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AUTHORS

Donna Wentworth
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Ernest Miller
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Elizabeth Rader
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Jason Schultz
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Wendy Seltzer
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Aaron Swartz
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Alan Wexelblat
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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?

Copyfight, the Solo Years: April 2002-March 2004

COPYFIGHTERS
a Typical Joe
Academic Copyright
Jack Balkin
John Perry Barlow
Benlog
beSpacific
bIPlog
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Edward Felten - Freedom to Tinker
Edward Felten - Dashlog
Frank Field
Seth Finkelstein
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Michael Geist's BNA News
Dan Gillmor
Mike Godwin
Joe Gratz
GrepLaw
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GrokLaw
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Matt Haughey
Erik J. Heels
ICANNWatch.org
Illegal-art.org
Induce Act blog
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IP & Social Justice
IPac blog
IPTAblog
Joi Ito
Jon Johansen
JD Lasica
LawMeme.org
Legal Theory Blog
Lenz Blog
Larry Lessig
Jessica Litman
James Love
Alex Macgillivray
Madisonian Theory
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Kevin Marks
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miniLinks
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Declan McCullagh
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Joseph Reagle
Recording Industry vs. the People
Lisa Rein
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Slapnose
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Stay Free! Daily
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Kim Weatherall
Weblogg-ed
David Weinberger
Matthew Yglesias

LINKABLE + THINKABLE
AKMA
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Charles Bailey
Beltway Blogroll
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bk
Chief Blogging Officer
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Chris Cohen
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J. Bradford DeLong
Betsy Devine
Dispositive
Ben Edelman
EEJD
Ernie the Attorney
FedLawyerGuy
Foreword
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Industry Standard
IP Democracy
IPnewsblog
IP Watch
Dennis Kennedy
Rick Klau
Wendy Koslow
Kuro5hin.org
Elizabeth L. Lawley
Jerry Lawson
Legal Reader
Likelihood of Confusion
Chris Locke
Derek Lowe
Misbehaving
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OtherMag
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PHOSITA
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ARL
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CDT
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Copyright Reform
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EFF
EPIC
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FCC
FEPP
FSF
Global Internet Proj.
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IETF
ILPF
Info Commons
IP Justice
ISP @ Yale
NY for Fair Use
Open Content
PFF
Public Knowledge
Shidler Center @ UW
Tech Center @ GMU
U. Maine Tech Law Center
US Copyright Office
US Dept. of Justice
US Patent Office
W3C


Copyfight

Category Archives

January 31, 2013

NMA on the WTO Dust-Up

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Who needs to wait for big Hollywood productions? Ying Ho of the humorous news animation outfit known in English as NMA wrote to let me know that they'd done their own take on Antigua and Barbuda's proposals for a copyright haven in the Caribbean, called of course "Pirates of the Caribbean".

NMA - in their typical style - make light of the silliness of the situation. Most of their videos are news parodies that poke fun, but their clip also points out that the online gambling industry provided over 4000 jobs, a significant figure for two poor and tiny nations, and that most of those jobs have been lost since US regulators cut off access.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

October 16, 2012

In "Year Zero" Copyright Will Be Funny

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Joel Rose at NPR did a profile on Rob Reid and his recent novel, "Year Zero". The book starts from the premise that aliens suck at making music and thus take their music from us. That's all well and good until someone decides that this is a massive galactic case of copyright theft, and hilarity ensues.

Yeah, that had my eyebrows going up, too. However, Reid isn't writing this stuff from an outsider perspective. In past lives he's been an entrepreneur and had a hand in the founding of listen.com which eventually led to Rhapsody - an online music service that is still operating (albeit in different form) today. Reid has also gotten some notice for his TED talk titled "The $8 Billion iPod" In this talk Reid lambastes the Cartel for its massively out of proportion sense of its own self-worth.

If anyone has read the book (or listened to the audio, read by John Hodgman, which is getting good reviews) please drop a comment and tell us what you thought of it.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

July 6, 2012

Blogger Q&A

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

I've never done this before, but people ask me questions and it's rare that I answer them. I try to keep the blog about the news, not about me. Feel free to share your stories in the comments.

Q: How do you buy music?

A: I've refused to buy retail CDs since the Cartel went after Napster, long ago. I buy used CDs, sometimes. Often I buy new CDs from artists via their Web sites or at their shows. I buy through iTunes a fair bit, and rarely from other stores like Amazon or Beatport. Almost all the music I buy is stuff I found via some kind of free sample. I found Beats Antique because someone remixed them, which led me to finding a (probably illegal) video someone had posted on YouTube. That's two transgressions already, but the end result was that I went to their show and bought all the CDs they could sell me at the venue. This is how I thought it might work, which is why Emily White's story surprised me.

Q: Do you read a lot of IP books? Which do you recommend?

A: Sadly, no. I'm a terrible book reader these days. Decherney's publisher was kind enough to send me a review copy and that still took me a while to get through. I'm always willing to look at a book or a related product but I can't promise I'll blog about it. I don't hesitate to say something if I think what I've seen isn't that good but I try not to go out of my way to stomp on peoples' toes.

Q: Speaking of Legitmix, do you think they're going to fail?

A: Not exactly. I just don't expect them to be revolutionary. I expect that some people will use it, and lord knows most DJs and producers can use more income. If Legitmix makes them a few bucks then that's all to the good. I'm just doubtful that it's a scalable business model. Stuff will continue to be released as it is now, and also companies like Legitmix will have things to offer.

Q: What do you think should be done with the patent system/software patents?

A: The problem is crap patents. Attacking the problem once the patent has issued is always going to be a second-best solution. So let's focus on removing the crap first.

First and foremost, stop stealing their money. Congress uses PTO fees for all kinds of things that have nothing to do with patenting or the office.

Second, do things that will lead to reduced pendency but without directly rewarding examiners for doing more exams. People do what they're rewarded for - if you just incent examiners to clear the backlog then they'll do that and cut quality corners along the way. Instead, use that PTO money for more staff and training. Give examiners access to all the public searching tools ever: Medline, Science Citation Index, Physical Review Letters, and of course the major search engines. If those tools cost money, pay for them.

Third, allow examiners to make summary rejections and make it mandatory that any patent application which cites no non-patent prior art be rejected before any examination. There is nothing so new under the sun that it hasn't at least been hinted at in the literature somewhere. When I noted that some of the patents Apple was asserting were "strong" that was in part due to looking at how much of the published literature they covered. Nothing slows down patent review more than the applicant making the examiner do all the prior art searching. In my more bitter days I also want to see applicants who clog the system with junk applications subject to fees for filing frivolous patents the way people who abuse the court system can be fined for bringing frivolous lawsuits.

Fourth, do something to bring clarity to the law and cases around patentability. Maybe it requires appointing a special court - we have those for national security matters and for tax litigation, why not for patents? Or maybe a court is the wrong model and we'd do better with an independent board of arbitration. Whatever the system is, it would need to be as independent as possible from the PTO and from whatever political party is in power.

(So, there you are. I probably won't do this often, but the last month or so of stories has brought more questions than usual. Thank you.)

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

June 21, 2011

Pi, As A Hand Dance, Not Copyrighted

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

With all the serious doom-and-gloom stuff of this month I felt we needed a bit of a humor break, so here's the delightful Vi Hart visually expressing her outrage at the silly notion someone would make a copyright claim for a song based on the first few digits of pi.

One of my current hopes is that my younger son who, at age 8, thinks the Fibonacci Sequence is cool, grows up to be like Vi with a love of math and art and music and no hesitation about sharing it with the world.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

April 7, 2011

Fans to Blame for "Tunes for Tyrants"

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

In today's Doonesbury, Jimmy Thudpucker explains that it's all the fans' fault that the patron model has certain risks.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

January 4, 2011

July 14, 2010

Maybe They Think Tenenbaum Will Cover Their Legal Bills

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Ray Beckerman of Recording Industry vs The People offers up a sarcastic handful of statistics in yesterday's blog post. Drawing together a bunch of numbers published by p2pnet, Beckerman points out that the RIAA has recovered about two cents for every dollar spent on lawyer fees to sue its customers. Actually the numbers are probably worse, but the point remains the same - whatever the Cartel thinks it's doing with its jihad against consumers, making money is not on the agenda.

Unless you're a Cartell lawyer, I guess.

(Aside: I apologize for misspelling Joel Tenenbaum's name in my Monday post. The error has been fixed.)

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

March 22, 2010

OK Maybe Bottled Water Wasn't Such A Great Analogy

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Periodically I've enjoyed pointing out that the Cartel, in attempting to sell a product (digital music) that is now available for free, faces much the same dilemma as the soda companies faced when they created the demand for bottled water. After all, most of us get essentially all the high-quality water we want for next to nothing, so why are we so hooked on paying thousands of times as much for the stuff in bottles?

Well, the answer isn't particularly pretty for the bottled water people, either, as you can see at "The Story of Bottled Water." So for all you Cartel types out there... sorry, I'll try to come up with a better analogy for how you might compete with a high-priced product against one that's not quite as good, but cheaper. I hear FedEx is still turning a profit these days, where the USPS isn't...

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

January 25, 2010

Evil Librarians

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Eric Hellman writes a blog called "Go to Hellman". As you might expect from the name it's not always the most reverent or deferential of posting sites. Earlier this month, Hellman had some really choice words for the publishing part of the Cartel.

You see, the publishers are starting to scare themselves again with the specter of "online book piracy," based on a study by Attributor, a company whose product I reviewed a couple years ago. As I noted, Attributor believes that its technology to track where copies go is superior to DRM technologies that attempt to prevent copies from going anywhere in the first place.

As reported in Publisher's Weekly, online copying is "pervasive" and may be "costing" publishers USD 3 billion. Those are some scary-sounding statistics, right? But what behaviors do they actually describe?

Well, as Hellman points out in excellently sarcastic tones, the behavior is that of reading a book you didn't buy. Shocking, I know! Someone buys a book and someone else reads it! Quick, call the cops and arrest those people who are, y'know, doing what libraries do.

Hellman's back-of-the-envelope calculation is that library lending could be "costing" publishers over 100 billion, per year, based on the roughly two billion books that are lent out by libraries in the US on an annual basis. Shockingly, these institutions also lend out CDs and DVDs, too. Goodness knows how much this terrible practice costs the Cartel!

The sarcasm is excellent and appreciated - bravo! To be serious for a moment, Hellman is good reading on library topics in general; for example, readers might enjoy his mini-economics post from earlier this month on "Why Libraries Exist."

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

September 9, 2009

Dilbert Has a New Line of Business

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2009-09-09/. But... trademark? Everyone knows patents are more profit(eer)able.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

July 21, 2009

PhD Comics on Scientific IP

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

PhD Comics presents its take on the process whereby scientists produce original material and then give it away (for free) to a system where other scientists work (for free) to select from those works so they can be published in journals that then charge huge fees to read this freely contributed work.

This is sort of funny, particularly in the way the cartoonist draws the rivalry between the journals Nature and Science. But it's also really serious business, in which peoples' life work gets held for very expensive ransom by an exclusivist system of copyright monopolists. It's one reason I'm a supporter of PLOS, the Public Library of Science.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

February 6, 2009

Bale Out

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

I'm certain there will be lots more of these and I promise not to blog them, but I did want to point to one amusing remix of Christian Bale's f-bomb laden tirade on the Terminator 4 set.

This is what we do now - we parody it on YouTube. There are also apparently remixes of the remix, using the audio track with different visuals. I'll leave it to you to find the one with Legos.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

February 4, 2009

UK Copyright Law, In Verse

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

No, that's not "inverse" as in backwards. It's "rendered in verse" as in "poetically." Or at least, in rhyming couplets.

Back in 2006, Yehuda Berlinger put up a rendition of US Copyright Law in verse form. Now he's added the UK's copyright law - though he does point out that there are upcoming changes, which may require him to re-verse.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

December 17, 2008

Support the EFF

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

EFF has an amusing song/cartoon riffing on the "12 Days". It's a fund-raiser, obviously, and it references several of the things Copyfight cares about.


Learn more about this video and support EFF!

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

December 10, 2008

AC/DC Idiots?

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Opinionated Canadian blogger Scott Feschuk has a column lampooning AC/DC for striking an exclusive deal with Wal-Mart.

The aging Oz hard-rockers are hardly the first to strike this kind of deal. Given how influential big-box retailers have become in the dwindling world of physical platter sales it's not a big surprise that artists would go where the sales are. Still, the parody struck me as funny.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

October 22, 2008

PvP vs The Cartel

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

PVP Comic logo
The PvP comic usually centers around gaming and related topics (the characters work at a game-reviewing magazine) but today's strip shows they didn't learn the lesson Deborah Gregory learned the hard way.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

October 13, 2008

Steal This Comic

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Randall Munroe, author of the xkcd comic, and one of the few people I know who is making a living through his Web comics, has had enough of DRM.

His most recent published comic contains a simple four-step "you will be a pirate anyway" argument. Or, if you don't like it, demand DRM-free content in the first place.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

March 26, 2008

The Onion Explains FCC Censorship

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Onion Network News gives us a guideline for how to figure out whether the FCC will find something obscene or permissible. Maybe the Supreme Court should include this in their review.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

January 25, 2008

Shirts vs. Suits

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

The writers behind the Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert comedy/satire shows staged a mock debate on Capitol Hill to illustrated some of the issues of the WGA strike.

My sense is that many members of Congress are sympathetic, but I doubt they're likely to get involved. Anyone have a video of the 'debate' itself?

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

January 7, 2008

1-Click Patent Rejection

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Illiad weighs in again on the ongoing saga of the Amazon one-click patent.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

December 1, 2007

Mind the Spoof

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Emma Clarke is known to Londoners and visitors to that city as the voice behind the pleasant-yet-ubiquitous "mind the gap" reminders. On her Web site, she has a set of MP3 spoof files, apparently free for the remix-ready. My personal favorite is the Sudoku one...

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

November 16, 2007

Getting Paid is the Name of the Game

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Some guy who is not Jon Stewart but could be, and some guy who would have tried out for Monty Python's Flying Circus had he been able, explain the basic contention of the writer's strike: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzRHlpEmr0w

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

August 13, 2007

Judge Rules on Ownership of Unix IP

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

There have already been many thousands of words written about this and will likely be many more. Heck I might even write a few myself. But sometimes a picture captures it better. Well done, Iliad:
http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20070812

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

July 6, 2007

Dadaism, Parody, or Just a Political Ad?

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Crispin Sartwell has an interesting piece in the LA Times analyzing the unusual political ads put on YouTube by Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel. For those that watch mainstream TV, Gravel is probably best known for his blunt assault on the posturing and politics of the front-running Democratic candidates. For those that watch YouTube, though, Gravel is becoming known for the political ads he has put there.

The ads certainly have a tinge of surrealism (or as Sartwell would put it, dadaism) in that they don't contain the usual political speecifying or promotion of the candidate. In fact, they contain no dialog at all. The candidate's Web site is superimposed on the image, which is how you know it's a political ad of some kind, but the video consists of... well, Mike Gravel staring at the camera wordlessly for a minute, then walking off and chucking a rock into a lake.

Yes, really. Go watch it for yourself. There's another one called "Fire" that mostly consists of a camera steadily pointed at a campfire for seven or eight minutes.

Sartwell waxes rhapsodic about Gravel's avante garde approach to political advertising. I was most strongly reminded of John Cage's 4'33" which was avant garde for its time. I don't think this art form is likely to catch on with other candidates but it sure would be fun if it did. If nothing else, it'd be nice to see them shutting the heck up for once when a camera is pointed at them.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

May 7, 2007

...and Performs Around It

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Iliad has never been any friend of the Cartel. Sunday's panel cracked me up: http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20070506

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

February 5, 2007

Pilotless Drone Drone Drone Drone

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

The story starts with the hip SF Chronicle online attempting to respond to readers' phoned-in comments. Of course, the volume of comments in any major newspaper is too large to permit individual responses and the Chron comes up with the bright idea to make a podcast out of the recorded commentary so at least readers can hear what each other have to say. So far so good.

Then someone decided to take umbrage at a particular subhead in a Chron news story that used the phrase "pilotless drone." Despite its popularity (about 36,000 hits on Google as of this AM) the phrase really is redundant since "drone" means "unmanned vehicle" in this context. So one could say "pilotless aircraft" or just "drone."

Another meaning of "drone" is to repeat something mnotonously. Which is pretty much what this caller did. As the NPR commentator put it, it wasn't long until someone noticed the rhythmic quality of this particular sound snippet. Bloggers such as Engaget linked to the audio file and asked people to remix it.

Never one to leave a gauntlet lie, people took up this challenge and.according to this update in the Chronicle, not only can you get this snippet as a ringtone, but there's an entire group on YouTube now dedicated to remixes and music videos.

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

November 13, 2006

See What Pirating Books Leads To?

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

This was on the Quote of the day list today:

"It grieves me now that I cursed them (in the matter of book piracy), because I perceived that my curse is working and that their speech is be-coming a horror already. They delude them-selves into the belief that they talk English--the English--and I have already been pitied for speaking with "an English accent." The man who pitied me spoke, so far as I was concerned, the language of thieves. And they all do. Where we put the accent forward they throw it back, and vice versa where we give the long "a" they use the short, and words so simple as to be past mistaking they pronounce somewhere up in the dome of their heads. How do these things happen?

"Oliver Wendell Holmes says that the Yankee school-marm, the cider and the salt codfish of the Eastern States, are responsible for what he calls a nasal accent. I know better. They stole books from across the water without paying for 'em, and the snort of delight was fixed in their nostrils forever by a just Providence. That is why they talk a foreign tongue to-day."

- Rudyard Kipling, in American Notes, explaining the divergence of American spoken English.

For those not up on the history: America used to be very... what's the word... "relaxed" about recognizing foreign copyrights. Much like, say, China is today. Turnabout and all that. Pretty ironic in light of the current jihad being run by the Cartel.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

November 7, 2006

White House Remixes GWB

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Really amateurish attempt by White House VJs...err, spin doctors to alter the President's infamous carrier-deck speech video. Obviously they're trying to cover up some inconvenient history, but I'm sure my readers can point me to much better remixes. RX where are you when we need you?

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

November 2, 2006

Remove Test Data Prior To Publication

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

As noted by, among others, Eugene Volokh, a patent application has been filed with an obvious "test data" claim. The claim reads:

9. The method of providing user interface displays in an image forming apparatus which is really a bogus claim included amongst real claims, and which should be removed before filing; wherein the claim is included to determine if the inventor actually read the claims and the inventor should instruct the attorneys to remove the claim.

So on the one hand it's funny both in its text and in that it got through. The complaints about abysmal patent quality and absurd patent claims in the software arena have come from all corners and as some have said at least this one is forthright in admitting its bogosity.

On the other hand, I have a lot of sympathy for the point made by "Tony2" in the comments, to the effect that the rendering of technical inventions into patents is the semantic equivalent of translating them into a foreign language spoken only by a specialized community. Bogus claims or not, I find as a technical person I can't make a lot of sense out of patent language. It's completely understandable that the inventor on this patent wouldn't be fluent in this foreign language and would trust that people paid hundreds of dollars per hour - the application-drafting lawyers - would in fact do their jobs.

So, yeah. Funny. And also kind of sad.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

October 18, 2006

Put A LittleSeratoninInMe

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

I think it's a race to see who'll sue first: Justin Timberlake, whose song is being parodied, or SmithKline Beecham whose "social anxiety disorder" drug Paxil is the topic of the parody. My bet is on SK-B. Anyway, see the video on YouTube, at least for now: Paxilback, by Gray Kid

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

September 13, 2006

But Do Watch The Video

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Joining laptop rapper MC Lars and former Monty Python regular Eric Idle in the 'sing about downloading' category, Weird Al Yankovic has a new ditty titled "Don't Download This Song." The MP3 is of course available in all the usual places, but I prefer the online "E-card" with the accompanying video.

Weird Al lines up shots at everyone from Metallica and the RIAA on down. Recommended.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

September 5, 2006

New Meaning of the Term "Artistic Engagement"

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

UK Prankster (or "guerilla artist" if you prefer) Banksy has swapped some of Paris Hilton's CDs with his own remixed gems, titled unsubtle things like "Why am I Famous?" and "What Have I Done?"

The swaps involved replacing physical platters in stores such as HMV and Virgin. HMV, in particular, appears to be taking quite a lenient view on what I suspect some others would call theft or vandalism. Their chosen spokesperson remarked that

"I guess you can give an individual such as Banksy a little bit of leeway for his own particular brand of artistic engagement."

P.S. If you recover one of these artistic gems I'll pay to have it shipped to me in the US.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

May 20, 2006

Dilbert Has Patent Troubles

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

It's like Paul Graham said - Dilbert got money, Dilbert got patent problems: http://www.comics.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert2006052442720.gif

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

March 31, 2006

Be Careful What You Ask For

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

It appears that Chevy has linked up its gas-guzzling Tahoe vehicle with the pop culture sycophant phenomenon called The Apprentice. And is asking people to make promotional videos/commercials for the vehicle. Which, yanno, is a good way to.. um, let some of that good ole 'creative expression' loose

My guess is that this link won't survive much longer, particuarly not once Chevy figures out what it is.

EDIT: as of Friday afternoon either the video is gone or the site is slashdotted - in either event the video doesn't seem to be available at that URL any longer. Here's hoping the author publishes it on another URL.

Comments (5) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor

March 8, 2006

Pope Benedict to Receive Nasty Letter from RIAA?

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

File this under "funny for now" but given the RIAA's latest flip-flop on the legality of ripping your own CDs, maybe not funny for long.

A Copyfight reader pointed me to the Canonist blog, on which we read a report of Pope Benedict XVI being given a gift of a pre-loaded iPod, containing "a sampling of the radio’s programming in English, Italian and German and musical compositions." As the blogger notes, it's unlikely that these tracks were individually paid for, as the RIAA would have us do. We can barely wait until the Cartel's jihad reaches the Holy See.

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February 18, 2006

It's Only Funny Because We Thought Of It First

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

In response to the latest DRM flap, my friend Peter Cassidy remarked:

[T]he RIAA has a patent for placing DRM in ear canals. Apparently, they're going to present new parents with a demand leter at the birth of every child. Install the system, or pay the estimated value of all the music the child will steal in a lifetime. The congressmen from Disney will be considering the legislation for a moment or two before passing it unamended sometime this year.

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February 17, 2006

This Week in Unnecessary Censorship

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

The Super Bowl Edition. Bleeping fun at the FCC's expense.

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February 9, 2006

Bleep This

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

I don't even know where to begin in talking about this one. The blog "Gizmodo" has announced the winner of its competition to create a remix track. The track must be "based on the sound of Hitachi hard drives failing". No, really. Hitachi has a page with .wav files playable so that people can figure out what that noise their hard disk is making might mean. The challenge was to remix these sounds (are they copyrighted? can you copyright ambient sounds? can you copyright a sound made by a machine if there's no human intervention to produce that sound?) into a music track.

The winning entry is composed entirely of the disk sounds, and is quite eerie. The runners-up are a little more conventionally musical, but still pretty off-kilter. Fun concept, at least.

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August 12, 2005

Your "Million Dollar Idea" Is My Million Dollar Idea

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This week's IP follies continue with Marty Schwimmer's coverage of the battle over who owns the million-dollar idea of creating a TV show about pitching million-dollar ideas:


February 20, 2003:  Alleged date of first use for MILLION DOLLAR IDEA in relation to product and invention evaluation services, and entertainment services ('low-power' TV show), by Roaring Entertainment.

March 2004: Roaring pitches Andrea Wong, head of reality programming at ABC.

July 2005: ABC announces 'Million Dollar Idea', to be produced by Simon Cowell and Peter Jones, with quote from Andrea Wong:


"Simon and Peter have conceived a fantastic show," said Andrea Wong, executive vice president, Alternative Programming, Specials and Late-Night, ABC Entertainment. "Somebody out there has thought of the next Post-it Note or Starbucks, but they don't have the means to actually make it happen. It's going to be thrilling to find that person and make his or her dream a reality."

August 2005: Coverage of lawsuit by Roaring Entertainment against producers of show.

If someone wrote a work of fiction where a TV network allegedly steals the idea for an idea submission show, the critics would say that the satire was heavy-handed.

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August 11, 2005

Just a Little Bit More Than the (IP) Law Would Allow...

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Techdirt has an amusing article about that delightfully original, fresh piece of filmmaking starring Jessica Simpson, "The Dukes of Hazzard." Evidently, it was inspired by an equally novel, why-didn't-I-think-of-that, Hey,-there-is-something-new-under-the-sun-after-all late '70s television show called "The Dukes of Hazzard." And that show, in turn, was inspired by the original original work of singular artistic genius, a little-known movie called "Moonrunners." And that movie, in turn...

No, wait. That's where it ends, for now. Which is why the makers of the Jessica Simpson version had to cough up $17.5 million to the rights holders for "Moonrunners" -- according to Techdirt, more than they paid for Jessica herself.

More @ PHOSITA.

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July 22, 2005

That's Not a Copyfighter

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That's a copyfighter!
DoctorO.jpg
(Unpardonable Crockodile Dundee pop cultural reference here.)

Update (July 23): More fun with Cory Doctor-O, who has become a Second Life avatar. 'Twas inevitable.
secondlifeavatarcory.jpg

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June 30, 2005

Robot Renegade IP Maximalists

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Posted by

If you're missing Danny O'Brien's miniLinks, you're missing out on a good chuckle -- vital food for the spirit in the midst of the Grokster Sturm und Drang.

Here's a taste:


Gilbert, Sullivan, and ID Cards: A fine musical "tribute" to the plans to introduce ID cards in the UK (Flash).


Trailer for "Alternative Freedom" Documentary: "In a WORLD without LICENSES...": Richard Stallman, Larry Lessig, DJ Dangermouse, and Jason Schultz fight IP maximalists...robot renegade IP maximalists.


Both links are well worth the follow.

[Robot renegades pop cultural reference here.]

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May 27, 2005

Abusing Amazon Images

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

A few months back I posted about AmazType, a site that was making potentially unfair use of amazon.com images. Now comes AAUGH.com's guide to abusing Amazon's images, based on the discovery that the URL used to access the image controls a number of features of what the end user sees, such as size and the presence/absence of a discount "button."

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May 20, 2005

Intellectual Property Justice League

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Posted by Ernest Miller

Copyfighters may want to visit the IP Justice League of America, "celebrating the only comic book of international super-star INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY POLICY super heroes!" Not much there yet, except some Warhol-esque portraits that rollover to declare:

  • Eblen Moglen - "Batman"
  • Larry Lessig - "Superman"
  • John Gilmore - "Green Lantern"
  • Robin Gross - "Wonder Woman"
  • Richard Stallman - "The Martian"
  • Ed Felten - "The Flash"
And the following:
Can the IP Justice League save Wil Wheaton from super-villain Jack Valenti? Will they defeat his evil army of psycho culture pirates!? Whose side is Avril Lavigne REALLY on??
I guess we'll just have to stay tuned to the same IP Justice League Channel, same IP Justice League time for more. How about an RSS feed instead, so I know when it is updated?

(And would this group actually call themselves the Intellectual Property League? Wouldn't they use some other term?)

via BoingBoing

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May 16, 2005

May the Farce Be With You

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Posted by Ernest Miller

The Organic Trade Association has put together a satire (a satire, not a parody) using Star Wars to take on factory farming (the Dark Side) vs. organic farming (the Light Side). Read the press release: Entertaining New Star Wars Spoof Debuts on the Web, Touting Organic Food and Shining a Light on the "Dark Side of the Farm". The puppetry is fairly humorous and clever. What is especially cool, though, is that the short film has a Creative Commons license, Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share Alike to be precise.

View the satire here: Store Wars

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April 29, 2005

Mickey Mouse Joins Public Knowledge

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Posted by Ernest Miller

Mickey Mouse has been saved, at least according to these undoctored photos showing the famous mouse hanging out with Public Knowledge president Gigi Sohn in Washington DC (Gigi 'N' Mickey).

In reality, the mouse statues are part of 75 InspEARations, a traveling exhibit of 75 Mickey Mouse statues with various designs. I saw the exhibit when it was at Disney's California Adventure. It was pretty disappointing (the statues, not just DCA). Instead of artists (as in many of the other city-wide statue projects), they were designed by celebrities who generally had no artistic sense and quotidian sensibilities. "Oh, gee, a Mickey Mouse made to look like a Lakers basketball player designed by Shaq." Sad.

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April 26, 2005

Roget's New Millennium Reveals the Truth!

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

I can't make this stuff up. If you look up "hypocritical" on thesaurus.com, you get "Hollywood" as a synonym. The data source is listed as Roget's New Millennium™ Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.1.1). My hat is off to them.

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April 20, 2005

Pope Palpatine I

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

This won't last long. Wikipedia's current entry for the newly elected Pope has a rather... interesting picture associated with it. I doubt either Lucas or the Vatican will see the humor. (separate link for when it gets taken down off the papal page)

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April 1, 2005

Looks Like Cory's Gotta Call Fred Again

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There's another totally-out-of-bounds BoingBoing parody. A post by Snory Hacktorow:


My call for sanity regarding the fair use of the brick
MINEBRICKMINE.JPG Bricks have many legitimate uses, including shelter, crowd dispersal, and brief grandstanding against Israeli tanks, so why all the focus on the very few which are heaved through shop windows to allow for the sharing of items? I paid for that brick, I'm not interested in being told what to do with it.

My 4:40 am shouty talk at my sock-covered fist on the Greyhound 234 westbound, transcribed for campus dissemination and worship.

Link (Thanks to Goonsnargle, the elf that lives in my hair and tells me which people are demons)


Later: It's been cease-and-desisted:

Boring Boring grinds jackboot in face of some other stupid site

Actually, the previous post gave us an idea, so -- after the cagey use of search and replace (which we just learned about last week over at Sony's Lifehacker) -- we forwarded Mr. von Lohmann's letter to this guy. (Thanks, Cory!)

posted by Chris James at 3:40:42 AM permalink | blogs' comments

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Siva Vaidhyanathan Fires Ann Bartow

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Siva shares the sad news: "I have asked Ann Bartow to refrain from posting any more to Sivacracy.net. Basically, she was detracting from the mission of this blog: the pure and unadulterated promotion of me, Siva Vaidhyanathan."

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Doctorow Issues DMCA Takedown for BoingBoing Parody Site

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Ernest Miller:


He can dish it out, but he can't take it.

Well-known "copyfighter" and sci-fi novelist Cory Doctorow can sure complain when the MPAA and RIAA try to enforce their members' copyrights, but the instant someone infringes on Cory's copyrights and trademarks - watch out! - the threatening legal letters and lawsuits start flying. Case in point, the BoingBoing parody site BoringBoring. [...]


Dear Sir or Madam,

I am legal counsel for and write on behalf of celebrated science fiction author Cory Doctorow and the award-winning website BoingBoing. We have recently learned that your organization, BoringBoring, is violating Mr. Doctorow and BoingBoing's copyrights by posting on your site, www.boringboring.org, certain copyrighted content from www.boingboing.net.


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March 30, 2005

Parody is still protected, right?

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Because we need a respite from all this serious Grokster stuff, I give you...
"Lord of the Tube Socks"

(I know this is shooting-fish-in-a-barrel stuff but it still gave me a chuckle or two.)

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March 23, 2005

Dogbert copyrights stupidity

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

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March 22, 2005

Je Suis la Propagande!

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junior_mascotte_musique.jpg Rik Lambers @ CoCo blog: "This is the little mascot that guides the French kids through the rights and wrongs of the internet. Admittedly, it is less scary than the Dutch Pig and psychotic grinning BSA Weasel."

Who's the leader of the Propaganda club/That's made for you and me?/ L-A-J-R-M-A-S-C-O-T-T-E!

(For more on said psychotic grinning weasel, see Music Industry Heavies Get 'Em While They're Young.)

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March 8, 2005

Copyright "Thievery" Gives You Undereye Circles

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March 2, 2005

For Your Ears Only

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

About.com has a really amusing piece by Cory Dietz claiming that the RIAA is suing people for listening to music in cars. The claim is that the music was only provided to the original owner of the car, so passengers and hitchhikers who listen to music in the vehicle are doing so illegally.

Sadly, this story is close enough to believable that About felt the need to mark it prominently as satire. Given the reach of the Cartel to date, I confess I didn't find the basic premise totally beyond the realm of belief.

One wag commented in email that perhaps the next step should be "listening licenses," under whose terms the Cartel would be able to jail people like Mozart, who was apparently famous for being able to reproduce any piece of music he had just heard.

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