Archive for the Intellectual Property Category

WoW & Philosophy

Posted in Book Reviews, Commentary, Economy, Intellectual Property on July 27, 2010 by Bradley Hall

Granted, the first thing I think about when I think of “World of Warcraft” isn’t Philosophy. It’s most likely “LEROY JENKINS!”

But I digress.

For years I have said that there is more to MMOs than partying with a group of Paladins or Orcs and smiting rabbits across the lands of Azeroth or Vana’diel, or even Eorzea.

Of course there is more to it. I never started comparing in-game actions to the work of Immanuel Kant or tried to figure out if stealing a drop from a mob was right or wrong because the item didn’t actually exist.

The people who wrote this book, did however. If you like MMOs in general, this is a book you will enjoy. The editors could have totally made a book called “MMORPGs And Philosophy” but by sticking to one game, this book creates a fuller experience. A chapter on WoW and then one on EverQuest, followed by The Matrix Online would just read like a “Oh, in this game we have x, but in this other game we have y” book.

I have always felt that MMORPGs were little micocosms of people, a small integrated unit where people and cultures who may never meet in real life come together anyway and find a way to live… and try not to let the rabbits kill them.

Many people who know me or read this site know that one of my favorite fields of study in MMOs is the economy. Eli Kosminsky has a totally awesome essay on the intricacies of the economy of World of Warcraft.

The other chapters all delve into pure philosophical territory. There are issues at play that mirror things that happen in real life such as protests and temporary suspensions (what is prison if not a temporary suspension from life?) that take place in WoW and other games.

While disguised as a book about WoW, this book can be applied to almost any MMORPG, or to real life itself. Of course, not all of it can be applied to real life, after all, how often do you go to the auction house to sell that sword you no longer need?

Official link to the book’s site

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Own a piece of Lucasfilm History…

Posted in Commentary, Intellectual Property, Piracy on July 17, 2010 by Bradley Hall

…The history in question is a Cease and Desist letter sent to a Hong Kong firm that was selling a “light saber” on eBay. The firm could have just said “phooey” and taken down their “light saber” yet they did what no one expected… they’re currently selling the C&D on eBay.

As of this writing, it’s at the $800 mark.

EDIT: It eventually sold for more around $3,800.

Original Source
eBay listing

Coalition of Manga Publishers

Posted in Commentary, Economy, Intellectual Property, Piracy on June 8, 2010 by Bradley Hall

Hot on the heels of the DOJ shutting down several comic book scan sites, comes this news, also from ANN.

A coalition comic book and manga publishers is pushing for litigation against at least 30 illegal scanlation websites.

Japanese manga is originally written in Japanese. These scanlation groups somehow get a hold of the “raw” pages of different manga and have someone translate them into English and then post these pages on the Internet.

These newly translated pages are known as “scanlations,” a combination of “scan” and “translation.”

The legality of scanlations and even fansubbing is in itself of interest to me. It is of course, illegal. The problem I have seen with both of these mediums is that it creates a demand for a product, yet, if the product does come out commercially in the country that is doing the scanlating or fansubbing, no one buys the product.

Why buy it when you’ve already read it or watched it online?

“The coalition asserts that scanlation aggregator sites now host thousands of pirated titles, earning ad revenue and/or membership dues at creators’ expense while simultaneously undermining foreign licensing opportunities and unlawfully cannibalizing legitimate sales.”

Membership dues?

That right there gives everyone who ever perused these sites plausible deniability over whether or not they knew the sites were not strictly legal. The old “But I was paying for it…” defense. But it does tell me that people are willing to PAY for content.

I can see where the publishers are coming from, but, really, there has to be an easier way to get manga to people than waiting for a company to release it over here when they feel like it.

The only manga that I’ve been reading is a series known as Loveless. Look at the release cycle on the below linked Wikipedia page. Tokyopop started releasing it at a pretty good clip in 2006. In 2006 and 2007 a good portion of the series was released. Then, in 2008, we got one volume. In 2009, nothing. In 2010, so far nothing.

Of course, if you look to the left of that page, you’ll see that there’s only one more released volume in Japan, volume 9. Odds are we’ll see that volume later this year IF we’re lucky.

Yun Kouga has gone on record stating that there will be 15 volumes of Loveless. So at volume 9, we’re more than halfway there!

But, having to wait a year, or more, between published volumes in English is plain torture. Every time a new volume comes out, I have to re-read all the volumes I have just so I’ll be able to keep up with the story.

If I wanted to, I could easily find a scanlation site that offers Loveless and read each chapter as they come available.

The demand is there, manga publishers! You just need to find a way to tap it, or someone else will, legally or not.

This is why there’s an online Anime Network, this is why Crunchyroll exists. Heck, Crunchyroll started out as a place where people could watch bootlegs of Asian titles. After awhile, they turned legit and now offer officially licensed programs. Crunchyroll now “simulcasts” new shows in Japan on its site for people to watch in the US and elsewhere.

Like I said, manga publishers, it’s up to you to find a way to satiate our demand for new manga. Why can’t there be a “Manga Channel” or “Crunchyroll for Manga”?

Heck, you could easily monetize something like that with ads or subscriptions for Premium Content (like Crunchyroll or Anime Network), or even have an exclusive shop on the site that sells bath towels or bags or whatever of people’s favorite manga.

Thank you and good night.

Original posting on this site.
Loveless Wikipedia link.

How I became the leader of a political party

Posted in Commentary, Economy, Government, Intellectual Property, Piracy, Privacy on April 5, 2010 by Bradley Hall

Short version: I randomly walked into the meeting and by the time I walked out I was the top guy of a political party boasting at least 2,000 members in the United States.

Long version:

Where to begin? Most would say “The Beginning,” and I would say, rock on. The beginning for this story starts about a year ago. That was when I first heard of the United States Pirate Party. I was sympathetic with their aims, so I contacted the leader and was added to the “Alpha Users” mailing list. The reason behind this was because I wanted to possibly write about the Party one day in the future. The mailing list was the best way to keep up with new happenings in the Party.

Right off, most people are turned off by the term “pirate party” as though this group wants nothing more than to make it legal to download Lady Gaga songs illegally from the Internet. This is far from the truth. I liken the whole “pirate party” thing to more like pirate radio, but trying to change things from the inside, not on boats broadcasting from who knows where.

You can check out the USPP’s platforms on this webpage:
USPP Platforms

I digress.

In late December 2009, I received an email from the list saying there was an emergency meeting and that all were invited. I had nothing better to do, so I clicked the link to the chat room and joined.

The fulltext of that meeting can be found Here. The reason for the meeting was because the then-current administrator of the party was being lax in his duties and had been missing in action for a month and a half. This meeting was to call a vote for a third vote of no confidence (VoNC) and as set forth in the USPP Constitution, once someone had three VoNC’s, they were removed from office. The only stipulation was that on that same night someone had to be voted into that office.

No one wanted to do it.

After a few minutes, I said I would. A vote was cast and I was instituted as the Administrator (Pro Tempore). I was to also head up the emergency election in late January, I believe the date was January 26th. I chose not to run for re-election.

With this new post, I found myself as the only officer of the USPP. Every other officer post was vacant (well, Records Officer still had someone in it, but she was soon removed as well). My time as the Admin (Pro Tem) was mostly spent answering questions people had about the party and how they could help. I also worked to keep the party united during this time of change.

Everyone involved in one aspect or another of the Party was well informed and I really enjoyed working with every one of them.

After the election and the new Admin took over, I kind of felt like I’d lost something. There was no way I could tell the new admin that I want to be admin again, so I did the next best thing. In the February election, I ran for, and won, the Records Officer position.

When I first thought about writing a post about this, it was way more epic.

USPP Website

Love of Culture

Posted in Intellectual Property, Piracy with tags , , on January 28, 2010 by Bradley Hall

Today on TNR, Lawrence Lessig wrote a piece about Charles Guggenheim’s daughter trying to digitize a collection of his documentaries and putting them on DVD to distribute and the trouble she found when she tried to do it. Trouble that really should not have happened.

TNR article.

ACTA

Posted in Commentary, Government, Intellectual Property, Piracy with tags , , , on December 17, 2009 by Bradley Hall

Apparently this has been going on for quite some time. Several countries are readying to possibly ratify the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Act worldwide next month in Mexico.

ACTA affects not just counterfeiting, it makes things international law that were mentioned in the DMCA (and some things that weren’t). One of the pieces that I do not agree with (among others) is the Anti-Circumvention section which makes it illegal to bypass region code lockouts of DVDs (among other things). This means it would now be illegal for me to legally buy a DVD from Japan or Russia and then make it playable in the US either by ripping the video or via some other method.

Please go to the following site for more information:

Michael Geist’s site

Comcast Buys NBC?

Posted in Commentary, Government, Intellectual Property, Privacy with tags , , , on December 3, 2009 by Bradley Hall

I was met with the news that Comcast bought NBC when I arrived home from school. It always amazes me how the halls of education can be shielded from the “important facts of the day” but I digress.

If this merger would be allowed to happen it would result in fewer choices, higher prices, and less access.

I implore you to check out FreePress’s webpage in regards to this matter.

Free Press link.