Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Strike a pose. An evil pose.

Having received Star Wars : Episode II - Attack of the Clones on DVD for Christmas, my wife and I decided to go on a Star Wars fest. We watched I and II, and just now finished Episode IV, the first of the old-style films. As you'd expect, it's quaint and dated, particularly when viewed immediately after the modern installments. Still, it's worth viewing the old familiars again, because a lot of the vague historical references now make sense in the larger context.

As an added bonus, I noticed something I'd never seen before. This is significant, because I've watched Episodes IV, V, and VI dozens of times each. Like, lots of dozens.

On the Death Star, soon after destroying Alderaan, Vader is talking to Governon Tarkin. Tarkin is cheesed because Leia lied about Dantooine. And Vader says

I told you she would never consciously betray the Rebellion.

As he says this, Vader is just standing with his hands on the back of a chair. But soon after he finishes speaking, he raises one arm in a gesture of conviction. The gesture might have make sense while he was talking, but in the silence it just looks awkward.

Yay, editing mistake. That's the risk you run when you dub the voice of someone mellifluous over the body of someone tall.

Merry Christmas

[Posted by Kevin:]

Just thought I'd wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Legally aquired alternate endings and outtakes.

LawMeme has submitted an excellent DMCA exemption proposal to the Librarian of Congress. (For those who haven't heard: a provision of the DMCA says that exemptions must be considered every three years. The current comment period ends in February.)

LawMeme's comment is particularly excellent because it focuses on ancillary DVD features (outtakes, commentary), which are generally not available in other formats. This is clever because the court has been reluctant to consider Fair Use arguments where alternate formats are available. (In the 2600 case, the court held that Fair Use doesn't have to be possible in the "most convenient" format--just in some format.)

Sadly, the DMCA's
comment provision only applies to section 1201(a) (the "use clause"), not 1201(b) (the "trafficking clause"). So even with this exemption, it would be illegal to circumvent CSS with acquired tools. You'd have to create your own tools from scratch. Hardly practical.

Still, it would be progress. It would be absurd if it were legal to break CSS for DVD extras but not for the DVD movie itself, but this exemption would achieve just that. The more absurdity and inconsistency surrounding the DMCA, the better off we'll be.

I totally really mean it. Lots. Seriously.

The Bush Administration says that Saddam has missed his last chance to disarm. And also that they hope Saddam will disarm.

So what does the phrase "last chance" mean, then? Nothing, apparently. It'd be nice if all of the statements in a given press conference made sense simultaneously, but I guess that's too much to ask.

I <i>knew</i> the Second Amendment was there for a reason.

Wow. Via Flutterby, an incredibly well-written series of arguments against gun control, compiled from one man's blog comments on piquant rants and sassy impudence.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

They violated it, but, like, out of love.

Like many, I was pleased to hear that ElcomSoft has been acquitted of DMCA violation. Also, like many, I was confused by the reason: ElcomSoft violated the DMCA, says the jury, but it wasn't willful. No intended harm, no foul.

We've all heard the phrase "ignorance of the law is no excuse." So what's with the "willful" stuff?

Luckily, Orin Kerr has an explanation (via CopyFight).

Monday, December 16, 2002

Build Your Own License.

The Creative Commons launched today. For those who don't know, the Commons provides a legal framework for releasing works with (as they call it) "some rights reserved". Really, it's a way to build your own GPL-like license out of component permissions. And since they're lawyers and you're not, there's a decent chance the license will hold up in court (as opposed to one you rolled yourself).

As an added bonus, they provide a standard snippet of RSS metadata for each license, so that search engines may eventually restrict searches to content with particular permissions.

I'd known about the modular license thing for a while, but today their site mentions a second project: Founders' Copyright. Recognizing that copyright terms are ridiculously long, this project allows authors to commit to a much shorter term of 14 years, after which (by contract with Creative Commons) the work reverts to the public domain. This allows authors to select the term chosen by the Founders, rather than the one purchased over the years by rich people trying to get richer.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

He's dead, Jim. I think. It's hard to tell.

I'd love to get hold of a copy of Turkish Star Trek, linked on memepool today. Er, if it's real, that is. It's hard to tell, from the article, if they're making it up or not. The review is entertaining either way.

Monday, December 9, 2002

Dwelling On Things

[Posted by Noah:]

For those that haven't heard, I'm a homeowner as of very recently. I completed moving in at about 3:00 this morning (December 9th). Things are still a mess but I plan to have it in shape to receive guests by Friday. That's important, because that's the housewarming party!

If any of you are interested and will be in Fremont, CA on Friday, December 13th, email me (angelbob at this domain) for the party URL! That goes for friends, acquaintances and general internet stalkers.

No pictures yet, but I'll post a link to some later on. Basic stats: 3 bedroom, 1 bath, 2-car garage, ~5200 sq ft lot, hot tub in the back. My housemate is Brian Kidder. Some of you CMU folks may remember him.

Sunday, December 8, 2002

Proof: Baby by induction

[Posted by Roberto:]

Well, not exactly but almost. I became a godfather and uncle on Friday when my sister Michelle gave birth to Dominick Michael! She had gone to the hospital Friday morning for a planned induction as the doctor was becoming worried that the baby was growing too large. Wanting to avoid any complications, and to prevent the baby from growing to over 10 pounds (Yes, 10 pounds), the doctor planned an inducement. Just prior to inducing they measured the baby's vitals and immediately decided to perform a Caesarian section as the baby's heartrate was much higher than normal. So at 10:03am on Friday, Dominick Michael was born, coming in at 9 lbs. 12 ozs!

Both baby and mother are doing well and the rest of us are overjoyed. My parents are ecstatic as this is their first grandchild. Anyway, the link I included above has some photos of Dominick when he was just a few hours old.