Cents and Sensibility

Why does Penguin splash out half a million on the promotion of Sense and Sensibility and hundreds of other Moldy Oldies? Because these classics, which many of us hated to read in highschool (come on! fess up!), easily outsell any of today’s hits, according to a two year old article in Slate.

(I had looked for this link before, but could not find the article. When David Rothman asked me to try again, I finally stumbled upon the lucky search words.)

One such Dutch classic that was recently posted to Project Gutenberg is Spinoza’s Ethica. Not quite unputdownable if you ask me, but there is no accounting for taste. Funnily enough, a completely separate group of volunteers has been working on scanning and proofing a second translation of the Ethica. (Translation, because the Spinoza did not publish his pivotal work in Dutch.)

Sweat of the brow

I have always understood that in the US, mere sweat of the brow does not attach copyrights to a creation. In order to be copyrighted, a work needs to be original. This is important for reproductions of public domain works, for instance photos of public domain paintings. I also understood that this is specific to the US, and that in Europe different, less enlightened rules apply.

My first understanding stems from a ruling in the US, Bridgeman vs. Corel, in which the judge finds that a work needs to be original to generate a copyright.

I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that a similar condition applies in Belgium and France. Any other European countries that are more enlightened than I originally thought?

Starbucks Delocator

If you want your daily swill from somewhere else than the American multi-national, try the Starbucks Delocator.

(Through BoingBoing.)

Christian Soldier

“Mr. Tierney, a former military intelligence officer in Iraq who works as a translator and investigator for private companies, cried as he talked about watching the Schiavo spectacle on television and feeling the utter need to be at the hospice.”
(New York Times)

“[Bill Tierney . . . had just returned from eight months working as an interrogator for US forces in Baghdad] You are the interrogators, you are the ones who have to get the information from the Iraqis. What do you do? That word ‘torture’. You immediately think, ‘That’s not me.’ But are we litigating this war or fighting it?”
(Boston Globe)

(From Whiskey Bar, through Joho the Blog.)

Song of experience

Odd, how you sometimes have to add “gutenberg” or “wikipedia” to your search string to find the real deal. One would expect Google to cough those up first.

Especially Wikipedia articles are an enigma: Google will often link to sites that use Wikipedia content, with the original article nowhere to be found.

I was looking for this:

When the voices of children are heard on the green,
And whisperings are in the dale,
The days of my youth rise fresh in my mind,
My face turns green and pale.

Then come home, my children, the sun is gone down,
And the dews of night arise;
Your spring and your day are wasted in play,
And your winter and night in disguise.
(From: William Blake’s Songs of Experience)

(cp: Yma Sumac, Mambo!)

BREIN starts sending demands to filesharers

According to the Bits of Freedom newsletter, the BREIN foundation–the Dutch representative of the MPAA, has started sending out cease and desist letters to Dutch filesharers.

Bits of Freedom has posted an (anonymized) copy of such a letter (PDF) on its website.

The letters have been sent to the providers, because BREIN only possesses the filesharers’ IP numbers. All but XS4All have duly forwarded the letters to whoever seem to be attached to these IP numbers. Opinions differ on which cause of action is wisest.

I am afraid I do not have the time to translate the entire letter, but in short, this is what BREIN wants:

  • That the filesharers declare to cease sharing “unauthorised” files
  • That the filesharers pay damages

(Unfortunately, Bits of Freedom erased the amount of damages that BREIN claimed and thereby robbed us of a good laugh.)

Bits of Freedom then produces a mock FAQ of what filesharers should do now. Basically, what they say is that filesharers should under no circumstance cooperate.

Although IANAL, this seems wise advice to me. Unlike court costs in the US, court costs in the Netherlands are not prohibitively high, and we do not have a concept of statutory damages (AFAIK: again, IANAL). A judge might well find that damages of kids sharing mp3s with kids are close to nil.

This might tempt a filesharer to fight BREIN in a court of law. Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm, he of Kazaa fame, has said in the past that he will gladly beat whatever’s left of BREIN’s puny brains out again. With any luck, a judge will even come to the Canadian conclusion and say that filesharing is no different than making private copies for a friend. Of course, BREIN has picked its battles more and more carefully in the recent past, and are likely to go after uploaders of the sort of works for which the home copy is restricted (software for instance).

More Mac

True Wankership can be truthfully claimed only if you put your hands on, er, things. Er, I mean, I tried out the new Mac.

As I mentioned in the comments of my earlier post, organizing files appeared to be a bit cumbersome.

Then I discovered that you can organize files the same way as in the GIMP: by dragging favourite folders to the bar on the left.

Screen shot of the Mac Finder Explorer File thingy
(Imagine there’s a mouse pointer arrow in there somewhere too.)