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Comment Re:copyright exempt? (Score 1) 297

The difference, though, is that games are fundamentally different from the type of works that Congress had in mind when they wrote those rules.

"They couldn't have known" is an extremely dangerous (and wrong!) line of thinking. It's the same way people are trying to gut the first, fourth, and fifth amendments with statements like "the Founding Fathers couldn't have known about the Internet, so it doesn't count" and the second with "how could they possible conceive handguns and rifles when they wrote it?"

And for most games, no, you don't have a large number of options, especially popular ones like Call of Duty.

Comment Re:Not going to help them (Score 2) 297

A book review can summarize the entire plot, because doing so doesn't substitute for the experience of reading the book.

But if they read the entire book to you in video, it wouldn't be covered by Fair Use, even though they're recording the video with your their equipment and using their own voice to read the words. LPs don't summarize (again, to my knowledge), so there's no comparison.

While a Let's Play might not cover 100% of the game, they cover the vast majority (so like someone reading a book over a video, and going "this part is boring so we'll skip ahead a few pages"). The fact that you aren't personally playing it doesn't change the fact that they're still using Nintendo's copyright, which is on the characters, settings, and story within the game as well as the game itself. Whether we are inputting the commands or reacting to it ourselves, or even getting enjoyment from watching the game, is a moot point. If someone were playing live in front of a sufficiently large audience, you can be sure that permission to broadcast the gameplay to the crowd was obtained at some point, in the same way that is done for movies.

I don't disagree that the experience is different between watching someone else play and playing it yourself. However, legally, that does not matter at all. Put another way, if someone streamed a theatrical release for free over the internet, but it was upside down and briefly played vuvuzelas at random intervals, we'd have a very different experience than seeing it in theaters, but it would still be copyright infringement because it is transmitting the vast portion of the movie.

(Again, IANAL, so this is all to the best of my understanding.)

Comment Re:copyright exempt? (Score 1) 297

The amount of footage isn't really relevant here.

It's completely relevant here. U.S. Copyright Office - Fair Use:

Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair.

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

(Emphasis Mine) It doesn't matter that it's video of someone playing instead of someone playing live. "The experience" doesn't matter; copyright is on the contents of the game, not on the enjoyment someone gets from said game.

Comment Re:Not going to help them (Score 1) 297

Sounds like ya'll have a far more sane copyright system than we do here in the States. Down here, the allowed use of copyrighted works without permission is based on "fair use". Here's a quick overview of how the law looks at it, but that's like taking a scoop of water out of an ocean; "fair use" is a very complicated topic, and the variety of factors are often argued and fought tooth and nail, both in and out of courtroom.

Comment Re:Not going to help them (Score 1) 297

Will a company be able to sue successfully because it's product appears in a scene of a movie it dislikes?

As stated by the GP, many companies will pay studios to use their products in movies as a form of advertising, so this would be rare. I did find this article:

Legal experts say fairly recent product placement practices, in which companies pay producers to use their products in TV and movie scenes, have mistakenly given corporations the idea that they can control the use of their products on camera.

Experts say studios are not obligated to get permission before featuring a product in their work. [...] Filmmakers, legal experts say, are protected under federal "fair use" privileges for use of trademark products without getting the OK of the rights holder.

Emphasis mine. Of course, this is different from Let's Plays because the products in movies are usually auxiliary (often being swapped with anything similar, fake or real; though the article doesn't say one way or other, I think Paramount will remove the cans to avoid the potential of a lawsuit, regardless of standing), whereas in Let's Play they are the primary product, front and center. The only thing about the videos is the voice-over added by the video creator and any editing that went into its creation. You can't switch out in this case, because then you wouldn't have a video. Taken in more legal terms:

Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair.
[...]
3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole

IANAL, but since LPs tend to cover the entire game, that means they use a substantial portion of the copyrighted work, and so would not be considered "fair use". (The other factors come into play, but this is the big one IMO.) If someone was doing a review, using footage of the game, then that might be fair use because the review would only use a dozen or so minutes, a very insubstantial portion of the game. (It may, however, break the first factor about commercial uses, where applicable, so overall it may not be fair use.)

Comment Re:Not going to help them (Score 5, Interesting) 297

Nintendo are apparently trying to lose money by discouraging people from uploading videos that promote their games.

While I'm sure that people liked the ad revenue that they got from their video being viewed (anyone have any idea how much they get?), my understanding of LPs is that they are almost always a labor of love, not of cash. So Nintendo taking away the ad revenue might discourage some that were using it as a business (though if your business relied entirely on one company's completed product, protected under copyright, you need to rethink your business plan), but the majority will probably continue doing what they do.

In fact, this might even increase LPs: while I don't imagine it was a huge group, there might be some worried about a lawsuit for using Nintendo's IPs. By Nintendo taking the ad revenue, this is explicit permission to use video of their properties, which may bring more people to the table who just wanted to share but were concerned over copyright.

On the face of this, I'm of two minds: on the one hand, the videos don't exist without the users who spent their time to edit and upload them, and they do act as free advertising (or the opposite, if the game turns out to be bad and the videos show that off). On the other, the user would have nothing to upload if not for Nintendo's product, and they do properly own the copyright on those games. Personally, I think it should be split (50/50 sounds good, though I'm sure both sides would prefer a larger slice,) but the power is all with Nintendo here (the big company, the copyright holder, etc.), so that's not going to happen.

Full disclosure: I've done one basic LP (Bioshock Infinite), posted to Livestream, got no ad revenue. (And it doesn't exist anymore since I had a free account.)

Comment Re:This is why (Score 1) 507

While I agree wholeheartedly about challenging tickets when you get them, I've found a far easier approach: I avoid getting a ticket in the first place.

(Granted, I live in an area not known for bullshit tickets, and my vehicle has Army plates (civilian plates marking me as a prior service member), so I may have a leg up, but even before the plates I never had a single ticket.)

Comment Re:Next Up (Score 1) 157

But then again, just what does B&N think it's going to do if it gives up on Nook now?

Judging from the last time I was in a B&N (a few weeks ago), I'd say the answer is "become a high-class, more limited Target". They've had a DVD/CD section for some time now, and in the past few years they've started carrying toys, focusing mostly on exploratory, educational, or similar ones like various planetarium-style items and LEGO. I think they started doing stuffed animals recently.

I don't know how well this is serving them, but it seems that only half of a normal B&N is actually for reading materials now.

Comment Banned by Corporations (Score 1) 656

Am I the only one who sees various states (and/or the fed) trying to outlaw 3D printer weapons specifically? Not because they're a viable threat to anything, mind you, but because the expansion of 3D printers (now available at, what was it, Staples?) makes it continually easier for your average consumer to do this, plus the progression of the design, will make them a more interesting replacement for regular guns.

In other words, the NRA, which seems to work/lobby not on gun rights but on gun corporations' profits, will pay^H^H^Hconvince Congress to put the kibosh on these.

Maybe I'm just being cynical.

Comment Re:If it ain't broke... (Score 2) 289

It doesn't even have to be as large as a mainframe application.

For my senior thesis for my Bachelor's degree, I took on the task of taking on an old DOS flat file "database" system and creating a modern equivalent. I did the same as a sibling post, asking how they use it, what could be what, etc., and then I started to make the program. As I did so, I started looking at the data it held for myself--the format (which I forget at the moment, but I think it was something from IBM) could designate "columns" with data types, and then completely disregard those data types. So you would have a field like "weight", and then the data could be "X1444RTTJU8" because when they had a an entry related to a problem, they would use that field for notes. And the program had no problem with this, even searched on that.

I only had a short time to work on this, and I got in way over my head. In the end, I had to leave the company before I could complete the project. No one there was disappointed, though, as the only reason they seemed interested in replacing it was due to a corporate mandate about replacing technology no longer supported after X years, and I made the fifth or sixth person to attempt and fail (all of us being interns or otherwise low-level devs) on this very task.

What I took away from the whole project (and what I wrote as the final portion of my thesis) was that I approached it from a completely wrong angle: I was trying to copy the program, when instead I should have been focusing on the task and goals and working from there.[1] Not that you can't miss edge cases in this scenario, but you will be better able to handle them because you won't be trying as stringently to maintain an outdated input system.

[1] Although I likely wouldn't have gotten too far with this, either, as those who actually used it seemed unwilling to help me; they were all folks that seemed very set in their ways, resistant to any change, and I got the feeling that they saw a replacement as a threat to their jobs. In addition, all of them were trained to use a set of instructions that was "Press X, now press T", etc., and not actually describing what they were doing, but just how to do it. If the program suddenly disappeared, I suspect they would have no idea how to do half their jobs.

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