Operational Notes About This Blog

Greetings;

As fans may have noticed, the title of this blog has changed to “Internet Famous Angry Men”. This is still a working title, but I felt it was better than the early spelling of my current internet handle, which is not really a blog title at all but a biographical statement about who I am. I will be changing the domain name this fall, but posts linked to idledillettante.com will still redirect to my material.

Trolls coming to the website may have noticed that I’ve closed the comment section of my most recent posts, forcing guys who would write in to say I’m wrong to host their complaints on their own blogs. Yes, boys, that is not a glitch: I am closing the comments section on my blog until further notice. This is entirely the fault of various people I’ve written about (and their associated fandoms) using moderated comments as a way of sending me threats and abuse. Effective five days ago no new articles will be open to comment.

Thanks as always for reading my posts.

Margaret Pless

P.S. (8/23/2015): I want to apologize to commentors who came here in good faith to share their thoughts. It sucks that you can’t freely offer your input and opinions, which were (and still are) very valuable to me. It is not your fault that assholes who dislike what I write & want to scare me have been abusing the comments, but it is you who really lose out by my closing the section. I hope that you continue to share your thoughts with me on Twitter and other mediums; and if I can devise a way to re-open comments without reading every troll love note sent my way I will certainly do that. Until then, thank you again for your readership.

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Specific Instances of Copyright Infringement by Sargon of Akkad – A Database Approach

Sargon of Akkad is well known for his reliance on heavily sampling video from other sources to make his shows. The justification seems to be that because Sargon hasn’t sought permission to use these videos, his work must qualify as fair use. But this rings a little false, considering one of Sargon’s videos was recently taken down for copyright infringement.

How many times has Sargon infringed upon the copyrights of others in the past year? Which, if any of these samplings qualify as fair use? Does Sargon tend to sample videos in their entirety, or just the relevant snippets? In the videos where infringement occurred, did Sargon collect funding from Patreon for “creating” a new video out of stolen materials? If yes, how often?

The results of my research are, in a word, flabbergasting.

About a third of Carl’s videos contained some copyrighted video clips. Two thirds of the videos containing copyrighted clips were submitted to Patreon, allowing Sargon to collect a commission for making them. Sargon correctly credited copyrighted works he sampled less than half the time.

Sargon violates YouTube’s Terms of Service by including copyrighted material in his videos. As per YouTube’s ToS:

Respect copyright. Only upload videos that you made or that you’re authorized to use.This means don’t upload videos you didn’t make, or use content in your videos that someone else owns the copyright to, such as music tracks, snippets of copyrighted programs, or videos made by other users, without necessary authorizations.

Some might say I’m collecting Sargon’s peccadilloes by charting every instance of possible copyright infringement on his channel in the past year, and I suppose this is true. After all, I spoiled the ending of Hatoful Boyfriend in my top post, so who am I to judge if Sargon uploads hours of network television without obtaining permission? And what is fair use for, if not to cover pirate-ish videos of questionable utility, made on a commercial basis by bombastic assholes?

Yet my findings demonstrate numerically Sargon’s entitlement to sample whomever he wants, for as long as he likes, for purposes that may not be fair use at all. I would recommend anyone whose work was listed in this survey to review the relevant Sargon videos I cited. Sargon may owe you a licensing fee, or YouTube may owe you a takedown.

I tabulated instances of copyrighted video clips appearing in Sargon’s 2014-2015 oeuvre of two-hundred and sixty-two videos. Videos created within this period but removed from YouTube prior to 8/18/2015 were not considered for the purposes of this survey. Video clips in the public domain (e.g. Zoe Quinn’s congressional testimony, Obama’s State of the Union Address) were excluded from consideration.

Interviews with Sargon, live streams, videos shot by Sargon on his GoPro etc. were considered Sargon’s intellectual property, although some of these videos (particularly the “This Week in Stupid” series) contain loads of copyrighted images and text. The remaining ninety-five videos (36% of the total N of videos Sargon made that year) contained copyrighted video footage and were tabulated for the purposes of this survey. In each case I noted the name of the copyright holder, date their work was released, and a link to the source video where possible. Six cases of infringement proved un-attributable, and are listed “Owner Unknown” in my database.

Sargon forgot to credit copyright holders in fifteen of the ninety-five videos where infringement occurred. Twelve times Sargon credited the copyright holder only as “Source” or “Original Video”.  Another fifteen times he credited copyright holders, but not by name, e.g. as “Liar”, or “Antipodean SJWs”. Twice, Sargon credited a copyright holder and then wrote “(please don’t contact him)” next to the link. In total, fifty-one (53%) of Sargon’s sampled copyright works were incorrectly attributed in some way or another. Sargon secured permission to sample in just two videos of the ninety-five. (I.e. 2.5% of the total.)

Sargon also uploaded many videos containing copyrighted material to Patreon. In total, two-thirds (65) videos containing infringement were submitted to Patreon as original work, earning Sargon a commission each time.

An important consideration when evaluating a fair use defense is length of the video sampled. In 44 of the 95 videos studied (or 46% of the time), Sargon uploaded copyrighted video in its entirety. This included news segments from network television as well as videos made by other YouTubers.

It’s worth asking whether this sampling in toto would be considered fair use in any other medium. For example, if the New York Book Review published an entire novel with snarky marginalia written in red ink and called this a critique, would that constitute fair use of the author’s work? And if not, where does Sargon’s “criticism” stand?

Ultimately, the decision about whether any of the ninety-five videos I identified constitutes copyright infringement is up to YouTube. But it seems unlikely to me that every one of these ninety-five instances I’ve identified qualifies as fair use. The case for fair use is further weakened when you consider that Sargon’s purpose in these videos is often to discredit and diminish the copyright holders (including financially), and that two times out of three, Sargon earns a commission from Patreon for releasing these mini-documentaries. It’s also worth considering that “transformative aspect” of Sargon’s videos have all the artistic merit of a guy talking in a movie theater, and that these videos have questionable utility to anybody but Sargon’s bank account.

#Gamergate Event Evacuated by /Baphomet/ Bomb Threat

Gamergate should be out looking for this guy. But I don't think they will.

Gamergate should be out looking for this guy. (Source: 8ch.net)

Last Saturday, a poorly attended conference about #Gamergate whose name escapes me was cut short when a hacker from /baphomet/ sent a bomb threat to panelist Milo Yiannopoulous. Naturally, the event hall was evacuated and the assorted hacks in attendance continued their discussion regarding ethics in Gamergate at the parking lot. Ultimately, the cops didn’t find anything, and concluded the threat was just hot air.

And, perhaps even more naturally, #Gamergaters blamed “”anti-Gamergate”” and nebulous “”SJWs”” for making the bomb threat minutes after the venue was evacuated. (In fact, the event organizer blamed “”anti-Gamergate”” (including myself) for trying to “shut down” the event before it even began.)

So it seems #Gamergate has picked their bad guy, and is sticking to that story. But their story doesn’t match the facts. In fact, there’s evidence to suggest that Baphomet, in particular some guy who calls himself “Eclipso/SWATAnon”, actually sent in the threat, and then framed Gamergate blogger The Ralph Retort. The guy who sent the threat has claimed responsibility for other SWAT attacks. Here’s a recording of a SWAT attack Eclipso made back in January, then posted on Baphomet as proof he made the call. 

The alleged threat. (Source: CH Sommers)

One of the alleged threats. (Source: CH Sommers)

It’s not surprising in the least. Baphomet, a Gamergate-aligned black board, has a history of hurting people within their parent movement just to cause chaos. At an earlier date, this same Eclipso guy claimed Ralph Retort paid him to send a SWAT team to Devi Ever’s house, just to get back at Ralph for castigating Baphomet on his blog.

There’s a part of me that suspects Gamergate actually welcomes these bullshit Baphomet threats as a way to demonize those who speak out against them. But in refusing to call out those actually responsible, Gamergaters are allowing the worst elements in their movement to get away with criminal activity. The more #Gamergate blames Baphomet’s bad behavior on “”SJWs”” or “”third-party trolls””, the more emboldened Baphites are going to be the next time one of them is dissatisfied with the performance of talking heads like Ralph Retort.

I mean, Baph already doxed Sargon. (Yes, that Sargon.) He & his followers blamed SJWs for it, despite the thread on Baphomet saying “I think it’s time we went after Sargon.” Hours after that thread got started, some Twitter account I’ve never heard of was sending Sargon photos of his house. Call me crazy, but these things don’t seem coincidental, and they don’t seem to be coming from GamerGhazi.

Where will Gamergate draw the line? At what point will the movement’s de facto leaders stop and wonder ‘just who the hell am I doing this for?’ I suppose doxing and fake bomb threats to spoil their meetups isn’t sufficient, or at least, the allure of blaming these things on Arthur Chu outweighs the inconvenience of being stalked and harassed by angry fans.

Let me be clear: SWAT Anon/Eclipso is but one of several examples of really obnoxious behavior at the AirPlay event from Gamergate spectators. The live chat stream for the event was polluted with swastikas and hate speech, until the organizer disabled it for the afternoon panel (which was cut short by the evacuation.) As I anticipated, some panelists were doxxed in the live chat. Eclipso was not the only guy working the event, which, some commentators noted, received the threat just as Milo Yiannopoulous was losing his cool onstage. It would be wrong of me to speculate whether the bomb threat was made as a favor to Yiannopolous, or a ‘fuck you’ to the event’s organizer.

My dislike for any individual #Gamergater aside, I wish no ill upon them. I don’t think they deserve to be doxed, or harassed, or to have SWAT teams sent to their house, because nobody deserves that. But Baphomet seems to be sending a message – and a loud and clear one – that if #Gamergate’s most popular personalities don’t perform the way they want them to, they’ll be next in line for the LW treatment.

And that is unethical as all hell.