Saturday, March 02, 2002

Companies of Shit

Well, that'd have to be CyberRep, where I was doing customer service for a cellular telephone company (it's idenitfy isn't terribly important, since I was working for CyberRep, not them).

Mainly because Management was woefully mis-named. While there are valid arguments for flexibility and adaptability, managers at this company tended to simply change rules at the drop of a hat, and then hold you to them retroactively. So, for example, if you performed your job on Monday based upon the current rules, and then they changed the rules on Tuesday, you'd get shit for not obeying Tuesday's new rules back on Monday.

They also were somehow rather cerebrally incapable of discriminating when it came to disciplinary action. When any given employee or two would not be performing well, or was screwing around, rather than taking them aside and working with them on it directly, they'd make blanket company-wide edicts that had the essential effect of treating us all like we were in grade school.

When I finally up and quit, the head manager at the time asked me why (immediately after I had just explained in detail part of why). I re-iterated what I had already said and rattled off all the other reasons. He then decided it would be a shrewd thing to say, "Well that's an immature attitude to take." At which point I stood up perfectly straight (I had been hunching over because quitting a job is nerve-wracking), looked him in the eye and said, "I am done having this conversation now. And you of all people have some nerve using that word with anyone."

That was a fun day, all in all.

Nice Job Kevin and Evil Corporations

I like it Kevin--and I really like this "open letter" vehicle that is floating around these days. They speak in such a human voice--not someone trying to be legal because they are afraid the recipient might get mad and sue them. Anyway, it has my vote as a send. Do you want me to put a link on the left nav bar to it posted someplace, so that once more posts come in it doesn't get "buried"? Let me know. I'm glad you're here. Did everyone miss me? I've been playing with the girls, and I'm exhausted. I got this idea in my pre-sleep state one night and blog sisters was the result. We climbed to number 3 on daypop in our first 24 hours and finally fell off the charts today. So I can ease up a little bit and come back to my roots some. I was adding 1-2 sister bloggers an hour for most of yesterday, which means I participated in fewer than usual extracurricular activities.

With that, I'm going to rest.

I pose a question--what was the shittiest company you ever worked for and why? (I warn you not to use actual company names unless you're unafraid of litigation.) My disfunction junction was a now defunct Atlanta-based mom-and-pop boutique consulting firm where I served as director of corporate communications. We worked so hard for so little, it should have been illegal. game-playing, alcoholism, cheating, divorce, plots to get people fired, all of this happening in a group of people that numbered 80 in it's prime. Direct report meetings generally started with one or two women crying. Even before the meetings started. Door slaming, chair kicking, and lots of screaming between the CEO wife and Chairman husband. I told myself when I walked into the madness that if it ever started to seem "normal," I needed to leave. It started to seem normal, and I didn't leave. THAT was a crucial mistake. In the end, the place nearly killed me--quite literally--and brought one 6' 2" 60-year-old man to his knees during one of the company's patented workshops.

This was my lesson that although corporations can't breathe, can't love, aren't human, they *can* be inherently evil**. The sum of their parts, working in tandem, can create enough velocity to spin into some mad force of destruction. I have seen it, felt it, and seen people destroyed by it. No one person, plot, scheme, or hateful idea on its own has the power of evil. But when two or more join, the result can be a horrifying synergy of mass proportions.

Clearly, I went on longer than I should have here. But, when you come back home again, you might as well bring a story with you.

**evil - an overused word these days, but I think it applies much more aptly to corporations than to countries and their people.

A Open letter to Jack Valenti and Michael Eisner

Jack, in your sneering washington Post piece about copy protection, you refer to professors for whom '"innovation" is legalizing the breaking of protection codes'. Michael, in your testimony to congress you badgered an Intel exec until he told you that files copying can't be prevented.

As you are evidently impervious to logical discussion, let me tell you a story.

This is the story of a rebel, a war hero, a persecuted homosexual, and a deep thinker. His life reads like the plot of a far-fetched movie, but if anyone fits your bogeyman image of professors who break code, it is Alan Turing.

In 1936 Turing published a paper on theoretical mathematics, in which he described the Universal Turing machine. It was a simple mechanism that could read symbols from a tape, and write back different symbols or change the tape's direction. He showed that with this general purpose machine, you could simulate any special purpose machine. He had invented the idea of the programmable computer.

Between 1938 and 1945, Turing worked in great secrecy on computing machines that broke codes. These were the first real computers ever made, and the codes they broke were those used by the German Wehrmacht. Without his work, it is very likely that Britain would have lost the War in Europe before Pearl Harbour.

After the war, in 1950 Turing published other famous papers that laid the foundation for computing, and hence all the digital gadgetry that you would like to outlaw for us (though presumably you'd keep the computers you use to edit and create effects for your movies). Turing died in 1954 by biting into an apple he had previously poisoned.

What does this story have to do with you?

Turings Universal Machine means that you cannot have a software or hardware protection scheme that is secure. Whatever scheme you come up with can be simulated by another computer. The computer industry are not opposing your bill because they want to encourage copying, or because they are bloody-minded, they are not opposing you because of your self serving rhetoric about rewarding artists (remember Peggy Lee, Michael?), they are opposing you because what you want is provably impossible. You can only succeed by making all Turing machines illegal.

If Alan Turing had made an animated film involving a poisoned apple in 1936, it would still have copyright protection. He chose a different path, and gave the world the idea of the digital computer. I know whom I repect more.

(Edits and improvements gratefully accepted).

Sterling Words

Bruce Sterling (he who referred to me as part of the "two punk kids" who stayed in his guest room after his post-CFP party) on the state of things Internet:

Okay, so the Net has proved toxic to business and nobody's making any money there. That stopped the profiteering, except for the spammers of course ... hucksters who are methodically bringing net.commerce into such putrid disrepute that it may well never recover. Lack of money, though, is not stopping the innovation. It never did. The Internet now reaches half the population of the USA. It is starting big seismic rumblings in China, Iran, and India, societies that lack their own AOL Time Warner and therefore have some dead-serious uses for cheap global network communication. Worldwide, people use the Net for e-mail. E-mail never had a real business model, but it was one feature everybody always wanted. The Net is becoming the planet's water cooler. It's all about the schmoozing and the gossip.


Thursday, February 28, 2002

And I'm sorry the aforegoing link now points to some dadaist claptrap that Chris has discovered in his misspent efforts, it wasn't there when I first linked to his page. Just page down a little.

I'd only point out to Chris that if the meaning of the passage he quotes is to be evident, then the meaning it espouses cannot be.


"da do do do, da da da da,
is all I want to say to you!"
- The Police.
I dunno. I think maybe Chris (Locke) is a bit misguided in asking "What did Cluetrain actually say?"

Who cares?

Well, he does, of course, (and you or I might, too) but my point is really that Chris is confronting the outliers of imperial power, the half civilised tribes on the borders of the pax mercantila.

These are not the people who profit most from the mere existence of the imperium, but they are the people who desperately *want* to.

These are the believers in the American Dream, these are the quintessential Joneses, these are the people for whom it simply *must* be true that all glory, honour, and goodness resides in the god of constant consumption, for these are the people who have sold their entire lives to the service of this particular beast.

They have no choice but to believe, and in believing to take up arms against the occasional infidel who comes to threaten their long cherished dream of attaining citizenship in the earthly paradise.

But they are *not* the beast itself. At worst they are its whores, at best its half-willing victims.

If Cluetrain, Gonzo, and Rants and Screeds are assaults on the paradigmatic gates of Rome, then the ripostes of Messrs Dvorak et al are simply the flailing sympathetic galvanic responses of the vassal legions. Engaging with them is not engaging with the beast itself, slaying them does not weaken the beast, nor breach its walls, nor threaten its power.

They do not need to know what Cluetrain says to know that it threatens their comfortable illusions. It is arguable whether it is even desirable for them to actually know what Cluetrain says. As is typically the case with martial religions, the more ignorant they remain the more effective they are as the shock-troops of god. As vassals of the Divine Emperor they know that it is their sacred duty to execute anyone who points out that he has no clothes. (It helps that their sacred duty is in complete congruence with their perceived self interest, of course.) They are not restrained by due process of law, nor by any quaint notions of rules of engagement, for their visceral barbarian emotional response is itself their primary value. It is part and parcel of the terror that holds the world in continuing thrall. The fear of provoking them, even on slim and unwarranted hearsay, is a means to an end that is not theirs.

Don't waste your time or your efforts on them.

Don't waste your words on them.

Don't waste your fear on them.

Offline Gonzo

As I don't seem to be able to get you worked up about Valenti and Hollings' plan to outlaw any unsanctioned transfer of bits, let me instead point at a couple of articles from the British press that look like Gonzo marketing offline. Craig Brown explains the odd cult of the Aga:
To the question, "What do other people say about your Aga?", Ms Gowing replies: "Whenever I entertain, I have quite a job getting my friends out of the kitchen as the Aga is like a magnet and a real talking point." She reveals: "I have converted quite a few friends to the Aga way of life."

Roger Scruton, the Phliosopher and founder of the Jan Hus foundation, organised some seminars for a tobacco company, in what sounds like a robust Gonzo way, and has been attacked for it in postively Dvorakian terms. Love his business card:
Britain’s leading post-modern rural consultancy, specialists in landscape-maintenance, literary criticism, equitation, hedge-laying, musicology, typesetting, publishing, dry-stone walls, writing, journalism, countryside restoration, museums, composition, pond-management, public affairs, log-cutting, logic-chopping, rare breeds of chicken, sheep, dreams; also hay and straw.
Roger has been Gonzo for ages, and is an old friend of my father. How could he have done this better?

RageBoy is in the motherfuckin' house

You must go read it now. He's b-a-c-k. And he's burnin. Kick it, RB!

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

a note to marek

we've been too long without you. If a group of a dozen or more fine ladies won't get you blogging again, what will?


Kevin, this is just what I was talking about in my love of what Mahoney called "amateurish" writing on blogs. I can follow it. I don't need it to be more concise. I want to ride along on the frenzied journey that is this blogger's twisted life. Ya.

For more fun, women of the blog have an extra gathering spot as of today: Blog Sisters, where men can link, but they can't touch.

Come on ladies--let's talk.


I was zigzagging through blog links while waiting for a compile, and stumbled across this.

Voice in spades. Do you think she'll let him have it back?

It fits in really well with Jeneane's point about Pro's versus amateurs earlier...

The Boob Sings

We interrupt this program for something scary.

You will believe that boobs can sing.

You'll believe it. But you won't want to.
Yes Jeneane, I'm sure they have. I'm sure that your politicians (like ours) know full well that their every minute of parasitic existence depends on the continued gullibility of a proportion of the general public.

So far, there's precious little evidence that Gary is any different. But I just couldn't bear to see what's on "Gary's page for Kids!" My mind was simply over-boggled by the very thought.

Has he taken "Winning Through Worst Practices" too far, do you think?

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Who would take this job?

Jeez.... you think anyone's applied?
"CM's edit: The link above loads a page with some profanity."

I love this.

I think we should invent some CM's edit: blogstickers.

Something along the lines of:

"CM's edit: The link above loads a page with some irrelevant self-indulgent bullshit by a cheap technocrat whore."

"Ignore this author."

Thanks, Jim Lynch (Community Manager) and Jeneane! Who knew it could be this simple? Having selected the surprisingly comprehensive "ignore" option, henceforth JCD my doorstep will darken no longer.
From: JOHNBEANS 6:32 pm
To: JOHNCDVORAK unread (59 of 60)
4681.59 in reply to 4681.57

Thanks, but I've always thought that writing a column would be like someone who loves to travel opening a tour-guide company -- that doing something for pleasure occasionally and doing it for a living would be radically different experiences. I would expect that most peoples' sense of humor couldn't survive either the deadline or the inevitable criticism. Agree?

Well, it certainly seems so in this case.
Per Denver, I went and checked out Prof./Doc. Lomborg's site. Lawsuits are less fun and more expensive than an abscessed molar, and the definition of fair use is as lucid as a Dvorak article. It looks like Lomborg copied and displayed the whole Scientific American piece, thus making a fair use argument much tougher. Here's a nifty reference to help illustrate: the "fair use checklist" that Indiana University provides its researchers.* It lists the factors a court is likely to consider in determining whether the copying is a fair use. Note that using a whole work and making it available on the web are big "cons." A case study from the same source also is informative, as it works through hypotheticals involving a professor's reproduction of a magazine article. Where the use is non-profit and the purpose is sufficiently worthy, even wholesale copying can be a fair use - you'd have a tougher time convincing a court, but it could be done. Even so, Being Wrong Loudly can be a remarkably effective legal tactic, especially before a court is involved. The Prof./Doc. probably decided this was not the place to plant his flag and squander his resources. He still gets his digs in without using the whole article.

(*Here are similar faculty guidelines from Bryn Mawr and Vassar.)

now this is stupid.

since when is being "shrill" a reason to close a discussion thread? Eeeks, these guys really are nerdy whimps. John, Clokers, and Enorlin, ya better watch yourselves. The great and powerful CM is not pleased.

Blogging the Cat

This cat blogs his dog, a fabulous beast! He's also blogged his cat - dead at last. Mundane matters as commonplace and annoying as gum on the shoe in a hot parking lot seem to annoy the salaried critics. So let's look inward again and work on the voice thang. That's what many of us are surely about: finding and expressing and exposing and knowing and allowing ourselves to be known.
Oh! Hernani?

Dvorak is a nobody, a man who believes (as already alluded to below) that because he knows something about how computers work he must therefore know that they *mean*.

A hopeless nutter, in other words, since the conclusion simply cannot be drawn from the prior established facts.
Be Suspicious.

For you cannot go about the public pursuit of passion without being seen as hopelessly romantic and naiively sentimental by those who want to affect a more sophisticated air of "professionalism."

And speaking of sophistication, see its roots in sophistry, for example, to understand that it doesn't mean what sophisticated people think it means. An unintentional and uncharacteristic honesty on their part?

As Jeneane says (sort of) Wear your pathetic romantic unsophisticated labels with pride.

As the Good Book says: you cannot serve God *and* Mammon.

You have both right and obligation to be suspicious of those who claim that you can.

For Denise and Kevin: Scientific American (I think) recently published an executionary diatribe against Bjorn Lomborg, the ex-GreenPeace turned skeptic environmental scientist.

Bjorn used the article to publish (on his own website) a rebuttal, for which SA threatened to sue him for copyright infringement, and he removed the offending piece simply because he can't afford the defense costs.*

Question: Would his use be acceptable under the terms you described, below?

Seems to me that it would, but . . . . .

* Several other publications have since made his response available on their own sites, affectively daring SA to sue them, and thus to confirm their deliberate abandonment of any search for truth, in favour of more mercenary ambition.
BTW... who is Dvorak? I don´t give a shit for this bastard. We just have to thank him to show us the meaning of his life. I´d just like to be apart. "We can't go on together with suspicious minds."

The Axis of Manic Cussing

The battle between Rageboy and Dvorak continues, with RageBoy's most recent retort to John's name calling. John has labeled us "Very Creepy People," and I for one feel good about it.
Again it comes down to the fact that many blogs are conversations. The office where I work has around 20 people in it. Many of them check out my blog everyday and wonder down the hallway to finish the comments in real time (as they don't converse online). People confuse a blog with a online or offline magazine when they are two different things all together. We need divergence, not convergence with the MSNBC's of the world. Dvorak and other over-touted articles forget that. Canada's National Post waded into the blogging debate last week with this less than profound article. The article misses the point completely. I blogged it and tossed in my two cents here.

Where's the Real Threat?

While this idiot was busy garnering undeserved hits yesterday, a more omonous-to-blogging and over-touted article was busy climbing its way to number 2 on daypop (now at 7). What felt really wrong about this article was what I observed to be its aim: to deter "amateur" writers from blogging. Read my take on the article and my own advice over on allied (after the dorkvak post). Thanks to Mike Golby for being a sounding board and editor.

Propogate if you see it as I do.

Jack Valenti needs a clue

While we're roasting old media types, have a look at what Jack V has to say. I waded in at some length on my blog, but I'd like to hear what the rest of you think.

And I haven't forgotten that blog archiving tool - I may have something tonight.

John C. Dvorak: Cult of the Cluetrain Manifesto

When you go to a circus, does anyone really care what the clowns say? Dvorak confuses writing about computers to actually understanding how the network has changed the ways that a society interacts. That being said, it was a horribly written column. Someone is slacking this week.

No Piscean Plot

Sorry, Marek. While your Dvorak analysis is both amusing and mostly accurate, I need to set you straight on one point. Maybe you're under thirty-five and therefore don't remember, but there was a time when the Business-as-Usual crowd was swooning over the Erhard Vector, and Dvorak is old enough to have known it well. In fact, some high-tech circles of the day were particularly susceptible, believe it or not.

And the ad scene! My God, the guys in charge of the American Express account AND the US Army account, to name two examples I knew about, were spinning the shit out of said Vector. "Be all that you can be." had EST dripping all over it.

So John C.D. need not have been coerced by any sneaky Pisceans to have played the Werner card. He knew what he was up to. You are too kind to suggest otherwise.

Ah, now we're getting somewhere!

Monday, February 25, 2002

What? Dvorak didn't invent the keyboard!?!

My friend just informed me of the bad news today. For over 60 years, our keyboard cult worshipers have supported the guy who we believed was a godhead and keyboard savior --- then we unearthed this bit:

Concluding that there is some sort of conspiracy afoot among the obviously grass-roots 60-year support for the Dvorak is paranoia, not academic theory. ~

Are the Rageboy groupies really cult worshipers? We're not just postmodern cult leftovers, are we? Aren't we really more like monks? Do only the heretics consider us to be like members of a monastic order, devoted to the practice of a recusant hagiology? Others may mistakenly see hints of a quest for a divine theologue or theogonic pursuits and hear what seem to be confessions of fabulous deities and mythological powers. However, some of us just like to screw around a bit and poke fun at a few odium theologicums every now and then. Is this wrong?

I'm normally too timid to post to this group, but the recentMarek J and Sandhill really struck a nerve --- with their unfounded claims about a particular Polish history and talks of a weasel coated Norwegian judge.

In our defense, an essay by Chris Redmond, reprinted from The Sherlock Holmes Review in 1989 clearly states that "the puzzle … is in its last sentence" and … "my address will be in Norway - I'll send particulars later. He does not say why he is going to Norway"… but I think that WE ALL UNDERSTAND WHY HE WAS GOING THERE! This reference in and of itself is conclusive and refutes any of the non nostrum tantas componere lites (what does that mean?) of Marek and Frank.

Sandhill Trek Expresses Solidarity with Polish Ventriloquist Bloggers

In a fraternal expression of solidarity, Johnny Ace - the chief Trekster and power behind the blog - was seen tonight with tears of gratitude in his eyes as he sobbed his heartfelt thanks that perhaps somewhere there is justice in the sport of Olympic BlogSledding. "You'd think the dumb fuckers could use a stopwatch or something. What is this holding up little cards with subjective numbered scores from 1 to 6? And where did the Norwegian judge get that new weasel coat? And if they are going to hold up little cards, why don't they hold up little cards with fishes, say from one to five fishes, with five fishes being the best? And couldn't somebody automate that for them?" There was a lot more mumbling before Johnny passed out, one too many 8 ounce tumblers of fine Polish vodka having been consumed.

Polish Ventriloquist Bloggers Federation supports Jamaican BlogSled Team

'This is an outrage' - was heard from the Polish Ventriloquists Bloggers Federation camp at the Olympic Blog Village in Salt Lake City, referring to Jamaican BlogSled team for having not been considered for '5 Fish Blog' Award. 'This is an outrage and we stand by the Jamaican BlogSled team. Those lads are great. We protest the machinations of the one they call Fishukyamuni. This is an outrage and we side with Sandhill Trek. We hope this matter will be resolved soon. The investigation continues. Stay tuned.

Dvorak: Fishakyamuni's Norwegian Connection

In the latest development in Figure Blogging controversy we have chanced upon an article written by one they call Dvorak, John C. The article is an 'asp' page wich immediately raises a red flag. Dvorak begins with strange words 'review of the book that won't die'. Chris Locke, the first to ever complete a famous Triple Salchow Blog Jump, has crafted a well-reasoned response: 'Blow me, you dumb mothefucker'

What we don't understand is why would Dvorak, a well respected computing guy who doesn't know shit about Figure Blogging, want to review the book they call 'Cluetrain Manifesto?', I ask you dear reader. If he hopes the book to die then why would he want to pen a shitty article about it? Would it not start a conversation about the book right back? (Chief Archeologist note: Since Dvorak doesn't 'get it' about conversatons we need to rewrite this sentence for him: Would it not start people talking about the book again?)

It is at this point that our Chief Archeologist interrupts with these important words: 'Maybe Dvorak is a Fishakyamuni's spy?' - I mean, since Fishrush has advanced the Figure Blogging arena and brought the sport to the eyes of millions, at this crucial moment Dvorak seems to have been used by Fishkyamuni to say some really stupid words to avert our focus from the real thing; namely that Figure Blogging originated in Poland in Kleczwowo village. Maybe Dvorak was drugged? Kindapped? Forced to write this crap by Fishakyamuni? We don't want to quote much here for we fear that reading Dvorak's crap will cause further damage to our brains. However may we say that Dvorak knows how to use theatrical props well. In his piece he reaches for the favorite: Werner Erhard of EST. This, my dear readers, is a sure clue that Dvorak is in fact Fishakyamuni's spy. No one in their right mind would ever envoke the Erhard Vector to score points witht the Business As Usual people. We will investigate furhter. Stay tuned.
And if that isn't what free and protected speech is all about, I'm off to join the Poles :^).

Got it. Go Rageboy.

Then there is Chris's approach: Escalate and eviscerate.

Disintermediation Marches On

Interesting piece by Tig Tillighast in ClickZ about some of the possible effects of Google's new do-it-yourself, cost-per-click advertising:

The implications are huge. In traditional media, the brunt of spending is done by small companies in media such as newspapers and local radio. We tend not to talk much about that kind of stuff in marketing circles, because we have a bias against small advertisers and because online media haven't been transactionally efficient enough to bother with them. But, by opening the door to small advertisers, Google may be multiplying available marketing dollars for everyone online.

. . . and,

Another interesting aspect will be the implications these systems have on people who buy and sell ads. One could argue that with this type of system (especially if it spans multiple sites), the need for a lot of the work an agency does would become moot. Likewise, the sales force might become superfluous to all but the very largest and vainest accounts.

Will this leave those big, vain accounts more isolated and irrelevant? It's nice to contemplate.

John C

I don't think there's any question that your example in all its forms is criticism and fair use. Now, parody, for example, can be a more difficult beast. The estate of Margaret Mitchell did not take kindly to Alice Randall's "The Wind Done Gone" last year, calling it a derivative and infringing work, but an appellate court disagreed and said Ms. Randall's work was a not only a fair use but an appropriate exercise of her first amendment rights (more here). Justice Potter Stewart famously said of obscentity that it was difficult to define, but you know it when you see it. This kind of ad hoc approach creeps into the way the courts analyze copyright disputes as well, as they try to strike an appropriate balance and prevent the wholesale misappropriation of protected materials.

By the way, just what has become of the Klingon figure bloggers? Google has a Klingon interface, after all, and I do note it is impossible to make out the features of the pair on the IBU home page.


So, to take a topical example, Dvorak is trolling for pageviews today by quoting the first 10 Cluetrain theses and making banal but inflammatory comments on them. If I quote his article in its entirety here, interspersed with my commentary, is that fair or not?

If I elide his more boring comments, does that make it fairer?

If I elide his comments to the emphasise his fatuity?

John Dvorak writes:
But, of course, "I don't get it." I imagine all these folks holding hands in a large circle, rolling back and forth, with some in the middle of the circle, spinning and chanting and hugging, all naked. How about this for a thesis: "People walk on two feet."
I'm waiting for a blog written in Klingon. That would be something. People are changed fundamentally? Third eyes? Extra toes?

Don't feed this troll.

When blogs cry


Before I can be accused of putting myself too frequently under Lee's care, let me clear up the nature of my practice. I actually am an appellate lawyer, and so get involved when someone has won or lost at trial and the case goes on to the next level(s) of judicial review. This means I handle many business law issues, but intellectual property is near and dear to my heart. I work with several copyright law gurus who eat, drink and sleep the stuff, and ride in like the cavalry whenever needed. To answer Kevin, though, your first assumption is not quite right. A copyright violation conceivably can occur whenever a copy of a protected work is made. This is because copyright holders have certain exclusive rights in their works: the rights to copy, modify, publicly perform, distribute and publicly display. The kinds of acts you mention in your second paragraph fall within the "fair use" exception - they meet the test for something the law might consider infringement, but for public policy reasons we (through our legislators and courts) have decided certain types of uses, within reason, should be encouraged and not prevented. Copyright holders thus are "deemed" to consent to use by others for research, teaching, comment, criticism, news reporting and the like. Whether something is a "fair use" depends on considerations like how much of the copyrighted work is used and for what purpose (e.g., does the use detract from the commercial market for the copyrighted work). (You also gain certain rights when you own a copy of a protected work - a book, a cd, etc. You can re-sell the item - think - and publicly display it "at the place where the copy is located.")

The DMCA was Congress' attempt to refine and clarify general copyright principles for the digital arena, and impose stricter penalties for certain kinds of copying. (An overview of the Act is available here from the UCLA Online Institute of Cyberspace Law and Policy.) The DMCA primarily is concerned with means of making a copy which did not exist before powerful computers and internet use were commonplace, or which can only be accomplished by circumventing the manufacturer's built-in copy protections. The DMCA also makes certain activities a crime, and thus provides a whole different type of remedy than those available in a private infringement lawsuits. For example, under the DMCA criminal penalties may be leveled against someone who cracks encryption software. ISP's also are shielded from liability for simply transmitting copyrighted material, but made more accountable if they are notified a user's web site may display infringing works. The DMCA is careful to preserve the fair use exceptions discussed above. The end result for your purposes is still the same: exercise caution and common sense. If in doubt, don't do it or definitely consult a lawyer. Your commentary and limited quotation of another's copyrighted work probably would be a fair use. But if you're using a great deal of the work, without the author's permission, in economic competition with the author - have a care. The reason so many copyright cases are in the news these days is that rights holders and users are trying to fit new practices into the old legal structure and see what the courts will go for (consider what *fun* someone could have, for example, with the rule that you can publicly display your copy of a book or a cd at the place where it is located). No one here wants to be the next headline I assume(?), but in fact that's how the law in this area develops. People on either side of the issue decide something's too harmful or just wrong, and turn to the courts for guidance.


Sandhill Trek, proud sponsors of the Jamaican BlogSled team has lodged a protest with the IBU regarding the recent sleigh(t) of hand associated with the omission of consideration for a 5 Fish award for the plucky lads from the islands. The closest we can come to understanding this situation is that perhaps they didn't win a Figure Blogging award because they were entered in the BlogSled competition. Regardless, the Sandhill Board is meeting soon to decide whether or not to return the 5Fish award we've so proudly displayed since our early days of bloggery.

Selling links?

I can't even sell a TV & Video cabinet. (Does that count as Gonzo Marketing? Any micromarkets looking for furniture in the SJ area listening?)

Backing up a bit, as we have a copyright lawyer in the house, can you confirm (or refute) my understanding of copyright law and the DMCA?
As I see it , copyright law is concerned with publication - showing things to people. Copying from one form to another, editing and quoting is not a breach of copyright; it is the act of publication that is. This is a sensible framing that makes it immune from technological innovation (until we get machines that can be classd as persons, I suppose).

The DMCA is all about copying data, whether or not a human ever sees it, which seems to extend the bounds of copyright much further, and to strongly limit the ability to edit and thus read only a subset of a work. Do I have this right, or not?

Sunday, February 24, 2002

Norwegian Figure Bloggers conspiracy to silence Polish Ventriloquist Judges

Our first post generated a lot of responses. One of them came from a woman who shall remain AnnOnymous. Let's call her CilAnnTro or AnnDroid to protect her identity for she fears the Norwegians wrath. She asks a thought provoking question which we'll expand upon in this installment of our investigative report into the origins of Figure Blogging.

"Did you ever wonder why there are no Polish judges in Figure Blogging?"

That very notion has been addressed by Fishrush himself, to the blogging world known as the Chairman of Figure Blogging Olympics. It's no wonder that Polish judges have been denied participation in any international level of blogging competitions since, of course, they maintain that Figure Blogging origins are falsly attributed to Norway. Could it be perhaps, that there is some Norwegian generated consipiracy going on? Could it be that the Norwegians, headed by Fishakyamuni, are in collusion with the Chinese and the Russian judges but distance themselves from the French judges, since the free world knows that the French can not be trusted. Could it be then that it was the crafty Norwegians that set the French judges up to take the fall as as to remove the focus from themselves? Perhaps it is the classic 'Fire and Motion' strategy as recently being displayed by Microsoft in the business world with their latest .Net initiative. Who is learning from whom here, huh?

I mean, did you notice the Norwegian spy disguised as a 'man as a woman in figure blogger's dress' representing Russia at the current Winter Figure Blogging Olympics in Salt Lake City? Were the Russians even aware? I mean, no self-respecting Russian female would tolerate that 5 o'clock shadow.It was clearly one of the men from the Fishakyamuni's village that infiltrated the Women Russian Figure Bloggers ranks, as any Polish judge would tell you, but of course they were not permitted to be judging anything outside of Poland, much less the Olympic events. We will investigate further. Stay tuned.

Figure Blogging Origins Questioned

Fishrush is pointing to Figure Blogging's origins to Norway however it may not be entierly true that Figure Blogging was started by a band of nomads in Norway in 1996. Our Chief Derailment Archeologist has a different and quite possible explanation on how Figure Blogging came to be. To our surprise he points to a small village in Poland in the Kurpie region named Kleczkowo which in Polish means 'approach the blog' or so could be loosely translated into English but we know that that in fact Kleczkowo is Polish term for Figure Blogging.

We do not deny a Norway connection; a Kleczkowo villager named Winczeslaw emigrated to Norway in search of a better method of potato picking and chanced upon summer solstice celebrations taking place in Fishakyamuni's village. Winczeslaw, enamored with the display of artful rituals of Norwegian villagers, tried to demonstrate his own village rituals to Fishakyamuni but he was unable to fully explain the meaning behind them since he lacked a crucial skill of Norwegian language. The only way to communicate for him was to move about his legs and hands, here and there jumping up and down to somehow distinguish the finer points of Kleczkowo rituals. He was completely misunderstood further by Fishakyamuni who got drunk and stoned that night and woke up the next morning fully convinced that the gods of his fathers visited him in his sleep and instructed him to start a worldwide movement of Figure Blogging.

We are dispatching our finest team of archeologists to the village of Kleczkowo to further investigate the origin of Figure Blogging and set the record straight. In the meantime Polish Ventriloquist Bloggers Federation has filed a lawsuit with the International Bloggers Union to recognize Figure Blogging as having its origins in Kleczkowo village. We will update you on the above mentioned topics soon. Stay tuned.