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News

EngageMedia in Yogyakarta

Cemeti’s main mission is to document art practice in Indonesia but they also frequently put on a range of workshops and discussions. Cemiti has nice space with a library, meeting rooms, video editing studio, kitchen and more.

The workshop was held at a net cafe called “The Gate”. At about 1.50 (10
minutes before start time) a massive downpour began and lasted about 45
minutes meaning half the attendees were stranded in the rain and unable
to make it. We waited about 45 minutes and by that stage most people had turned up, if a little wet. There was a
good pool of about 10 people in the end, the maximum really to make
this workshop effective given it’s practical nature. All attendees were already making video, none
had put any of it on the web, some had done some encoding before, most
were students and either from a artistic or activist background.

Two big problems very quickly encountered were English and net
connection. Pitra from Cemeti offered to do translation but people were
a little too hesitant in saying they needed it. I think we managed to
get through ok though and when people really did have blank looks on
their faces Pitra translated just to be sure.

An even bigger problem was bandwidth. Even at a fairly upscale net cafe the connection was very slow. I can’t imagine broadband gets up above
128kbps in most places, downloads happened at about
5-8kbps, far slower than dial up. The EngageMedia site loaded
particularly slowly – I’m guessing this is a problem with Plone as it’s
a common criticism of the platform.

At the beginning of the workshop and throughout I emphasised very
heavily that you shouldn’t think of online video just as watching a
streamed clip in the browser a la YouTube. The fact that you cannot
download clips from YouTube and must download them again if you start a
new session on your computer, just adds to all the other problematic
elements of that site.Yogya workshop

Instead I tried to emphasise three other strategies to employ online video distribution in low-bandwidth situations

  • short preview clips – putting a low resolution 30 second to 2
    minute clip online can be a great way to ‘advertise’ your film – if
    someone is interested they can contact you for a higher resolution
    version that you can send in the post.

  • screening resolution version – think of your video as a means
    of getting your work from A-B at minimal cost. An organisation
    (university, art centre, net cafe) with good bandwidth will be able to
    download it. They can then redistribute the video at screenings, on CD
    or via flash drives. Having a downloaded version means it can be shared
    by multiple other means.

  • think of a wider, global audience – distribution inside your
    country might make more sense on dvd/vcd etc. but online you can reach a
    global audience – festivals can access it as can activist groups
    who might use the film in solidarity or benefit screenings.

All this points to the need to have multiple resolution videos for
all of the above scenarios but also to more greatly emphasise that
online video is not a panacea for every distribution need – just one
tool in the toolbox.

Rather than imparting the nitty gritty of encodingI
talked about more about basic principals – most importantly who is your audience and what do you imagine they will do with your video? I think
a couple of hours of people actually encoding their films is
really required for them to go on with the knowledge. 10 participants
to 1 facilitator is really too many for this, I’d say 1 to 3-4 is ideal.

If I’ve done my job right we’ll be seeing more Indonesian content up on the site – the proof is in the pudding.

Categories
Staff Blog

Plug In and Friends

22nd February – Plug In TV – Review of 2006 – 8pm

Plug In TV is an independent media collective producing short documentaries for Channel 31 in Melbourne, Australia and the world wide web. Come along for a 1-hour screening of 2006’s best documentaries.

28th February – EngageMedia – 8pm

EngageMedia.org is a website for social justice and environmental video from SE Asia, Australia and the Pacific. Come along for a 1-hour screening of indepdendent video.

8th March – Focus on Asia Pacific – 8pm

1 hour of documentaries examining justice and developments in our region with a focus on West Papua and East Timor. 2006 has seen many pivotal events and we’ll be screening a range of videos that examine the issues further.

15th March – Plug In TV and Others – 8pm

A mix up of documentaries from Australia and around the world! Sure to be fun.

Glitch Bar and Cinema – 318 St Georges rd, North Fitzroy, Melbourne.

Categories
News

Creative Commons Report

EngageMedia at Creative Commons Australia

On 29 November 2006 EngageMedia attended “Unlocking the Potential Through Creative Commons” – a CCau industry forum and ccSalon at the Queensland University of Technology’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCI) in Brisbane.

The event included an overview of Creative Commons licenses, the launch of the Open Access to Knowledge (OAK) Law report “Creating a legal framework for copyright management of open access within the Australian academic and research sector”, an audiovisual remix and musical mashup performance of CC licensed works during the ccSalon, and industry meetings that broke into three groups – government information, education and libraries, and media and the arts.

EngageMedia attended the media and the arts strand, facilitated by Elliot Bledsloe and Nic Suzor from QUT:
“cc, creativity, media and the arts – cc has massive potential for the creative industries. New ways of thinking, collaborating and capitalising on creative content are only part of what it offers. It is a tool for assisting collaboration, innovation and experimentation, and can open up options for the utilisation, promotion and distribution of content.”

We presented the EngageMedia website and discussed with the group the use of Creative Commons licenses in our online video publishing system. The presentation was a walk-through of the website’s main features and functionality including registering, logging in, browsing and publishing content, and vodcasting with Democracy Player.

Discussing our experiences of the way our project uses CC, an example was provided by the ccSalon performance that night, prior to which we had been asked to provide video content from our website by filmmakers who allowed their work to be screened or remixed. It was easy for EngageMedia to simply direct the performers to the work on our site, where the CC license would explain the terms in which the filmmaker chose to allow their work to be used, without a lengthy period of negotiation between ourselves, the producers and the re-distributors of the work.

Creative Commons provides a very usable framework for filmmakers wishing to use open content licenses on EngageMedia, while preserving some rights that leaves the potential for them to recoup production funds through commercial distribution of their work, enabling the filmmaker to produce more work in future.

The EngageMedia website encourages users to download and share video, rather than using that bandwidth to simply stream the video without being able to save it and distribute it via that user’s personal networks. It is therefore necessary for us to have a system whereby users can establish the grounds on which they may re-distribute or re-use that work, rather than having default copyright apply to that work, restricting the user from doing anything further with it at all.

Downloading a video constitutes making a copy of that work, which is prohibited under national copyright laws. This copyright is applied to intellectual property by default, though the producer of the video may in fact wish others to download their work it will not be legal unless specified by the producer. Many videos on EngageMedia cover issues that are largely ignored by commercial and government media institutions and cannot compete with other material being disseminated through traditional distribution channels. The need to open up other channels of distribution for this kind of work is clear – encouraging the sharing of work on the internet by removing restrictive copyright will open up these channels.

Many filmmakers whose work is showcased on EngageMedia see themselves as activists as well as filmmakers, and are involved in the campaigns, social movements and issues they are examining in their work. Profit is rarely the primary motive in this kind of independent production, though filmmakers are often interested in attaining mainstream distribution of their work for many reasons – reaching mainstream audiences, recouping funds and building a career in film and video production. Video activists are also often interested in having some control over the context in which their video is distributed. This means that producers are sometimes less likely to wish to release their work into the public domain than to make choices about which rights they wish to reserve, which is where Creative Commons is especially useful.

We discussed other positive aspects of the CC system during the forum. Though video makers may be interested in these issues they are not necessarily experts on copyright and other legal issues. The ease in which Creative Commons licenses can be chosen without having to get bogged down in the fine-print is definitely in CC’s favour.

Problems with CC were also discussed, such as issues that really stem from copyright law rather than CC itself. The problem in defining “commercial use” was raised, with an example of two universities using intellectual property for educational purposes, though one university is a publicly-owned institution and the other a commercial enterprise. It was explained that no court in Australia has been very specific about this, that the courts have chosen to make decisions on this area on a case-by-case basis rather than narrowing down this definition.

One issue specific to CC in discussion was the perpetual nature of CC licenses. While many contracts for use of copyright material may be limited in terms of the number of uses of the work, the regions in which it may be used, or a number of years, CC licenses are granted for all in perpetuity. A filmmaker may ordinarily choose to license a program to ABC TV for two transmissions, in the territory of Australia alone and in exchange for monetary compensation rather than granting unlimited use of their material, whereas CC licenses do not place such specific and customisable limits on the use of material.

Participants raised the example of a filmmaker who has released their work under a CC Non-Commercial license, and who may have subsequently gained commercial interest in their work as a result of its wide distribution. The filmmaker may then wish to revoke their CC license in order to sell this work to the ABC for a number of broadcasts (transmissions) of their work, however this is not possible under a CC license.

The reasons for this were explained by representatives from CC Australia as being mainly that this situation would be unworkable, and unfair to those who have obtained your work under a CC license prior to it being revoked. It would be too difficult to retract your CC license once you have used it, as making everyone who received your work with a CC license aware that it had changed would be too difficult. Given that CC has wider aims of creating a pool of work within a creative and intellectual commons this kind of revocation is not desirable in any case from CC’s standpoint.

In this example of selling a CC Non-Commercial licensed video to the ABC it is clear that as the CC license is Non-Commercial the creator may grant an exclusive and limited commercial license for transmission to the ABC. However it is not the habit of television programmers to accept anything but a totally exclusive (commercial and non-commercial) license for a program within a single territory. Therefore there is a perceived barrier to the licensing of CC material, at least in the broadcast industries in Australia. However this culture may change with growing familiarity of CC and open licensing in general.

The question of whether or not CC licenses held up in court was raised, with the general assessment held that they do, though no Australian legal cases could be used as an example. An example was raised of a case in the Netherlands of photographic images licensed as CC Non-Commercial that were subsequently printed on the front-page of a Dutch newspaper – the Dutch court decided to observe the CC license and rule that the paper must pay for the photographer for the use of this material as it was commercial use of CC Non-Commercial licensed material. This ruling appeared to support the underlying copyright law rather than the CC licence itself, though at least it was clear that the CC licence did not interfere with the “some rights” that had been reserved.

Another case in Spain was mentioned, where collecting societies (similar to the Australian Performing Rights Association) automatically assume that venues such as pubs play commercial copyright music and therefore collect monies from venue-owners for use of this music. The venue proved to a court that it was playing music that was Creative Commons licensed music that allowed for commercial use of this work and the court ruled the venue did not have to pay the collecting society. It was mentioned that collecting societies in Australia are currently largely unsupportive of CC in Australia.

A few forum participants raised the difficulties involved in legal clearance of audiovisual material, that it was not only a matter of sorting out copyright, but trademarks, collecting societies and release forms from actors or others involved in the production of a film or video. Creative Commons and open-licensing systems in general were praised for having the potential to make this process smoother, even though CC is concerned only with copyright law, not moral rights, trademarks etc.

Various cases of the widespread illegal use of copyright material were mentioned, and used as an argument for CC to help people avoid committing criminal acts as part of their daily cultural lives. Most people are aware of the global peer-to-peer file-sharing phenomenon, which makes large portions of the community criminals under existing copyright legislation. The need to adapt to these changes in the way people listen to and share music is apparent, and there was little sympathy expressed by cultural producers for the large record companies that are fighting the use of peer-to-peer technologies and yet are renowned for ripping off artists unless they are popular and thus powerful enough to stipulate worthwhile benefits to themselves in their own contracts.

The case of “Red vs Blue” was raised as an example of the reuse of copyrighted material that has had commercial benefits for both the copyright owner and re-user of the copyright material. This series of comic science fiction audiovisual works made popular on the Internet since 2003 is a type of video-production known as “Machinima”. Machinima is produced by recording the video-output of computer-games, editing the video and applying a voiceover to create a narrative. Red vs Blue is a Machinima series based on the Halo game on Xbox. Microsoft who own the Xbox video game system and who are the parent company of Bungle Studios who produced the Halo game did not bring legal action against the producers of Red vs Blue as it turned out to be an effective marketing tool for their game and hardware. However if Red vs Blue had produced video that was contrary to Microsoft’s marketing strategy or commercial interests they could have expected prosecution for this breach of copyright. In actual fact the producers of Red vs Blue reached an agreement with Microsoft for continued use of the game in the production of the series, without having to pay license fees.

The proposed changes to the Copyright Act in Australia were briefly mentioned, being on the whole a drastic turn for the worse as far as restrictions imposed on intellectual property are concerned. These proposed ammendments are to bring Australian law into line with the Australia – US Free Trade Agreement. Since the forum these changes have been reviewed by parliament and some of the more drastic penalties including on-the-spot fines for copyright infringement have been reduced or abolished. There is also a clause that may allow the use of copyrighted material for “parody or satire” in addition to criticism or review exceptions already available in fair-dealing provisions.

Alternative open content licenses were not discussed in detail, though the GNU General Public License for free software and subsequent GNU Free Documentation License used by Wikipedia were mentioned briefly. Creative Commons has been criticised by some as not being driven by the same strong sense of ethics as the free software movement and other copyleft initiatives, and is thus not as effective as a political tool for creating open knowledge.

I found the forum a useful opportunity to go into CC and open licensing in a bit more detail. CC is both a practical framework for us to deal with restrictive copyright on our download-based video site, and an interesting example of a legal framework built by lawyers but based on social movements and cultural realities rather than the other approaches of a. law reform b. yet more “open” licensing systems or c. disregarding the law entirely and embracing video piracy as an ethic itself.

It’s a series of pro forma contracts that, once being standardised by mass usage in the community, are like an extra bit of law tacked on to our existing copyright laws, that enable these laws to be used in quite different ways from the intentions of the legislation itself. In this sense it is both an interesting and radical community-led approach to the law and to copyright. Providing a legal framework for people to contract themselves out of restrictive copyright laws and the popularisation of this will both facilitate cultural shifts around the concept of intellectual property and help our legal system adapt to these changes. However it is simultaneously arguably less radical and capable of facilitating this social change than demanding a repeal of these laws or simply choosing to ignore them.

After this session the ccSalon began with Andrew Garton from our partner project OPEN CHANNEL along with Collusion and Collapsicon performing at (re)mix me: a showcase of cc in australia, featuring images, text, sound and video from the creative commons in the Block Gallery. Audience members had the chance to peruse work from Australian flickr photographers who have licensed their work as Creative Commons, text by CCNews in Queensland and a New Leaf Media, and check out the EngageMedia website on a computer terminal in the gallery.

More information about Creative Commons can be found here:
http://www.creativecommons.org.au

A critique of Creative Commons in relation to Australian copyright law from the Australasian Legal Information Institute (UNSW/UTS) can be found here:
http://www.austlii.edu.au//cgi-bin/disp.pl/au/other/AIPLRes/2006/4.html?query=creative%20commons%20license#fn1

A critique of the de-politicised nature of Creative Commons can be found here:
http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/articles/commons_without_commonality/

Some useful definitions and further reading:

Intellectual Property
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectual_property

Open Content Licenses
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_content

Australian Copyright Law
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_copyright_law

Copyright
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright

Trademarks
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trademark

Moral Rights
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_rights

Collecting Societies
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collecting_society

Publishing Rights
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_Publishing

Categories
Staff Blog

End of Year Wrap Up

We currently have around 85 videos in the system including the Seditious Intent compilation, a collection of creative responses to Australia’s new terror laws and are certainly hoping to build on that extensively next year.

EngageMedia collaborated with Rome’s Candida TV and Manchester’s ClearerChannel to put on Transmission, a gathering of 30 different organisations involved in online video distribution for social justice. The meeting, held in Rome in June of 2006, founded an ongoing network of activist video projects and was followed up in October with ReTransmission in London.

EngageMedia also held online video distribution workshops in Melbourne, Newcastle and Kuala Lumpur. We plan to hold many more formal trainings in 07 in Australia and also in Indonesia. We’ll let you know more about that early next year.

In partnership with the Tactical Technology Collective we helped produce the Audio/Video edition of NGO-in-a-box, a toolkit and box set of CDs of free and open source software, tutorials and guides for grassroots audio and video production.

We’ve received enough funding now to run our own dedicated server for EngageMedia, providing plenty of space and faster downloads for you. Thanks again to the Mercy Foundation.

We’ve also work extensively with Victoria’s Open Channel this year to build them a pilot channel on EngageMedia. Next year we aim to build them a brand new site to distribute their own video and build the Open Channel community online.

Lastly we participated in covering the G20 protests in Melbourne, collecting around 20 videos of on the ground opinions and reporting of the issues and events.

So what does 2007 hold?

We’ll be further developing the software of the site extensively by adding things like flash video preview, bittorrent downloads, high-resolution video uploads, tagging, improved profile pages, mobile phone uploads and downloads and much more. We’ll also be packaging up the software we’re building to make it freely and easily available to other groups to use.

On top of this we’ll be undertaking a research project into open source video codecs looking into how they might best be implemented and taken up in social justice online video projects.

We’re hoping to put together a range of online video compilations with other organisations. If you have any ideas please let us know.

We’re also planning a range of workshops, presentations and promotional activities get the site out there and more people using it so make sure you tell your friends.

All the best for 07
The EngageMedia team
Anna, Andy, Dave, And., Lachlan

Categories
News

Covering the G20

For background on the G20 please see the StopG20.org site.

EngageMedia will be providing video coverage of the protests. You can see all the videos uploaded about the G20 protests here. You can subscribe to the vodcast of the G20 protest videos by copying this link into iTunes of Democracy Player.

For text, photo and audio coverage please go to Melbourne Indymedia.

Categories
News

EngageMedia Back Up

Thanks,

The EngageMedia Team.

Categories
News

EngageMedia Beta Site Released

You’re looking at our first fully-functional release of Engagemedia!

Feel free to make a login and start publishing your videos. If you want to know more about the kind of content EngageMedia is looking for, and about our publishing process you can read the editorial policy.

We’ll be adding much more functionality to site as we go along. In the meantime however there is lots you can do – read more about what you can do on the site.

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News

Audio/Video NGO-in-a-box

The Audio/Video box is an
introduction to the world of open source and the new technologies and
techniques that are transforming the balance of forces in the realm of
media production. The AV edition of NGO-in-a-box sits within a
trajectory of citizen journalism and advocacy work and is a toolkit for
DIY media makers to find their voice.

The Audio/Video box includes
tools for editing and encoding, streaming, podcasting,
micro-transmiting and a host of associated documentation, tutorials and
guides. The tools included in the box are selected by an editorial team
of experts in the field.

The box was launched at the the iCommons summit in Rio. You can check out the audio/video edition at av.ngoinabox.org and find more information about the project series at ngoinabox.org.

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News

Transmission meeting of international online video projects

Transmission

Transmission is a convergence of collectives and projects from Asia, the Pacific, South America, Europe and the US.

A host of initiatives have sprung up across the globe in recent years that seek to mix media activism with increasing access to broadband, new video encoding advances, content management systems, RSS, p2p and free software. These technologies and projects are converging to democratise access to video distribution on a global level, challenge the dominance of top-down broadcast media and give voice to range of critical social and environmental issues.

Transmission ran over 4 days at Forte Prenestino in Rome from the 7-10 of June, 2006. Formerly a military fort built in the 1800s, it is now a social centre that hosts cultural and political initiatives. The 4 days included activities that range from open forums, presentations, workshops, discussion groups and working-bees.

By bringing together these social justice video distribution projects we aim to build communication, cooperation and collaboration.

You can check the site out at Transmission.cc

Transmission is being organised by EngageMedia, Candida TV and Clearer Channel with the assistance of APC.au/c2o.