Insane English copyright ruling creates ownership in the idea of a photo's composition


In a bizarre ruling, an English court has ruled that in favor of a commercial poster company that argued that a photo that showed a similar (but different) scene taken by a different person in a different place nevertheless infringed the copyright of a poster. What the judge ruled was that photographing a scene that is "substantially similar" to a scene someone else has already photographed infringes the first shooter's copyright.

It's impossible to understand how this will play out in real life. If a Reuters and an AP photographer are standing next to each other shooting the Prime Minister as he walks out of a summit with the US President, their photos will be nearly identical. Will the slightly faster shutter on the AP shooter's camera give him the exclusive right to publish a photo of the scene from the press-scrum?

The judge here ruled that the idea of the image was the copyright, not the image itself. Ideas have always been exempt from copyright, because courts and lawmakers have recognized the danger of awarding ownership over ideas. Indeed, the "idea/expression split" is pretty much the first thing you learn in any copyright class.

Amateur Photographer quotes "photographic copyright expert Charles Swan" who warns, "The Temple Island case is likely to herald more claims of this kind."

Yeah, no shit. This creates a situation where anyone who owns a large library of photos -- a stock photography outfit -- can go through its catalog and start suing anyone with deep pockets: "We own the copyright to 'two guys drinking beer with the bottoms of the mugs aimed skyward!'" It's an apocalyptically bad ruling, and an utter disaster in the making.

Swan warned: 'The Temple Island case is likely to herald more claims of this kind. The judgement should be studied by anyone imitating an existing photograph or commissioning a photograph based on a similar photograph.

'“Inspiration' and “reference” are fine in themselves, but there is a line between copying ideas and copying the original expression of ideas which is often a difficult one to draw.'

Though, in the past, the cost of such court actions has made them 'uneconomic to pursue' this is all about to change, added Swan. 'The UK government has accepted a recommendation in the Hargreaves Report that the Patents County Court… should operate a small claims procedure for intellectual property claims under £5,000.'

Photographers face copyright threat after shock ruling (update3)

(Images: Left, "Red Bus Image," Temple Island; Right, packaging label, New English Teas. Taken from this PDF)

10 digital albums for $15, including Sophie Madeleine


[Video Link] The Sound Supply is selling 10 digital albums for $15, including Sophie Madeleine's The Rhythm You Started. 10 albums for $15

Time lapse of LA's Walt Disney Concert Hall getting prepped for "Mahler Project"


[Video Link] Shayna of LA magazine says:

We have this time-lapse video of the Walt Disney Concert Hall being set up for a rehearsal of Mahler’s Symphony no. 8, which will be performed by the LA Phil, the Simon Bolivar Orchestra, and 16 choirs at the Shrine next month. It’s a mesmerizing video and quite the production, and thought you might be interested in sharing with your readers.

Disney store offers, then pulls, Mickey t-shirt based on iconic Joy Division album cover

On The Madeleine Brand Show (a radio program on which I'm a regular guest), Luke Burbank points to two strange Disney-related updates: first, Disneyland has finally relaxed their extreme rules banning all facial hair for staff/contractors—employees are now allowed to grow beards.

And in even odder news, the Disney Store is now offering was, until today, selling a new t-shirt design based on the iconic Joy Division "Unknown Pleasures" album cover, with Mickey Mouse's face inserted in those wavy lines. From Manchester to Mousechester!

There was backlash, and it looks like the item is no longer available in the online store. But Joy Division/New Order bassist Peter Hook liked it.

Related news coverage: NME, Gothamist, Washington Post, Stereogum (where commenter Michael Robenalt 'shooped up what may be next: Donald Duck on the Joy Division album cover for "Closer.")

Update: The now-yanked Mickey Joy Division t-shirt is now on eBay! One of them, anyway. (thanks, Pesco)

Fritz Goro's science photography

Goro1 Stephen Jay Gould once said that LIFE photographer Fritz Goro, who died in 1986, was "the most influential photographer that science journalism (and science in general) has ever known." LIFE.com has posted a gallery of his truly wonderful photos. Above, Goro's 1962 shot of inventor Allyn Hazard testing his "moon suit mock-up" that contained oxygen and a food supply. "Fritz Goro's Photos: The Art of Science"

The adorable snoring dormouse (video)

[Video Link]

Things I did not know before viewing this adorable video shot by Surrey Wildlife Trust Mammal Project Officer Dave Williams:

1) The dormouse, a little rodent species you'll find in Britain, hibernate in the winter in nests they hide on the ground.

2) The dormouse spends up to one-third of its life in hibernation, and typically begin that winter "sleep" when the first frost hits, and their food sources are gone.

3) They lose about a quarter of their body weight during hibernation.

4) The word "dormouse" comes from the Anglo-Norman dormeus, which means "sleepy (one)"

You can donate to support the Surrey Wildlife Trust's nature conservation work here.

(via @joeljohnson, photo: Dave Williams, Surrey Wildlife Trust)

Newt threatens Russia, China with cyberwar

“I think that we have to treat state-based covert activities as the equivalent of acts of war. And I think that we have to respond to that and create a level of pain which teaches people not to do it.” US presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, responding to a question about countries that target U.S. corporate and government information systems.

Popeye meets Wilco in hand-drawn cartoon music video

[Video Link] The Wilco track "Dawned On Me" re-imagined as a classic, early-era Popeye cartoon. The song is from the band's Grammy-nominated 2011 album, "The Whole Love." They're on tour now, and should not be missed, as they are one of the greatest live acts on the planet. The animation is a collaboration with King Features, and is "the first hand-drawn Popeye cartoon in more than 30 years." Directed by Darren Romanelli. Best url ever: wilcospinach.com.

A little more about how the video came to be, below, from Wilco and Romanelli...

Read the rest

Julian Assange to host Wikileaks TV show on Kremlin-funded Russian cable network

Wikileaks announced this week that house-arrested frontman Julian Assange would host a new television interview series with "in-depth conversations with key political players, thinkers and revolutionaries from around the world." The theme, according to the announcement: "the world tomorrow."

Today, news that the network involved is none other than RT, the Russian cable television outlet founded by the Kremlin in 2005, which remains funded by and effectively under the editorial control of the Russian state. If you thought Assange's story already read like a pulp spy novel, none of this should be particularly shocking.

In a hyperbolic news release at RT.com, the network today revealed that the program will be filmed at the rural British manse where Assange has been residing under house arrest for more than a year while he fights extradition to Sweden on charges of sexual assault. The first episode will be shot "just a week before Assange's Supreme Court hearing in the UK."

And at the end of that RT announcement: “Details of the episodes and the guests featured are secret for now.” Secret. LOL.

More: NYT Media Decoder blog, Moscow Times, LA Times.

(Original Images: REUTERS)

Academic database "imprisons" research

Laura McKenna excoriates JSTOR, the online database of academic journals that has universities and the public paying thousands of dollars to read their own taxpayer-funded research. [The Atlantic]

The Mind of a Sniper

Among others, the BBC interviewed two snipers. Both have killed many people, but they are very different men. One affirms the humanity of his targets, and worries at how ideology sends them into battle. One considers them subhuman, and worries about himself.

Here's Chris Kyle:

"You're running everything through your mind. This is a woman, first of all. Second of all, am I clear to do this, is this right, is it justified? And after I do this, am I going to be fried back home? Are the lawyers going to come after me saying, 'You killed a woman, you're going to prison'?"

Married with two children, he has now retired from the military and has published a book in which he claims to have no regrets, referring to the people he killed as "savages".

Here's Anon:

Snipers almost never referred to the men they killed as targets, or used animal or machine metaphors. Some interviewees even said that their victims were legitimate warriors.

"Here is someone whose friends love him and I am sure he is a good person because he does this out of ideology," said one sniper who watched through his scope as a family mourned the man he had just shot. "But we from our side have prevented the killing of innocents, so we are not sorry about it."

Guess which of these two men tallies more than a hundred kills whose circumstances are unaccounted for by the military.

What goes on in the mind of a sniper? [BBC]

Shrooms may open the doors of perception, seriously

Shrooommmsmsmsms

New research suggests that taking psilocybin, the hallucinogen in magic mushrooms, may actually lead to a decrease in the amount of blood flow in certain parts of your brain. Scientists at Imperial College London injected subjects with psilocybin and scanned their brains. Turns out, they observed a reduction in neuronal activity and blood flow in core regions of the brain like the thalamus and cingulate cortex. From Science News:

“Decreasing the activity in certain hubs in the network may allow for a more unconstrained conscious experience,” says Matthew Johnson, an experimental psychologist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore who studies psilocybin and other hallucinogens. “These drugs may lift the filters that are at play in terms of limiting our perception of reality.”

Further work by (Imperial College London) neuropsychopharmacologist David) Nutt’s team showed that the brain hubs responded together, linked by a neural circuit called the default mode network. Some scientists believe this highly interconnected brain superhighway is essential for maintaining a person’s sense of self.

Putting the brakes on this network could help to treat certain psychological conditions by opening the brain to new ways of thinking, researchers hope. Several studies have shown that psilocybin can change people’s attitudes for the better and may be useful for treating depression, a condition linked to too much activity in the default mode network.

“Chemically switching off might have very profound beneficial effects,” says Nutt, who suspects that psilocybin could also be useful for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder. “It may help people completely locked into a mindset that drives their lives.”

"Turn off, tune in, drop out" (Science News)

"Neural correlates of the psychedelic state as determined by fMRI studies with psilocybin" (PNAS)

image: "Mayan 'mushroom stones' of Guatemala"

Company you've never heard of acquires copy and paste clipboard-molesting jerks to create an even bigger pile of shit

Tynt, the company responsible for inserting adverts when you copy text from websites, was bought by another company that specializes in "graphing" brand loyalty. Just imagine how much fun these guys are to hang out with! [TechCrunch via Daring Fireball]

Space is awesome: Astronaut Rex Walheim answers more BoingBoing reader questions

A couple weeks ago, I got a chance to interview Rex Walheim—astronaut, test pilot, and all-around swell guy. He answered five questions BoingBoing readers had about what it takes to be chosen for the space program and what the experience of training to be an astronaut is like.

Read the rest

Space Adventures planning for lunar tourism

Eric Anderson, 37, is the founder of Space Adventures, a company that acts as the middleman for rich people who want to go to space and the Russian space program that sells the seats on the Soyuz rockets. Air & Space Magazine profiles Anderson and tells what it took to launch the space tourism business. The next space adventure he hopes to offer is a flyby of the moon. Check out the commercial above. Tickets are just $150 million each. From Air & Space:

 Wp-Content Uploads 2012 01 Spaceadv

The mission plan… now calls for a liftoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with two passengers paying at least $150 million each, along with a professional cosmonaut as spaceship commander. The crew will ride in a modified version of the Russian workhorse, the Soyuz-TMA.

Another rocket, a Proton, would launch an additional habitat module designed specially for the mission, which will double the living space and carry more supplies, plus a Block-DM upper stage, normally used for boosting communications satellites to higher orbits. These pieces will link together in Earth orbit, and the Block-DM will fire to send the combined Soyuz–habitat module into deep space.

Three and a half days of travel will bring the crew around the far side of the moon, the face that Earthlings never see. The crew will skim the mountaintops without going into orbit, swing back around to the front side, and then head home to Earth—a figure-eight trajectory similar to the one traveled by the crew of Apollo 13. After another three and a half days, the crew’s Soyuz reentry module will hit Earth’s atmosphere and parachute down to the Kazakh steppe.

"Extraterrestrial Outfitter"