It’s 2015, but our content laws are stuck in last century.

Happy 2015, everyone! We’re now midway through the (twenty-tens? teens?) and I am fully expecting my hoverboard and flying car to arrive any minute now.

But, with this new year comes a flurry of new crackdowns on the entertainment content that I, and millions of others, can access.

  • Canada’s ironically-named Copyright Modernization Law went into effect January 1st.  A law so ridiculous that it only could have been written by politicians, the Copyright Modernization Law will require ISPs to send out a warning email to people who download copyrighted content. This email will apparently have no effect other than to clutter up our already-crowded inboxes, though copyright holders could theoretically choose to sue (but they probably won’t).
  • The Pirate Bay, a large and popular torrent file-sharing site, was shut down when its Sweden headquarters raided last month, and its founders were arrested. This prompted everyone to, well, simply move to another torrent site, of which their are dozens. Also, the Pirate Bay is reportedly coming back online under new management in February.
  • Now, in yet another attempted blow to grey-market content consumers everywhere, Netflix has announced that it is cracking down on VPN and proxy users.

Continue reading “It’s 2015, but our content laws are stuck in last century.”

5 ways to piss off your web visitors

Companies spend big bucks to bring traffic to their websites and digital campaigns. But what are they doing when they get there?

A poorly thought-out website, ill-advised choices about ads or features, or lack of consideration to user experience can lose your visitors before they even get through the door.

Every day, I’m involved in this kind of thinking in my professional capacity. But sometimes it’s helpful to take a step back and think about these things not as a marketer, but as a user. Nothing crystallizes that more for me than when I am helping my non-tech-savvy mother learn how to do something or other online. And it led to my thinking about some of the worst decisions that digital marketers can make, which are sure to lose them some customers.

Here are 5 of my pet peeves, in no particular order:

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Is it time to redefine ‘fair use’?

A number of years ago, I signed up to a free travel website to blog my travels. The site provided the opportunity to upload text and photos from the road, and to share links to the blogs. It was a fun way to involve my friends and family in my travels, and to chronicle and journal my experiences as I went along.

Fast forward a few years. The company has been acquired by a large parent company that is well known in the travel industry. All travel blogs have ads woven through them, and the only way to shut off the ads is to sign up for a paid premium account. Fair enough; they have to make their money somehow. The blogs themselves are restructured in a way that implies the promotion of specific hotels or locations, using text scraping from the entries. Not cool, but also somewhat understandable.

But a few weeks ago, I was rather shocked to find that my photos and blog entries had been mashed up to music and posted to YouTube as slideshows, promoting the blog site's parent company. I was never asked or even notified of this, and only found out months later when I stumbled on them in a Google search.

To be sure, I uploaded those photos and posted those blog entries myself. I did so knowing that I was posting them in a public space, and that the terms of use of the site I posted them to were vague, at best. In a strict legal defintion, there's probably nothing wrong with what this site did.

But as a marketing tactic, I rate this kind of tactic as a massive Fail.

Continue reading “Is it time to redefine ‘fair use’?”