Surveillance and free human beings

In the past couple of weeks we’ve seen where peoples’ desire for security will lead us: to the surveillance state, as has been revealed by the publication of PRISM.

For me personally it takes me back a bit to what happened surrounding the introduction of the SOPA and ACTA bills. Back then, if you remember, “the whole internet”™ went into an uproar unlike anything ever seen in the technology world. Google went black. Wikipedia went black. Reddit went black. The world pretty much ended according to people who are more than interested in removing any individual rights that may be in the way of the tech industry moving forwards.

Where is the outrage now? Where are the demonstrations now? Where is the political youth opposing this surveillance and promoting a free civilized society based on the rule of law? Unfortunately they are nowhere and here are my thoughts about why:

In the case of the copyright debate the primary reason for the outcry was, just as many colleagues had suspected all along, purely about the filesharing aspect of the privacy debate. None of the true political implications that came along with it. And all the talk about privacy and surveillance state and the likes where smokescreens in order to justify taking away the rights (and by extension the ability to monetize their works) of millions of authors in order to personally not be liable for watching TV series, movies and listening to music without paying for it. Because, in no way would copyright lead to what this article in the guardian talks about and I share a quick quote:

Lavabit has been told that they would face serious criminal sanctions if they publicly discuss what is being done to their company. Thus we get hostage-message-sounding missives like this:

I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on – the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.”

I have been of both sides of the copyright debate: when Napster came out I was just starting out in the industry and felt like the industry kept me out by design. I was happy that something “interrupted them” and “put them in their place” and defended it.

But after slowly making my way into the industry and starting to actually understand how the industry works, how the different institutions function (many of whom I still don’t agree with, but that doesn’t warrant taking away their right to exist!!) and what the struggle being a media creator supporting a family really means, but first and foremost: that the only thing I, as a media creator, have to sell is a license, I have felt the attacks of the copyleft movement to be intimately personal, vile and solely aimed at taking away my possibility to monetize my work. And for musicians and composers who don’t see the media industry as a “late teen/early twenties let’s form a band and play some cool parties for our friends” but as a way of making business with each other and who have spent countless hours practicing, studying, throwing away sketches, being unsatisfied with ideas (in short: artists struggle) it’s not quite as possible to just switch gears and work for a consultancy or social media consultancy company.

A lot of us (media creators) went into this field exactly because it is not possible for us or not desirable to live the kind of life where you have to give up a lot of your own personality and convictions in order to actively be popular and appeal to market interests. We’re all forced by market interests, that I understand. But there’s a difference with sticking to what you believe in and relinquishing it in order to “not offend”!

Authors rights have given individuals the freedom to live their dreams, to break away from trodden paths, in essence to be truly free human beings. And that is, at least to me, the ultimate goal and worth fighting for.

And the winner is…

I was on the train in the lovely Schwarzwald when I received an email from our CGI artist Tony Pinkpank about his attending the Melbourne WebFest 2013. The wording was perfectly timed and the deception worked incredibly well: he surprised our whole team with the big news, that our webseries Mission Backup Earth received both the Best Fantasy/SciFi award as well as the Grand Jury Price!

I’m very proud to have contributed the music to this series! It would be great if we could develop the series’ storyline and characters further and perhaps into a longer form 40 minute episode drama series! What a dream-come-true that would be…

We’re all very excited and the crew in Berlin had a little spontaneous street party that I would have loved to attend, but being on my sisters remote horse farm is very nice as well!

You can watch all the episodes on YouTube

mission backup earth - melbourne web fest

Melbourne WebFest | Winners 2013.

Spotting session

The spotting session is a crucial step in the filmmusic creation process: This is where the director, possibly the editor and music editor (if there is one) and the composer develop the broad concept for the filmmusic as well as discuss the fine details.

This is the time of experimentation. It’s very exciting and there are no limits in this meeting. If everyone keeps an open mind it can be a fun process of trial and error to see what effect a certain type of music will have on a scene. I’m often surprised myself that something that I imagined would never work for a particular scene can turn out to be very complementary to the picture and add great depth.

Deciding on music and where it comes in and goes out is really something that can not be talked about but that has to happen on a personal level. It’s important to get a direct feel for a reaction to be able to refine the communication between all parties involved.

Annenberg Lab – Transparency report

This report shows the relationship between piracy infringing web sites, the ad networks distributing advertisements to them and the major brands who unwillingly support the pirate web sites.

It is important that the broader Internet community starts to realize that we don’t live in 1999 anymore and that almost any activity on the Internet is being monetized. But the participation in that monetization is kept from the creative community who, more often than not, create the films, books, music, pictures that drive the majority of traffic.

IFTTT – that’s what computers are for

IFTTT (If This Than That) is a service to monitor a source and conditionally post to a destination.

I’ve setup WordPress blog posts to Twitter and Facebook status update.

It seems simple enough to setup and it takes a lot of work off of my hands. Also, it allows me now to use my blog even more than before to post pictures and comments and everything. The advantage is that, once I (have to) leave a service such as Facebook or Twitter all my content over the years are still available on my own server. This to me is what the internet was about in the very beginning when I started my first homepage more than 12 years ago.

Frictionless sharing

I just read this paper on frictionless sharing and I like to comment on something written inthr paper. Quoting is not allowed without permission do I just rephrase it, but the whole idea goes back to what I wrote a couple of month ago

Basically the part I’m talking about deals with recommendations: in the case of a little restaurant I like, recommending it to friends may help to keep the restaurant in business longer.

This is the argument used by most people in favor of filesharing and unlicensed distribution of music. But as you can clearly see: sharing a recommendation is all fine and dandy if you encourage your friends to support the act/artist/musician/producer as is the case with a restaurant. But sharing the actual work will have the opposite effect: less people will buy the music and the act/artist/musician/producer will go out of business.

And an industry that has been reduced by roughly 65% in the span of 12 years (meaning, we lost 3 major labels and now are left with two and also lost many many independent companies) is proof that something is broken in a medium that means so much to people and that helps young people to define who they are. It saddens me to have to argue with people (even colleagues) about business models, legality and such instead of just sharing a recommendation to a good piece of music.