Archive | November, 2009

IP Query

anarchy vs. copyright

A question for IP experts: What is the legal status of falsely claiming copyright?

I often see reprints of works that are definitely in the public domain, stamped by their publishers with a current copyright (with no qualification as to what’s being copyrighted, e.g., no restriction to a new introduction or to new illustrations – and often there’s no such new material in any case).

Given that such copyright notices could be interpreted as implying a threat of force that is regarded as illegitimate even under current IP law, is there any law against what they’re doing? Are they vulnerable to any sort of cease-and-desist order? Or are false copyright notices just regarded as harmless speech until they make an effort to enforce them?

Six Hours of Your Life That You’ll Never Get Back


Today commemorates the day that thousands lost their lives during the six hours after an end to World War I had been officially agreed to through negotiation, because the powers that be wanted the symbolism of ending the war at 11:00 on 11/11 (hell, why not 11:11 on 11/11?); see World War I: Wasted Lives on Armistice Day. (CHT Jesse Walker.)

Of course, the lives that were lost in World War I before Armistice Day were pretty much wasted too; but at least it was pretended (on both sides) that those lives were lost in the service of some cause of great significance – democracy, or Kultur, or an end to all further war. By contrast, on Armistice Day the pointlessness of all the mass slaughter, along with the attitude of the powerful to those under their control, was revealed without disguise, in all its naked unloveliness. Happy Armistice Day.

The Butler Did It

Butler Shaffer notes some corrections here to his list of pen names, but I have a few more corrections to add:

Jousting with pens

Mary Wollstonecraft (not “Woolstonecraft”) was Mary Shelley’s mother, not her secret identity. Shelley was the daughter’s married name. Although her maiden name was Godwin, not Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley went by “Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley,” so this may be another case of a middle-name-mistaken-for-real-last-name.

“Ovid,” “Horace,” “Vergil,” and “Livy” aren’t pen names, since they never called themselves by those names; those are just the English versions of their names (just as, e.g., “Aristotle” and “Jesus” are the English forms of “Aristoteles” and “Yeshuah”).

“Montesquieu” wasn’t Charles Secondat’s pen name, it was his title of nobility: he was Charles Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu. (Like “John Clayton, Lord Greystoke.”) Ditto, mutatis mutandis, for Lord Kelvin.

(Also – does a name count as a pen name if one adopts it as one’s legal name? I believe Alisa Rosenbaum legally changed her name to Ayn Rand (to protect her family in Russia).)

Star Logos

Stoicism is the perfect philosophy for science-fiction geeks: it’s a cross between Star Trek and Star Wars. The Stoic sage is Mr. Spock, and the Stoic god is the Force. (Well, except there’s no dark side.)

Jedi Vulcan

Jedi Vulcan

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