Monday News: UK digital rights, Canadian Twitter harassment case, Thunderbirds redux, and creepy dolls
Canadian Court Ponders If A Disagreement On Twitter Constitutes Criminal Harassment – A friend gave me a heads up to this story last week, but at that point I could only find one article that seemed completely biased toward the defendant, Greg Elliott, whose tweets to two women, Stephanie Guthrie and Heather Reilly, resulted in a criminal charge of harassment. I’m hesitant to drawn any conclusions at this point, because I don’t have a lot of information on the case, but if things are as they appear on the surface, it’s definitely troubling, even for those countries that have hate speech codes like Canada. Does anyone know about this case and whether there is more to the charges than what the media currently has?
It appears that most of Elliott’s tweets are still online. Guthrie’s and Reilly’s are now private. You can see the start here, though there are many examples of friendly tweets between Elliott and Guthrie prior to this happening. Amazingly, with a little searching online, it is possible to find a spreadsheet cataloging all the tweets between the two of them. And, again, at times the insults start flying, but at no time does it appear to be threatening. Hell, it’s hard to see how it’s harassing. It’s people expressing opinions (often angrily). –Tech Dirt
Ripping CDs and movies for personal use is once again illegal in UK – Despite the obvious problems with enforcement, the UK High Court ruled that individuals who have legally obtained digital music and video content cannot make a copy for themselves. The ruling comes after another that found a 2014 regulation allowing for personal copies of performances had not been implemented properly, according to the Court. At that point the government had the opportunity to challenge the personal exception provision or craft an alternative regulation, but because they did not, the exemption has now been eliminated. This really seems like a defensive step backward rather than an attempt by the government to balance the rights of artists with those of the public. I think there is a tendency to forget that the public has rights when it comes to intellectual property, because they are a part of the commercial process as consumers and, in some circumstances, as fellow creators.
Today’s ruling quashes the 2014 regulation that made it legal to make personal copies of performances for private use as long as the person doing so has lawfully acquired the content and doesn’t distribute it to anyone else. That regulation allowed people to make backups or play songs or movies in different formats but didn’t allow selling copies or sharing them with family and friends. . . .
“A judge ruled that the government was wrong legally when it decided not to introduce a compensation scheme for songwriters, musicians, and other rights holders who face losses as a result of their copyright being infringed,” the BBC reported. The decision came “after a legal challenge from Basca, the Musicians’ Union, and industry representatives UK Music.” –Ars Technica
Thunderbirds are (almost) go! Crowdfunding project to bring the puppets back is taking off – Thanks to crowdfunding and a puppeteer named Barry Davies, the Thunderbirds will be re-created using Supermarionation, the 1960s puppet animation technique that makes use of rather stilted doll-like puppets. Rather than adopting new technologies, Davies and the other project developers are resurrecting the old technologies, even using the original molds to produce the new puppets:
The Thunderbirds 1965 project launched on crowd-funding site Kickstarter just a few months ago and has already surpassed its original £75,000 target. It’s now hoped fans will help fund three new episodes. Those donating will also received a DVD-Blu-Ray of the finished collection. –iTV
The History of Creepy Dolls – And speaking of dolls, this is a great article from Smithsonian Magazine on what dolls represent (past and present) and the way they often trigger the “creepy” response from people, which is itself often a function of alertness to inappropriate or threatening social cues. Because dolls are not human but are often made to look human, they can be appealing, confusing, and repulsive at the same time.
Dolls inhabit this area of uncertainty largely because they look human but we know they are not. Our brains are designed to read faces for important information about intentions, emotions and potential threats; indeed, we’re so primed to see faces and respond to them that we see them everywhere, in streaked windows and smears of Marmite, toast and banana peels, a phenomenon under the catchall term “pareidolia” (try not to see the faces in this I See Faces Instagram feed). However much we know that a doll is (likely) not a threat, seeing a face that looks human but isn’t unsettles our most basic human instincts. . . .
You can’t talk about creepy dolls without invoking the “uncanny valley”, the unsettling place where creepy dolls, like their robot cousins, and before them, the automatons, reside. The uncanny valley refers to the idea that human react favorably to humanoid figures until a point at which these figures become too human. At that point, the small differences between the human and the inhuman – maybe an awkward gait, an inability to use appropriate eye contact or speech patterns – become amplified to the point of discomfort, unease, disgust, and terror. The idea originated with Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori’s 1970 essay anticipating the challenges robot-makers would face. Although the title of the paper, “Bukimi No Tani”, is actually more closely translated as “valley of eeriness”, the word “uncanny” hearkens back to a concept that psychiatrist Ernst Jentsch explored in 1906 and that Sigmund Freud described in a 1919 paper, “The Uncanny”. Though the two differed in their interpretations – Freud’s was, unsurprisingly, Freudian: the uncanny recalls our repressed fears and anti-social desires – the basic idea was that the familiar is somehow rendered strange, and that discomfort is rooted in uncertainty. –Smithsonian Magazine