rivkat: Rivka as Wonder Woman (batman looming)
( Mar. 4th, 2005 11:48 am)
Batman and Bacardi logos:

images behind tag )
Marvel sues computer game for allowing players to create Marvel-like characters. My immediate reaction, without much exposure to the game: direct copyright (and perhaps trademark) infringement -- possible, depending entirely on the marketing materials; contributory and vicarious trademark infringement (which essentially alleges that the game company encourages players to violate trademark law) -- ludicrous, since the players are not using the characters to sell anything; and contributory and vicarious copyright infringement (alleging that the company encourages players to violate copyright law) -- very interesting and potentially tricky. It's not quite the same as suing Crayola for providing the tools for kids to draw Wolverine, but it's definitely on the spectrum.

So maybe I should post my review of Grant Morrison's run on New X-Men, to continue with the theme. Read more... )
So, I'm supposed to talk about fan fiction and artist's rights at a legal symposium on Friday, and this is what I came up with as a start:

Comments welcome; I reserve the right to change my mind at any time )

Ooh, and finally there's a readable online version of Legal Fictions.
rivkat: Rivka as Wonder Woman (Just married)
( Oct. 26th, 2004 03:37 pm)
I enjoyed this article on amateur-to-amateur production, dissemination and promotion of creative works (I'm cited, too, which never hurts), but I had to laugh at the wonderful typo involving "Locke's labor/dessert theory." We should all have a dessert theory, don't you think? Mine involves chocolate.

Even More Parodic than the Real Thing: Parody Lawsuits Revisited: Favorite footnote? Probably the one about Lex Luthor, Man of Steel, though the other footnotes about Elseworlds describing -- in law review jargon -- the various premises are also fun, as are the discussions of Weird Al Yankovic and what his authorized parodies mean for the law of fair use.

ETA: Second link fixed.
rivkat: Rivka as Wonder Woman (Default)
( Sep. 23rd, 2004 11:05 am)
Superman and trademark law, what a perfect pair.

DC Comics just won a round in a battle with Kryptonite Corp., maker of bike locks and other things. Oh, how I would have loved to have drafted the complaint, which features statements such as, "DC Comics has also featured a variety of other forms of Kryptonite, including Gold Kryptonite, Blue Kryptonite, and Anti-Kryptonite. Compl. ¶ 9-22."

And the article I saw on it featured a picture of Lex as the head of DC Comics' Kryptonite Division.
rivkat: Rivka as Wonder Woman (Default)
( Jul. 11th, 2004 09:55 pm)
The personal )

The political )

The prose )
rivkat: Rivka as Wonder Woman (Default)
( Jun. 30th, 2004 02:03 pm)
I saw a woman on the street today, wearing a T-shirt that said [geek] (except with real pointed brackets, which LJ apparently doesn't like you to use if you don't mean them). Why didn't I like it? Because it didn't say [/geek] on the back. Sloppy coding, says I.

And I read a case that referred to "a bountiful harvest for those of us who now walk the same interpretive path," and thought, shouldn't that be "those of us who now raid the interpretive larder"?

I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 last night and found it painful, but not in a bad way, if that makes any sense.Read more... )

Also, to finish on a lawyerly-geeky note, one of the ads before the movie was for C2, Coke's new half-sugar half-Nutrasweet beverage, and the thing that really interested me about it was that the low-carb craze hit so fast that Coke didn't have time to register "C2" as a trademark; all it had was the TM next to it, and not the (R) of a registered trademark. Z. was highly amused that this was what I found most memorable about the ad. He thinks C2 is not so much about carbs as it is about tapping into the guy market, because most guys won't buy Diet Coke, but they might try something that comes in a black can. Evidence for this proposition comes from the steps outside the school, where a bunch of people including me were waiting for the fire alarm to end so we could go inside -- a group of people were discussing low-carb stuff, and one mentioned C2. The guy in the group said, "I bought that. I didn't even know what it was at the time, but it had a wicked can." He didn't say what he thought of it qua beverage. I guess image isn't nothing, after all.
I'm back! Actually, I'm now in Virginia – eek! – mostly settled in, which means that clothes are in dressers and books are on shelves, though paper and random bits of hardware remain strewn around lavishly. Also, we don't have a sofa for the living room, which means that the two end tables look kind of funny bracketing a sofa-shaped space. But I am hopeful that I'll soon have an ID card for my new job, and we've ordered a dishwasher and a microwave, which will improve matters considerably for me, since my "participation" in the kitchen is pretty much limited to washing dishes and reheating food. Z. has, after a number of difficulties imposed by uneven power and cable service, set up the entertainment center in the basement, which is now my space, so I can play (what I call) music or watch (crappy) television without bothering him.

It's cicada season here. I remember the cicadas from 17 years ago, when they last descended en masse, but they were a lot more fun when I was a kid and more into squishy things. One flew into my mouth yesterday. Not far, admittedly, but I did a great "Ack! Thhptt!" in response. In which I am Puritan and repressed )

In which I review some nonfiction )
rivkat: Rivka as Wonder Woman (grrr argh)
( May. 7th, 2004 10:26 am)
Even if you don't usually read book reviews, if you or anyone you love gardens (or eats meat), read this.

Richard Rhodes, Deadly Feasts: The "Prion" Controversy and the Public's Health: This is possibly the scariest book I've ever read. Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, which you've probably heard most about in its guise of mad cow disease, is a disease that literally eats holes in the brains of its victims, killing them in a terrible fashion. We know how it spreads: it spreads through cannibalism and through eating animals that have been made into cannibals by modern food production techniques. It gets into the brain and starts converting normal proteins into agents of death, like Vonnegut's ice-9 converting regular water into an unmelting solid, through a process that may be the same as crystallization (which you might have done in high school chemistry, turning a supersaturated solution into a solid by dropping a seed crystal into the liquid). The agents that cause TSE's spread are virtually impervious to heat, radiation, formaldehyde, years of isolation, and freezing. And, even with the example of Britain, which ignored the problem for years until the infection was firmly established – and at what level, we still don't know, because infections began in the early 1980s and the incubation time can be 2-3 decades – America is taking the same ostrich-like stance, refusing to fund testing and even preventing ranchers from testing in some circumstances. Rhodes tells the medical detective story, starting with the epidemic of kuru among New Guinea cannibals in the 1950s and 1960s through modern understandings of TSEs, and along the way delivers a powerful indictment of government unwillingness to act in the face of a profitable production mechanism. I'll leave you with a bit of advice you may want to pass along, a quote from the book:
"You know the bone meal that people use on their roses?" Gajdusek asked me then. "It's made from downer cattle [cattle that sicken and die for no apparent reason, which sometimes are infected with TSE]. Ground extremely fine. The instructions on the bag warn you not to open it in a closed room. Gets up your nose."
The Nobel-laureate virologist who knows more than anyone else in the world about transmissible spongiform encephalopathy looked at me meaningfully. "Do you use bone meal on your roses?"
I told him I did.
He nodded. "I wouldn't if I were you."

other nonfiction )
rivkat: Copyright and Lisa Simpson (copyright and lisa simpson)
( Feb. 3rd, 2004 02:58 pm)
For a short time only, you can see this hilarious Snuggle v. Battletanx ad. After it was enjoined, Nintendo produced this sequel, and was held in contempt -- but it was worth it. 16M Quicktime movies, so may load slowly.
rivkat: Rivka as Wonder Woman (Default)
( Nov. 20th, 2003 11:07 am)
In the category of News for Storage Jars comes the Hollywood Reporter on Kobe Bryant: "For Bryant, more than a sponsorship deal was at stake: His brand attributes have been forever affected."

Commentary would be gilding the lily.
So, I have been silent because I am desperately trying to get ready for the start of class next week, when I begin teaching Trademark and do another round of Copyright. For Trademark, I'm going to try to make a sort of medley of songs/quotes using trademarks as cultural shorthand (a Mickey Mouse operation, etc.). I have a bunch of songs, but I was wondering if anyone could give me a sound clip of the following quote from "Fool for Love": "Look, I realize that every Slayer comes with an expiration mark on the package. But, I want mine to be a long time from now. Like a Cheeto."

I have no idea if this will work, but I'm going to try -- I've got lots of songs, like "Air Force Ones," "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?" (Where is my Marlboro Man?), "Little Red Corvette," "Bad Touch," "Coca-Cola Cowboy," "Thank God and Greyhound You're Gone," etc. Any other suggestions would also be appreciated.
I ate way too much this weekend. But, I also read some books.
Read more... )
rivkat: Rivka as Wonder Woman (Default)
( Nov. 21st, 2002 08:40 pm)
The setting: a lecture by one of our visiting profs. The lecture is named in honor of a big donor. Dinner to follow in the building next door.

The principals: another big donor and his group; me; the nervous development person who is confusing them with directions to the building.

The action: I volunteer to walk them over, since I'm going to the dinner too.

The dialogue: Big donor: "Oh, are you a new student here?" Me (smile cracking like Magic Shell): "No, I'm a professor."

Not his fault; not even the security guards buy that one. I wish I looked more authoritative, but I'm afraid I just look like a coed.

Recent books of interest, many fannish, ahead.

I reread David Brin's "The Postman," and found it less fun than I remembered. The novel is made up of shorter stories that were retro-written into the novel, and the seams show, like the seams on a baseball. The ending is abrupt, veering suddenly into "The Gate to Women's Country" territory, and not particularly satisfying. Still, as hopeful post-apocalyptic fiction goes, it's pretty good entertainment.

"The Adoring Audience: Fan Culture and Popular Media," edited by Lisa A. Lewis, is an okay survey of various cultural studies approaches to fandom. Though John Fiske's essay "The Cultural Economy of Fandom" is here, the best parts of the book are less theory-heavy and more specific. "Essays from Bitch: The Women's Rock Newsletter with Bite," "'I'll Be Here with You': Fans, Fantasy and the Figure of Elvis," "Television Executives Speak about Fan Letters to the Networks," and "A Glimpse of the Fan Factory" (reprints of actual letters to various celebrities and gossip columnists) are worth reading, even if the psychoanalytic theory in the Elvis piece gets a little heavy. Henry Jenkins's work on filking is here too, but unnecessary if you've read "Textual Poachers" -- and if you haven't, what the hell are you doing in fandom?

I didn't like Camille Bacon-Smith's "Enterprising Women" when I first read it, because it didn't describe my fannish experience at all. Now that I can use my research budget to add such books to my library, I got my own copy and found my opinion markedly improved upon rereading. Bacon-Smith is not describing Internet fandom, though there are important areas of overlap. I think she's also a little off in treating fandom like an onion, with layers only revealed over time to newbies, who are first protected from hurt/comfort and slash and only gradually allowed in. But again, this may be because Internet fandom doesn't work that way. It's an interesting book if you want to know every strand of academic analysis of fandom.

But the fan-type book that I really loved among my recent reads was Samantha Barbas's "Movie Crazy: Fans, Stars and the Cult of Celebrity," which looks at fans' relationships and contributions to movie star images during the first half of the twentieth century. Barbas has excellent evidence and a persuasive story about how fans themselves controlled, to a much more significant extent than anyone really understood except the studio execs, who became a celebrity and what his/her public image would be. Highly recommended.

Jack Stillinger's "Multiple Authorship and the Myth of Solitary Genius" is important for the evidence it marshals, but tough going when he spends a chapter on Coleridge's contributions to Wordsworth, Keats and the other people who helped write one Keats poem, etc. The fine detail is too much for people who don't know the targeted works intimately, but the first and last three chapters more than make up for the hard going with an excellent discussion of why the romantic concept of the individual author never made any sense, doesn't make any sense now, and won't make any sense in the future. Although editors claim not to create and just to assist authors, in fact that assistance often reminds one of Michelangelo's statement that the sculpture's always in the marble and his job is just to chip off the bits that aren't part of the sculpture. The collaborative enterprise of fandom (and, indeed, movies and series television) acknowledges the fact of communal creation, but it's the acknowledgement and not the community that make it different from "mainstream" literary works.

Naomi Klein's "No Logo" is a great account of the branding of America and the world, and how the value of Nike's swoosh turns out to affect labor conditions around the world, as companies switch to a model in which they only own their names and subcontract out everything else. Although her ending chapters are far too optimistic in my opinion, the work effortlessly weaves the theory of product branding with the commercialization of American education with the story of Third World development, enriching one's understanding of all of it (and more besides).

I bought Kevin Mitnick & William Simon's "The Art of Deception" because I wanted to learn more about how corporate security can be breached (yes, this will turn up in the post-Spiders story). There's a lot of repetition, only to be expected of a business book, but the reason to read this book is for the stories. Time after time, people described in this book fall prey to cons that, by attacking the people responsible for security, easily bypass all technical measures. And don't feel superior -- I suspect that, if we were all honest, most of us would admit that we'd have been fooled by (at a bare minimum) half of these tricks. This book will make you nervous, but that's probably a good thing.

"Spiders" is slouching towards completion. Yay!



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