Goodbye History

The Hobbit will never enter the public domain. Neither will Harry Potter. You are breaking the law every time you sing ‘Happy Birthday’ at a party.

The Supreme Court rejected the Eldred case by a margin of 7-2. Copyright, for the foreseeable future, is infinite. Personally, I think if this is going to be the case, then let’s make it retroactive. If Disney gets to own the rights to “Steamboat Willie” for all time, then the heirs of Hans Christian Andersen, Rudyard Kipling and the Brothers Grimm should be able to sue them for infringing upon the original stories; the descendants of the Brontë sisters should have rights to the profits of all the TV and film adaptions of their work over the past hundred years, and the distant relatives of Shakespeare should be able to sue everybody. It’s only fair.

The point of copyright law is that ideas cannot be owned by anyone. However, to promote learning in the Arts and Sciences, people are given exclusive rights to their creations, for a limited time. After this period has expired, the work enters the public domain. There it becomes part of the cultural fabric, able to be repeated, embellished, or reworked by society. Shakespeare isn’t an important part of Western culture because he was responsible for several good plays back in the 16th Century; it’s because those plays are still being performed today, and have been for the past several hundred years. Because they’re in the public domain. Because anyone can have access to them and perform them, without having to pay a tithe to a publisher.

Do you really think it is wise to leave our cultural history in the hands of corporations? The same corporations that have wiped influential parts of British TV history from existence, simply because they needed the space? The ones that deny access to 93% of the 37,000 films released between 1927-46? Or the ones that only keep 174 books in print out of the 10,027 released in 1930?

currently playing: A Silver Mt. Zion - Stumble Then Rise On Some Awkward Morning


Dumbledore lowered his hands and surveyed Harry through his half-moon glasses.

‘It is time,’ he said, ‘for me to tell you what I should have told you five years ago, Harry.

Please sit down. I am going to tell you everything.’

Smash The System

I received an email this morning from my MP (Tony Baldry). He agreed with my points, but said he was unaware that the Government was proposing an ID scheme at this time. I hope he read the news today.

Lots of people are being very negative about Marvel’s latest publicity campaign. Personally, I’m quite happy to see them expand, especially with what seems to be mostly new concepts (as far as the teaser images show). It’s also good to see that they’re still employing Gail Simone, as her removal from Agent-X seemed to defy all logic (sales up, critical success). It’ll be interesting to see if these new titles tie in with the latest Wal-Mart rumours.

Anybody know anything about X-Box development? My group might be using it to construct games for the blind. Does the fact that it’s PC based make it easy to develop for (just use DirectX as normal)?

Okay, now I’ve seen everything. Man vs. Beast. Can a group of midgets pull a jumbo jet further than an elephant? This Wednesday on Fox. Boggle.


currently playing: New Order - The Perfect Kiss

I Fought The Law (and The Law Changed)

Theft \Theft\, n. [OE. thefte, AS. [thorn]i[‘e]f[eth]e, [thorn][=y]f[eth]e, [thorn]e[‘o]f[eth]e. See Thief.] 1. (Law) The act of stealing; specifically, the felonious taking and removing of personal property, with an intent to deprive the rightful owner of the same; larceny.

Note: To constitute theft there must be a taking without the owner’s consent, and it must be unlawful or felonious; every part of the property stolen must be removed, however slightly, from its former position; and it must be, at least momentarily, in the complete possession of the thief. See Larceny, and the Note under Robbery.

Copyright infringement is not theft. That’s why we use a different phrase. To pick an example, completely at random, scanning a comic book, and placing it on the Internet is not theft. How can it be? The owner still has the comic. He is still breaking the law, as copyright rules prohibit such distribution without the agreement of the author, but it’s not theft.

Incidentally, I find it amusing that the comic in question has such a twisted copyright history. If Carl Henderson and/or the Kimota! book are to be believed, then one of the greatest works in the medium’s history is little more than fan-fiction. And we know how they feel about that, don’t we?

UPDATED: Richard seems to think I’m on shaky ground here. Read the comments to find out why.

currently playing: The Go-Betweens - Heart and Home

Stay The Course

Course changed. I’m now taking Technical Writing instead of Advanced Operating Systems. I also have an agreed plan for completing my compiler project. Yay for me.

Didn’t die. Felt stupid afterwards, of course.

Vote Lieberman! He’s a “different type of Democrat”. Yes, he’s the type of Democrat that makes you seriously think about voting for Bush. On the other hand, he’s got next to no chance of getting the nomination, as long as the Democrats maintain some semblance of sense during the primaries.

Did I mention I have a new office partner? His name is Nolan Walker. I know two things about him so far: he has a fluffy Cthulu toy on top of his computer, and he’s an anime fan.

No Buffy tomorrow. Grrr. It’s actually more frustrating watching it over here, as at least back home you’re guaranteed a new episode each week, rather than playing Re-run Roulette…

currently playing: Mint Royale - Don’t Falter

Never Trust A Squirrel

They’re still around. Waiting. Watching. Plotting. When their acorn supply is replenished, they’ll make their move. Prepare for the Grey Overlords.

Umm. Yes. Before I went insane, I did have something to say. But yet again, I seem to forget what. I remember! I’ve come to the conclusion that the former occupant of this room was a NRA Republican, that has a rather strange fetish for bed linen. I’m not making this up; every two days, I get another catalogue full of towels, mattresses, and blankets. It’s rather disturbing. What’s that? I need to get out more? Understood.

Trust me Matt, you will feel better in the morning. If not, just apply more until your body goes numb. That way you get the benefits with none of the downsides…

A busy day tomorrow. I’ve got to change a course, go to three different lectures, make an answer sheet for the first homework, attend the Writer’s Block meeting, and then make it back for a Floor meeting at 7:30pm. Should be fun.

currently playing: The Free Association - Pushin’ A Broom

Bowling For Columbine

If this doesn’t win an Oscar in March, I’ll be very surprised. Yes, it has flaws (but not as bad you might imagine - Moore goes to great length to avoid the usual “ban all guns!” rhetoric that this type of documentary can easily slip into), but it’s a stunning look into the psyche of the United States.

A particular highlight is the Matt Stone/Trey Parker history of America animated short halfway through the film, while the “What A Wonderful World” musical interlude presents a damning (although admittedly one-sided) view on American foreign policy through the past fifty years. There’s been some condemnation about the interview with Charlton Heston, but that took place a long time before Heston revealed that he may eventually have Alzheimer’s, plus he had ample time to prepare for the meeting, so he should have been ready for Moore’s questions.

What I like most about the film is that Moore doesn’t present us with a simple solution to the problem, or even why it exists in the first place; what makes Windsor (in Canada)a place where people feel comfortable leaving their house unlocked, while a few miles away in Detroit, fear rules the city?

currently playing: Sleater-Kinney - Combat Rock

Drawing a blank

When I went out this afternoon, I had about five different ideas about what I was going to write here tonight. I can’t remember any of them. Ho hum.

While I’m here, can somebody answer a question for me? While I believe Pete Townshend, it has raised a point that I’ve never understood: who on Earth uses easily traceable credit card details to gain access to child pornography? Surely the idea is to remain secret? Let’s hope they never get clever…

I could have saved the team of L&O: SVU a lot of trouble: IT’S JOHN RITTER! OF COURSE HE DID IT!!!

Still can’t remember what I wanted to talk about. Oh, I’m going to Myrtle Beach next weekend. In January. Brrr.

currently playing: Erase Errata - High Society

Make a STAND

The Government thinks that the Entitlement Card is a really good idea. If you think otherwise (e.g. it will cost at least £1.5bn over three years which could be spent on education, enforcement, or health; it will not eliminate fraud as the cards will still be able to be forged, with the added bonus that forgers will be able to access higher class of credentials than they currently have; it relies on biometric schemes which are still in their infance and open to abuse, and so on), the Goverment would like to hear from you.

So far, they insist that correspondence has been overwhelmingly positive. We’d like to address that. If you think that the Entitlement Card isn’t needed, head on over to STAND, where you can fill out an e-mail to the Home Office and let them know your opposition to the proposal.

By the way, if you live in the Oxfordshire area, you might need to know your old postcode if you wish to fax your MP a copy of the email.

currently playing: The Clash - Know Your Rights


There’s something deliciously strange about a mall which cheerfully pipes The Smiths through the overhead speakers.

Go and see Gangs of New York. It’s not long enough, but it’s filled with mayhem and violence. In. Top. Hats. There’s nothing more that you can ask for, really.

Adaptation was like looking into a mirror for two hours, which was fairly unsettling. I did like the digs at Robert McKee (I’m still not sure why Hollywood is so in thrall to a man whose credits only seem to contain Mrs. Columbo and a Bible film) , and Donald’s ever-increasingly insane screenplay was hilarious. I’m not sure when it’s coming out in the UK, but you should try and see it when it does. Just ignore the last twenty minutes, and you should be fine.

Catch Me If You Can was rather different from what the trailer suggested - it’s much slower than you’d think, but again I recommend that you give it a try (especially if you like fancy title scenes); Martin Sheen sings! Tom Hanks also tells the world’s greatest Knock-Knock joke.

Kill Bill looks interesting, although the trailer gives little away other than UMA THURMAN TAKING NAMES WITH A SWORD. What more could you possibly want?

currently playing: Aimee Mann - High On Sunday 51