Understanding ‘Internet Piracy’ concepts via Our Own Tamil Cinema..

One of the feedbacks that I had recently got from a respected individual is that , he had given me was that the blog was too technical and difficult to grasp from a common man’s view point. I agree. I had planned that the English version be a little more technical, but the Tamil translation to be a diluted version and talking in even more layman terms. So, keeping this in mind, i have decided to do a simple illustration to explain a concept, which i have spoken in another Video. I am trying to explain, How Decentralisation of the Internet largely benefits Piracy. I have also added the ‘Ramana’ Footage for Reference.

 

Ramana_Centralised

 

So, as the Yugi Character mentions, you can see in the Image that probably Kumaresan and Zakir Hussain probably don’t know each other, yet there is a centralized node that connects both of them, without themselves knowing each other. The centralized Node ( Professor Ramana) instructs them and is clearly hierrarchially much higher than the others. So, a collapse of the Central Node, will destroy the system, so, by tracking the smaller nodes and mapping them together, eventually, Professor Ramana comes out and reveals himself and with that the ACF network collapses, which is what the conclusion of the movie, also is.

Unfortunately, the Movie industry may have wished that Piracy and Internet Piracy in particular worked in this fashion. Sadly, it is not. It works in an entirely de-centralized fashion, something like this.

Ramana_Decentralised

 

You can see in this kind of network architecture, again Possibly, Kumaresan and Zakir Hussain do not know each other. They may not even know Professor Ramana, because, each node can independently operate on its own, yet seek support from its nearest node. Typically beyond one or two levels, communication is not accessible for a single node.  The advantage of this system in the context of Piracy, is that there is no single Professor Ramana here. Even Zakir Hussain and Kumaresan themselves have the power of Professor Ramana. Zakir Hussain, Kumaresan, Ramana and everyone in the network may be doing more or less the same kind of work. So, at some level, they act as competitors, yet they also share knowledge and common resources, which are distributed, so that, there is no single point of failure.

The typical pattern that we see is by the time, Law and Enforcement catches up with one or two nodes, hundreds of new nodes are created else where. More over, a single node may himself not know beyond one or two nodes himself, so, this complicates the situation, even more.

 

 

Understanding ‘Music Content Discovery’ and the future of Music consumption through Shazam..

As I have already said in several of my previous posts, one of the very basic aspects of building a business of any form over the Internet can be more successful through sharing of information, rather than hoarding it exclusively, because as we can see in this example, even the big Music Players like Itunes need the services of smaller music discovery Apps like SoundCloud SoundHound and Shazam to drive user traffic to their website.

Shazam is an app that allows users to record to any music playing in the surrounding and it maps the sound with its own database and provides the user with the details of the album/track and also links the user to places, where the music can be consumed/purchased legally. In a previous post which i had spoken about the HTC/SoundCloud SoundHound Integration ( see the Video), i had said that the audio data which was being received real time via the FM broadcast was pushed into a parallel pipe of the SoundCloud’s servers. I think that is not true, after i explored the Shazam app.

It is quite likely that like Shazam, Sound Cloud SoundHound too converts the real time music into a digital fingerprint and that fingerprint is sent to its servers, where it is mapped and the compared results of the album are provided. For this to happen successfully, it is only possible for an original reference copy of the album which should have been transformed into a reference Fingerprint, stored originally in Shazam’s servers. Only then can these apps match the finger prints and provide the user with the details of the album.

#1

So, what role is an app like Shazam playing in the current Indian legitimate music consumption Environment? As I have already said that currently, there are 2 types of legitimate music consumption. One is the Revenue Enhancer mode, where there are very few players left, and Itunes inevitably seems to be the king. ( Flyte is out.). The other one is the Piracy beater, Streaming model, where there is a whole lot of competition. There are several players in this segment – Saregama, Saavn, Dhingana(Rdio), Gaana, Wynk, Guvera etc. The latter environment is a largely competitive environment.

Last year, On April 3, 2013, Saavn and Shazam announced a partnership. The details can be seen here, and i quote from the website.

Music identification service Shazam today announced an exclusive new partnership with Saavn, the popular Indian music streaming service. The new partnership is supposed to give music fans a fun new way to discover the latest tracks from their favourite South Asian artistes in Bollywood and regional cinema

Shazam has already started mapping out Saavn’s library onto its music database. This could take a while since the announcement, given Saavn’s large library of not just Hindi but also regional music

The partnership between the two music-based apps will help Indian music fans figure out the name of songs and its artistes easily. Moreover, arrangement to purchase the music legally off iTunes is also being made by Saavn and Shazam. Listeners will also be able to share their finds with their friends on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ via Shazam. According to the announcement, more tracks from the inexhaustible collection of Indian music will be added every week to the partnered database.

The app partnership will widely cover popular genres such as bhangra, devotional, ghazals, Carnatic, Indipop and more. It will also encompass music in regional languages including Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali, Kannada and Bhojpuri.”

So, over a year later, I have tested the Shazam app and seem to be reasonably happy with the results, and i present them to you, in an entirely Tamil context. So, let us see the potential of this app. Again, I did the same test, by testing a few songs that were playing live from an Fm station and a song that i had purchased from the now defunct ‘Flyte’.

#2Merged

Real time song discovery via FM or played in the background – As you can see that the App was able to bring out results, but its predictions don’t seem to work very well, always. Maybe, one reason is that, it has a larger database where it can push more Albums from music directors like Ilaiyaraja or Harris Jayaraj rather than a lyricist Vairamuthu. The only thing that was strange from that list was Ghajini, something, that i will come back to later. But, even in these 3 pictures, you can observe one thing. On discovering the album, the Shazam app is guiding users to Itunes and Saavn, which logically seems to be based on the agreement/partnership that was mentioned earlier, thereby providing Saavn an edge over its competitors, in this case.

Discovery of Rare songs – Most of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s must have heard hundreds of Ilaiyaraja’s tracks, without even knowing the name of the movie or having seen its visual. For e.g It is easy to associate ‘Maariyamma Maariyamma’ with Karakatakaaran, but how of us know which movie does the song ‘Raasathi Manasule” come from? It is Ramarajan’s movie, but how many of us know the name of the movie? What about ‘Amudhe Thamizhae?”, “Paaramal Paartha Nenjam?”, “Devadhai Ilam Dhevi Unnai Sutrum Aavi”.. Sure, we have heard these songs and know them, but do we know the names of the movies? So, this was a test, and here were the results.

#3-Ilaiyaraja_Vintage_Songs_Discovery

So, the app isn’t doing bad. However, when i fed the song ‘Katti Vechuko Endhan Anbu Manasa’, the App was not able to detect the song.

BGM – BGM is Ilaiyaraja and Ilaiyaraja is BGM. I fed the app a few BGM samples taken at Random. The app was not able to detect mid piece BGMs from Dharma Durai and Guru Sishyan, although some of them were very famous Motif’s, but it was able to detect the Title tracks of ‘Gopura Vaasalile’ && ‘Varusham 16’.

#4-BGM_Tracks

The Ghajini Mystery – This seemed like a bit of a mystery to me. Ghajini was taken as a Random sample, from the Fm Radio, and i found that the Shazam App was able to detect the album, initially. Much later, i observed strangely that there was No Itunes link in the Album, considering that almost all other detections had an Itunes link. This led me to check out Itunes directly to see if the Album was available. Surprisingly, I could find out only the Telugu Version of the same movie, again composed by Harris Jayaraj himself. The Tamil version of the same movie was not available in Itunes. Surprising.!

So, i played the Telugu version of the same Rangola Song from Youtube and started the Shazam App. Surprisingly, as the song unfolded, Shazam detected the Tamil version of the movie, initially. This, I could attribute to maybe, because both the Preludes and initial lyrics of both Tamil and Telugu versions were same. As the song continued to play in Youtube in its Telugu Lyrics, I ran the Shazam app again, and this time, it detectedly correctly, the Telugu Version of the Ghajini App, but even in that detection, it does not show the Itunes link for the telugu version of Ghajini, although the Telugu version of Ghajini is available in Itunes, which leaves me baffling?

The_Curious_Case_Of_Ghajini

To Summarize, an App like this provides two major benefits to the Copyright Ecosystem.

1. It helps fans detect and find music, legally.

2. Unlike other physical media like Text or Video, where Copyright information can be embedded via MetaData, In Audio, this can be lost easily. This phenomenon is called as ‘Attribution Erosion‘, and at times, can even lead to accidental plaigiarism. Apps like these can help fans or remixers trace original copyright holders for additional rights or permissions like Remixing their original works, for example.

Email Interview with Dmitriy Plugin, Creator of ‘Ranzar’ – A YouTube Parody Channel, based on the Free to Play – ‘World of Tanks’ Real Time Online Game.

“Do not seek a trick, politics or propaganda in cartoons. And before you blame someone just think about it, pull your head, maybe it’s just a joke. Watch more cartoons, they will make you better!” – Dmitry Plugin, Creator of Ranzar, YouTube Parody Channel, based on Real events that happen on the ‘World Of Tanks’ Live Gaming Server.
Ranzar Parody Channel YouTube Link – https://www.youtube.com/user/RanZarEng
Ranzar Official Website – ranzar.com
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
1. This blog is strictly a non political blog.
Given the potentially sensitive nature of some of the posts to be purposefully re-interpreted for the ubiquitous function of ‘Online Trolling’, any politically sensitive comments to this post, will be deleted. The views expressed below are solely that of the Person concerned, and is not endorsed by the author or this blog.
2. Mr.Plugin is not very convenient speaking with English, while this Blog’s author does not know Russian, so there is a possibility that some information, may have been lost in translational context.
3. I have only made minor edits for better English grammer, and retained the entire conversation for Transparency.
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
Q1. Are you a developer directly associated with Wargaming.Net (W.O.T parent company), or have any interests with Wargaming, or are you just an independent W.O.T fan, attempting to express your views through your videos via the Ranzar channel?
A1.       At first I was (an) independe(n)t creator, I make some toons(Tanktoon) as usual fan art. Now we a(re) partners.
Q2. It likely appears, that you are doing this video series, only as a hobby. What do you do for a full time job? Are you employed somewhere with an animation based company or you do some other work as a full time job?

A2.   At present time I’m freelancer but I have a partial removal of the work, that is, I do not need to move away from my computer to do it. Basically I design, paint and (do) a little programming. Printing, web design, database.

Q3. What does this word ‘Ranzar’ actually mean or stand for? It is a Russian name or something? I see that your real name is not Ranzar.

A3.       It’s complex collaboration. RanZar – it ‘t (is an) abbreviation of two Russian words “Рандомные Зарисовки”, if you want to spell it “Randomnyy Zarisovki” – translates like ‘Random Paintings’ or ‘Random Scathes’.

Q4. Ten or fifteen years back, if you wanted to express yourself, you had no way of doing that. Today, Technology and the Internet has made this possible, not only has Technology made it possible for you to express yourself and the Internet and Youtube has helped you find thousands of fans, who appreciate your work. In a similar way, millions of artists are connecting with fans through a ‘Free’ and ‘Share’ approach that the Internet is making possible (today). In a old world in the 90s, even if you did this work, you may not have found even 10% of the fans that you got today, via the Internet. More over, it is less likely that someone from India, say like me, gets to connect to you and talk to you, without even (each other) seeing our faces. But the Internet has made this possible. What do you think of this trend?

A4.       Mmm, may be I did not understand what was the question but I try to answer. I think internet is great thing! He (It has) opened a huge opportunity for all, anyone can find a kindred spirit. Sounds like a dream at (for) all!

Q5. While I personally don’t think any of your videos are biased and reflect only the realities of the game ( for instance, the German heavy tanks inevitably cannot play from the front like the Russian Heavies, else, their sweet spot in the front will be the first target and they will get hit, and they will be immediately on fire. More over, their long range optics make them better snipers or support tanks than the Russians from long range, for eg), .There is (also) a feeling that the videos you make are pro-Russian, although they are more based on historical events, and historical events did actually pan out that way? . How do you respond to criticism that your videos are pro-Russian and Anti-German?

A5.  Initially, I was doing cartoons exclusively for the Russian-speaking audience. I had no thoughts that my cartoons will (be) watch(ed by) people from other countries. Then I saw the English comments and requests for translation. And I continued to do cartoons for Russian, but began to translate them.  More precisely, I do not seek to make cartoons national, Russian or non-Russian. I did it as I like, just my worldview is much like 90% of the population of the CIS (CIS stands for the Russian Commonwealth in this case?). Therefore, Soviet tanks often take part in cartoons. Although it is worth noting that Hellcat and Chaffee’s (are the ) most popular heroes, and they are Americans. And in fact most of the series do not have national implications besides (being) stereotypical, (or a) comic.

As for the series with the JS* in the role of Joseph Stalin and his opponents are the likeness of Hitler. Yes, the Germans lost there, and Romeo and Juliet die at the end. At this moment politics and historicity ends, and everything else is (a) fiction(al) joke.

About say(i)ng anti-German propaganda. Germany of that period was a fascist, started the war, wanted to grab a piece of the world. They have become enemies of the world. Wash the ideal role for the villain of the cartoon. Besides the artistic moment, German engineering is very brutal, majestic and truly outstanding, just the perfect bad guys. Becoming a bit popular, you begin to get a lot of opinions. Audiences of all ages and social levels, from different countries, different religions. Of course their opinion on some issues may be different from mine. Habit.

Q6. How has the response from the Fans been, through comments that you receive via YouTube and social media? What about the monetization aspects of this work? Does YouTube ad money and provide sufficient returns to make this a main stream viable job for you? Although, it is in Russian, which i cannot understand, there is also an option in your website ranzar.com, which allows users to contribute voluntarily. Am i correct?

A6.       I like my viewers and subs, I read all comment and reply to interesting or more like(a)ble (ones). Money is a means on which I do what I love. Given that most of my time I spend it on something that I love, I have enough money. If I went to a permanent job, and shifts important papers from one pile to another, it is possible to get more.

Q7. Parody, especially in a humour form is one of the greatest rights of an individual’s expression, and in a sense adds a lot of value to the parent company, World Of Tanks (in this case), How has W.O.T responded to your work? Have they been any criticisms or appreciations from the parent company? I think even World Of Tanks features the work you do. Can you tell me more about this or provide some links?

A7.       The World of Tanks didn’t criticize me for all the time.
Q8. You bring so much of variations entirely through the animated Tanks – Expressing human behavior ( the Real players on the server, (for) e.g Noobs who rush and get killed), Historical Tank design features ( The Panther’s sloped armour, which the smaller tanks can’t penetrate frontally), Real Life Historical characters ( The Big Russian Tank with (large) moustaches and smoking a pipe ( The IS Tank/ also called the JS Tank) or a British Tank wearing a Hat and smoking a pipe  (This is an error. This should have actually been a cigar.) ( Churchill Tank) ) , Fictional characters ( The BatMan Video) and contextual humour ( e.g the Maus going after a cheese). What do you think of these variations, and possibly many more,  that you bring to your work ?
A8.       I think it’s funny and it will be more.
Q9. What are your plans for the future? Any other comment that you wish to share in this regard?
A9.   I want to make some own place like studio, there I can connect some artists and make good things.
Again, it is in Russian, so I cannot understand. Are these the same videos displayed in YouTube Channel which users can view for free, or is there additional non YouTube content that users can pay and purchase via Itunes?
A10.   Composer Vladimir puts his soundtrack for sale.
Q11. One more question – You are doing these playlists as well, teaching people how to do animation?
A11.   I get a lot of questions, “How am I doing this?” In this video I try to tell it.
 
 

A secondary Follow up Email : 
Just two things here, that i wish to clarify.

“Q1.  At first I was independent creator, I make some toons(Tanktoon) as usual fan art. Now we a partners.” So, does this mean that apart from creating 2D animated videos, you are also doing some work directly for the main 3D work for World Of Tanks company and part of your work is being implemented in the real WOT live gaming server, correct? 
 
A1.       No, I only make my Tanktoon, I just perform this function of demand, nothing more.
 
Q2. You have already permitted me to use your responses for my Research work. Thank you for that. Are you fine with me publishing your Email responses that you have given me today in My public blog – killthepirate.wordpress.com? I will not edit anything, and publish your views exactly. ( barring grammer changes for better English). Is that okay for you? 
 
A2.       I have nothing to hide.
 
And Thanks a million for the response. It was a pleasure interacting with you, Dmitry. Take care. 🙂
 
 
A last But important Word that Dmitry wanted to share me to post on the blog. It sums up the Entire meaning of the post in a single quote – 
 

You can add a short as a quotation or statement:

“Do not seek a trick, politics or propaganda in cartoons. And before you blame someone just think about it, pull your head, maybe it’s just a joke. Watch more cartoons, they will make you better!”

 
*JS stands for Joseph Stalin Tank. It is also sometimes expressed as IS as in Iosif Stalin, because of the language mapping translational challenges, when a non English language gets converted to English. Th ‘language mapping’ challenge issue is discussed deeply in the context of Tamil cinema, in the book – “Kill The Pirate – The Quest for John Doe.”

How Free Flow of Copyrighted Information via API culture, brings Positivity and increased benefits in a Globalized World?

In an earlier post, I had spoken about how ‘Free Flow of Text information’ via various pipes in the Internet, through API based Authentication was extremely beneficial to all players in the Ecosystem. Most of the information in that example was Text, and although a large portion of the Text was Copyrighted ( others were licensed under Creative Commons), Piracy related abuse of Copyrighted Text published over the Internet from websites ( not from Published Books), are far too few. If at all there is piracy of text sourced from a website, it could be more of a case of Plaigiarism rather than Piracy. 

Now, let us extend that logic further, and see how the benefits of Free flow of Information, even if it copyrightable (Music in this case) and has a larger potential of Piracy, yet by allowing the same information to flow freely via sharing, can create a contradicting Positivity in the Ecosystem. I have localized the context here to a simple example of Tamil cinema, since it is an underlying motif of this blog.

I have consciously written this post here for several reasons.

The understanding of the ‘Free and Share’ culture via API, or otherwise, forms an important portion in the yet to be released book – “Kill The Pirate – The Quest for John Doe”, which will soon be released under a Creative Commons license via this blog, that deals with the challenges that Tamil cinema faces as a Microcosm of overall Global Internet Piracy.

This blog allows me the freedom to share media under a ‘Fair Usage Policy’, even if it is copyrighted, so, readers who read and understand this simple video example will easily understand the context at the relevant portion in the book, and that i may not have the same freedom to publish the media file along with the book, as I have here.

Another important reason is that the Internet has been strongly accused of increasing the quantum and scale of Piracy, compared to the earlier days of Disc Based Piracy. This is very much true, but represents only one side of the picture. But what is seldom spoken about is, that the Internet has also opened up both localized and International markets, which were not accessible in the older Analog and Nascent Digital years, and that possibly explains why some of the 100, 200 crore+ movies made in India, are economically viable, today.

A short understanding of this video helps understand that while Technology over the Internet can also spread piracy, at the same time, it can also bring lots of positivity, and boost sales of the legitimate ecosystem, via sharing of Information Flow.

[ Apologies for the low quality Video File, as I had to downsize the larger HQ video and upload a low Quality File as i did not have enough Bandwidth].

In this video, You can initially see that the FM radio App is turned on and a live Broadcast of a Tamil song is playing from somewhere in the middle. A user who hears this song for the first time, and who likes it and wants to listen to again, may not find it possible, in the old era. This can also be true of users who are listening to music of other cultures and languages for the first time.

The FM radio App has already a built-in API integration with SoundCloud  SoundHound. So, as the song plays, I press the App button, which diverts the live feed into a parallel pipe ( while the original pipe continues playing the song), which takes the feed into SoundCloud’s servers which process the information, this parallel sound is converted into a digital fingerprint which is transmitted into SoundHound’s servers. On processing the information, SoundHound matches the information with its reference files and returns to the user the Meta Data details of the playing song. In this case, it was a song sung by Janaki, composed by Ilaiyaraja and starred KamalHassan.

SoundCloud SoundHound also provides links to YouTube and other places, where the song can be purchased legitimately. The Copyright holder still continues to own the copyright, but the Free Flow of (Copyrighted) information has in this case, made the possibility of converting an unknown user into a fan, and a possibility of diverting him towards purchasing legitimate consumption of Music.

You can also see YouTube’s automated Content ID system in action here –

YouTube's_ContentID_System