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About this weblog
Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.

What Does "Copyfight" Mean?

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Monthly Archives

October 22, 2009

October 19, 2009

October 16, 2009

In Their Own Words

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

I wanted to point to two very different published items, both of which bring thought to bear on the current state of the Copyright Wars.

First, Nate Anderson - who has been doing stellar work in the trenches of this slogfest for several years, primarily at ars technica - published a piece called "100 years of Big Content fearing technology". This gem simply puts together things that the Cartel have spewed as they dug in their heels and fought kicking and screaming against every innovation of the last century. We all know about Jack "Boston Strangler" Valenti's insane rant before Congress, but did you know that John Philip Sousa penned a screed against the gramophone?

The Cartel did manage to kill DAT (Digital Audio Tape) by convincing Congress to impose onerous fees but their success in suppressing other advances has been less. And everywhere they failed, they made money. If this makes any sense to you, then you are not like me.

Warren Ellis, for some months now, has been publishing an online Web comic called "Freak Angels." It appears approximately every week, for free, on Fridays. And like many who publish online for free, Ellis makes money from associated sales of merchandise including hardcopy versions of the comics. In today's "Interlude" page, he notes that the preceding strip, which ends in something of a cliff-hanger, is the end of what will be printed in Volume 3. And he has some amused comments about how some of his fans respond to the different availability of the free and for-pay print editions. It's an interesting contrast to the men that Anderson quotes.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Interesting People

October 7, 2009

Dear Ralph Lauren - Choose Your Targets Carefully

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Actually that probably should be addressed to Ralph Lauren's lawyers, but in theory they're acting on behalf of the company, so we get to mock R.L., Inc.

The whole thing started with a photoshop disaster, reproduced here so you can see what we're talking about. The wholescale massacre of peoples' images for advertising purposes is well documented. You can go to YouTube and find a hundred videos showing Photoshop "makeovers" - one of the best is the "Dove evolution". But the gist is that anytime you see a model (almost always female) in a magazine, on a billboard, or any other advertising medium, she's been styled, made up, and then digitally altered so as to bear very little resemblance to how she actually looks. There are interesting Copyfight issues here about what is an original and what is a derivative work in this chain of illusion, but that's not what we're here to talk about.

No, instead I want to talk about how stupid a corporate lawyer can be. You see, that image there on the right? That's a Photoshop disaster. The retouching techniques have been taken so far that the person has ended up looking like a cartoon. If you search the blogosphere for "lollipop head" and "ralph lauren" you'll get a wad of scathing commentary on just how badly the image has been distorted. In fact the image was up on the "Photoshop disasters" blog for a while until they got a DMCA takedown notice and they or their ISP caved to it. (Interestingly, the top photoshop disaster currently shown is almost exactly the same disaster done to Brad Pitt, whose head and shoulders are grotesquely out of proportion to his hips and legs in the Edwin Jeans ad.)

Then a DMCA notice landed on boingboing's ISP. Dear lawyers, don't do that. Because not only will you not get your stuff taken down by doing that, you'll get mercilessly mocked. Which you roundly deserve. Copyfight salutes Boingboing's ISP for ignoring this threat and proffers a hat-tip to Cory for reminding us that sometimes humor is the best defense.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Abuse