Monday 20 February 2017

Niall Byrne: Free Justin Bieber

Niall Byrne

Published 28/10/2011 | 05:00

Justin Bieber has been sentenced to five years in jail. Or at least he would have been if a copyright law amendment passed through the US congress. That's the crux of the Free Bieber campaign (freebieber.org), which aims to raise awareness of a bill that makes posting a video containing any copyrighted work a felony, with a maximum of five years in prison.

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The campaign uses Bieber as an example of an artist who got noticed by posting videos on YouTube of himself singing the songs of other already-famous artists. These videos helped make the Canadian 17-year-old the biggest teen pop star on the planet. The new bill would make the act of posting a video commercial infringement and consequently a felony.

While the message itself is a serious one, the various Photoshopped images of Bieber behind bars, in an orange prison jumpsuit, crying in his cell and receiving a visit from his estranged girlfriend also serve up virtual schadenfreude for those who have been subjected to Bieber's music. No doubt, the same group of people will take a perverse pleasure from Bieber's recent appearance on CSI, which has been turned into a 10-hour repeating YouTube version (bit.ly/bieber10h).

MC Hammer is launching his own search engine. I know that reads like a satirical web headline, but it's true. The former baggy-pants-wearing rapper announced his attempt to hurt Google with the launch of Wiredoo at the recent Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco last week. The service was introduced as a search engine which places a special emphasis on "deep search" and the relationship between search terms.

Hammer broke down the concept using the idea of searching for a car. Using metadata we can build relationships between words and how they relate in real-time. So a search for 'car' in Wiredoo takes into account more than just the word. It's also about things that are related to it, such as who's driving the vehicle, zip codes, insurance rates, price, specs and mileage.

Taking the idea further, you could use this deep-search technique to receive pertinent information about your town, city or area from crime index to schools. You could then drill down into data on schools and see their truancy levels, expulsion rates, size, teacher ratings and university progression percentages.

While the demo shown at the summit left a lot to be desired for a project two years in the making (not to mention some less than progressive under-the-hood coding on wiredoo.com), I have to admire Hammer for his attempt. Who knows, maybe Google will recognise Hammer is "too legit to quit". Ahem. Sorry.

Back in February, this column bemoaned the lack of online movie services in Ireland. This country loves going to the movies, however that was not represented in the digital space.

On Monday, the US streaming movie and TV service Netflix announced it was finally ready to launch in the UK and Ireland from early 2012 with a subscription service that will offer unlimited viewing of films and TV shows for a monthly fee (which has yet to be confirmed but it charges $7.99 a month in the US). Good news for Irish cinephiles.

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