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Comment Re: society of fear (Score 1) 178 178

It is illogical; but these are well documented biases in human risk perception(individual and, alas, institutional): We fear risk more if we perceive ourselves as having no control over the situation(so, would rather risk a crash themselves than be at the mercy of even an expert other driver). We also fear risks imposed by other people more than those imposed by 'natural' or 'chance' causes, hence the fear of 'criminals' being greater than that of burning to death.

Comment Re: Food Allergies (Score 1) 178 178

Amphetamine Deficiency Disorder is a very real and tragically under treated condition. Do you think those poor bastards paying black market prices for God-knows-what crap cooked up in somebody's trailer would be doing so if they could just get a nice, cheap, legal bottle of pep pills at their local pharmacy?

Comment Re:some, at least, are already in widespread use (Score 1) 178 178

Unfortunately, the 'standardization' part is where this proposal seems most challenged(though, in principle it seems like a good idea). Section C-2) of the proposal form is:

"2. Has contact been made to members of the user community (for example: National Body, user groups of the script or characters, other experts, etc.)? "

The submitter answers 'No'. That's a problem. The Unicode Consortium standardizes the codepoint representation of glyphs across systems; but they have zero power(and aren't supposed to be the go-to) for designing or standardizing symbols, much less symbols that really need to be legally mandated to be useful(eg. all the 'gluten-free' as in 'we cater to fad diets' vs. 'gluten free' as in 'we maintain the same rigorous standards that a celiac disease patient's immune system does.' can be a nasty one).

As long as the 'peanut' emoji can mean anything from 'processed on equipment also used to process peanuts' to 'yup, this is the pad thai with peanut chunks on top'; it just isn't much good. If even a regional body(US, EU, one of the BRICs, somebody) or a standards entity promulgated symbols(like the well standardized and often legally binding ones used for marking hazardous goods in shipping and transport); then hell yeah, give them Unicode representations. Until then, though, this is just a proposal to add pictures of food objects, a less-than-helpful and nigh unlimited project.

Comment Re:because Gamers are really Graphics Snobs (Score 2) 48 48

"HD" is an unfortunate bullshit marketing term that should be taken out and beaten to death with the same shovel used to dig its shallow grave; but that doesn't change the fact that there are 'textures that look really atrocious on a contemporary high-ish resolution LCD; despite having looked OK in my memories of the game as played on by a CRT TV being fed a composite video signal'. And, because Capcom are just that lazy, Resident Evil 4 HD apparently has them.

The fact that "HD" carefully avoids meaning anything specific, while vaguely suggesting better sensory experiences worth paying more for, is obnoxious; but that doesn't change the fact that time has not been kind to some games; and some of the sins that phosphor dots and analog video used to smear into a warm glow just turn into a swarm of razor-sharp jagged pixels and offend your eyes mercilessly on newer hardware. Low resolution textures are one of those sins, probably among the worst(low-poly models don't look very realistic; but they don't grate on you), and one that doesn't get fixed as often because redoing a big chunk of art assets is a lot of trouble.

Comment Shouldn't this work the other way? (Score 5, Insightful) 178 178

This doesn't seem like an intrinsically bad idea; things like the GHS hazard pictograms, DIN 4844-2, ISO 3864, TSCA marks, and similar such things seem like perfectly reasonable additions to Unicode(some of them are already there).

What seems like more of a problem is the idea that the Unicode Consortium is out there fishing for ideas. A project of that scope has more than enough backlog to work through; what possible benefit could there be in putzing around internally with ideas for stuff that hasn't been codified by any relevant user groups, standards bodies, experts, national standards, etc? If they think that they have free time for that, they probably aren't looking hard enough at the stew of natural languages and commonly used symbols out there.

The original round of unicode-ified emoji, while puerile and obnoxious, were at least a solid instance of one of the Consortium's functions: the symbols were in wide use; but saddled with a horrible mess of legacy encoding schemes and general awfulness, so the only thing to do was wade in, hand out code points, and hope that the legacy systems could be burned to the ground as soon as possible. Same reason why parts of Unicode have substantial amounts of duplication, single characters that should be represented as composites, and so on; because various legacy standards had to die.

Here, though, there is no obvious existing standard being modeled on, nor any interoperability issue being solved. If somebody wants Unicode to have a picture of absolutely everything; maybe they should go work on graphics format standards.

Comment Re:Mickey Mouse copyirght extenstions... (Score 1) 164 164

If the copyright on "Steamboat Willie" expired, anyone could copy the work or create derivative works from it featuring a similar character, but they could not call the character in derivative works Mickey Mouse, nor use Mickey Mouse's image in such works.

No, when the Steamboat Willy copyright expires, there is no longer a copyright which prohibits people from making or distributing additional copies of the work, from publicly performing or displaying the work, or from preparing new derivative works based on it (such as a new Mickey Mouse short in which he commands a homemade submarine powered by barnyard animals or something). Of course, attributes of the Mickey Mouse character which originated in later, still copyrighted material would not be available; thus you're using the original 1928 black and white Mickey, or forking a new version of the character off from there. Can't give him a dog named Pluto, nor even the distinctive Mickey Mouse voice, as those both appeared in later films.

They would, however, be able to still freely copy the original work even though it featured said character that is still under trademark because the copy of the work is not considered a new work, it is considered a *COPY*

I don't know why that would matter from a trademark perspective. Trademark is concerned with goods bearing a mark all originating from the same source, so as to protect consumer expectations regarding consistent levels of quality. Even the goods of two different sellers are indistinguishable, that alone doesn't mean that one is free to use the trademark of the other.

The trademark issue here is whether the MICKEY MOUSE trademark even survives, at least with regard to goods such as motion pictures. This is because the MICKEY MOUSE trademark is inescapably connected to the Mickey Mouse character, and now the character is free for all to use, meaning that his presence in a work no longer indicates that it comes from a single source. That -- the freedom to use the character, and the loss of the single source expectation of consumers -- is what kills the trademark. And we know that the copyright lapsing will control what happens to the trademark based on precedents like Dastar (where the Supreme Court said that trademark is not allowed to operate like a perpetual form of copyright), and SHREDDED WHEAT (where the Supreme Court said that where a patent expires, anyone is free to use the invention and to use the previously trademarked, descriptive name of the invention).

the work uses the trademark with permission

First, there would largely no longer be a trademark. Second, that would be clear naked licensing, which would likely invalidate the mark anyway.

Comment Re:Mickey Mouse copyirght extenstions... (Score 1) 164 164

Sorry, but no. If anyone can make a copy of a work featuring a trademarked character, then the trademark on that character, with regard to goods that are copies of creative works, has to lapse, as the mark has become generic in that context. Once the door is opened for multiple sources of identically marked goods, it kills the trademark. This is just the copyright version of the SHREDDED WHEAT case from the 1930s, plus a bit of the more recent Dastar case.

And the trademark can't prevent people from copying works or creating new derivative works that feature the same trademarked characters.

You're thinking of something more like nominative use, in which a third party can use a mark without permission under certain circumstances. I'm saying that there would no longer be an applicable mark at all.

Comment Re: Mickey Mouse copyirght extenstions... (Score 1) 164 164

There is no stripping of assets.

The natural state of a creative work is to be in the public domain. Authors do not create copyrights; the public creates them (through our servant, the government), with the public benefit in mind. Some works aren't even eligible for copyright at all, because it wouldn't be for the public benefit. When a copyright is granted, it is for a limited period of time, because a perpetual copyright can never be for the public benefit.

Thus, a better way to imagine the situation is this: if the government owns a parcel of public land, such as a small building suitable for a restaurant at a visitor's center in a national park, it can rent the restaurant space to a private business for a period of time. So long as the restaurateur makes his rent and follows other previously agreed upon terms (e.g. compliance with applicable law, signage that complies with the standards set by the park administrators, etc) he is free to profit as much as he can.

But when the lease expires, the restaurateur cannot argue that his business venue has been taken from him, even though it might be a profitable location forever. It was never his to begin with; he just got to use it for a while.

Regarding Mickey Mouse, copyright policy has to ignore subjective assessments of artistic value. What's important is getting as many works as possible created, published, and into the public domain (and as close to the public domain as possible until fully in the public domain). That's how you best serve the public interest.

And if an author argues that his private interest is more important than the public interest, that's all well and good, and I don't have a problem with his self interest (indeed, we're relying on it to motivate him), but why should the public ignore its own collective self interest? As there's no possibility of a copyright without it being granted by the public, authors are not in a strong bargaining position.

Comment Re:I think they might'a meant to say something els (Score 1) 164 164

Actually, the Copyright Act was replaced entirely in 1976 (becoming effective in 1978), and has been amended some, yet in substantial ways, since then. Noises are being made about a new Copyright Act coming along in the near future.

The person who wrote the summary is a bit confused. What happened is that the Warner claim was based on a copy published in 1935. Evidence was discovered of a copy that was published in 1927. That's not terribly interesting, but a copy published in 1922 has also come to light. That is interesting, because the cutoff for copyright on published works is 1923. (Due to the duration of copyright prior to the effective date of the 1976 Act, which retroactively lengthened the term of copyrights that were still in force)

Comment Re:Mickey Mouse copyirght extenstions... (Score 1) 164 164

Disney holds a trademark on Mickey Mouse, and can retain said ownership into perpetuity. That aspect alone can rightfully keep anyone else from utilizing the character in their own works, forever,

No, that part of the trademark will lapse when the copyright terminates. A trademark can't function as a substitute for a copyright. The remainder of the trademark might prevent people from selling MICKEY MOUSE brand breakfast cereal, but it would not stop them from using the character in their own works.

This is really the main reason that Disney is concerned about copyright terms; they know what would happen to the trademark.

Comment Re:Invasion of the DMCA trolls? (Score 1) 164 164

Piffle.

Copyright is utilitarian from top to bottom.

Copyright is only tolerable if it is better for society than not having it. One specific implementation of copyright is better than another if it provides a greater benefit for the public than the alternative.

It's no more based on fairness than a zoning regulation requiring a certain setback from the street.

Comment Re: Mickey Mouse copyirght extenstions... (Score 1) 164 164

A small nit here:

An exclusive right isn't a right that is held only by one party (and in fact, copyrights can be held by many parties), but is literally a right to exclude others.

So copyright isn't a right to make copies (that's free speech, and it applies even to works that aren't eligible for copyright). It is instead a right to exclude other people from making copies, and from doing certain other things with regard to the protected work.

Comment Re: Mickey Mouse copyirght extenstions... (Score 1) 164 164

As far as copyright on the glyphs for the letter font goes, the consumer or manufacturer who uses them, pays or has to pay for their use. I'm sure Microsoft and Apple license the various fonts included in their respective OSes.

Letter shapes are not copyrightable in the US. They may be eligible for a design patent, but that's relatively short-lived. Usually the only protectable thing, especially over a decent timeframe, is the name, as a trademark. That's why Apple's version of Helvetica from way back was called Geneva, and Microsoft's was called Arial.

How about forcing these descendents to donate their parents' assets to the public domain, just like copyrighted works?

We do.

We impose taxes on inheritances, because inheritance of substantial wealth is harmful to society. We impose taxes on property, because ownership of large, unproductive estates is harmful to society. We abolish property rights like the fee tail because inalienable property rights are harmful to society.

All property rights, beyond what an individual person can defend from others by force, relies entirely on the willing cooperation of others. The only reason I don't own the Brooklyn Bridge is because I can't convince enough people that I do. But if I were more convincing (or could overcome the force that would be mustered against me if I just tried to block others' access to it), my right of ownership would be perfectly legitimate.

Copyright operates similarly; no author has a right to tell others that they can't make copies, etc. of a work, merely because the author created it. All the author can do is keep the work a secret, if he's worried about that. Or he can convince others to respect his wishes. Just as you might not like to recognize my right of ownership of the Brooklyn Bridge merely because I really, really want you to, so too are third parties unlikely to honor a claim of copyright unless it provides some benefit to them that would not be enjoyed otherwise.

And so the deal with copyright is that we're willing to recognize an author's claim of copyright for a little while, because it seems to be useful to society, but eventually we're going to stop, and instead treat the work as being in the public domain, for the same reason. Authors can't stop that from happening, and there's too little benefit for the public in a perpetual copyright to bother recognizing them. It's a one-sided deal in favor of the public, but thems the breaks.

"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990

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