Tweeting a joke can be no joke

Tweet withheld

Reports emerged late last week that Twitter is deleting tweets that copy another tweeter’s jokes.

The Verge reports on a writer’s request to Twitter to remove a tweet that used her content (a joke) without permission and thus infringed her intellectual property rights:

I simply explained to Twitter that as a freelance writer I make my living writing jokes (and I use some of my tweets to test out jokes in my other writing). I then explained that as such, the jokes are my intellectual property, and that the users in question did not have my permission to repost them without giving me credit.

The Verge says that Twitter did the take-down under the DCMA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), a part of US copyright law introduced in 1998. It’s a complex piece of legislation but very broadly, it supports the rights of copyright holders to control access to and downstream use of their content. It’s controversial as it threatens the concept of fair use under US copyright law, among other things. (You can read more about DCMA on the US government’s copyright website.)

I am a bit nonplussed that such firm action is happening now as plagiarising someone’s content has been part of the Twitter landscape since Twitter started in 2006. That’s not to say it’s been okay to do that (it’s not okay), I’m just wondering why this has come up only now and about jokes rather than anything more substantive.

And these examples are about using someone else’s content as if it is yours – surely common sense would ring your alarm bell on that – and all the examples I’ve seen were original tweets not retweets.

Still, it is interesting and illustrates that copyright law does apply to anything you publish anywhere, even Twitter, and even a joke, and a takedown will happen if Twitter thinks your complaint is valid.

Equally interesting is the jurisdiction. DCMA is a US law – how will that work in other jurisdictions that are not subject to a US law like copyright? Here in the UK for instance?

I suppose in theory if you’re in, say, the UK or China or Brazil, you could go ahead and use someone else’s joke in your tweet and not worry about any US law. Twitter can still take it down if the creator of that joke complains to Twitter and there’s probably little you can do about it other than sue Twitter. Good luck!

Twitter joke

In thinking about this matter of jurisdiction, a little searching found Can You Copyright A Tweet?,  a most interesting post on the TechnoLlama blog in January that discusses this very topic from a broad European perspective.

On the matter of a tweet, ie, text up to 140 characters:

European copyright law does not have a minimal limit on what constitutes a protected copyright work. For example, the EU Copyright Directive 2001/29/EC makes it clear in Art 2 that the reproduction “in whole or in part” of a work is to be considered an infringement, not stating a minimum amount for what is “in whole or in part”. It has generally been accepted in case law that the copying of a part of a work has to be substantial in order to infringe, but similarly this is a very subjective test, as what makes up a substantial element of the work is left for the court to decide. The broad language in Art 2 led to the Court of Justice of the European Union to establish a very minimal definition for what is an original work. In Infopaq (Case C-5/08) the CJEU says that a work is original if it is the author’s “own intellectual creation”.

And:

Initially, if a tweet is protected by copyright, then its unauthorised reproduction “in whole or in part” would be copyright infringement. If I write a joke and it is copied in whole by someone else, then in theory I could sue for copyright infringement. But what about retweets? This is slightly trickier, as it is an important feature of twitter that makes the service richer. My own solution (and I am happy to be proven wrong here) is that any public account gives other users an implied licence to retweet the work. But what about non-automatic retweets, such as using the format: RT @technollama “I for one welcome our new 3D-printed Bitcoin drone overlords #yeswearethatold”. In my opinion, this would also be fine as long as it is clearly attributed, but I have no legal basis for the opinion other than it is common practice in the medium.

It is my firm belief that a large number of tweets in Europe are protected by copyright, and it is only a matter of time until this is tested in a case.

And intriguingly:

By the way, my tweets are licensed under a CC licence, so feel free to reproduce them as you see fit.

That’s a cat among the legal pigeons!

Is it time for a post-capitalism post-communism mashup?

The Guardian | An Age of Sharing

Books on politics and political issues rarely capture my attention or my imagination.

During the past decade, I have read just three books about politics, all biographies – Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair. Probably great fodder for Freudians who’d like to pop me in a pigeon-hole. Good luck with that!

My own self-analysis of why these works did attract me tells me that each addresses times and experiences of significant change and, indeed, upheavals in society, in political landscapes and more. Each author, either directly and/or via a ghost, weaves a compelling narrative that resonates strongly with my understanding and sense of contemporary society and the changes I might wish to see happen as well as those I’d rather not.

The politics in each – in terms of labels like left, centre and right – get largely ignored.

This morning, during my usual early-Saturday online news consumption and sharing time, I came across an article in The Guardian by journalist Paul Mason that did very much capture my attention and my imagination.

In the article, published on July 17, Mason lays out a deep rationale and the canvas for his forthcoming book that discusses a topic that is most interesting if you take the politics out of it – the successor to capitalism.

Titled simply PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future, Mason’s book is described by publisher Penguin as “a guide to our era of seismic economic change, and how we can build a more equal society.” Clearly politics – and by that word, I mean class politics – will be very much a part of this no matter how I wish it weren’t.

After reading Mason’s piece in The Guardian, I thought about how would I sum up what the book’s about in a tweetable-length text? I came up with this:

Mason’s article is peppered with thought-provoking opinions to support his clear view that we are en route to a post-capitalist world that will capture your imagination, whether you agree or not.

To start with:

Without us noticing, we are entering the postcapitalist era. At the heart of further change to come is information technology, new ways of working and the sharing economy. The old ways will take a long while to disappear, but it’s time to be utopian.

Well, that got my attention. Thank God he didn’t say “It’s time to be dystopian” that you might expect from a journalist who, in his own words, “was a Leftie activist.”

Then this:

Almost unnoticed, in the niches and hollows of the market system, whole swaths of economic life are beginning to move to a different rhythm. Parallel currencies, time banks, cooperatives and self-managed spaces have proliferated, barely noticed by the economics profession, and often as a direct result of the shattering of the old structures in the post-2008 crisis.

New forms of ownership, new forms of lending, new legal contracts: a whole business subculture has emerged over the past 10 years, which the media has dubbed the “sharing economy”. Buzzwords such as the “commons” and “peer-production” are thrown around, but few have bothered to ask what this development means for capitalism itself.

And a paragraph that especially grabbed my attention:

There is, alongside the world of monopolised information and surveillance created by corporations and governments, a different dynamic growing up around information: information as a social good, free at the point of use, incapable of being owned or exploited or priced. I’ve surveyed the attempts by economists and business gurus to build a framework to understand the dynamics of an economy based on abundant, socially-held information. But it was actually imagined by one 19th-century economist in the era of the telegraph and the steam engine. His name? Karl Marx.

Karl Marx, as you will know, was a co-author of the Communist Party Manifesto, a publication I read in the 1970s and have always believed presents a Utopian view of a world that has never (can never?) been fulfilled as the failed dystopian Soviet project over a 70-year period clearly illustrated.

What Mason argues is for change within the current economic (and, I would argue, political) system rather than the “man the barricades” treatments you typically hear from ‘Leftie activists’ and those who talk about “we are the 99 percent,” etc. And, arguably, that’s what you see and hear today in much of the polarising rhetoric from the mainstream political Left.

So I like how Paul Mason makes his arguments for change with reality statements like this:

The modern day external shocks are clear: energy depletion, climate change, ageing populations and migration. They are altering the dynamics of capitalism and making it unworkable in the long term. They have not yet had the same impact as the Black Death – but as we saw in New Orleans in 2005 [hurricane Katrina], it does not take the bubonic plague to destroy social order and functional infrastructure in a financially complex and impoverished society.

And finally:

Most 20th-century leftists believed that they did not have the luxury of a managed transition: it was an article of faith for them that nothing of the coming system could exist within the old one – though the working class always attempted to create an alternative life within and “despite” capitalism. As a result, once the possibility of a Soviet-style transition disappeared, the modern left became preoccupied simply with opposing things: the privatisation of healthcare, anti-union laws, fracking – the list goes on.

And so I have pre-ordered the Kindle edition of Mason’s book which will be published in the UK on July 30. Can’t wait to read it.

[Image at top via The Guardian.]

Labelling the C-Suite of the future

Boardroom

There could be a slew of new three- and four-letter acronyms to get used to if changes in C-Suite functions and roles take hold as outlined in 10 C-Suite Jobs of The Future, a thought-provoking report in FastCompany magazine this week.

For instance:

Chief Intellectual Property Officer

The world of intellectual property law is only getting more vast and complicated as new innovations hit the market. Not only will companies in the near future need a core leadership team member who can wade through the dizzying sea of intellectual property laws and patents to ensure their own compliance, but also remain vigilant to protect their own company against infringement.

“The patent offices do not send people out, we don’t have patent cops going around saying, ‘Hey, you violated something,” says Thomas Frey [executive director and senior futurist of The DaVinci Institute, a futurist think-tank]. “It really ends up coming down to you as a company or you as an individual to manage and defend your own property.”

The full list:

  1. Chief Ecosystem Officer
  2. Chief User Experience Officer
  3. Chief Automation Officer
  4. Chief Freelance Relationship Officer
  5. Chief Intellectual Property Officer
  6. Chief Data Officer
  7. Chief Privacy Officer
  8. Chief Compliance Officer
  9. Chief Human Resources Officer
  10. Chief Administrative Officer

I think each of these titles is most likely to appear (I’ve already seen ‘Chief Privacy Officer’) as business and societal landscapes continue to change and organization structures and cultures continue to evolve. Some might need rejigging: we already have ‘CEO’ and ‘CCO’ for instance.

But as long as such new titles have credible foundations – they’re not just fancy labels – that reflect the future of work and workplaces, then they might serve valuable purposes in organizational form and function.

Read the details behind each potential C-Suite title at FastCompany: 10 C-Suite Jobs of The Future.

7/7 perspective 10 years on

7/7: how the day unfolded

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the July 7 terrorist bombings in London in 2005, known as 7/7.

On the morning of Thursday, 7 July 2005, four Islamist men detonated four bombs – three in quick succession aboard London Underground trains across the city and, later, a fourth on a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square. As well as the four bombers, 52 civilians were killed and over 700 more were injured in the attacks, the United Kingdom’s worst terrorist incident since the 1988 Lockerbie bombing as well as the country’s first ever suicide attack.

I was in London that day and caught up in a very minor way with the unfolding  events as I tried to get to Heathrow airport for a flight back to Amsterdam where I lived at the time. I recorded some thoughts about my experience on the train to the airport on the afternoon of that day. While my experience bears no relation at all to the horrors of the bombings and the people killed and injured, I think this 10-minute commentary contributes one individual perspective to the overall picture of what we call 7/7.

I wrote this in a blog post when I eventually arrived home that evening:

I’ve been in London over the past two days. Caught up in the chaos at Paddington station this lunchtime which, as I arrived there to catch the Heathrow Express, was evacuated because of a bomb threat. Police everywhere and hundreds of people rushing out of the station. But the massive inconvenience today resulting from my being indirectly caught up in the effects of the terrorist outrages pales into complete insignificance compared to the direct and awful effects of those outrages with more than 35 people dead and over 700 injured.

Just to put things into proper perspective.

In memoriam.

[Addition, 10.15 am] Thinking about 7/7 after I published this post, I was suddenly reminded of another perspective I heard about last month – the role of communication during a tragedy such as 7/7 in a presentation made by Chris Webb, the Strategic Communication Lead for the emergency services on the ground, so to speak, on that fateful day.

Webb spoke at the FutureComms15 conference in London last month and took us through events on 7/7 from the communication perspective.

This was a time before Twitter existed and before Facebook had moved out of the American uni dorm rooms; it would be more than another year before YouTube was acquired by Google and began to really catch on. Social media in 2005 meant blogs, a  nascent form of media that was already getting increasing attention.

So in a crisis, a tragedy, like 7/7 there was mostly what we call today the mainstream media and all the processes and procedures that will be familiar to anyone who was a communication practitioner in the 90s and early 00s and knew about crisis communication.

How different such a landscape would be today with social media as a key part of the media mix.

Watch Chris Webb’s complete presentation in this video.

Why Magna Carta matters

Scales of Justice

Today, June 15, 2015, marks the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta in 1215, a document that to this day is widely considered part of the so-called unwritten constitution of the United Kingdom; and continues to be honoured in the United States as an antecedent of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

While there still are many voices who question the truth of what exactly happened on that day in 1215, and what led up to and happened after it – notably this good ‘reality assessment’ by historian, journalist, author and barrister Dominic Selwood – the fact remains that Magna Carta is widely seen as a foundational event in the development of democracy that we understand today.

As the British Library notes:

Although Magna Carta contained 63 clauses when it was first granted, only three of those remain part of English law. One defends the liberties and rights of the English Church, another confirms the liberties and customs of London and other towns, but the third is the most famous:

No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.

This clause was given no particular prominence in 1215, but its intrinsic adaptability has allowed succeeding generations to reinterpret it for their own purposes. In the 14th century Parliament saw it as guaranteeing trial by jury; in the 17th century Sir Edward Coke (1552-1634) interpreted it as a declaration of individual liberty in his conflict with the early Stuart kings; and it has echoes in the American Bill of Rights (1791) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).

Beliefs or ideals that are worth supporting.

RunnymedeSee also: Magna Carta: The foundation of modern democracy – my account of visiting Runnymede, the site near Windsor of the sealing of the Magna Carta by King John  in 1215, with my friend and podcasting partner Shel Holtz when he visited the UK last October.

“And so we strolled across the meadow on a beautifully sunny and unseasonably mild October morning to be at the place that marks a milestone in history that has had a direct influence on the fortunes of many countries over the centuries.

Without doubt, this place is one of major significance yet has none of the glitz or shallow commercialism that afflict so many places of historic interest.

The site where King John  and the feudal barons gathered to consummate Magna Carta is tucked away among trees, with understated majesty in its location and its temple-like construction…”

FIR Interview: Leila Janah and The Future of Work

FIR InterviewsThe expansion of the global internet population will continue to have a profound impact on infrastructure, education, finance, commerce, and healthcare, among other industries worldwide.

That was a major theme of The Next Billion London, a one-day conference on May 19, 2015, presented by Quartz magazine.

At the Quartz event, FIR co-host Neville Hobson had the opportunity to record a conversation with Leila Janah, founder and CEO of Sama Group and an award-winning social entrepreneur who uses technology and lean business methods to promote social justice.

A wide-ranging conversation focused on the future of work which was how Quartz titled her conference session, very much in the midst of the profound impact the Quartz conference addressed. A thought-provoking segment in the latter part of the discussion concerns the role of governments as enablers of positive change through specific actions that include taxation and rebuilding trust with citizens.

The interview began with Janah introducing her business model.

Listen Now

Get This Podcast

About Our Conversation Partner

leilajanah110Leila Janah is the Founder and CEO of Sama Group and an award-winning social entrepreneur.

Prior to Sama Group, Leila was a Visiting Scholar with the Stanford Program on Global Justice and Australian National University’s Center for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics. She was a founding Director of Incentives for Global Health, an initiative to increase R&D spending on diseases of the poor, and a management consultant at Katzenbach Partners (now Booz & Co). She has also worked at the World Bank and as a travel writer for Let’s Go in Mozambique, Brazil, and Borneo.

Leila is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, a Director of CARE USA, a 2012 TechFellow, recipient of the inaugural Club de Madrid Young Leadership Award, and the youngest person to win a Heinz Award in 2014.

She received a BA from Harvard and lives in San Francisco.

  • Connect with Leila on Twitter: @leila_c.

FIR Community on Google+Share your comments or questions about this podcast, or suggestions for future podcasts, in the online FIR Podcast Community on Google+.

You can also send us instant voicemail via SpeakPipe, right from the FIR website. Or, call the Comment Line at +1 415 895 2971 (North America), +44 20 3239 9082 (Europe), or Skype: fircomments. You can tweet us: @FIRpodcast. And you can email us at fircomments@gmail.com. If you wish, you can email your comments, questions and suggestions as MP3 file attachments (max. 3 minutes / 5Mb attachment, please!). We’ll be happy to see how we can include your audio contribution in a show.

Check the website for information about other FIR podcasts. To receive all podcasts in the FIR Podcast Network, subscribe to the “everything” RSS feed.

Podsafe music – On A Podcast Instrumental Mix (MP3, 5Mb) by Cruisebox.

(Cross-posted from the FIR Podcast Network blog.)