, and then the authors will not be paid for their work.

Remove the phrase “in a manner that engages in, enables, or facilitates” from Section 103 1, B i. Talking about how or where to violate 501 title 17 or 1201 title 12 could be seen as facilitating, enabling, or engaging. But actually “offering goods or services” could be considered an offense. This will greatly limit the number of sites that fall under the dubious “dedicated” definition and will allow a greater number of innovative American startups and small businesses to operate at a lower cost and with less worry.

Remove section ii of Sec. 103 a, 1, B. This puts too much burden on service providers and will make operating innovative US business too expense. Unlike the imagined losses of rights holders (sales that never happened), innovative US small business and startups will have to spend real money censoring their users, violating the 1st Amendment along the way. A favorite GOP saying is “Guns don’t kill, people do.” Websites that follow DMCA takedown rules don’t violate section 501 (copyright infringement) or 1201 (circumvention of DRM) of title 17, United States Code, their users do.

Total rework b of section 103. It discourages foreigners from doing business and marketing goods and services to the American market. How does this square with the advocates for free trade and supposed champions of capitalism? And only 5 days to be contact? Legitimate foreign websites will only get 5 days to receive international mail? This is ridiculous.

These goals point out the worst flaws in SOPA.  The idea is to chip away at all problem areas until nothing is left.  But we need to be specific in our critique.

Update: much of this post was based on the October 2012 version of the bill. This post will soon reflect the updated version of the bill from December 12, 1011. You can see most of the differences here.

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Los Angeles Area: Your Unique Role in Defeating SOPA

California CongresswomenBy and amazing coincidence (or maybe not) there are three Congresswomen representing districts in Southern California on the House Judiciary Committee who are overseeing the direction of SOPA. Linda Sanchez of the 39th District, Maxine Waters of the 35th District, and Judy Chu of the 32nd District. As of 1/9/2012, these Congresswomen are not scheduled to attend any town hall meetings or city council meetings according to their offices. However, if you live in their districts, you can call them and express your concerns, or better yet, ask if they would be willing to attend a town hall meeting as Public Knowledge has suggested. Let them know that SOPA support is becoming a political issue being used by challengers to their Congressional seats. And for general news on SOPA check out Techdirt and Reddit.

Judy Chu
District Office
4401 Santa Anita Avenue, Suite 201
El Monte, CA 91731
Phone: (626) 448-1271
Fax: (626) 448-8062
Twitter: @RepJudyChu
District includes: Azusa, Baldwin Park, City Terrace, Covina, Duarte, East LA, El Monte, El Sereno, Irwindale, Monterey Park, Rosemead, South El Monte, West Covina
2011 Campaign Contributions by the TV/Movies/Music industries: $6,750

Maxine Waters
District Office
10124 South Broadway, Suite 1
Los Angeles, CA 90003
Phone: (323) 757-8900
Fax: (323) 757-9506
Twitter: @maxinewaters
District includes: South Central Los Angeles, Westchester, Playa del Rey, Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood and Lawndale.
2011 Campaign Contributions by the TV/Movies/Music industries: $12,000

Linda Sanchez
District Office
17906 Crusader Ave
Ste. 100
Cerritos, CA 90703
Phone: (562) 860-5050
Fax: (562) 924-2914
Twitter: @RepLindaSanchez
District includes: Cerritos, Hawaiian Gardens, Cerritos, Lakewood, La Mirada, Whitter, South Whittier, Paramount, Compton, Lynwood, South Gate, Bellflower
2011 Campaign Contributions by the TV/Movies/Music industries: $18,500

Chu has gone on record via Twitter as a “proud cosponsor” SOPA. However, TV/Movies/Music industries have donated the least amount to fund her future political endeavors compared to the other two congresswomen, so she may be the easiest to sway. Linda Sanchez is also part of the Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet Judiciary Subcommittee. I phoned the offices of these three Congresswoman and Sanchez’s people seemed the most interested in hearing from constituents.

Howard BermanAnd yes, missing from this list of Congresspeople on the HJC with a district in SoCal is Howard Berman. I don’t expect we can change his mind since he has been trying to get laws like this passed at least as far back as 2002 when Berman was working on a bill that would immunize Hollywood from hacking your computer to see if you were file sharing. Luckily we fought that off and we will also fight off SOPA and PIPA.
2011 Campaign Contributions by the TV/Movies/Music industries: $183,460 (they are his number one contributor).

Howard L. Berman
14546 Hamlin Street, Suite 202
Van Nuys, CA 91411
Phone: (818) 994-7200
Fax: (818) 994-1050
Twitter: @rephowardberman
District includes: San Fernando, Pacoima, Arleta, Panorama City, Sylmar, North Hollywood, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, Studio City.

Southern California can help save the internet. We need your help.

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Against PROTECT IP Act: List of People and Orgs

A counterweight to this garbage.

Update 9/8/2011 141 Internet Entrepreneurs

108 Intellectual Propery Law Professors
Professor John R. Allison McCombs School of Business University of Texas at Austin
Professor Brook K. Baker Northeastern University School of Law
Professor Derek E. Bambauer Brooklyn Law School
Professor Margreth Barrett Hastings College of Law University of California, San Francisco
Professor Mark Bartholomew University at Buffalo Law School
Professor Ann M. Bartow Pace Law School
Professor Marsha Baum University of New Mexico School of Law
Professor Yochai Benkler Harvard Law School
Professor Oren Bracha University of Texas School of Law
Professor Annemarie Bridy University of Idaho College of Law
Professor Dan L. Burk University of California-Irvine School of Law
Professor Irene Calboli Marquette University School of Law
Professor Adam Candeub Michigan State University College of Law
Professor Michael Carrier Rutgers Law School – Camden
Professor Michael W. Carroll Washington College of Law American University
Professor Brian W. Carver School of Information University of California-Berkeley
Professor Anupam Chander University of California-Davis School of Law
Professor Andrew Chin University of North Carolina School of Law
Professor Ralph D. Clifford University of Massachusetts School of Law
Professor Julie E. Cohen Georgetown University Law Center
Professor G. Marcus Cole Stanford Law School
Professor Kevin Collins Washington University-St. Louis School of Law
Professor Danielle M. Conway University of Hawai’i Richardson School of Law
Professor Dennis S. Corgill St. Thomas University School of Law
Professor Christopher A. Cotropia University of Richmond School of Law
Professor Thomas Cotter University of Minnesota School of Law
Professor Julie Cromer Young Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Professor Ben Depoorter Hastings College of Law University of California – San Francisco
Professor Eric B. Easton University of Baltimore School of Law
Anthony Falzone Director, Fair Use Project Stanford Law School
Professor Nita Farahany, Vanderbilt Law School
Professor Thomas G. Field, Jr. University of New Hampshire School of Law
Professor Sean Flynn Washington College of Law American University
Professor Brett M. Frischmann Cardozo Law School Yeshiva University
Professor Jeanne C. Fromer Fordham Law School
Professor William T. Gallagher Golden Gate University School of Law
Professor Laura N. Gasaway University of North Carolina School of Law
Professor Deborah Gerhardt University of North Carolina School of Law
Professor Llew Gibbons University of Toledo College of Law
Professor Eric Goldman Santa Clara University School of Law
Professor Marc Greenberg Golden Gate University School of Law
Professor James Grimmelman New York Law School
Professor Leah Chan Grinvald St. Louis University School of Law
Professor Richard Gruner John Marshall Law School
Professor Bronwyn H. Hall Haas School of Business University of California at Berkeley
Professor Robert A. Heverly Albany Law School Union University
Professor Laura A. Heymann Marshall-Wythe School of Law College of William & Mary
Professor Herbert Hovenkamp University of Iowa College of Law
Professor Dan Hunter New York Law School
Professor David R. Johnson New York Law School
Professor Faye E. Jones Florida State University College of Law
Professor Amy Kapczynski University of California-Berkeley Law School
Professor Dennis S. Karjala Arizona State University College of Law
Professor Anne Klinefelter University of North Carolina College of Law
Professor Mary LaFrance William Boyd Law School University of Nevada – Las Vegas
Professor Amy L. Landers McGeorge Law School University of the Pacific
Professor Mark Lemley Stanford Law School
Professor Lawrence Lessig Harvard Law School
Professor David S. Levine Elon University School of Law
Professor Yvette Joy Liebesman St. Louis University School of Law
Professor Lydia Pallas Loren Lewis & Clark Law School
Professor Michael J. Madison University of Pittsburgh School of Law
Professor Gregory P. Magarian Washington University-St. Louis School of Law
Professor Phil Malone Harvard Law School
Professor Christian E. Mammen, Hastings College of Law University of California-San Francisco
Professor Jonathan Masur University of Chicago Law School
Professor Andrea Matwyshyn Wharton School of Business University of Pennsylvania
Professor J. Thomas McCarthy University of San Francisco School of Law
Professor William McGeveran University of Minnesota Law School
Professor Stephen McJohn Suffolk University Law School
Professor Mark P. McKenna Notre Dame Law School
Professor Hiram Melendez-Juarbe University of Puerto Rico School of Law
Professor Viva Moffat University of Denver College of Law
Professor Ira Nathenson St. Thomas University School of Law
Professor Tyler T. Ochoa Santa Clara University School of Law
Professor David S. Olson Boston College Law School
Professor Barak Y. Orbach University of Arizona College of Law
Professor Kristen Osenga University of Richmond School of Law
Professor Aaron Perzanowski Wayne State University Law School
Malla Pollack Co-author, Callman on Trademarks, Unfair Competition, and Monopolies
Professor David G. Post Temple University School of Law
Professor Connie Davis Powell Baylor University School of Law
Professor Margaret Jane Radin University of Michigan Law School
Professor Glenn Reynolds University of Tennessee Law School
Professor David A. Rice Roger Williams University School of Law
Professor Neil Richards Washington University-St. Louis School of Law
Professor Michael Risch Villanova Law School
Professor Betsy Rosenblatt Whittier Law School
Professor Matthew Sag Loyola University-Chicago School of Law
Professor Pamela Samuelson University of California-Berkeley Law School
Professor Sharon K. Sandeen Hamline University School of Law
Professor Jason M. Schultz UC Berkeley Law School
Professor Jeremy Sheff St. John’s University School of Law
Professor Jessica Silbey Suffolk University Law School
Professor Brenda M. Simon Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Professor David E. Sorkin John Marshall Law School
Professor Christopher Jon Sprigman University of Virginia School of Law
Professor Katherine J. Strandburg NYU Law School
Professor Madhavi Sunder University of California-Davis School of Law
Professor Rebecca Tushnet Georgetown University Law Center
Professor Deborah Tussey Oklahoma City University School of Law
Professor Barbara van Schewick Stanford Law School
Professor Eugene Volokh UCLA School of Law
Professor Sarah K. Wiant William & Mary Law School
Professor Darryl C. Wilson Stetson University College of Law
Professor Jane K. Winn University of Washington School of Law
Professor Peter K. Yu Drake University Law School
Professor Tim Zick William & Mary Law School

56 VCs
Marc Andreessen, Andreessen Horowitz
Brady Bohrmann, Avalon Ventures
John Borthwick, Betaworks
Mike Brown, Jr., AOL Ventures
Brad Burnham, Union Square Ventures
Jeffrey Bussgang, Flybridge Capital Partners
John Buttrick, Union Square Ventures
Randy Castleman, Court Square Ventures
Tony Conrad, True Ventures
Ron Conway, SV Angel
Chris Dixon, Founder Collective
Bill Draper, Draper Richards
Esther Dyson, EDventure Holdings
Roger Ehrenberg, IA Ventures
Brad Feld, Foundry Group
Peter Fenton, Benchmark Capital
Ron Fisher, Softbank Capital
Chris Fralic, First Round Capital
David Frankel, Founder Collective
Ric Fulop, North Bridge
Brad Gillespie, IA Ventures
Allen “Pete” Grum, Rand Capital
Chip Hazard, Flybridge Capital Partners
Rick Heitzmann, FirstMark Capital
Eric Hippeau, Lerer Ventures
Reid Hoffman, Greylock Partners
Ben Horowitz, Andreessen Horowitz
Rob Hutter, Learn Capital
Mark Jacobsen, OATV
Amish Jani, First Mark Capital
Brian Kempner, First Mark Capital
Vinod Khosla, Khosla Ventures
Josh Kopelman, First Round Capital
David Lee, SV Angel
Lawrence Lenihan, FirstMark Capital
Kenneth Lerer, Lerer Ventures
Jordan Levy, Softbank Capital
Greg Mauro, Learn Capital
Jason Mendelson, Foundry Group
R. Ann Miura-Ko, Floodgate
Howard Morgan, First Round Capital
John O’Farrell, Andreessen Horowitz
Tim O’Reilly, OATV
David Pakman, Venrock
Eric Paley, Founder Collective
Alan Patricof, Greycroft Partners
Danny Rimer, Index Ventures
Neil Rimer, Index Ventures
Bryce Roberts, OATV
Bijan Sabet, Spark Capital
David Sze, Greylock Partners
Andrew Weissman, Betaworks
Albert Wenger, Union Square Ventures
Eric Wiesen, RRE Ventures
Fred Wilson, Union Square Ventures
Katarina Fake source

14 Public Interests Groups
American Association of Law Libraries
Association of College and Research Libraries
American Library Association
Association of Research Libraries
Center for Democracy and Technology
Demand Progress
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Human Rights Watch
Rebecca MacKinnon, Bernard Schwartz Senior Fellow, New America Foundation
Public Knowledge
Reporters sans frontières / Reporters Without Borders
Special Libraries Association

4 Trade Groups
Computer & Communications Industry Association source
Government Accountability Office source
Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry source
Industry Canada source

3 News Organizations
Los Angeles Times
New York Times
AdAge source

5 Internet Infrastructure Technologists
Paul Vixie
Danny McPherson
Dan Kaminsky
David Dagon
Steve Crocker

2 US Congress
Rep. Ron Wyden source

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren source

US Presidential Candidates
Gary Johnson source

141 Internet Entrepreneurs
Jonathan Abrams, Nuzzel, Founders Den, Socializr, Friendster, HotLinks
Asheesh Advani, Covestor, Virgin Money USA, CircleLending
David Albert, Hackruiter
Will Aldrich, SurveyMonkey, TripIt, Yahoo
Courtland Allen, Syphir, Tyrant
Jean Aw, NOTCOT Inc.
Andy Baio, Upcoming, Kickstarter
Edward Baker,
Jonathan Baudanza,, Rupture
Katia Beauchamp, Birchbox
Idan Beck, Incident Technologies
Matthew Bellows, Yesware Inc., WGR Media
David Berger, XL Marketing, Caridian Marketing Labs
Nicholas Bergson-Shilcock, Hackruiter
Ted Blackman, Course Zero Automation, Motion Arcade
Matthew Blumbergm, MovieFone, ReturnPath
Nic Borg, Edmodo
Bruce Bower, Plastic Jungle, Blackhawk Network, Reactrix, Soliloquy Learning, ZapMe! Corporation, YES! Entertainment
Josh Buckley, MinoMonsters
John Buckman, Lyris, Magnatune, BookMooch
Justin Cannon, Lingt Language, EveryArt
Teck Chia, OpenAppMkt, Omigosh LLC,
Michael Clouser, iLoding, Market Diligence, CEO Research, New Era Strategies
Zach Coelius, Triggit, Votes For Students, Coelius Enterprises
John Collison, Stripe
Ben Congleton, Olark, Nethernet
Dave Copps, PureDiscovery, Engenium
Jon Crawford, Storenvy
Dennis Crowley, Foursquare, Dodgeball
Angus Davis, Swipely, Tellme
Eric DeMenthon,
Steve DeWald, Proper Suit, Data Marketplace, Maggwire
Chad Dickerson, Etsy
Suhail Doshi, Mixpanel
Natalie Downe, Lanyrd Inc.
Nick Ducoff, Infochimps
Jennifer Dulski, The Dealmap
Rod Ebrahimi, ReadyForZero, DirectHost
Chas Edwards, Luminate, Digg, Federated Media, MySimon
David Federlein, Fowlsound Productions, Soapbox Coffee, Inc.
Mark Fletcher, ONElist, Bloglines
Andrew Fong, Kirkland North
Tom Frangione, Simply Continuous, Telphia
Brian Frank, Live Colony
Ken Fromm, Vivid Studios, Loomia,
Nasser Gaemi, BigDates, ASAM International
Matt Galligan, SimpleGeo, SocialThing
Zachary Garbow, Funeral Innovations
Jud Gardner, Comprehend Systems
Christopher Golda, BackType
Eyal Goldwerger, TargetSpot, XMPie, WhenU, GoCargo
Jude Gomila, Heyzap
Jeremy Gordon, Department of Behavior and Logic, Secret Level, MagicArts
Steve Greenwood,
James Gross, Percolate, Federated Media
Sean Grove, Bushido, Inc.
Anupam Gupta, Mixpo
Mike Hagan, LifeShield, Verticalnet, Nutrisystem
Tony Haile, Chartbeat,
Jared Hansen, Breezy
Scott Heiferman, Meetup, Fotolog
Eva Ho, Factual, Navigating Cancer, Applied Semantics
Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn, Paypal, Socialnet, Investor in many more, including Facebook, Zynga & GroupOn
Ben Ifeld, Macer Media
Jason Jacobs, FitnessKeeper
Daniel James, Three Rings Design
David Jilk, Standing Cloud, eCortex, Xaffire
Noah Kagan, Appsumo, GetGambit
Jon Karl, iovation, ieLogic
Michael Karnjanaprakorn, Skillshare
Bryan Kennedy,, AppNinjas, Xobni, Pairwise
Derek Kerton, Kerton Group, Telecom Council of Silicon Valley
David Kidder, Clickable, SmartRay Network, THINK New Ideas, Net-X
Eric Koger, ModCloth
Kitty Kolding, elicit, House Party, Jupiter
Pete Koomen, Optimizely, CarrotSticks
Brian Krausz, GazeHawk
Amit Kumar, Socialscope
Ryan Lackey, HavenCo, Blue Iraq, Cryptoseal
Jeff Lawson, Twilio, Nine Star, Stubhub, Versity
Peter Lehrman, AxialMarket, Gerson Lehrman Group
Michael Levit,, Redbooth, Spigot, Founders Den
Michael Lewis, Stellar Semiconductor, Cryptic Studios
Marissa Louie, Ness Computing, HeroEX, AD-Village
Eric Marcoullier, OneTrueFan, Gnip, MyBlogLog, IGN
Michael Masnick, Floor64
Jordan Mendelson, SeatMe, Heavy Electrons, SNOCAP, Web Services Inc
Dwight Merriman, DoubleClick, BusinessInsider, Gilt Groupe, 10gen
Scott Milliken,
Michael Montano, BackType
Dave Morgan, Simulmedia, TACODA, Real Media
Zac Morris, Caffeinated Mind Inc.
Rick Morrison, Comprehend Systems
Darren Nix, Silver Financial
Jeff Nolan, GetSatisfaction, NewsGator, Teqlo, Investor in many more
Tim O’Reilly, O’Reilly Media, Safari Books Online, Collabnet, Investor in many more
Michael Ossareh, Heysan
Gagan Palrecha, Chirply, Zattoo, Sennari
Scott Petry, Authentic8, Postini
Mark Pincus, Zynga, Tribe Networks, SupportSoft, FreeLoader
Chris Poole, 4chan, Canvas
Jon Pospischil, PowerSportsStore, AppMentor, FoodTrux, Custora
Jeff Powers, Occipital
Jeff Pulver, 140Conf,, Vonage, Free World Dialup, VON Coalition, Vivox
Scott Rafer, Omniar, Lookery, MyBlogLog, Feedster, Fresher, Fotonation, Torque Systems
Vikas Reddy, Occipital
Michael Robertson,,, Gizmo5, Linspire,
Ian Rogers, TopSpin, MediaCode, FISTFULAYEN, NullSoft/AOL, Yahoo! Music
Avner Ronen, Boxee, Odigo
Zack Rosen, ChapterThree, MissionBicycle, GetPantheon
Oliver Roup, VigLink
Slava Rubin, IndieGoGo
David Rusenko, Weebly
Arram Sabeti, ZeroCater
Peter Schmidt, Midnight Networks, NorthStar Internetworking, Burning Blue Aviation, New England Free Skies Association, Lifting Mind, Analog Devices, Teradyne, Ipanema Technologies, Linear Air
Geoff Schmidt, Tuneprint, MixApp, Honeycomb Guide
Sam Shank, HotelTonight, DealBase, SideStep, TravelPost
Upendra Shardanand, Daylife, The Accelerator Group, Firefly Network
Emmett Shear,
Pete Sheinbaum, LinkSmart, DailyCandy,,
Chris Shipley, Guidewire Group
Adi Sideman, Oddcast, Ksolo Karaoke, TargetSpot, YouNow
Chris Sims, Agile Learning Labs
Dan Siroker, Optimizely, CarrotSticks
Rich Skrenta, Blekko, Topix, NewHoo
Bostjan Spetic, Zemanta
Joel Spolsky, StackExchange, Fog Creek Software
Josh Stansfied, Incident Technologies
Mike Tatum, Whiskey Media,, CNET
Khoi Vinh, Lascaux,, Behavior Design
Joseph Walla, HelloFax
Brian Walsh, Castfire, Three Deep
David Weekly, PBWorks
Evan Williams, Blogger, Twitter, Obvious
Holmes Wilson, Worcester LLC, Participatory Culture Foundation
Pierre-R Wolff, DataWorks, E-coSearch, AdPassage, Impulse! Buy Network, Kinecta, Impermium, First Virtual Holdings, Revere Data, Tribe Networks
Dennis Yang, Infochimps, Floor64, CNET, mySimon
Chris Yeh, PBWorks, Ustream, Symphoniq
Kevin Zettler, Bushido, Inc.
Eric Schmidt, Google Inc. source

Corrections or additions? Leave it in the comments or tweet me at @nsputnik with #PROTECTIP hashtag.

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How to View/Download Blocked Videos on YouTube

You may come across a link from time to time on YouTube where there is a notice that the video has been removed by a rights holder. It looks like the homepage but the notice will appear in a red box along the top of the window. It turns out that these videos are usually just blocked geographically, where a rights-holder in that country has complained. This means it may be viewable in other countries.

You might be curious about what the video contained if it was not just your typical major movie, TV, clip or music video. Sometimes it is a news report or original reporting that contains a fair use clips and a false DMCA takedown has been issued to censor the clip like the recent report about a child being groped by the TSA “for the greater good” (this uploading of the clip has not been removed, others have). Well, there is a way to watch the video.

It is not only possible to watch banned videos on YouTube, but it is also possible to download any video. The ability to watch, download and then share banned videos may be of particular interests to people living under repressive regimes, reporters, and others. Here is how you do it:

Tor allows you to bounce your web traffic of a volunteer’s server in another country. In our case this is useful in disguising our real location from YouTube’s servers. Tor is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems. Vidalia is a Tor application that will work with the Torbutton add-on for Firefox. This will allow you to access videos through Firefox. In order to use Torbutton you must also use Vidalia. Or, you can use Tor Browser which is Vidalia along with a version of Firefox with Torbutton already installed. You will want to use Firefox anyway since this is also how you would download the video (more on this below). You might not want to use Tor for all of your browsing since it makes it a little slower and make websites appear in other languages. However, some people do use it for all of their browsing out of privacy concerns.

When you find a page that has a link to a YouTube video on a Google search or on a blog, and it is not available because of a violation, click the back button, fire up Vidalia, turn on Tor browsing with the Torbutton, and go to the link again. Now it may not be viewable, but if you do not get the message in red (which may be in another language), you are still good. If you still get the message, click the button Use a New Identity in Vidalia and then stop and restart Tor, and visit the link again. You may need to do this several times until you are linked to a Tor node who’s country YouTube has not blocked for this particular video (ie, a country that does not have a company operating inside it with supposed distribution rights). Refreshing will not work since YouTube redirects you to a new URL stating the video has been blocked. I do it by copying and pasting the link after each reconnect. Note that this will not work for videos that have been deleted by the user, only where the video is being blocked geographically. It will also not work when the entire domain has been blocked by a country.

Now that you at least have the video’s frame appearing as pictured above, you can download it. Use the Firefox Add-on called Download YouTube Videos as MP4 (screenshot below). This makes a download menu appear below the video. Sometimes YouTube download scripts like this one stop working because YouTube may change something on their end that does not make this possible anymore. Hopefully there will be an update for the add-on soon after this happens. Otherwise, just do a search for: [download youtube video firefox] to find the latest working add-on or script.

You can’t expect everyone to jump through the hoops you did to get it to play. Now that you have downloaded the video, you may want to upload and share it on a less popular video sharing site or file hosting site so it is not as visible to rights holders or repressive regimes (which are the same thing, sometimes), but still embed it on your blog.

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A Look at the Features in Apple iTunes 10’s Ping

I have spent a day with Apple iTunes 10 new feature called Ping, a social network. The day of the announcement and before it was available for download there was a lot of speculation about what experience it might offer to music fans. It seems to be only a slight improvement on the iTunes Music Store review and ratings system. You need to download iTunes 10 from here, since as of yesterday (9/1/2010) iTunes 9.2.1 was not showing there was a new version in the Check for Update menu. But it may be working now.

Ping is a social network built into the iTunes Music Store. If you have an iTunes account you can have a Ping account. People enter their real name. You can follow other users, and user can follow you as are the functions of Twitter, unlike a reciprocal friend-type system in Facebook. You can follow me on Ping here.

You can opt to have people not follow you or make them get your permission before they can follow you. At launched there were a dozen or so artists profiles from bands like U2, Coldplay, Jack Johnson, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Rick Ruben along with tastemakers like KCRW dj Jason Bentley and music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas.

For your profile photo Ping automatically pulls your existing photo form your iChat profile if you have one, or will allow you take a new photo from your webcam similar to Photo Booth, or just upload a new photo. On the night of the launch 9/1/2010 photos where taking a long time to appear. I am not sure if they needed to be approved manually or if the servers were having a problem keeping up. You can write a bio about yourself, but links are not clickable.

You can feature up to 10 tracks on your profile. They are represented as album covers in the upper right corner of your profile.
When a user clicks on an album cover it launches a preview player containing all of the songs on that album. This means you can only feature songs that exist in iTMS. I buy a lot of songs on Amazon MP3, Bleep, and Boomkat and use iTunes as a last resort.

The key means of interacting with friends in the social media sense in Ping is to go to the iTunes Music Store (iTMS), find an album or track you like, and then “like” or “post” them by clicking on the black triangle button next to an album or track’s buy button, or buy an album or track. These actions show up in your profile and the public timeline of your followers. When you like an album or track, it simply states this in your timeline and shows a buy link, along with the ability for others to like or post your like or post (yes, so meta). In a Post you can add a bit of text that will appear with the link to a track or album. Along with like and post you can gift it to a friend, add to your wishlist, tell a friend, copy the link for use on the web, and share on Facebook or Twitter. Of these actions only post and like will be shown to your followers. You can also like your own posts and post other users or artists posts and likes, even if you don’t follow them or they don’t follow you.

On artist pages in the iTMS some artists have a Concerts directory which will tell you about the concerts near you (probably based on your account info) and all other concerts by this artists and let you declare that you are going to a particular concert (a feature in, MySpace, and iLike) and a “Find Tickets” link that opens to the Ticketmaster page on your default web browser. Declaring you will go will be displayed to your followers.

You can comment on or like that a friend or any other user has added new friends. You can comment on posts by artists you do not follow.

For Podcasts, Audiobooks, the App Store, TV Shows, Movies, and iTunes U you can share on Facebook and Twitter, gift, tell a friend, and add to your wishlist but you cannot post or like. At one point on the night of the launch there was a Facebook connect button. When clicked, it prompted me to enter my Facebook username and password and it seemed to connect but it failed to bring in my friends. It was revealed by Steve Jobs that this function was not working because Apple did not agree to Facebook’s terms. Since then the Facebook connect button has been removed. It turns out Ping was Being blocked by Facebook.

There is a lot of speculation as to whether Ping is a MySpace killer or a killer. It is neither. For now Apple decides which artists they want to feature with a Ping artists profile. On MySpace and, Bandcamp, etc any artists can feature their own music on their profile. Artists can still promote their music if it is in the iTMS with a regular Ping user account. The only difference is the absence of a Like and Post button on the artist profile. I don’t know if this will mean a spike in TuneCore accounts for artists to get their music on iTunes (update 9/16/2010 TuneCore announces Ping artist account integration). There were reports that Apple was going to extend song previews to 60 seconds, but the music publishers did not yet grant permission. Meanwhile you can hear entire songs at MySpace and watch music videos on YouTube for free. You can use to post an entire track streaming on your timeline. Unlike’s core function, Ping does nothing with the songs that you play in iTunes.

No music that has not been released yet is ever going to break on Ping.

If no new features are added to Ping in the next month I think it will be like the next Google Buzz. It is a techno-distraction and not necessary when people are already accustomed to sharing things in other ways. I think the best implementation of social music is still You can friend me on here and check out my artists profile here.

Update: 9/21/2010 Apple was in talks with Facebook for 18 months in trying to come to terms with a more elegant solution, Ping as a Facebook app, perhaps. But they could not come to an agreement, probably because Facebook was asking for too much, aka the “onerous terms” mentioned by Jobs.

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N.Sputnik Music

N.Sputnik logoLast month I launched my music site at where I provide downloads and streams of my original music, video, photos, news about live shows, and other media related to my music. Being a marketer and also an observer of emerging music business strategies, especially for DIY musicians, I am very excited about the coming experiments I have planned.

At this time I have two tracks available, Space Hop and Clinopyroxene. Both are licensed under Creative Commons 3.0 and are available for free download.

My last excursions into music resulted in the placement in a film, 2007’s Loaded with my drum and bass song The Vibe. This was preceded by many years of drum and bass production, where tracks were given to a few DJ friends who would occasionally play the tracks in their sets in clubs, internet radio, or pre-recorded DJ mixes. This was all prior to being enlightened by the promotional power of the internet, that it is better to give your songs away far and wide so as many people as possible could hear them. 10 years ago we (Mario and I) did have tracks on available for streaming. But like many artists that had streams available, we did not create a way to connect with fans or a plan to sell anything other than CDs. It was all about earning scene cred. The worldwide drum and bass scene is even smaller today, as the sound stagnated and most producers moved to electro or dubstep. Neither of these styles are that appealing to me.
live electronic music
This new project is downtempo, ambient, IDM flavored tracks inspired by artists like Boards of Canada, Bibio, Broadcast, Scorn, Autechre, Portishead, and Leyland Kirby. I am also drawing inspiration (as some of the above artists do) from the dated and decaying sounds of 60’s and 70’s sci-fi TV and film scores, PSA/educational film scores, The BBC Radiophonic Workshop, retrofuturism, dub, and ambient. While some influences try to sound ultra modern or as if they were made 40 years ago, my goal is to blend the two into unclassifiable territory.

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Beginning Web Development on the Mac Today: most of what you need to know and download

I first started messing around with HTML in DreamWeaver and Claris Home Page around 1999 to put up my own music website. But it was not until the last couple years that I updated my skills and capabilities in web development. I would like to share what I have learned.


First, you will need hosting. I use Host Gator‘s $10 a month plan. They have a custom implementation of CPanel, so it is really easy to add a domain, install and upgrade dozens of popular free and open source web apps like WordPress or Drupal with just a couple of clicks with Fantastico. It includes the LAMP stack (Linux OS, Apache web server, MySQL database, and PHP) which any worthwhile web hosting is going to provide, as well as Ruby on Rails. phpMyAdmin is also in important app that your hosting provider should have installed so you can easily manipulate, import, and export a MySQL databases without having to know sql query language.


If you are not ready to up a website, that is fine. You can experiment with web development on your Mac. However, to match the functionality of a $10 a month web host, there are a lot of things you have to do first. Mac OS 10.5 includes PHP and Apache, you just need to turn them ob by editing some hidden files. Then you need to install MySQL. These steps can be a little daunting. And running these platforms natively on the Mac also requires some command lines (aka the Terminal app) which I don’t know much about (and when I am ready to learn I will probably get this book). Or, you could avoid all of this and use MAMP. It is Apache, MySQL, and PHP all running in one app, with MacOS (not Linix, but very similar) running as the OS, and a control panel to adjust functions instead of command lines. You can try MAMP out for free for a month, then buy it for $60. This will let you run apps like WordPress on your Mac while you do things like edit CSS themes or experiment with WordPress plugins. You can see what the pages will look like by visiting http://localhost:8888 in your browser.


I do not know much about PHP yet, but I am able to do everything mentioned in this post without basic PHP or MySQL knowledge, since most of the apps I run were developed by someone else. I am just using them. Just because you can’t rebuild a car’s engine does not mean you can’t drive it or change a tire. But soon, I will get the book PHP and MySQL from O’Reilly’s Head First series, and I recommend it to anyone else who wants to go just a little further than the basics I am covering here.

Most data-driven web apps in PHP (blogs, wikis, mailing lists) need to connect to a MySQL database. Databases have:

  • a host address
    • usually it is “localhost” which is a MySQL database on the same server
    • or a domain name
    • or an IP address
  • a database name
  • a username for the database
  • a password

If you are not using an automated script like Fantastico to install your apps, you will need to create the database in your hosting provider’s control panel. You also need to make the user, and then assign the user to the database.

Next, (unless your are using the same automated script) you will need to configure the app to connect to the database. This is usually done by editing a file called config.php, settings.php, or database.php. If one of the pieces of info is wrong, the app will usually give you an error message. You can edit this on your server or before you upload it (more on this below). There are always install instructions that are included with these apps.


Sometimes, you might not have access to the control panel and phpMyAdmin for a web hosting provider you might come across, like one you are migrating a blog from. In this case, you will need a database client like SequalPro. It offers some of the same functions as phpMyAdmin, but it lives on your Mac, accessing a database on a web server. It is free, but you can make a donation to the author.


Cascading Style Sheets are what tell browsers how to make a page look. CSS files contain info on what fonts, graphic boxes, and colors to use, and how and where on the page they should be displayed. CSS allows you to easily change themes in WordPress, or easily make something ugly on a MySpace profile. CSS Garden is a good place to start, but I think the best way to learn is to experiment with hacking WordPress themes (more on this later). When you make edits to a CSS file you need to hit Refresh in your browser to see what the changes look like. It is also good to do this in more than on type of browser when you are finalizing your design. To make some killer designs, you will need Photoshop to edit image files, but you can get by with Gimp for free. Since IE6, IE7, and IE8 render CSS differently than Firefox and the other compliant browsers such as Opera, Safari, and Chrome, get familiar with IE’s conditional CSS comments.


Almost all web files are text files, but with an extension so that browsers and servers know what to do with them (like .html, .php, .xml). So, you can edit most of these files with a text editor. The best free text editor for the Mac is TextWrangler. It will color code the different parts of your code so that you know which parts are marked up properly. There is a more feature-rich text editor, BBEdit, offered by the same company.

Transmit and FTP

In order to get files to your server, you need an FTP app (file transfer protocol) to upload files to your site. When you buy hosting, you will need to provide a domain name (which you can buy from a registrar like GoDaddy). The registrar will give you a DNS address. You need to put this address into your hosting provider’s control panel. This will allow you to connect to your server via FTP. In your FTP app, you will need to enter

  • a nickname for the ftp account access
  • your ftp address (sometimes
  • username
  • password

Once you are logged in, you can edit and upload text files, photos, mp3, etc.

A lot of Mac users Cyberduck for FTP, since it is free. But I like Trasnmit since the navigation is more Mac-like. You can open files on your server in Trasmit, edit them with TextWrangler, and save them back to the server. The experience is just like editing a file on your computer locally. Command-S saves the file to your server. You can run the demo version for about a month and then buy it for $30.

Firefox and add-ons

If you are only using Safari, you should start using Firefox for web development. You can still test in Safari, but Firefox will be one of your main tools. Since it is open source, it constantly being updated so that newly discovered bugs and be fixed, and so that new web standards can be implemented. There are many plugins available for it that make it easy for development. Firebug lets to see the CSS of an element of a page just by clicking on it, and let’s you change values (font size, colors, widths and heights, padding and margins) on the fly to see what the change looks like. Then you go into you text file and edit in the changes. You can also turn off any CSS property and instantly see what change this makes visually. This is really great when you are trying to edit a page behavior and you can’t figure out what is causing it, you can just start turning off properties. You can see page load times, and see which files are taking the longest time to load. Web Developer is a toolbar that re-sizes your browser to typical sizes that most people use, disable java script or caching, display image paths and dimensions, and a number of other things. If you are a visual person like I am, and need help visualizing divs within divs, you might like the View Source Chart plugin.


Mac OS is great, but the one thing it does not do is run Internet Explorer 6/7/8 for Windows, each of which has bugs that make pages look and behave differently than Firefox. At this time Windows XP is running on 68% of the computers that access the web. But, if you have an Intel Mac and a Windows XP CD-ROM, you can run Parallels and install Windows XP. This is better than running BootCamp, since you can use Mac OS and Windows at the same time. Parallels runs Windows in its own app. Strip down the Windows installs so they do not bog down your Mac too much. You can run the full-featured demo version of Parallels for about a month, and then buy it for $80.

Each version of Internet Explorer makes changes to the Windows OS. Therefore, it is not possible to run more than one version of Windows on one virtual machine. You will want to have a virtual machine for each version of IE. That is fine, since there is no limit to the number of virtual machines that Parallels will let you have installed, and at no additional cost. This does mean you will need to install Windows at least 3 times within Parallels. On my first machine I have IE6 (this comes with Windows XP) and Netscape Navigator (just for kicks), and Multiples, an app that lets you run IE3, IE4.01, IE5, IE5.5, and IE6 all on the same machine and keep all of their quirks. On my second virtual Windows machine I have IE7, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari and Flock. The rendering of Firefox and Flock are pretty much the same, and if things look and behave good in Firefox, it is usually the same for Opera, Chrome, and Safari. If things look good in Safari Mac, they will probably be ok in Safari Windows. On my third virtual Windows machine I have IE 8. If you are developing in MAMP, you can look at your sites in your Windows browsers by going to http://localhost:8888. (update: this does not work, see comments). Keep track of the month-to-month browser usage trends at WC3 Schools Browser Statistics page to know which browsers are most important to check. You can also install Ubuntu Linux as a virtual machine in case you have been curious about that and test your site with browsers in Linux if you feel inclined.

Google Analytics

This is a free service from Google that will tell you where your traffic is coming from, what pages are popular, the screen size, browser, and OS your visitors are using (so you can allocate testing resources mentioned above more efficiently).


One of the most important things you can do to have a web presence is to have your own domain name. And from a marketing perspective, one of the most important things you should say on your site is what you are doing or thinking. The best way to do this is with a blog. And the blogging platform that is easiest to set up and use is WordPress. There are thousands of free WordPress themes to pick from, and with some practice, you can edit them pretty easily. There is a huge WordPress developer community that are creating plugins, themes, and can help you on the WordPress forums. Do you have a blog? You could host it on your own hosting and have more control over the look and feel. Here is a post that explains the difference between the two versions of WordPress: hosted and self-hosted. You can export WordPress blogs as XML files to go from any one WordPress host to any other. It does not matter where you chose to start, you can always move it very easily.


If you need to make a website that is more than just a blog, Drupal is the way to go. Sites like, Obama’s site, over 100 of Warner Brothers’ Record’s artist sites, and our own company site are just some sites using Drupal. Drupal is a free and open source content management framework bases mainly on nodes (pieces of content) and modules (custom plugins that let you do different things). There is pretty much a Drupal module (most are also free and open source) for any function or features you might need in a website. Just do a Google search for: drupal module [function you want]. Like: drupal module photos, drupal module ecommerce, or drupal module calendar. You can be on your way to a custom, functional website just by installing Drupal, uploading the modules and a theme via FTP to your site, and checking off some boxes in the admin, all while not needing to editing any code. If you want to be a web developer that can make real money by building websites which can later be maintained by the client, learning Drupal is a great investment of your time.

Get help from the Community

There are communities you can participate with for almost any question you might have regarding web development. I mentioned the WordPress forum above. You can also sign up at, or reach out to people on Twitter. You can join IRC chats for Drupal and WordPress using Colloquy IRC chat client. Please be patient when asking questions. There might be multiple channels for each platform. Make sure you are on the right channel by reading the channel descriptions. You can find channels by doing a Google search for: irc [name of subject]. There might be some high level discussions taking place. Don’t be too demanding. No one is obligated to help you. People only want to help nice people. Just hang out, read the discussions taking place, and learn. There might also be a local community of developers in your area. Search on Meetup, Facebook, or Upcoming for groups meeting in your area, or start one yourself. It is ok if you are not an expert. Woody Allen says “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Donate money to any open source projects you would like to see continue.


So, for about $280 in software, along with all of the free and open source software, and many hours of reading and experimenting, you can start learning how to develop modern, data drive, interactive websites on your Intel based Mac.

MAMP $60
Parallels $80
Transmit $30
Windows XP on Ebay $100
First month of LAMP hosting $10


Smashing Magazine has a great post on How to do web development on a Windows PC.

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Google Granted Dangerous Monopoly, DMR Requirements in Settlement with AAP

Timothy Lee reports that Association of American Publishers and Google have reached a tentative agreement with the courts regarding the class action lawsuit between the two. The point of the suit by the AAP was to stop Google form innovating and making books more useful on Google’s own terms. The terms of the settlement were negotiation in secrecy, and the voice of the public was left out. This is troubling on many levels.

The stodgy book publishing industry and copyright owners, who themselves recognize that their books are no longer commercially viable to reprint, are handed a solution by the courts to Google to once again see income generated. The real value publishers provide is in the act of publishing physical books. They could just use Google’s data to figure out what books to actually reprint, since this admittedly would not be a competence of the publishers. While the publishers have every right to assert a copyright claim on these works, they had no motivation commercialize since, to them, commercialization in mainly in print sales. If the publishers were not as short-sighted, focusing solely on the sale of new, scarce goods, they would have a their solution to make out-of-print books available digitally. However, this was a job for a company like Google to develop and create terms for. I trust Google much more than the courts and the AAP on how to make this knowledge available in a manner that is fair to all parties. Google bypasses inefficiencies, it does not prop them up unnecessarily. Most web publishers understand this, and allow search engines to scan and cache web content for this purpose, and without having to opt-in (only to opt out with robots.txt). Now, there is a double standard: one for content that is printed in a book and registered with the US Copyright Office, and another for html on the web. Why? Only because of the print industry’s lack of foresight. All web content automatically receives copyright (with the exception of license such as Creative Commons), without the need for bureaucracy. Google, will you pay me to cache this post?

Google will receive exclusive right to profit from orphaned works. This would seem to go against Google’s own motto: Do no evil. Google themselves should understand that creating an exclusive right for work that should either be entered into the public domain or to not allow competing services such as the defunct Microsoft book scanning program does not jibe with their own ethical compass. Google seeks only to win by meritocracy. Google search points to the better source, and most if the time it is not Google’s own content. Google wants competition. It should want to allow it to find the best interpretation or organization of orphaned works. For this reason, I could not imagine it sending DMCA nastygrama to sites that republish these works. Google would want to open the orphaned works to the general public and to any developer so that they may mine even more public value from it. There is now a Books and Interest Registry for copyright holders and publishers of any book to register their works so, they too can get a cut of Google profits on sales to orphaned book access. Now, anyone can receive this welfare, just write a book.

The settlement of this suit grant protection to foreign, non-US works, but if is a domestic work, it has to have been registered with the US Copyright Office. No doubt, this is to “live up to international treaties” at the cost US publishers’ convenience in comparison.

Lastly, Google will be providing works to libraries and selling book access (not downloads) to individuals, but with DMR. If and when the Google Book program is terminated, so will the access to purchased books be terminated too. While we have the technology to preserve writings for an eternity, short-term commercial interest seek to limit access to knowledge when it no longer suits them. And since Google will have the exclusive right, to orphaned works, these digitizations lost forever, or sold to another private party. We all know when happens when DRM servers are shut down. Digital media become less useful than real, physical media.

These terms are still modifiable, and the court will hear objections up until June 2009. But you have to wonder if Google’s own Dan Clancy has any objections to the monopoly that they will be unnecessarily granted. We all lose out, just because AAP does not want to spend resource to whack another questionable mole.

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An Evaluation of Web Strategy in the Musical Instrument Business

Crossposted at the Heavybag Media blog.

With NAMM taking place over the weekend and several of our clients in the musical instrument business, I thought it would be appropriate to evaluate the participation level in social media and web strategies of musical instrument companies. (Disclosure: a few of these companies are Heavybag Media clients, noted below.)

As part of this evaluation, we have set up a site bringing in RSS feeds from as many musical instrument related companies we could find at (a reference to an Arthur O’Shaughnessy poem) using Sweetcron.

Many corporate websites are becoming irrelevant, serving as static brochures. Visitors are expecting more than just information and positive spin. Social media, blogs, syndicated news, widgets, and videos are just some of the ways these companies are participating, along with a new approach to sharing and conversing with customers. Using the network effect of social networking sites allows content to be more discoverable than being on an island (aka, your website). More searches are happening on YouTube than on Yahoo (Google being first place). For this reason, along with zero bandwidth costs to you, there is no reason to not have your brand’s content on YouTube.

The Musical Instrument industry (including makers of brass and woodwinds, guitars, basses, drums and percussion, keyboards, synths, pianos, recording and effects, live sound reinforcement, DJ, karaoke, and all related accessories and educational products and services) is using a variety tools and tactics to execute their web strategy for marketing and customer contact. They can be classified into 12 areas:

Newsletter/mailing lists with a public news archive

You can tell these companies have been using the web to engaged with their customers for years, because at one point newsletters were the easiest way to reach out to customers, back when sending and managing e-mail was easier than posting a blog. I would still recommend both newsletters/mailing lists and blogs to make content available in as many formats as possible. Feedburner allows publishers to be notified of new posts by e-mail.

Bias: news, press releases, newsletter
SKB Cases: news and mailing list
AKG: mailing list, news
Sony: mailing list, press releases

Newsletter/mailing lists with no public newsletter archive

You need to sign up for the mailing list just to see if any news is happening. This strategy means that there are fewer pages for search engines to spider, and then other sites have a better chance of receiving search traffic about a companies’ product, like Harmony-Central forum.

Ovation Guitars (Disclosure: Heavybag client)
Dean Guitars
Dipinto guitars
Gretsch Drums
Toca Percussion
LP Percussion
Steinberg Software
Roger Linn Design

Hosting Forums

These are a great way to get search engine queries from users that helps them find answers to product questions saving companies repeated support inquires over time. They do take some time to manage, but they are a great way to show customers that you are listening and willing to help. Several of these brands below are with the Harmon Group.

Fishman: news, forum
Jackson Guitars: news, forum
Lexicon: news, forum
Digitech: forum, news
dbx: news, forum
TC Electronic: forum (more below)

Using a blogging platform or good content, but no feed

This is coming from a good place, but for blogs to live in the blogosphere properly, they need to have feeds and comments. WordPress is free, runs on any commodity LAMP server. There is no reason to re-invent the wheel here. Although, there is one blog in my survey that seems to be using but has disabled the feed. This is no way to get people to go to your site. Allowing people to subscribe to your feed makes your content stickier. (Update: I spoke to Rick at PreSonus and he is now aware of the problem).

PreSonus: blog, YouTube

Blogs on Blogger, MySpace, or WordPress

These guys are seeing the light. In some cases, maybe it is a rouge employee in the marketing department who is living the “better to ask for forgiveness than permission” rule. It is really easy and free for anyone to go on to these sites, start a presence, and link back to the main site.

Epiphone blog, Twitter
BC Rich: blog
Jomox: MySpace (no posts yet), news and newsletter
Seymore Duncan: MySpace blog

RSS syndicated press releases

These companies understand the benefits of syndication. Both musicians and publishers looking for news updates and stories can subscribe to news feeds directly from the sources by subscribing to RSS feeds. This has less management headroom in comparison to having a mailing list. But some are just putting out the same type of content they have always put out: product launches, personnel changes, partnerships, and promotions. And these sites are not using a full blown blog platform so there are no comments or trackbacks.

Akia (with bonus Digg button)
Crown Audio
Monster Cable

RSS syndicated news and newsletters/mailing list

From an infrastructure perspective, these guys have everything covered. Some are also using social media. But some are not using blogging platforms, so there are no comments or trackbacks.

Behringer has a blog posts by Uli Behringer himself and three other Behringer personnel so far. It looks like they just started the blog in December 2008. They are also on Twitter.

M-Audio: news, newsletter
Moog Music: MySpace blog, YouTube, news (no feed or newsletter)
Native Instruments: news, newsletter

Blog on the company’s site, used as a channel to push promotions

These sites have a full blog platform such as WordPress, allowing comments and RSS feeds, but still the content is not helping or teaching potential customers. In some cases the companies are well-known companies in their categories. Maybe they think they can only push awareness of promotions, which may result in a spike in sales, but does little to help build a long-term relationship with their user base. Some posts are about events and profiles on organizations that use the companies’ products. Most do not have comments or have them disabled.

Taylor Guitars (featuring links on every post)
Ernie Ball

All of the Conn-Selmer brands have at least an RSS feeds on their news pages. Some have Facebook fan pages:

Blog on the company’s site (or on Blogger/, with content that helps or teaches

If a company is doing this, in my opinion, they have seen the light. They are using their brand’s influence to help their user base, teach them why they should pay more for finer features, and help them kick ass with their products after the sale. These blogs are also not afraid to put a face on the companies’ personnel. Some blogs have an actual byline from an person in the company.

Kessler:blog, written by the owner’s son
Gibson Guitars: MySpace, news, Twitter, YouTube
Dixon Drums: blog, YouTube (disclosure: Heavybag client)
Propellerheads Software: artist profiles, YouTube

Roland has 8 different content channels, all with feeds, and most with a newsletter option, each one for a specific market need. These include:

They certainly offer the widest range and best frequency of content if you count ever channel. Roland has a long history of content production with their RUG (Roland User Group) print magazines. They are also one of the only companies profiled here to have a support channel as content available in a feed. This makes sense since they are a technology company. These notifications are are mostly software updates. They specifically cater to the church musician niche with their Worship Connection content channel, offering advice on live sound that fits in well with their organ products. They have a link to Worship Northwest 2009, a conference sponsored by many audio companies.

The Best are using two or more: blog, forum, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook

These companies have embraced the tools of social media. I don’t like the content style of all of them (some are too press release-ish), but they are going to where their users are. They do not need to reinvent concepts, and are fine using open source software or free web 2.0 services. Their blog content is decent as well.

ElectroHarmonix: YouTube, MySpace blog
Ludwig: MySpace, MySpace blog, Facebook, news, Twitter
Yamaha: The Hub: podcasts, blogs, and videos
Kaces: blog (disclosure: this is our client)
Rock n’ Roller Cart: blog (disclosure: this is our client)
Line6: news, Twitter
Reunion Blues gig bags: blog, wiki (a directory for touring musicians), Twitter, MySpace (disclosure: this is our client)
Sabian: news (no feed), forum, Twitter
Taye Drums: blog, community, Twitter, MySpace, Facebook

D’Addario bands have MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, and forums for most of it’s brands. They are listed on their community site along with a directory of sites that teach you how to play better:

TC Electronic has news across multiple categories available in one RSS feed, a forum, videos on YouTube, a Netvibes Widget, and a newsletter: news (on the home page), YouTube, Netvibes news widget, newsletter, forum, news page for the TC Helicon brand, and a Flickr stream. These guys really get it, and I think they are the best example of a company that is really participating in the social web, allowing their brand to be found across many platforms. I especially like how their news is part of their homepage. They understand that the context of their web presence is immediacy.

Newspage and newsletter/mailing list, no feeds

BSS Audio: newsletter and news
DM Pro: newsletter, news
Focusrite: newsletter, news
Mapex: newsletter, news
Marshall Amps: newsletter, news
Novation: newsletter
Peavy: newsletter, news
Soundcraft: newsletter
Sabian: newsletter and news
Zildjian: newsletter and news

Non-syndicated news page with press releases and/or collection of press mentions, no feed or newsletter, no forum

When companies can speak directly to musicians from their sites, why do they need to write a press release? It’s as if the only other place the musicians will read about new products is magazines and other niche sites. These news pages are written for them. There could also be content for end users.

Allen and Heath
Audix USA
Dave Smith Instuments
DW Drums
Fostex USA
Gibraltar Drums Hardware
Hosa Cables
Johnson Guitars
KRK Systems
Kurzweil Music Systems
Middle Atlantic
Nord Keyboards
OC Drum and Percussion
Ovation Guitars (disclosure: this is a past client)
Pearl Drums
Premier Percussion
ProCo Sound
Samson Audio
Sony Professional
Tama Drums
Ultimate Support

Some of the tools we use

For Heavybag Media clients, we use Twitter for “ambient awareness,” WordPress as a blogging platform, PHPList for mailing lists, YouTube for free video hosting and syndication, MySpace for demographic outreach, Google Analytics and Feedburner to track visors and subscribers.

Our Favorite Picks

We are happy to see Conn-Selmer syndicate all of it’s news. TC Electronic has done a fair job using social media and RSS syndication, and YouTube. Yamaha has not only great videos that help to educate customers on their products, but podcasts also. Roland has the richest and longest running content channels.

Comments and Suggestions?

If you have any suggestions on companies we forgot to include, corrections, or would like help with your web strategy, leave us a comment.

(photos by synthesizers, psycht, Squiggle, and TCElectronic on Flickr)

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