Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Google hires Happy Tree Friends to explain copyright to YouTube uploaders

Google's tightening their copyright policies for YouTube uploads. If you upload copyrighted material to YouTube, you'll have to watch a video called "YouTube Copyright School" and then pass a test on copyright to continue using the site.

That video features the Happy Tree Friends, Internet cartoon celebrities. The cartoon is known for the contrast between the cute animals and the graphic cartoon violence, but they've cleaned up their act for the big league of YouTube Copyright School.

After watching that video, YouTube users get two more chances before, on the third strike, being banned for life. According to Politico, this is the company's response to lawmakers and the entertainment industry complaining that Google hasn't cracked down on copyright infringement.

Given the giant amount of copyrighted material on YouTube put up there by people without the right to do so, it's an interesting approach as everyone tries to figure out the nature of copyright in the Internet age. There seems to be a tacit acceptance of a lot of this material being up by some artists and companies, so it will be interesting to see if this has much impact.

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A crossword 'Inception' - The Atlantic's 'The Cross Word'

"Late at night, when we were small, Sara sat on my bed, whispering into my ear." So begins the prose beneath the first clue in a new crossword that's a combination of a prose story and a crossword puzzle.

Mary Morris (with help from puzzle designer Maxwell Neeley-Cohen) writes a crossword "Inception," going meta about crosswords, writing crosswords and more, all while fitting under the theme of anger (in other words, "the cross word"). It's a story about sibling rivalry and ultimately feels like an old crime story.

If you've got the time to both work on a crossword and read a story that makes it more than that, it's well worth checking out.

"The Cross Word" at the Atlantic

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Pro wrestler Larry Sweeney dead at 29 - a look at the charismatic entertainer

I was saddened this morning to read about the passing of pro wrestler Alex Whybrow, better known as Larry Sweeney, at the age of 29. He's someone who wrestled for some small pro wrestling companies, portraying the hilarious, boisterous character "Sweet and Sour" Larry Sweeney. The Wrestling Observer and other soures report that Sweeney took his own life.

He'd had public battles with manic-depression and he exhibited behavior that seemed similar in some ways to the recent widely publicized erratic behavior of Charlie Sheen. Sweeney went from being a top act in the number three professional wrestling company, Ring of Honor, to quitting the company in 2009 amidst a breakdown (caused by not taking his medication) and staging pro wrestling matches in the streets, with people who knew him expressing deep concern.

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500 Pixar movie scenes in 7 minutes

This video takes 500 shots, culled from all 11 Pixar feature films, to produce this loving tribute:

Oh, so that's why we have the Internet.

Copperfield explains the tribute:

"Pixar's films have always been very important in my life. I was 6 years old when I watched Toy Story the first time, and their films made my childhood more happy. So this video is a personal tribute for, in my opinion, the best animation studio of all time."

It was produced by Brazil's Leandro Copperfield. Vimeo deleted the video due to copyright concerns, but YouTube's decided thus far to let it fly. Read Copperfield's response to the video being taken down from Vimeo here.

What's your favorite Pixar movie? Let us know in the comments.

(via the Ebert Club)

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'A-Z of Awesomeness 2: Japan' raising money for Japan relief

I've been following artist Neill Cameron for a while now. I first spotted his work when he did the A-Z of Awesomeness. He produced 26 pieces of art, each centered around geeky "awesome" things that begin with a certain letter of the alphabet, such as "Doctor Who Defeating Doctor Doom in a Deadly Disco Dance-off."

Well, he's doing it again, and this time it's to raise money for Japan. He'll be doing approximately a drawing a day (except, since he's European, on Bank Holidays) of awesome Japanese things until he hits Z. He'll also be soliciting donations to give to Japan relief.

Step 1 in the A-Z of Awesomeness 2: "A is for... Astro Boy Attacking Ayanami. In Atlantis."

You can find out more about Neill and this project on his blog, and you can also donate to the charity he's supporting, GlobalGiving's Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.

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