A free CD — and a Bill C-61 protest

From the excellent Torontoist blog comes news that a Canadian band — The Craft Economy — has one-upped their previous CD experiment, in which they stapled free CDs to telephone poles, and has included with their new batch of discs a statement criticizing the proposed federal copyright bill, C-61. The packages started showing up this week on poles in Toronto and Guelph, with copies of a CD containing demo versions of two Craft Economy songs (Menergy and The Crash, the Wagons and the Dying Horses) as well as a typed statement about the evils of the proposed copyright legislation. The statement says in part:

This is far and beyond and more bizarre than the heavily criticized DMCA in the USA. Copyright should protect the rights of artists and producers of creative content, but it should not suppress creative and artistic expression.

The Craft Economy has licensed our music, including this CD, using the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 license. This license gives you the freedom to share our music with your friends and enemies, and remix and use it in new and creative ways, provided you attribute the work back to us, and you don’t make money off our work.

It’s fair for you and us. This is the way art should work.

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Microsoft creates a real-life Palantir

This is pretty darn cool, I have to say. If you’ve seen the Lord of the Rings movies, you probably remember a scene or two involving a magical orb or sphere (known as a “palantir“) with which magicians like Saruman can see across vast distances. Well, Microsoft seems to have something pretty much like that, at least in prototype form. Todd Bishop of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer got a close look at one, and watched as a researcher moved photos around, created a virtual 3D globe and even moved through a 360-degree webcam projection of a city street. Of course, palantirs could be used by Sauron to see whoever was looking into them too — hopefully Microsoft isn’t working on that angle.


Was Hasbro right to kill Scrabulous?

So the hammer has finally come down on Scrabulous, the Facebook game developed by two Indian brothers that become a viral hit only to be sued by Hasbro, which owns the licensing rights to the Scrabble board game. Trying to play the game now brings up an error message saying it is unavailable to U.S. or Canadian residents. Electronic Arts, meanwhile — which licenses the rights from Hasbro — has launched its own official version of the game on Facebook, although whether people will make the switch to the new version or not remains to be seen.

I’ve been kind of fascinated by this case ever since it first appeared. Not just because Scrabulous became so popular so quickly, but also because it seemed to boost interest in the actual board game itself, with stories of people addicted to the Facebook game going out and buying real-world copies for the first time. My first reaction was to cheer for Scrabulous, and wonder why Hasbro or EA didn’t just buy the app from the Agarwalla brothers and take advantage of all the free marketing their game was getting through Facebook. Mashable makes the same point here.

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Ledger Live and the exploding newsroom

From Jeff Jarvis comes word of the launch of Ledger Live, a daily video news show from the newsroom of the New Jersey Star-Ledger newspaper. Designed and produced with the help of video journalism pioneer Michael Rosenblum, who has helped newsrooms in the U.S., Britain and elsewhere turn journalists into VJs. The Legder Live broadcast, as Jeff notes, isn’t the typical broadcast TV-style show with a studio and hosts with makeup and hairdos and teleprompters. It’s reporter Brian Donohue sitting at his desk talking about the day’s big stories and throwing to some of the video reports the paper is working on. I think it’s really well done — a great concept, well executed.

Ledger Live – 07-28-08

I hope Cuil isn’t an “epic fail”

If you’re a Web geek, the biggest news today is the launch of Cuil.com, a new search engine with a strange Irish name (which is pronounced “cool”) and what it claims is a really big, er… index. The topic has been dominating Techmeme for the better part of the day, with the official Cuil launch post only recently taking over the top spot from Mike Arrington’s TechCrunch post about it. Everyone has an opinion about the company, from the size of their index to their (allegedly) dumb name, or the earth-shattering revelation that they are going to have a tough time competing with a little outfit called Google (gee — ya think?)

On Twitter, the Web 2.0 water-cooler, most of the discussion has revolved around the ways in which the new search service sucks — or rather, is an “epic fail,” as the kids like to say. Searching for the company’s own name doesn’t turn up the search engine’s website (Doh!), and searching for other common terms or names either doesn’t turn up anything, or a small number of inadequate and/or stupid results. The site is down. The whole Irish legend about Finn and the salmon of knowledge is weird. There’s no way it can compete against Google — and so on.

At the risk of being seen as not critical enough, I’m going to throw a vote out there for Cuil. I think the service sounds like an interesting alternative to Google, or Yahoo or MSN for that matter — not that I ever use those services, of course. I don’t particularly care about the size of Cuil’s index (insert double entendre here). But I am interested in having alternatives for search. For me, it’s about finding what I want quickly, and the reality is that Google continues to be littered with poor quality results. If Cuil can solve that problem, then I hope they stick around.