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In its Darkest Hour, Seeing the Good in Facebook May 18, 2010

Posted by lborodkin in : Uncategorized , 2comments

I’ve been skeptical of Facebook from the moment it tricked me into joining.

Lately, I’ve been surfing the wave of Schadenfreude at its recent fall from grace. I even co-wrote an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle that took some major digs at it.

However, I won’t be quitting. Something happened over the weekend that reminded me of the positive power of Facebook. A friend died. His name was David Lee.

Here is David, laughing and smiling just before he left for Costa Rica:

David Memorial from VidFu on Vimeo.

David was one of the best guys I have ever met. The video is from a business he was supposed to launch right after he came back from Costa Rica. He died in a car crash on that vacation.

It’s very much in character that Dave made this video. He told me, “There are a lot of people that talk about doing things, but I’m someone who does them.”

He was going to launch that business on time no matter what. I had told him it might be fun to get some comedy actress-writers I knew to be in the videos. But the actress-writers wanted to sit down and chat about it over coffee first. Their coffee date day was the day of the shoot. So he decided to star in it himself.

In business, David personified Guy Kawasaki’s principle of “Be a mensch.” His inner haggler sometimes battled with his innate generosity, but the generosity won out. Every long afternoon and late night we worked in K-town coffee shops, he picked up the check. When it was dark, he insisted on walking me to my car.

One night we had a heart-to-heart about why Koreans can be so dramatic. It’s like the Armenians, he said. Koreans endured a lot of suffering in their history.

I learned of David’s death from a Facebook event invitation. At first I mistook “Farewell to David Lee” for a going-away party. It dawned on me what might have happened. We were sending him off in farewell at the beach.

Like all of Dave’s friends, the friend who invited me was warm and outgoing. We had connected pretty quickly on Facebook.

When Dave’s friends started posting pictures and stories on his Facebook wall, I had some context to understand how loved he was. The range of emotions from his connections was comforting too. Everyone was dealing in their own way. It helped make it more real, going through it in real time, and not alone.

And this was possible because David and his friends had shared so much already. This is a case where in the moment you don’t care if the pictures are private or public. The point is to remember and share our life with David.

Now I get the half of the argument that is defending Facebook. If you post something you probably want to share it at some level. Even in the years I posted under an alias on an obscure Web community, I did.

As an Internet and media lawyer, I still think the Facebook privacy scam is evil. I think it sets a terrible example for business ethics. I still advocate for people to consider alternatives like Twitter, Flickr and Evite.

But as a user, I was really glad for Facebook this week. I’ll protest the privacy changes by abstaining on June 6, but I won’t quit.

If I had, I would have missed out on a little of David. I had too little time with him as it is.

The Hidden Value of Creative Commons April 16, 2009

Posted by lborodkin in : Uncategorized , 6comments
Happy 6th Birthday Creative Commons

Happy 6th Birthday Creative Commons

On Avvo.com, I recently answered this question on music sampling:

“What are the laws on sampling music for a beat?”

Here is my answer:

“Sampling” music sound recordings is taking a portion of a sound recording and reusing it as a portion of a distinctly altered musical work. Under the copyright law, this reuse and transformation creates what is called a “derivative” work.

In the absence of any other agreement or license, the creator of the original musical sound recording has a copyright in the musical sound recording when it is released commercially. This is regardless of whether the work is registered with the Copyright Office.

It is actionable copyright infringement to incorporate portions of a musical sound recording that has been commercially released into a new work unless (a) the copyright holder grants a license allowing both copying and the creation of derivative works or (b) the owner of the sound recording has made the music available for public use under a gratis Creative Commons license that permits derivative works.

You can search for musical sound recordings that have been made available to the public for beat sampling under a Creative Commons license at creativecommons.org. You must heed the Creative Commons-published guidelines for any particular work. Only works licensed for “remix,” that is, derivative uses, may be used for beat sampling. Some owners also restrict Creative Commons license to non-commercial uses, and/or a reciprocal “share alike” license. Most Creative Commons licenses require attribution, or credit, in lieu of a license fee. Any use that falls outside the Creative Commons guidelines for a particular work would be actionable copyright infringement.

That is the lawyer’s answer. But there is another side to using Creative Commons work that reveals the flip side of my previous post on why attribution matters in copyright law. Attribution is a way of finding and linking to people that you want to work with and who want to work with you. I discovered this for myself about a year ago by putting the photos in my free Flickr account into Creative Commons under a non-commercial, attribution, no derivatives license.

I had surprising and wonderful results. Every so often, I get a little Google news vanity alert about a photo that’s been credited on the Internet. One of my faves is the remix of Lawrence Lessig at the top of this post. It is actually a collage that was created by Andy on the fly for a G33k dinner. More profoundly, it has brought some wonderful people into my life.

Tag up your photos and try it yourself. If they’re on a free hosting service, what do you have to lose?

“Happy 6th Birthday Creative Commons” collage by netZoo/revolute. Shared under Creative Commons license -obviously – via flickr.