Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Law is Cool offers a humorous and legalized take on 'Twas a Night Before Christmas.  (At least I thought it was humorous, but the previous statement only expresses the personal opinion of the writer and may not reflect the opinion of the general population.)

Whereas, on or about the night prior to Christmas, there did occur at a certain improved piece of real property (hereinafter “the House”) a general lack of stirring by all creatures therein, including, but not limited to a mouse.

Read the entire text Here.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sometimes, I wonder what the hell I'm doing. 

Have you ever put yourself in a situation where you embark on a mission, and then wonder what has gotten into you to do such a thing? 

I have just decided to revamp the Librivox Wiki. That thing has been annoying me for ages, and I kept thinking someone should be organizing it better. And then I decided that since nobody was doing anything, I would do it. After all, I'm on Christmas holiday and have free time. 

Oh boy. 

That thing has around 500 pages. I've just finished mapping the pages linked to the Index. Took me just over a day. I should've started with a plan, rather than make it up as I go along. I mean, I know what I want the final product to look like. It's the process that I haven't quite figured out.  
I need a plan now. 

Here's what will have to be done. 
1. group similar pages into clusters. Start with the easy pages first, like the Project Templates, or the Translation Pages. Make sure that each cluster has an user-friendly index page. (BADLY needed for the Project Templates) 

This obviously implies identifying the clusters first. 

2. Cross-check the All Pages list with the CategoryHomepage list, and make sure nobody is left over. 

3. Re-structure the Guides section. 
Volunteering should go with LV/Policy/PD 
Recording and Editing should go together. I always wanted to have a step-by-step, checklist-like guide. I'll have to see what I can do with the pages available. 
TechnicalSpecs should be integrated with the Recording section. 
OtherStuff section should have to be split. 
I'm thinking of a section for Resources, where we'll put lists and stuff. 

As for the rest, I guess I'll make it up as I go along. 

Saturday, December 06, 2008

My Corporate Law prof was supposed to give us a class on Copyright on the last day of class, but he didn't have time to do so. I was a bit disappointed, as I was really looking forward to that. He did talk a teensy bit about it, but only on specific cases.

It made me realize one thing, though. People blame many things on Copyright protection, either because the think it's too broad, lasts for too long, or is too repressive. Yet, I came to understand that although Copyright certainly does offer protection, and restrictions, it's certainly not the whole story.

First off, ideas are not copyrightable. I'd certainly like to go into a discussion on the difference between an idea and a copyrightable/patentable work, but that would require research and I won't have time for that until after my finals.

The first example we were given was that of TV shows. Take a show like Deal or No Deal, or Big Brother, for instance. What if you want to create your own show based on that concept? Would you need to pay royalty fees to the original creators of Deal or No Deal? And if not, why do the producers still do?

According to my prof, if you want to take the concept, you could probably do so without having to pay royalties. (Legally, that is. This being said, there isn't much precedent on the subject.) Why? Because it's an idea. It's a concept, and as such, is not copyrightable, nor patentable. Of course, if you want to use the name, you'd have to pay for that, since it's a trademark. But the idea itself is free, and public knowledge.

So why to the producers still have to buy the rights? Well, this has nothing to do with copyright. Or rather, very little. To air a show (in Canada, at any rate), the show needs to be insured. The insurance companies will refuse to cover the show if there is any risk of legal difficulties.

You have to understand, it's not because the original producers will most likely lose their case that it'll keep them from trying to sue. And once the procedures are started, it could be years before a judge gives a verdict. Count a good 10 years if it goes to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the show can't be aired. So really, better be on the safe side, and fork out some money.

So is it Copyright's fault? Hardly so. Why? Because ideas aren't protected by copyright. Just because people use the law abusively doesn't mean that the law is bad in itself. For instance, the law says that if you cause damages to someone else's by your fault, you are liable for these damages. Just because someone uses this principle to claim $50M for a pair of lost trousers doesn't mean that the law itself is abusive, merely that here are abusive people.

Therefore, it's not because the Copyright Act puts forward a set of principles, and people are trying to extend these principles in every possible way, with more or less success, that the Act is bad in itself.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Who ever said Canadian politics was boring?
(OK, fine I probably did.)

BUT, things are finally getting exciting! The opposition parties are forming a coalition, and we might see the government fall as soon as next week! :D This is about as exciting as it gets. So here are the options:
1. The non-confidence motion passes, and the govt falls. We either go in elections AGAIN, or the coalition governs.
2. Harper suspends parliament, and saves his ass until end January.

Both cases need the Governor General's approval. Now, what will the GG do? Legally, whatever she wants, thanks to the remnants of British Imperialism. However, there are also "constitutional conventions", which are basically tacit rules. According to the conventions, the GG is supposed to approve whatever the Prime Minister proposes, because, after all, we *are* a sovereign nation and don't exactly answer to the British Crown anymore.

So now what?
1. Harper asks for a prorogation, the Governor General accepts, and public outrage ensues, because it's a cheap way to avoid the non-confidence motion.
2. The non-confidence motion passes, Harper asks to dissolve parliamant and calls another election. Public outrage ensues, because we just spent $300M on one.
3. The non-confidence motion passes, the Governor General approves the coalition, and public outrage ensues, because the people who voted Tory will be outraged.

So really, the only way to end this gracefully would be for Harper to hand over the government.

And then public outrage ensues.