Google’s request comes on the heels of Viacom’s asking for the records to be unsealed right away. Unsealed means the records will be publicly accessible--the ‘down and dirty’ of the Google/YouTube-Viacom battle can at last be revealed. According to Viacom, and entertainment lawyer Ben Sheffner, law requires that records, save for trade secrets, be unsealed once summary judgment has been filed for. Google, on the other hand, envisions a nightmare of inefficiency in processing the records, which might impede Google’s final arguments in the case.
What’s in the records is anyone’s guess. Some are hopeful there’ll be more embarrassing admissions, such as Google emails that indicate YouTube managers were uploading or condoning the presence of copyrighted material on YouTube. Or Viacom’s, where employees purposely uploaded Viacom content to YouTube to promote Viacom’s product.
If such things do exist in these records it will take a while to find out. During the three year battle hundreds of thousands of pages of information have been exchanged. It’ll take a while to shift through it all once its released--whether that’s now, as Viacom as requested, or in June, when Google prefers.
Auto-captioning, which will at present be restricted to English language videos, uses speech recognition to create an automatic transcription usingthe voice recognition algorithms in Google Voice. Videos, once uploaded, will be available to a wider audience of people than before. And YouTube is aiming beyond just those with hearing impairments. It sees this feature as useful for making English language content available to non-English speakers.
It looks like YouTube will apply auto-captioning retroactively--to all the English language videos in its collection. (Video owners can speed up this process by running their videos through the auto-captioning process.) And, YouTube’s goal is to expand the reach of auto-captioning to include other languages. Still, the technology is in its infancy, and YouTube suggests some patience with the transcriptions--they aren’t foolproof just yet.
The software world has gotten this point pretty well by now. Sure, you can wrap additional elements of a larger business plan around an open-source offering. But even at its core, the concept of open-source isn't really designed around capitalistic ideals. If anything, it's more communistic in its focus: everybody shares an equal stake in a project, and anybody is free to assert their individual ownership in a piece of work by advancing it toward a new direction as they see fit.
But these... these are just the tools of the revolution, as Marx might have said. When it comes to actual content itself--the very bits and bytes of progress that open-source tools help create--the current crop of major content creators and distributors are behaving like dictators in an open world. And it's costing both them and us rather greatly. Instead of reaping the success of a community-driven groundswell for their assets, these companies would rather lay down the hammer and stifle all innovation in an attempt to control their futures to a "T."
Two recent examples from Lawrence Lessig and the band OK Go really hit home the biggest elements that are wrong with our current system of open information distribution on the ‘net. If it's not the owner of the content acting like an idiot, it's the system we've allowed to propagate that virtually criminalizes content sharers without a second thought.
Adobe has released the third beta version of Flash 10.1, and it comes with a nice treat for the early adopter on the move. Beta 3 finally adds GPU acceleration support for the Intel GMA 500 chipset. This is the graphics hardware found in the majority of netbooks. What does this mean in practical terms? Well, just 720p Flash video on a netbook, that’s all.
Over at Engadget they were able to coax a Dell Mini 10 to play back 1080p content as well. Both Youtube and CBS streaming appeared to work well enough with minor lag. Still, when any previous attempts to play this content brought a netbook to a grinding halt, you can’t be too picky.
The results are good for a beta. Sure, there’s still some jitter but it’s a vast improvement. Adobe has been racing to complete the update of the much maligned plug-in. The new beta gives us hope that the wait may be worth it. Get the beta 3 version of Flash right here and enjoy.
Rick Astley may never give you up, but that didn't stop YouTube from giving up on the 80s pop star. We're not sure exactly when it happened, but the video sharing site has pulled the plug on the original 'Rickroll' video, the one that recorded over 30 million views, nearly all of which were unintended.
So why did YouTube take the video down?
That's all YouTube and Google are so far willing to say on the matter. Nevertheless, don't let the take down give you a false sense of security. There are still plenty other videos of Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" floating about on YouTube, as well as the rest of the Internet.
If you are a Google Voice user and you’ve tried to explain the service to someone else, it probably didn’t go well. The other party likely came away as flummoxed as ever, and you made a fool of yourself with all that wild gesticulating. Well, that’s what happened to us anyway. Don’t worry though; from now on you can simply direct friends and family to Google’s new series of Youtube videos detailing the “awesomeness” of Google Voice.
The first video is a simple overview called “What is Google Voice?” It does an admirable job of getting to the meat of the service. It doesn’t go into detail about how to use any of the features, but it lets the uninitiated know what they’re going to get when they sign up. It goes over ringing multiple phones, call screening, blocking callers, greetings, and voicemail transcription.
The Google Voice channel also has additional videos about each feature. There are 11 videos in all right now. So even if you’re a veteran Voice user, there might be something to learn from watching them. You can find all the videos right here. Do you have a Google Voice account? How do you use it?
You never know what will be returned in a YouTube search. And maybe you don’t what to know. To help you control better the content you’re exposed to on YouTube, Google is introducing a Safety Mode that will help you screen out potentially objectionable content.
Safety Mode is an opt-in feature. The option is provided at the bottom of a YouTube page, and opting in is temporary, unless you’re signed into your account. Searches that stray outside of Safety Mode return nothing, but a notice will be provided that explains Safety Mode blocked the searched for content. Likewise, if results are filtered a Safety Mode warning will be provided. When Safety Mode is on comments will, by default, be hidden. They can be displayed, but objectionable words will be replaced with asterisks.
Shortcomings to Safety Mode are obvious. No filtering system is foolproof--some ‘bad’ stuff is bound to sneak through. Google readily recognizes this, and provides a suitable warning. And, because the keywords are set at the system-level, there’s a bit of Big Brother at play here. However, this latter concern is mitigated, to a degree, by Safety Mode being opt-in. If you don’t want it, don’t use it. (Still, it would be nice to individually determine what is, and what is not, objectionable.)
Safety Mode is being rolled out over the next day or so. When it’s available you’ll find it at the bottom of any YouTube page.
I'm not sure which of these is a more compelling criticism of the Apple iPad: "They named it what?" or "Where's the Flash?"
It's no secret that Apple harbors no love for Adobe's Flash architecture. John Gruber over at Daring Fireball recently wrote up a wonderful treatise as to why this is the case. If you have a spare hour or so, I recommend giving it a look-see. I'll spoil the ending for the sake of continuing on with this column: Flash is a proprietary architecture that Apple has no control over. Thus, when Flash-based elements wreak havoc on the stability of Apple platforms, Apple can't do much to fix the issue--nor can the company convert the 32-bit Flash binary over to Apple's goal of a system-wide, 64-bit experience.
The enemy of Apple's proprietary enemy might be the company's friend, but it's no friend to the Internet.
If all the talk of HTML 5 has piqued your curiosity, then you may want to give YouTube's new HTML 5 experiment a try. The world's most popular video streaming portal is now offering a HTML5-based alternative to the Adobe Flash player. But the YouTube HTML 5 video player is only compatible with three browsers: Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer with ChromeFrame. While other browsers may support HTML 5, only the two mentioned above support the H.264 video codec at this moment.
Despite how the press portrays Hollywood as all glitz and glamour, there are a lot of hard working have-nots toiling away in the film industry. These have-nots don’t get the notoriety of their more famous brethren, which makes them, all-in-all, a desperate bunch. This makes YouTube’s recent venture up to the Sundance Film Festival a pretty smart move. If you want to get into the film rental business, and the big names aren’t biting, then start trolling for the have-nots. And where better to find them than at Sundance?
Let’s take YouTube’s action as both cynical and strategic, and put it aside. Because, if the have-nots bite, then one of the ultimate beneficiaries of this plan will be us. Each year independent filmmakers show off their wares at Sundance, and a small handful wind up being well worth watching. Problem is, the major studios aren’t so keen on cutting distribution deals, which prevents us from seeing them. YouTube is offering a new approach that eliminates the middleman, gives filmmakers a way of promoting their product (while making a few bucks), and gives us a chance to see some good cinema.
YouTube says it will make available five films from the 2009 and 2010 festivals for rental starting this Friday and running through Sunday, January 31. YouTube says it has also signed up other U.S. partners from which it will offer a small collection of rental videos in the weeks ahead. And lastly, YouTube will promote its rental program among independents at Sundance with a “Filmmakers Wanted” campaign.
YouTube’s advice: get your checkout account ready, pop some corn, and stock up on swedish fish--it’s showtime!