Archive for the 'Open content' Category

“Canadian Copyright and the Digital Agenda” PDFs in 7z/tar/ZIP archives

From “Radical Extremism” to “Balanced Copyright”: Canadian Copyright and the Digital Agenda is a book written by Canadian copyright scholars, edited by Michael Geist, which discusses ways to improve Bill C-32. The book is available on the Irwin Law web site, but spread across 22 PDF files, each with a click-through agreement, making it quite inconvenient to download. I’ve compiled these 22 PDFs into an archive file so you can download the entire book at once. Here is the archive in several formats:

You can use 7-Zip on Windows to open the 7z file. Modern UNIX-like operating systems, such as Ubuntu, can open the tar.gz and tar.lzma files natively. Any popular OS should be able to open the ZIP file natively, though it’s quite large so I’d recommend using the other options first if possible.

If you’d like to download a particular PDF individually, I’ve made the contents of the archive available at All the PDFs are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Canada license.

Encoding Pioneer One in WebM and Theora

I recently watched the first episode of Pioneer One, an excellent Creative Commons BY-NC-SA-licensed series. It’s from VODO, an indie film distributor that really gets it (the whole “free distribution is good for you, not evil” thing). After suggesting that a WebM or Theora version should exist, the VODO people challenged me to make it. So I did. And here are the links:

The Theora/Vorbis version will work in Google Chrome/Chromium or Firefox while the WebM version works primarily with pre-release browsers. You may need to use this wrapper page to view the WebM version in-browser.

Transcoding steps

Since not many people are familiar with the process of transcoding (converting from one set of codecs to another), I thought it would be helpful to share the methods I used for converting Pioneer One into Theora/Vorbis and WebM. It’s really not as hard as it sounds and it’s gotten a lot easier recently with pretty graphical tools.
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DMCA hearing transcript in semantic HTML

The DMCA §1201 hearings for 2009 took place at the beginning of May. These hearings will guide the anti-circumvention exemption rulemaking that happens every three years. It is important that people in the US are aware of these because the exemptions influence whether you can legally watch DVDs with free software, whether you can make fair use of online videos, and whether you can unlock or jailbreak your cell phone (see also the TPMs section of my recent talk). It is important for people outside the US as well because of the major influence US policy has on the laws introduced in other countries, especially close trading partners like Canada.

The transcripts for the first two of these hearings are now available. Though having a text format is nice, I find it very difficult to read. That’s why I created this HTML version for the first transcript:

DMCA Section 1201 Hearing – May 1, 2009

Highlights include the §1201(11)(A) discussion on fair use of DVD content for remixing and the §1201(5)(A) discussion on iPhone jailbreaking.

This version uses <cite>, <blockquote>, and microformats to add meaning to the transcript. Along with a style sheet from Stephen Paul Weber, this version of the transcript is much easier to read. And in HTML form, it’s much easier to add a custom style sheet to fit your own viewing preferences. All changes to the transcript, including the style sheet, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license and are Copyright © 2009 Stephen Paul Weber or Denver Gingerich.

I hope this version makes the hearing transcripts more accessible for people. It didn’t take too long to translate the first hearing transcript into HTML so if there is interest, I will translate the others as they become available. The conversion was done largely programmatically so there may be errors. I’ve made an effort to ensure that the quotes match up with the speakers, but it’s possible that some quotes don’t match. Please use the original transcript as the definitive source.

DVDs, MP3s, YouTube, and other hindrances to free software

Update (2009-05-20): 1080p and standard definition videos of the talk in Theora/Vorbis are now available. See below for details.

I presented a talk entitled “DVDs, MP3s, YouTube, and other hindrances to free software” (abstract) today at FOSSLC’s Summercamp 2009 (#fosslcSC09) in Ottawa. Here are the slides:

Here are the videos (all videos are Copyright © 2009 FOSSLC, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada):

  • Videos recorded on JVC Everio GZ-HD40U video camera (high-quality; recording was started a few seconds into the talk):
  • Videos and data created by the ePresence system (low-quality, include slides):
    • ePresence page; Flash video with slides
    • Ogg Theora/Vorbis video at 320×240 (75.3 MiB). This video becomes out-of-sync during the Q&A period, but should be fine otherwise. If your browser supports the video tag with Ogg Theora/Vorbis, the video will appear below:
    • FLV Sorenson/Speex video at 320×240 (66.3 MiB). This is the source video used on ePresence page. I can provide details on how I transcoded it to Theora/Vorbis if there is interest.
    • Extra data from ePresence page (slide images, XML data) (3.5 MiB)
    • Slide timestamps XML file (part of extra data above). These would be useful for re-implementing the ePresence page using JavaScript and the video tag instead of Flash. If you have some code that does this, feel free to share it in the comments here. It is likely that such a solution could be easily adapted to work with other ePresence videos, including other FOSSLC videos.

Please feel free to re-encode or transform the above videos in whichever ways you wish. Besides syncing the videos with slides in a standards-based way, you may want to trim the videos to the start and end of the talk or re-encode them to a different resolution.

If you would like the source files for the HD version, which are in MPEG-2, please let me know. They are quite large (about 8 GiB in total) so I haven’t posted them here.

Slide errata:

  • The “Why do we care?” slide should have mentioned the Gdium Liberty, a netbook that uses a MIPS processor, as an example of a product made by a small company, which does not have the resources to license Flash or codecs. Reducing people’s reliance on Flash and royalty-requiring codecs will allow many more products like this to enter the market. As it is, there are very few small companies making innovative new computers.
  • The “What can we do about patented codecs?” and “What can we do about TPMs?” slides should have mentioned alternative music stores like Jamendo, which hosts music freely-licensed by the authors and offers it for download without DRM and in Ogg Vorbis format.
  • The “What can we do about proprietary formats?” slide should have mentioned Free Youtube! and Free Slideshare!, which allow you to view YouTube and SlideShare without using a Flash player.

RiP: A Remix Manifesto downloads

I have created Ogg Theora/Vorbis and XviD/MP3 versions of the excellent documentary RiP: A Remix Manifesto. You can find them at the following locations (Update – 2009-05-10: You can pay what you want for zipped versions of these, which are about 1% smaller, at

I encourage you to support the creator by paying what you can at one of these pages:

I recommend the Theora/Vorbis version because it is higher-quality (853×480 pixels) and because Theora and Vorbis are royalty-free codecs (see The codec dilemma for why this is important). I also provided an XviD/MP3 version since many DVD players support this format.

If you want to remix the documentary, check out Open Source Cinema, where you can upload your own modifications to it. The videos there and the downloads listed above are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported license.

TEDTalks download script and MythTV metadata

I have been watching TEDTalks off and on since a friend of mine introduced them to me a couple months ago. They are videos of presentations done at TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), an annual conference that “brings together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers”. I would highly recommend browsing through them if you have a minute; there is some really good food for thought (and action) in there. All of the TED videos are licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND (Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works) license, which allows them to be freely redistributed as long as they are not modified.

To make them more accessible to me, I downloaded all the TED videos and put them on a computer running MythTV. Read on for details on how I did it and links to scripts that will automate the process for you if you have a MythTV setup or if you just want to download all the TED videos.
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Open content awareness event

This past Monday I was involved in an event to promote awareness of open content. I have setup a web page that documents a bit of what went on, which includes links to all of the music and videos used for the event. If you are interested in getting some free music (all Creative Commons-licensed) or would like some ideas for an open content awareness event of your own, I would highly recommend checking it out.

574 days of time diaries

I have published a log of all of my activities between October 20, 2002, and May 15, 2004, on the 574 days of time diaries web page. The page has links to the raw data and some summary tools I wrote along with an online summary generator that you can use to see where my time was spent for a given set of days. The main reason for publishing this information is so that researchers can use the data in studies that require time diaries or similar types of information. For more details, see the web page.