Deep Backward Point

Blog against the machine.

Tag: Twitter

Are Cricket-Bloggers Special?

Yes.

Why We Write, continued

Matt Becker, the midwestern cricket-blogger who at times seems like my intellectual twin, wonders if cricket bloggers are a special breed. Are we non-competitive and helpful to other bloggers? More so than bloggers in other domains? And if so, why?

Becker:

Something about cricket writing touches nerves with people, and for some reason it attracts phenomenally talented writers, and for some reason those writers want to promote other, less talented, writers, instead of simply ignoring them or even worse actively dissuading people from reading them.

I started writing on the Internet in 1998, when we just called it “writing on the Internet” instead of blogging, and we were all webmasters. And over the last 14 years, I’ve blogged about Star Wars, technology, tech policy, film, Apple, and oh, I must be forgetting some other topics.

But rarely have I found the sense of community, camaraderie and the general rising-tides-lift-all-boatsiness that is common among cricket-bloggers.  Like Matt said, it makes me keep writing.

Twitterati

Before Twitter, blogging was very different. To build a community, or participate in a community, you had to go to forums or be a good citizen in the comments of other people’s blogs. In short, you had to build a reputation on other people’s territory before they came to yours.

It often felt like I was blogging in a vacuum. Do people read what I write? Why? What do they think when they read it? How do I find other like-minded people who find my obscure hobby interesting?

These days, with Twitter, if you’re good, consistent and focused, it’s a level playing field and the community is all in one place. And the live nature of sports (and the 24-hour nature of cricket) makes it a perfect match for Twitter.

Since cricket doesn’t have an audience the size of soccer or isn’t as media-rich as some American sports, the Twitter cricket community is of a manageable size. It’s not rare to have a meaningful, short conversation with the Editor of Wisden or an Editor at Cricinfo or your favorite blogger.

The currency on Twitter is “sharing cool stuff”, so naturally it’s a great community of people who will go out of their way to share your stuff. As long as it’s cool. The niceness of cricket bloggers that Matt Becker refers to is largely a niceness of cricket tweeters.

Deep Backward Point would have no readers without Twitter. Sana Kazmi tweeted a link to one of my early posts. Jarrod Kimber saw it and linked to it. A few more people started following my tweets. And the rest was history.

A few months later, hours after I posted my first Willow TV story, Subash (The Cricket Couch) sent me a direct message on Twitter that he wanted my phone number so we could talk about the story. I had been writing for more than a decade and nobody had ever wanted to call me about something I wrote. That turned in to the Boredwani podcast.

Later, I was invited to join The Sightscreen team because of a single tweet of mine that Minal responded to. (Someday I hope to follow through on the contents of that single tweet.)

Twitter is where this blog gets its traffic from. It’s where I formulate my ideas. It’s where I’m challenged and encouraged. And it’s where my people live. And I’m convinced that’s how it is for the cricket blogging community.

Money, Money, Money

When I was writing about Apple, or even Star Wars during the prequels, competition was intense. You wouldn’t send traffic to your competition. You still see this play out regularly in the tech blogosphere (e.g. engadget, gizmodo, theverge)– they will re-write each other’s stories, and barely give credit. Bloggers in other fields worry a lot about losing rank on Google, which results in less traffic, revenue and relevance.

Here in cricket-land, since readers don’t translate to money, we’re not really competing for readers. We can send our readers away in the hope that if we send them somewhere cool, they will come back.

It is our gift and our curse that cricket is a small sport. At Internet scale, the number of people who are interested in reading non-mainstream articles on cricket is minuscule.

The advantage is that the community is manageable and no money to be made.

The disadvantage is that there is no money to be made. Yet.

Undiscovered Business Model or No Business Model

There are no independent cricket bloggers who make real money without going mainstream. Those who have turned this in to a full-time gig have done so under the banners of ESPN or media-conglomerate-du-jour. There is no business model to support what we do.

But perhaps that will not always be true. Maybe there is a future where money flows in to the amateur, alternative media producers.

I know I have some ideas. And I hope others do to. And when it happens– if it happens– I hope we can keep the good parts of what we have now.

Did You Get a Copyright Notice from BCCI on Twitter?

I was recently asked for advice on how to respond to a DMCA takedown notice from Twitter. I wrote an email to this person, and thought the advice was useful enough for other people to put up here on the blog.

I AM NOT A LAWYER. I DO NOT PLAY ONE ON TV.

All of this is advice that I would follow, based on years of reading and blogging on the subject at my other blog. In fact, it is advice that I have had to follow, as explained later in this article.

Sidebar: What is a DMCA Takedown Notice?

Here is what happens. Let’s say the BCCI owns copyright to video of the England Vs. India Test series. Someone posts a link to a pirated stream on Twitter.

The BCCI has employed a company based in Bangalore to monitor Twitter (and other sources, I suppose) for links that infringe copyright. When this company finds infringing links, it sends a DMCA takedown notice to Twitter to have that Tweet removed.

The United States passed a law in 1998 called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This law contains what is called the “safe-harbor” provision, which protects a service provider (in this case, Twitter) from monetary damages from infringing activity of its users, as long as the provider (Twitter) meets certain conditions.

One of the conditions is that if Twitter receives a DMCA takedown notice for infringing material, they must remove it. As long as they promptly remove it (and comply with other conditions), they can’t be sued for copyright infringement.

More on the DMCA: something I wrote in 2008 on the 10 year anniversary of the law and of course, the EFF.

Now that you “understand” the DMCA

So you received a DMCA notice from Twitter with the subject: “We’ve received a DMCA notice regarding your account”? Tough.

Perhaps this is what happened:

  • The tweet has a link to a pirated stream.
  • Someone at BCCI searches for these links and sends a DMCA takedown notice to Twitter
  • By US law, if Twitter receives a DMCA takedown notice, they must remove the content.
  • So Twitter removed just that offending tweet and notified the users.

If it’s a standard DMCA notice, you don’t have to respond. I suppose if a Twitter user is in violation repeatedly, their account could be suspended. But if this is just a one-off thing, and you know that the link was pirated, there’s nothing more to be done.

Now, if one strongly believed that the tweet was not infringing copyright, there are ways to fight it. But it’s hard to win, because people like us can’t afford legal fees and the law (DMCA) heavily favors the large companies that own copyrights.

I have tried to fight it for my short documentaries on YouTube, which use short clips from Hindi films, but have had no luck getting them reinstated. My videos are definitely fair use, and protected under US law, but the DMCA is a terrible law that has no legal recourse for the little guy. (Sidebar: when should you fight a DMCA notice? When your content is Fair Use.)

But my real advice is: don’t provide direct links to pirated content in public forums.

DMCA is bad law. It’s been bad for 14 years. But your public link to pirated content? Let’s not pretend that was a great idea either.

Cricket rights around the world are a complicated matter. Being smart about what you post on the Internet is not complicated at all.

References:

  1. The Electronic Frontier Foundation on the DMCA
  2. My article on the 10 year anniversary of the DMCA
  3. Chilling Effects has a searchable archive of DMCA notices. Search for “cricket” to see scores of BCCI notices.
  4. Twitter’s Policy on DMCA Notices