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Posts tagged TechDirt

A strange little copyright story
September 17, 2014 | 12:25 pm

copyrightTechdirt has a great write-up about one of the strangest little copyright stories I've read this week. The story involves an anti-litter campaign launched in my own fair city recently, which cleverly used the letters on brand-name packages to spell out messages. From the article: "The campaign slogan was, “Littering says a lot about you.” The ads featured discarded candy boxes, plastic bottles and other packaging arranged to spell the unflattering message that littering conveys. The combinations included a bag of Lay’s potato chips and a Krazy Glue package arranged to spell “Lazy”; Reese’s Pieces and a bottle of Gatorade put together...

The great monkey copyright war of 2014
August 8, 2014 | 2:25 pm

copyrightHere's a fun little story which highlights the absurdity of our current intellectual property laws. Yahoo News had a write-up about a photographer who is embroiled in a legal dispute with Wikipedia over a photograph of his which became viral and ended up on Wikipedia website. As the article explains: "In 2011, Slater spotted a crested black macaque in Indonesia and set up his camera to click a photo. Suddenly, the monkey snatched the camera and started to take selfies..." The issue is that current intellectual property law favours the one who snapped the picture, regardless of how they came to do...

A case study in the difficulties of the permission culture
April 11, 2014 | 6:25 pm

permission cultureI wrote on Thursday about a great term Techdirt has been using to describe the new normal 'permission culture' in which we find our every media move governed by a rights-holder who can, or cannot grant permission for the use we desire. Whether it's 'this movie is not available for streaming on your country' or 'you bought the book but Amazon can tell you which device you can read it on,' users are being told they can't do something which may seem common sense to them. GigaOM has a great little case study which raises some interesting questions on this. Actress...

Is ‘Happy Birthday’ Still Under Copyright?
June 14, 2013 | 9:59 pm

happy birthday[caption id="attachment_86884" align="aligncenter" width="553"] Photo by Emma Glover | http://tiny.cc/m1yo2w[/caption] Mike Masnick has a great write-up about a pending lawsuit that finally challenges the copyright claim Warner/Chappell Music has been enforcing for decades over the 'Happy Birthday' song. I remember first hearing about this odd little copyright issue during an episode of the late but great sitcom, "Sports Night." The main characters were two sports newscasters, and in one episode, one of them sings "Happy Birthday to You," briefly, to his co-worker on air. He is later visited by a dour rep from legal who advises him that the station was fined by...

The Perils of Newer, Easier Sharing
May 15, 2013 | 12:43 pm

sharingI've had an object lesson this week in the perils of newer, easier information-sharing, via two news articles which came my way through different means. The first was a write-up in the local paper featuring a colleague of mine who had decorated her house in celebration of the Maple Leaf's glorious but ultimately short-lived playoff victories. The Beloved saw the picture, recognized her name and tore out the page to bring it home for me. The second story was a write-up at Techdirt by Timothy Geigner about a 'bug' in a recent Nintendo release which allowed Sims-like characters to marry same-sex...

We Goofed! Nintendo story accidentally appeared as ours
May 15, 2013 | 11:38 am

We Goofed!Yesterday evening, we posted as our final story of the day a fascinating article about a new Nintendo video game titled Tomodachi Collection: New Life, which has been described as not unlike a Japanese version of The Sims. The crux of the article was that Nintendo had unintentionally made it possible for the male characters in the game to have homosexual relationships. According to the article we posted, for example, "gamers playing Nintendo's Tomodachi Collection: New Life noticed that this latest iteration of the game ... had the option for the first time to have their male characters marry other male characters and raise children together." Nintendo, however,...

The SimCity Debacle: Another lesson in why DRM is a bad idea
March 15, 2013 | 11:00 am

Sim City For anyone who is still not convinced that DRM, as a concept, is a terrible idea, the recent Sim City debacle illustrates why. The short version is, software publisher EA so feared ‘piracy’ of the latest Sim City incarnation that they crippled the game to require a live Internet connection (to its authentication servers) at all times—not just on startup, but during play too. They dressed up the requirement in a sort of social play feature, which, to be fair, did add some cool features to the game. But there was no solo player mode. You had to play in the ‘social’...

More on the Death of Google Reader
March 14, 2013 | 10:56 am

Google ReaderWe've all heard by now about the upcoming death of Google Reader. Our own Chris Meadows, in his write-up, has even thoughtfully offered some alternatives for those who, like me, are suddenly scrambling to fill the void. But to my surprise, reactions around the Web have been decidedly mixed. Many, like me, had that first 'OMG!' reaction, but then on second thought, weren't too sad at all. Some even saw it coming ... For instance, in this write-up at GigaOM, one of Google Reader's own creators says the writing was on the wall from day one: 'When they replaced sharing with +1 on...

Paid vs. Free Entertainment: A Case Study
February 20, 2013 | 12:28 pm

Techdirt has a great write-up about a British children's author, Terry Deary, who is on a misguided campaign against libraries. Deary believes libraries are giving away entertainment for free; he also believes they are severely damaging the book publishing industry. Techdirt's Tim Cushing argues that, notwithstanding some of the fallacies the author is operating under, in fact, many forms of entertainment these days are indeed given away for free. And of course, many others are paid for... I decided to have a quick think about the 'entertainment' we consume in my own household. How much of it do we pay for? How...

Europe’s Database Right: A scary concept
February 13, 2013 | 5:48 pm

Techdirt has a write-up on something I had never heard of--a special copyright introduced in 1996 which protects the contents of databases, even if all the works they list are public domain. The case Techdirt profiles involves a company which wanted to obtain some government records from the 1700s and 1800s and were told they could not: "In order to justify an exclusive right to its database, the department of Vienne told the court it had "committed more than €230,000 [about $300,000] to this project and that the digitization of documents archive had taken eight years." This is a scary story for...

Schools: The Next Frontier for Battles Over Copyright?
February 4, 2013 | 2:00 pm

Techdirt is one of many who have picked up this story about a copyright battle that's brewing in a Maryland school district over who owns work done by teachers—and students—during school time. The Prince George district is trying to pass a policy that would give it ownership over all materials that teachers create for use in the classroom—and over all work that students produce as a consequence. There are a number of things which are wrong with this theory. Firstly, as this write-up in The Washington Post points out: "It’s not unusual for a company to hold the rights to an employee’s...

Why Online Textbooks Still Don’t Work
January 29, 2013 | 10:30 am

Techdirt has a great write-up about a school district that is spending over $2 million to switch back to paper textbooks after investing heavily in an on-line model. The problem? Surprisingly, it's not one of those, 'There isn't enough content available yet!' situations. There is content. But the hardware requirements to run it, in this age of multimedia, are so high that students who can't afford broadband Internet at home can't use them! Techdirt posits this as a form of DRM—they add in the 'bells and whistles' to prevent students from downloading an offline version. But it's more than that—it's not just broadband...