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SOPA/PIPA protest disappointments

Wednesday 18 January 2012, 13:40

As you probably know by now if you live under a rock and get all your news through the Net, several popular sites are protesting current US proposed Net censorship laws. I'm glad to see that happen, and I'm glad that a lot of people are paying attention, and I don't want to understate how glad I am of those things. But I'm also disappointed by a lot of what I'm seeing, too.

Another thought on the Astrolabe copyright thing

Friday 7 October 2011, 08:54

It may have been inevitable that this or something like it would happen, because the astrological community has a long history of making extralegal claims on factual information. Many algorithms have been published in books with copyright notices claiming that if you implement the algorithms, then you can only use the resulting software for non-profit purposes. That's a transparent attempt to claim software patent protection (inherently questionable already) without having a patent at all, using copyright law as the basis instead, so as to get the much longer term and lack of review applicable to copyrights instead of patents.

Astrolabe announces change in business: was astrology, now copyright trolling

Thursday 6 October 2011, 22:13

The Unix time-zone database - necessary to the operation of Linux-based computers and many other systems around the world as well - has been withdrawn from distribution because of a lawsuit filed by Astrolabe Inc. I'm really saddened to hear of this, because I liked Astrolabe. They've been in the business of selling astrological software for a long time, and they make many popular products, some of which I have used and recommended. But now I can't give them any more money nor can I recommend that others do so, because they have attacked the basic infrastructure of global computing. The word "terrorism" is so overused now as to be practically worthless, but attacks on infrastructure are often mentioned when people try to define it. Shame on you, Astrolabe.

Gerard Kennedy on copyright, other issues

Thursday 24 June 2010, 10:42

Last night I attended a meeting called the "Community Council on Federal Issues," hosted by Gerard Kennedy, Liberal Member of Parliament for Parkdale-High Park and my Federal elected representative. I didn't vote for him; never mind whether I would have, I was living in a different city at the time of the last election. Apparently he holds these meetings periodically as a way of keeping in touch with constituents; this one in particular was advertised as having a focus issue of "Locked out? New Federal copyright laws and you," which was what drew my interest. I didn't take notes and don't plan to report on the entire meeting, but will cover a few points of interest to me.

Colour, social beings, and undecidability

Monday 9 August 2004, 12:01

Okay, it's been about two months since I posted my piece about colourful bits, and I really should have posted a follow-up before now, but better late than never.  First of all, here are ten other places that carried the story, in no particular order:

What Colour are your bits?

Thursday 10 June 2004, 11:54

There's a classic adventure game called Paranoia which is set in an extremely repressive Utopian futuristic world run by The Computer, who is Your Friend.  Looking at a recent LawMeme posting and related discussion, it occurred to me that the concept of colour-coded security clearances in Paranoia provides a good metaphor for a lot of copyright and intellectual freedom issues, and it may illuminate why we sometimes have difficulty communicating and understanding the ideologies in these areas.

An article based on this one and its follow-ups, by me, Brett Bonfield, and Mary Fran Torpey, appeared in the 15 February 2008 issue of LJ, Library Journal.

Madonna, Bourdin, and Robin

Thursday 1 April 2010, 08:44

In May 2004, pop star Madonna paid an undisclosed amount to settle a lawsuit with the estate of French erotic photographer Guy Bourdin. The Smoking Gun archived some court papers and a side-by-side comparison of stills from Madonna and Bourdin videos. The similarities are pretty significant; it looks like plagiarism.

The interesting part from my point of view is that Madonna seems to have been the victim of similar plagiarism herself in the matter of the 90-second opening sequence to the 2002 anime series Witch Hunter Robin. The Livejournal posting that everybody linked to when this story first came out, lost its image hosting after a few years and by now has also become locked. But I archived the images, and you can see them below. These are stills from the opening of WHR, stacked up next to stills from a Madonna video called "Take a bow." They're about as close as those other Madonna screenshots were to the Bourdin photos, so if that situation was plagiarism, this one should be as well. To my knowledge, however, there's been no court case here, and it's been enough years now that there probably never will be one.

Edited to clarify: as far as I know, there's been no suggestion that the video "Take a bow" in particular was one of the ones involved in the Madonna/Bourdin case. The claim is not that the WHR opening came from Bourdin by way of Madonna, but only that Madonna's general body of work seems to have suffered the same fate as Bourdin's. The stills at the Smoking Gun link, from videos in the Madonna/Bourdin case, are from other videos and don't much resemble images from WHR.