Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Message is the Medium

My Mom won't be in videos 'cause she doesn't like her voice. Therefore, as a kid I was provisioned only an 8mm film camera that by definition didn't pick up sound and required outsourced processing and I could only ride my bike so far and so I had to wait for my Mom to drop off the film, get it processed, pick it up, and then I had to wait for my Dad to set up the film projector and the screen [requiring lots of furniture-moving] and all of this just to avoid my Mom's voice being on camera for ten seconds.

Howevs, as camcorders became commonplace, I grew increasingly suspect of my Mom's insistence that this antique 1970's-purchased camera was acceptable gear for a budding young video artist who desperately needed to record her Lego Pirates & Firemen advancing down a self-made felt road through Lincoln Logville as Boyz II Men wailed "End of the Road" on her portable cassette player. So obvs Dad took me out when I was 13 and bought me a real camcorder.

I'd always try to film Mom anyhow -- sneak attack style -- but there was never any variety. Always just be a quick shot of her giving me Stealth Glare Version #8b and, then, for no discernible reason -- but with great consistency -- she'd snap her fingers and point, firmly, at the floor. I think she meant "why don't you film the floor?" but what was on the floor, nothing, obvs, who wants to see a picture of the floor. If there had been something on the floor, who would've been told to pick it up, me. Then where would my movie be? The ceiling or something, sans Kriss-Kross or the Cher wig.

Basically right now what Warner Music Group is doing is interrupting a very successful video remix of my brother & I playing soccer to the tune of "roll the bones," snapping its fingers, pointing at the floor and asking me to film the floor as if ANYTHING EVER HAPPENS THERE. It's shutting off the music and reminding me the silent film camera is still in the upstairs closet. It's crunching my brand-new camera with its fat greedy mouth, grounding me for ten days from doing anything fun, and then, while I'm grounded in the cellar; they're giving away all my toys that I built myself out of wood from a tree that I grew myself.

YouTube you are not my mother but you are acting like my mother.

YouTube, you're an asshole! You can't just change the rules of the game you've built your empire upon. If you haven't heard -- YouTube is slowly & systematically muting all videos that contain copyrighted music -- absolutely everything from self-recorded covers to remixed soundtracks to unintentional background music. I hope you got the rights on the music at your wedding 'cause that shit is going down. They've got sophisticated robots now, it don't matter how big or small you are.

Jan 14th: "YouTube has started muting videos that use unauthorized copyrighted music (and that pretty much means all user-created videos.) ... If YouTube starts being thorough about this, you can expect to see a significant percentage of all YouTube videos muted. The implications are a bit different than with removing copyrighted professionally produced content, like an official music video; we’re talking about tens of thousands of fan made videos, funny spoofs, remixes and the like being pretty much destroyed, and I’m guessing users will be less than thrilled about it. " (Mashable )

So far I've had one video muted (Riese & Hav & Alexi Vlog #32 -- in its memory, I've replaced its star spot on the channel with a video of my dad, brother and i making funny faces which'll never get muted and Vlog #32 is now on vimeo) and one removed altogether (Lozo Vlog #20) if this continues it's likely they'll all be down soon. If another goes down I'll add it on my new vimeo channel as well.

In December, ads were added to one of my vids 'cause 30 secs of background music had been identified as Warner-owned. That was fine, seemed fair, and, consequently , because i knew of these repurcussions this I went on making videos with music believing the rules weren't about to change. Previously YouTube hadn't cracked down on videos like mine citing Section 512(c) of the DMCA. The artists themselves disagree with Warner's choice -- all these background clips are just free publicity for them, that's obvious.
I never expected to return to video editing and initially Hav & I were both uneasy about being "out there" -- almost for opposite reasons (I'm uneasy about my moving/speaking image out there, she's comfortable with it, it's her livelihood. She's more careful with words, I'm comfortable saying anything) and I certainly never thought we'd make more than two or three.

But now we're proud of what we did, and I'm happy with what I've learned as an editor and pleased we've built a solid number of subscribers, attracted readers and garnered connections and even better gigs. I'm depressed that soon enough the hundreds of hours I've spent editing videos will be silent as my mom's floor -- the vlogs have value because they're on this youtube channel, they don't have a value separate from its medium or independent of the internet's reaction to & expectation of them.

YouTube's visibility enables this and other sites just don't -- at least for now. (And some have rules like this one from day one.) So I'm figuring out what to do from here, hoping there'll be a revolt and this sitch'll get fixed or ... people think vimeo is pretty and it is pretty ... I dunno. Switching platforms is depressing 'cause endless hours of unpaid work reaps different less tangible rewards like my subscribers and their/your views, honors, anticipation, links, conversations, gigs, etc. -- this is what fulfills us and enables us to gauge how we're doing. I don't want to loose my old videos on youtube as they are right now -- my portfolio, basically, legitimized as good by subscribers -- not to mention Haviland! This really gets my goat!

The platform itself is the thing, and I like[d] it. That was my mistake! Taking it for granted. I totally understand taking down entire musical tracks or any copyrighted video shows or if we were making a profit -- I get that. But I don't get eliminating small clips as background music -- un-rippable songs, so to speak. Warner doesn't necessarily have a case for that, this is just the part where logic dissolves and it just becomes a fight betweeen two giant dickweed organizations.

But you know, who needs lovely music when you can enjoy some of the writing available on youtube. For example, I've selected some choice comments from my first episode of Lezberado. Don't worry -- these are totally okay things to say, this is what YouTube is 100% okay with.

Just don't play Prince in the background when you type them:

Commenter #1: I want fuck her in a mouth
Commenter #2: FUCK YEAH
Commenter #3: Why? She has horrible teeth!

"ur pathetic for posting a sexy pic to get views u suck shit u fucking scab on society, i hope osmebody inur fmaily dies soon u fucking spawnof satan nothing u say is relivent to the human race u are a fucking intoxicated ametuer lame piece of shit and u deserve nothing except sexual advancement against ur will."

"would you shut the fuck up an go suck a dick thats all you can do and who says your hoe mom is gay i fucker last night."

"this bitch will suck the devils cock."

"vagina's are built to house dicks."

"As is was in the days of Noah and Lot, so will it be in the days of the coming of the Son of man. The world is going to be like it was when 2 men, Noah and Lot lived on this earth. What was different about their time then any other time in history? Immorality, heavy sexual immorality, and specifically homosexuality."

"how do you tell a lesbian from a real woman??? well just look at her freaky ugly haircut!!!"

"Why would the Bin Laden family just happen to be in New York on the eve of 9/11? 9/11 was a red flag op."

That stuff -- that'll never get muted. Thank G-d!

YouTube, I have one thing to say: fuck you, you carwash cunt. BAM! ROASTED.


e. said...

Hahaha, oh, the comments!

Youtube is basically ruined by this.

I think it probably makes me a weirdo that I kind of teared up watching that video of your dad. That's weird, isn't it? And inappropriate. I'm sorry, it's just that I've read about him and he seems like a great guy. And things like nostalgia and childhood loss always get to me anyway. Nostalgia, loss, and the last fifteen minutes of "Rudy".

Also: first?

Mindy said...

I'm sorry YouTube is foiling all your schemes. It's really unfortch for SO many people, and ultimately this will include YouTube itself. Clowns.

As for the comments - I said it once (on the video itself) but I'll say it again - Haters have terrible grammar.

LittleTink said...


the comments on ytube really make my head explode sometimes. like really, commenter? really?!

anyway, i think this might just cheer you up.. or just waste your time, either one:

yay! we (my 7 personalities and i) love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

finding neverland,

The Brooklyn Boy said...

You always provide much more nuanced takes on these issues than I do, like in this case, when my whole post would entail "Fuck that noise! Warner just lost a customer for life. The donkey-dicks."

Also, I like your dad after seeing that clip. I did before, too, when he was words (to me), but it's always different to have a visual. Like how some people crystallize concepts better when they're not in the abstract.

I hope you continue to VLog. I always watch, even if I don't comment. Makes me feel like I seen you crazy kids, even if it's been a while.

Sam said...

YouTube apparently has a thing for biting the many hands that feed it.

If it weren't for this (stupid, stupid) decision, I'd say that they were going about things the right way. I had actually downloaded a few songs via the Amazon/iTunes links under a few videos.

I have a desire to make a protest vid. Methinks I will.

Sam said...

Oh, and also: I think this is pure laziness on YouTube's behalf. The problem does not arise from people using copyrighted materials on YouTube, but from people using FLV converter sites like to rip those materials to their own personal library. If they were up for changing their format, the issue would be solved.

This is just another one more thing that makes people leery of hosting materials online, and more likely to acquire them by illicit means. I mean, I'd rather have a file on my computer that's going to actually stay there, as opposed to one that might be deleted/taken down/edited, and that requires Internet to access.

It just sucks that sharing has to be equated with stealing.


Anonymous said...

i dont even know how to react to the whole YouTube situation.
Its ridiculous.

and now im nervous that mine will get muted.

they're the gestapo and my little baby videos are hiding in the attic.

also i always laugh/am struck by the fact that you never type out "God". You're a good jew =]

green said...

ugghhhh. this post made me feel a lot of feelings.

1. am mad
2. love you
3. would follow you anywhere
4. am sorry
5. like your hair

sherri said...

Isn't this akin to Warner not allowing their songs to be played on the radio? Who the hell would do that? This is how music is discovered! It's just another example of the recording industry shooting themselves in the foot. But I mean, good riddance right? I think musicians are slowly discovering that they don't need these a-holes anymore. Amanda Palmer writes about this from a musician's perspective in her blog:

It's just a bummer for people like you who spend all this time on amazing videos that get ruined without a second thought by corporate idiots. Aargh.

Anonymous said...

damn the man, save the empire. i hope that drop this nonsense, cause really it makes no sense, there's no sense in it at all. tegan and sara would never let this shit happen. i hope that something changes, i know it's lame to say that it's not fair, cause really, what is fair, but it's all i can say, it's not fair.

Bridget said...

this makes me wanna write to 7 on my side or 17s trauma rama --- MORTIFIED by Youtube's acts of douche baggery!

Elida said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
.elida. said...


1. wtf. srsly.

2. when i was a little tot i also had a strong desire to film my legos surrounded by lincoln logs with sweet music in the background. the only difference btwn our approach was that my hand-me-down POS camera had sound. also, my mother hates being filmed, but that's cause she yells a lot and when it's captured on film it makes her squirmy.

3. as a musician myself, i can tell you that it breaks my heart everytime music sharing is messed with. damn the man, for realz!

4. the revolution should probs be led by Haviland. she has some experience w/revolutions in musical form, no? plus, it really should be done in song form considering what we'd be revolting against. just sayin...

DJL said...

You so deleted our vlog under the cover of this muting of videos story. How else will anyone ever believe that I was once in a hotel room with a girl, and not against her will? You've ruined me.

eric mathew said...

oh fuck. guess mine will all be down too. thats so dumb.

where else is good to start a new video site?????


autumn m said...

i really feel like you should make a video with a bunch of songs, just to be a pain. thats what i would do....cause im lame like that. and i agree, Haviland shoud lead the revolution. you could be her number two. im just saying....its a good idea.

Jen said...

Does this open a window for a "new" youtube? I need a topic for a marketing/management project asap...

As a frequent user Riese, what would you change? What do you think about a new site that had some sort of negotiation/obligation/contractual 'whatsit' with Warner or who(m?)ever else?

Jenny said...

Geezus, I already know the psychology behind anonymity on the internet, but it still kinda surprises me when I see the kind of nasty-ness used in online commenting. Riese, I love your blogs, videos, and congrats on your Lezberado gig.

P.S. You're both the cool AND the hot one :)

LittleTink said...

HAHAHAH!!! zomg i was just tappity tappin away on my compie and kinda sorta (totally intentionally) stalked your twitter page..... and........... my beady little eyes just couldn't handle what i saw...... because lo and behold, you totes mentioned MEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMKDHFISDHFKSFKDH!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ZOMG breathe lt, breathe. ok i'm good. zomg riese this is really funny/sad and i can totes hear the backstreet boys in the background singin quit playin games with my haaaaaaaart lalalala ok time for a snack BYE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Al said...

That sucks youtube is starting to do that. Youtube is changing a lot of crap lately. I'm not a fan. They don't really care what the viewers want, they just throw random crap at us and expect us to conform to it. Lame.

Hope you keep blogging. I think there's also a site like or something to that effect, which might be a nice option.

I haven't commented in awhile what with school and everything, but of course I am still reading. Will try to get back into the habit of commenting more.

Al said...

And of course by blogging I meant vlogging. I think it's time for me to get off of twitter and facebook and go to sleeeep.

riese said...

e.: Yes, i agree that youtube will be ruined by this. right now i'm holding on to see if they will be vigilant and eventually wipe out everything, or if it will ebb or become imperfect.

i love weirdos. look at what my family used to do for fun. etc.

mindy: I think Youtubes only chance of surviving this is to not do what they say they are gonna do. I suppose that's always possible. haters can't spell.

LittleTink luckily commenter-hating will always be an encouraged youtube past-time. then there's other kinds of commenters. like you -- you are a commenter but you also claim to be a small puppy. so that's confusing, but also, it is special.

BklynBoy: I know, that's how I felt at first too -- like fuck this shit, that's always my knee-jerk to everything like where's the boycott. my friend who i was with at the time was not helpful, she was like 'well, that's your problem for using their services, you don't have control over what happens,' and i was likerbakdjakfhkjbblehggsdj freedomofexpression theyhadrules and etc. i lost my point. or response. I'll continue to vlog, i guess, I just need to figure out if they're gonna keep deleting, or if I've managed to go under the radar -- i feel most of my stuff is fair use (under 30 seconds of each song uninterrupted) ... it's like a waiting game.

Sam: I know when I saw that they were doing that amazon/youtube link ads thing, I was like 'wow! what a ... sensible decision!?" the same way i feel sometimes with obama, like shocked that he's saying things that make sense. the protest vids coming up are amazing.

sam: It's also laziness that they aren't seemingly addressing only actual problems -- like, someone playing a song on their guitar and singing it (one girl had her cover of "winter wonderland' removed) is taking away royalties because people can't even rip those songs off no matter waht program they have you know?

I realized last night that if my blog was erased, i'd have absolutely no back-up of it whatsoever.

karmen: let me know if they do. i am really curious to see how this unfolds and how thorough they are going to be about this.

i have some jewish habits. :-)

green: 1. i am mad too. 2. love you, 3. that's beautiful, 4. it's okay. 5. thanks!

sherri: i checked out that link -- what an 'effin bummer -- I'm glad that she pointed out the most important aspect of this, which's unlike things like napster where the artists were losing money that would've gone into record sales, this is like the radio. you'd think after musicians saw their sales skyrocket when featured on a film soundtrack, they'd want to be in as many soundtracks as possible, you know?

and funny enough, i think amanda palmer might even be the only musician i've ever literally discovered and first listened to via youtube -- i linked to her videos from achtung baby! and saw her playing her piano and running around on stage and i was like, who is this, i want it. actually i just realized the rest of the story is john sent it to me via email the whole album. but i bet he bought it first?

anonymous: That's right! Huzzah! I think the fact that most of my early videos are only t&s (and britney sometimes ... i don't thnk she's a warner artist though) will save them. unfortunately I obvs got better.

bridget: Totally mortified, like serious WAAAAAAA! column material.

.elida: the subtext of my post that exists only in my head is that i think video makes my mom seem like she yelled lot too, probs 'cause she did.

haviland totally led the whole french revolution. she heard the people sing and stuff. she didn't really like it though, but she does like to be in charge.

yeah i don't even want to share files, i just want background music to be fun. oh man i hope mia is not a warner arist.

DJL I have evidence! evidence!

here's how.

eric mathew: I don't know -- maybevimeo. i guess we have to see how thoroughly they carry out this project. i'm hoping the negative press might derail the effort.

autumn: dude this one guy totally DID THAT. like with every single song in their catalog basically, as a protest video. it's one of the videos in the link in my post. this one: users lash out.

Jen: I'm not sure -- any site that got that big would run into licensing issues -- 'cause ultimately this was warner's decision, not youtube's,, they're just the biggest with the most visibility. I think it would be appropriate to not let people post entire rip-abble tracks, but to allow 60 second-or-less consecutive clips in the background of a video with talking happening or to do your own cover or remix, but the artist i guess has the right to complain if they feel their music is being wrongfully used, like heart felt about sarah palin using baraccuda, of course here i'm addressing the issues of the artists rather than the issues of warner, who just wants more money. i don't know what i'm talking about anymore.

Jenny: Yeah, it surprises me too. I obvs don't care to take it personally, but it really fascinates me -- like there are people in the world who just sit at their computer and write words to women about rape and sucking the devil's cock and fucking my mother. that's so disgusting, yet totally condoned by youtube. fascinating, really.

LittleTink: you do have very beady eyes! like little night-vision goggles. ZOMG, if u are hearing the backstreet boys than i know who you must be you are from the past and you are abraham lincoln.

Sarah said...

I don't get it. People are not stealing music any differently than they were twenty years ago, when my dad used to make mix tapes from radio...but when the medium makes a shift, everything suddenly goes apeshit.

It's unfortunate that people are going to find ways around laws one way or another, but it's more unfortunate that YouTube and Warner think that digital media equals a new realm of greed and copyright lockdown.

Oh, and for what it's worth, I totally went through and thumbed down/spam-marked all of those Haterade comments while watching your vlog.

Word verification = ballin -- which you totally are.

MoonKiller said...

They've deleted one of my videos aswell. It's just plain stupid. They were probably having a boring day at the office and thought I know what'll be fun and came up with that.

On my videos I've had 'have you heard of teeth whitening' and this was just the best - 'you're not fucking welsh!', as if it's a really big insult.

DJL said...

awesome. punkleisi finds me entertaining, but edijolie finds haviland more entertaining. how the hell am i supposed to compete with haviland? it's just unfair.