Copyright, copyleft

Dave Shea has a set of images at his web site, depicting a photograph being altered in progressive stages. He asks the question:

Assuming the photo I started with was copyrighted by someone else and I wasn’t licensed to use it, at which step does the design process below does the work become ‘legitimate’?

I gather that his doing this was a direct result of one or more CSS designs from CSS Zen Garden being taken by one or more people, used as is, and the other person or people actually claiming credit for the work. However, people could not understand how something that is ‘open source’ so to speak, also be copyrighted; hence his unusual and rather clever experiment.

I was going to write more on this, because as you all know, I’m just so fond of discussions involving Creative Commons and copyright. And the comments at Shea’s were pretty damn interesting. I also have a pictorial essay I’m writing on the state of politics here in Missouri for American Street. However, I am feeling pretty beat tonight.

Copyright Weblogging

There’s an echo with Echo

Joe Shelby, in the comments associated with my last posting made a good point about “Echo” as name of this weblogging initiative:

Echo is already a name for a product, a Java web application framework, that just released its 1.0 earlier this month, and very nicely under the LGPL license. By choosing “Echo”, the Wiki participants have effectively hijacked that name and may potentially destroy a product from a company doing TheRightThing ™, before that product even gets off the ground.

I posted a note at the wiki about this. I asked that the members form a consensus that they’re willing to use a name that could conflict with another newly released technology. This did start another discussion page.

Wikis are geared to fast, fast, fast. You have to hit the ground running, and be ready to move. Too much for this SysAdmin wore out from getting the Burningbird Network Co-op going (having fun, though). However, in this particular instance, I can also see the power of a wiki.

To me, what brings this all together is combining the technology: wiki to do the actual collaborative work; and weblog to summarize and involve others, to highlight specific points, and make specific persistent comments.

I’m getting a bit burned out on tech at the moment, and need to go back to literature, writing, funnies, life, politics, and photos – but I did want to take a moment to say that I think the wiki combined with weblog approach is very sexy.

Technically speaking. No worries, I’m not that far gone.

Reply from other project:

I do greatly appreciate you asking us before using the name, and
apologize for not having a positive answer. I’d request that you not
name your project Echo. I think the possibility of confusion is too
high, given that both projects are frameworks for building Web-based
applications. I realize that finding a name is very difficult to do (it
took what seemed like forever to settle upon “Echo” in our case).

I am not a lawyer, but I believe that I am required to inform you that
NextApp has a pending trademark registration on the term “Echo” in the
application of “A computer software framework/library used by software
developers for the creation of Internet-and Web-based applications.” It
is my understanding that I am required to state such information in
these circumstances in order to have our trademark be
considered valid, as trademarks must be actively defended. I apologize
again for even mentioning this as a response to your friendly request,
and only state this information because I believe I’m legally obligated
to do so.

I would say that Joe Shelby should take a bow for a good call on this one.

Copyright RDF Writing

Checking in

Thanks for well wishing. The suggestion of tea was a good one, but unfortunately I can’t drink any acidic juice such as OJ, as it hurts my throat more than a little.

Doing a bit of catch up. There were a couple of items of RDF I had to respond to over at Practical RDF, both of them related to postings from editors on the book. My only comment in addition to my two postings is this: I have a great deal of respect for the RDF Working Group. They worked, hard, to reach Last Call status on the newest RDF specification documents. All that’s left is a few odds and ends, and they can call their job done. It would be a real shame if the group took all that hard work and drop kicked it off a cliff in a burst of tired arrogance at the end of the day.

Liz joined the fun on Creative Commons with a challenge to Jonathon and myself to provide reasons for why not to use the licenses:


How ‘bout a “non-shithouse” version of why people might choose not to use the license, that can live side-by-side with the CC discussion of why they should?

Well, you only have to search on “creative commons” among my archives to see my comments, though I’m not sure about their ‘shithouse’ status. I look to Jonathon to provide a better answer to Liz, if he wishes, as the RDF posts took my time tonight, and I’m to bed. However, it seems to me that if Creative Commons is to be effective, it’s up the members of the CC to detail the problems associated with the CC licenses as well as the advantages. I’ve pointed out to a couple of members the writing that Tim Hadley has done; hopefully they’ll consider writing a post or two on these issues to go with all the postings about this artist or that blogger that has attached a CC license to their work.

I was more interested in responding to the discussion Liz and Dorothea are having about about academia. Specifically, I wanted to pursue the thread off this conversation that Baldur started:


Everybody speaks the same, in the same way, about the same thing, with little to no variation. We could easily turn into the lightspeed version of the same unsubstantiated bullshit of postmodern academia, shedding even the pretense of giving ideas space and scope for discussion.

What killed the author and poisoned academia is trying to return through the violated corpses of a horde of ’blogger-zombies spouting inane commentary on the links of the day.

But as the popularity of weblogging increases, the number of meme-victims will rise and the blogdex top fifty will not only describe the fifty most popular subjects amongst webloggers…

It will describe the only subjects.

What I’ve tried to say in a thousand words, Baldur said in a few. I wanted to write in response, but lacked the energy to respond well. I couldn’t do justice to Baldur’s words.

But when I’m well, and have the energy to respond, to do Baldur’s writing true justice, should I?

Burningbird Copyright

Domain for sale

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

A quick note — Tim Hadley wrote a very detailed careful analysis of the Creative Commons license from the perspective of webloggers in general, Movable Type specifically. In particular the section that relates to the permanence of a CC license is worth extremely careful perusal if you’re thinking of pushing the button to have MT add CC licenses to your weblog.

Also, from what Dave Seidel said in my comments I could be looking at weeks of email spam problems. If this is a continuing problem, then it will show after midnight, as it did yesterday. We’ll see in the morning.

By default, I have all emails that don’t specifically go to anyone else come to me as main webmaster. This means, then, that the email spam messages come to the shelleyp AT burningbird DOT net email address.

As an interim solution, if you need to send an email to me, please use a new email address I created to bypass potential spam email floods: bb AT burningbird DOT net.

The domain is coming up for renewing in 45 days. I consider this problem a sign of the times, and I’m going to look at either letting it expire, or the possibility of selling it. The acronym YASD does have significance to Japanese and other electronic game players, so I might be able to make a few bucks. Maybe enough for my server.

I hate to lose the domain, though, I’ve had it since early 1996.


I’m not going to say it…

Unfortunately, I came down with the same flu that’s hit so many others. This and a nasty snow storm that just blew in are conspiring to keep me from my much needed walks and explorations, dammit. So I might as well work on the edits for Practical RDF, and some tech tweaks around here.

One tweak is, I upgraded to Movable Type 2.62. I had to re-apply my Trackback re-build customization, and one small change in the search template, but other than that, the upgrade went without a problem.

I hadn’t started playing with any of the new features yet, but did notice the button to add Creative Common licenses to your weblog. However, before you touch that button, you might want to read about the experiences of a MT user that Phil documented. It seems someone decided to play around with the license only to find out you can’t remove it from the page. There is no off switch. Currently, the only way to remove CC licenses in MT is to make a change in the database, and it sounds like the templates.

Big ouch, there. Sounds like Ben is working on the problem, but I wouldn’t play with pushing buttons now, until this fix is made.

However, there is a misunderstanding I do believe in the license interpretation. From what some of the legal beagles here abouts have said, if you apply a CC license on a work, and then withdraw it, this withdrawal doesn’t impact on people who have already used your work. However, the CC license will no longer apply to new uses of this work. At least, this is my understanding of what others have said.

(I wish I could remember who said this and where. This is one of those times when we need to be able to track a thread regardless of use of tracback and other technologies.)

Additionally, and legal people correct me if I’m wrong, in Phil’s comments, the person who had mistakenly applied the license stated:


It would have only granted an “irrevocable license” on any new material published while the CCL was still displayed. (The content published previously remains protected by its original copyright since it predates the CCL and cannot be covered by the CCL legal agreement.) Since no new content was published under the Creative Commons License while it was briefly displayed on the site, the license’s addition to the page and later removal is mute.


Sorry, but from what I hear, the CC license applies to whatever it’s attached to, regardless of date of material. Unless you specifically make annotations that the license is only effective on material dated after such and such a date, or only to the design of the site, or only to the writing, or only the images, that license applies to everything. And if you mix CC licenses and copyright on the same page, from what I’ve been told, the person can pick which license they choose to use your material under — so long copyright.

Copyright is copyright by default — if you want copyright, don’t touch that button!

Dammit, call me cranky from being sick and missing out on my walk, but the point I’ve been making is that the use of the license is too damn confusing for people who aren’t legal experts. I think adding CC license support into Movable Type is a mistake, pure and simple. This is a case of technology and law mixing to the detriment of both. Adding new toys, but new toys that can bite you on the butt.