Archive for January, 2007

Blackboard patent to be reexamined

According to Groklaw, the US Patent and Trademark Office will be examining Blackboard’s e-learning patent and all 44 associated claims, due to requests from the Software Freedom Law Center. The request was filed on behalf of Sakai, Moodle, and ATutor, open source educational products.

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UT Logos; UT and Google briefly

Yesterday’s Daily Texan reported that the University was suing Aggieland Outfitters for trademark infringement (and not as the “horns down” given on the editorial page mentioned, copyright). Specifically, UT is suing over the sawed off horns version of the UT logo, which you can see featured on the store’s website.

Here’s the brief Google line: I think that UT’s contract with Google will be available from the University in the near future, I believe online.

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Opting out of copyright.

In Kahle v. Gonzalez, the head of the Internet Archive Brewster Kahle challenged the change of the copyright system from opt-in to opt-out, stating that this change was unconstitutional. Kahle also believed that this change prevented librarians from having digital materials on their shelves, particularly with respect to orphan works. The Ninth Circuit court of appeals disagreed, decided that this case was not very different from Eldred v. Ashcroft, and affirmed the lower court’s decision for Gonzalez. I’ll respectfully disagree slightly with a Scrivener’s Error post from January 22nd, in which the author argues that the opt-in/opt-out terminology is inept.

I agree that once a work is created and fixed that it is in copyright, period. I also agree that the GNU License, Creative Commons License, etc., are basically covenants not to sue rather than opt-out mechanisms, with one caveat- the most popular versions of those licenses meet that description, but there is a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication. However, the fact that these licenses aren’t mechanisms to opt-out does not mean that the system itself hasn’t changed to an opt-out system, particularly from the perspective of users of copyrighted materials. Even though a copyright holder must opt in for legal remedies, the work itself is now in copyright as soon as it is created. That automatic existence of copyright requires creators to opt out of the copyright system if they want their work in the public domain, rather than opting in to the copyright system by registration.

Of couse, I guess overall I agree that the terminology could be clearer, so maybe I’m not disagreeing that much.


Texas joins Google project

As reported by the Austin Statesman, UT is apparently joining the Google digitization project (may require registration). I’d heard rumors that this was going to happen for quite awhile, but now it’s confirmed, and it looks like President Powers thinks it’s a good idea. I hope to find out more from people who work there soon. The University Libraries has committed to many digital projects recently. On one hand, it’s good that the University is doing some interesting things with digital preservation and similar projects; on the other, I really don’t think that all print materials can be considered “legacy collections,” as I’ve heard some refer to them. As for the Google participation, we’ll need to see what that means for us…

Update: UT’s Announcement

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Song of Ice and Fire on HBO?

Apparently so! George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series has been acquired by HBO. Excellent news for book and fantasy lovers. The Song of Ice and Fire series is one of the only fantasy series that my other half actually enjoys, so I’m particularly looking forward to it. ^_^ Let’s hope it doesn’t have the delays that Martin is known for. 😉


Copyright of an Avatar

ZDNet is reporting that a virtual land owner in Second Life is sending DMCA takedown notices to persons using screen shots of the now infamous, to put it bluntly, flying penis attack at a CNET interview with that person. There are several problems with this tactic, as ZDNet notes. Although the person has copyright in their Second Life avatar, that does not mean that they can control all uses of their copyrighted work. They certainly can’t stop fair uses, of which the reports including screenshots almost certainly qualify as.

Another problem is that one of the people they sent the notice to was the Sydney Morning Herald, which does not currently have to follow the U.S. DMCA, although they have their own copyright issues over there. 😛

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The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi

The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi (Spoilerific Wikipedia Entry) was one of my wife’s and my favorite shows of this past year. It’s unique in a lot of ways- from it’s play on traditional anime themes to it’s interesting use of chronology. Plus, it’s hilarious.

The anime community has had a long tradition of making works available in countries outside of Japan before they’re released in the form of fansubs, copies that are subtitled and distributed by fans. The practice of fansubbing has evolved a great deal since the creation and increase in use of the Internet. At any rate, it’s one of the reasons anime is so popular in the U.S. now. Now, Japan has always had interesting practices regarding fan based works. I’ve mentioned some of them before in the Otakon thread. Basically, a lot of things go on that are technically copyright infringement- such as the creation and sale of derivative doujinshi (fan comics)- but for whatever reason, some companies don’t enforce their copyrights. Even in the US, different companies have been known to appreciate fansubs. The fansubbing community has it’s own ethical standards as well- once a work is licensed in the U.S., distribution generally stops.

Well, Bandai has done something interesting now that they’ve licensed Suzumiya Haruhi.

First, they make a fan-like video with actors and actresses in the manner mirroring the show itself. They also thank fans who get the fansubs and buy DVDs, and specifically don’t thank people who get the fansubs and don’t buy the licensed DVDs. ^_^ They also make “mistakes-” like forgetting to subtitle the first video. (The “fixed” video is now up.) Fun. They’ve also got a MySpace page for the show.

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