The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Mickey Mouse copyright case

This is interesting. I opposed the Mickey Mouse Protection Act of 1998 (officially the Copyright Term Extension Act), sponsored by Sonny Bono (R-CA), because I (a) believe that copyright protection already went on too long (50 to 70 years), and (b) it was such a naked lobbying bid by Disney.

Well, it turns out, Disney's copyright in the Mickey Mouse character may actually have lapsed in 1998 despite the Act:

Film credits from the 1920s revealed imprecision in copyright claims that some experts say could invalidate Disney's long-held copyright, though a Disney lawyer dismissed that idea as "frivolous."

...

Today, title-card claims are no longer required. But when courts rule on historical copyright issues, they follow the laws in place at the time—in this case, says [Georgetown University law graduate Douglas] Hedenkamp, the 1909 law requiring that the word copyright or its symbol be "accompanied by the name of the copyright proprietor"—a rule scholars said means in the immediate proximity.

The article isn't exactly law-journal ready, but it gives a reasonable outline of the issues. I'm not expecting anyone to challenge Disney on this, but it's funny to me how they spend a lot of time yelling and screaming to protect their Mickey Mouse trademark even when they know they've lost the copyright on several films, and possibly the character itself.

Whew

I just finished Paul Johnson's History of the American People, which I started four weeks ago. Well-written as it was, I couldn't help noticing, around when the book got into the Harding administration, that perhaps Mr. Johnson leans farther to the right than I do. He made some good arguments for more-conservative views of modern American history, and I'll think about them, but parts of his discussions of Nixon, Reagan, and Bush père made me snort.

Still, I recommend the book, and I found it a great way to review, essentially, my college degree.

And now, as a palate-cleanser, I will snack on the next Discworld novel (specifically, #13, Small Gods). One's reading mustn't be too heavy all the time, what what!

GOP "Party of Stupid:" Krugman

Not the people, the rhetoric:

[K]now-nothingism—the insistence that there are simple, brute-force, instant-gratification answers to every problem, and that there's something effeminate and weak about anyone who suggests otherwise—has become the core of Republican policy and political strategy. The party's de facto slogan has become: "Real men don’t think things through."

This comports with my Wills professor, ten years ago, who called stupidity "the omnibus explanation." Yep.

Catching up, but not ignoring the news

Since I went to the Philadelphia game two nights ago, a lot has happened—most of it in the last few hours:

So, I am aware of all these things, but the only purpose of this post is to put up photos from Philadelphia. First, city hall (which is becoming a trend in these posts):

Citizens Bank Park:

And this, which astute readers may recognize as the Noah's Flood bearing down on the city:

No kidding:

I will now dive into my photos from last night's game...

Question Time in...Congress?

According to NPR, John McCain proposes bringing Prime Minister's Questions to the U.S. Former Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley, the Rev. Archibald Spooner, and Mrs. Malaprop expressed their strong support for the propsal.

Seriously, the mind reels. McCain doesn't know the name of the border between Iraq and Pakistan (it's called "Iran"), and admits he doesn't know how to use a computer. Can you imagine him in the well of Congress answering questions from the 300-plus Democrats arrayed against him? And yet, it doesn't take a great leap of imagination to see a President Obama (178 days, 17 hours until inaguration) fielding the worst the 250-or-so Republicans could toss at him.

That said, he's finally proposed something I agree with—even if HuffPo's Matt Littman gave him the idea.

Can't put the book down

...even though it's heavy. I'm reading Paul Johnson's History of the American People right now, and enjoying every page. For starters, he writes well. It's a story, after all, and he tells it like one. He also has a British perspective, which I think lets him see through and explain myths that natives might not.

People seem to think history is boring, which is sad. This book could cure that, as long as the reader starts with a basic curiosity about what makes us Americans. Even Parker enjoys it, but that's probably because I've spent many hours in the past week sitting outside with him at various pubs in Chicago, occasionally tossing him popcorn and crisps.

Now they're really cross

Columbian president Alvaro Uribe admitted today that members of the hostage-rescue team last week wore the Red Cross symbol during the mission, which is a serious violation of the laws of war:

Such a use of the Red Cross emblem could constitute a "war crime" under the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law and could endanger humanitarian workers in the future, according to international legal expert Mark Ellis, executive director of the International Bar Association.

...

Misuse of the Red Cross emblem is governed by articles 37, 38 and 85 of Additional Protocol One to the Geneva Conventions, the international rules of war. The articles prohibit "feigning of protected status by the use of ... emblems" of neutral parties and say that such misuses are considered breaches of international humanitarian law that qualify as a "war crime."

Oops.