Posts Tagged ‘copyright’

Newspaper heading these last days on the Dutch Stichting Brein (Foundation Brain) forces providers to effect an INTERNET BLOCKADE against Pirate Bay web sites“. The Foundation Brein received on January the 11, 2012 a court order that forces some of the big internet providers in the Netherlands (Xs4all and Ziggo at first, T-Mobile and UPC are on the list) to block internet services that Brein claims to be infringements of copyright and intellectual property. The blockade is aimed at  sites of, and related to, ‘Pirate Bay’.  The court order (1) mentions 24 internet addresses to be blocked. Already  at court, Stichting Brein did make some changes in this blockade-list by taking off 4 addresses, that would take off-line web services that had little or no relation with Pirate Bay activities seen as infringements  (one of them was a web site with educational movies for young people). It is in the same week that Dutch internet service providers  (and 20 search warrants in eight other countries) have been forced to take the domain MegaUpload off line. The Dutch firm LeaseWeb – working for MegaUpload – saw 690 computer servers sealed (storing 15 of the total 25 ‘petabyte’ of data used by MegaUpload) by the Dutch Tax Authority (FIOD), executing an order of the American FBI. This series of events prompted a Green Left member of parliament (Arjen El Fassed) to ask questions to the Dutch government about  this whole sale anti-piracy operations, whereby illegal and legal forms of data-traffic are not properly separated:

“Operations like this cause huge damage to the freedom and openness of the internet.”

I see as much Right as Wrong with CopyRight as it is practiced by the actual Media Content Industry – and Stichting Brein is – first of all – a tool of those corporate interests, though they like to pose as defenders of creative workers.

There is much to debate about copyright: what it once was, what it became and how to rethink the idea of claiming ownership on things reproducible for the future. As our media have changed dramatically, the idea and practical application of ownership of content should also be open to change. The same firms that invent and produce – endless and more and more quickly outdated – hardware devices, are producing and monopolising the content to be displayed on them, making profits on both software and hardware. There are many creative alternatives for intellectual property of content and distribution of “profits” in the making, that go beyond the singular ‘big players only’ approach, where content creators have little to no say and the content consumers are only seen as cattle to be exploited. ‘Creative Commons‘, ‘The Future of Music Coalition‘, and many more… When analysing how profits are made and revenues are distributed fairness for those who actually do the  ‘creative work’, is hard to find.

Two recent examples that show how media industry both pushes and earns from selling hardware and software (content) and what the practice of sharing is when it comes to those actually producing 'intellectual property'. For sources see note (2)

We are all aware of  the ‘digital gluttony’ that has been wakened in us by constant propagated consumerism. One’s personal economy to get unlimited access to content may deprive others from income, but to what extent ‘personal piracy’ hurts ‘corporate business’ is up to debate. The history of piracy in publishing and distribution  tells another story than what the lawyers of content business want us to believe. The title of  cultural historian and media scholar Siva Vaidhyanathan’s book published in 2003 says it all: “Copyrights and copywrongs : the rise of intellectual property and how it threatens creativity.” In the chapter “the digital moment” he sketches the impact:

The digital moment has also collapsed the distinction among three formerly distinct processes: gaining access to a work; using (we used to call it ‘reading’) a work; and copying a work. (…) Copyright was designed to regulate only copying. It was not supposed to regulate one’s right to read or share. But now that the distinctions among accessing, using and copying have collapsed, copyright policymakers have found themselves faced with what seems to be a difficult choice: either relinquish some control over copying or expand copyright to regulate access and use, despite the chilling effect this might have on creativity, community and democracy. (page 152-153)

The worst thing of this court order in favour of Stichting Brein is the wholesale BLOCKING of parts of the internet by a simple court order. Today it is Stichting Brein, tomorrow it is Stichting Zwijn (Foundation Swine), the day after Sacherijn (Chagrin), or whatever other interest group or private party that tries to claim ‘digital ownership’ by appealing to a court. We will see the court rooms reserved for months by the ‘law industry’ making a buck on limiting ‘freedom of expression’. What should be individual court cases against personal law infringement, have now become generalised measures which affects ‘fair use’ as much as ‘unfair practice’. This is were the historical idea of copyright (which was born as a tool for state or church censorship in the early days of the printing press) comes back in an ugly form: BLOCKADE.

What associations do we have with BLOCKADES? Depends who blocks whom for what and when and how. EEC BLOCKADE AGAINST IRAN, IRAN BLOCKADE AGAINST THE WEST, ISRAEL BLOCKADE OF GAZA, USA BLOCKADE OF CUBA, BLOCKADE OF WALL STREET, BLOCKADE OF WEAPONS FOR DICTATORSHIPS… So what is done to counter such kind of  blockades I asked myself and the first thing that came to mind was the Airlift of goods to break the BLOCKADE OF WEST BERLIN (June 1948 – May 1949 the start of the Cold War) ….. The town of Berlin with an open West and East sector, was split in two and West-Berlin became an island surrounded by the DDR. Roads and railways were blocked and only trough a constant airlift of goods by the Allied Forces, West Berlin survived.

So when providers delivering their goods through cables are BLOCKED we may ultimately  (if it was only a symbolic gesture to drive home the point of control of means of expression) consider ‘airlifting’ our data be it through some obsolete unused satellites, or by short wave radio, refracted (bend) radio waves between earth and ionosphere, accessible all around the globe.

THE FREE AETHER instead of THE BLOCKED INTERNET. In the last years before the downfall of the Berlin Wall, radio and computer amateurs in Hungary used radio-emission of data as a means of communication (partly so because to get a landline telephone connection in that country could take a decade or so). Such data-radio even played a role in the Hungarian support of the rising against the Ceaușescu regime in Rumania winter 1989. Dissidents all over the world have used short wave radio to get informed what was happening outside of their totalitarian nation, from the Soviet Union a few decades ago, to Cuba, still today. Radio-jamming was the answer, like digital blockades now, but jamming has always been limited to certain parts of the radio spectrum.

Inventive usage of radio-modems and de-central data distribution protocols, could once more become popular. Centralised networks make it possible to censor, block, seize, filter, ban ‘top-down’. We may need to look back at earlier models of electronic information exchange and distribution. Like FIDOnet a worldwide amateur computer network of ‘bulletin boards’ based on a tree-structure up- and download system using  telephone lines and modems. FIDO has been founded in 1984 and grew into a world wide popular communication system till 1994, the year that the internet – as we know it now – started. FIDO is still popular in the Russian Federation, as a secondary form of communication. Some see a new future for such ‘bottom-up’ ways of electronic communication (3). There are nowadays many more creative solutions to go beyond the centrally controlled cable and satellite networks, an overview would go beyond the aim of this short article, but let me mention just one other inspirational experiment of ‘netless digital network‘ (4), a citywide network that uses public transport communication systems as its ‘information carrier’:

“… an independent communication tactic; invisible digital network that does not need wires or dedicated radio frequencies. alternative communication device that helps its users to avoid such controlled and observed space as the internet. free from governmentally owned medium channels (radio frequency ranges, emission power regulations), proprietary locked technologies and cable networks…”

It is of course not my proposed strategy to propagate a full change over from one way of electronic communication to another – adapted  restrictions and controls soon would be invented for any  generalised communication alternative – it is about over-dependency on one particular way of information access. By diversifying the communication systems we use, we may make ourselves more independent. Such a practice should also be stretched beyond electronic based systems.

Homing pigeons as messengers maybe still be considered, however outrageous that may sound. May I recall here the combined use of micro-photography and pigeon carriers used during the Prussian siege of Paris (1870-71), with handwritten news protocols, photographed, tightly rolled up and tied to the leg of a pigeon, moving back and forward from Tours and Poitiers – far behind the German lines – to the besieged city of Paris. Sometimes balloons were used to transport the pigeons out the other way to find back their homing target in Paris. During the First World War pigeons have been in wide use also on the trenched battlefields in the North of France. There is even a monument in their honour in Lille. The Imperial War Museum in London does have a vitrine that show message carrier dogs running over the battlefield delivering messages and post between the trenches.

I do not suggest at all that this should be repeated in exact the same way and under similar circumstances, but the basic principles is most inspiring: the combination of ancient (pigeon carriers) and modern (early days of photography) technology. Such an ‘intermediate’ technology  usage is what I propose, it will safeguard free and independent communication for a future we can not know. It will be both fun and useful to start imagining and trying…

Notice the symbolism of the free airborne pigeon versus the threatening landlocked poisonous snake.

Citation from court order (LJN: BV0549, Rechtbank ‘s-Gravenhage , 374634 / HA ZA 10-3184) with under (5.3) a list op ‘ip addresses’ and ‘domain and sub-domain names’ to be blocked by Ziggo and XS4ALL. What is alarming is the subsequent court order (5.4) that gives Stichting Brein the right to supply (without the need to go to court) other ip-addresses, domains and sub-domains related to Pirate Bay.

5.3. beveelt Ziggo en XS4ALL binnen tien werkdagen na betekening van dit vonnis hun sub VI van de dagvaarding bedoelde diensten die worden gebruikt om inbreuk te maken op de auteurs- en naburige rechten van de rechthebbenden wier belangen Brein behartigt, te staken en gestaakt te houden, door middel van het blokkeren en geblokkeerd houden van de toegang van hun klanten tot de domeinnamen/(sub)domeinen en IP-adressen via welke The Pirate Bay opereert, te weten:






 (i) thepiratebay.org;

(ii) http://www.thepiratebay.org;

(iii) thepiratebay.com;

(iv) thepiratebay.net;

(v) thepiratebay.se;

(vi) piratebay.org;

(vii) piratebay.net;

(viii) piratebay.no;

(ix) piratebay.se;

(x) http://www.thepiratebay.com;

(xi) http://www.thepiratebay.net;

(xii) http://www.thepiratebay.se;

(xiii) http://www.piratebay.org;

(xiv) http://www.piratebay.net;

(xv) http://www.piratebay.no;

(xvi) http://www.piratebay.se.

(xvii) depiraatbaai.be

(xviii) piratebay.am

(xix) suprnova.com

(xx) themusicbay.net

(xxi) themusicbay.org

(xxii) http://www.suprnova.com

(xxiii) http://www.themusicbay.net

(xxiv) http://www.themusicbay.org

 5.4. beveelt Ziggo en XS4ALL, voor het geval dat (de website van) The Pirate Bay via andere/aanvullende IP-adressen en/of domeinnamen/(sub)domeinen dan die onder 5.3) genoemd zou gaan opereren, de toegang van hun klanten tot deze andere/aanvullende IP adressen en/of domeinnamen/(sub)domeinen te blokkeren en geblokkeerd te houden, binnen tien werkdagen na aanlevering door Brein, zowel per fax als per aangetekende brief, aan Ziggo en XS4ALL van de juiste IP-adressen en/of domeinnamen/(sub)domeinen;

The videogame piechart has been published in the November 15 issue of Newsweek in an article by Christine Thompsen in the so called “Back Story” of that magazine.
Took me a long time to find the actual source of “The Great Divide” piechart of the music industry – as  I mistrust data representations without their actual source – it has been publsihed first on July 6th 2010 in ‘The Root’ web magazine ina well documented article “The Music Industry’s Funny Money Still think a music career is an easy path to a blinged-out life? Don’t believe the hype. A whole lot of folks have to get paid before the musician does. The Root traces the money trail.”  The writers of the article do thank Don Passman, writer of  “All you need to know about the music business” for his help. That book has been published in the year 2009. The Root article can be found here…

A nice cartoon like reflection on the advantages of the old concepts of FIDO

6 Jimmy J. Jazz - Facecömic: FidoNet messaging vs. Internet e-mail (the 16th of March, 2011) (Click the picture to enlarge it and click Esc button on your keyboard to return.) I was on trip from Monday noon to Tuesday morning. My customer called me Tuesday 10 a.m. and she asked me if I had read her e-mail she had sent to me on Monday afternoon. When I started to work with PCs on the 1980's, we had world wide net of private computers called FidoNet. It was sort of Internet with Social Media, but anybody having a PC, a modem and a normal voice phoneline could join. There were thousands of private PCs all around the world changing messages. The system was built to, that: people phoned to node, hub or host during day time or on evening nodes phoned to hubs, which phoned to hosts, which phoned to each other and handled international calls. This was done twice a night, which ment that every message was delivered in every part of the world within one day! We should get rid on Internet and change back to FidoNet. In that case if my customer writes me an e-mail on Monday afternoon, whe will know that I will get it on Tuesday and I will have time for the whole day to reply on it, and she will get my answer on Wednesdat. This will help us to get rid of the unneccessary panic and plan things better.

This is a map that show the FIDOnet in Russia…

A short manifesto like text of ‘netless’ is posted on their web site…

clicl text picture to enlarge

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Nijntje/Miffy may sniff cocaine and be a terrorist has said a Dutch judge today in a courtcase where the creator of ‘Nijntje het copyright konijntje’ (Miffy the copyright rabbit) Dick Bruna (1927 -) had asked the court to forbid several Nijntje impersonations on the web. Dirk Bruna – for decades – is the Dutch champion and pioneer of licensing and royalties, censoring whatever urban culture derivation of his creation. Thus he has for long become the  terminator of the offspring of his own drawing board creation, or,  was it the late designer and founder of the merciless copyright exploitation bureau Mercis B.V., Pieter Brattinga (1931 – 2004) that has aborted most of the unwanted progeny of this imaginary rabbit? Pencil and eraser are often held in one hand.

You can find the full text of  the court decision on-line in PDF format  (in Dutch) on this link. After the formal pages of  this court case that has been dragging on since January 2010, there is a very instructive discourse on ‘auteursrecht’ (author rights), ‘merkrecht’ (trade mark rights) en ‘persoonijkheidsrechten’ (moral rights). Three levels of complaints ranging from the commercial to the moral have been scrutinised by the judges. The defence of the internet provider claiming that the exception in author law that allows for parody, caricature and pastiche should be honoured over the commercial and moral claims, won out in the end. The ‘moral ownership rights’ claimed by Dick Bruna summarised in his statement to the court “Nijntje is van de kinderen en daar moet je van afblijven” (Miffy is of the children and one should stay away of that), did not find a willing ear with the judges as they concluded that Dick Bruna to them appeared as someone “who does not at all  tolerate any parody on his creation (literary the text says his  ‘brain child’).” [page 16 of the Court Decision of September 13 2011]. There is no doubt that the imaginative world Bruna has been designing for most of his live is a world without conflicts, a peaceful world where life is pleasant and light. His worldwide success with this creation is a testimony of how much such a harmless environment is appreciated.

Venturing into the world with such a set of intentions does not guarantee that his books and other products will be always read in the way he has intended. Bruna may have the legal rights to his creation but these do not include the rights to other peoples minds. This court decision points out to Dick Bruna that characters of fiction in order to be communicated need an action by a reader to be reproduced. No writer, visual artist, designer, architect, musician name it, will be able to fully control how that second part of all our mediated communications, will be handled by the reader, the listener, the audience … The only full control is to keep one’s creation to oneself and even that may prove at one moment or another,  not a complete safe undertaking. There are many examples of dissatisfied artists that have destroyed their own creation before even communicating them to the world outside. A creation that is communicated will necessarily be open to different interpretations and caricature, persiflage, pastiche and parody are part of that. The Socratic dictum of the defenceless text and artwork even holds for his creation of little rabbit Nijntje:

For this, I conceive, Phaedrus, is the evil of writing, and herein it closely resembles painting. The creatures of the latter art stand before you as if they were alive, but if you ask them a question, they look very solemn, and say not a word. And so it is with written dis courses. You could fancy they speak as though  they were possessed of sense, but if you wish to understand something they say, and question them about it, you find them ever repeating but one and the self-same story. Moreover, every discourse, once written, is tossed about from hand to hand, equally among those who understand it, and those for whom it is in no wise fitted ; and it does not know to whom it ought, and to whom it ought not, to speak. And when misunderstood and unjustly attacked, it always needs its father to help it ; for, unaided, it can neither retaliate, nor defend itself.  [The Phaedrus in the 188 edition as can be found on the Internet Archive]

So in Socratic sense Dick Bruna – as the father – stood up in court and defended his Nijntje, called upon the state to acknowledge his ownership of this created figurine, which the court did without hesitation, but as Nijntje is not a real living person that can claim to have been insulted, and as Nijntje is just a figurine that has been reproduced a millionfold, the judges concluded that  the creator must as a consequence of this commercial, social and cultural embedding of his brainchild, also be able to accommodate forms of social and cultural intercourse that lay outside of his intentions. This is how I read the court’s decision. If there had been commercial intentions of making and selling unauthorised copies of whatever Nijntje product, the decision of the court would have been a different one.

Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Tintin, Suske and Wiske (Belgian comic book figures), Asterix and Obelix, Fritz the Cat and so on,  they have all been appropriated and a good international bibliography of pastiche comics will be a fat book indeed. On the other hand one can say that mythical figures as communicated in a process of constant change, coming down to us in millennia through lore and narration have been exploited and usurped by the modern media industry with hardly anybody standing up and defending the original intentions of these human heritage beings.

The Dutch web site “Mijndomein  – owned by punt.nl B.V. – was the one that resisted the threats of the lawyers operating in the name of the Miffy creator to take away parodies using the Miffy rabbit or face court.  Today they had a web page rejoicing their success in court: “Mijndomein wint hoger beroep: Parodieën op Nijntje zijn toegestaan”  (MyDomain wins appeal case in court, parodies of Nijntje are allowed). On their web site one can find some picture examples of deviating Nijntjes, like the “nijn eleven” cartoon that twists the Dutch name of Miffy – Nijntje – via its stem ‘Nijn’ that when pronounced in Dutch sounds like the English ‘nine’.

Contested picture number 7 in the court documents. The TinEye image search engine that checks out on the internet automatically images and parts of images that are the same, finds 7 instances of this image on the web, whereby one link (non functional anymore) is a Japanese web site with a castle and Miffy and a friend in a small airplane approaching a castle. A little more reserach learns me is, that the picture must be from the booklet “Nijntje vliegt” (Miffy flies). Google Image search comes with more results, many ‘Nijntje vliegt’ are associated by their computer with the contested ‘nijn – eleven (9/11)’, but the computer algorithm rightly concludes that the pastiche ‘nijn – eleven’ and ‘Nijntje vliegt’ pages are NOT the same.

The cartoon,  in Dick Bruna style,  shows a small airplane with two rabbits approaching a building. Whether one likes these ‘detournements’ (twisted images) or finds them bad taste, is not the question here. What is at stake is massive multiplication of imagery of an imagined being (Nijnjte) on the one hand, and, on the other, the attempted prohibition to have such a being – that became part of popular culture – function in any other form as sanctioned by the creator and copyright holder. In the case of Dick Bruna the protection of his copyright, which has often been exercised in an understandable way, did not know where stop. He and his lawyers failed to notice that they had moved from the domain of property rights into the domain of censorship, driven there both by intolerance and commercial interest.

As a part of a complex of historical museums in Utrecht, the town where the designer of Miffy, Dick Bruna, lives, there is a Dick Bruna Museum House and I remember visiting this one dimensional non-historical representation of the work of Bruna. It is like a show case of some multinational, no attempt at explaining or comparing  the mechanisms of branded mass production of children books and toys now-a-days with what was before. The golden Miffy statue with a big red letter ‘C’ in the museum almost seems a self-critical note, but I am not sure that it has been intended as such. The ‘C’ does not stand for ‘copyright’ and its relation with a golden rabbit statue, but for C of Centraal Museum Utrecht, the historical museum that hosts Dick Bruna’s museum. For the many Japanese visitors the figure of a rabbit has a whole different dimension, with the rabbit as a symbol of the moon, who is often depicted in children books and toys a making the festive mid autumn moon cakes (geppei).

The town of Utrecht has even a Dick Bruna Museum, a Nijntje Square and a Nijntje statute. The imagined figurine of Dick Bruna has moved into public space in such a way, that it should be open to interventions of the same public that has been exposed to it. Pure passive consumption of entertaining figurines can not be enforced. People may see these fancies in their own way, quiet different from the intentions of their creator and copyright holder. The operations of the copyright owner of a children’s fancy may have some resemblance with the institution of the Catholic Church that defines and protects the stature of all “their” holly figures. Canonising religious symbols is a strong human trait, also in the practice of other religions or political ideologies. Papal councils have fought for centuries over how The Lord, Angels and Saints should be depicted. Iconoclasts have ravaged temples and churches to prove their point, but replicating similar strategies for a rabbit intended for children and those who like to linger on to their childhood, seems to be out of proportion. Dick Bruna’s best defence would be to act as most politicians have learned to do, be honoured to be mocked, imitated, persiflaged, take a pride into the caricature of his own creation, made by others.

Mijntje Pleintje (Little Miffy Square) in Utrecht with statute

Nobody seems to be out to pull down the statute of Nijntje in Utrecht and many would enjoy the Dick Bruna Museum more when it would included also well documented cases of  the commercial contracts he made, court cases he fought and a whole series of contextualised examples of the abuse of Nijntje. Only then Nijntje would start to speak – to say it with Socrates – as though  she were possessed of some sort of sense.

A public Dutch web blog with family photographs shows the exposure to Nijntje in the Netherlands from a very early age onward. The parents describe how much their kid likes it and their own questions about the pedagogical value of the little protagonist: “that rabbit never does something that is not allowed or something wrong.” (*)

Neither the Dutch nor the English ‘news page’ of the official Nijntje web site had any news about the recent court case to protect Nijntje from deviating beyond the designer’s intend. Click screen shot taken on September 13th 2011 late afternoon to go to the offical Nijntje web site. and get a flavour of what the official world of Nijntje entails.

*) source of  strapped in kid in front of Nijntje on television screen = http://klausener.nl/fotos/nijntje-is-de-bom/

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When images could be searched with images. The idea has been there for a long time, some early big databases could do it a bit, like one designed by IBM of which QBIC (Query By Image Content) is an offspring. This used to be only for customers paying a high price and using dedicated big machines…

The official logo of TinEye company

Often people are not well aware of what they do while searching for images, but almost all image search engines on the net are ‘text based’. Now there is TinEye “reverse image search” and the idea of searching images with images, will  start to become common practice soon. I did a few tests and given the historic moment, a most obvious one is for Bin Laden. Google image search said it has 290.000.000 pictures for me.

Search results from Google on the basis of the text search string "Bin Laden"

I choose one of them – just the  top left one of the first page that came up – and ask TinEye to check its database for me, comparing my chosen image with whatever other images having the same elements.

‘The same elements’, therein lays the magic… as my example shows many variations just based on one picture, readily available on the internet for years. All kind of alterations are now available on-line, as so many people wanted to be rummy, funny, mean or otherwise about Bin Laden. In all 1340 variations turned up by using the TinEye web site. Many variations were only slight, others greatly deviating from the original.  This result comes from an algorithm that searches for a whole set of parameters on a dataset of 1.9532 billion images.

Search results on TinEye are stored only temporary and this was  the URL from which I took the examples in my further deliberations below:


We have here such a large data set that we can observe the effectivity of the comparing algorithm. I was impressed very much at first. Even to such an extend, that I wondered whether or not also a text element had been used, as some kind of ‘identifier’ or ‘delimiter’ in the automated search operation. To find out if that is so, some double checks are necessary. Feeding back to the system its own results, applying different names to images and other information around images on web pages used, could be part of such a method of control. I have not been able to do this yet, and when I think it up, other people must already have thought to do the same or have done it already. It will need an hour or so of searching. Until then, marvel and suspicion at the same time, which made me go on, a bit more in detail of my first test.

I found that the smartness of the visual robot system was – sad enough – contradicted by the interface it offered. It is a cumbersome table like text based result, ten at a time, whereby our possible visual associations are constantly hindered by the non-functional design of the TinEye Robot page. Even Google Images (not  a master of good visual design) has understood that there is the ‘agile eye’, and offers since a year or so, a tableau of images. Our eyes can swiftly purvey big sets of images, within milliseconds. Not in the straightjacket of the alphabetic sentence structures from top left to down right bottom, making a little jump from right end to left start at each line, but in a much more jumpy and associative way. To make my point I have selected 47 examples from the search result of Robot TinEye (10 web pages of the 134 on the TinEye site, with 10 images per page) and threw them together in one pane, one tableau.

Click this picture to see it at full size and test the theory of the jumpy agile eye...

While looking at  the first hundred results a second time, some doubt crept in whether what is offered here is solely the result of a visual search. I decided to venture a bit deeper in the 1340 examples TinEye had come up with and in the end I looked at all of them, which left me – because of the ‘ten at a time’ interface with a lame wrist of doing all the clicks. What a machine can not do without the help of a human, a human can do without a machine at ease and so I selected a few visual categories that seemed to me not congruent with what I expect automated visual comparison can do. Five main categories and let’s try to forget the level of stupidity of the metamorphoses of the portrait of Osama Bin Laden. The argument is about what an algorithm to compare images is able to do.

1) montaged faces of more or less known political figures on Bin Laden's portrait, starting with Obama variations; 2) some variations with a change of make-up and color; 3) camouflaged Obama's with the last one on the row a complete exception of image patterns see most of the other examples shown here; 4) Obama impersonations for fun among friends; 5) hair dress and head gear changes.

The most unlikely ones to be derived from image comparison solely are 3.3, 3.5 and something which is literally on the edge is picture 3.6, which looks like Obama and only at the right hand side the contour of Bin Laden remains visible vaguely.

When looking at the examples on row 4, one wonders why when all these clumsy impersonations do come up in a search action, why not thousands of bearded men in a white clad and a white turban are found also in such a search, that is run on 19532 billion image database?

Row 5 seems to be an easy job, as the beard and the face elements remain constant, though image 5.5 hides one of the eyes almost completely with the blue hat.

It all points in my observation of this moment in the direction of more than just visual search elements. This is of course absolutely fine and a very logic thing to do, it only differs from the explanation given by TinEye on its web site:

TinEye is the first image search engine on the web to use image identification technology rather than keywords, metadata or watermarks. [About page of  TinEye]

Many more questions remain, like if the face tracking software development of the last two decades is one of the elements used in the comparison techniques of TinEye, and if so, then we step from an academic technical discussion into a social one. The potential of automated face tracking of photographs posted on the internet with all kinds of other intentions than enabling whatever security and surveillance initiatives, can become problematic. The TinEye seems to be most popular now with persons and organizations selling pictures and wanting to trace misuse of what they claim to be ‘their copyright’ or ‘intellectual property’. Of course a certain amount of control can be useful, but we know that when it comes to copyright claims only the most powerful will be able to profit and ownership of images also can lead to undesirable forms of censorship and blockages of what is called ‘fair use’. Other application of the TinEye Robot  could even have far stretching consequences.

Now  we all know that any serious secret service is using such face-tracking tools already for many years, on any photographic material available to them. The question is when everybody will start using such tools and combine them with messaging in social networks this might create havoc, doing the opposite of what these networks claim to be for. Many more effects can be expected like the claim to authorship and fame and image searches that show that the same visual thing existed somewhere else before or after. Endless fights over who has been copying who in the digital land of copy cats. The big music industry already runs automated sound sequence comparisons on the tracks and songs that keep raining down from millions of creators and duplicators, trying to construct court cases to catch what they think are gees that will lay them golden eggs in the form of fines. We may praise ourselves lucky that such copyright claims can not be projected back through the centuries, because how many great composers would have had to appear in the courts called by the lawyers of the music industry and who will ever acknowledge the collective creativity of uncountable anonymous masses?

Back to our sweet looking TinEye image robot… I fed it this picture below, that I composed within 5 minutes from three sources, as I wanted to comment on Facebook about people dancing in front of the White House in Washington after the news of the killing of Bin Laden had been announced. Result zero said TinEye. Though anybody following the news would recognize a 1991 Palestine street dancing after 9/11 attack + the 9/11 attack itself + a picture from last week of people in front of the White House celebrating.

Diffused half transparencies are not yet within the competence of our lovely robot and for me that gave a feeling of relieve. As I am by now more fearing than admiring the capabilities of TinEye. Digital panopticism is not yet there, the human eye and human memory still reigns….

Tableau for my Facebook friends "I do not dance in the streets when I am horrified"

[this article will be extended in the coming weeks with my own and possibly your TinEye double check results]

Wednesday March 11 2011

Playing hide and seek with Tineye Robot

Could not refrain form playing a bit with the Tineye Robot and so we played ‘hide and seek’ with its own logo… it took three versions to have the robot effectively hiding behind the manipulated lettering of it’s own logo. Colour change and diffusing with a lense and grain filter did not alter the recognition of the word Tineye. Changing the wheel of the logo did not hide him from his own algorithm, but altering the angle  of his sensor ears and his arms + his facial expression by somewhat subtracting his chin, gave the desired effect. The robot is clearly visible to us, but not anymore gto its own software.

The result with the only the lettering recognised and the robot not seen by itself anymore. Click the image for full size view of this screen shot.

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‘Prins Bernhard was lid van NSDAP’ lees ik zojuist in de Volkskrant waar verslag gedaan wordt van de promotie van historica Annejet van der Zijl op basis van haar proefschrift “Bernhard. Een verborgen geschiedenis” waarin het al decennia lang im omloop zijnde verhaal over Bernard’s lidmaatschap van de nationaal-socialistische partij NSDAP, historisch geboekstaafd wordt.

Bij mij riep dat direct – als vroeger archivaris van het Provo-archief – het pamflet in herinnering dat in juli 1965 door Jan-Huib Blans uitgeven en verspreid werd… “WIE VAN DE 3 is de grootste demokraat? / CARLOS – CLAUS – BERNHARD en we zien drie foto’s van Oranje prinsen, Carlos in burger costuum, Claus in Hitler Jugend Uniform en Bernhard in burgercostuum met zijn geliefde witte anjer op het refer.

klik pamflet voor vol formaat (ik zal een betere scan laten maken en die hier spoedig plaatsen)

Helemaal onder het pamflet staat de leuze: “geen Monarchie, maar Anarchie!”  met daarboven “De val van het Oranje-Gezag zal ook de overige autoriteiten aan het wankelen brengen.”  Nu het pamflet werd binnen de kortst mogelijke keren in beslag genomen, maar daarover is al vaak en eerder uitgebreid bericht, zodat ik volstaan kan met een link naar een passage uit het boek van Roel van Duijn “Provo: de geschiedenis van de provotarische beweging 1965-1967” op de van overheidswege onderhouden web site DBNL, scroll naar pagina 22.

“Op 25-jarige leeftijd lid van de FASCISTISCHE Reiter SS. Liet bij zijn huwelijk met Juliana het Horst Wessel-lied spelen.” lees ik onder de foto van Bernhard.  Of deze specifieke bewering ook juist is, moet ik nog nalezen in het proefschrift dat nog niet on-line ter beschikking is. Dat wordt dus bladeren in de boekhandel of bibliotheek. Het is enkel om de genoegdoening dat ruimte en tijd gestoken is in een onderzoek met een officiële wetenschappelijke status, dat zoiets onpopulair’s als het bruine verleden van een als nationale oorlogsheld gecanoniseerde Prins der Nederlanden in detail onderzocht is, dat ik bij deze dit pamflet weer onder de aandacht breng.

Het kan best zijn dat Bernhard teruggekomen is van zijn jeugdzonde, alsook vroege carrière bij de bekende Duitse gifgas firma IG Farben (hij werkte enige tijd voor het Parijse kantoor van die firma), maar nog geen halve eeuw geleden werden jonge mensen die in het reine met het onreine oorlogsverleden van Nederland wensten te komen gearresteerd en vervolgd omdat zij een gelijk soort verband legde als een jonge historica nu. Daarvan – nogmaals – hierbij acte.

Hier het bibliografische record uit de Amsterdamse Pamflettencatalogus van Frans Panholzer:

Volnummer = 6505380 Datum = 1-7-65/1 Titel = provokatie nr.3 WIE VAN DE 3 is de grootste demokraat? — Vindplaats = FP UB GA ISG SA UB = GA = IISG = SA = SA 005/001.1.04 Bibliografie = folio, stencil en el.stencil, foto’s Opmerking = Tekst: R.van Duyn, uitgave J-H.Blans. Lit: Van Duyn (1967) p.22. Zie 13-7-65/1, 16-7-65/1 en -4-80/13. Facs.in Ratio en Van Duyn (1985) p.22. Origineel el.stencil en typoscript op UB. Inbeslaggenomen Serie = Provokatie 3 Sys1 = Diversen

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