Archive for May, 2015

by Brandon Bailey

Montgazette Staff Writer

Internet privacy is becoming more and more of a luxury if you are capable of having a secure Internet and great security to keep your private files secured from hackers, scammers, etc. In the gaming world (mainly pc gamers), you can be at risk of having your files stolen, shared on the Internet, or if you’re a twitch streamer, having the cops called on you by a “swatter”.

Swatters is pretty much a slang term for people who manage to find your address and then fake a phone call to the police in your area to have them scare you or even hurt in some way because the cops think they are going in to a dangerous situation. When really, the streamer, is playing a video game and is streaming live to the Internet so people can see it.

This is becoming an issue for streamers because now they have to call their local police departments to make sure that swatters don’t try to call the cops on them. So far it’s not a common issue so much but anyone who streams on twitch can be at risk of being a victim of a swatter.

Morgan Wardwell-Gaw, a student, said “Internet privacy is a little tricky to define. If you don’t know the Internet that well, then it’s going to be difficult to understand what privacy really is on the Internet.”

Is privacy really a thing on the Internet? Morgan said “Yes, but it doesn’t really work, or rather isn’t really there for people. It doesn’t take much for anyone to do whatever they want to your stuff on your computer.”

“What about the people/creators who might need to use the Internet for any projects? Should they know how serious Internet privacy is?”

Morgan answered “Yes, from a gamers standpoint, we need to be careful, especially indie developers. Piracy for example happens to every creator of some form, whether it’s games, movies, and music. When it comes down to it, know what you are getting into with the Internet before you start creating whatever you want because you can be at risk for a lot of things from hackers.”

Other issues from gamers also include having their credit/debit card information stolen if its saved online to their profiles, someone faking to be them and messing around with their relationships online and others. While most, if not all of these issues are not just for gamers, it’s a more centralized group. Which means certain attacks may be easier than most.

Despite the issues however there are plenty of defenses against a lot of the stuff mentioned. Anti-virus software for example will generally come with Identity protection, keeping saved credit/debit information safe to an extent. If you have a camera hooked up to your computer, check it to make sure it’s often times when it is not being used.

Backing up your information is safe because this prevents people from deleting anything you have saved on your computer. Scanning your computer daily will help as well, as that will check for viruses on your computer and will delete them.

In the end, Internet privacy needs to be more of a serious matter. While it is illegal to do the certain things mentioned, these people can be difficult to track down if they know what they are doing, which luckily isn’t very often. Hopefully in the future we will see more of an emphasis for protection against cybercrime.

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by Karl Kirschner, Jr

Montgazette Staff Writer

Students at Montgomery County Community College have a great amount of raw talent, from music to acting and other performing arts. What others don’t know are the challenges some students encounter on the local music scene.

Tim Balch, a Montco student and member of the band Andross, says his band was scheduled to perform a record release show at a local venue, Landsdale Legion. But Andross was not given a chance to perform. Violence during a show by another band led to employees being ruffed up and the ones who caused the violence refused to leave. Thus, all shows after the incident were cancelled, including the Andross record release show.

This was costly for the band. All of the promotional merchandise they had on-hand was paid for by band members. So instead of making money, the members lost money. Balch made it clear that writing music and putting on a live show is less about the money for him or his band. It is always about making music. He loves creating music others can listen to and love. “Business is killing the music scene,” Tim says.

Every local venue has a promoter that is looking for the best way to make money. So if your band is not part of the current trend getting a gig is twice as hard. Knowing that promoters are looking at the music scene as a business venture, it is more important than ever for the crowds and musicians to remain respectful of the property where bands perform.

The music scene is a difficult one. Some say it is a “dog eat dog” environment. A band has to be part of the “in” crowd for promoters to give them a shot at going big. Balch says, at the end of the day, “Communication is [the] key to the future of this scene.”

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by Dillon Campbell

Montgazette Staff Writer

“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are.” That has been the idea behind Walt Disney’s company and its productions. So when Disney sought to create an amusement park of his own where magic really is real, he also created something that would be cherished for generations to come. Walt Disney unveiled Disneyland to the world in the summer of 1955 in Anaheim, California.

In its 60 years of operation, Disneyland has welcomed through its gates multiple generations of guests both nationwide and from around the world. Walt Disney’s dream continued as the company opened theme parks in Central Florida, Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Additionally, there is a vacation club and a variety of cruise ships, as well as a Hawaiian resort and vacation trips.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of Disneyland, California. Lots of celebratory events are planned for Disney enthusiasts from around the world.

A survey of fans of Disney and its theme parks on the Central Campus in Blue Bell shows how some students felt about the big celebration. Chris Jorden says he was “looking forward to the appearance and popularity of older characters, like Oswald the Luck Rabbit.” He also hopes that Oswald gets more recognition through the anniversary festivities.

Nicole Smith, who has visited a Disney theme park in the past two decades, is looking forward to “new shows, parades and fireworks commemorating the past 60 years.” She’s also hoping for a new ride to be announced or appearances from more recent characters.

Martha Campbell has actually gone to Disneyland and is feeling nostalgic. Of her first trip to Disneyland and the memories she has of the park, she says, “[It] was not what I expected. It wasn’t [just] an amusement park… Just buying an ice cream cone was different at Disneyland.” But to make things more magical for Disney’s next 60 years, Campbell says she would like to see one of the old rides, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, come back.

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by Michelle Kim

Montgazette Staff Writer

Piracy is the unauthorized reproduction or use of copyrighted media. Two major media types that are pirated are music and movies.

The American Assembly by Columbia University stated that prices are too high for media goods. “Low incomes and cheap digital technologies are the main ingredients of global media piracy.” The Assembly also states that anti-piracy education has failed, meaning that the majority of twenty-first century students are not familiar with the term piracy.

Go-Gulf, a web design and development group, shared jaw-dropping facts about piracy. They said, “[Over 70,000] jobs in [the] U.S. are lost every year due to increasing of online piracy but 70 percent of online users find nothing wrong in online piracy.” Their statistics also showed the most pirated items on Web were pornography with 35.8 percent, movies with 35.2 percent and TV shows with 14.5 percent.

Andy Choi, a junior at James Madison High School, shared his thoughts in favor of free music downloads. “iTunes can suck my [money.] I don’t want to pay ninety-nine cents or sometimes even a dollar twenty- nine for a song.”

Ninety-five percent of online music is downloaded illegally. Illegally downloading, or pirating, has become a natural thing for many of us. We must be aware of the consequences that may follow.

Sunny Kahn, a student at Temple University, said she understands why people pirate media from the internet. “…I guess people think it’s not worth paying money for because there are so many ways to get it for free.”

Joel Tenenbaum, a former Boston University student, was charged with $650,000 due to 30 illegal music downloads. To Tenenbaum, $650,000 seemed extreme so he tried to negotiate the penalty down to $450. The Supreme Court did not consider his case because the Tenenbaum decided to share what he downloaded.

Piracy also affects movie industry. Gareth Neame, the executive producer of Downton Abbey says, “[The reduction in revenue due to piracy] resulted in studios and production houses making less adventurous choices when it comes to film.” L.E.K. Consulting found that by 2013, the film industry is losing 6.1 billion dollars a year to piracy.

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by Eddie Madrid

Montgazette Staff Writer

In May 2014, Indiana University’s School of Journalism reported that 40 percent of journalists said social media networks are “very important” to their work. Over a third said they spend between 30 to 60 minutes each day on social media websites.

The top social media platform used by journalists were microblogs, such as Twitter, with 53 percent of journalists saying they use it regularly. In addition, 80 percent of journalists said they regularly use social media websites to stay on top of recent developments. Over 70 percent of journalists specifically cite using social media to check on what the competition is reporting on, find ideas for stories and stay in touch with the audience. Only 25 percent of journalists agreed that social media has improved their own productivity and 6.3 percent said it decreased their total workload.

Numbers show that professional journalists’ trend of using social media to obtain information has no signs of slowing down. According to William Bender, a reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News, “Now, [social media] is a part of everything. It’s unavoidable. If you put something out there, sometimes [the story] can catch on, and you might get twice, three times, ten times as much traffic if it gets picked up somewhere else..” He says reporters are not only responsible for writing the story but its distribution and status on the Internet.

Social media has also opened the door for reporters to use the information their audience provides as their base of information for breaking news. Bender says this has led to multiple mistakes being made during breaking news One such mistake was multiple news organizations reporting the wrong name of a bombing suspect during the Boston Marathon bomber manhunt.

“With the competition being so severe on the Internet, whenever something does happen, there’s this goal to get it first…I think the trend going forward is [the public is] going to get information that isn’t 100% accurate, and then gets more accurate over time.” Bender concludes that the trend now is to get what you know out there and try to make it more accurate as you shape the story throughout the day or week.

If the public does not call out professional journalism’s over-dependence on social media, then we are left in a society with news that is potentially inaccurate. Social media has put immense pressure on journalists to do everything faster, which tends to lead to more mistakes. The news is our connection to the world around us and it needs to be accurate and trustworthy.

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by Alex Siwik

Montgazette Staff Writer

Tom Petty settled a lawsuit against songwriter Sam Smith for copyright infringement in January 2015. Smith’s song “Stay With Me” has been claimed to possess similar traits to Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” When Petty and his lawyers noticed, they began to take action.

Initially reported by The Sun, the court ordered a 12.5 percent royalty credit to Petty and composer of Jeff Lynne, along with adding their names to the song’s credit on the license from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, or ASCAP.

In an article published by Rolling Stone magazine, one of Sam Smith’s representatives states that it was simply a coincidence. The chorus melodies between the two compositions just happen to hold some similarities.

When an artist creates a piece of work, he or she immediately gains all legal protection and rights to the work. According to the Copyright Act of 1976, media creators possess rights to their work from the moment they create it until the end of their lives, plus an additional 70 years.

When Smith created “Stay With Me,” he was unintentionally copying aspects of Petty’s song, “I Won’t Back Down,” therefore violating copyright law.

Smith’s case made it to the news because both he and Tom Petty are popular. But in a modern industry where millions of individuals are producing media every day, it is nearly impossible for every copyright violation to be discovered. Likewise, it is also very difficult for content producers to ensure they are not infringing upon the rights of another producer. Taking into consideration the undesirable consequences for copyright infringement, it is necessary to do a lot of research to ensure the content is fully original and not susceptible to infringement.

Matt Porter, Senior Producer and Technical Services Manager at Montgomery County Community College, is a firm believer that research is a vital part of the production process.

“Do your homework,” Porter says. “If you want to name your new band, Google the name.”

Along with making sure content is original, it is also important to make sure it is licensed correctly. Porter believes the best way to protect a piece of work is to follow proper practices. “There are so many websites that will do trademarking and patenting for you, or you can choose to go through the government,” says Porter. “You should really follow the correct guidelines. That is why they exist.”

Some producers, such as independent music producer Di-Mario Leung, are not so concerned about getting their material licensed. “With the rise in new technology, we have access to files and dates that can be shown as evidence of originality.” Leung also says that the use of “beat tags” and “unique automation” is helpful in protecting one’s work, as those are things only the producer themselves can do.

The bottom line is that knowledge and judgment is key when it comes to protecting an artist’s work. The decision lies within the hands of the producer.

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by John Feher

Montgazette Staff Writer

If you haven’t updated your privacy settings lately, you’ve already been using Facebook’s facial recognition application, and many users are unaware of this.

Every time you upload a photo to Facebook, this application kicks into gear. Ellen Stuart from Vital Design says the site now knows not just your name, age, hometown and what you “Like,” but also what you look like. This means that when a friend uploads a photo that you are in, the app will recognize your face and suggest your name to that friend to tag.

Professor Allan Schear, a communication professor at Montgomery County Community College, says, “This is definitely an invasion of privacy.” There are many kids who put their careers at stake when they put up certain “scandalous” photos of themselves and others. “You didn’t consent to these photos, but this action by a friend may cost you dearly,” says Schear.

Invasion of privacy is an intrusion of somebody’s personal life. People can have embarrassing photos or ones they just don’t want to be tagged in but this Facebook app is contributing to this issue of privacy.

Facebook was silent in rolling out this new feature. “This is their standard method,” says Chester Wisniewski, a Senior Security Advisor at Sophos. “They do it secretly and see if the uproar is loud enough.”

The app appears to have its flaws. If someone is squinting, it may not recognize that person and in some cases it tags friends of yours for whom you haven’t been in contact with for years. For many, it’s very bothersome and, frankly, awkward.

This facial recognition application could become more dangerous. With Facebook being used in many countries with millions of users, everyone could know who everybody is. You could take a picture of someone and find out everything you need to know about that person by using facial recognition. This feature is automatically turned on but it can be disabled. To do so, go to “Privacy Settings” and click on “Timeline and Tagging.” From there you will have several options to customize your tagging and privacy preferences, including turning off the ability of Facebook to use your face without your permission.

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by Shawn Rothwell

Montgazette Staff Writer

The origins of modern media self-regulation began with the Big Five motion picture studios being desperately in need of independence from the government’s decision that movies were not protected by the First Amendment. This was in lieu of the ruling of the Mutual Film Corporation v. Industrial Commission of Ohio trial of 1915. In response, the studios established the first of many self-regulating media organizations; the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). This allowed the external pressure from the law to become a catalyst for a new type of rating system that incorporates both industry and consumer views on ethical and moral issues when it comes to publishable content. The MPPA, ESRB and TV Parental Guidelines of the FCC all rate content based on age-appropriate dialogue, images, etc. And how are these categories chosen? By ordinary parents and industry leaders alike.

Yet, why is there still controversy with the rise in digital media and the control of that content? It would seem with various new content hosting sites, apps, and programs our society’s self-regulation evolves even further. Though, with average citizens being able to put their stuff out in the public media market, Big Internet and Big Cable/ Satellite TV are attempting to slow the development which is taking control away from them. With net neutrality issues still ver y much at play (i.e. the Comcast – Time Warner merger), the unique position of the Internet as a medium is at risk. Student media creators, like the ones at Montco, whose main path of exposure is through the Web need to take the time to understand how to approach the ever-changing rules and rating systems of different hosting methods.

Consider The Interview’s recent political and industry scandal. After a huge backlash from North Korea and a supposed hack at their company, Sony Entertainment Studios took it upon themselves to release the film on several different digital platforms (Verizon Fios, VUDU, DirectTV, Netflix, etc.) This was the first time in major motion picture history that a mainstream feature, like this Seth Rogen comedy, was distributed via online video players instead of movie theaters.

And it’s not just the film industry that is changing in leaps and bounds. Through the wonders of streaming video, stand-up comedy, director/writer Louis C.K. began releasing his specials through his own website for five dollars, much cheaper than any other medium. Many other entertainment artists are following suit with this modern form of self-regulation, most likely because they understand the demand of their audiences. The people want cheap, easy access to uncensored and artist regulated content. With the implementation of these new visual and aural technologies into our daily routine (via smartphones and computers), this era of media regulation belongs to audience. We, as members of this group, as well as being content creators ourselves, need to acknowledge and keep safe this valuable trend in media regulation.

It is extremely important for authors of every field of communication to at least know about, if not fight the good fight against governmental or corporate control of their media. Through the efforts of authors of the past, we must learn to break the bonds of unneeded external pressure and create the movies, podcasts, Web shows, and music with no interference. However, this is not to say the people are perfect. Even with the uncensored nature of contemporary media, there must remain a vigilance in the sensitivity that audience members may have. Publishing one’s content on an appropriate website, or subsection of a website, is the responsibility of those running said online hosting and the author themselves. We average citizens are beginning to take over the regulation that smaller, more biased organizations once dominated. It is time we learn from the flawed ways of the past and also not be overwhelmed with the rapid changes within the industry. Let’s not ruin this precious opportunity for generations to come.

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by Nick Rodriguez

Montgazette Staff Writer

The First Amendment to our country’s Constitution, which guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly and the right to petition, is one of the most important sets of freedoms we have. Applying it to social media, which has allowed us to very easily express our thoughts and beliefs to many people at a single time poses a modern-day challenge.

Usually, if someone disagrees with a belief that has been posted, whether on Twitter or Facebook, an argument ensues among users. People often are quick to say something like, “It’s in the constitution, I can say whatever I want.” However, the First Amendment does not mean someone’s belief is above anyone else’s. It simply means, a person is permitted to believe or protest what he or she wants.

People are concerned about their privacy being invaded, particularly on Facebook. The use of the First Amendment regarding social media is no different than the use of it regarding anything that doesn’t come from a computer. We are free to say and do what we please but once it’s out on the web, it’s on there forever.

Many people have gotten in trouble for what they have posted on Facebook. Anthony Elonis, a man from Freemansburg, PA, was arrested after he posted rap lyrics that talked about him killing his wife. The Supreme Court is currently reviewing Elonis’ case to determine if what he posted constituted real threats. He is currently serving a 44-month Federal prison sentence.

Elonis’ case is an example of people who don’t get the difference between using their rights properly and just using them as an excuse to act dumb. The First Amendment means that anyone is allowed to speak his or her mind unless it is written. Until then, it protects us against the government but not everyday citizens. The ability to say what we will, protest what we want, or be a part of any religion is what separates us from countries that oppress and suppress what their people do and say.

People should exercise their rights but knowing how and when to use them is the key. The First Amendment is not a reason to let someone post hate against other people, it is about voicing concerns toward the government and making sure we are not being oppressed.

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by Sofia Rojas

Montgazette Staff Writer

Media is a helpful tool for society to stay informed about happenings in the world. But when images of photoshopped, or digitally modified “perfect” women, representing cosmetic products or the newest diet plans, become part of the mainstream, we begin to see negative effects on thoughts of female beauty.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 70 percent of 6 to 12-year-old girls want to be thinner. Sixty- nine percent of girls in 5th to 12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape, says the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. And in a People Magazine survey, 80 percent of woman responded that images of women on television make them feel insecure. Some media researchers reinforce these statistics by saying that the “ideal woman” is thin, tall, straight hair with perfect skin, resulting in images of women that produce an unrealistic standard of beauty.

Victoria Secret Models, also known as Victoria Secret Angels, have a live annual fashion show for new lingerie. Even though the show itself cannot be photoshopped, it still impacts many girls’ and women’s self-esteem. Low self-esteem and unrealistic body images in the media also contribute to eating disorders because many girls think that skinny equals beautiful. Other struggles in trying to obtain a skinny, Barbie Doll- like beauty include drug and alcohol abuse, self-harm and depression.

Lindsay Levin, a communication instructor at Montgomery County Community College and a former employee of People Magazine, wishes that more companies would show real bodies of women and not just the photoshopped ones. She applauds the Dove company’s Campaign for Real Beauty for doing its best to showcase realistic body images.

As consumers of media, we have a job to do. We have to keep all women and girls informed about how to have a positive body image and raise the standards of beauty above a Barbie Doll.

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