Feline Science #Caturday

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Good science takes nothing for granted.

They needed proof.

Happy new year!

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc


“Limited Times” for Copyrights #iplaw #law #copyright

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Blog posts cannot substitute for legal advice. If the topics discussed in this post are relevant to a real case you have, please consult an attorney.

I tweeted yesterday!

Okay, it was a retweet. Whatever. Don’t be a pedant. That’s my thing.

To what am I referring when I invoke Methuselah? I’ve discussed the term of a copyright before on another blog, linking to a handy flowchart, but none of that is required reading. All you need to know is that the “term” of the copyright is how long it lasts, and I’m here to argue that it lasts far too long.

Constitutional Authority

Congress’s authority to grant copyrights comes from the Arts and Sciences Clause.

[The Congress shall have Power t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

Article I, Section 8, Clause 8

The Sciences and Discoveries are the subject of patents, and the Arts and Writings are the subject matter of copyright, though these terms are being used more broadly than you’d ordinarily use them. For example, a sculpture is a “writing” in this context because sculptures can be copyrighted. I’m not going to get into that. You’ll fall asleep before I get to my point.

Limited Times

My focus is on “limited Times.” What does that even mean? From who’s perspective must the term of the copyright be limited? The artist? The general public at the time of creation? Humanity in general? An ant? Depending on your choice of perspective, “limited” could be a few minutes or a few centuries, and who’s to say that one interpretation of that vague phrase is better than another? (Spoiler alert: Me; that’s who.) Unfortunately, a 7-2 majority of the Supreme Court in Eldred v. Ashcroft (2003) seems to think it’s effectively unlimited. (Methuselah; remember?) I’m here to tell you why they’ we’re dead wrong.

By the way, you don’t get to blame this on Republicans or Democrats. Justice Ginsberg wrote the majority opinion, and Justice Scalia joined her. Though the two dissenters, Justice Stevens and Breyer, would be considered “liberal” by a layman’s standard, some conservatives would have joined their dissent. Fortunately, I’m smarter than all of them.

Call me smart, right now!

First, lets dive into some Constitutional text. The clause secures rights to “author[s],” not owners, for a limited time, and that’s an important distinction. Even if you sell your copyright, you’re always its author. Look up “copyright termination” for an example as to how this distinction can play out. So, if we’ve secured rights to authors for a “limited time,” then the perspective should be that of the author, not an ant or humanity in general, and not even a purchaser of the copyright (i.e., the owner). Thus, the term of a copyright shouldn’t be designed to outlive the author itself, even if he or she has sold their copyright. Otherwise, it’s not limited from the author’s perspective.

But that’s a bit philosophical, gets complicated when dealing with corporate authors (i.e., works made for hire), and subject to (barely) reasonable disagreement, so let’s further ground ourselves with history.

The first Copyright Act was passed in 1790, one year after the Constitution was deemed to be in effect. Therefore, the same people that debated and approved of the Arts & Sciences Clause did the same for that Copyright Act, and they granted authors copyrights with a term of 14 years eligible for renewal for another fourteen only “if, at the expiration of the said term, the author or authors, or any of them, be living” (emphasis added). The 1790 legislature was trying to keep copyrights from outliving their authors, and they’re the legislature that wrote the Arts & Sciences Clause. Who better to know what they meant? Of course, you can’t provide a guarantee in this regard, because unless you murder someone, etc., you don’t know when they’ll die. The mechanism that was used was the best way possible to minimize copyrights outliving their authors in a way that could be reasonably expressed in a statute, while recognizing that people’s dependence on a copyright might also outlive the author by a bit.

By 1831, members of Congress had lost sight of the original intent of the Founders. The Copyright Act was amended to grant a term of 28 years extendable for another 14, and in 1909, the term became 28 years extendable for another 28 years. For both of those acts, Congress had dropped the requirement that the renewal couldn’t outlive the author, as their heirs could still renew the copyright. While both of these laws should have been declared unconstitutional, even they show a clear intent to keep the term short enough that most people living during the time of a copyright grant would see the work pass into the public domain. That is, even with the 1909 statute’s possible 56-year term, a copyright born during my father’s lifetime would not have outlived him, and certainly would not have outlived the majority of the general public alive at that time. If someone grew up reading Sherlock Holmes, they should have been able to write fan fiction as adults without fear of getting sued.

Mickey Mouse is a Dick

Then Disney started lobbying Congress for longer copyright terms, and all hell broke loose. The current copyright term for a human author (as opposed to a corporate author) is life of the author plus 70 years, or 70 years beyond the life of the last living author for a joint work. Based on my interpretation, life plus anything is unconstitutional, but now the term is life of the author plus another person’s lifetime. This is insane. Note well that the purpose of intellectual property law isn’t to reward authors and inventors for a job well done. That reward is just a mechanism. It’s the means by which we encourage creation and invention. The purpose, however, is to make sure that the public has access to such subject matter. We employ the mechanism to limit affordability for a while so that creators and inventors have an incentive to create and invent in the first place, but the public must eventually gain full access to it. That’s the entire point of encouraging creation and invention in the first place. However, if I write a song today, no member of the current public, or even their children’s public, will ever see it in the public domain. Again, that’s an insane interpretation of the Arts & Sciences Clause cutting against its very purpose, so it simply cannot be the correct one.

Patent Law

We also see support for my interpretation in patent law. While the term of the patent has changed, it’s still only 17 years and not extendable. Thus, my interpretation is consistent with how patents were, and still are, treated. The fact that patent term is stricter is not because their legal foundations are different — they’re both grounded in the Arts & Science Clause — but rather the fact that patents represent a stronger intellectual property monopoly than copyrights. Still, the copyright monopoly is strong enough to warrant similar treatment.

But, But, But . . . .

What about trademarks? Trademarks are probably the weakest of intellectual property monopolies, so that alone justifies their indefinite term (only as long as you’re using them in commerce). Similarly, trade secrets are indefinite, but only as long as they remain secrets. However, there’s an additional consideration as to why these two forms of IP are treated differently: They originate in state law, and the federal government can regulate them only indirectly through the application of the Commerce Clause. I’m sure you’re dozing off, so I have no intention of digressing into that discussion. Just understand that these two forms of IP aren’t subject to the “limited Times” qualifier because they don’t arise from the Arts & Sciences Clause. If you’re still awake and would like to understand this a bit better, you can read my post on how state and federal law intersect on trademarks.

So that’s it. We have a problem, and there’s nothing any of us can do about it. Nevertheless, I’ll shout it from the rooftops: Copyright needs reform.

Remember me after I’ve been put in a looney bin.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc

Rob Bodine is a Virginia attorney focusing his practice on real estate and intellectual property law. He’s currently Virginia counsel with Cardinal Title Group, a Virginia title insurance and settlement company. Rob is also a licensed title insurance agent in Maryland and Virginia.

In case the tweets are ever deleted, here’s an image of them.

Vegas, 2023 #Vegas #travel

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For this year’s annual Vegas trip, I stayed at Mandalay Bay for the first time. I’ve been doing all (or almost all) of my gambling there for a few years now, but this year I decided to stay there becomes my comps got me the room for $5 a night with no resort fee. I usually go on Columbus Day weekend, or maybe in September, but this year I spent the week before Christmas there (Monday, 12/19 through Saturday, 12/24). I went so late in the year because I had a couple of friends that were going to be there during that week, which is also why I spent six days there.

Mandalay Bay

My room was perfectly situated such that I had a view down the Strip . . .

. . . but also could watch the planes arrive and depart the airport.

The close up.
The broader view.

And now for some live action!

https://youtube.com/shorts/Go4mB_reaKg

Okay, not that kind of action. I love watching the planes arrive and depart, but even I find watching videos of it pretty boring. Sorry (not sorry) about that. Here’s a different video that’s probably just as boring, but it’s only 9 seconds long.

https://youtube.com/shorts/6VkOrGBihTg?feature=share

The Body Exhibit

The first touristy thing I did (besides looking out my window in awe) was the Body Exhibit at Luxor. I did that Wednesday. These are preserved corpses displayed to teach visitors about the mechanics of the human body. Some of it was bizarre. Don’t believe me? Take a look (or don’t if you’re squeamish).

Seriously, these are real bodies. They all come from China. We were told by staff that they privacy laws prevents them from knowing how these people died, but rumor has it that they came to this and other exhibits across the country through less than ethical means.

What follows are a series of circulatory system fragments injected with a colored polymer that hardens in place to help you see the detail and distinguish between different parts. Don’t believe me? Read the sign.

Other than the fetuses — which I didn’t photograph — this is the creepiest display. It’s a series of slivers of a human body.

Here’s a closer view.

This next one bothered me more than it should. I’m overly sensitive to knee pain. Drives me nuts too.

I have many more pictures, but I think you get the point.

Friday

Friday night brought me to the Penn & Teller theater at the Rio. Here’s Penn Jillette warming up the crowd playing jazz on his stand up bass.

https://youtube.com/shorts/f2iVt58ggIg

Every year, I say I’m going to go, but because I had friends there, this time I actually did. It was worth it. Not only is it a good show, but it may have been the best Penn & Teller show ever. Teller recently had quadruple bypass surgery, so he wasn’t able to do the show. Penn told us that we shouldn’t worry because he’s due to make a complete recovery and come back sometime around March 2023. A little later, they showed a video of Teller from home participating in the current bit, but his part was so generic, it’s clear this could have been a prerecorded video reused at every show.

All of this was a set up. Towards the end of the show, Penn excitedly introduced Teller! I started a standing ovation for him, and he had to wave to the crowd to get them to sit down. Once he did, he did one of his famous bits. Then he joined Penn and Carbanaro for their last bit, giving them a helping hand. It was stupendous.

Saturday

Saturday was my last day in Vegas, but my flight didn’t leave until 11:45 pm, so I had a full day to do as I pleased. My friends and I started with an incredible meal at Din Tai Fung, a restaurant at Aria famous for its dumplings. It absolutely lived up to the hype. Next, I demanded that we go to a sports bar and watch my Commanders lose to the 49ers. We went to Tailgate Social Sports Bar & Grill, and after going through two pitchers, we ordered this:

The beer is Modelo, and at Tabitha’s urging, I got a pint glass with the rim coated with salt, then squeezed some fresh limes into it. It was like a beer margarita. I had never considered doing that before, but as I’m not a beer drinker, I may never do so again. You might like it though.

After the pub, I did my first escape room. Remember all that beer from the previous two paragraphs? It didn’t go well. We took an extra 30 minutes to get out of the room, and only because we requested several hints along the way. On the bright side, I met a new friend.

Yeah. I know. The sweater. My friends made we wear it. I was raised Catholic, so my perpetual guilt makes me incapable of saying no to a gift no matter how foolish I look. After that, we took an Uber back to the Luxor (where Jim and Tabitha were staying) to wait out my departure. I took a nice shot of the skyline from the road.

Sadly, I never took the time to ride that damn coaster because my friends weren’t into it. I should have. It’s a fun ride.

Going Home

I have just two more videos to show you: my take off from Harry Reid International Airport, showing off one of my favorite skylines . . .

. . . and my landing at Dulles International Airport.

We didn’t crash, so watching video of the arrival is just as boring as watching videos of planes taking off in Las Vegas. Not much to see here.

Oh, and I won $1,200 playing blackjack. Meh.

I love Vegas.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc


A Sad Anniversary #music #Motorhead #Lemmy #RIP @myMotorhead

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Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister was the founder and only continuous member of Motorhead. He was their primary songwriter, lead singer, and bassist. He played bass with a pick, which is untraditional but not unique.

Motorhead had only one hit: Ace of Spades. Here it is.

RIP, Lemmy.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc
Follow Motorhead @myMotorhead


Yet a Fourth Random Memory: The Best Business Card #business #advertising

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I was rummaging through my desk drawers the other day and came across something that inspired this post. About 15 years ago, I was at work, and one of the real estate investors was holding a wad of $100 bills. I thought, “Does he think we’re all impressed with how wealthy he is? Because it actually looks pathetic.”

I was somewhat surprised when he decided to hand me the cash, only it wasn’t cash. It was the best business card I’d ever seen.

Not bad for a 15-year-old business card.

The card opens up. . .

. . . revealing his information.

After all these years, I kept the card because I figured it had to come into use someday, and this is that day!

I guess I can throw it out now.

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Krampus! @MythsExplained #MythologyMonday #MythologyMonandæg #folklore #Christmas #Krampus

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I know Christmas is over, but I have the day off because Christmas was on a Sunday, so today still counts. Sort of. So, for Mythology Monday, let’s dive into the legend of Krampus care of our pals at Mythology & Fiction Explained.

He seems fun.

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Follow Mythology & Fiction Explained @MythsExplained


Some Christmas Memes #MerryChristmas #Christmas #holiday #LotR #Futurama #StarTrek #Starwars #MonsterVerse #DCU

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Bill Burr had a great bit, which I’ll paraphrase here.

Friend: You’re Catholic, right? Bill: No. Friend: But didn’t you got to Catholic school when you were younger? Bill: Yes. Friend: Then why aren’t you Catholic? Bill: Because I went to Catholic school when I was younger.

That said, I was raised Catholic. 😁 But I, as I bet Bill does, celebrate Christmas to the extent that I celebrate anything. Those are the fun rituals I know, and those are the memes I post.

This again?

Sexy.

Sexier.

Less sexy.

No, it’s not, but we can all agree that it wouldn’t be Christmas without a little Star Trek.

How about some other universes? Dungeons & Dragons?

The MonsterVerse?

The DCU?

Okay, Star Wars nerds. Here’s one for you.

A dubious inclusion.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc

Dungeons & Dragons is a trademark of Wizards of the Coast, LLC, who neither contributed to, nor endorsed, the contents of this post. (Okay, jackasses?)

I Bought Myself a Christmas Gift #Christmas #holiday

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Okay, not really. How can it be a gift if the receiver paid for it? Because I’m both, it’s just me buying shit.

Yeah, I know.

But here it is!

It’s an overpriced tumbler (duh!) with ancient Egyptian imagery. As a mythology nut, I love imagery from ancient cultures, and this is some of the good stuff.

Doesn’t mean I can read it.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc

Yet Another Random Memory: But This One Is (Perversely) Christmasy #Christmas @1capplegate @DavidFaustino @deadtome

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Last month, the final season of the remarkably good Dead to Me was released on Netflix. I loved that show. The entire time I was watching Christina Applegate act her ass off, I was thinking, “This is Kelly Bundy?!?!”I honestly had no idea she could act like that, and she absolutely nailed it. The rest of the cast nailed it as well, and the writing was superb. It’s literally one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Seriously. Watch it. (Okay. YMMV.)

Returning to the Bundy family, for all you young-uns out there, Christina Applegate received her big break on a show that ran from 1987 to 1997 called Married with Children (“MwC“). The show centered on the Bundy family. If you look up “dysfunctional family” in the dictionary, you’ll find their family portrait.

I doubt there’s an entry for “dysfunctional family.”

So, today (12/15), I saw the following post hit my stream.

Feo’s reply — in particular, soulmates being a fantasy — made me think about a scene from MwC. The two-part episode was a parody of It’s a Wonderful Life. In the end, the guardian angel (played by the late Sam Kinnison) lamented that he had failed the patriarch, Al, by not only failing to show him how terrible his family would be without him, but actually showing him how much happier they’d be if he had died. In typical MwC fashion, the show turned that around on the viewer by having Al declare that he wanted to live anyway. The angel couldn’t believe it. Has asked why, and Al replied with something along the lines of, “They made me miserable. I don’t want them being happy.”

And that’s when the line is delivered. Al wants to make sure that he’s back in the real world, so he asks his son, Bud, “What’s more important: Love or money?”

Bud replies, “Money. You can always rent love.”

Yeah, I know.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc
Follow Kelly Bundy @1capplegate
Follow Bud Bundy @DavidFaustino
Follow Dead to Me @deadtome

In case the tweet is ever deleted, here’s a screenshot.