Tim Wu: "Escape From Tomorrow" doesn't violate Disney's copyright

Last weekend marked the Sundance screening of Escape From Tomorrow, a guerrilla film shot without permission at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. It sounds like a fun film, but a lot of publications, including the New York Times have speculated that the movie would be impossible to release due to copyright problems. I said that I thought it was likely that there were no such problems, thanks to fair use. Now, Tim Wu, a law professor who's seen the film, has published his review and analysis in the New Yorker, and he agrees with me:

It’s important to understand that Disney does not have some kind of general intellectual-property right in Disney World itself. It is not a problem to film the Magic Saucer ride. The case would depend on the appearance of Disney’s trademarks or copyrighted works in the background of the film, like when Goofy wanders by or when we see the waving robots in “It’s a Small World.” Filming these works without justification would be an infringement of the copyright law. The question is whether they are “fair use”—or in other words, whether technical infringements are negated because they are justified by public policy. If there were a fire in Times Square, TV-news teams would be free to film there despite all of the copyrighted billboards in the background, given the public’s interest in the reporting and the First Amendment’s protection of the press.

Under copyright law, commentary and parody are well-established fair-use categories, and this is where the film likely falls.

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Ads that depict the human body as a machine

On the Vintage Ads LJ group, the awesome Man Writing Slash has rounded up a series of old ads that use mechanical methaphors for the human body.

One of my favorite ad tropes is the Body=Machine/Body=Factory idea, because the imagery is often more detailed and also more hilarious than in most ads. As a kid I used to LOVE any illustrations of the body that depicted tiny workers inside, such as The Human Body, for example. :D This link to a book about Fritz Kahn's Der Mensch als Industriepalast is also fascinating (although not advertisement). Brief video version of that book HERE (well worth 3 minutes of your time.) This series of articles and illustrations in the same vein (XD) appeared in the Berliner Morgenpost in 1931 and is simply breathtaking.

Body = Machine: A Series Read the rest

Guys, Robin Williams is on Twitter

Pug snapshots. His first tweet ever was published just eight hours ago, but it looks like he's got this Twitter thing down cold already. Read the rest

Visualizing the net worth of the world's richest people

"Bloomberg Billionaires" is an intriguing example of information design. The net wealth of the world's 100 most rich human beings, in an interactive display. Read the rest

Dog vs. Horse

A dog takes a horse for a walk.

Telcos' six-strikes plan could kill public WiFi

As America's phone and cable companies roll out their "six strikes" plans (which they voluntarily adopted in cooperation with the big film companies), it's becoming clear that operating a public Internet hotspot is going to be nearly impossible. Anyone operating a hotspot will quickly find that it can no longer access popular sites like YouTube and Facebook, because random users have attracted unsubstantiated copyright complaints from the entertainment industry. Verizon (and possibly others) have made it clear that this will apply to businesses as well as individuals, meaning that firms will have to spy on all the traffic of all their users, all the time, and heavily censor their use of the Internet in order to prevent them from attracting these complaints.

It's not much of a stretch to see why the carriers would like this: every time you use a hotspot instead of using your phone or device's metered data-plan, they lose revenue.

Also, as the strikes get higher, there are two things to be aware of: ISPs are then more likely to hand over info to the copyright holders, meaning that it could still lead to copyright holders directly suing. That is, the "mitigation" factors are not, in any way, the sum total of the possible consequences for those accused. On top of that, we still fully expect that at least some copyright holders are planning to insist that ISPs who are aware of subscribers with multiple "strikes" are required under law to terminate their accounts. At least the RIAA has indicated that this is its interpretation of the DMCA's clause that requires service providers to have a "termination policy" for "repeat infringers." So it's quite likely that even if the ISPs have no official plan to kick people off the internet entirely under the plan, some copyright holders will still push for exactly that kind of end result.

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National Day of Courage for the Rosa Parks centennial

Lish from The Henry Ford Museum writes, "Henry Ford Museum in metro Detroit is hosting a National Day of Courage in honor of Rosa Parks' 100th birthday. We're encouraging folks to share a digital badge of courage that they want to stand up for. We'll also be unveiling the new Rosa Parks stamp from the USPS that day, too." Read the rest

Ladies and Gentlemen, Fox News

Photo by Joshua Hirst. Read the rest

The Parable of the Ox: podcast explains the disastrous separation of financial markets from the real economy

An excellent recent episode of the BBC Radio 4 math/current affairs show "More or Less" dramatized "The Parable of the Ox," a short article by John Kay originally published in the Financial Times (available from Kay's site). Fans of James Surowiecki's Wisdom of the Crowds will know the first part of this story -- wherein the average of several guesses about the weight of an ox was more accurate than the guesses of any of the experts in the crowd. What this podcast and the article adds is a coda about how the use of "guesses" (or stock trades) as a way of weighing the ox quickly departed from guesses about the weight of the ox (or the value of a firm) and turned into guesses about other peoples' guesses about other peoples' guesses -- a financialized system that soon has no connection to the real economy or the real ox. And it ends, predictably enough, when the ox dies.

The Parable of the Ox [More or Less]


The parable of the ox [John Kay] Read the rest

Valentines from Brian Ewing

Boing Boing favorite Brian Ewing (Ghosbusters in a Rat Fink car, Anatomical Frankenstein) has a line of Valentine's cards with scratch-off secret messages:

I collaborated with animator CRANKBUNNY to create a nerdy and awesome Valentine scratch-off card. The card reveals one (of four) secret messages*  underneath a heart within a skeletal chest cavity. It can be used for more than just a traditional Valentine's card. Use the card to break up with someone. Quit your job. Or just to pay your rent late. Great for someone you love or hate any time of the year. Soften the blow or sweeten the deal...and be awesome while doing it!

*1. Your Coffin Or Mine *2. Your Heart Belongs To Me *3. My Body's A Zombie For You *4. I've Got A Heart On For You


(Thanks, Brian!) Read the rest

Ad agency thought patterns

Agency Wank collects the extra-inane slogans used by advertising agencies to advertise themselves. It's amazing how many of these sound like David Brent quotes. [via Joel] Read the rest

Aaron Swartz memorial in San Francisco at the Internet Archive on Thu

Carl Malamud sez, "If you are in the Bay Area, please come to the Internet Archive Thursday evening for a memorial honoring Aaron Swartz. The program will be streamed on the net." Read the rest

DNA for data storage

Researchers have successfully stored information in synthetic DNA and then sequenced the DNA to read the data. Nick Goldman and his colleagues from the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) encoded all of Shakespeare's sonnets, an audio clip of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech, Watson and Crick's paper on DNA's structure, a photo of the EBI, and an explanation of their data conversion technique. Last year, Harvard molecular geneticist George Church encoded a book he had written in DNA, but EBI's breakthroughs are in the way the data is encoded and its error-correction. From the abstract of their scientific paper published at Nature:

We encoded computer files totalling 739 kilobytes of hard-disk storage and with an estimated Shannon information10 of 5.2 × 106 bits into a DNA code, synthesized this DNA, sequenced it and reconstructed the original files with 100% accuracy. Theoretical analysis indicates that our DNA-based storage scheme could be scaled far beyond current global information volumes and offers a realistic technology for large-scale, long-term and infrequently accessed digital archiving. In fact, current trends in technological advances are reducing DNA synthesis costs at a pace that should make our scheme cost-effective for sub-50-year archiving within a decade.

"Synthetic double-helix faithfully stores Shakespeare's sonnets" (Thanks, Mike Pescovitz!) Read the rest

My favorite podcasts of 2012, Part 2

Earlier this month I wrote about four of my favorite podcasts. I promised to follow it up with more of my favorite podcasts. It has taken me this long to live up to that promise. I think there will be at least two more posts about my favorite podcasts.

The New Disruptors. This is a new podcast by our friend Glenn Fleishman. Glenn has been a guest on Gweek a bunch of times, and he has interesting things to say about anything you throw at him. I love talking to Glenn. In his new podcast, Glenn talks to people who are at the forefront of new business models in media, manufacturing, and marketing. So far he has spoken to filmmakers, video game developers, robot entrepreneurs, coffee sellers, magazine publishers and editors, podcast producers, and designers. Glenn's breadth of knowledge and insight adds a great deal to the quality and value of The New Disruptors. I wouldn't dare miss an episode.

99% Invisible. On a recent episode ofthe podcast and radio show about design, host Roman Mars asked listeners to guess the length of those white stripes that are painted on freeways to mark lanes. I guessed 3 feet. (The average guess is 2 feet.) The actual length is 15 feet. I'm still catching up with past episodes of, and I have enjoyed every one of them. Mars explores the often "invisible" but powerful effects that design and architecture have on individuals and society. The latest episode examines the myth of the Red the Car in Los Angeles. Read the rest

Technology is "killing middle-class jobs," screams alarmist AP headline

Yes, there's a recession, writes Bernard Condon and Paul Wiseman at the Associated Press. "Increasingly, jobs are disappearing in the service sector, home to two-thirds of all workers. They're being obliterated by technology." Read the rest

Zombie teddy bear: Undead Ted

Eclectech sez, "UK artist Phillip Blackman is creating fantasic and gruesome zombie bears (undead teds), including this excellent valentines bear offering you his heart."

Valentine UnDeadTed offering you his heart

(Thanks, Eclectech!) Read the rest

No foodstagramming for you today, say chefs

Guys, some proprietors of some high-end restaurants do not want you taking smartphone snapshots of your food and sharing them on social media sites and the New York Times is on it. Read the rest

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