I’ve got copyright on my mind

copyrightI took this four-week online course, Copyright for Educators & Librarians from Coursera a few weeks ago; a LOT of reading, plus instructor videos. I find that it has changed the prism of how I see the topic. I thought I knew a lot about copyright but found that I learned so much more. Here’s a Hangout with Kenny Crews & the Copyright Instructors, which was some expert answering questions at the end of the journey.

The course required participation in a discussion forum each week, with questions such as “What Copyrights Do You Own”. The answer is: a lot. Continue reading

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Copyright course

copyrightYou know, I think I understand quite a bit about US copyright law. Still I decided to take a four-week online course, Copyright for Educators and Librarians, run by Duke University. The instructors are Kevin Smith, M.L.S., J.D., Lisa A. Macklin, J.D.,M.L.S., and Anne Gilliland, JD, MLS.

It has a hefty syllabus to read each week, plus a half dozen video lectures. The latter are rather interesting, but the former, much of it right out of the copyright law itself, is dry and occasionally self-contradictory. Work for hire, public domain, fair use – all complicated issues, and those were the ones I KNEW about. Continue reading

Autumnal start, drinking, poetry, Internety stuff

Elizabeth asked, in response to Ask Roger Anything (and YOU still can):

Why do they call the Autumnal Equinox the beginning of Fall when it is already Fall? Likewise the Winter Solstice isn’t the beginning of winter but well along into winter?

Why do “they” say anything? Why do they still use foot/pound? From the Wikipedia: “Some cultures regard the autumnal equinox as mid-autumn, others with a longer lag treat it as the start of autumn. Meteorologists (and most of the temperate countries in the southern hemisphere) use a definition based on months, with autumn being September, October and November in the northern hemisphere, and March, April and May in the southern hemisphere.

“In North America, autumn is usually considered to start with the September equinox. In traditional East Asian solar term, autumn starts on or around 8 August and ends on about 7 November.”

The answer, therefore, is Continue reading

Please don’t sue me, Mr. Faulkner!

From 1949; per Wikipedia description, image is in the public domain

I missed this initially, but a couple months ago, a federal judge in Mississippi nixed a lawsuit brought by the heirs of William Faulkner. In dispute was the claim that “Woody Allen’s 2011 film ‘Midnight in Paris’ [had] improperly used one of William Faulkner’s most famous lines.” The librarian in me was pleased with the outcome but ticked that the suit was filed in the first place.

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past,” Faulkner wrote in the book, ‘Requiem for a Nun.’ “In the movie, actor Owen Wilson, says: ‘The past is not dead. Actually, it’s not even past. You know who said that? Faulkner. And he was right. I met him too. I ran into him at a dinner party.'”

Read the judge’s ruling. The Faulkner heirs claimed violation of copyright law but SONY Pictures, the defendant, claimed the Fair Use provision in the law, Continue reading

Disney/Marvel, SONY and copyright overreach

I’ve long been concerned about the expanding length and reach of copyright protection in the United States, and elsewhere in the world. The US Constitution, in Article I, Section 8, empowers Congress to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” [Emphasis mine.]

These ever increasing terms have the effect that media conglomerates have developed a sense of entitlement towards intellectual property, even when it’s not warranted.

Back in the 1980s, when I used to buy and sell comic books, Marvel Comics had this lovely line called EPIC. It was a place that creator-owned work, comic art NOT owned by Marvel Comics, as well as selected other items, could be published. Continue reading

Music Copyright QUESTION

Two of my favorite topics are music and copyright law. When they converge, I’m utterly fascinated. Ann from New Zealand wrote about Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree, a children’s song I learned from a songbook in my elementary school. What I discovered from Ann was that the song was not in the public domain, as I had assumed, but was written in 1934 and is still under copyright. More to the point, the Australian group Men at Work Continue reading

The One Good Thing Is That We Learn About the US Constitution


Hey, kids, it’s Constitution Day again! And boy, have we learned about the application of the foundation of the United States in the past year or so, or what?

Article I, Section 8. The Congress shall have Power
[8] To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

The notion of “limited” gets longer every revisiting of the Copyright law, contrary, in my opinion, to the original intent of the Founders.

Article II [5] No person except a natural born Citizen…shall be eligible to the Office of President

Yes, don’t hear as much about them lately, but the birthers, who claim President Obama is not eligible to be President, are still out there.

Amendment I Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

This, of course, is at the heart of the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” debate; the usual line about this is that they have a RIGHT to build the Islamic center but that they OUGHT NOT TO. Continue reading