One Imperial Hamilton

The Victoria Palace Theatre. In London, at Victoria, down the road from the Palace.

On the 29th of January 2016, I posted this to facebook:

I have, by the force of Peer Pressure and curiosity, started listening to the Hamilton soundtrack. It’s full of some beautiful examples of high crafted rap music, delicious rhymes and ironies. But the tune that sticks in my head?

“And when push comes to shove, I will send a fully armed battalion to remind you of my love.”

That would have been a few months after fyr started recommending it at me. I liked it a lot, so was happy when the London show was announced, then sad again when it booked up a year in advance within an hour of opening. Then a little while later friend Katherine said she’d bought a set of tickets, and would I like to come? April 2018 seemed impossibly far away at that point, and indeed I’ve been through two jobs since then, but I said yes. So today I went to see Hamilton.

Conclusion: It’s really good, you should go see it.

The rest of this post contains comparisons to the soundtrack and various official youtube release versions. I will dispense this advice, now:

  • Jamael Westman as Hamilton is incredible. Towering above everybody else on stage (He’s 6’4″, and about three heads taller than Eliza) and able to control the stage from pretty much anywhere on it, his Hamilton goes on a journey from the ropey disconnected attempts to fit into the dance numbers at the start to a still commanding presence later on.
  • I’m going to try not to get caught up on the height thing, but the shorter Lafayette/Jefferson compared to Lin Manuel & Daveed does kind of change that power dynamic in an interesting way.
  • Mostly, characterisation was the same as Broadway, Jason Pennycooke‘s Lafayette retains a strong “french” accent which had some detrimental effects on the faster raps, but did distinguish him a great deal from Jefferson
  • Less impressed with Burr, tbh. His parts in the ensemble were fine, but he had trouble holding the lead compared to others.
  • He got a lot better in act 2.
  • Eliza too, but that’s a function of the structure, perhaps.
  • I knew “The Orphanage” would break me, but the way the line happened on stage – the flash of enthusiasm “Oh.. Can I tell you?” of introducing someone’s pride and joy. Yeah.
  • Quiet Uptown ambushed me. It waited in the bushes, and it struck. I knew it was coming, I knew it of old.
  • King George was fantastic, petulant and mercurial. Didn’t look anything like the guy in the program, so maybe an understudy?
  • But, an interesting thing: At the end of the John Adams “You’ll be back”, he sat down on a stool and remained on stage, giggling at the Adams reaction, reacting to the events, part of the hurricane, reading the Reynolds Pamphlet, and then vanishing off stage quietly. It was an interesting choice, and the actor was remarkably good at knowing when to steal the show and when to fade as far into the background as that incredible crown let him.
  • The staging and choreography was great throughout, minimal furniture to get across what is needed, but every prop and costume perfect for the moment.
  • I’ve listened to bits of the Broadway soundtrack on the way home, and I can tell the differences now (I was avoiding listening to it for the last few months to enjoy the show as its own thing a bit more), but it’s really interesting how having seen the show, and knowing the movement and context for lines, changes how I hear them on the soundtrack.

It was great, and I’m glad I went. Also, it’s reminded me that theatre and musicals are a thing I really enjoy going to see, and I should do more of that.



internet media

The thing about ad-blocker popups

I’ve been, in the past, a firm distruster of ad blocking software. I still am, to a large extent. I don’t trust any company whose finance model is based on inserting exceptions for advertisers they like. But I installed Ghostery, whose model is to use the stats of what gets blocked to offer consultancy to companies to make their adverts less horrific. I like this idea, so I support it. My Ghostery install is fairly open, blocking only sites that offer page-takeover, popups, autoplaying videos, and other stuff that annoys me a lot. So I get a bit annoyed when I’m scrolling through a Wired article and get something like this:

Fine. I don’t disagree with the sentiment, but I don’t read Wired often enough to care about being a member, so yeah, ad supported isn’t unreasonable. Do you know what’s unreasonable, Wired? This is what happens when I whitelist your site:

That’s *forty* scripts you’re loading in for tracking, advertising, affiliate marketing, analytics, comments and display fonts. Up from twelve that I had whitelisted already, and – and here’s the best bit – if I leave the tab open to (say) write a blog article about this bullshit, it goes up to FIFTY NINE.

I‘m not militant about never being tracked, nor being advertised to. I’ve worked for web marketing companies, and I’ve attempted the shit soup that is making bank from content on the internet, I know there aren’t any good options. But this isn’t about any of that anymore, it’s making your site _worse_ by installing dozens of these things and slowing everything down. It’s unchecked – the number of these things that duplicate functionality is just crazy – and to put your sanctimonious little message over the top of the remaining bits of actual content when your users try to filter it is actively user-hostile.

Last and maybe worst, each one of these externally installed scripts is – potentially – an unvetted bit of code you’ve added to your page. Javascript isn’t the security nightmare it once was, but every new script is a new vector, and you can’t tell me that every single one of those – checking the tab again – eighty four snippets of code has been reviewed against all the others for security flaws or side effects which might make the user experience worse or unsafe.

It just needs to stop.

(Final count: 86. Tab has been open 20 minutes)



Commonly Known As Dirk

You are speaking with Svlad, commonly known as “Dirk” Cjelli, currently trading under the name of Gently for reasons which it would be otiose, at this moment, to rehearse. I bid you good evening. If you wish to know more I will be at the Pizza Express in Upper Street in ten minutes. Bring some money.

I keep this fairly low under the radar, so it’s fine if it’s not something you’ve spotted, and I understand if it’s going to be a shock, but: Douglas Adams is my favourite author. I love the bubbling undercurrent of anger in every Terry Pratchett book, and the depth of the built worlds of Neil Gaiman. I have a lot of respect for the attempted revival of stock theatre traditions that make up the other side of David Eddings’ work, and the flow and construction of P. G. Wodehouse tends to make me want to read it out loud. But Douglas Adams is my favourite, and I don’t feel the need to explain why.

This gives me an advantage, in a way. There is no chance in this flawed multiverse that any attempt to adapt one of his worlds is going to match my expectations. That bar is set so high in my mind that clearing it would happily provide us with a handy pair of space elevators. No, so long as an adaptation has something of itself to be true to, I can usually accept it as someone elses’ attempt to play in the same sandbox. I’ve enjoyed most adaptations, save the ones that seemed either soul-less or an attempt to *be* Douglas Adams’ long lost work, instead of its own thing with the books as a starting point. I could enjoy the Hitchhiker’s movie as a movie that started from the radio series. The TV series was a good TV series that started from the books. I wasn’t a massive fan of the Salmon of Doubt, because a lot of it felt invasive and remastered sketches, and the only thing I actively disliked was Eoin Colfer’s “…And Another Thing” which failed the “true to itself” thing, and fell down a pit of trying too hard to be a Douglas Adams book, instead of an Eoin Colfer Hitchhiker’s book.

All of which brings me to the two adaptations of Dirk Gently to the TV.

The BBC Dirk Gently was a case-per-episode show that kind of got the main character mostly right, and the style of story right, but attempting to fit a plot per episode didn’t really give it the chance to get the universe right. I liked it a lot, the music was absolutely spot on, Stephen Mangan gives good Dirk, filling in the scatty, messy, cat-like “I meant to do that” attitude very well, but it didn’t really have space to breathe.

The new Netflix version (Which is co-produced by BBC America, so is technically BBC as well, I suppose) I’ve watched all eight 45 minute episodes of over the last couple of days. It is as to the books as the movie of HHGG was to its books. It’s a full reimagining of the concept of the world as a miniseries. The universe works better than the BBC version, in that it embraces the whole crack-pot universe of the books where everything really is connected, there aren’t any coincidences, and the universe goes out of its way to put Gently in the middle of all of those. A friend on Facebook called it the Anti-Lost, in that it carefully wraps up almost all of its knots before the end of the series. It can’t quite resist putting mysticism over the top of Gently’s inability to be part of a coincidence, leaving it only slightly vague as to whether it’s actually a minor super power; but it then does use that overarching idea to Yang Dirk’s Yin with the concept of a Holistic Assassin, which is a very Adams thing to do. Samuel Barnett’s Dirk is a ball of directionless energy with occasional cracks in the facade, which is a switch from the books’ more slovenly and shady detective, but enough to be the same character.

There is no connection between the events of the books and the Netflix show, the latter of which mentions some past association with Thor, but without attempting to spoil anything it’s a confusing mess of coincidences that tangle up messily and get solved partly by the holistic thing being right, partly by intuition, and partly by accident. It also doesn’t do the Westworld annoyance of only knocking down dominoes in the last two episodes, there are sufficient large reveals on the way to keep you not only invested, but satisfied, I think.

It’s not perfect, it’s a little manic and the first few episodes are overstuffed. A lot of the episodes get weighed down by the – realistic – refusal of the POV character to want to interact with the plot when it gets dangerous, and needing some kind of inspiring speech to get him through the next gateway; but late in the series there are some glorious scenes calling people on their bullshit, so it at least has payoff.

Basically, I think it’s worth a punt. The first series is eight episodes, takes a couple to strip the protective coating off the concept, and ends well. It’s six hours of your life you could instead use learning another language, but that wouldn’t be as much fun.

Apple computing linux tv windows

Ripping TV Yarns

I’m in the process of ripping some boxsets of DVDs to Plex, and I thought I should probably document the process. The most obvious thing I’m not using here is Handbrake, which works really well for some people, but I am not one of them.

Physical to Digital

MakeMKV turns any DVD or Bluray I’ve thrown at it into an MKV file. The one thing it could do to make my life better would be custom tags on filenames, but the default {Directory}\{DVD Identifier}\title{nn}.mkv  is good enough. {DVD Identifier} is annoyingly unspecific most of the time, and sometimes within disks of the same box set (The thing I’m currently ripping has both WW_S4_T5_D3 and WESTWING_S4_D6 in it, as discs 1 and 6 respectively), so the next stage is to make those directory names consistent. It doesn’t matter what they are, so long as when I “ls” the directory, they are in the right order. Then, I run this:

export COUNT=1; # Start at 1
find . -name \*mkv \ # Find all files ending MKV
	| while read fle;\ # For each of those (as variable $fle)
		do mv $fle $(printf "The_West_Wing-S04E%0.2d.mkv" $COUNT);\ # Increment the filename
		COUNT=$(($COUNT + 1));\ # Add one to the filename count

Note: You’ll need to collapse that back into a single line without the comments for it to work:

export COUNT=1; find . -name \*mkv \| while read fle; do echo mv $fle $(printf "The_West_Wing-S04E%0.2d.mkv" $COUNT);COUNT=$(($COUNT + 1)); done

This gives me a directory of well-named MKV files.

Digital to MP4

Plex is happier with mp4 encoded videos than with MKV files, though, plus they’re smaller without a noticable (to me) drop in quality, so when I’ve got a few series of these built up, I’ll run this overnight:

for fle in mkv/*.mkv; do $fle; done

Where looks like this:

ffmpeg -i $file -codec:v libx264 -profile:v high -preset ultrafast -crf 16 -minrate 30M -maxrate 30M -bufsize 15M -metadata:s:a:0 language=eng -c:a ac3 -b:a 384k -threads 2 ${file%.*}.mp4

Which is a standard ffmpeg encode line, the only real weirdness being the ${file%.*}.mp4 bashism, which basically turns the $file variable from “Foobar.mkv” into “Foobar.mp4” (It will also turn “” into “Foo.mp4” though, so be careful)

MP4 to Mediacentre

Once that’s finished, I’ll get rid of the mkv files, and send them into Plex. To ensure consistency of my filenames and also get any subtitle files I need, this is done using filebot, like this:

filebot -script fn:amc --output "/media/mediashare" --log-file amc.log --action move --conflict skip -non-strict --def music=y subtitles=en artwork=y --def "seriesFormat=TV Boxsets/{n}/{'S'+s}/{s00e00} - {t}" "animeFormat=Anime/{n}/{fn}" "movieFormat=Movies/{n} {y}/{fn}" "musicFormat=Music/{n}/{fn}" --def plex=localhost .

(Filebot, rename using the (included) automediacentre script. Output to directories below my media drive mount, log to amc.log, move (don’t copy) the files, if it already exists skip it. Don’t do strict checking, download music, search for subtitles, get series artwork, send TV shows to the “TV Boxsets” directory in {Series Name}/S{Series Number}/s{Series number}e{Episode Number} – {Episode Title} format. Anime should go somewhere else, Movies somewhere else, Music somewhere else, then notify plex on the local machine. Do this on the current directory)

Operating System Notes

None of this is OS specific. Filebot, FFMPEG Plex & MakeMKV are available – and work identically – on Windows, Mac & Linux. The various bash scripts could be adapted to powershell, but I’d instead recommend Babun, which is a repackaging of cygwin with a far nicer interface and package management system that’ll give you the basic *nix commandline tools on your windows machine (all of the above up to MP4 to Mediacentre runs on my beast-sized windows gaming rig, to avoid making the puny media centre CPU cry too much)

comics media Movies

Age of Ultron

There was a movie. It’s… Um.

Let’s start with this: The following review contains spoilers for Age of Ultron. They start after the following paragraph, which is why you need to click the link to read the rest.

Right, so my problem with AoU is that it’s a comic book event series. Its purpose is to make people need to go and see it to wrap up the past and understand the future episodes. It’s the exact kind of Age Of Secret War On Ultimate Earth cross-francise bullshit that generally kicks me off any super-hero comic series I’ve started to get into. Suddenly, in order to follow the arc of a character I need to buy twelve comics across nine series, five of which my local shop doesn’t carry. The actual plot of the movie doesn’t really maintain its own momentum.

cevearn comics linux Python Shebang tv

Week Nine – it’s better than bad, it’s good

Quiet work week, so we’ll skip that. Decided that I’d had enough of print statements, and moved both Lifestream and Lampstand over to use Python logging instead for everything outputty. Lampstand also needs a pass to separate output into levels, right now everything’s at INFO.

Positive feedback on some creative writing I did recently – on tumblr, and in scraps elsewhere – has led me to want to carve out time to get the novel moving forward again. I need to suppress the urge to kill it with fire and start from scratch, but right now it’s plodding a bit.

Somewhere between Rest and Play lies Odyssey work this week. A good Story Team meeting at the weekend has set some flags out for the year, and indeed next, and then I spent a few hours putting together the Odyssey T-Shirt shop, to supplement our costume & props budget with mercenary goodness.

Somewhere over the last week I’ve also carved out 13 hours to watch the full first series of Daredevil on Netflix, which I enjoyed a lot, and should turn into another entry shortly…


The Hobbit: The first bit: The review

or “The reason it shouldn’t be called The Hobbit

Today, I went on an adventure. A mysterious source told me that a treasure trove of golden cinema moments awaited me, and also that if I didn’t go this weekend I’d have wasted the money I’m paying on my Unlimited card for this month. (Part of the reason I bought an Unlimited card is to motivate me to see more films in the cinema).

So, the cinema experience. Thirty seconds of my film experience today, which lasted just over four and a bit hours, was devoted to telling me how much the world would suck if Cinema was killed because of piracy. Thirty minutes of my film experience was devoted to television-style advertising, despite having paid over a tenner for the ticket. Ten minutes was devoted to advertising films I might want to see. Two minutes to how awesome the cinema chain I had ALREADY BOUGHT MY TICKET FROM was, and thirty seconds to remind me to buy popcorn. But the rest was entirely movie.

The Hobbit first edition book cover

I saw the film in 3D, because the time I wanted to go the showing was in 3D. I generally don’t seek out or not seek out the 3D versions of movies, because either the glasses are interfacing with my normal glasses oddly, or the technology is not quite there yet. Jackson’s love of gliding shots tracks badly with 3D, rendering every motion frame just a little blurry on the details until it halts. Where the camera sticks still, the action on screen is glorious, and the use of 3D is mostly natural rather than “HEY LOOK I CAN DO 3D”. Kind of like the early technocolor films, the use of films to demonstrate the awesome power of a new bit of film tech slowly fades out, and with any luck in a few years we’ll have natural looking 3D, and the slightly weird over-sharp films we get now will look as strange as the colouring of the Sound of Music does next to a modern film. Anyway, next time I go see a 3 hour movie, I probably shouldn’t go to the 3D one.

Apparently this is also in 48fps also. Either my cinema doesn’t support that, I’m too much of a peasant to notice the difference, or the people complaining can be lumped in with the folks who buy $600 2M HDMI cables.

End technical details section. Begin critical appraisal of actual movie.

This isn’t the Hobbit in the form that you read it when you were twelve.

How much you enjoy this movie will, I suspect, track pretty closely with how invested you are in The Hobbit the book that papa Tolkien wrote because he didn’t think he could sell the story of the world he wanted to tell, so filed the serial numbers off the histories and wrote The Hobbit.

The Hobbit (2012 film)
The Hobbit (2012 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love the Hobbit. It was one of the first “Grown Up” books I ever read, I’ve reread it less often than I reread LOTR (And, in fact, less often than I rewatch the LOTR movies, which is a bit of a shame) but the reason I enjoy LOTR in general is the sense of this gigantic sandbox Tolkien is playing in, and how we’re only actually seeing a small corner of it. Behind every window in the plot is a vista of paths unmapped so far. The Hobbit put shutters on a lot of the windows.

Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies are two things. First, they are the movies of the children’s book The Hobbit, Or There And Back Again, by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. This movie is about a third of that story, and that story is about half of this movie. Second, they are the prequels to The Lord of the Rings, also by J. R. R. Tolkien. The same story that was told before, but with the serial numbers on the universe painted back on again. I think, in a way, that this is closer to The Hobbit that would have been written if he planned to write LOTR afterwards. Backstories are filled in, conversations that logically happen, happen. Gandalf notices the ring, Gollum is slightly crazier, the backstory of *why* the Dwarves are on this quest is better spelt out, Radagast the Brown shows up (I… am not sure about his comic relief status).

I recognise that very few of the Dwarves get personalities. This is a problem with that size of cast, really, and nothing compared to the epic whining that cutting out half of the dwarves would have caused. The purposes of a lot of them are folded into each other for ease of the audience’s comprehension. The lack of female characters is entirely the source material’s fault, and unfortunatly most of the candidates for gender-swapping are recasts from the first three films. Plus see above about whining.

The Hobbit is a a closer, warmer, more personal story that LOTR in a lot of ways; and the film turns a lot of that into a more Epic version, suitable as a prequel. As I say, about half of the film – at a rough ballpark – is things that I assume are taken from the notes and essays. They’re worldbuilding for LOTR, and indeed for The Hobbit, setups for a payoff we’ve already seen. Both problems in the Other big epic prequel trilogy, as it happens. So my conclusion is that if you go in expecting a film of The Hobbit, which is quaint, somewhat cosy, and slightly provincial, you’ll be massively disappointed, as a lot of the critics have been. If the title had been instead something that referred to both aspects of the source material, or to neither in specific, that expectation might have worked for them.

But it’s never the same as it was in your head anyway.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Fit to Print – The Newsroom Season 1

The first television series I actually cared about was The West Wing. I enjoyed it enough to watch all of Sports Night, and one day I will wade though the dirty-laundry of Studio 60 for long enough to watch the season finale.

The new Sorkin series, The Newsroom, ended its first season recently.

It’s not real.

Attacking a TV show, novel, or any other kind of non-documentary for characters whose dialogue is far from real life has never seemed to me like a fair thing to judge it on. In real life workplaces, people very rarely monologue on the theme of Don Quixote and now it relates to their life (News Room), have arguments in iambic pentameter (West Wing). In fact, while I take a great delight in very occasionally acting like a character written by Aaron Sorkin, a month in which I get to do it twice is a big deal. It’s not real, it’s not supposed to be real, it’s high contrast, and it’s televison. I’m not going to hit Batman over the head with how very quickly he recovers from losing a fight *really badly* in the Dark Knight, either.

There’s stuff I’d like to change. He’s not great at giving the women the articulatory high-ground (When he does it in the last News Room, it’s notably on the subject of living up to Sex in the City), his non-white characters could do with a bit more limelight (Dev Patel, in particular, deserves a little less comic relief), and the stuffing is poking out of a number of his favourite strawmen. His “Honourable Enemy” republican spends more time bashing his own side (Who may deserve it, and I don’t expect balance, but still). I still like it a lot, though.

The season finale feels very much like a series finale, which is a good act of anti-hubris, wrapping up – or at least drawing a “for now” line under – most of the story arcs of the season, but the weaker areas of the storylines aren’t magically fixed – the four-way interpersonal complexigon becomes five-way for no apparent reason – the series is at its strongest when it’s dealing with the fallout and the decisions of the making of an actual News program, and the biggest “this is awesome” moments of the series have all revolved around those, but with any luck the 10 months until the next season will give the writing team (Who am I kidding, I mean Sorkin) a chance to react to the biggest criticisms of the last ten weeks, shore up on the strengths, and come out swinging with the new series in the spring. Until then, I can always rewatch The West Wing and Sports Night, again.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Cursed, apparently

Of all the tales told on these islands, few are as strange as that of William Palmer. Cursed, apparently, on the road to Canterbury in the spring of 1185 for denying the presence of the other world by the king of the grey folk – or Fairy – himself, and compelled to walk from that day to this between the worlds of magic and of men, and subsequently known in all the strange and wonderful lore attributed to the mysterious William Palmer, as Pilgrim.

The problem is that it isn’t on very often, Pilgrim isn’t. The Afternoon Play is one of Radio 4’s long-standing traditions, and one of the best things – although I don’t hear very many of them – that they’ve commissioned is the series Pilgrim, a dark fantasy tale written by Sebastian Baczkiewicz.

The world is mostly this one. The people live in villages and cities, and are sane and rational and cupid and giving and weird and wonderful, but alongside it is the other world from every fairytale in these lands. By fairytale I don’t mean of brothers Grimm and Snow White, though I love those too, I mean of fairies and barrows, of spirits of earth and water, and of promises that made thrice cannot be broken. Though this world walks William Palmer cursed, apparently, as above. Immortal and human, he cuts a very antiheroic protagonist, wanting nothing more than to be allowed to die, and forced to make impossible decisions as well as possible ones, not all of which he makes admirably. A strangely human inhuman protagonist, for all his power.

I love the style. The dialogue – and it’s a play, it’s all dialogue – ebbs and flows, bounces between characters and repeats refrains. The folk from the other world speak strangely, almost archaically but not quite, and with a cadence and style that means you can recognise their origin before they’ve explained it.

A series that couldn’t be made into a visual spectacle, for all I wish it could, and one of the great proofs of the pictures being so much better on radio.

There have been three short series’, roughly yearly, of which the second is available on AudioGo and the third recently finished on Radio 4, and the first series on 4 Extra. I hope the rest will be out on CD soon, but you see it mentioned or available, you should listen to it.

We like it, we do.

Enhanced by Zemanta
computing Current Affairs internet media

SOPA for Brits

So, Wikipedia is shutdown today. Reddit, ICHC and a large number of other sites will be showing their irritation at SOPA and the concepts surrounding it by joining them in going dark for between 12 and 24 hours, US time.

Annoying, isn’t it, how these international websites are going dark internationally for a US law? Well, that’s kind of a large part of the problem. How do you define a site that is under US law? Is it where the servers are hosted? Is it where the company who owns the servers are incorporated? Is it where the person who accesses the data lives?

I (in the UK) rent a virtual server from Linode that’s hosted in London. Linode are an American company. I host an episode of the Daily Show, owned by an american company. Whose copyright laws apply?

In this case, SOPA defines a “Domestic” site as one with a US registered domain name (.com/.net/.org or .us) or IP address. So because my IP address is owned by Linode, it counts as Domestic under SOPA, but also because most of the domains that point at the server (but not all) are top level domains controlled by US parties.

That may not matter, since there is a precedent for charges against British citizens being able to be brought by US companies under US law and for them to be extradited to face them.

The reason why it affects us is that it starts to make a lot of resources unviable, because it places the onus of proof of copyright onto the “host”:

The owner or operator of the site is “committing or facilitating the commission of criminal violations punishable under section 2318, 2319, 2319A, 2319B, or 2320, or chapter 90, of title 18, United States Code.” Those sections primarily deal with copyright infringement and counterfeit products.

This means that sites like Tumblr and YouTube suddenly have a problem, because instead of the person who uploads a copyrighted image, text or video being liable for committing an act of computer piracy under US law, suddenly the websites are, and since the sites are far larger, more obvious and richer targets for lawsuits it will mean the cost of running a site where people upload things starts to have to include fighting thousands of lawsuits against copyright holders, while the user who lied when they clicked the “I have permission to post this” checkbox continues to do so.

It would be interesting to see what the percentage of YouTube/Tumblr etc. uploads that are copyrighted content is, and what percentage of that can be classified as “Fair Use” and what percentage of the rest the copyright holders don’t mind being published, since it brings more exposure. In addition, a lot of posters to YouTube seem to believe they *do* have the legal permission to post things so long as they post a magic mantra about “Not claiming any copyright on any of this video or characters or anything!”. If YouTube, to take a single example, is now legally responsible for every video it hosts, the simple “I’m allowed to post this” legal figleaf stops sufficing, and they suddenly need actual legal proof of copyright, and how do you prove that?

I have a video of tea being brewed,  which I took myself with my very own iPad. It has a soundtrack which I didn’t actually have permission to use, but which I replaced with a public domain track later. I *took* the video, and I can’t legally prove my ownership beyond a sacred vow that that really is the state of the tiling in my kitchen. My video channel also includes some dancing santas and a dancing raccoon suit. The wonder and the beauty of YouTube is, in part, that it’s quick, it’s easy, and it doesn’t require you to log your original tapes with a legal authority before uploading, which is what SOPA runs the risk of requiring.

You can argue that that’s fine, because Google’s huge and can afford to fight those bills, but I host websites on my little server, and if someone with an account on my server decides to upload a jpeg owned by someone else, the idea of me being personally and legally liable for it, able to be extradited to the US for prosecution for it,  is actually terrifying.

And this is hyperbole, to some extent. It’s the ultimate extreme of what the bill would require of hosts if it was misused by the large media companies to attempt to set fire to the stable and set a sniper on the horse, long after it bolted for the hills. They say, as they always say, that the strict rules and the draconian requirements are there not to use against ordinary people, but *bad* people. You know, those other people. They said the same thing about the DMCA when that came in, and those are horribly misused to break free speech, fair use, parody and commentary already.

There’s room in the world for better piracy controls and especially education on what copyright actually *is* and how and why it’s enforced, and for real actual *change* from both sides on how intellectual property and pure-digital creations can have proven ownership, but SOPA and its associated bills are a really bad idea that only really benefit the international mega-global media corporations who lobbied for it, and not just for the US, but for every person in every country that uses a US-based site and looks at cat pictures on the internet.