Category Archive 'Copyright'

12 Nov 2017

“Property is Theft!”

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Unless, of course, it’s a case of a member of a prominent leftist Nomenklatura family seeking to enforce property rights, as one oblivious Yale alumnus from the Class of 1972 inadvertently reveals in this month’s Class Notes.

NW writes:

The most interesting thing I learned was that [PL]’s law firm represented Woody Guthrie’s daughter Nora, fighting an unjustified attempt to put ‘This Land Is Your Land’ into the public domain. Woody wrote it in 1940. (It was originally titled ‘God Blessed America For Me’ in his manuscript—which I’ve seen—as a protest against ‘God Bless America’ from Irving Berlin’s jingoistic World War I musical, Yip, Yip, Yaphank and later recorded by Kate Smith to sell war bonds in the ’40s.) It includes my favorite verse: ‘As I went walking, I saw a sign there, And on the sign it said No Trespassing. But on the other side it didn’t say nothing; that side was made for you and me.’ (Emphasis is my own: a very important, influential American protest song, not just a folk anthem.)

I guess “This Song Isn’t Your Song.”

20 Apr 2010

No More “Der Untergang” Parodies

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Constantin Films, owner of “Der Untergang” (2004), is asserting its copyright and closing down all the amusing Hitler-chewing-the-carpet parodies.

What a pity! The “Downfall” parodies were becoming a well known Internet Meme, and really worked marvelously as a commentary on any current debacle or untoward development. They will be missed.

TechCrunch responded with a new one featuring Hitler ranting over his removal from YouTube, but they’ve already shut it down.

Pretty stupid and unattractive corporate behavior, if you ask me.

What do these parodies cost the film’s owners? Nothing. What is their impact? Millions of dollars of free publicity turning a relatively little known film into a famous cultural icon and making Constantin’s property ever so much more valuable. Shutting down the Untergang parodies is really just about as clever as invading Russia.

18 Jul 2009

Big Brother Deletes “Animal Farm” and “1984”

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Maybe readers allowing you to purchase electronic copies of books from giant impersonal corporations are not such a good idea after all.

What happens when Amazon decides, for reasons of its own, that you should not be in possession of a particular book? Pop! It’s gone. Eliminated by your friendly corporation’s software update system.

Big Brother came calling on Amazon customers yesterday, as the New York Times reports.

In George Orwell’s “1984,” government censors erase all traces of news articles embarrassing to Big Brother by sending them down an incineration chute called the “memory hole.”

On Friday, it was “1984” and another Orwell book, “Animal Farm,” that were dropped down the memory hole — by Amazon.com.

In a move that angered customers and generated waves of online pique, Amazon remotely deleted some digital editions of the books from the Kindle devices of readers who had bought them.

An Amazon spokesman, Drew Herdener, said in an e-mail message that the books were added to the Kindle store by a company that did not have rights to them, using a self-service function. “When we were notified of this by the rights holder, we removed the illegal copies from our systems and from customers’ devices, and refunded customers,” he said.

Amazon effectively acknowledged that the deletions were a bad idea. “We are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers’ devices in these circumstances,” Mr. Herdener said.

21 May 2007

“Shakespeare Incorporated Shares Hit Record High”

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In 1998, Congress (influenced by intense lobbying by copyright holders) extended the duration of copyrights for an additional 20 years, from the life of the author plus 50 years, or 75 years in cases of corporate authorship, to the author’s life plus 70 years or 95 years respectively, but Mark Helprin (a novelist) thinks copyright protection should last forever.

No good case exists for the inequality of real and intellectual property, because no good case can exist for treating with special disfavor the work of the spirit and the mind.

Well, if Mr. Helprin cared about the character of his own descendants, he might reflect that it could very well be better for them to live in the real world and make their own way, rather than exist as idle Trustafarians, trying to justify their futile existences via the desultory support of supposedly enlightened causes.

20 Oct 2006

Good Bye, Hilarious Japanese Game Show Clips

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Egads!, no more cute screaming Japanese girls and lizards. YouTube, having been bought by Google, is going corporate, and surrendering to a collection of Japanese copyright-enforcement groups. They will be deleting 29,549 videos.

Smart move, Japanese broadcasters, you wouldn’t want any free international publicity and recognition adulterating your brands’ prestige, would you?


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