Several stories from the last few days have been fairly grim.
Reading Harry Potter before release date illegal illustrates a view that some content industries love- that you shouldn’t even be able to read something without the author’s permission. This story is from Canada, and I’m not familiar enough with Canadian law to determine whether that viewpoint is accurate or not, but I certainly don’t think it’s accurate in the US. Michael Geist has a few things to say about the situation (July 12-13) and its attacks on the freedom to read, freedom of expression, and personal property. In the US, there’s also the doctrine of first sale…
In Australia, a man has been found guilty of hyperlinking. Combine that with proposed amendments to Canadian law that would make search engine activity illegal and a copyright infringement lawsuit against the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, and you’ve got a good picture of how law and policy can affect the Internet as we know it.
OK, there’s a good chance that you’re not familiar with White Wolf, a game publisher. They publish a few fairly popular RPGs and license their material for video games and such as well. Now they’ve reportedly made a pretty dumb decision, discussed on BoingBoing, related to- ta da, what makes this on-topic- LICENSING. They’re charging licensing fees in the forms of Camarilla membership (sort of a fan club) to people who are “infringing” on their work (this includes people who cover costs in a LARP or similar situations- and all the people involved in that game). This “license” also has new rules associated with the running of the game, including not allowing players under 18. The BoingBoing post links to their forum thread with these new requirements.
Now, White Wolf has done a couple of silly things before- their lawsuit against the producers of the Underworld movie was a bad idea for several reasons- but this truly takes the cake. I hope they don’t continue this behavior. I’d love to support them with purchasing their products on occasions- I enjoyed the Vampire: Bloodlines PC Game- but I can’t in good conscience support their ridiculousness.