Nina Paley, author of Sita Sings the Blues, just released another animation called “Credit is Due (The Attribution Song)”; another in a series of Minute Memes. She’s released a few of these shorter animations and they’re all informative and fun.
According to the page for this video on archive.org, this video is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license. According to the footer on QuestionCopyright.orgour content is released to the public and can be considered to be in the public domain: you may copy, share, excerpt, modify, and distribute modified versions of this and other pages from QuestionCopyright.org.. It’s unclear precisely how this work is licensed to you or if this work is under copyright at all. I can only guess that you are free to share unaltered copies of the work, transcode the work in its entirety to make it playable for yourself and others, and distribute copies of the work in its entirety with some reasonable amount of attribution (the more restrictive of the two sets of permissions). Until the two pages above are in sync I cannot be sure.
Sintel is the latest Blender Foundation movie. Previous movies were Elephant’s Dream and Big Buck Bunny. Every couple of years the Blender Foundation puts out a movie made with Blender, a free software renderer and sequencer program. The Blender Foundation improves Blender as they go and we all get a better Blender program after their efforts (it should be noted that theirs are not the only Blender improvements).
The Blender Foundation raises money for these movies (which function as both entertainment and technical demo for Blender) in part by asking people to buy a copy of the movie on home video well ahead of time. They accept donations all the time, you can still buy a copy of the 4-DVD Sintel set.
The Blender Foundation movies are unlike other independent movies in that these movies are licensed to share (even commercially), and distributed with all the parts that went into making the movie so you can make derivative works. I know of no major Hollywood studio that encourages you to work with the movie in this way, which is partly why I find it so hard to spend time or money on Hollywood movies; free culture movies set the bar so high Hollywood simply doesn’t compete.
You should demand better for your freedom’s sake and demand more for your money by helping free culture artists do their work.
Patent Absurdity explores the case of software patents and the history of judicial activism that led to their rise, and the harm being done to software developers and the wider economy. The film is based on a series of interviews conducted during the Supreme Court’s review of in re Bilski — a case that could have profound implications for the patenting of software. The Court’s decision is due soon.
Richard Stallman, founder of the free software movement and one of the speakers in the movie, has been talking about the dangers of software patents for many years. Listen to or download his talk from 2002 or read the transcript of this talk which includes pointers to more information about various points in Stallman’s talk. This talk is interesting because Stallman systematically explains how software patents are harmful to all computer users (Paul Heckel’s threats to Apple and Apple’s response is quite instructive), 3 strategies for dealing with software patents, and the multiple perversites of the patent process.
Prof. Eben Moglen, head of the Software Freedom Law Center, gives another must-not-miss talk on software freedom with hosted services (Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and other third-party services run on behalf of their users), colloquially known as “the cloud” (a purposefully vague reference to hosting services somewhere else, a virtual place that contains your data). What are the social and civic consequences of letting these services watch as you place your information (email, calendaring, private chats, etc.) into these services? How do we in the free software movement rise to the challenge of services users don’t control?
“Ink” is an independently produced movie that is widely illicitly copied on the Internet. Ink stands out because unlike chiefs of more famous movie studios, Ink’s writer/director Jamin Winans and producer Kiowa K. Winans wrote to TorrentFreak to thank them for promoting the movie and to say that the illicit sharing has made the movie far more popular, including increasing sales of home video copies.
Today’s Democracy Now! has a very recommendable hour with Ralph Nader on corporate criticism and how paid off our elected officials are. Free software activism, potable water, clean air, launching wars of aggression (and the lack of punishment); every issue you can think of suffers as a result of corporate dominance in our culture and our collective lack of focus which would keep corporations subservient to the will of real people. Very much a part of this discussion is a movie I can’t recommend enough—The Corporation which you can also find online gratis distributed via BitTorrent at leading peer-to-peer websites (including OneBigTorrent formerly ChomskyTorrents.org and The Pirate Bay).
No health care proposal so far beats Rep. John Conyers’ (D-MI) HR676 for providing universal health care to Americans. HR676 is a single-payer health care plan also known as “Medicare for All”. HR676 has been Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s (D-OH) health care plan for both of his campaigns for president. Physicians for a National Health Program have endorsed HR676 for some years now.
The Democrats talk about health care in their debates but none of the most covered candidates offer a health care plan that covers everyone, makes it illegal to compete with the government-provided plan (thus removing HMOs from health care delivery), and is described in a bill you can tell your congressional representatives to co-sponsor today (sample letters 1 and 2 to inspire you to write your own).
Senators Edwards, Clinton, and Obama offer health care plans that all keep HMOs intact and in charge. This alone tells you not to take their health care plans seriously.
Today’s Democracy Now! (transcripts, audio, video) featured Michael Moore’s movie “Sicko” and some advocacy for a universal health care plan, although nobody mentioned HR676 by name.
Update (2007-06-18): Michael Moore discussed single-payer universal health care for the hour on today’s Democracy Now! (transcript, audio, video) and mentioned Kucinich’s health care plan with a mild approbation.
Coltan is a metallic ore which is refined into a power that is used in computers. Coltan production doesn’t get much public attention, just the things it helps make possible. John Perkins touched on the subject in his interview on today’s Democracy Now! (losslessly compressed audio, audio, video, transcript). Here’s an excerpt of what Perkins said about the Congo and coltan miner exploitation.
The whole story of Africa and the Congo is such a devastating and sad one. And it’s the hidden story, really. We in the United States don’t even talk about Africa. We don’t think about Africa. You know, Congo has something called coltan, which probably most of your listeners may not have even heard of, but every cell phone and laptop computer has coltan in it. And several million people in the last few years in the Congo have been killed over coltan, because you and I and all of us in the G8 countries demand low — or at least we want to see our computers inexpensive and our cell phones inexpensive. And, of course, the companies that make these sell them on that basis, that “Oh, here, mine’s $200 less than the other company.” But in order to do that, these people in the Congo are being enslaved. The miners, the people mining coltan, they’re being killed. There’s these vast wars going on to provide us with cheap coltan.
And I have to say, you know, if we want to live in a safe world, we need to be — we must be willing, and, in fact, we must demand that we pay higher prices for things like laptop computers and cell phones and that a good share of that money go back to the people who are mining the coltan. And that’s true of oil. It’s true of so many resources that we are not paying the true cost, and there’s millions of people around the world suffering from that. Roughly 50,000 people die every single day from hunger or hunger-related diseases and curable diseases that they don’t get the medicines for, simply because they’re part of a system that demands that they put in long hours, and they get very, very low pay, so we can have things cheaper in this country. And the Congo is an incredibly potent example of that.
It’s unusual for DN! to discuss topics of direct relevance to computer users, but any ethical computer movement will be compelled to more closely examine where we get the inexpensive computers we enjoy today and work to make sure the prices remain higher and the money goes to the workers.