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Something Lawful

Something Lawful: Geeky Legal News 04-15-13

04.12.13 | 2 Comments

Not all legal news is geeky and not all geeky news has to do with the law, but some things fall in the sweet, sweet center of that Venn diagram. If it has to do with the intersection of copyrights, trademarks, privacy, licensing, internet regulation and games, movies, tech, comics, books or the world of entertainment, I am on it. Here is the rundown of news from the past week:

  1. Night Shade Books  Plans to Sell Their Authors’ Contracts; Uproar Ensues Night Shade, a publisher of science fiction, fantasy and horror novels from authors like Jeff VanderMeere, Paolo Bacigalupi, and Kameron Hurley is not doing so hot. The publisher is in dire financial straits, and the company looking to buy out their back catalogue raised some hackles by lowballing their initial offer. After many of the authors spoke out in places like Facebook and io9 spoke about being offered a raw deal, the buying publisher increased their proposed royalty rate. (via Twenty Palaces)
  2. Scott Turow Laments the Decline of the American AuthorAccording to the author of One L, fair use, libraries, and E-books have created a toxic cocktail of copyright poison that is slowly killing off the class of successful American writers and he has taken to the New York Times to complain about it.
  3. I Ain’t Sayin’ He’s a Copyright Infringer. Producer. Rapper. Designer. Lover of Fish Sticks. Kanye West can  now add “Defendant” to his long list of titles, as he now gets to defend his song “Gold Digger” against allegations of copyright infringement in federal court. The issue is West’s use of  “Get down girl, go ‘head, get down” which the plaintiffs claim infringes their copyright in a 1974 song “Bumpin’ Bus Stop” by a group called Thunder & Lightning. the complaint also includes a racketeering claim under RICO that West and Roc-a-Fella Records, Bad Boy Records, Stones Throw Records, Bomb Hip-Hop Records, Autumn Games, Activision, Caroline Distribution and The Island Def Jam Music Group have conspired in an “illegal copyright infringement scheme and criminal enterprise involving the unauthorized, willful sampling of plaintiffs original copyrighted music on a massive scale.”
  4. The Mystery of the Disappearing Rights.  The game No One Lives Forever felt like Austin Powers, James Bond, Metal Gear:Solid, and the original Half-life were shaken together in a sterling steel martini mixer. It was a great game, but it looks like any reboot or long-lost sequel is hamstrung by the fact that no one quite seems to know who owns the rights to the franchise after 13 years of mergers and acquisitions according to Activision’s Dan Amrich. Looks like some legal intern will be digging through the basement archives this summer to run down the paper trail.(via Rock, Paper, Shotgun)
  5. The Saga Apple Doesn’t Want you to See. Last week readers of brian K. Vaughan’s kick-ass space opera Saga  were unable to buy the digital version of Wednesday after it was pulled from Apple’s main comic store app Comixology. Cries of censorship and corporate squeamishness accompanied what at first appeared as Apple refusing to allow a comic with semi-explicit depictions of gay sex. It turns out that Comixology proactively pulled the title from its submissions because they decided to save Apple the trouble. In the end, the comic went out to Ipad users, but the fracas highlights one of the dangers in the move to digital media for comics: no one can fully depend on their preferred format and provider to keep the comics coming.

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