Tag Archives: Mashable

Kenneth Cole Steps In It

Kenneth Cole twitter

Kenneth Cole PR twitter

Katherine Noyes at PC World:

For all those who needed an illustration of how a business shouldn’t use Twitter, Kenneth Cole kindly provided it this week by using the current unrest in Egypt as a promotional tool.

“Millions are in uproar in #Cairo,” read the original tweet from Thursday morning. “Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at http://bit.ly/KCairo.”

Widespread uproar was the result, all right, but not as a result of any spring collection. Such was the magnitude of the outcry at Cole’s insensitivity, in fact, that the company hastily removed the tweet that same day and issued two retractions instead.

“Re Egypt tweet: we weren’t intending to make light of a serious situation,” read the first. “We understand the sensitivity of this historic moment -KC”

A second, posted on Facebook soon afterward, read as follows:

“I apologize to everyone who was offended by my insensitive tweet about the situation in Egypt. I’ve dedicated my life to raising awareness about serious social issues, and in hindsight my attempt at humor regarding a nation liberating themselves against oppression was poorly timed and absolutely inappropriate.”

Erik Hayden at The Atlantic:

And a snapshot of reactions:

  • The Next Web – “Oh dear, we thought that big brands might have learnt that hijacking hashtags isn’t a good idea”
  • Advertising Age – “Kenneth Cole and others in the media and marketing industries not only suffer from a lack of tact, they suffer from a lack of historical knowledge and the ability to grasp that the situation in Egypt could get a hell of lot uglier than it is even at this moment.”
  • Styleite – “Apparently Kenneth Cole knows there’s nothing like a violent political revolution to boost sales!”

Brenna Ehrlich at Mashable:

Cole made a similarly indelicate statement in the past; following 9/11, he told the New York Daily News: “Important moments like this are a time to reflect… To remind us, sometimes, that it’s not only important what you wear, but it’s also important to be aware.”

The Twitterverse, unsurprisingly, is not happy with Cole’s 140-character missive. A fake account — @KennethColePR, à la @BPGlobalPR — has even cropped up, mocking the designer with such tweets as: “Our new slingback pumps would make Anne Frank come out of hiding! #KennethColeTweets.”

Amy Odell at New York Magazine:

Since the Tweet caused mass offense around the Internet, a Kenneth Cole parody account @KennethColePR emerged. Its tweets include, “‘People from New Orleans are flooding into Kenneth Cole stores!’ #KennethColeTweets.” Also: “People of Haiti, fall into our store for earth-shattering savings! #KennethColeTweets.” Not to be outdone by: “Hey, Pope Benedict – there’s no way to fondle our spring shoes inappropriately! #KennethColeTweets.”An hour ago, the pranksters got serious, tweeting that they would turn over the fake account to the brand if they made a donation to Amnesty International or another charitable organization. And still, a quick scan of the Kenneth Cole Facebook wall reveals a lot of people thought that Cairo tweet was funny anyway.

Adam Clark Estes in Salon:

Oh, Kenneth.

Unspoken rule No. 1: Don’t make jokes about tragedies. You’ve donethis sort of thingbefore — mixing up bad puns and profundity. It’s oh-so-tempting to try to make light of grim situations, sad stories and global traumas. Don’t try to make it funny. That’s what comedians are for. Kenneth Cole is a fashion designer known for sharp-looking dress shoes, not sharp wit.

Unspoken rule No. 2: Don’t make marketing gimmicks out of tragedies. This is just like rule No. 1 but more directed at Kenneth Cole. When the world’s attention is fixated on one event, sometimes it’s not the best idea to jump up and down with the “Look at me!” routine. The unrest in Egypt isn’t the Super Bowl. It’s a troubling story with historical implications. Nobody wants to hear about your spring slacks.

Chris Morran at The Consumerist:

When you think of Kenneth Cole, you probably don’t associate the apparel brand with edgy, topical humor. And you probably won’t ever again, after the company stuck its shiny leather shoe in its mouth with a Tweet referencing the current political upheaval in Egypt.

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RT: Subpoena #wikileaks

Kim Zetter at Wired:

The U.S. Justice Department has served Twitter with a subpoena seeking information on an Icelandic lawmaker who has worked with WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, the lawmaker told Threat Level on Friday.

“I got the letter from Twitter a couple of hours ago, saying I got 10 days to stop it,” wrote Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of Iceland’s parliament, in an e-mail. “Looking for legal ways to do it. Will be talking to lawyers from EFF tonight.”

EFF refers to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit civil liberties group in the United States.

On her Twitter feed, Jonsdottir said the government is seeking an archive of tweets she sent out since Nov. 1, 2009 as well as “personal information” for her account. (See update below)

Josdottir told Threat Level that the request was filed under seal by the Justice Department on December 14 in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. This is the same jurisdiction where, according to previous press reports, a federal grand jury is investigating possible charges against Assange, with whom Jonsdottir has worked closely.

Glenn Greenwald:

It’s worth recalling — and I hope journalists writing about this story remind themselves — that all of this extraordinary probing and “criminal” investigating is stemming from WikiLeaks’ doing nothing more than publishing classified information showing what the U.S. Government is doing:  something investigative journalists, by definition, do all the time.

And the key question now is this:  did other Internet and social network companies (Google, Facebook, etc.) receive similar Orders and then quietly comply?  It’s difficult to imagine why the DOJ would want information only from Twitter; if anything, given the limited information it has about users, Twitter would seem one of the least fruitful avenues to pursue.  But if other companies did receive and quietly comply with these orders, it will be a long time before we know, if we ever do, given the prohibition in these orders on disclosing even its existence to anyone.

Jacob Palmer at GizmoCrunch:

If you’re wondering whether Twitter will fold or fight (with lawyers to back them up) after receiving the subpoena, the following clause from Twitter’s “spy guide” policy will tell you:

“In accordance with our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, non-public information about Twitter users is not released unless we have received a subpoena, court order or other legal process document.” Such requests would only be valid if sent by law enforcement.”

So yes, they would most likely fold faster than Superman on laundry day. More on this as it develops.

Ryan Singel at Wired:

To Twitter’s credit, the company didn’t just open up its database, find the information the feds were seeking (such as the IP and e-mail addresses used by the targets) and quietly continue on with building new features. Instead the company successfully challenged the gag order in court, and then told the targets their data was being requested, giving them time to try and quash the order themselves.

Twitter and other companies, notably Google, have a policy of notifying a user before responding to a subpoena, or a similar request for records. That gives the user a fair chance to go to court and try and quash the subpoena. That’s a great policy. But it has one fatal flaw. If the records request comes with a gag order, the company can’t notify anyone. And it’s quite routine for law enforcement to staple a gag order to a records request.

That’s what makes Twitter’s move so important. It briefly carried the torch for its users during that crucial period when, because of the gag order, its users couldn’t carry it themselves. The company’s action in asking for the gag order to be overturned sets a new precedent that we can only hope that other companies begin to follow.

The decision would be laudable in almost any situation, and may even be unprecendented by a massive tech firm. The only other gag orders I can think of that were challenged in court were those served on the Internet Archive, on a small library and on Nicholas Merrill, the president of the small New York City ISP Calyx Internet Access, who spent years resisting a National Security Letter order seeking information about one of his clients.

Even more remarkable, Twitter’s move comes as a litany of companies, including PayPal, Mastercard, VISA and Bank of America, follow the political winds away from the First Amendment, banning donations to WikiLeaks. And Amazon.com voluntarily threw the site off its hosting platform, even though there’s nothing illegal in publishing classified documents.

By standing up for its users, Twitter showed guts and principles. Much of it is likely attributable to Twitter’s general counsel Alexander Macgillivray. As security and privacy blogger Christopher Soghoian notes, Macgillivray was one of the first law students at Harvards’ Berkman internet law center and at in his previous job at Google “played a major role in getting the company to contribute takedown requests to chillingeffects.org.”

Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic

E.B. Boyd at Fast Company:

Twitter’s general counsel comes out of Harvard’s prestigious Berkman Center for Internet and Society, the cyber law powerhouse that has churned out some of the leading Internet legal thinkers. The center was founded a little over a decade ago by none other than Charles Nesson, the famous defender of Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg. While at Harvard, Macgillivray helped teach a course on the law of cyberspace, along with Wendy Seltzer, a fellow at Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy. Today Seltzer leads the Chilling Effects clearinghouse, a collaboration between several law schools and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which tracks legal challenges to lawful online activity.

After Harvard, Macgillivray worked as a litigator for Silicon Valley super-firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati before moving to Google, where he first spearheaded legal issues for products like Search and Gmail. He soon found himself enmeshed in the fractious Google Books lawsuit. Observers credit Macgillivray’s agile mind and creative thinking with architecting with the Google Books Settlement–a solution that both enabled Google to lawfully scan the contents of university libraries and to create a mechanism for authors and publishers to get their out-of-print books back into circulation.

Twitter wooed Macgillivray away from Google in the summer of 2009, and he now heads a 25-person legal team. Throughout his career, he has remained an avid student of Internet and intellectual property law, and calls himself a tinkerer of sorts–his personal website is called “bricoleur,” a French term he says refers to one who “[tries] things out until they figure out how to do something.”

Macgillivray also curates a Twitter list of the primary thinkers tangling with cyber issues, and he has occasionally returned to Berkman to guest lecture or speak on topics of the day. Coincidentally, a week before the DOJ subpoena, Macgillivray was tweeting about a government analysis looking at which criminal statutes might apply to the WikiLeaks-style publication of leaked classified documents.

Twitter has declined to comment on the original subpoena and the company’s fight to get it unsealed. What we do know is that the original order was faxed to Twitter on December 14. On January 5, the same magistrate who signed the first order, signed a new one, ordering the first to be unsealed. And on January 7, Twitter sent notifications to at least several of the holders of the accounts listed on the subpoena, telling them the company would respond to the order in 10 days, unless “we receive notice from you that a motion to quash the legal process has been filed or that this matter has been otherwise resolved.”

It’s reasonable to assume that Macgillivray is the person who either led or played a significant role in the thinking that resulted in the decision to challenge the secrecy aspect of the order. If so, it’s a smart move.

Vadim Lavrusik at Mashable:

The journalist cannot adequately promise anonymity on social sites like Twitter or others, but that won’t stop whistle-blowers from contacting journalists on those sites. Whistle-blowers will still reach out to journalists on those platforms because that’s where they are often most accessible. Therefore, it ultimately starts with protection from the platform.

Journalists may be able to offer some protection in knowing that the platform will not disclose source information. But this would take a serious restructuring of the current culture of companies that do not stand up for their users. Twitter’s move to notify its users is a step in the right direction.

But notification is not enough to provide protection to journalists whose information is being subpoenaed by a federal court. In the U.S., 36 states and Washington, D.C. have journalist shield laws — legislation that provides reporters a privilege to refuse to disclose any information or sources obtained during their reporting. The rest of the states either provide some protection or none at all. But because there is no federal statutory reporter’s shield law, Jane Kirtley, who teaches media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota, says that in all likelihood, there would be no protection for a journalist being subpoenaed on a federal level.

Kirtley notes there are federal attorney general guidelines, which discourage the use of subpoenas against the press, but nothing to outright prohibit them as long as the attorney general approves it.

The case with Twitter and other tech companies is that these are not considered to be subpoenas for journalists’ records, so even if there is a privilege, it is unlikely to apply to these records, Kirtley said. This is a loophole that gives journalists little protection or right to protect themselves in their reporting while using such sites.

If a journalist refuses to disclose information to a government entity requesting it in an investigation, the court can simply go to the platform of communication to get the records. With many social media sites playing a vital role in news distribution and watchdog journalism, this requires a stand from those sites against disclosing such information in a broken system that once recognized the value of protecting journalistic integrity.

But ultimately, the privilege of shield laws should also extend to the social platforms hosting the information that is shared between whistle-blowers and journalists. And until there is a federal shield law for reporters, protection for such newsgathering will be nonexistent. This is the only way to fix the broken system. Platforms can only protect their users to a certain extent. It then becomes a legislative issue around the protection of journalists and the Fourth Estate.

Walker Frost at The American Scene:

Let’s rewind to November 2007. Yahoo had just complied with the Chinese government’s request for the IP information and e-mail records of Wang Xiaoning and Shi Tao, two Chinese dissidents who China accused of “illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities.” Michael Callahan, the Yahoo’s executive VP and general counsel, was in Congress getting reamed by the late Tom Lantos (D-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, for the company’s gross moral failure: “Yahoo claims that this is just one big misunderstanding. Let me be clear—this was no misunderstanding. This was inexcusably negligent behavior at best, and deliberately deceptive behavior at worst.”

Yahoo’s response: “Like other global organizations we must abide by the laws, regulations and norms of each country in which we operate.”

“Why do you insist on using the phrase, ‘lawful orders?’” Lantos challenged. “These are the demands of a police state.”

Lantos even brought Shi Tao’s mother to the hearing, seated her in the front of the room, and told Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang: “I would urge you to beg the forgiveness of the mother whose son is languishing behind bars thanks to Yahoo’s actions.”

How the tables have turned.

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Godwin’s Law: Now With Seals

The wikipedia page with the FBI seal (if it is still there)

John Schwartz at NYT:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has taken on everyone from Al Capone to John Dillinger to the Unabomber. Its latest adversary: Wikipedia.

The bureau wrote a letter in July to the Wikimedia Foundation, the parent organization of Wikipedia, demanding that it take down an image of the F.B.I. seal accompanying an article on the bureau, and threatened litigation: “Failure to comply may result in further legal action. We appreciate your timely attention to this matter.”

The problem, those at Wikipedia say, is that the law cited in the F.B.I.’s letter is largely about keeping people from flashing fake badges or profiting from the use of the seal, and not about posting images on noncommercial Web sites. Many sites, including the online version of the Encyclopedia Britannica, display the seal.

Other organizations might simply back down. But Wikipedia sent back a politely feisty response, stating that the bureau’s lawyers had misquoted the law. “While we appreciate your desire to revise the statute to reflect your expansive vision of it, the fact is that we must work with the actual language of the statute, not the aspirational version” that the F.B.I. had provided.

Michael Godwin, the general counsel of the Wikimedia Foundation, wrote, “we are prepared to argue our view in court.” He signed off, “with all appropriate respect.”

Samuel Axon at Mashable:

The New York Times posted PDF documents of the FBI’s takedown request [PDF] and Wikipedia General Counsel Mike Godwin’s bold and catty reply [PDF].The FBI said the Wikimedia Foundation is breaking the law by showing the bureau’s seal in the FBI entry on its website, and that the seal is primarily intended as a means of identification for FBI representatives. Godwin countered by accusing the FBI’s Deputy General Counsel David C. Larson of selectively omitting words from the supposedly applicable law.

Specifically, he said that the letter of the law applies only to things similar to badges, and the spirit of the law is simply to prevent people from posing as government authorities — something Wikipedia (Wikipedia) is clearly not doing. He also implied that the FBI is trying to revise the law because of its hawkish concern that people will rip the image from the site and use it for nefarious purposes.

He assured Larson that the Wikimedia Foundation is prepared to go to court to defend its use of the seal if that’s what it takes.

Godwin’s letter is humorous for its directness, but it’s also funny for being passive-aggressive. For example, he says:

“Entertainingly, in support for your argument, you included a version of 701 in which you removed the very phrases that subject the statute to ejusdem generis analysis. While we appreciate your desire to revise the statute to reflect your expansive vision of it, the fact is that we must work with the actual language of the statute, not the aspirational version of Section 701 that you forwarded to us.”

Godwin is already famous as the creator of Godwin’s Law, which states, “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1,” so this is definitely in-character for him.

Steven Taylor:

In looking at the law, I can see a reading going to either side.  However, it does seem to be more oriented towards either stopping counterfeit badges and/or people making money by making duplicates.  It does not appear to be oriented toward stopping an informational outlet from publishing such information.

At a minimum, I have to agree with the following:

Cindy Cohn, the legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, called the dust-up both “silly” and “troubling”; Wikipedia has a First Amendment right to display the seal, she said.

“Really,” she added, “I have to believe the F.B.I. has better things to do than this.”

Indeed.

Nicholas Deleon at Crunch Gear:

Wikipedia’s counsel recognizes that there are restrictions in place regarding the display of the seal, but that “the enactment of [these laws] was intended to protect the public against the use of a recognisable assertion of authority with intent to deceive.”

And if you think Wikipedia is trying to deceive to deceive the public with the presence of a seal in an encyclopedic article, I don’t know what to tell you.

The one thing that I may see some wiggle room: the high resolution of the seal. You can get the seal in sizes of up to 2000px, so maybe Wikipedia can tell the Feds, “Look, we’re keep the seal, but we’ll kick the resolution down to, say, 500px. Deal?”

Hopefully cooler heads prevail here.

Rob Beschizza at Boing Boing:

The part that’s hard to understand is why the FBI would seek to abuse the law in such petulant fashion, knowing that it will be subject to public ridicule for its actions.

Juli Weiner at Vanity Fair

Jim Newell at Gawker:

The FBI is definitely going to raid their offices, like, tonight.

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Old School Technology Meets New School Technology

Pia Ringheim Jensen at The Daily Beast:

On June 17, at 5 p.m., the parking lot outside the Draper, Utah, prison building where Ronnie Lee Gardner is scheduled to be executed by firing squad was already full of media trucks. The only people who could get close to the building were approved members of the media, including a reporter from The Daily Beast. No protesters were in evidence.

Inside a large media room, TV cameras were set up and journalists took their seats, positioning laptops on the desks in front of them and watching TV news for updates on the execution that’s still planned for shortly after midnight. It will be the first execution performed by firing squad in this new permanent chamber, 20 feet by 24 feet and fitted with curtains to cover the bulletproof windows between the chamber and the adjacent witness rooms.

Gardner has the right to invite up to five witnesses, but it wasn’t known if he had asked for any.

We were told that the prisoner seemed calm and relaxed. He had been sleeping, reading Divine Justice and watching a movie, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He had been fasting since his last meal yesterday. He has the right to visit with clergy, but had not requested any.

Joe Gandelman at Moderate Voice:

As ABC News reports, witnesses gave accounts of their reaction to it that were not always quite the same. Here are a few press reports.

The Salt Lake Tribune:

Five shots.

Four bullets.

With two loud bangs in quick succession, Ronnie Lee Gardner’s quarter century on Utah’s death row ended.

At 17 minutes past midnight Friday, Utah Department of Corrections officials confirmed the death of a man whose life was defined by sex abuse, drug addiction, poverty, criminality and murder.

But in the final hours of his life, friends and family members said, Gardner was at peace.

And in his final minutes, witnesses said, the calm, condemned man exchanged private words with Utah’s prison chief before being strapped to the execution chair and asked if he had any final words.

“I do not. No,” he said.

Ahood was pulled over his head. An executioner counted back from five. The shots rang out.

If the man known as one of Utah’s most notorious criminals was a monster, family members said, it was only as a result of his abusive upbringing. And Gardner’s appellate attorneys long had argued that if his jurors had known more about his childhood, they would have sentenced him to life in prison, instead of death.

The paper also had this eyewitness account from Nate Carlisle:

Ronnie Lee Gardner’s head, covered by a black hood, remained upright.

His body sat straight in the chair to which it was strapped.

As my eyes traveled down Gardner’s left arm, past his dark blue jumpsuit, I saw his pale white skin appear below his elbow. Half a faded blue tattoo, some kind of diamond shape, stuck out from the restraint around his wrist.

At the bottom of his restraint, I focused on his fist. Gardner died much the way he lived — with a clenched fist.

Yes, this was my first time witnessing an execution. I have been amazed at how many people asked me that.

Firing four bullets into a man’s chest is, by definition, violent. If it can also be clinical and sterile, then that also happened in this execution.

AND further down, after the hood is placed over Gardner’s head:

I watched Gardner. As the seconds passed, I grew anxious. I pivoted my eyes away from Gardner toward the slits.

… I heard “boom boom.” The sounds were as close together as you could spew them from your mouth.

My eyes darted back to Gardner and to his chest. The target, perfect just a second earlier, had three holes. The largest hole was in the top half of the circle and toward Gardner’s left side. It may have been where two bullets entered Gardner.

Below that hole, still inside the circle, was a smaller hole. Outside the circle, in the bottom right of the target, was a third hole. Each hole had a black outline. Utah Department of Corrections Director Tom Patterson would say later the target was fastened to the jump suit by Velcro and that may account for the black outline.

….I saw Gardner move his left arm. He pushed it forward about 2 inches against the restraints. In that same motion, he closed his hand and made a fist.

Then it happened in reverse. Gardner’s hand loosened, his arm bent at the elbow, straightened again and the fist returned. At the time, I interpreted this as Gardner suffering — clenching his fist in an effort to fight the pain.

….The next movement I saw from Gardner came from beneath his hood. I could see the bottom of his throat and it rippled as though Gardner moved his jaw.

..I squinted my eyes, looking for blood. I saw none through the holes in Gardner’s chest. None spilled on the floor. The jump suit slightly darkened around his waist and it appeared that’s where blood was pooling. But I never saw a drop

.
When an official checked to see if Garnder was alive, Carlisle could get a glimpse of the prisoner’s face:”His mouth was agape. His face was even whiter than it was before the hood covered him.”

Brad Hirschfield at The Huffington Post:

Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed at approximately 12:05 AM at the Utah State Correctional Facility in Draper, Utah. And even more than other death penalty cases, this one stirred strong emotion because it was carried out by firing squad. At Mr. Gardner’s request, he was strapped to a chair and shot by a team of five executioners, four of whose rifles contained live ammunition.

While I’m opposed to the death penalty, once the citizens of a state have agreed to permit it, I am entirely supportive of implementing it by firing squad. In fact, as long as it is limited to cases in which the convicted felon elects that method, I think it’s actually a good way to go.

How can someone opposed to the death penalty make such a claim? While done with a heavy heart, it’s a matter of honesty and clarity about the brutality of taking another human being’s life, even if that person “deserves” it.

If citizens really long for the death of another human being, then let it be as messy and horrible as taking a life really is. And if doing so bothers us, perhaps we shouldn’t be executing the person at all!

Robin Wauters at Tech Crunch:

A sign of the times, although many may find it distasteful, or much worse: Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff used a mobile Twitter client to send out a tweet announcing the impending execution by firing squad of convicted murderer Ronnie Lee Gardner.

As the BBC notes, quite a modern way to announce a very old-fashioned death.

In total, the AG sent out 3 tweets about the event from his iPhone only a couple of hours ago, the most recent one an all-too-familiar (on Twitter) self-promoting one.

1) A solemn day. Barring a stay by Sup Ct, & with my final nod, Utah will use most extreme power & execute a killer. Mourn his victims. Justice

2) I just gave the go ahead to Corrections Director to proceed with Gardner’s execution. May God grant him the mercy he denied his victims.

3) We will be streaming live my press conference as soon as I’m told Gardner is dead. Watch it at http://www.attorneygeneral.Utah.gov/live.html

James Joyner:

Rather in poor taste, no?

Ramesh Ponnuru at National Review:

Any time you are tempted to think, “Surely nobody would have the bad taste and lack of sense to do that?” remember that the answer is always no.

Radley Balko at Reason:

Old school justice meets social networking.

[…]

What, no Twitpics of the body?

Elizabeth Allen at Mashable:

Were these tweets really necessary? For the most part, the 140-character messages about death, devoid of any emotion, did not sit well with many Twitter users.

A Twitter user named diptychal tweeted: “@MarkShurtleff’s tweet will probably go down in history as the dumbest most disgusting use of Twitter ever.” Another user, named drhonk, simply tweeted: “What a way to announce someone’s execution … twitter .. geez.”

The incident raises an interesting question. Is Twitter really appropriate in every occasion, even one as serious as an execution? What do you think, should Mark Shurtleff have tweeted about it? Voice your opinion in the comments.

Shani O. Hilton at Ta-Nehisi Coates’ place:

I admit that part of my issue with this is that I think that capital punishment is generally indefensible. But more than that, tweeting about someone’s death—even the death of a convicted murderer—strikes me as callous and not fitting for the gravity of the situation. It would be different if, say, he had tweeted a link to a press release. But to send out a message about the end of someone’s life so cavalierly. It boggles.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan

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We’ll Always Have Our Memories Of Hitler Reacting

MG Sielger at TechCrunch:

For my money, memes on the Internet don’t get any better than the Hitler one. You know, the one in which you take some current event (the more mundane, the better) and shove it into the scene from the German film Downfall in which Hitler is told in his bunker that he cannot win the war. The key to these (assuming you don’t speak German, of course) is to replace the actual subtitles with ones of your choosing about a different topic. Facebook/FriendFeed, Twitter, MySpace — all solid gold stuff. In fact, just this past January, while reviewing the iPad version, Erick called it “the meme that will never die.” But sadly, it looks like it may in fact die, at the hands of the studio behind it.

Earlier today, someone attempted to upload a new version surrounding the massive iPhone 4G (or iPhone HD, whatever) news. Unfortunately, as you can see on YouTube, that video has already been removed with the message, “This video contains content from Constantin Film, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.

Constantin Film is the German film production and distribution company behind the film Downfall (Der Untergang in German). The uploader of one of the Hilter parodies notes in the comments of his video that, “Constatin Films has filed a copyright infringement claim against this video, right before it was about to reach 500,000 views! Even though it falls under Fair Use, I suspect this video will be taken down soon. Sad face.

Sure enough, many of the other Hitler meme parodies have started disappearing as well (Hitler on Xbox Live, for example). But as of right now, there are so many out there that are subtly different enough that plenty are still up. Still, you can probably expect YouTube’s smart content system to hunt down and find all of these clips sooner rather than later. Now may be the time to appeal to Constatin Film. Downfall is a great movie, but it’s also in German which sadly means that many people outside that country will never watch it. But I’d bet these clips have sparked an interest in the film beyond what any type of traditional marketing could have done.

PopEater:

“We as a corporation have a bit of an ambivalent view of it,” Martin Moszkowicz, an executive at Constantin Film, told the BBC. “On the one hand, we are proud the picture has such a huge fan base and that people are using it for parody. On the other hand, we are trying to protect the artists.”

It’s that “protecting the artists” vagary that has Constantin Films attempting to remove all the clips. “It is a task that can never be completed. They are popping up whenever we are taking one down,” Moszkowicz said

Downfall’ director Oliver Hirschbiegel expressed an opposing view in an interview with New York magazine’s Vulture: “Someone sends me the links every time there’s a new one. I think I’ve seen about 145 of them! Many times the lines are so funny, I laugh out loud, and I’m laughing about the scene that I staged myself! You couldn’t get a better compliment as a director. I think it’s only fair if now it’s taken as part of our history, and used for whatever purposes people like.”

“Killing ‘Hitler Reacts’ has to be the worst decision in movie-making history since someone gave Rob Schneider a job,” says Nick Douglas, senior editor at our viral-minded partner Urlesque. “Before, there was this film called ‘Downfall’ that a few American film and history buffs knew. After the ‘Downfall’ parodies, there was a whole new audience. I’m tempted to say it’s because Old Media doesn’t get it — but I think it’s more nuanced. By now, most studios and labels sort of ‘get’ what’s going on — they just want more control.”

Douglas also wonders if the videos’ creators may be able to defend their mash-ups as protected works of parody. The Supreme Court defines parody as “the use of some elements of a prior author’s composition to create a new one that, at least in part, comments on that author’s works,” Douglas points out. “Seems like the ‘Downfall’ parodies fit that description. They make comparisons between an important historical event as interpreted by the film and much sillier modern events. But who’s going to fight a court battle over a YouTube clip?”

Samuel Axon at Mashable

Ian Chillag at NPR’s Wait, Wait Blog

“Hitler-reacts-to” videos have become an internet institution, as much as Keyboard Cat, or Jeeves, and I will be sad to see them go.

Open Video Alliance:

The Downfall meme is so well-established that it has literally become standard curriculum for digital moviemaking courses, as evidenced by this class’ page which counted 14 videos before the takedowns were issued (currently, only two of these videos remain playable).

For more on the genesis of the Downfall meme, see YouTOMB researcher Alex Leavitt’s study.

There are hundreds of Hitler Downfall videos, and it is unclear what will become of them. The burden of filing a counternotice dispute or a claim of fair use to restore the video falls on individual users, so it will be difficult to reverse this action. We’ll be following this story as it develops.

Bill Barol:

It’s unclear whether the takedown will eliminate the Hitler vids from YouTube, but it seems unlikely; a quick check this morning showed many to be offline, but a good number remain. In fact, that number seems certain to be incremented by one before too long: The video in which Hitler rants against the bullying legal tactics of Constantin Films. The clock starts now.

UPDATE:

Tim Cavanaugh at Reason

Scott Johnson at Powerline

James Joyner

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@GettysburgAddress Getting Coffee #libraryofcongress #alltweets #ff #tcot

Matt Raymond at Library of Congress Blog:

Have you ever sent out a “tweet” on the popular Twitter social media service? Congratulations: Your 140 characters or less will now be housed in the Library of Congress.

That’s right. Every public tweet, ever, since Twitter’s inception in March 2006, will be archived digitally at the Library of Congress. That’s a LOT of tweets, by the way: Twitter processes more than 50 million tweets every day, with the total numbering in the billions.

We thought it fitting to give the initial heads-up to the Twitter community itself via our own feed @librarycongress. (By the way, out of sheer coincidence, the announcement comes on the same day our own number of feed-followers has surpassed 50,000. I love serendipity!)

We will also be putting out a press release later with even more details and quotes. Expect to see an emphasis on the scholarly and research implications of the acquisition. I’m no Ph.D., but it boggles my mind to think what we might be able to learn about ourselves and the world around us from this wealth of data. And I’m certain we’ll learn things that none of us now can even possibly conceive.

Jennifer Van Grove at Mashable:

Twitter further explains the news in its own announcement. Biz Stone writes that after a six-month delay, “Tweets will be used for internal library use, for non-commercial research, public display by the library itself, and preservation.”

The news is quite significant and reinforces the importance of the information we share in 140 characters or less. In many ways history can be relived through tweets, and now the Library of Congress can ensure that not a single character is lost in the sea of real-time information.

Chris Morran at The Consumerist:

Remember that Tweet you wrote about Tiger Woods that seemed hilarious at the time? Or that night you shared your thoughts on your cousin Bob’s lack of personal hygiene? Good news — all of the world’s most trivial 140-character-or-less Tweets will soon be housed forever in the Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress now has its bookish little hands on every public Tweet ever Tweeted in the 4-year history of Twitterdom.

Doug Mataconis at Below The Beltway:

Of course, it also includes two-plus years worth of my standing morning tweet, which usually is something like “Awake. Need coffee,” along with late night tweets that I’m sure would rather be forgotten by the people who sent them. Now, they’re preserved for posterity.

When I first heard this announcement, I was more than a little, well, surprised. What possible use could the Library of Congress have for the often inane 140 character statements of 105 million people ?

John Dupuis at Science Blogs:

Needless to say, this is a pretty incredible announcement. It’s great that a major public institution can step forward and do the kind of digital preservation job that only that kind of institution would be capable of.

It would be really great if their next step could be a similar archiving project for, say, Blogger or WordPress blogs. Or perhaps other big national libraries around the world could each pick a site and dedicate themselves to preserving their content for future generations.

Heidi Moore at The Big Money:

The problem: Who says my tweets belong to Google or the Library of Congress? They didn’t even buy me dinner to discuss this. And they won’t buy you dinner, either, even though they are annexing the work that you did with absolutely no logical or plausible explanation of why they should own it.

Twitter’s entire appeal—and how it was sold to its users—was this: short, ephemeral 140-character bursts that were largely completely unsearchable. Twitter’s own search function doesn’t go back more than two weeks, and mostly it doesn’t work properly. Thus, while many tweets were substantive links and discussions of major issues from stock trading (through the Stock Twits network) to agriculture, many more were typo-laden, banal observations about what to eat for lunch. (I, like most smart Twitter users, don’t follow those people. But they’re there.)

[…]

First, let’s not pretend that the Library of Congress cataloging and saving every tweet ever—a capability not even open to private corporations—was a totally foreseeable consequence, outside of the Psychic Friends Network. If you ask anyone who wrote a tweet or anyone who knows what Twitter is, “hey, where do you think your tweets will be in five years?” it’s fair to say that “The Library of Congress” wouldn’t have been the first or the 15th answer. It’s also fair to say that “making money for Google in a vast database created quietly without public knowledge” would be high on the list either.

Twitter had a duty to let its users know—clearly, not in vague terms—that their ephemeral tweets would become permanent and searchable. That’s basic corporate misrepresentation.

Second, let’s think about why Google and the Library of Congress have a right to any tweets. Do you know why they would? I don’t. This isn’t about privacy. It’s about who the content belongs to. And just because something is on the Web, open to all, doesn’t mean it belongs to the government OR to Google. A wide variety of news sources are on Google, but that doesn’t mean that Google owns the right to catalog and republish them in the future, packaged in Google’s own way outside of their original users.

Phoebe Connelly at The American Prospect:

On Wednesday, the Library of Congress announced it had signed an agreement with the microblogging service Twitter to archive all public tweets sent since the service began in 2006. I spoke with Martha Anderson, the director of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program at the Library of Congress, about the project and how it fits into the library’s digital-archiving efforts. She warned me when we got started that her department had a cumbersome name.

[…]

So who came to you with the request, or the idea about Twitter?
Twitter approached us. They were looking around; they are a small business — which happens, quite often. Businesses cannot afford to sustain all the content they create over the life of the business. And Twitter hadn’t reached that point yet, but they were aware of the need to sustain the content someway.

So they began to look around for a strategy for conserving that content in the long term. They knew we had this program at the library, so they called us and asked if we were interested in the Twitter archive.

We do a collection for every Supreme Court nominee — Web sites and blogs and all sorts of things. Well, one of the things they asked us to collect were tweets for the nomination of Justice Sotomayor. So that was the first indication we had that our selection officials were interested in Twitter.

Correct me if I have this wrong, but in the past, you’ve done your Web archiving on a subject basis, and this is the first time you’re grabbing an entire type of content off the Web?
Exactly. And that’s the significance of this. Yesterday [Wednesday, when the agreement was announced], one of my staff came in to tell me that people were saying this was a change from static to streaming. This is first time [on the web] we’re looking at a whole corpus of material from a source.

And I think personally, this is me, don’t quote me as saying this from the library, as librarians we need to think more about our relationships to content creators, content-generating activities, in a way we used to think about things with publishers — we would get a relationship to a publisher through copyright, or that sort of thing. Now, the information base is different, and we really need to work on those kinds of relationships.

Is there anything analogous in Library of Congress history?
Well, the library is accustomed, with analog materials, to collecting everything from a creator — we have in our prints and photograph division all the output from the Department of Interior’s historic American buildings survey. It’s a huge record of American architecture.

A lot of time we will get all the negatives and works of a photographer. So we’re used to a mass of things, rather than a selection in the analogue world. This is our first foray into doing this in the digital world.

When do you start?
The agreement has been signed, but we still have a lot of technical details to work out — how we’ll technically transfer it, and when. There’s a built in six-month window, so we don’t have the live Twitter archive at any given time. There is a window for people if they want to delete their tweets, things like that.

There’s a built-in lag? Yes, so once the transfer is complete, if a researcher comes here, we’ll let them know that it’s 2006 till six months prior. And there’ll be a rolling period of transfers after that.

Can individuals choose to opt their tweets out of it?
You know, I don’t know. I think that’s a question for Twitter. There’s several questions about that which they are still working out. We asked them to deal with the users; the library doesn’t want to mediate that.

What about user information? Have you any thoughts about whether you’re going to keep that or strip that out? Obviously, that gives a lot of context for a tweet.
It does. And I think that’s one of the big issues for us to understand in terms of privacy. And there’s a lot of work going on, especially over at [the National Institutes of Health] about how to anonymize data and still make it useful. We’re really big on partnering with people to learn what they’re learning, so I think that’s an area we’ll look into. In serving it, what can we do to make it useful to research but not identify personal information?

Is the plan to keep all tweets, forever?
Nothing is forever! I think this is a real learning opportunity. We’re embarking on this with the idea that what we receive, we will keep for the long term. That’s about the best we can say.

How much will it cost?
Well, it’s a gift; we didn’t pay for it. But it will be the cost of storing what is, right now, around 5 terabytes, and the staff effort of maybe one full-time person over the years.

UPDATE: Christopher Beam at Slate

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Apparently, They Are Gonna Give You Up, They Are Gonna Let You Down, They Are Gonna Run Around And Desert You

Brennon Slattery at PC World:

Are you sitting down? I have some horrible news for you. YouTube has removed the original “Rickrolling” video from its site due to a terms-of-use violation. Though there are other avenues in which to get a Rick Astley “Never Gonna Give You Up” fix, the original, the one that captured the nation’s attention, the video that spurned over 30 million hits, is dead.

In case you weren’t one of the lucky many to experience it, to be “Rickrolled” is to be baited by a contextually relevant Web link and then get smacked with Astley’s official YouTube music video. “Rickrolling” started in early 2007 on the 4chan imageboard, and a year later spread like wildfire, becoming an unavoidable meme. The use of “Never Gonna Give You Up” stemmed from a 4chan prank called “duckrolling,” in which people would be sent to an image of a duck on wheels. SurveyUSA estimated that at least 18 million Americans were “Rickrolled.”

It’s hard to believe, but “Rickrolling” extended way beyond simple Internet pranks. It was used during protests against the Church of Scientology, touched upon the First Lady, and even gave name to an iPhone virus that changed jailbroken iPhone backgrounds into images of Astley.

Stan Schroeder at Mashable:

Rickrolling, in case you haven’t been online between early 2008 and now, is the practice of tricking someone into opening the aforementioned video, and it’s considered to be one of the most popular Internet memes of all time.

Jack Schofield at Guardian:

There are, of course, several videos of Astley singing Never Gonna Give You Up and other songs on YouTube, so you can keep right on rickrolling people, if you really must. The problem is that removing the D version breaks a large number of internet links, and there’s no way to repair the damage short of YouTube reinstating the missing video.

Also, that kind of thing ultimately reduces trust in the net….

Caroline McCarthy at Cnet:

The music industry is notoriously complex and bureaucratic, and the copyrights associated with it are often quite arcane, so it also isn’t particularly clear as to why the song was pulled now–after being such a high-profile video on the site for years.

But there’s already been some controversy over it. Last spring, one of the song’s co-authors said he’d barely made a cent off its YouTube notoriety and said that YouTube parent company Google effectively “exploited” him. The industry just hasn’t yet figured out how to handle Internet cult fame, as evidenced by Warner Music Group’s silencing of a video that superimposed the Web meme “Keyboard Cat” into the video for Daryl Hall and John Oates’ “You Make My Dreams.”

Then there’s OK Go, the pop group whose video for “Here It Goes Again” was one of YouTube’s first breakout hits; the band’s label, EMI, has disabled video embeds for all its artists. OK Go has made it clear that it’s not happy but has acknowledged the label’s right to do what it did.

On the flip side, Astley was a more or less forgotten pop star when forum community 4Chan began “Rickrolling” one another; by fall 2008, the pop-culture prank was so mainstream that Cartoon Network enlisted Astley himself to jump out of a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

There are still multiple other copies of the “Never Gonna Give You Up” video on YouTube, so basically you aren’t safe yet. And you can, luckily, still watch “Never Gonna Give Your Teen Spirit Up,” a German DJ’s mash-up of “Never Gonna Give You Up” with a song that’s just about its polar opposite–Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

It works alarmingly well.

Tom Warren at Neowin:

A YouTube spokesperson has confirmed to Neowin that the “Rickroll” removal that we reported on earlier today was a mistake.

In an email statement to Neowin a spokesperson confirmed accounts are occasionally marked as spam and mistakenly taken down:

“With 20 hours of video uploaded every minute to YouTube, we count on our community members to know our Community Guidelines and to flag content they believe violates them. We review all flagged content quickly, and if we find that a video does violate the guidelines, we remove it, on average in under an hour. We also have a team that is dedicated to identifying and removing spam from YouTube.  Occasionally, an account flagged by users or identified by our spam team is mistakenly taken down. When this is brought to our attention, we move quickly to take appropriate action, including restoring videos that had been mistakenly removed and channels that have been mistakenly suspended.”

Earlier today Neowin reported that the original “Rickroll” video, that had clocked up 30 million views to date, was removed with the text “This video has been removed due to terms of use violation”. It appears the users account which is linked with the video was mistakenly disabled.

Neowin also spoke to Rick Astley’s manager Tony Henderson earlier today who said he was disappointed the video had been removed briefly. “I have not told Rick yet as he is driving to the French Alps to practice his rolling (sorry i meant skiing) I don’t think anyone should or indeed can, stop people having fun on the net, there are more urgent concerns on the internet that need sorting,” he said in an email to Neowin.

Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb:

RIckRolling, the phenomenon, only remained outside the official boundaries of copyright for less than 3 years. The user account that uploaded the video to YouTube where it saw 30 million + views though, named cotter548, has now been suspended. Hardly a warm thanks from the company for a user that facilitated one of the most-referenced reasons to visit the website – that’s just hitting below the belt.

Meanwhile the official version on Vevo already has more than 22 million views as well. RickRolling may not be dead, but it’s probably over being cool. Here at ReadWriteWeb we’ve moved on to other things anyway. Like Pickle Surprise.

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