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kottke.org posts about copyright

Artist Christian Marclay says that Apple contacted

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 28, 2007

Artist Christian Marclay says that Apple contacted him about using his short film Telephones for their iPhone commercial. He refused and they went ahead and made the commercial using the same idea with different footage. Says Marclay, “the way they dealt with the whole thing is pretty sleazy”. TouchExplode gets credit for spotting the reference. (via df)

Mark Pilgrim’s The Dogs of Flickr posters

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 06, 2007

Mark Pilgrim’s The Dogs of Flickr posters illustrate the problem of sourcing and giving credit in the remix age….the credits take up much more room than the work itself. Imagine if he had to get permission for all that and you’ve got some idea of how difficult it is to make documentary films these days. See also: the ending credits for The Return of the King (full story).

How would Shakespeare do in Hollywood today?

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 21, 2006

How would Shakespeare do in Hollywood today? He’d be raking in the dough on royalties, but because most of his stories were based on previous work, he might not have been able to write them in the first place without being sued for copyright infringement.

The story of Tetris

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 25, 2006

The following is a great 2004 BBC documentary about Tetris, the man who created it, and the lengths that several companies went to in order to procure the rights to distribute it. Tetris - From Russia With Love:

Alexey Pazhitnov, a computer programmer from Moscow, created Tetris in 1985 but as the Soviet Union was Communist and all, the state owned the game and any rights to it. Who procured the rights from whom on the other side of the Iron Curtain became the basis of legal wranglings and lawsuits; the Atari/Nintendo battle over Tetris wasn’t settled until 1993. There’s an abbreviated version of the story, but the documentary is a lot more fun. A rare copy of the Tengen version of Tetris, which was pulled from the shelves due to legal troubles, is available on eBay for around $50.

Jimmy Wales: what if you had $100 million…

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 23, 2006

Jimmy Wales: what if you had $100 million…what copyrighted works would you buy and then release under an open license? (via bb)

PopTech, day 3 wrap-up

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 23, 2006

Notes from day 3 at PopTech:

Chris Anderson talked about, ba ba baba!, not the long tail. Well, not explicitly. Chris charted how the availability of a surplus in transistors (processors are cheap), storage (hard drives are cheap), and surplus in bandwidth (DSL is cheap) has resulted in so much opportunity for innovation and new technology. His thoughts reminded me of how surplus space in Silicon Valley (in the form of garages) allowed startup entrepreneurs to pursue new ideas without having to procure expensive commercial office space.

Quick thought re: the long tail…if the power law arises from scarcity as Matt Webb says, then it would make sense that the surplus that Anderson refers to would be flattening that curve out a bit.

Roger Brent crammed a 60 minute talk into 20 minutes. It was about genetic engineering and completely baffling…almost a series of non sequiturs. “Centripital glue engine” was my favorite phrase of the talk, but I’ve got no idea what Brent meant by it.

Homaro Cantu gave a puzzling presentation of a typical meal at his Chicago restaurant, Moto. I’ve seen this presentation twice before and eaten at Moto; all three experiences were clear and focused on the food. This time around, Cantu didn’t explain the food as well or why some of the inventions were so cool. His polymer box that cooks on the table is a genuinely fantastic idea, but I got the feeling that the rest of the audience didn’t understand what it was. Cantu also reiterated his position on copyrighting and patenting his food and inventions. Meg caught him saying that he was trying to solve the famine problem with his edible paper, which statement revealed two problems: a) famines are generally caused by political issues and therefore not solvable by new kinds of food, printed or otherwise, and b) he could do more good if he open sourced his inventions and let anyone produce food or improve the techniques in those famine cases where food would be useful.

Richard Dawkins gave part of his PopTech talk (the “queerer than we can suppose” part of it) at TED in 2005 (video).

Bob Metcalfe’s wrap-up of the conference was a lot less contentious than in past years; hardly any shouting and only one person stormed angrily out of the room. In reference to Hasan Elahi’s situation, Bob said that there’s a tension present in our privacy desires: “I want my privacy, but I need you to be transparent.” Not a bad way of putting it.

Serena Koenig spoke about her work in Haiti with Partners in Health. Koening spoke of a guideline that PIH follows in providing healthcare: act as though each patient is a member of your own family. That sentiment was echoed by Zinhle Thabethe, who talked about her experience as an HIV+ woman living in South Africa, an area with substandard HIV/AIDS-related healthcare. Thabethe’s powerful message: we need to treat everyone with HIV/AIDS the same, with great care. Sounds like the beginning of a new Golden Rule of Healthcare.

2.7 billion results for “blog” on Google. Blogs: bigger than Jesus.

Pete Wells writes in Food and Wine

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 10, 2006

Pete Wells writes in Food and Wine about recipes, copyrights, and patents. Meg picks up the thread and argues that copyrighting recipes would stifle innovation, not promote it, rewarding mostly the lawyers who insert themselves between our food and mouths. A commenter says, “By nature, food people are generous of spirit, and recognize that the great fun of food is in the sharing.”

Parts 3 and 4 of (the must-see) Eyes on

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 09, 2006

Parts 3 and 4 of (the must-see) Eyes on the Prize are on tonight…here’s a look at the difficulties the filmmakers went through to get the rights to all the material in the film cleared again. (thx, david)

Boing Boing has information on YouTube’s recently

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 20, 2006

Boing Boing has information on YouTube’s recently revised Terms and Conditions, which now state that they can use uploaded video for pretty much anything they want. For some users, that may be a steep price to pay for “free” bandwidth. The longer term question is, can YouTube find a business model that won’t completely screw up their wonderful offering or will they ultimately go the way of Napster?

It’s so easy for people to get

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 16, 2006

It’s so easy for people to get all ranty and unbalanced about the MPAA, movie piracy, and copyright issues…Derek has a refreshingly clear and steady take on the issues involved and how the industry middlemen are making things hard for everyone but themselves.

I was recently wondering if any of

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 16, 2006

I was recently wondering if any of the Creative Commons licenses had been upheld in court; a CC license was recently upheld in a Dutch courtroom.

Rogers Cadenhead, after receiving a letter from

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 15, 2006

Rogers Cadenhead, after receiving a letter from Dave Winer’s attorney: “I’ve never been more retroactively embarrassed to have paid someone a compliment in my life.”

Andy got a cease and desist from

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 03, 2006

Andy got a cease and desist from Bill Cosby’s legal team for hosting the satirical House of Cosbys videos, and he’s going to fight it. “More than anything, this strikes me as a special kind of discrimination against amateur creators on the Internet. Mad Magazine, Saturday Night Live, South Park, The Simpsons, Family Guy, and countless other mainstream media sources have parodied Bill Cosby over the years.”

Meghann Marco, the woman who was upset

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 03, 2006

Meghann Marco, the woman who was upset at her publishing company for 1) not putting her book on Google Print, and 2) instead suing Google, has finally gotten her book listed on Google Print.

The fashion industry doesn’t try to control

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 21, 2006

The fashion industry doesn’t try to control its creativity the way that the music and film industries do. “The fashion world recognizes that creativity cannot be bridled and controlled and that obsessive quests to do so will only diminish its vitality. Other content industries would do well to heed this wisdom.”

Scott Nelson produces a “tribute brand” called

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 30, 2006

Scott Nelson produces a “tribute brand” called MIKE that’s an homage to Michael Jordan, Nike branding, and shoes. After looking at his products (photos and interviews here and here), I’m amazed Nike hasn’t sued him back to the Stone Age. Nelson’s site is mike23.com.

On the copyright of recipes. Recipes are

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 13, 2006

On the copyright of recipes. Recipes are covered by US copyright law but not very well and very few suits get brought against those who republish them without permission. For the most part, it sounds like food folks recognize the essential remix culture of cooking. (via matt)

BBC Magazine has compiled a list of “100

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 03, 2006

BBC Magazine has compiled a list of “100 things we didn’t know this time last year”, including this copyright tidbit: “musical instrument shops must pay an annual royalty to cover shoppers who perform a recognisable riff before they buy, thereby making a ‘public performance’”. Here’s last year’s list.

Support the EFF and the rights of

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 30, 2005

Support the EFF and the rights of bloggers by putting a badge on your site. Here’s a list of things that the EFF is fighting for on behalf of bloggers.

Sony is using DRM on audio CDs (

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 01, 2005

Sony is using DRM on audio CDs (no copying the CD, no iTunes, etc.) to pressure Apple to open up iTunes and the iPod to other formats. This story is so absurd on so many levels that I don’t even know where to begin.

George Dyson visits Google on the 60th

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 31, 2005

George Dyson visits Google on the 60th anniversary of John von Neumann’s proposal for a digital computer. A quote from a Googler — “We are not scanning all those books to be read by people. We are scanning them to be read by an AI.” — highlights a quasi-philosophical question about Google Print…if a book is copied but nobody reads it, has it actually been copied? (Or something like that.)

Parable about Google’s Library Project and copyright (

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 24, 2005

Parable about Google’s Library Project and copyright (discussed here last week). “All I have to do is borrow the CDs or DVDs, downloaded music or video or whatever, copy them, and then offer some sort of ‘fair use’ excerpt index service, just like Google is doing with the books. It’s the perfect gimmick.”

WSJ tech columnist Walt Mossberg on DRM: “

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 21, 2005

WSJ tech columnist Walt Mossberg on DRM: “media companies go too far in curbing comsumers’ activities”.

Book author to her publishing company: your lawsuit is not helping me or my book

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 20, 2005

I got an email this morning from a kottke.org reader, Meghann Marco. She’s an author and struggling to get her book out into the hands of people who might be interested in reading it. To that end, she asked her publisher, Simon & Schuster, to put her book up on Google Print so it could be found, and they refused. Now they’re suing Google over Google Print, claiming copyright infringement. Meghann is not too happy with this development:

Kinda sucks for me, because not that many people know about my book and this might help them find out about it. I fail to see what the harm is in Google indexing a book and helping people find it. Anyone can read my book for free by going to the library anyway.

In case you guys haven’t noticed, books don’t have marketing like TV and Movies do. There are no commercials for books, this website isn’t produced by my publisher. Books are driven by word of mouth. A book that doesn’t get good word of mouth will fail and go out of print.

Personally, I hope that won’t happen to my book, but there is a chance that it will. I think the majority of authors would benefit from something like Google Print.

She has also sent a letter of support to Google which includes this great anecdote:

Someone asked me recently, “Meghann, how can you say you don’t mind people reading parts of your book for free? What if someone xeroxed your book and was handing it out for free on street corners?”

I replied, “Well, it seems to be working for Jesus.”

And here’s an excerpt of the email that Meghann sent me (edited very slightly):

I’m a book author. My publisher is suing Google Print and that bothers me. I’d asked for my book to be included, because gosh it’s so hard to get people to read a book.

Getting people to read a book is like putting a cat in a box. Especially for someone like me, who was an intern when she got her book deal. It’s not like I have money for groceries, let alone a publicist.

I feel like I’m yelling and no one is listening. Being an author can really suck sometimes. For all I know speaking up is going to get me blacklisted and no one will ever want to publish another one of my books again. I hope not though.

[My book is] called ‘Field Guide to the Apocalypse’ It’s very funny and doesn’t suck. I worked really hard on it. It would be nice if people read it before it went out of print.

As Tim O’Reilly, Eric Schmidt, and Google have argued, I think these lawsuits against Google are a stupid (and legally untenable) move on the part of the publishing industry. I know a fair number of kottke.org readers have published books…what’s your take on the situation? Does Google Print (as well as Amazon “Search Inside the Book” feature) hurt or help you as an author? Do you want your publishing company suing Google on your behalf?

Everything and Nothing rounds up a list

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 06, 2005

Everything and Nothing rounds up a list of searchable versions of the work of that most famous of English wordsmiths, William Shakespeare. The public domain rocks.

Tim O’Reilly op-ed about the Authors Guild’s

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 29, 2005

Tim O’Reilly op-ed about the Authors Guild’s lawsuit against Google regarding their Library Project. “Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors than copyright infringement, or even outright piracy”. The op-ed follows Tim’s earlier post on the subject.

TiVo’s new OS adds content “protection”, which

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 13, 2005

TiVo’s new OS adds content “protection”, which means if the copyright holder of Seinfeld wants your TiVo to delete the show after a week whether you’ve watched it or not, that’s what it’s going to do. I love my TiVo and I’m currently suffering from outrage fatigue, but if the company wants to side with the entertainment industry over its customers and cripple useful features, then it’s the last one I’m ever going to own. (via the wax)

To protect against wholesale theft of words (

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 26, 2005

To protect against wholesale theft of words (theft of words? I feel silly just writing that…), dictionaries insert fake words in their listings. The article says that the New Oxford American Dictionary’s fake word showed up on dictionary.com, but as of today, it’s gone.

Remember that the Dukes of Hazzard movie

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 12, 2005

Remember that the Dukes of Hazzard movie was in danger of not being released because the TV show was originally based on a movie? Well, the movie was released but the holder of the rights to the original movie got a settlement of $17.5 million, way more than the original film probably made.

Tattoo copyrights and lawsuits

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 25, 2005

Tattoo copyrights and lawsuits. David Beckham is being threatened with a lawsuit by his tattooist should he and his wife “go ahead with a promotional campaign highlighting their body art”.