It's Sean!

UK freelance journalist, author
and writer Sean McManus

Printed from www.sean.co.uk. © Sean McManus.
You are here: Home > Blog Home > Sean McManus's Writing blog: March 2006

Sean's Tech and Writing Blog

WhoseSpace is this?

26 March 2006


Last night I saw The Starts supporting Tom Hingley's pre-Inspirals revival Too Much Texas. A great night, and since both bands are on MySpace, I was inspired to check it out again. Song and dance man Tim Ten Yen also has a page there, as do My Life Story and ExileInside [link no longer available]. By setting up an account, I can join their communities and make it easy for me to find all their pages in one place.

This is not the first time I've considered joining MySpace. About a month ago, I went to their website, clicked 'join up' and found that the site's terms and conditions were broken. I notified the site through the contact forms, but I find that today, it's still missing (tested using Opera and IE).

What can we learn from this? Any of the following might be true:Unless you know what you're signing up to, you're better off choosing somewhere else to host your music. I don't know how much additional traffic the MySpace effect generates, but I'm guessing that as before most bands get lost on there and the only effective promotion is the work they do themselves to attract listeners.

If anyone wants to tell me about their experience using MySpace to promote music, I'd be interested in hearing from you.

I have today updated my list of places to promote your music. You can still read my 15 top music promotion tips and my article about how to choose where to host your music.

Labels: , ,


Bookmark and Share
Permanent link for this post.

Copyright matters

25 March 2006


I'm going to stick my head over the parapet now and write something unpopular: Copyright matters.

I know it's trendy nowadays to be all loved-up and say 'hey, man, let the data flow free like a river'. I have great respect for the work of the open source movement, and for the work of the Creative Commons. But just because some people choose to relinquish some of their legal rights, it doesn't mean everybody else should be forced to.

As you might know, I'm pretty defensive of my copyrights. In this post I'll explain some of the reasons why.

Creators should choose how stuff is used

One of the issues that is often overlooked is one of choice. Even a Creative Commons licence gives you a choice over which rights you give away. You can, for example, say content is free to use provided it's not modified or that it can be used only in non-commercial projects.

But a problem with the Creative Commons model is that it assumes you want to assign permission based on usage, and not on who is making that use. I'm pretty politically aware, and there are some organisations that I would never grant permission to use my creative work. I would never want my work to be used against the causes I believe in. There are even individuals with whose views I disagree to the extent that I wouldn't want to actively help them. The law gives me the right to choose on a case-by-case basis who can and can't use my work.

This has nothing to do with free speech, by the way: Just because I respect and defend your right to express your views, it doesn't mean I should help you express them.

Time matters

Anyone want to mow my lawn for free? Go on. I'll tell everyone you did a great job. I thought not.

Time is the scarcest resource we have. Some of us will have more than others (we won't know how much until the end), but we've all got the same number of hours in the day, and days in the week. Working out how to spend it is what life's all about. Respecting how people spend their time is respecting their lives.

Over the last (nearly) ten years, I have spent a lot of time making content and building this website. Content is quick to consume, but slow to create. Writing games takes days. Writing an article can take half a day, once research is factored in. Even taking and scanning photographs is a fairly big job, even before we've factored in the time taken travelling to places to photograph. And let's not even start talking about how long it takes to write a book.

Don't get me wrong - I love it. That's why I do it. But if I've spent my limited life force making things instead of watching TV, it seems only fair that I choose who benefits from that. The law gives me the right to exercise control over how my work is used.

Derivative works are just that

A derivative work is when you take one thing, and then build upon it to make another thing. It's a more creative endeavour than just copying something, and the people who create the derivative work often add value. But they often cause problems too, and I have a right in law to decide who can and can't make derivative works from my material.

There are corners of the internet where people are still cursing me in a foreign language following a dispute over an unauthorised translation of one of my articles. I know that the translator who broke copyright law was only trying to make some ideas more widely available, but the end result could be the exact opposite. Now that I've had the exclusive translation rights stolen from me for that language, I can't license a major publisher to use it (which would have potentially communicated the ideas much more widely). For the record, I tried to reach a compromise where I published the translated version on this website but the translator was unresponsive. The article has been pulled from circulation.

Derivative works also restrict my creative freedom. If I make something, I'm free to adapt and modify it how I like. If somebody else independently alters it and makes new works, I'm having some of my creative options taken from me. Either I can't then do what they've done, or there is another work out there with which I must compete despite creating the original source material.

I do respect the time that people spend in creating derivative works, but request that they also respect the time that I spend in creating source material. If you're interested in translating content or creating derivative works, please contact me. I'll work with you if I can, but reserve my legal right to say 'no'.

Let's talk business

Just because you're not prepared to pay for something, it doesn't mean it doesn't have a value. While many people can and do set up websites for free, I actually write cheques to keep this website online. I also incur real money costs creating content (software, hardware, training). I've put over 300 pages of original content online and nearly all of it is free for you to read.

This is made possible by advertising, and the products I sell, including licences to use my copyright material. By charging people who want to make certain uses of my content, I'm able to publish lots more content for free. If I let people put my work on other websites for free, I end up competing with my own work for the traffic that helps pay the bills. That's the economics of it.

You might think I could avoid all that by just giving the content away, so that other people pay to host it. I can see how this might work for certain types of content. I've allowed unmodified copies of my websafe colour palette program to be circulated freely. But we come back to the control issue again (see above), so I don't allow my other work to be copied in this way.

In certain cases, I will grant a free licence to use my work. In other cases, I will make a charge. You might be surprised at how friendly I am, if you drop me a line.

Copyrights do have a commercial value and they are a part of my wealth. Anyone taking my copyright material is stealing some of my livelihood.

Credit where it's due

It's a buzz when someone says they like what you've made, or that they found it useful in accomplishing their own goals. Knowing the identity of the creator of a work also changes your perception of it. The law gives me a right to be identified as the creator of my creative works.

There are a couple of common web practices which interfere with this right:


I really appreciate people linking to this website to help spread the word, but please link to a HTML page and don't use frames. Don't make it look like you own my content. Ask if you don't understand or you're not sure.

Fair use

I'm not trying to restrict your rights here - just assert my own. So I don't have a problem with people reproducing short excerpts for the purpose of comment provided they're accompanied by a link to the original source. I don't have a problem with people using images from this site as their windows wallpaper on their own computer, although I do have a problem with them passing those images on to others. You're welcome to print out any material here for your own use, but not to circulate it without permission. If you're not sure what's allowed, please drop me a line.

Discussion

If you've got any comments, please email me. I'll update this article with them later.

For the avoidance of any doubt, none of the above and nothing in the comments grants you any rights in relation to my content. If you want to make use of my copyright material, you are required to contact me first.

There are lots of 'contact me' links in the above, because I get particularly annoyed when people don't ask. I'll negotiate if you ask. I won't, if you don't.

Labels: , , , , ,


Bookmark and Share
Permanent link for this post.

Book review: The Yes Man

19 March 2006


I've started reading books again on the tube, so I'm going to start reviewing them on here, partly as a reminder to myself of the books I've read. If you're watching The Apprentice, you can also see my review for Alan Sugar's book that accompanied series one.

Book cover: The Yes ManFirst up for a new review, then, is Danny Wallace's book 'The Yes Man', which I read at the turn of the year.

We have Tony Hawks to blame or credit for books like this, depending on your viewpoint. Since he walked around Ireland with a fridge, there's been no shortage of people doing ker-azy things and then writing books about them.

Danny Wallace previously travelled the world with Dave Gorman, trying to meet other people called Dave Gorman. He also set up a cult in his book Join Me. For this book, 'The Yes Man', Wallace decided to agree to do whatever anyone asked of him. The best bits are when he says 'yes' to seeing his friends more, meets new people and challenges himself at work. The worst bit is where he pretends to believe that a 419 spam email is genuine and somebody really does want his help transferring money out of Africa. As he gets all excited and travels to Holland, you know he's doing stupid stuff just so he can write a book about it. These books work best when there's an element of silliness, but an air of sincerity too (as in Tony Hawks' first two books).

If you like the idea of 'The Yes Man', you'll enjoy reading it. The adventure draws you in, it's laugh-out-loud funny at times and Wallace has a talent for observation. He's mangled the truth enough to give it a proper story arc, so it doesn't get repetitive. And the ending is genuinely touching. If nothing else, the book will make you wonder how your own life would change if you said 'yes' more.

Labels: ,


Bookmark and Share
Permanent link for this post.

0 comments

Dip into the blog archive

June 2005 | July 2005 | August 2005 | September 2005 | October 2005 | November 2005 | December 2005 | January 2006 | February 2006 | March 2006 | April 2006 | May 2006 | June 2006 | July 2006 | August 2006 | September 2006 | October 2006 | November 2006 | December 2006 | January 2007 | February 2007 | March 2007 | April 2007 | May 2007 | June 2007 | July 2007 | August 2007 | September 2007 | October 2007 | November 2007 | December 2007 | January 2008 | February 2008 | March 2008 | April 2008 | May 2008 | June 2008 | July 2008 | August 2008 | September 2008 | October 2008 | November 2008 | December 2008 | January 2009 | February 2009 | March 2009 | April 2009 | May 2009 | June 2009 | July 2009 | August 2009 | September 2009 | October 2009 | November 2009 | December 2009 | January 2010 | February 2010 | March 2010 | April 2010 | May 2010 | June 2010 | August 2010 | September 2010 | October 2010 | November 2010 | December 2010 | March 2011 | April 2011 | May 2011 | June 2011 | July 2011 | August 2011 | September 2011 | October 2011 | November 2011 | December 2011 | January 2012 | February 2012 | March 2012 | June 2012 | July 2012 | August 2012 | September 2012 | October 2012 | December 2012 | January 2013 | February 2013 | March 2013 | April 2013 | June 2013 | July 2013 | August 2013 | September 2013 | October 2013 | November 2013 | December 2013 | January 2014 | February 2014 | March 2014 | April 2014 | May 2014 | June 2014 | July 2014 | August 2014 | September 2014 | October 2014 | November 2014 | December 2014 | January 2015 | February 2015 | March 2015 | April 2015 | May 2015 | June 2015 | September 2015 | October 2015 | December 2015 | January 2016 | February 2016 | March 2016 | May 2016 | July 2016 | August 2016 | September 2016 | October 2016 | November 2016 | December 2016 | January 2017 | Top of this page | RSS

Books by Sean McManus

Scratch Programming in Easy 

Steps

Scratch Programming in Easy Steps

Raspberry Pi For Dummies

Raspberry Pi For Dummies

Learn to program with the Scratch programming language, widely used in schools and colleges.

Set up your Pi, master Linux, learn Scratch and Python, and create your own electronics projects.

Super Skills: How to 

Code

Super Skills: How to Code

Web Design in Easy Steps

Web Design in Easy Steps

Learn how to code with this great new book, which guides you through 10 easy lessons to build up your coding skills.

Learn the layout, design and navigation techniques that make a great website. Then build your own using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

More books

©Sean McManus. www.sean.co.uk.