Court finds full-book scanning is fair use


The Hathi Trust has won another important victory in its court battles against the Authors Guild over the right of academic libraries to scan books under the banner of fair use. Hathi creates full-text indexes of books from academic institutional libraries that were scanned by Google, so that academic libraries can access full-text indexes of the books, as well as offering the books in assistive formats used by people with visual disabilities, and providing long-term archives of rare texts that are still under copyright.

The Authors Guild members are overwhelming trade-book authors; the books scanned by the Hathi Trust are overwhelmingly scholarly books written as part of an academic tradition that takes free access and sharing as its foundation. The court remanded a question of standing in the case, asking the Guild to demonstrate that it represented authors of the affected works.

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Super Manatee and friends


Joel Micah Harris's spectacular Super Manatee series (also available in t-shirt form) reveals a deep hidden truth about sea-cows and superheroes.

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Princess Leia/Haunted Mansion tee: today only!


Karen Hallion has turned her brilliant Princess Leia as Haunted Mansion stretch-gallery character illustration into a limited-edition t-shirt from Teefury. You can only buy it today! (There's also a poster!)

(via Wil Wheaton)

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Morse code instructional film - made possible by Boing Boing readers!

Carl Malamud sez, "This 1966 military film on good style in sending Morse Code is a real hoot. 38k views on YouTube and another 3.6k on the Internet Archive. This video was made possible by a crowd-sourcing appeal on Boing Boing in 2009 (and in the case of this particular DVD, a donation by Mary Neff ... thanks Mary!)"

INTERNATIONAL MORSE CODE, HAND SENDING

Handbook to figure out what's in the public domain


Jennifer Urban sez, "I'm happy to say that the Samuelson Clinic at Berkeley has just released a handbook to help folks research whether older items (pre-1978) are still under copyright in the U.S., or are in the public domain." This is probably the most esoteric question that normal people from all walks of life have to answer routinely; the Samuelson Clinic has really done an important public service here.

Interestingly the project originated with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Legacy Project, "a nonprofit organization run by civil rights movement veterans that is creating a digital archive of historical materials."

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Robots perform Waiting for Godot

Shardcore sez, "Today I directed some robot actors in a production of the first five minutes of Waiting for Godot. Get ready theatre nerds, this is the future..."

Waiting for Godot (Thanks, Shardcore!)

Rightscorp: a business founded on threats of Internet disconnection

Rightscorp, a company that went public last year, has an idea: they'll issue millions of legal threats to alleged music file-sharers, threaten them with millions in fines, and demand nuisance sums ($20/track) too small to warrant consulting with an attorney -- and they'll arm-twist ISPs into disconnecting users who don't pay up. Rightscorp has a secret system for identifying "repeat offenders" who use Bittorrent, and they believe that this gives them to right to force ISPs to terminate whole families' Internet access on the basis of their magically perfect, unknowable evidence of wrongdoing. They call this "holding the moral high ground." More than 72,000 Americans have had "settlements" extorted from them to date, though Rightscorp still runs millions in the red.

Rightscorp's rhetoric is that the sums it demands are "deterrents" to prevent wrongdoing, and that it wouldn't really want to sue people into penury. But it is a publicly listed company with a fiduciary duty to extract as much money as it can from the marketplace. It's a good bet that its prospectus and quarterly investor filings announce that the company will hold its "fines" down to the smallest amount that provides the deterrent effect -- instead of, say, "all the market can bear."

The legal theory under which Rightscorp is operating is pretty dubious: a belief that ISPs have a duty to terminate the Internet connections of "repeat offenders" based on a clause in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. This theory has been sparsely litigated, but the one major case in which it has been tested went against Rightscorp's business-model. But as Joe Mullin points out in his Ars Technica profile of the company, they may be able to get past this hurdle just by suborning the increasingly corrupt, noncompetitive, inbred and rent-seeking ISP industry by giving them a piece of the action.

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Frozen horror-movie trailer

Horror movie trailer mashups have become something of a fine art these days, but even by the high standards of our time, Bobby Burns's Frozen horror trailer is awfully good. It's scary, and I'd go see that movie. (via Crazy Abalone)

ARST ARSW (Star Wars, re-edited into alphabetical order)

Tom Murphy sorted the whole script of Star Wars alphabetically, located the timecode for each spoken word in the film (using the Han Shot first print), and edited the film into alphabetical order. I don't know about you, but I think Kenobi #8 was definitely the best.

Fun facts:
* The word "lightsaber" only appears once in this film.
* There are 43m5s of spoken English, 81m39s of other.
* The most common word is "the", of course, said 368 times.
* The word with most screen time is "you", at 52.56 seconds.
* There are 1695 different words, and 11684 total words.
* The longest words are "responsibility," "malfunctioning", "worshipfulness", and "identification", all 14 letters.

I labeled the words manually (!) using some software I wrote specifically for the purpose.

This is the Special Edition to troll Han-shot-first purists. Everyone knows the orig is the most legit.

ARST ARSW: Star Wars sorted alphabetically (Thanks, Cromis!)

Crowdfunding English translations of public-domain German science fiction


Bradley Hall writes, "I am trying to get funding via Indiegogo so that I can spend more time translating old public domain German sci-fi books. So far I have translated Robert Heymann's 'Der Rote Komet' (The Red Comet) and am currently working on Bernhard Kellerman's 'Der Tunnel' (The Tunnel). Neither of these books have been translated to English before."

English sf is greatly impoverished by the lack of translations from other languages. You meet German sf fans who're conversant with English, Danish, Swedish, Italian and French authors through translation. We get by on a little Lem and Strugatsky.

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Piratebox 1.0: anonymous, go-anywhere wireless file-sharing

Piratebox, a great project for making standalone wireless fileservers, has gone 1.0. The 1.0 has a slick 4chan-style message board, a responsive UI, and does UPnP discovery for your file-sharing needs. Combined with cheap wireless gear and a little battery, it's a perfect file-sharing boxlet that you can take anywhere in order to share anything -- for example, buskers could use it to distribute copies of their music to watchers. Piratebox is the technology that underlies Librarybox, a fork that is specialized for use by libraries and archives.

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Pirate Bay co-founder Peter "brokep" Sunde arrested in Sweden

Peter "brokep" Sunde, the Pirate Bay co-founder who also started Flattr and made a bid for the European Parliament on behalf of the Finnish Pirate Party, has been arrested in Sweden. Sunde -- who is a friend of mine -- had been working his way through a series of unsuccessful appeals to his conviction for his role in running the Pirate Bay, which included a €10M fine. Sunde faces an eight-month sentence, which he was meant to begin serving in 2012.

I don't know what's next for Peter; his appeals have always turned on legal complexities that were somewhat esoteric. It may be that this is the last stop for him and that he will have to serve. He's written before about his struggles with depression. I hope that he is safe and as comfortable as he can be under the circumstances, and that he knows that he has friends and fans all over the world who care about what happens to him.

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Harvard Bluebook: more threats to those who would cite the law

Carl Malamud writes, "On May 16, Boing Boing brought us the story of five years of intimidation on the Uniform System of Citaiton required in the United States, a system otherwise known as The Bluebook. Based on your story, a stern keep off the grass warning was dispatched from the ever-growing Bluebook Legal Task Force at the eminent white shoe firm of Ropes & Gray."

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Super Mario dress


Koala's $60 Super Mario dress looks lovely. It's screened on both sides. Hand-wash only.

Super Mario Dress (via Geekymerch)

Tor founder Tom Doherty on publishing without DRM


Two years ago, Tor Books, the largest sf publisher in the world (and publisher of my own books) went DRM-free; yesterday, Tor's founder and publisher Tom Doherty took to the stage to explain why he dropped DRM from his books. Doherty spent some time talking about the business outcomes of life without DRM (in short, there's no new piracy of Tor books as a result of publishing without it), but really focused his talk on the community of readers and writers, and their conversation, and the role Tor plays there. Doherty's philosophy is that books get sold by being part of a wider context in readers' lives -- being something they talk and think about and share, and that DRM just gets in the way of that.

Meanwhile, Hachette -- publishing's most ardent DRM advocate -- and Amazon continue to duke it out in a ghastly and abusive public spat in which Amazon is attempting to extort deeper discounts from Hachette by de-listing, delaying and obfuscating its titles. If Hachette books were DRM free, the company could announce an "Amazon-refugee discount" of 10% of all its ebook titles at Google Play, Ibooks, and Barnes and Noble, and offer a tool to convert your Kindle library to work on one of those other players. But because Hachette allowed -- insisted! -- that Amazon put its own DRM on Hachette books, the only company that can authorize converting Amazon Kindle titles to work with other readers is Amazon.

Good luck with that.

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