This Los Angeles Weekend

My early observations on BarCamp:

BarCamp LA at Little RadioJust come on down, BarCamp is free (thanks to sponsors) and its fun. Day one is winding down but many are expected to hang long into the night (geeking out with DJ’s, werewolf and Wiis) and even sleep here at the spacious Little Radio Warehouse. There are four presentation spaces and two breakout areas where sessions thus far have included:

— Foodies: Classically Trained Cook Chef Joanna answers your culinary questions
— How to create disruptive content: Make your own online comic book.
— Fight Back: Know Your Rights in California Moving Violations — Fight Them & Win!
— Photography, Galleries, and Administration

We’re especially looking forward to PowerPoint karaoke, after dinner, in which 5 volunteers will each take their best shot at presenting a PPT presentation they’ve never seen before. Audience applause will determine the winner, who (we hope) will already be drunk and make a total fool of themselves. Photos as-it-happens posted here.

My ramblings on the LA Times sorry-ass attempt at recovery:

Daniel Hernandez, journalistStopping just short of demanding abstinence from its Opinion column contributors, the LA Times most likely paid a pretty price to scrounge together today’s “Current” section.

Case in point: The lead column is by the venerable Daniel Hernandez, the 26-year-old LA Weekly staff writer who left the Times last year. Why? Because, as he told us last August, the culture of the Times was exhausting and unfulfilling. He felt he was “challenging the institutional and cultural barriers of an ultimately very conservative place.” And this was before Herrs Hiller and O’Shea showed up. Hernandez seemed to kiss off the Times once and for all in a December Weekly column, which only reinforces how desperate Timespublisher David Hiller must be.

Ah, but we digress. Hiller deemed it necessary to scrap this week’s all-but printed “Current” because the section editor (Andrés Martinez) makes out with an LA girl involved in media (in this case a publicist for Brian Grazer, who guest-edited the unprinted section). But without even pausing to laugh at himself, Hiller ass-kissingly announced his “hope [that] there will be an avenue to bring these creative, thoughtful and insightful pieces to our readers in the near future.”

This is hardly Clark Kent and Lois Lane. We hope you paid your former staffers, like D. Hernandez (who could have written his column in his sleep) big bucks. He deserves it and so do we. Because LA needs to hear from its many voices, be it Grazer or Hernandez. Some respect, please, Mr. IMAGE man “(Showing off what L.A. does best“). Quit messing with what LA really does best.

 

Originally posted at LAist.

Internet Libel OK’d by Courts

UPDATE: Comprehensive coverage of blogger reaction to the Barrett v. Rosenthal decision at CJR.

Always nice to see Internet legislation shot down in the courts — in this case, the California Supreme Court ruled that allowing prosecution of name-calling and online flame wars by third parties would lead to an uncontrollable number of ridiculous lawsuits.

The L.A. Times reports:

“The prospect of blanket immunity for those who intentionally redistribute defamatory statements on the Internet has disturbing implications,” Justice Carol Corrigan wrote for the court. But, she added, immunity “serves to protect online freedom of expression and to encourage self-regulation.”

[…]

The court explained that Internet defamation law differs from that of other media.

“Book, newspaper or magazine publishers are liable for defamation on the same basis as authors,” Corrigan wrote. “Book sellers, news vendors or other ‘distributors’ … may only be held liable if they knew or had reason to know of a publication’s defamatory content.”

Congress “chose to protect even the most active Internet publishers, those who take an aggressive role in republishing third-party content,” she wrote.

[…]

She said the threat of liability also would reduce the flow of ideas on the Internet. “The volume and range of Internet communications make the ‘heckler’s veto’ a real threat,” Corrigan said.

The defendant, Ilene Rosenthal of the Humantics Foundation, blogs here. The case was brought by the erstwhile thugs known as the Quackbusters.

Here is EFF’s FAQ on Online Defamation.

Wikipedia entry on the 1996 Communications Decency Act.

* Discussion @ /.

Universal Goes After Bank of America for U2 “One” Parody

How broke-ass will UMG and their copyright hounds get? Maria Aspan @ The New York Times tackles this hilarity:

A video of two Bank of America employees singing a version of U2’s “One” to commemorate their company’s acquisition of MBNA recently made the rounds of the blogs, prompting amusement and some ridicule from online viewers.

But the intended comic effect of their performance and the retooled lyrics (“One spirit, we get to share it/Leading us all to higher standards”) seemed lost on lawyers on the lookout for copyright violations.

On Tuesday, a lawyer for the Universal Music Publishing Group, a catalog owner and administrator, posted the text of a cease-and-desist letter in the comments section of Stereogum.com, a Web site carrying the video. It contended that Bank of America had violated Universal’s copyright of the U2 song.

The two employees featured in the video were the guitarist, Jim Debois, a consumer market executive for Manhattan, and the singer, Ethan Chandler, a Manhattan banking center manager, who provoked much of the ridicule with his earnest interpretation and also for straying a bit far from U2’s lyrics with lines like “Integration has never had us feeling so good/and we’ll make lots of money.”

Mr. Chandler, who has independently released an album and is working on another, said he was asked to write and perform the song for an August meeting of credit card division executives at MBNA headquarters in Wilmington, Del.

He said he was surprised to learn about the cease-and-desist letter, stressing that his performance was meant for an internal audience. “There was an approved list of songs to use,” he said, “and as far I knew, that was an approved song.”

Universal said on Stereogum that it had sent the letter by fax and registered mail to Bank of America last Monday. On Friday, a bank spokeswoman, Betsy Weinberger, said the legal department had not yet received it.

The letter was signed by Raul R. Gonzalez, a lawyer for Universal Music. Reached at his office, Mr. Gonzalez said, “No comment” and hung up.

Online commentators accustomed to viral marketing said they suspected that the video was the latest corporate attempt to co-opt Internet video for promotional purposes. But Ms. Weinberger said it was “absolutely not” leaked by Bank of America as a marketing ploy.

Mr. Chandler also denied any involvement in leaking the video, although he admitted that, despite the cutting online criticism, the incident had an upside. “A lot of people thought it was fake, but I really do sing,” he said. “I’ve been doing this a long time.”

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