What's the objectively optimal copyright term?


Tim Harford, the Financial Times's Undercover Economist, writes about the Happy Birthday to You court case, which finally settled the question of whether the familiar birthday song was still in copyright (it isn't) and uses that as a springboard to ask the question: how long should copyright last? Read the rest

Now that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is finalized, the real fight starts


For most of a decade, government negotiators from around the Pacific Rim have met in utmost secrecy to negotiate a "trade deal" that was kept secret from legislatures, though executives from the world's biggest corporations were allowed in the room and even got to draft parts of the treaty. Read the rest

Smurfs vs phones: GCHQ's smartphone malware can take pics, listen in even when phone is off


In a new episode of the BBC's Panorama, Edward Snowden describes the secret mobile phone malware developed by GCHQ and the NSA, which has the power to listen in through your phone's mic and follow you around, even when your phone is switched off. Read the rest

Line-art: squirming criminals in an authoritative hand


In 1948, the Institute of Applied Science commissioned an unknown illustrator to depict a fistful of squirming, terrified criminals caught in an authoritative fist, under the headline "CAUGHT BY THEIR FINGERTIPS" -- they were advertising a home Criminal Investigation and Identification course. Read the rest

Pokemon demands $4000 from broke superfan who organized Pokemon party


Larkin Jones is a hardcore Pokemon fan who loses money every year on his annual Pokemon PAX party; he makes up the shortfall from his wages managing a cafe. This year, Pokémon Company International sued him and told him that even though he'd cancelled this year's party, they'd take everything he had unless he paid them $5,400 in a lump sum (they wouldn't let him pay it in installments). Read the rest

Argentina wants to extend photographic copyright by more than 100 years


It'll go from 20 years from publication to 70 years after the photographer's death, and it's retroactive, meaning that millions of presently public domain photos reproduced online and in books will suddenly become copyright violations with gigantic penalties for all concerned. Read the rest

New $50 Kindle Fire won't recognize sideloaded ebooks on SD cards


The Kindle Fire comes with a SDXC card slot that outclasses every other tablet in its price range, accommodating storage cards that can hold as much as 128GB of media -- but it won't read ebooks from the slot. Read the rest

Landmark patent case will determine whether you can ever truly own a device again


Former IBM division Lexmark (which, a decade ago, lost a key copyright case that tried to ban ink-toner refilling) is headed to court in a patent case called Lexmark v. Impression, where it argues that patent law gives it the right to restrict your use of your property after you buy it. Read the rest

Internet of Things That Lie: the future of regulation is demonology


Volkswagen's cars didn't have a fault in their diesel motors -- they were designed to lie to regulators, and that matters, because regulation is based on the idea that people lie, but things tell the truth. Read the rest

Dieselgate for TVs: Samsung accused of programming TVs to cheat energy efficiency ratings


The European Commission is probing whether Samsung televisions' sensed when they were being tested for energy efficiency and changed their power consumption to get better ratings than they deserved. Read the rest

Apple removes Ifixit's repair manuals from App Store


Content-based App Store takedowns aren't just for drone killing anymore: Apple's also removed the Ifixit App, which offers you third-party manuals for fixing things you own, including your Apple products. Read the rest

Theoretical "auto-brothel" attack on mechanics' computers could infect millions of cars


Companies like GM have engineered their cars so that it's a felony to make independent diagnostic tools for them, or to investigate the official diagnostic tools rented to mechanics in exchange for a promise to only buy GM's hyper-inflated replacement parts. Read the rest

Nerdcore Ghostbusters rap video starring the Atlanta Ghostbusters


djBC writes, "Atlanta nerdcore rapper Tribe One teams up with producer and mashup artist dj BC for this Ghostbusters-inspired rap joint. The video was shot at Bootie Dragon Con and on location at an abandoned farm on the outskirts of Atlanta, and stars members of the Atlanta Ghostbusters cosplay group. If you want to add the song to your Halloween playlist, it's free to download." Read the rest

Wreck It Ralph/Fury Road mashup


By cpartsalot, who notes: "I have a theory that the reason they have yet to have an official sequel announcement is because the scriptwriters are busy trying to slip in as many Mad Max references as possible past the censors." (via Seanan McGuire) Read the rest

Righstcorp's terrifying extortion script is breathtaking in its sleaze


Rightscorp is the notorious publicly traded shakedown outfit that accuses people of online infringement and threatens them with titanic fines and jail time for allegedly listening to music or watching movies the wrong way, offering to make the whole thing go away for a few hundred dollars -- less than a lawyer would charge to advise you on whether to pay up. Read the rest

Dustin Yellin's stupendous, life-sized glass-pane humanoids made from NatGeo clippings


Earlier this month, I attended a two-day meeting at Pioneer Works, an art and innovation center in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The center is both physically beautiful and filled with interesting people from many disciplines doing work in open workshops. It was founded by sculptor Dustin Yellin, and the lobby has one of his remarkable, life-sized three-dimensional humaniform sculptures, composed of thousands of collaged magazine clippings pressed between many sheets of glass.

Appeals court rules Batmobile is a "character" and is copyrighted by DC


Judge Sandra Ikuta wrote the opinion for the 9th Circuit panel that heard DC Comics vs Mark Towle, in which the comics company was suing a guy who sold expensive kits to make your car look like the Batmobile. Read the rest

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