Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Ubiquity of Diminutive Lenses

By posting video clips of his beloved Tar Heels' basketball team on his well-traveled blog, crafty columnist Ed Cone has raised an issue not previously considered. In a world where the most ancillary of objects can record moving pictures and sound, what is and isn’t fair game? Ed’s ticket to the Smith Center expressly forbid video cameras, but allowed still photos. But his tiny Nikon did both, and he came away from the game with footage he wanted to share. Enter the blogosphere. With the punch of a ‘Publish‘ button, the tech-savvy writer made his thirty second seat-cam cinema freely available to all who would pause long enough to give it a click.

Ed did so not to make a buck, but to show his enthusiasm for an entity he loves (and supports, no doubt). But no matter how well-intentioned his video homage may be, it’s unclear how the folks who get paid to market UNC Basketball feel about it. It’s one more example of how rapidly-improving technology is outpacing other facets of American life. How long before such venues such as a university coliseum update their policies regarding new recording devices in the Information Renaissance? How ill it affect the distribution of proprietary imagery when every patron has a high-powered lens hanging off their hip?

As Pam and Tommy Lee will attest, once an image, sound or sequence is cast upon the internets, no amount of lawyers can stuff the genie back in the bottle. Ed’s subject matter isn’t anywhere as salacious as that, but his quiet camerawork could very well trigger a schism in the plate tectonics of intellectual property. Trouble is, no one knows what the landscape may look like once the aftershocks fade. And plenty of people smarter than me are scanning the horizon...
‘Colleges zealously guard their images, logos and athletic marketing. TV broadcasters pay schools big money for sole rights to televise the events. It's not in the best financial interest of either to let any schmoe with a video camera shoot whatever he or she feels like and stream it online. (Not without them getting a cut of the action, at least.) This is another case of institutional policy and the law lagging behind technology and the consumer.’ -- John Robinson

I have no problem with a rule against commercial use of video clips, or clips of a certain length. But is my use of a brief clip at a site that accepts ads 'commercial use'? I think not. What if I aggregated clips from a bunch of users, and sold ads around them? Probably so... -- Ed Cone

‘These small vids are viral advertisements. A type of social activity that basketball fans, young and old, can enjoy. When you give a community (ie ACC basketball fans) a common activity that layers on top of another (ie following the tar heels) you have a very strong synergy. Creativity + fans x love = money.’ -- Brian R.
One thing’s for sure. No matter how we rewrite the rulebooks of image gathering, it sure won’t stop some cat with a badge, a flashlight and a GED from hassling me and my heavily logo’d fancy-cam at the gate. Save me an aisle-seat...


Lex said...

Smart entities are going to treat the kind of thing Ed did as free advertising and allow it for noncommercial purposes.

And with all respect to my boss, it isn't that the law hasn't kept up, it's that in many respects IP law was actually shoved backwards over the past several years. (C'mon, did the nation really benefit from Congress' extending copyright protection for Mickey Mouse?)

ash said...

Speaking of trends and changing times, what do you think of this, Lenslinger?


ash said...

sorry 'bout that - here's the link