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  • #61
    Originally posted by AislingGrey
    And Elver, since I'm pretty sure you haven't been around here as long as some of us, I'll just give you a brief summary of my credentials: I worked in the music business, in a copyright and licensing capacity, for about a dozen years. Even though I'm now a web designer, I do still keep up with current US Copyright law and legislation, so I'm pretty much the authority here. While I'm not a lawyer, I have more years of experience working with US and international copyright laws than many entertainment attorneys currently practicing in the field, so I'm fairly confident of the opinions I make in this regard.
    Ah! Excellent! We have an expert

    Okay, on to the post:

    First of all, both fan fiction and the re-creating of ships are both types of copyright and trademark infringement. An infringement (based on US and many other countries' laws) is not determined by whether or not any profit has been made, or any money has been collected. The presence or absence of money having changed hands will only affect the terms of the court settlement or fee. Obviously, if an infringer has profited hugely, they'll be charged a much larger fee than a "Joe Schmoe" infringer who just happens to have some trademarked logos on his personal website.
    Alright. Suppose I use the B5 logo on my webpage and add a notice saying that the logo belongs to WB and its use on this web page is not endorsed by them. That would be legal, right?

    I think it would fall under fair use. In the sense that if you want to write about Babylon 5, (a review, say) then you will need to use the trademarked term "Babylon 5" and most likely you'll be wanting to use the logo of Babylon 5 as well. Perhaps a few screencaptures too. That would be fair use, methinks.

    The question is, where does the border between fair use and not so fair use go? If you use copyrighted/trademarked things in your fanfic and add a disclaimer saying that these things belong to WB and their use isn't endorsed, then what? Does it still fall under fair use? It's basically right there with writing a novel and using something like the following in it:

    Dave opened the bottle of Coca-Cola he had found in the ruins of New York. He took a large gulp, frowned and tossed it on the desert sand. "Disgusting stuff," he said, took the wheel and drove off to his hiding place in the mountains.

    Now, could the Coca Cola Company sue you for this?

    And, just as with the money issue, whether or not you label the infringement with a disclaimer about ownership doesn't affect whether or not it is an infringement. It's no better, or more legal, to infringe on a copyright if you post the name of the copyright owner.
    Even if you were to clearly state that the copyright owner does not endorse your work?

    This is not true. You _cannot_ write a fan fiction story about the erotic adventures of Sinclair and G'Kar. Besides the fact that I will hunt you down and hurt you <g>, it is an infringement of copyright. Whether or not you post a disclaimer about who owns the characters.
    I heard JMS once wrote a B5 script about the erotic adventures of G'Kar and Londo...

    The reason fan fiction seems to exist in a separate, un-prosecutable realm than other infringements, has been discussed here before. Mainly, it's because with fan fiction, there is very little possibility that the property will be tangibly damaged by it. That is, no one who reads fan fiction on a website, or downloads it from a website, or buys a stapled copy of it at a convention, is likely to mistake the fan fiction for a legitimate, licensed Babylon 5 product.
    This is just my point. If you make it clear to whoever reads it that WB owns the characters, they don't endorse it and that you do not make a profit off it, then WB can't prosecute you, can they?

    Shr'eshhhhhh, this is an interesting question. Certainly, the author of such a fan fiction (one they believe has been infringed upon) could bring suit against another party, and the decision would depend on the judge and their interpretation of the law, and their judgement of the particular case. But...oh, let me make this into an example so it'll be easier to understand:

    Let's say that someone authored a fan fiction about Susan and Talia having all kinds of sex (there's _tons_ of fan fiction on this subject out there), amidst a plot about them traveling to the rim of the galaxy and saving known space from a horrible space duck, by the use of amazing telepathic powers. Now let's say that some enterprising young filmmaker comes out with a film about two women, lovers, both telepathic, who travel to the rim of the galaxy and save known space from a horrible space duck by the use of amazing telepathic powers. But the lead characters are not Susan and Talia.

    Okay, so we have the author of the Susan/Talia fanfic taking the filmmaker to court, based on the _original_ component of their story.

    Now....by bringing this up for public scrutiny, they've opened themselves right up to a lawsuit which probably would never have happened if they'd only written a fanfic that was on a website somewhere. But let's say that the judge in this case decides on the part of the fanfic author, and the filmmaker is required to pay the fanfic author a million dollars in damages. Don't you think that the WB will come right up and say that the million dollars rightly belongs to _them_, as the original story would never have been written without the impetus that a fan had to write about Susan and Talia?
    Hm. I don't think WB has a claim to it. I mean, the film was based on the ORIGINAL part of the story. Here's an example from the tech world.

    Suppose you take a piece of code that has been released under the GPL. (GPL says that if you give someone the compiled executable, then you must also give away the code and that code must also be released under the GPL to that person.) Say, you take a simple todo list manager. You add a few simple features to it, then a calendar, then turn it into a full personal schedule management system. You then rewrite the parts of it that came with the original code. (The simple todo list part.) After that, you own full copyright to that code and are free to do with it as you please -- you own the code. The fact that you originally based it off a piece of GPLed code has nothing to do with it.

    True, but it's usually "fair use" that people get confused about with regard to whether or not a profit has been made. "Public domain" is something else entirely, and also has its share of misunderstandings.
    I was a bit unclear about that. I meant that you clearly say that the characters herein belong to WB and their use is not endorsed by them and what I meant by public domain is that you don't make a profit off them and someone else using them can't make a profit off them as well. (Since WB owns the characters in question.)

    Something that is in the public domain is, simply, something that is not protected by copyright law in a particular territory. So that can mean something that was once protected, but whose protection has now expired; or it can mean something that was never eligible for protection under any copyright law. Examples of that are short phrases and names (those are eligible for trademark protection instead), the information that is in a calendar, on a clock, on a multiplication table, etc. That's freely available information, and while someone might copyright their _presentation_ of it (see any Hallmark calendar, or calendar by a famous artist), the actual information about the days and dates is not copyrightable.
    A small note: a person might release something in public domain just because they want to. For example, I've released most of my code into public domain.

    As for "fair use," that's the thing that people sometimes think their particular use is covered under. "Fair use" is an exception to US copyright law, and whether or not something falls under its aegis has little or nothing to do with whether or not any money has changed hands. Fair use was mainly set up to accomodate direct teaching and critique/review situations. If you're reviewing a book, you have to be able to quote from it. If you're teaching about a symphony, you have to be able to use excerpts from the score in your teaching materials.
    What about parodies? What would protect me if I decided to make a commercial parody of B5?

    Um... I think that's about the gist of what I meant to say. Is anyone still awake? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
    I am, still. Not for long, though. The linear algebra and analytical geometry lecture will begin in one hour :P
    Last edited by elver; 11-09-2004, 06:16 AM.

    Comment


    • #62
      Originally posted by frulad
      Great info Amy.

      I do have a question though.

      Since the internet has greatly made this world a lot smaller, how do US copyright laws affect someone like Shr'eshhhhhh and the others here who live in England or other foreign lands? What happens if they post something a copyright holder wishes to take action on to a server in another country even though folks here in the US have easy access to it?
      It comes down to whether or not the country that the server is located in acknowledges US copyright laws or not. If it does, then the US company can sue the server holder or its service provider directly.

      I dunno if trademarks can cross borders as easily.

      As for patents, then they don't cross borders and you'll have to manually patent your invention in every part of the world. (Right now, at least, though there are exceptions.)

      This, also, means that if you upload B5 episodes on a server in a country that doesn't acknowledge US copyright laws (good luck finding one) then, heh, it'd be quite legal. Of course, it would still be illegal to download them if you're located in a country that does acknowledge US copyright laws.

      As an interesting historical fact: kiddieporn (I think it was 8 years and up or so) used to be legal in Japan until a while ago and there used to be tons of such servers located there that catered to international customers. With Internet becoming so widespread in late 1990s, the rest of the world forced Japan into adapting more conservative laws. (I came across this on Wikipedia one day.)

      Comment


      • #63
        Originally posted by Shr'eshhhhhh
        The thing that bugs me about all the different forms of Fan production, fan fiction. fan films, fan edits, etc etc is that some of it is really good.

        Why can't all these girls and guys get together and make something totally new?

        ...

        Am I sounding like the Karl Marx of fan fiction?

        Fan fiction writers of the world unite the only thing you have to lose is the chain binding you to someone elses idea!
        Ah, but they do do all the things you dream of. I've been following amateur film festivals here in Estonia and elsewhere for years and have studied filmmaking on my own for the past year or so. I also have several screenplays and ideas that I've written down here.

        The problem is that the equipment is expensive. Making a movie with your average home camera would be, well, bad. Uninteresting. You'll end up with a movie that has crappy picture. Not to mention sound. Sound is the one place where 99% of the amateur movies suck. You can't just take a camera and use its built-in microphone. Plus the editing takes a lot of time afterwards.

        You could do the movie for free, of course. Find someone with a proper camera, loan it, build proper microphones and a system for recording from several at the same time, have the cast make their own costumes, use free software for editing (Heroinewarrior's Cinelerra is a Hollywood-used editing package that's available for free and it's open source as well), etc, but pulling it all together is still a big thing and getting people motivated enough to do it properly so it doesn't end up as yet another teen angst movie with a teddy bear and someone slicing their wrists as about 1/3 of current amateur movies are would be a great undertaking indeed.

        Of course, if anyone has any hints on how to motivate people so I could go ahead and make that movie I've been planning for half a year now, then I'd appreciate that

        Comment


        • #64
          Oh, one more question if you don't mind, Amy. Am I correct in my belief that if a copyright holder is aware of infringement and does nothing to stop the infringement or legitimize the use, the copyright holder actually places the material at risk for entering the public domain. That was the thought lurking behind my comment about WB not really being able to deal with someone who created unauthorized models of the B5 ships.
          "That was the law, as set down by Valen. Three castes: worker, religious, warrior."

          Comment


          • #65
            Wow, that's a lot of additional questions. Let's begin at the beginning:

            Amy, thanks for the info! You truly are a queen, and I always pick up some new tidbits from your explanations. I find the ins and outs of this things fascinating, so no snoozing here!
            Thank you, WorkerCaste.

            Since the internet has greatly made this world a lot smaller, how do US copyright laws affect someone like Shr'eshhhhhh and the others here who live in England or other foreign lands? What happens if they post something a copyright holder wishes to take action on to a server in another country even though folks here in the US have easy access to it?
            Right now, frulad, mainly people who infringe via the internet are being pursued and prosecuted in the territory in which their server resides. This is fairly simple to do, because most large copyright holders have an office, or an agent, in every territory that recognizes copyright.

            Alright. Suppose I use the B5 logo on my webpage and add a notice saying that the logo belongs to WB and its use on this web page is not endorsed by them. That would be legal, right?
            Nope, elver, it would not be. It's like stealing a car, and putting a sign on it that says "This car is stolen." That doesn't make it any more legal!

            I think it would fall under fair use. In the sense that if you want to write about Babylon 5, (a review, say) then you will need to use the trademarked term "Babylon 5" and most likely you'll be wanting to use the logo of Babylon 5 as well. Perhaps a few screencaptures too. That would be fair use, methinks.
            Ah, and here it comes down to what it always comes down to: fair use. Fair use is the most misunderstood element of copyright law, and people REALLY want it to make their use legitimate. Unfortunately, in the case you describe, it is not.

            If you had a website that posted reviews of B5 episodes, you'd have the right, under fair use, to use a certain percentage of copyrighted and trademarked material on your website. Like if you were reviewing the latest DVD set, you could quote a few passages and post a picture of the box. But if your site is just a fan site that posts the occasional review, that becomes questionable. Especially if you're using trademarked images and copyrighted material all over the site and _not_ just in the review sections (which I assume would be the case).

            The question is, where does the border between fair use and not so fair use go? If you use copyrighted/trademarked things in your fanfic and add a disclaimer saying that these things belong to WB and their use isn't endorsed, then what? Does it still fall under fair use?
            You're misunderstanding the basic nature of fair use. It's not meant to accomodate anyone who wants to make t-shirts, or a website, or write fanfic. It's meant to accomodate legitimate teaching and commentary sources. As I said in a previous post, you can't teach much about a novel or a symphony without using excerpts from it in your teaching materials; similarly, you can't review a movie or a car very effectively without using copyrighted materials or trademarked images.

            Putting a disclaimer on your unauthorized use is the same as putting a sign on a stolen car saying "This car is stolen."

            Without permission from the copyright owner, any use that doesn't fall under fair use, or certain other limited exceptions to US copyright law (mostly about the military, and the visually and aurally handicapped), is an infringement, no matter how prettily you wrap it.

            It's basically right there with writing a novel and using something like the following in it:

            Dave opened the bottle of Coca-Cola he had found in the ruins of New York. He took a large gulp, frowned and tossed it on the desert sand. "Disgusting stuff," he said, took the wheel and drove off to his hiding place in the mountains.

            Now, could the Coca Cola Company sue you for this?
            No, this is different. If you tried to put the Coca-Cola company's logo on your book cover, you'd probably get a case and desist letter from them. But you can of course include normal mentions of everyday items - including brand name items - within the course of a novel. No company would pursue anyone for that. If, however, you used the trade name "Coca-Cola" on every tenth page of your book, and said negative things about the company each time, they might give you a hard time.

            When I worked in music publishing, we'd often get requests for permission to reprint lyrics from our works in novels. While a trademark owner wouldn't - and couldn't, IMHO - pursue every mention of their product in every book - copyright owners are generally more touchy about that sort of thing.

            Even if you were to clearly state that the copyright owner does not endorse your work?
            Correct. Again, it's the stolen car with the sign on it that says it's been stolen.

            I heard JMS once wrote a B5 script about the erotic adventures of G'Kar and Londo...
            Indeed he has (and obviously it ain't fanfic if JMS wrote it!). I've heard JMS tell the story live; I've also heard Andreas tell it live. We couldn't get Peter to tell it at DragonCon, though - I think he's finally tired of it. Andreas obviously isn't - he laughed, and laughed, and laughed (also, he let me tell the room how the joke script actually read - he only told the part about how he and Peter gaslit Joe, how Joe faked out nearly the entire cast and production crew, and how it all played out on the set).

            This is just my point. If you make it clear to whoever reads it that WB owns the characters, they don't endorse it and that you do not make a profit off it, then WB can't prosecute you, can they?
            Of course they can. Stolen car with sign on it saying it's stolen.

            Hm. I don't think WB has a claim to it. I mean, the film was based on the ORIGINAL part of the story. Here's an example from the tech world.
            Yes, but the point is that the ownership is muddied because the people claiming ownership of the film script idea have, as proof of their prior claim, an infringement.

            I was a bit unclear about that. I meant that you clearly say that the characters herein belong to WB and their use is not endorsed by them and what I meant by public domain is that you don't make a profit off them and someone else using them can't make a profit off them as well. (Since WB owns the characters in question.)
            No, public domain has nothing to do with the type of use. It only refers to the copyright status of the creative material.

            A small note: a person might release something in public domain just because they want to. For example, I've released most of my code into public domain.
            Indeed, you can give up some or all of your rights as copyright owner. Some of my songs are protected under a Creative Commons license, which allows free downloading of content for non-profit uses. No one has to contact me for a license or fees for the songs that are under that particular license. If anyone's interested in learning more about Creative Commons:

            http://creativecommons.org/

            What about parodies? What would protect me if I decided to make a commercial parody of B5?
            Parody is protected under "fair use," but there are some parameters/constraints that certain copyright owners are more insistent upon than others.

            This, also, means that if you upload B5 episodes on a server in a country that doesn't acknowledge US copyright laws (good luck finding one) then, heh, it'd be quite legal.
            Nope, not necessarily. There aren't that many territories worldwide that don't have _some_ kind of copyright protection and/or a reciprocal agreement of some sort with other territories.

            And it doesn't just have to be US copyright laws that the territory acknowledges; B5 isn't just protected by US copyright laws.

            Oh, one more question if you don't mind, Amy.
            For you, WorkerCaste? But of course!

            Am I correct in my belief that if a copyright holder is aware of infringement and does nothing to stop the infringement or legitimize the use, the copyright holder actually places the material at risk for entering the public domain. That was the thought lurking behind my comment about WB not really being able to deal with someone who created unauthorized models of the B5 ships.
            Well...how do you plan on proving that the copyright holder is aware of the infringement? If it's a BIG infringement, like for instance someone using the song "Mack the Knife" in an advert for a major company, like a car company, without having gotten permission from the copyright owner...then they'll want to pursue it because it'll be a BIG license fee. And if it's a tiny, nothing, insignificant infringement - like for instance someone using "Mack the Knife" on their personal website devoted to the life of Bertolt Brecht - it's a "non-starter." It's not going to be a big fee, and is probably just a waste of the copyright owner's time to pursue...but how could you prove that they'd ever even seen such an insignificant infringement?

            If you bring the infringement up to the copyright owner publicly, and use it as a challenge to their legitimacy in hanging onto the copyright...why then, they'll just say they weren't aware of the infringement, thank you for bringing it to their attention, and now that poor little "Joe Schmoe" with the personal website devoted to the life of Bertolt Brecht is, thanks to you, going to get retroactively licensed and charged, or at the very least he'll receive a "cease-and-desist" letter from counsel.

            Amy

            Comment


            • #66
              Originally posted by AislingGrey
              ... [An incredible amount of interesting information]...
              Phew! It's a good thing we don't have to cover your hourly rate!!! Thanks for answering all the questions.
              "That was the law, as set down by Valen. Three castes: worker, religious, warrior."

              Comment


              • #67
                BTW, the source of my belief was the same source for so much of my admittedly limited knowledge of the world of television production and writing... JMS

                I did a quick search through the archives on "copyright" and "protect" and came up with a number of hits, including this one, for example:

                http://jmsnews.com/msg.aspx?id=1-2145
                "That was the law, as set down by Valen. Three castes: worker, religious, warrior."

                Comment


                • #68
                  Excellent! Thank you, AislingGrey, for this very informative post. I'm sure everyone else here appreciates it as well.

                  However, ... I don't completely agree with what you have said. I'm not a lawyer, of course, but I did do research before writing this post.

                  Let's first agree on one thing. Let's not use the term "intellectual property" since it covers copyright, trademark and patent laws, which are very different. Generalisations like this only make things harder to understand.

                  Nope, elver, it would not be. It's like stealing a car, and putting a sign on it that says "This car is stolen." That doesn't make it any more legal!
                  I'll first address trademark. (Titles and characters from a book can be trademarked, but the work as a whole falls under the protection of copyright laws.)

                  With trademarked names, you CAN include a disclaimer with a notice saying that the use of a said trademark is not endorsed by the trademark holder and the trademark holder won't have any legal grounds for suing you.

                  Copyright is a different matter. Copying a copyrighted work is copyright infringement. Not to be confused with theft as there are VERY different laws for these two things. (I can't seem to find the name of the case where this distinction was first made, though. But the distinction is there and is very clear.)

                  The use of copyrighted material on web pages sometimes falls under fair use.

                  According to Wikipedia, the following activity falls under fair use: "Including a reduced portion of a work as part of a description or review of that work, its influence or its effects." Which is what most B5 sites are doing, in essence. Since a description of a work or its influences or its effects falls under fair use, it's safe to say that B5 fansites that use copyrighted material from the show itself outside review sections are also under the protection of fair use. (You said they aren't.)

                  Of course, getting a cease & desist letter from a big company even if there is no legal grounds to it would scare anyone.

                  As for fan fiction and copyrights, then a piece of fan fiction can, in some cases, be considered legally to be a derivative work. Now, when this is determined and something is declared a derivative work, then the original author can "control or restrict" the publishing of the derivative work in question, but he does NOT in any case whatsoever receive ownership of that work.

                  Should person A have copyright over work X and should person B make a derivative work of X called XY, then person C can take the original part (which is Y) from B's work XY and use it legally should he/she get a permission from B.

                  A owns X.
                  B owns XY, which is a derivative work of X.
                  C has permission to use Y, which is a derivative work of XY, but is not a derivative work of X.
                  And C can make a profit off Y.

                  If B makes no profit from XY and does not reduce the profits that A makes from X, then the amount of damages that A can hope to get from B in court is either severly limited or eliminated. Also, in practice, this makes it possible to argue that B's use of X falls under Fair Use.

                  To make clear some points that we've argued before:

                  1. B5 fansites do fall under fair use.
                  2. Using trademarked names in a creative work is legal provided that you include a notice.
                  3. Authors of a derivative work that infringes upon someone's copyright retain ownership of the work in question.
                  4. A movie about "two women having all kinds of sex and defeating a giant space duck" that is based off a piece of B5 fan fiction about "Susan and Talia having all kinds of sex and defeating a giant space duck" is legal provided that the author of the fan fiction is okay with it.

                  The facts presented herein were collected from various webpages on the net, most significantly Wikipedia. I believe they are correct. Should you not agree with some of them, I'd appreciate it if you named your source as well.

                  Comment


                  • #69
                    Quote from an old post by JMS: "What we came to was the following understanding: that WB would not actively go after sites which used B5 photos and other material PROVIDED THAT the proper copyright information was appended to the material utilized. They are currently in the process of verifying and evaluating sites before sending letters telling them to append this information."
                    WorkerCaste, thanks for the link. About the above, I wanted to point out that the implication is not that it's okay to use copyrighted material without permisison if you post copyright information; it's that Warner was willing to grant permission for the use of its images and materials without a fee on a case-by-case basis ("They are currently in the process of verifying and evaluating sites,"), providing certain conditions were met.

                    Elver, I don't have time to line-by-line a reply to you again right now, and might not for several days, but I can tell you that I would rather get my intellectual property information from someone who actually worked in the field, day in and day out, on some _very_ complex and thorny cases, for a dozen years, rather than...an encyclopedia! An encyclopedia is by its nature a more generalized source, and no one is meant to get legal advice from the limited information they provide.

                    As for my sources....it is my brain. And my experience. I've said before that I was an intellectual property professional, working for a publishing house that had worldwide interests (and infringement cases every day of the week, the most complicated of which were handled by me in connection with some of the top IP attorneys in the US and Europe). When the man who's been repairing your car for the past five years tells you what's wrong with it, do you ask him where he got his information from?

                    Having said that, I do disagree with much of what you said, and will get back to it when my work schedule lightens up a bit.

                    Amy
                    Last edited by AmyG; 11-11-2004, 06:20 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #70
                      Originally posted by AislingGrey
                      Elver, I don't have time to line-by-line a reply to you again right now, and might not for several days, but I can tell you that I would rather get my intellectual property information from someone who actually worked in the field, day in and day out, on some _very_ complex and thorny cases, for a dozen years, rather than...an encyclopedia! An encyclopedia is by its nature a more generalized source, and no one is meant to get legal advice from the limited information they provide.
                      An excellent point, Amy. In fact, I'm reminded that even people who might otherwise be expected to understand these things, such as many-times published writers, are sometimes mistaken about the finer points. I'm reminded on an instance where JMS misstated something, confusing trademark (or was it service mark) with copyright. Another was something I read in a book of letters written by Robert A. Heinlein that seemed in error regarding Fair Use.

                      Law is often, perhaps mainly written in the courtrooms, not the legislative branches.

                      Jan
                      "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

                      Comment


                      • #71
                        Not any enciclopedia... the Wikipedia, which is a collaborative effort by volunteers, many of them amateurs not experts. Having your encyclopedia entries open for anyone to revise and edit does not make a very trustworthy source for me. Even if there is some editorial oversight it is still by volunteers who might not be experts.

                        You'd be better served by googling "fair use" you'd find webpages from lawyers and law schools that could be a much better source of information.

                        But in any event, the fair use clause is relatively vague and it takes lawyers and courtrooms to decide individual cases. Use the clause at your own risk.

                        About copyrights and international laws: yes, most countries have reciprocity agreements and many will honour the rights as established by the most strict country... which happens to be the USA in most cases, at least where it comes to how many years a work is protected. As an example, the Australian website of Project Gutenberg (which makes freely available on the web writings whose copyright has expired making them public domain) recently pulled out "Gone with the Wind" after an enquiry from the US publisher (not even a cease and desist letter), out of courtesy to the still existing copyright in the USA (the current Australian law gives copyright protection for a shorter term, so effectively "Gone With the Wind" is public domain in Australia).

                        Given the worldwide nature of the internet it is likely that even if the copyright has expired in one country (X) if someone publishes a work in the web in a server based in country X and the copyright is still valid in country Y the owner of the rights in country Y might still sue.

                        I know of these things from reading reputable news sources reports, it's a topic that interests me, but I'm no expert.
                        Such... is the respect paid to science that the most absurd opinions may become current, provided they are expressed in language, the sound of which recalls some well-known scientific phrase
                        James Clerk Maxwell (1831-79)

                        Comment


                        • #72
                          Originally posted by AislingGrey
                          Elver, I don't have time to line-by-line a reply to you again right now, and might not for several days, but I can tell you that I would rather get my intellectual property information from someone who actually worked in the field, day in and day out, on some _very_ complex and thorny cases, for a dozen years, rather than...an encyclopedia! An encyclopedia is by its nature a more generalized source, and no one is meant to get legal advice from the limited information they provide.
                          Hm. Well, it IS Wikipedia, after all. With lots of law-savvy people writing the entries. I did cross-reference the facts with other sources (yay for google!) so I believe my post was correct.

                          As for my sources....it is my brain. And my experience. I've said before that I was an intellectual property professional, working for a publishing house that had worldwide interests (and infringement cases every day of the week, the most complicated of which were handled by me in connection with some of the top IP attorneys in the US and Europe). When the man who's been repairing your car for the past five years tells you what's wrong with it, do you ask him where he got his information from?
                          Of course

                          Not that I find the inner workings of my automobile of great interest. Rather, bad lies are usually easy to spot.

                          This is different, though. You present facts and I can, quite easily, check them. Should we disagree, we can check more comprehensive sources.

                          And as for citing experience, then no offense, but here's a real-life analogy: a guy from my year at the university (we're both studying computer science) has worked 8 years as a professional database programmer on the largest business software project in Estonia that's been deployed throughout the world. He makes so much money, it's... appalling -- he's managed to buy himself an apartment full of techno gadgets that he doesn't even know how to use. And yet he failed the very first, the most basic test in our programming course. Not because he didn't try. He did try hard. And it was a course aimed at COMPLETE beginners... He's not stupid. The reason is that he's gotten used to seeing coding from his very specific point of view and has trouble doing even the most basic "generic" exercises.

                          Having said that, I do disagree with much of what you said, and will get back to it when my work schedule lightens up a bit.

                          Amy
                          That is very nice of you. Thanks
                          I'm always eager to learn new things.

                          Originally posted by Capt.Montoya
                          Not any enciclopedia... the Wikipedia, which is a collaborative effort by volunteers, many of them amateurs not experts. Having your encyclopedia entries open for anyone to revise and edit does not make a very trustworthy source for me. Even if there is some editorial oversight it is still by volunteers who might not be experts.
                          The way Wikipedia works is that there are a lot of people watching the recently edited articles list. Should they see an edit they disagree with that has no relevant explanation, (usually in the form of a link or a text being referenced) they change it back to its original form.

                          Of course, anyone looking for information on Wikipedia who sees something they disagree with can change it as well. I've done several corrections to various articles, including the article on Babylon 5.

                          The resulting system is remarkably accurate, I dare say. Plus since it has no "dead tree limit", people can write articles as long as they want with as many examples as they want. For example, a friend of mine wrote a huge article on The Legend of the Five Rings for Wikipedia.

                          Wikipedia is used much by various students to look things up in their own field and they are quick to spot mistakes. For example, I studied for today's (okay, technically yesterday's) linear algebra test with the help of Wikipedia.

                          You'd be better served by googling "fair use" you'd find webpages from lawyers and law schools that could be a much better source of information.
                          With Google, you're likely to find articles written by people who are not lawyers. With Wikipedia, articles on law have been written and edited by lawyers, law students and paralegals.

                          Not to mention that you're bound to find a long list of "further reading" links under each article, each of such a link pointing either to a complete book on the subject or a paper/article written by an expert in the field.

                          As an example, the Australian website of Project Gutenberg (which makes freely available on the web writings whose copyright has expired making them public domain) recently pulled out "Gone with the Wind" after an enquiry from the US publisher (not even a cease and desist letter), out of courtesy to the still existing copyright in the USA (the current Australian law gives copyright protection for a shorter term, so effectively "Gone With the Wind" is public domain in Australia).
                          I disagree. The letter in question was from Mitchell's heirs' lawyer and it said "we will take all appropriate steps to protect and enforce our clients' rights", which to me sounds like a threat, if not a C&D letter. You can find the article on this at http://www.teleread.org/blog/2004_10...82938565501362
                          (The full article is quite interesting, btw.)

                          I know of these things from reading reputable news sources reports, it's a topic that interests me, but I'm no expert.
                          I did a quick google news search on this particular story and came up with a few mainstream hits, (among them a very appalling fascist drivel by Haaretz titled "American Fundamentalism"... Does anyone even read that propaganda they call journalism?) few of which mentioned any threats.

                          The point I'm trying to make is that the mainstream news sources often "dumb things down." You're more likely to get accurate information from places like Greplaw, Slashdot and Kuro5hin and when it comes to "more mainstream news," try BBC and Al-Jazeera.

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