The Story-Pages of Redaer – by “Jesse S – YLT2012”

The Republic of Redaer prides itself on its Story-Talkers, an elite group of artists responsible for preserving the nation’s rich storytelling tradition. For many centuries, the Story-Talkers have lived together on a government-provided estate, dedicating the vast majority of their time to the memorization of the Ancient Works and the creation of New Works. These works are traditionally delivered in massive public performances; audiences would travel from all corners of the Republic to hear the recitation of the famous epics (The Lone Traveller, for example, or The Divers’ Saga). Entire families would often take a week each year to attend the performances at the Story-Talkers’ estate; parents would bask in the masterful delivery of stories they’d heard since childhood, and their own children would have the chance to hear the tales for the first time.

It was a rich oral tradition, one that gave the citizens of Redaer a sense of shared identity, especially in regards to the highly beloved Ancient Works. As the centuries passed, however, the canon grew larger, and the Story-Talkers began struggling to remember all the details they were charged with protecting. Small things were forgotten: a minor character in the Ballad of the Boxer, a plot twist in the Tale of the River Walkers. The Story-Talkers became necessarily consumed with memorization: young Story-Talkers spent thousands of hours in tutoring sessions with their elders, leaving neither group with enough time to create any New Works of significant artistic value. The problem, then, was dire and two-fold: there was the gradual loss of Ancient Works and the failure to produce any New Works.

The government, recognizing the severity of the issue, dedicated an enormous quantity of resources to finding a solution. After many months, they were met with success: the invention of the Story-Page (what we would call a “book”), which could hold a written account of the Ancient Works. Thrilled at the prospect of being freed from memorization, the Story-Talkers spent the next five years recording the tales that had so long lived exclusively in their heads. The Library of Redaer was established on the outskirts of their estate, and any citizen, after taking a basic literacy course, could—for a fee—rent a copy of an Ancient Work, in Story-Page form, to read at his or her leisure. The benefits of performance were lost, but new benefits were gained: the ability to read at one’s own pace, for example, and in one’s own home. Relieved of their burden, the Story-Talkers were again able to create and perform New Works of artistic merit. Everyone was thrilled; the national mood was euphoric.

What the government had not foreseen was the development of an underground story-sharing culture, whereby citizens would secretly lend their library books to each other. Often, lending occurred between close friends or family members; a mother would lend her son a copy of the River Walkers, for example, when he learned how to read. Sometimes, though, large networks of people would establish “reading chains.” In a reading chain, one physical Story-Page was passed through dozens—or even hundreds—of hands before returning to the Library.

As the reading chains grew longer, fewer and fewer people took out Story-Pages from the Library. The government noticed that its revenue from library fees (which helped cover the Story-Talkers’ living expenses) was declining, and after some investigation, they located and arrested several of the more prominent chain organizers (“chainers,” as they were known in the underground chain culture). The Story Protection Act, passed despite public outrage, forbade the creation of and participation in lending chains. Lending was still permissible among close friends and family members, but any lending that involved three or more individuals was officially classified as a “chain.”

The Act proved ineffectual. Though the law was clear, it was also unenforceable; citizens cold lend books to each other in the privacy of their own homes, tucked away from the government’s eye. The government saw no increase in its revenue from library fees—in fact, chains were formed more fiercely, bound together by a sense of moral outrage. “Reading is a right,” claimed famous chainer Rick Tandy in his trial. (Tandy, an early champion of the Free Reading movement, had been arrested for his role in arranging a seventy-person chain.) Access to the Ancient Works, he argued, led to greater intelligence, creativity, and empathy on the part of the reader. Plus, literacy had increased demand and appreciation for New Works. Audiences at New Work performances had never been larger; the Story-Talkers had never been happier, and the government’s lost revenue from library fees was counteracted by increased ticket sales for New Work performances.

But the leaders of Redaer paid no heed to the arguments of Tandy and his colleagues; instead, they passed a new law known as the Readership Era Security Act (RESA), which recalled all extant Library books and gave the Library the power of Literacy Restrictions Management (LRM). Under the auspices of LRM, the Library converted all its Story-Pages into illegible code. Every citizen was given a special pair of reading goggles, and, upon legally withdrawing a Story-Page, his or her goggles were adjusted such that the particular Story-Page would become legible. If that citizen lent her Story-Page to someone else, it would appear to that person as gibberish; if she tried to lend her goggles, a special security chip would immediately alert the police.

A consequence of LRMs was that friends and family members could not effectively lend Story-Pages to each other. Tandy was particularly outraged on this point, as intra-family lending had been made explicitly legal in the Story Protection Act. He spent several years designing a pair of “universal goggles,” which would allow someone to read any coded Story-Page. He gave these goggles away freely, but with the warning that they were to be used only for legal lending. Whether or not this warning was delivered earnestly is beside the point; armed with universal goggles, chains reformed, more strongly than ever before. Tandy was arrested and tried for attempting to circumvent the LRMs. He was given a hefty sentence, despite public protests at his trial, on the Story-Talker estate, and in taverns across the nation.

To this day, chain culture exists in opposition to government regulation. Though Tandy is forbidden from communicating without a government official present, others have stepped in to fill his shoes. As the Story-Page encryptions become more complicated, so too do the universal goggles. There is a clear public thirst for Story-Pages, for free and unlimited access to the Ancient Works. (Some rogue chainers have even begun transcribing and circulating illegal copies of New Works, though the public looks less favorably on that practice; reading a New Work has been proven to decrease one’s likelihood of attending a performance.) Their central argument? Reading is a right. It’s a refrain, a battle cry, the proud and enduring defense of Free Readers nationwide. Reading is a right.

Final Project: Stop SOPA at Yale – by “Mollie D”

    

 

       Our project was to plan and implement an advocacy and awareness campaign concerning the Stop Online Piracy Act. This piece of legislation, currently being debated in Congress, would place severe restrictions on Internet activities and free speech. The act also restricts Americans’ ability to obtain affordable prescription drugs from abroad. SOPA is the culmination of entertainment and pharmaceutical industry pressure on Washington to place stringent protections on intellectual property, and the resulting draconian measures threaten to undermine the fundamental principles of Internet freedom. The Internet has grown at such an astonishing rate because it has largely rejected harsh restrictions on user activity. SOPA violates the theoretical pillars necessary to the Internet’s functionality, and breaking the Internet in such a fashion would bear negative consequences for individuals and businesses that rely on the Internet’s facilitation of free information exchange.

       In formulating our project, we decided that a campaign aimed at students and tailored to their concerns would maximize the effectiveness of our efforts. We thus chose to use Internet and social media based methods of communication, and we concentrated our substantive content on issues most relevant to college students. We did not limit our coverage to these issues though, as we aimed to provide a breadth of information about the bill’s negative consequences. By using social media platforms, traditional media outlets, and two different blogging platforms, we were able to spread our message to many Yale students and provide valuable information about SOPA’s Internet-breaking policies to the campus. We hope the lasting impact of this campaign will not only be to facilitate continuing interest in SOPA’s progress, but also to engender a general sense of vigilance in the form of participatory democracy concerning free speech and Internet regulation that resonates well into the future.

Part 1: Launching a Campaign

       Our primary goal of this project was to spread awareness of SOPA and hopefully rally others around opposing it. In order to do this, we tried to appeal to many different groups by using a variety of platforms (Facebook, Twitter, WordPress). We also attempted to broaden our appeal by using satire and humor in addition to more pointed intellectual critique of the legislation. We tried to tap into the very things that SOPA would likely cut into: user-generated content, memes and places where you can share links. While we created a lot of our own content, we also tried to post relevant and interesting articles and sites that others had made. One particularly enjoyable and interesting story involved “The Megaupload Song” that received a takedown request, presumably automated, from some RIAA-related entity (Universal Music Group) because it featured many RIAA artists even though Megaupload (a major file-sharing site) owned all the rights to the video. If you’re curious, the (quite catchy) song can be found on Youtube, and there’s more information here. Also, if you’re into remixes, check out this link.

       A major challenge for our group in promoting the anti-SOPA movement was fighting the general Yale apathy and our generation’s apathy that comes with having people constantly inviting you to do things (spamming you). This challenge was exacerbated by finals period, and consequently, we weren’t able to get an Op-ed published in the YDN (as they stop publishing early in December). However, we were able to raise a good amount of awareness as many Yalies hadn’t even heard of SOPA prior to our outreach. Through explaining SOPA’s specific relevance to college students as well as posting some of the amazing articles and content available around the web, we were able to educate (and hopefully inspire) a lot of people.

       As of this writing, our Facebook page has 130 likes which is equivalent to about 3 percent of the Yale Undergraduate population.  While this number is fewer than we would have liked, we speculate that many people for political reasons and/or page like accumulation effects were reluctant to like our page. However, our Facebook page insights seem to indicate that many people still benefited from and engaged with our content. As we see below, our weekly total reach (the number of unique viewers who saw our content from 12/8/11 to 12/14/11) was 3,303 and peaked at 5,191 for the weak ending 12/12/11. Thus, a large percentage of Yale undergraduates likely read something we posted and learned more about SOPA.

 

       To complement our Facebook and WordPress, we created a Twitter account, @StopSopaYale, to complete our social media approach. The Twitter was useful in that it let us keep a small but interested group completely up to date on every #sopa happening. Additionally, the Twitter account was useful because it let us retweet other people’s views and comments on the SOPA debate. This allowed us to combine other people’s opinions with our own and give a lot of different viewpoints on the topic. The Twitter page was also an interesting foray into trending topics and extremely concise posts, a nice contrast to the more drawn out and in depth arguments of our WordPress blog.  Currently, we have 20 Twitter followers and we are on the list of one anti-SOPA advocate.

       In our opposition to SOPA we took both the pragmatic path into what specifically the SOPA legislation said and would do immediately (and why their is concern about intellectual property protection) as well as the somewhat hyperbolic path, wherein we demonstrated the absurdity of how broadly SOPA is written and speculated on the potential consequences that SOPA could have. In this way, we provided our audience both with a quick draw in (the two line memes and absurd scenarios depicted in videos) as well as further information if they were interested in understanding the issue on a deeper level.

Part 2: A Creative Approach

       In raising awareness within the Yale community about the flaws of SOPA, we aimed to create original content which would specifically appeal to Yale students, both in addressing issues relevant to our audience and by presenting this material in an entertaining form.  Thus, we created internet memes, videos, an op-ed for the Yale Daily News, and a blog.  Additionally, we wrote an anti-SOPA form letter for Yale students to send to their members of Congress which was tailored to reflect a Yale student’s perspective.  Finally, to make all of this content easier to access, we either linked the material to the Stop SOPA at Yale Facebook page or we created static HTML pages for the material with corresponding tabs to our Facebook page.

Internet Memes:

       The use of internet memes provided an effective and engaging way to point out the ridiculous elements of SOPA.  In generating our anti-SOPA memes, we drew from internet memes which were already popular and recognizable, such as the Lazy College Senior or Futurama Fry.  Thus, Yale students would be able to easily recognize the humor which we aimed to convey. Plus, internet memes can be easily shared and transformed.  Consequently, we hoped that our fans would not only share our anti-SOPA memes, but would also craft similar memes themselves.  Some topics which our memes addressed were the possible end to interactive websites such as Facebook and Wikipedia, the end to fair use online, and the halting of future innovative online start-ups.

Video Posts:

       Similar to the internet memes, the videos which we created aimed to point out insensible aspects of SOPA in a humorous way.  However, through videos we could portray these aspects in a more in-depth form to help our audience gain a better understanding of the problems created by SOPA.  For instance, the video entitled SOPA Courtroom Battle illustrates the extreme changes SOPA will make in criminalizing copyright infringement.

Form Letter:

       By creating an anti-SOPA form letter, we hoped to encourage students to be active participants in the Stop SOPA at Yale campaign, rather than just passive followers.  While creating awareness on campus about SOPA is important, it was equally important to us to inspire a response to the bill.  As mentioned above, we tailored the form letter to address the concerns of Yale students.  This form letter, with instructions on how to send it, was posted both on our Facebook page and our blog so that it could be easily accessed.

Op-Ed:

       As another form of outreach on campus, our group wrote an op-ed piece to be published in the Yale Daily News.  Unfortunately, it was too late in the semester for the op-ed to be published immediately, but it can currently be found on our blog and an updated version will be posted in the YDN early next semester.  Like our other creative content, the op-ed piece exemplifies many of the problems with SOPA and the article’s sarcastic, comical tone aims to keep our readers engaged and entertained.  Also, the op-ed piece directs our readers to visit our Facebook page, AmericanCensorship.org, and Wired for Change.

Blog:

       The Stop SOPA at Yale blog provides a forum for our group to express our opinions about SOPA extensively and provides a space for our followers to contribute their own viewpoints.  Similar to the op-ed, the blogs are written with the goal of being both informative and compelling.  Our blog posts touch on a variety of topics, ranging from the different camps of anti-SOPA supporters to the effect SOPA can have on healthcare.  In addition, three of our members held a live blog session to cover Congress’ markup debate of SOPA.  Through the blog, our group elevates our position in the anti-SOPA movement: not only do we provide a channel of information to Yale students, but we are also contributing to the online voices against SOPA.

Part 3: Becoming a Part of the Action

       One of the more interactive aspects that we integrated into Stop SOPA at Yale was our creation and operation of a live blog. After learning that there would be Congressional debate held to discuss the SOPA legislation on Thursday, December 15 (which just so happened to fall in the middle of our SOPA campaign), we realized it presented a great opportunity to add very direct and significant value to our campaign efforts. We would have been foolish not to somehow take advantage of the fortuitous timing of the most defining event to take place regarding SOPA to date. Sooo, we decided to conduct a continuous live blog during the House of Representatives’ Full Committee Markup. For the sake of clarification or if you are not really sure what a markup is, it is “The process by which congressional committees and subcommittees debate, amend, and rewrite proposed legislation.”

       Up to that point, the majority of our campaign’s content was based upon content published online, in the news, by political commentators, activists, etc. We had yet to really dig deep into the real diplomatic activity and reality of what was actually happening with SOPA on Capitol Hill, or among the politicians who will ultimately dictate the bill’s fate. We knew that by monitoring and providing commentary on the live debate IN CONGRESS, it would add a heightened level of authentic value to our campaign.

The very nature and benefits of maintaining a live blog carried unique advantages that fundamentally differed from the other aspects of our campaign (Facebook page, normal blog, memes, creative scenes, op-ed, etc)….

       Live blogging gave us a channel to portray not only our opinions about SOPA and why people should take a stand against it, but also the ability to present a discussion based on the statements made by representatives in Congress to support our previously published content. Furthermore, as proactive “Anti-SOPAs,” conducting this event forced us to seriously pay attention to what is ACTUALLY going on with SOPA in the political sphere. When participating in a public protest, it is very easy to get caught up in the overwhelming flood of public opinion online and in the media. Blogging live on the congressional hearing during which political figures delivered their positions helped us stay grounded.

       The main goal of our campaign was to engage Yale students in a compelling way. We believed that a live blog would be (relatively) more captivating (to the extent that a live blog really can be) than other forms of content. Our idea was that a live blog on the Congressional markup would attract more attention to the issues we were trying to convey to the student body. We also realized this would make the substance of the debate more accessible. Essentially, we sought to accomplish two campaign goals: 1) more exposure for our campaign, 2) heightened attention and knowledge to students about the bill itself.

       We believe we were able to bring the experience of the House debate in an appealing way to those who may not have followed it live, but wanted to have a taste of what went on. The live blog was an aspect of our campaign that probably linked closest with the “real-life” implications surrounding SOPA. The most fitting conclusion I could provide about this endeavor would be – POLITICAL PARTICIPATION AT ITS FINEST!

Part 4: A Rewarding Experience

       Ultimately, we deemed our advocacy campaign a success. As is discussed above, our data shows that our Facebook page reached a large number of individuals, both those inside and out of the Yale community.  We believe that we helped further the anti-SOPA cause and exposed the weak points of the legislation. It was especially exciting to be involved with the anti-SOPA activity at this particular stage, when the bill is one of its most hotly debated points. This allowed us to piggyback off of other anti-SOPA campaigns’ publicity and allowed us to run a live-blog of the bill’s mark-up in Congress.

       It was an extremely rewarding experience for us all, both in terms of educating others about the dangers of SOPA and learning ourselves about the controversial bill, as well as about other related debates regarding the freedom of the Internet. The project also allowed us to gather (or hone) many different skills using technology that we might have never been exposed to, including creating and running a blog (and live blog), creating memes and other internet videos, writing simple HTML, and using and linking Twitter, Facebook, and blog pages. The project was therefore a perfect culmination of our semester in Introduction to Law and Technology, reinforcing and combining new technological skills with knowledge about current Internet debates that in the future will allow us to be better informed and more active citizens of the Internet world.

Mollie DiBrell
Charles Gyer
Sam Helfaer
Nicholas Makarov
Zachary Tobolowsky
Will Kirkland

The Numerator – by “Daniel P”

How to Navigate the project:

1. Read this: project sheet and Spectrum template

2. Download the Numerator here: Numerator

To run the Numerator on a Mac:

1. Drag Numerator.zip to the desktop and uncompress it

2. Click Numerator.command

If that doesn’t work:

1. Open the “terminal” application

2. type “cd desktop” and push enter

3. type “cd Numerator” and push enter

4. type “cd bin” and push enter

5. type “java NumeratorGUI” and push enter

 

To run the Numerator on Windows

1. Drag Numerator.zip to the desktop and uncompress it

2. Click Numerator.bat

 

 

 

Choreographic Copyright – by “Jennifer W”

Choreographic works were not recognized as copyrightable until the Copyright Act of 1976. Although many choreographers have taken the opportunity to register their works in the thirty-five years since then, many have not and for this reason and the nature of the dance community, few cases have come to the court on this subject; leaving little precedence for future cases to rely on.

But given that registrations are on the rise, it stands to reason that the complications of choreographic works need more investigation in order to predict future case outcomes. Therefore, after reviewing Horgan v. MacMillan, Inc. and many articles covering that case, we’ve put together a short video about choreographic copyright and the way in which photography may or may not infringe on such works.

Using video and still screenshots from the dance movie Center Stage, we compile a few examples of photography based on choreography and ask you to decide what you think might be infringement.

After studying the video and photographs, if you believe that photography could plausibly infringe on copyright, ask yourself what other example could be created to show photography crossing the line.

Enjoy!

Jennifer W. & Kendall W.

Video from which screenshots were taken:
Center Stage

Music on YouTube – by “Adam P”

Given the recent emergence of YouTube as a major channel of expression for musical artists, we decided to film a short Q&A documentary on one of Yale’s own YouTube celebrities – Kurt Schneider and Jake Bruene. Initially brought together by a short-film project called College Musical, the group rose to fame through the Michael Jackson Medley, performed by Sam Tsui and written by Schneider, which currently has 25 million views. These YouTube artists have continued to collaborate on many other works, including College Musical the Movie, which just premiered last Sunday, May 1, at the Yale Whitney Humanities Center. With nearly 1 million subscribers, KurtHugoSchneider is currently the fifth most popular channel on YouTube. Here’s a quick look at their thoughts on YouTube as a medium of musical expression.

The film was made by Daniel Ayele, Daniel Esannason, Lynn Wang, and Adam Payne.

Special thanks to Jake Bruene, Kurt Schneider, and TJ Smith.

Yale Pwnership? – by “Misbah U”

How much does Yale Pwn you?

We wondered how Yale, Stanford, MIT, and Harvard’s intellectual property policies have affected the process of launching a start-up as an undergrad at these schools, and we wanted to know how students have had to negotiate with their school’s tech transfer offices on the terms of IP rights ownership, licensing, and royalty sharing.

After talking with several students & start ups at each of these universities, what we found is that most student start-ups simply avoid the tech transfer offices. In general, the IP policies are not well publicized, but most students who are trying to launch a venture have the foresight to investigate the policy and then operate outside of its bounds.

In the process, we created a short video that seeks to give you a glimpse into how much students know about intellectual property policies (specifically, Yale’s patent and copyright policies) and what misconceptions they may have surrounding student start ups.

Please do visit YalePwnership.info for more on what the policies are on paper versus reality and concepts established by students concerning them.

-Misbah Uraizee, Anna Doud, Camille Chambers, & Charles Amoako

New Style Game Ranking Project – by “Brian S”

There are lots of video game ranking sites out there. They judge games on a wide variety of criteria, ranging from graphics to replayability. However, there isn’t much information about how much freedom the user has when playing various games. This is highly relevant in the digital age, where “code is law” – the game’s code, whether intentionally or unintentionally, often limits what players are able to do in a way that was never possible in the era of board games. Additionally, companies are sometimes very eager to protect their intellectual property by imposing restrictions on the user’s freedom and creativity. Sometimes a user cannot actually play a game he has purchased – what kind of “ownership” of a game is that?

We sought to create a new rankings system that judges games on five freedom-related, digital-age criteria : accessibility, customizability, ease of sharing, game company control, and cost. For each game we looked at we assigned scores for each of these metrics, on a scale from 1 to 10.

More information and, of course, the actual rankings can be found at our blog.

This is the final project for Brian Senie, Benjamin Gossels and Wesley Wilson.