Thursday, October 11, 2007

Do You Read Your RSS Feed?

I spent all last night goofing off with some friends who were in town from Kentucky, top that all off with the packing, and I managed to not read or watch or even think about SF last night. A sad state of affairs to be certain, but one that appears to be the case.

So, when I got up this morning and went to consider which bit of text I was going to put up this morning, imagine my surprise when I had nothing. Zilch. Nothing at all. In shock, I rushed over to GoogleDocs and hunted for unposted reviews.

And came up with the exact same thing.

So, what's a SF/Geek blog to do on such things? Why turn to GoogleReader of course!

So, the first thing I stumbled across was an article at entitled Video and the Anime Star. It's an article discussing AMV's (Anime Music Video) and specifically the AMV Hell series. Sure, it ultimately ends up as a nearly 800 word endorsement for AMV Hell, but it's still an interesting read.

Next there's the stuff about a new version of Land of the Lost, one starring Will Ferrell and promises to be as funny as a broken nose. That same website also posted an interesting article about Fox's well-known hate of all things SF. Frankly, I think they're still upset that George Lucas talked them out of the licensing rights to Star Wars.

In the "oooo, I want" category, there's reports of a new near-mint copy of Detective Comics #27, which debuted Batman, surfacing and getting into the market place. One has to wonder why my parents/grandparents couldn't have kept such things for me to find in various and sundry attics. Oh well.

And finally, we're still getting fallout from the brouhaha over the SFWA's illegally formed DMCA take down notices to SCRIBD. Specifically, is reporting that Dr. Burt (who I still think just wants money out of SCRIBD for his content search algorithm) has lost his objectivity and attacked Doctorow over this situation. What's saddest is that Burt used the Critters.Com newsletter to push through that particular attack against him.

I've got to admit that I'm highly interested in this whole situation. The latest is Dr. Burt and Jerry Pournelle talking about Doctorow's repost of a story by Ursula Le Guin that he found on Ansible.

One which he had edited to strip most of it away once he discovered that she didn't want him re-posting the article. And he didn't even need DMCA take-down notices to do so.

Of course what amuses me is that Burt and Pournelle are whining that Doctorow's posting just happened to create all these pirated copies of the Le Guin piece, forgetting that it was posted in its entirety on another website first.

The final thing is an interesting comment that Pournelle wrote in regards to the Le Guin issue:

One presumes that Doctorow will plead his copyright violation was a mistake. It is not an explanation that he would accept from SFWA.
Frankly, I believe that it is not an explanation that he should accept from SFWA. Burt in his rush to push out DMCA takedown notices did two things wrong:
  1. Did not obey the LAW in ensuring that he had the right to take down every requested document
  2. Did not obey the LAW in how he formed his DMCA takedown notices
Additionally, Burt was acting as an officer of the SFWA when he did this, legally he was the SFWA. Doctorow's mistake was as a journalist, and it was a mistake which he corrected and retracted.

Pournelle has also written that he's surprised that so many people are jumping up to defend pirates. I'm confused by that statement, and surprised that someone who builds software, and in theory should know how the internet works, would make such a statement.

First, let us remember that SCRIBD is NOT a pirate. They are a file share repository. Huge difference. This is how SCRIBD describes themselves:
Scribd is a Silicon Valley startup creating technology that makes it easy to share documents online. You can think of Scribd as a big online library where everyone can publish original content, including you!

Part of the idea behind Scribd is that everyone has a lot of documents sitting around on their computers that only they can read. With Scribd we hope to unlock this information by putting it on the web.
Then consider that they don't generate content. Nothing on their website is theirs. All they do is provide the tools used to share the data. It's the same way that BitTorrent, Flickr, YouTube, and thousands of other sites work. It's a business model that the DMCA protects by saying that a website is not responsible for what the users of that website pushes up to its servers.

Calling SCRIBD a pirate because their users post copyrighted works to the site is the same as calling Wal-Mart a thief because they take your money.

Sure, from a certain point of view it's true, but it's not the whole truth.

SCRIBD provides a perfectly legal function, and can be used as described in their TOS and their "About Us" in a perfectly legal manner. In that same way, they can be used in an illegal manner. But again, the DMCA protects them, provided that they obey any and all legally created DMCA takedown notices.

Well, that's all the time I have for this today as I've got to get to work, and have a few other odds an ends to do. But, I do wonder what everyone else thinks about this whole SFWA issue.

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