15 Feb 2008

Friday Memebog

Years ago, before Reddit and Digg and their ilk, there was memepool. Alas, the pool has dried up like the Aral Sea. But in an act of tribute here is the first ever Friday Memebog - notable outwash from this week's Intertube effluent. This week: a 100% Copyfight Edition.

Patry casts out the folk devils

Here is the man who Wrote The Book (seven volumes) on copyright, laying into the cretinous meme we see so often in the UK, that knockoffs support organised crime and terrorism: "There are some notable omissions from this list, like Hamas, Al Qaeda, the Shining Path, and the Tamil Tigers. It is heartening to know that some terrorists draw the line at copying Western fashions. Perhaps there is hope that they, like Anakin Skywalker, can be turned from the Dark Side. It is less clear whether our legal system can be. [...] All I want, and I think most people want, is to be able to go to Target to get reasonably priced, safe clothes for our kids without having to worry about supporting child prostitution rings and terrorists. I don't think we are, and it is a sad day when a bill to benefit the tiniest fraction of an industry will be used to destroy the rest of it."

A lovely matching pair of stories about slatternly rightsholders having their bacon saved

First, the story of the restoration of the only live performance recording of Woodie Guthrie. It has just won a Grammy award. But only Techdirt had the guts to point out the multiple layers of hypocrisy and irony: (1) this originated as a bootleg recording; (2) Woody Guthrie's attitude was "This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years [only 28!], and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do"; and (3) the Guthrie estate has 'previous' for copyright evilness in the 2004 JibJab controversy.

Second, the story of Pan Yan Pickle from a couple of weeks ago. The manufacturer lost the only copy of the secret recipe in a warehouse fire. No offsite backup! So they resort to reverse engineering. Of course, recipes are not copyrightable, so anyone could legally do that, but only Premier Foods has the shamanistic Power Of Brand Name. And then we learn: "There's no one in this company who has any idea what this pickle looks like or tastes like. I would ask for anyone who has a first-hand experience of Pan Yan Pickle to contact Premier Foods". A searing example of corporate amnesia: all the expertise that the trademark should connote has gone in just six short years. This is exactly what mergers and acquisitions, downsizing and outsourcing does to an organisation. But they don't teach reality on MBA courses.

Last but not least: SCO has found another seam of money

Out, sadly, will go Darl McBride, in whose downfall I am proud to have paid a tiny part by uncovering the pseudonymous postings of 'his wife' (yeah, whatever) on Yahoo Finance. And in will come our new chum Stephen Norris (no, not Shagger Norris - this one founded the notorious Carlyle Group) and possibly a deniable Saudi presence with a private A380 on order and a diamond studded Mercedes, or maybe it's just Microsoft as usual. But just look who these guys hang out with! Such an improvement on Darl and Ralphie!