MS 190: Authorship is the course website for the Fall 2006 Media Studies senior seminar at Pomona College in Claremont, California.
Hey guys. You may remember the presentation on Anarchist in the Library, when KFitz told us about the six new exceptions to the DMCA prohibition against breaking copy protection.
The first rule just says that media studies folks can do whatever we want (what we've been doing all along). The second and third are just about using and archiving old software by bypassing the various hurdles imposed by natural hardware obsolescence. The fifth one is also boring (it's about installing firmware on cell phones), but the fourth and sixth are just plain awesome.
The fourth rule is about ebooks. You guys remember that Russian guy who was arrested basically by Adobe and held for several months for writing software to enable blind people to read ebooks? Anarchist mentions him. It's so ridiculous. It's like arresting Mother Theresa. Actually, Mother Theresa was kind of a jerk. She baptized a lot of people without their consent. But hey, I guess most Catholics (I can't speak for all Christian demonimations) are baptized without their consent. Damn it. Life sucks. Anyway, the point is that this guy was really cool, and he got screwed by the DMCA. Anyway, this exception basically says that he was right.
If you visit one link this holiday season:
Hilarious, really. There's been some interesting stuff in the news lately about Japanese girls going "bihaku," which means "whity beauty." A few years ago, everyone was "ganguro," which means "black-faced," or "skin cancer." Tanning beds were all the rage for a bit, but now everyone's putting crap (powdered swallow droppings, for instance) on themselves to get pale. I remembered reading something earlier this year about tyrosinase researchers in Hiroshima making a breakthrough of some sort (http://www.cosmeticsdesign-europe.com/news/ng.asp?n=65637-melanins-skin-whitening), but I guess it didn't occur to me that they were making such a vital contribution to what appear to be a booming sector of the cosmetics industry. "That's funny," I said to myself, and did more research.
So this has been in the news a lot lately. Basicaly, the FBI reserves the right to listen in on your cell phone calls. Everyone knows that. The Washington Post published some articles about that in the 90s. The somewhat cooler thing that's coming to light these days is that they can also listen to nearby conversations, whether or not you're on the phone, whether or not your phone is even on. It's pretty awesome. The even cooler thing is that starting last October, an FCC requirement mandates that the police have the ability to locate any cell phone in America. Isn't that great?
So I stumbled onto this website about China and how hard it sucks (http://www.liaoyusheng.com/archives/travel/20041105_ten_reasons_why_china_sucks.php), and it made me realize, for the very first time, that China is not a pleasant place to live. Anyway China most recently (as far as I know) laughed in the face of individual privacy and basic human rights on November 29th, when they paraded about 100 alleged prostitutes and their supposed johns through the so-called streets of Shenzhen. Isn't that great? They also announced the name, birthday, place of origin and sentence (15 days in jail) of each detainee through a loudspeaker.
The attorney general in Virginia just proposed making sex offenders register their screen names and e-mail addresses. Let me remind you just how hard Virginia sucks: they're the only state in the union that still flies in the face of Lawrence v. Texas, defining sodomy as a felony, a Crime Against Nature (I'm not kidding), punishable by 5 years in prison. Adultery, co-habitation and consensual beastiality are also illegal, among other things. Why? The Bible, obviously. Cool, huh?
This sort of reminds me of something awful that happened last semester. This 19-year-old kid in Georgia got 10 years in prison for consensual oral sex with a 17-year-old. The best part is, he'd be out by now if they'd just had vaginal sex. Great, huh? Life sucks.
So there's this group of pedophile hunters called Perverted Justice who must be kidding me. They pose as little kids on the internet and invite peds to come over and have sex with them, then nab them on TV. These guys are idiots. Louis "Bill" Conradt Jr. was targeted by Perverted Justice, and killed himself. Tons of other poor peds have been ruined by these vigilantes. Why not let people do what they want? The whole premise here is sex between consenting parties, right? Why do pedophiles have no rights? For that matter, what of the rights of the kids to you know, associate freely? It's sort of funny. Those poor guys.
I was just reading eff.org about the various offenses committed by our government against decency and good taste when I stumbled across this gem:
Apparently, the DMCA allows companies to subpoena each other for the identities of any anonymous internet people they don't like, without even filing a lawsuit or having any legitimate reason. We're just bypassing the entire legal system. Cool.
It's just another case of awarding every single right to property owners at the expense of everyone else. Class warfare, man. Typical. Let's kill ourselves.
I propose we abolish copyright laws. They've done nothing to advance culture, and everything to ruin my life forever since the day we met. They prevent tons of awesome stuff from ever seeing daylight, and we owe most of the great material we take for granted to copyright breach.
The South Park guys were recently interviewed about, among other things, the scientology episode that, despite a very real ban, everyone continues to access at will online. It's so great. They said something like, "we're glad folks watch our stuff online. it just means more people get to see it. it's grrrrrrrrreat." It sort of reminds me of this thing Tarantino said about Kill Bill, something along the lines of, "yeah, kids, sneak in, I don't care, I have enough money, anyway." Basically, artists just want to get their work out, and illegally is the best way to do it.
If any of you have space in your schedules for next semester... Professor Susan Larsen is offering a class on visual culture in Russia, which will be cross-listed with Media Studies. Not many people registered for this course, which is a shame, because it should be great! I took a class on Stalinist film and fiction with Professor Larsen during sophomore year, and it was absolutely amazing. I did a couple projects on children's literature in the USSR, and we also read some fascinating books and watched some incredibly interesting films. Larsen is a fantastic prof, really intelligent and passionate. You can't go wrong by taking this course.