:: LawGeek :: Thoughts on Things by Jason Schultz

Intellectual Property Rants, SUV Wrongs, and Random Movie/Media Reviews
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:: Friday, November 28, 2003 ::

Love, Actually, is cheesy

So Tara and I saw Love Actually the other night at the Grand Lake Theater, which we absolutely love. It's still one of the few art house theaters in the Bay Area that hasn't been completely hacked and torn apart to make a Frankensteinian semi-megaplex (although they have remodeled some of the side rooms off the main theater into smaller screening rooms; still, they have kept much of the art deco quality and some even have balconies). Yet I digress.

So, the movie. It was cheesy. That pretty much sums it up. If you like cheese, you'll proabbly like it (or at least the first half of it). If you don't, well, you probably didn't bring the right date. The movie is a traditional rendition of the "six degrees of separation/We're all just a stone's throw away from finding our soulmate" romantic comedy involving eight storylines about lovers in love, lovers in trouble, troublemakers making love, etc. etc. All eight storylines are, of course, tangentially related to each other through one or more characters, making the puzzle of figuring out the exact configuration half the fun.

The beginning of the movie does a decent job of introducing the characters and hinting at those who having promising futures and those who face declining interests. This is also where the strongest writing appears, with many witty lines and some good physical comedy. For example, there are a great couple of scenes between Liam Neeson and the child actor who plays his step-son dealing with the loss of the mother. Tara and I both had quite a few teardrops forming by the end of Act I.

Act II, however, was another story. Having show us the inner emotional world of approx. 18 people, the movie then tries to follow all of them through their various trials and tribulations with madman-like velocity, jumping back and forth from character to character offering only a taste of the emotional subtext that the first part of the movie laid out. Hugh Grant, however, does provide some excellent comic relief throughout. Still, plots quickly become cliche and the acting becomes forced, which pretty much left us anxious to move on to Act III for the resolutions and reunitings.

The resolutions left us with mixed feelings. Some were satisfying and fresh while others were trite or unconvincing and unexplored. One subplot in particular, involving a British bloke who travels to America looking for easy action from American girls, is downright offensive and exploitive, using a couple of supermodels for pure eye candy and completely ruining most of the charm the movie had built up by that point. Still, if you can stand the occasional return of disbelief, there are some hopeful scenes of love buried in the mix.


Writing: B-



Overall Grade: B-

:: Jason 8:56:00 AM [+] ::

Hacking Big Mouth Billy Bass

Check out this funny page of Big Mouth Billy Bass Hacks using Linux to reprogam the fish to say any number of funny or awkward phrases. The movie link takes you to a page demonstrating the hack using Simpson's quotes and famous political sayings by Nixon and Clinton.

Of course, no matter how much fun this project is, it will likely draw yet another Chilling DMCA letter from the manufacturer, claiming they somehow "own" your right to take apart and tinker with something you bought at Walmart.

Via Boing Boing
:: Jason 8:31:00 AM [+] ::

FatWallet Sues Best Buy and Target over DMCA Notice

Following up on the hot new trend started by us at EFF, FatWallet has filed for a Declaratory Judgment against Best Buy and Target to stop them from sending nasty Cease and Desist Letters complaining about publishing Thanksgiving Day Sale prices a few days early and subpoenaing them for the identity of the person who posted them.

This is not the first time this has happened to FatWallet. Last year, around Thanksgiving, Wal-Mart sent similar notices complaining about its sale prices being listed on the site before they were officially released. The problem with this theory (and use of the DMCA to enforce it) is that factual information, such as the price of a new DVD player, is not protectable by copyright law. Copyright law only protects works of creative authors and artists, like musicians or book writers. If I advertise that I am selling my car for $5,000, that's not something "creative" but rather a fact -- the car now costs $5,000. That's not to say that Best Buy might not be able to bring a law suit against someone who stole the pricing information by claiming its a trade secret or misappropriation of "hot news" under the NBA v. Motorola case, but trying to cram their lawsuit into copyright law is an abuse of that law and just encourages others to try to do the same. (See our recent battles with Diebold).

Link to FatWallet's Complaint

Link to FatWallet Press Release

:: Jason 8:18:00 AM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, November 25, 2003 ::

Posner Raises Good Questions Re: Copyright Misuse

Judge Posner et al just issued a very interesting opinion in Assessment v. WIREdata on how far copyright owners can go with licenses to protect data or knowledge that isn't copyrightable.


Here are some interesting quotes from the opinion:

"This is a case about the attempt of a copyright owner to use copyright law to block access to data that not only are neither copyrightable nor copyrighted, but were not created or obtained by the copyright owner.... It would be appalling if such an attempt could succeed."

"To try by contract or otherwise to prevent the municipalities from revealing their own data, especially when, as we have seen, the complete data are unavailable anywhere else, might constitute copyright misuse."

"The argument for applying copyright misuse ... is that for a copyright owner to use an infringement suit to obtain property protection, here in data, that copyright law clearly does not confer, hoping to force a settlement or even achieve an outright victory over an opponent that may lack the resources or the legal sophistication to resist effectively, is an abuse of process."

Not exactly the most eloquent language, but a strong stance against abuse of copyrights. Hopefully, we will see more activity in courts against those who use copyright law as a weapon against lawful alternatives or competitors instead of simply as a means of protecting their actual rights.

:: Jason 11:53:00 AM [+] ::

Awesome Cat In The Hat Review

Great review of CITH, slamming it Seussian style.

:: Jason 11:42:00 AM [+] ::

:: Monday, November 24, 2003 ::

Fundraising Money Map

A very cool Money Map that shows which parts of the country are giving to each presidential candidate.

:: Jason 11:09:00 AM [+] ::

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