Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, May 21, 2021

Whizzed off when your favorite YouTube video suddenly gets pulled due to copyright infringement? Now you can zero in on the who and why of the KO with YouTomb, a research project out of MIT via the local chapter of Students for Free Culture.

According to the running stats, some familiar corporate faces are among the DMCA invokers: Viacom, NBC Universal and plenty of other TV/movie producers. Not to be outdone, sports entertainment entities like the NFL and WWE also regularly swat down unauthorized vid-clips.

One of the more unusual rightsholder-requestors: Funny or Die, the Will Ferrell-led online comedy collective. I guess the jokesters want to ensure all their rightful traffic flows their way.

I absolutely agree with rightsholders being able to get their stuff off of any channel they don’t want it appearing on. For me, it makes me generally think twice before embedding any YouTube video on this site, as I’d hate to revisit the post permalink and find the video removed, thus making my work here look sucky. (Not that the threat of such always stops me.)

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/21/2008 11:58:41 PM
Category: Internet, Media
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Yup, “Grand Theft Auto IV” is a blockbuster videogaming hit, but not everyone is sharing equally in the windfall:

His face still isn’t famous, but [Michael] Hollick’s voice and gait have moved into the pop culture firmament recently as those of Niko Bellic, the sardonic, textured Balkan criminal at the heart of Grand Theft Auto IV, the acclaimed gangster fantasy that has become the fastest-selling game to date. Produced by Rockstar Games and its corporate parent, Take-Two Interactive Software, the game has generated at least $600 million in sales over the last three weeks.

Yet even as “Saturday Night Live” has spoofed the Niko character, even as Mr. Hollick’s voice has been heard in tens of millions of homes in advertisements broadcast during “American Idol” and the N.B.A. playoffs, even as fans have flocked to his MySpace page, his triumph has been bittersweet.

That’s because Mr. Hollick was paid only about $100,000 over roughly 15 months between late 2006 and early this year for all of his voice acting and motion-capture work on the game, with zero royalties or residuals in sight, he said.

The sad thing is, all the work Hollick put into bringing Niko Bellic to life — the dialogue coaching to get that Serbian accent down, the motion-capture body language, etc. — probably was overkill on his part. Fact is, the fleshing-out of a character in a videogame doesn’t count for much. It’s certainly not integral to gameplay. That’s the difference between wholly user-determined media content like videogames, and the more one-direction productions in music, movies and television. Niko Bellic is basically an avatar, and as such any contributions to his character development beyond the surface features is wasted.

That’s not to say that Hollick doesn’t deserve more than what he’s gotten. Rockstar obviously commissioned him to put the work in because they saw value in it. It’s not different than any other collaborative effort.

I guess this situation will be resolved in the near future, when the industry figures out how to bypass live actor contributions altogether via wholly digitally-originated voice generation.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/21/2008 11:20:16 PM
Category: Business, Videogames
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Unable to bolster its moribund position in Web search now that its attempted Yahoo! purchase has died, Microsoft has rolled out Plan B: Live Search Cashback. It’s an incentive designed to encourage user loyalty for all e-shopping comparison-pricing research.

Basically, Microsoft is so desperate to make up ground versus Google in this space that it’s willing to pay people to use its search services.

It’s not a bad idea, especially since consumers are so familiar with the concept via credit-card cashback/points schemes. But I wonder if it’s not targeting a relatively dead spot in the search spectrum.

Pure product-search engines aren’t all that popular compared to general search portals. Even Google stumbled in this arena: Its former Froogle dedicated-search portal underperformed so badly that it was quietly shunted to secondary status and rebranded to the bland “Google Product Search”. People seem to prefer starting out at their usual one-size-fits-all search portal, and then refining from there when comparison shopping. Given that, it’s iffy that they’ll be drawn to a specialty search interface.

But maybe that’s the opportunity Microsoft identified: A relatively unoccupied territory, and a potentially lucrative one since real ecommerce was involved. Juicing it with token amounts back to the e-shopper (I’m guessing pennies per purchase) might be enough to prime the pump.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/21/2008 10:30:46 PM
Category: Business, Internet
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