Posts Tagged ‘video’

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You Be the Judge: Two Online Video Foursquare Parodies Too Similar?

02.09.11

With the ability to cheaply and quickly create your own videos and post them online for all to see, the chance of two people tackling the same subject matter in a similar way at the same time with no knowledge of the other is most likely quite high. Still, it’s not hard to do a quick YouTube or Google search for what you’re looking to make to see what else is out there that people have already done.

Usually, it’s already been done but it’s either terrible or ripe for more riffs – meaning you can offer a fresh angle on it that allows both versions to live out there in the world fair and square.

Other times, though, there’s just plain old plagiarism; and determining which is just a similar riff on the same topic or creative theft can be difficult.

So, here’s your chance to take a look at some evidence and help decide whether CollegeHumor’s Original comic sketch “Foursquare for Sex” is merely similar to ThesePeople’s comic sketch “Whoresquare” or if it’s too close to be just a coincidence.

Exhibit A

CollegeHumor is an entertainment website that has provides both in-house and user-generated content. In their FAQ, they answer the question asking about what happens when an average user uploads content:

The key phrase to note: “[o]ur editors go through all of the submitted content…”

Exhibit B

The time that each video appeared on the site for the very first time should be looked at. Were the two videos uploaded roughly around the same time, it could mean something different than if one had already been online for some time.

ThesePeople’s “Whoresquare” timestamp:

CollegeHumor’s “Foursquare for Sex” timestamp:

Exhibit C

The videos themselves:

ThesePeople’s “Whoresquare”

Please visit CollegeHumor’s “Foursquare for Sex” to view their video as their embedding feature is not working on this WordPress site.

Conclusion

Based on the evidence, we can deduce that:

  1. ThesePeople’s “Whoresquare” video preceded CollegeHumor’s “Foursquare for Sex” video by nearly seven months, thus being the first of the two to hit the web.
  2. “Whoresquare” was also uploaded and accepted onto the site by the CollegeHumor team
  3. CollegeHumor states in their FAQ that they watch all content.
  4. CollegeHumor’s editors watched “Whoresquare” prior to “Foursquare for Sex” being added to the site.

We – myself and Matt Cassatta, who together made that ThesePeople video – brought all of this to the attention of CollegeHumor in an email. The gist of their response:

We want to assure you that CollegeHumor’s video was not copied from your video and that any similarities are mere coincidence and nothing more. CollegeHumor takes intellectual property very seriously and we would never take someone’s work and copy it for purposes of creating our own video. The writer of our video has not seen your video, either on CollegeHumor or YouTube or anywhere else. As you point out, the Foursquare app is ripe for parody, especially in a sexual manner, and any such parody would likely have bits about “checking in”, “tips” and “becoming Mayor” as those are well known parts of Foursquare. We don’t, though, find the videos as a whole substantially similar.

Having now watched your video, we appreciate it and enjoy it.

My emphasis.

Their stance is not only that the writer never saw our video, but that they’re not even similar. That last line even implies that the entire group at CollegeHumor only now saw the video, which seems to run contrary to what they advertise in their FAQ.

The only thing we asked for in our email to them was recognition of our video. Not an apology, not a retraction of their content, just merely an acknowledgment that, indeed, we had gotten there first.

But perhaps we are wrong. Perhaps it’s all mere coincidence. Perhaps it’s just one of those things.

What do you think?

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Gun Control and Mental Illness: Can We Prevent Another Tucson?

01.15.11

Jared Lee Loughner’s horrific decision to whip out a Glock semi-automatic handgun on a group of people in Tucson one week ago has caused the national conversation to examine our political rhetoric, mental illness, and gun control.

And just like I never called for more regulations on free speech in the wake of the shooting, I don’t see how banning semi-automatic weapons will make any difference.

A couple things that should be looked at, however are:

  1. How many bullets a cartridge should hold
  2. Screening gun-owners for mental illness

The former wouldn’t be too difficult to do once the law went into effect. The latter, though, opens up a whole new conversation — one that I’m not nearly educated enough on to provide some sort of recommended game plan. Suffice to say that there are a number of factors that would need to be addressed regarding mental health in America: how we treat those with mental illness, and then how to then create proper screenings to prevent those with out the capacity to handle a firearm from obtaining one.

It seems the the main issue is the lack of knowledge on mental disease in general. There’s a growing population of people who think that psychiatry is an evil practice — Scientology comes to mind, with their alternative being to pay them a fortune to have your alien ghosts cast out of you. Given the two options, I’ll go with psychiatry, thank you very much, but that’s a different conversation.

This is a factor for why many people just don’t understand mental illness — or even brain injuries (just ask how the Marines handle TBIs and you’ll see how much people think of them) — and those afflicted have a high chance of getting cast out of society because it’s such a taboo subject. When people mention someone having bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, its almost always in hushed tones followed by a long, dreadful “Ohhhh.”

People fear what they don’t understand; and, frankly, most of us don’t get mental illness. We mistake disease of the brain – the organ – with an ugly dimension of the mind, the psyche. As if those with mental disorders speaks more about the darkness in their souls rather than being something wrong in their body. The more we can study and educate, the fewer people will go untreated. And hopefully the fewer people will go off on violent rampages, all without having to restrict freedoms granted to Americans by the second amendment.

While I see zero reason for the average American needing to own a semi-automatic handgun, much less an unbalanced 21-year-old, since the only thing that weapon is designed to do is kill another human being, I also don’t see much good coming from banning them — those who want them would still be able to find them on the black market.  And if someone wants to unleash hell on a group of innocent people, they’ll find a way.

Or they’ll just pick up a cartridge extension:

Still, as a society, we should make it as difficult as possible and try to limit the carnage as much as we can.  I see the shrinking of cartridges to hold fewer bullets and the outlawing of clip extensions as a good compromise that would prevent a would-be assassin from being able to spray 30-plus rounds without having to reload without rendering them completely ineffective for those who wish to own them for self- and home defense.

Photo courtesy of jyoseph’s Flickr Photostream.