Public Domain Day or welcome out Sigmund Freud

January first is not only the day for a global hangover. Its also Public Domain Day!

The Public Domain Day is a worldwide celebration of the wealth of human culture and more specifically the expiration of copyright protection of works. This is the way in which copyright works – eventually the term of protection ends and the work becomes free. It belongs to us all.

Every year on New Year’s Day, in fact, due to the expiration of copyright protection terms on works produced by authors who died several decades earlier, thousands of works enter the public domain – that is, their content is no longer owned or controlled by anyone, but it rather becomes a common treasure, available for anyone to freely use for any purpose. (Public Domain Day)

Some of the “big” names coming out this 1 January are

Unfortunately most of the names (long list here) are unknown to most of us. Even the links to wikipedia are empty. Maybe we should use this day to revive their works and bring them back to life. Otherwise the expiration of copyright simply proves that they are no longer relevant to our lives.

Being a queen is no laughing matter

Birmingham radio station BRMB turned on the Queen’s speech by mistake (The Telegraph) DJ Tom Binns makes some anti-royal remark about the France doing fine even after beheading their royals and switches over to the song Last Christmas by Wham! with the comment “from one Queen to another” (which Queen should be upset by this?)

What happens? He gets sacked! He must of known it was a bit of a provocation – but seriously to sack the man? The Telegraph writes that

Orion Media which owns the station said Mr Binns’ comments were inappropriate and confirmed the presenter would not be working for the station again…

“We do not condone what he said in any way, whether said in jest or not,” said Mr Lloyd. “Tom will now not be featuring again on our radio stations.”

The owners naturally have the right to fire their employees but isn’t it a bit spineless to react in this way because some listeners complain?

Collecting Societies & Creative Commons

Moa Bergsten has written her final thesis for the completion of Masters in Law on the topic of collecting societies and Creative Commons licensing. But the essay is more than a theoretical standpoint it is an analysis of the situation in Sweden where the main copyright collecting  society has begun to allow member to use Creative Commons licenses. Thus the title of Moa’s work is Stim & Creative Commons Licensing.

Thus, the purpose of this paper is to analyze judicial problems that may arise when a copyright collecting society draws up conditions for the use of CC licenses within the scope of their right management mandate. (p6)

And from her conclusions we may read that the collecting societies are forced to accept both digital realities and to proide a continued service to their members.

The initiative of STIM to allow CC licensing is an outflow of flexibility and adaption to the digital reality. As a result a new member category is created and STIM is obligated to carry out the management with respect to the member group with due diligence and fulfill its responsibility as a trustee.

No doubt the new opportunity will cause complex interpretational determinations. However, this fact does not deprive STIM from its obligation to carry out the management in best manner possible. (p76)

Congratulations Moa on a well written, insightful and important work! Thanks for writing it in English. And thank you for allowing me to post it online. I only wish you had licensed it under a Creative Commons license.

Being a papal pirate

(via BoingBoing) Just in time for Christmas the pope decided to give himself a gift (large enough to suit is ego?) He decided to make his brand exclusive and in a weird mix of trademark and copyright law declared (Catholic News Agency)

“it alone has the right to ensure the respect due to the Successors of Peter, and therefore, to protect the figure and personal identity of the Pope from the unauthorized use of his name and/or the papal coat of arms for ends and activities which have little or nothing to do with the Catholic Church.”

What does this mean? Well according to the pope commoners may not use his name, title, coat of arms or basically “anything referring directly to the person of office” without permission.

“Consequently, the use of anything referring directly to the person or office of the Supreme Pontiff… and/or the use of the title ‘Pontifical,’ must receive previous and express authorization from the Holy See,” concluded the message released to the press.

Its enough to confirm the atheist in me… and bring out the pirate so here it is… my first violation of papal law…

an unauthorized copy of the papal insignia

Things I shall miss

Saudade is a wonderful concept, its difficult to translate from Portugese but here is Aubrey Bell’s explanation from the book In Portugal (1912).

Vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present, a turning towards the past or towards the future; not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness.

So lets start with the obvious. I am a web person, my work, research and many of my interests would not have been relevant, or even possible, prior to the internet. Despite this I reserve the right to miss things that are slowly fading away – in a large part due to this technology we crave, admire and rely on.

Bookstores with more than bestsellers. The bookstore was dying for a time. It was hit hard from its monopolistic stance by the webstores and has transformed itself into a pop experience. Unfortunately with less knowledge and stock. Now for those of you lucky enough to live in cities in English speaking nations there is the mega store that gives the illusion of width (and they are gorgeous). But seen from the perspective of a small language state like Sweden it is easy to see first hand the decline of the book & store.

Some of the naive believe that if the market wants a book it will be published. The problem with this is that the large market required wants bestsellers. And historical works will be lost, they have been before but not on this scale. I used to think that second-hand stores would pick up the slack but they will eventually end up with what the market produces.

Languages are dying out at an alarming rate. They are small odd languages which most of us will never hear and now never get a chance to. With them dies there cultural significance and potential impact on the world. So this is sad, in the same way as the death of any culture. It’s sad, but that’s life. Obviously the smaller languages are doomed. Eventually Swedish will be a thing of the past. Swedish, Danish & Norwegian can almost be seen as dialects of each other but even then we are talking about a population of less than 20 million. But the question I have not seen posed is how many languages can a globalized world support?

Newspapers! Eventually the concept of sitting at breakfast with a thick, well written, argumentative, educational, cultural artifact of sheets of paper filled with the world will be gone the way of family dinners and the dodo. Can’t help it, I am a dead tree junky. The news I can get elsewhere but, ah, the format, the format.

Real old fashioned unnecessarily large, tackily decorated movie theaters. What am I saying? These are long gone.

Being able to read the collected letter of someone dead is a form of voyeurism which will be gone forever. In its place is the text message or tweet novel. Who wants that crap? Help me? Seriously it must be novelty value? Or is this just an unappreciated art form that I am too dumb to get?

Dead time This is straight from the Telegraph’s list of 50 things the Internet will kill. “When was the last time you spent an hour mulling the world out a window, or rereading a favourite book? The internet’s draw on our attention is relentless and increasingly difficult to resist.”

Traveling to Local culture even before the web major stores were everywhere. The same stores appear all over and create an ubiquitous sense of style and culture. This is an old complaint but it ain’t getting any better. Mind you the “local” items I miss are probably made in China anyway.

Pens, pencils & notebooks. Sure these are still around. Quality notebooks were almost killed by the moleskine but a whole new generation of cool stuff is appearing. Unfortunately the good stuff will not survive. They will become unfashionable quality gifts given on serious occasions and never used. They will be back for short revivals as fashion accessories.

Snail mail. I am old enough to have sent and received actual letters. Hand written content about people I had actually met. Now its only marketing, bills and magazines that come through the letterbox.

For those of you with a theoretical slant. The inevitable I speak of is not a technological determinism in the sense that we are slaves to technology and cannot make human choices. But I adhere to the thoughts of Langford Winner (Autonomous Technology) that the thousands/millions of individual human decisions are all in the power of humans but together like a shoal of fish we move inevitably forward together. Only rarely can an individual alone change the course of technology and therefore we may seen technology as a whole as deterministic.

Danish Tourist Board Remix

Straight from BoingBoing but way to good to ignore

Carsten sez, “My friend, artist Camilla Brodersen created a wonderful, freely-redistributable rehash of an old Danish tourist poster, highlighting the new situation after the new police powers, as demonstrated in the heavy-handed clampdown on protesters at the recent climate change summit in Copenhagen. My friend Amila juxtaposed the mashup with the original poster on her English-language blog, creating a chilling and all too realistic contrast.”

Stormtrooper Copyright War

The Star Wars Stormtrooper case is over. I wrote about the origins of the case in April last year. The conflict was between George Lucas (the man behind the Star Wars films) and Andrew Ainsworth the costume designer behind the white stormtrooper uniforms.

The British prop designer who created their famous white helmets and body armour is being sued by director George Lucas for £10m in a case starting at the high court tomorrow. Andrew Ainsworth was sued by the director’s company, Lucasfilm, after reproducing the outfits from the original moulds and selling them for up to £1,800 each. (The Force)

The fact that Ainsworth makes the helmets from the original moulds should not mean anything since the right to make copies does not follow the ownership of the moulds. However in the absence of a contract to resolve this question the fact that the designer was allowed (if he was?) to keep his moulds should weigh in his favor. What a lovely case – I can’t wait to hear what the courts decide. More on this available at TimesOnline.
Well the courts have decided in favor of Andrew Ainsworth. MSNBC reports that

…London’s High Court last year ruled that Ainsworth had violated Lucas’s U.S. copyright, but rejected a copyright claim against him under British law, saying the costumes were not works of art and were therefore not covered by British copyright law.

The judge also refused to enforce in Britain a $20 million judgment Lucasfilm won against Ainsworth in a California court in 2006, saying Ainsworth’s U.S. sales were not significant enough to make him susceptible to U.S. jurisdiction.

Last month, Lucasfilm took the matter to the Court of Appeal, but in a ruling Wednesday the judges turned the company down.

Update: At Last… The 1709 Copyright Blog has a clear oversight of the whole affair.

The private public divide

In the early days of email government employees were told that they needed separate addresses for public and private messages. But that quickly became silly because there often exists no distinction between private and public – they can easily co-exist in the same person. But the problem has not gone away. In the SMS Privacy Case last year the Court of Appeals ruled that Employees’ text messages are private, even when transmitted on devices their companies pay for. But the case is now heading to the Supreme Court.

The background was a police officer had been sending personal private and occasionally sexually explicit text messages. In the court of appeals:

Judge Kim McLean said he “had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the text messages,” which were sent over a department-issued Arch Wireless pager. However, Judge McLean added that the “extent to which the Fourth Amendment provides protection for the contents of electronic communications in the Internet age is an open question.”The city, however, supported its stance against Officer Quon. In a filing, the city’s attorneys said: “To warrant Fourth Amendment protection, a government employee’s expectation of privacy must be one that society is prepared to consider reasonable under the operational realities of the workplace.” They maintain the city should not have to pay for the officer’s messages, which was used for “personal and highly private communications.”

The same problem appeared in Florida where a ruling from the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee of the Florida Supreme Court decided that it was ethically wrong for judges to add lawyers who may appear before them as “friends” on social networks. Apparently old friends may still exist and eating lunch with the judge is not controversial. Strange logic.