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YouTube Suspends Account of Prominent Egyptian Blogger and Anti-Torture Activist November 29, 2007

Posted by James G. Milles in Citizen Journalism, Independent media, YouTube.
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From Sam Bayard at Citizen Media Law Project:

I’ve blogged before about Wael Abbas, an Egyptian blogger and political activist who has gained renown by, among other things, posting videos on YouTube revealing brutal scenes of torture from inside Egypt’s police stations. According to Reuters Africa, YouTube has recently suspended Abbas’s account due to complaints about the content of his postings:

Wael Abbas said close to 100 images he had sent to YouTube were no longer accessible, including clips depicting purported police brutality, voting irregularities and anti-government demonstrations. YouTube, owned by search engine giant Google Inc., did not respond to a written request for comment. A message on Abbas’s YouTube user page, http://youtube.com/user/waelabbas, read: “This account is suspended.” “They closed it (the account) and they sent me an e-mail saying that it will be suspended because there were lots of complaints about the content, especially the content of torture,” Abbas told Reuters in a telephone interview. Abbas, who won an international journalism award for his work this year, said that of the images he had posted to YouTube, 12 or 13 depicted violence in Egyptian police stations.

Elijah Zarwan, a human rights activist and blogger living in Egypt (and a personal friend), told Reuters that he found it unlikely that YouTube had come under official Egyptian pressure, and was more likely reacting to the graphic nature of the videos.

I wonder if the people making account-suspension decisions at YouTube realize that they’re blocking an important distribution channel for some of the most important journalistic work to come out of Egypt in years. It would be a shame if this is happening because of some squeamish and/or paternalistic YouTube users who can’t be content to simply turn their own eyes away. Then again, that’s slightly less disturbing than YouTube caving in to Egyptian government pressure. I’ll keep my eyes on this one.

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LawCulture: Policy in the form of a Comic Strip. Why not? September 27, 2006

Posted by James G. Milles in Documentary, Independent media, Podcasting.
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Some of you have no doubt already seen “Bound by Law?“–the excellent comic book on copyright and fair use produced by law professors Keith Aoki, James Boyle, and Jennifer Jenkins and distributed through the Duke Center for the Study of the Public Domain.  Jessica Silbey writes at LawCulture: Policy in the form of a Comic Strip. Why not?

This got me to thinking more about various forms a law review article could take other than the predictable one symbolized by the “road map paragraph.”  There has been plenty of blog traffic on the variety of legal scholarship (what’s in, what’s out, what counts, what doesn’t, see here and here and here, to link to only a few). But what about thinking more deeply about why we do legal scholarship. Who are we trying to reach with our arguments? Are we trying to reach an audience at all? Assuming we are, why not tailor our arguments for those readers? Other academics? Judges? Lawyers? Elected officials? Certainly, sometimes that means aiming to publish in the top journals in a fairly conventional way. But sometimes that might mean making a comic book; it might mean making a short documentary; it might mean creating podcasts; it might  mean writing across the disciplines; it might mean writing novels. There are some law professors who are more actively engaged in a popular journalistic enterprise and some who are novelists. Aoki et al are the first law professor comic book creators that I know of. Any filmmakers out there? Visual media seems the natural evolution of things, but that may be my own bias.  (Emphasis added.)

Independent film distribution through Amazon September 27, 2006

Posted by James G. Milles in Digital distribution, Independent media.
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By way of a posting on Denise Howell’s Bag & Baggage blog, I’ve just learned that Amazon has apparently purchased a CD- and DVD-duplicating company called CustomFlix to offer custom distribution of CDs and DVDs on demand.

Videotapes and audio CDs are professionally digitized, and the resulting files are stored in the CustomFlix Future-Proof Archive™ service, a secure storage and formatting platform that allows content to be repurposed into future digital formats. The Future-Proof Archive™ service supports audio CD, DVD-Video, and WMV-HD DVD. Upcoming support for HD DVD and Blu-ray has already been announced, with additional formats coming in the future.

The CustomFlix Disc on Demand service enables content in the Future-Proof Archive to be manufactured as DVDs or CDs and shipped directly to customers as they order. Customers receive professional-quality DVDs in overwrapped, Amaray-style cases and/or professional-quality CDs in overwrapped jewel cases with full-color covers and lacquer-coated disc faces. Inventory-free fulfillment means more selection for customers and lower costs and risks for content owners.

The website says that distribution through digital downloads is coming soon.