Justin Bieber’s new McMansion (or mansion?)

Justin Bieber is reportedly the new owner of a large and expensive home in Canada:

Per a report from TMZ, Canada’s native son just put down $5 million on a new mansion in Ontario.

The 24-year-old reportedly closed on the 101-acre property on Monday. The living space is 9,000 square feet, with four bedrooms, six baths, three fireplaces, a game room, a movie theater, and a three-car garage. In addition, the home features access to a private lake, a two-story, temperature-controlled wine room, a gym, and heated floors. Oh, and it has its own horse-racing track.

The McMansion is not the first extravagant home where Bieber has taken residence. As Architectural Digest noted last year, his history with expansive rental properties dates back to at least 2014, when he got in a good amount of legal trouble for damaging the exterior of a neighbor’s home in Calabasas, California. He sold his home there to Khloé Kardashian for $7.2 million. After that, he moved to Lake Hollywood to pay close to $30,000 per month for a rental home. Since then, according to A.D., he’s lived in at least five other high-end rentals in the past few years.

A picture of the home from TMZ:

BieberHouseTMZ.png

This home might be considered either a mansion or a McMansion. On the mansion side, the house is 9,000 square feet, the property has 101 acres, and features like a private lake and horse track are outside the reach of the typical McMansion. On the McMansion side, the home looks like a newer build with some unique architectural features. Typically, in these situations where a megacelebrity is involved, I would lean toward the McMansion side because their homes and properties tend to have traits far beyond what is offered in a common suburban McMansion.

A research idea: it could be interesting to see how many and which celebrities live in expensive properties that could be considered more suburban (large single-family homes, large lots, a bit further from urban centers) versus those who live in denser, more urban housing units.

More worry over McMansions than LeBron’s teardown that replaced a midcentury modern

Are McMansions in Los Angeles disliked because of who might live in them or because of their architecture?

Newly signed Laker LeBron James’ $23 million digs on Tigertail Road in L.A.’s Brentwood come with a deep roster of industry neighbors, from stars (Jim Carrey) and execs (ABC’s Ben Sherwood, Scooter Braun) to reps (CAA’s Fred Specktor, Lighthouse’s Margaret Riley), writers (John Sacret Young) and movie royalty (or at least movie royalty-adjacent: John Goldwyn’s ex Colleen Camp)…

The tony community is taking well to its new neighbor, says one homeowner, who adds that there’s more concern about the explosion of “McMansions” in an area that boasts so many architecturally significant houses, like the William Krisel-built midcentury modern that was torn down in 2014 on the lot where James’ new home sits.

While James’ new-build eight-bedroom home has been under renovation since May as he adds a basketball court and indoor wine tap, the construction hasn’t been particularly disruptive, says the resident, given the large number of homes being built and updated throughout the neighborhood. “[His house] is set on the hillside, very tasteful and pretty, and it’s been low-key so far,” says the neighbor. “People were a lot more upset when Justin Bieber was looking around here.”

Even though James now lives in a large house that replaced an “architecturally significant house,” at least one neighbor does not think it is a problem for three reasons:

  1. The new house is “very tasteful and pretty.”
  2. LeBron James is not Justin Bieber. Not only is Bieber less popular than James, he has a Los Angeles reputation for parties and fast driving.
  3. The construction “hasn’t been particularly disruptive.”

So because Lebron James is simply a better-liked neighbor than Bieber, the construction of a mansion (or McMansion) can be overlooked? According to some, midcentury moderns are worth celebrating compared to McMansions.

Watching Beliebers on the streets of Chicago

While walking around in the North Michigan Avenue area yesterday, we came across an interesting scene: one side of the block full of mostly teenage girls looking at the Peninsula Hotel. What were they doing? Waiting to catch sight of Justin Bieber, reported to be inside:

BeliebersChicagoJul0813

We first passed the crowd a little after 4 PM, waited with them for 45 minutes around 7 PM while waiting for pizza at Giordano’s (across the street), and saw them again when leaving the restaurant at 8:15 PM. No Bieber by that point. But, here are a few observations:

1. It was mostly a crowd of teenage and pre-teen girls, as one might suspect, but there were a decent number of families. Indeed, there was a crowd of moms in the back, leaning against the adjacent building (a parking garage) and holding on to food and drinks. In other words, the crowd on the street would not have been possible without a fleet of moms.

2. The crowd engaged in some singing as well as cheers. We drove past them on the way out of the city and they were happily loud.

3. You might think you could look for nice vehicles pulling up to the hotel to get a clue if Bieber was being picked up. Alas, the Peninsula Hotel has lots of nice cars that pull up and use the valet service. Within the 45 minutes we were waiting there, we saw two Tesla sedans, multiple Escalades and Yukons, and a mix of other upper-end car models.

4. The Giordano’s across the street (sitting just behind where the picture was taken) was getting a lot of business from people eating while waiting or just attracted to the scene. Even with it being Monday night, traditionally a slow night at restaurants, the place was full. At the same time, you could drive a block or so away and you would have little idea of what was happening in front of the Peninsula.

5. It was amusing to see the reactions of people passing by who then asked why the people were gathered on the street. The typical response was to smile and laugh, as if to say, “Ah, those crazy teenagers and their pop stars.” But, at least a few of these passer-by then waited for a bit to see if anything would happen.

It takes quite a bit of dedication to stand for hours outside of a hotel just for a glimpse of a star. This scene might be read as an indication of American teenage obsession with entertainers who appeal to them or a reminder that lots of people of cities are interested in a scene on a lovely summer night.

Mr. Google, take down this content

Google’s default response to possible copyright infringement on YouTube is surprisingly mechanical and far from perfect.  Consider TMZ’s recent report on the hapless Justin Bieber and his ubiquitous YouTube music videos:

Justin Bieber has been victimized by a brand new cyber-enemy … an enemy who found a way to get every single one of JB’s official music videos REMOVED from YouTube….YouTube has a yank first, ask questions later policy when a copyright claim is made — so they simply pulled the videos off the site … until the dispute is resolved.

Of course, there are myriad problems with such a system, as Ernesto over TorrentFreak elaborates:

YouTube describes its Content-ID anti-piracy filter as a state-of-the-art technology, but those who look closely can see that in some cases it creates a huge mess. The system invites swindlers to claim copyright on other people’s videos and make money off them through ads. It automatically assigns thousands of videos to people who don’t hold the copyrights, and its take-down process appears to be hugely biased towards copyright holders.…

Content-ID allows rightsholders to upload the videos and music they own to a central ‘fingerprint’ database. YouTube will then scan their site for full or partial matches, and if there is a hit the copyright holder can automatically take it down, or decide to put their ads on it.

Although the above sounds like a fair and honest solution, not everything Content-ID does goes to plan.…One of the problems appears to be that people with bad intentions can claim copyright on videos they have nothing to do with, and even run ads on them. In the YouTube support forums there are hundreds of posts about this phenomenon…[although] most of the “misattribution” problems seem to be the result of screwups and technical limitations.

As Ernesto notes in passing, there is supposed to be an opportunity to counter a takedown request under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).  Unfortunately, Google’s Content-ID system doesn’t work this way, as Patrick McKay of FairUseYouTube.org elaborates:

Instead of requiring copyright owners to file a formal DMCA notice in response to a Content ID dispute, thus allowing users to invoke the DMCA counter-notice process, YouTube allows copyright owners to somehow “confirm” their copyright claim through the Convent ID system and re-impose whatever blocks were originally in place through Content ID. In this case, a message will appear on the user’s “View Copyright Info” page for that video saying, “All content owners have reviewed your video and confirmed their claims to some or all of its content.” After this, as far as I can tell, there is absolutely no way for the user to file a dispute and get their video restored.

Certainly, Google is under no legal obligation to provide video distribution services to anyone who asks for them no matter how contentious the content’s ownership.  At the end of the day, Google is a business, and dealing with the minutia of these copyright ownership disputes is expensive.  It’s obvious why Google wants to bow out of the fight as early (and cheaply) as possible.

Nonetheless, it is extremely troubling that Google is silencing some users’ speech without allowing them to defend (at their own risk and expense) legal rights provided under the DMCA.

“Singing”

Is there something in the hyperspace? William Shatner, best known for his portrayal of Captain Kirk on Star Trek, is rather infamous for his spoken-song style. Now TechDirt draws our attention to James Earl Jones, who gave voice to Darth Vader in Star Wars, who is apparently jumping in on the act:

the great actor James Earl Jones recites some Justin Bieber lyrics while a guest on the Gayle King Show.

Here’s a direct link to the YouTube video.

As TechDirt’s Mike Masnick asks,

So here’s a simple question: is this copyright infringement? Did the Gayle King Show properly license the lyrics from the copyright holder? Perhaps it did, but we’ve seen music publishers get pretty worked up about various websites posting lyrics online and have heard stories about books not being able to be published because they quoted snippets of lyrics without a license.

Assuming fair use is off the table, I don’t think JEJ’s recitation qualifies for the compulsory license provisions of U.S. copyright law because he was performing on TV — he would have needed a synchronization license.  Moreover, according to 17 U.S.C. section 115(a)(2):

A compulsory license includes the privilege of making a musical arrangement of the work to the extent necessary to conform it to the style or manner of interpretation of the performance involved, but the arrangement shall not change the basic melody or fundamental character of the work, and shall not be subject to protection as a derivative work under this title, except with the express consent of the copyright owner. [emphasis added]

I think we can all agree that JEJ changed the basic melody of this work.

Of course, there is no doubt a simpler explanation for all this.  Bieber’s song “Baby” is repped by ASCAP, and ASCAP offers blanket licenses that allow for TV broadcasts of their works.  I’m guessing the Gayle King Show (or, more likely, the Oprah Winfrey Network) simply paid the requisite fees.