Today a brief report from our Shitty But True newsdesk.
The place: Seattle, Washington. The story: The owners of a smallish (relatively speaking) landmark that mars and/or has intercourse with the city’s skyline are harassing people who take pictures of said skyline and use the photographs in their POD (Print On Demand) projects.
We’re talking about, of course, the Space Needle. Can you think of any other landmarks in the Seattle skyline besides Courtney Love’s medicine cabinet?
Yes, the same Space Needle as seen in the opening sequence of the television show Fraiser and in the compelling crime drama The Killing. Those people must have paid big bucks.
The crux of the argument is this: The owners of the Space Needle structure claim ownership and copyright of the structure’s design. This includes it’s shape for usage on things like t-shirts, scale replica pieces of crap, key fobs, mugs, shot glasses, commemorative plates, post cards, calendars, mud flaps, and, of course, Ol’ Spacey (an intimate bedroom device but we won’t be mentioning that on this here quality blog).
If you take a picture of the Seattle skyline for your POD project and, like a damn fool, think to yourself: “Hey, it’s Seattle. Maybe I should point in the general direction of the downtown area and include that abomination thingy with the shittiest restaurant in town?” you just violated copyright law.
Personally I say, if you want to protect your precious copyright don’t do things with it like stick it in the city’s fucking skyline, eh? Kind of makes it hard to avoid, eh? Keep it in private (always good advice for large probes) or be a tad reasonable about enforcing your claim.
I think the question is one of intent. Is someone out to steal and profit from their awesome design? Or are they merely taking a picture of a city where someone decided to jam a giant probe? “Sorry, we’re greedy assholes. You are no longer allowed to take pictures of Seattle. This is not a Kodak moment.” It’s not like a skyline picture is the same as a project like, “The 12 Sexy Sides Of Seattle’s Space Needle 2014 Calendar.”
My friend was recently impacted by their copyright hyperactivity so I decided to honor her sweet, innocent, babe in the woods photograph with the following Photoshop project:
As you can clearly see, she really zoomed in on that sucker, eh? Imagine the photograph without the obelisk. That would really scream Seattle, right?
Who “owns” a city’s skyline? Personally I vote they blast it into orbit and then charge a fee to anyone who wants to gaze upon the stars. That sounds reasonable to me.
For more about her story please read this excellent post:
Caught in a Copyright Net
House dust mites are ubiquitous everywhere humans live indoors. Positive tests for dust mite allergies are extremely common among people with asthma. Dust mites are microscopic arachnids whose primary food is dead human skin cells. They do not actually live on people, though. They and their feces and other allergens they produce are major constituents of house dust, but because they are so heavy they are not long suspended in the air.
Source: Wikipedia – Dust
Right out of the gate and a fascinating factoid already got slipped in. See? That’s the power of blogging. Take a deep breath and let’s begin!
An effective blog post requires several key components: A premise, a point of view, words, pictures and other things. That leaves me out. To that end I often find myself researching my own historical archive of posts. Perhaps I want to link a phrase back to something I wrote before. Perhaps I want to revisit a particularly riveting and interesting idea.
Remember, this is all theoretical.
If you’re like me, you got bedazzled and bamboozled by the sheer spectacle of the promised internet. It was going to be this shiny, vast repository of knowledge. It was somehow implied that this would be a Good Thing ™.
A big piece of this bamboozlement was the heralded “hyperlink.” This was going to be a little information workhorse that magically tied it all up, just like the Force binds you, me and the rock together. Unfortunately, it turned out that hyperlink was one of the most gamed inventions in human history and, even worse, had the lifespan of a fruit fly doing the backstroke in a bowl of malathion soup.
We interrupt this blog post to report that the dumb ass author prematurely pounded the Publish key quite by accident. This is another crucial part of blogging. It’s called The Instant Two Part post.
To be continued…
Mark Twain. I admit, I don’t know too much about him. Most of what I do know is gleaned from Star Trek when Picard, Data and Guinan went back in time and bumped into him. He seemed like a decent sort.
Mark Twain, sadly, has died. It was a little over 100 years ago when he passed on.
Yes, that is sad. But, it also means that copyrights on his intellectual property have expired. In the United States, works published or registered prior to 1923 are in the “public domain” due to “copyright expiration.”
Mark Twain died in 1910. So, by default, all works he ever published or registered are in the public domain.
So I decided to avail myself of the opportunity to profit from Mark Twain’s wisdom. I dipped into the pool of his writings and found an excerpt and made it into a clever t-shirt. I feel confident Twain would fully support my enterprising spirit.
The quote came from something he wrote called A Humane Word from Satan. You can probably guess why it caught my eye. Writing a letter to the editor and signing it as “Satan?” Now that’s style!
Okay. I’ve published my derivative work based on Twain’s public domain material. Bring on the riches! I look forward to living on Easy Street from now on.
Note: If anyone over at The Official Web Site of Mark Twain wants in on this, please remember that my derivative work is protected by copyright. I am willing to offer quantity discounts to the estate, though.
See that little doodad widget over there? No, not there. In the column on the side of this blog where stuff is. Yeah, there. The one that says, “Blog with Integrity.”
What does that mean?
Yes, even a Guru of Negativity can still maintain his integrity.
One of the ways I try to blog with integrity is by respecting intellectual property rights. I try to write my own stuff, and when I use a source, like Wikipedia, I give credit where credit is due. I do this with links and sourcing excerpts.
When it comes to images I try to do the same thing. Stealing isn’t nice so I try not to do it.
Here are some fun techniques I use for finding images for use in blog posts and respecting the rights of others.
Do It Yourself (DIY)
When possible, create your own stuff. Get off your ass and take your own photos. Of course that isn’t always workable or possible. So keep reading.
Search government sites
In most cases, images created by the government are open season and free of copyright. Makes sense since we own the government. (At least in theory.)
You can easily use a Google Image Search (GIS) to peruse these images. (This is just one way to do it.)
- Go to http://www.google.com
- Search for something (let’s try “paper airplane”)
- Search results for “Everything” will be displayed by default
- On the left column, click “Images” to narrow your search
- Near the top of the page, under the Search button, click the link that says “Advanced Search”
- Find the box that says “Domain” and enter the following to limit your search to government web site domains: *.gov
- Click the “Google Search” button to search again
- This time the results should only be from images hosted on government domains
I found the image on the left in the search results. I clicked it and was taken to a web site owned by the Federal Aviation Administration. I saved the image to my desktop and then loaded it into my blog.
Viola! It’s that easy.
Note: You should keep in mind that not all images on GOV domains are copyright free. You sometimes have to do a bit of research. Find the “policies” link and see what it says. You can usually get a pretty good idea whether an image is usable or not.
I have seen some city and county government web sites that claim a copyright on their material. I’m not sure what’s up with that. In those rare cases I just shrug and move on.
So don’t forget about the government when you’re looking for a photograph. You might get lucky. NASA is a great source for images. So is the CIA World Factbook and the Library of Congress.
Photographers on the Flickr service have the option of making their pictures available for other uses (or not). One way of letting others share your work is by using a Creative Commons (CC) license. This is a great way to legally find photographs for your blog.
- Go to http://www.flickr.com
- In the search box at the top-right, search for something (lets try “mardis gras”)
- A bunch of pictures will be displayed
- Just like before, find and click the “Advanced Search” link
- Scroll down and find the CC section and check the box that says, “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content”
- Click the SEARCH button again
Now you’ll only be seeing images where the license holder allows sharing. Neat, huh? You’ll be amazed at the quality and also the number of pictures available for most searches. There are some great finds here!
Find a picture you like, click to enlarge, then click the SHARE THIS button. Select the “Grab the HTML” option, choose a size, then paste that code into your blog post.
This will automatically create a link back to the original photo on Flickr. Be sure to leave that to say “thank you” to the photographer for sharing.
Here’s one I found for Mardis Gras that tells a nice story.
Sometimes you’ll find an image on Flickr that you want to use but it isn’t flagged as being part of the Creative Commons. Just drop the Flickr member and note and ask permission. I’ve done this many times and it has always worked. Be sure to link the image to the Flickr member’s account and then send them a copy of your post and say thanks.
Open Source Clip Art
If you want clip art rather than a photo, try the Open Clip Art Library for copyright free images. This is where the artwork for Hyppo and Critter came from.
So, that’s just a few ideas. There are many more. Feel free to share your ideas in the comments.
It’s been far too long since my last “eat my ass” post. The time has come.
The target of my ire today: Lyrics web sites.
You ever search the internet for the lyrics to some song you’ve been listening to? Prepare to go on a wild ride of pop-up advertising, blinking things, moving things, popping windows and so forth. It almost makes “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” at Disneyland feel like a moment of zen-like tranquility.
All I want is the damn lyrics. Can have please? I do not want any of your damn filthy ring tones you damn dirty apes. I’m quite proud of the fact that my phone can’t even handle ring tones. Hell yeah, one of my small victories in life. No ring tones for me. Like I have time to hear “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot every time someone reaches out and activates this infernal contraption against my will.
I enjoy looking up lyrics. Sometimes you just can’t understand those crazy kids and the way they enunciate when singing these days. But I can’t stand all the steaming crap found on the lyrics sites, and there are tons of these sites, all using similar crap. Apparently song lyrics is a very competitive niche.
So I use a little trick courtesy of Google.
- Search for the song title and add the word “lyrics.” This brings up a list of results that might even have what I want. Sometimes.
- Click the “cached” link provided by Google to look at an archived copy of the page and not the live page itself. I do this in an attempt to avoid all the advertising crap.
- Use my browser’s “view source” function on that cached page (since the crap can still happen).
- Close the original page as fast as possible.
- I’m now look through that source code for the content I want. All I have to do now is scroll down and find the lyrics. Victory!
I did that this morning and found a little something that looked like this where the lyrics were supposed to be:
Those puss-filled bags of bastards! They went and scrambled the alphabetic characters within their raw file using HTML entities. That makes it not very readable by humans, eh?
At this point I was hating the lyrics web site pretty damn bad. I’ll be damned before I click anything on their site as long as I can still draw breath.
These lyrics web sites have got to be more overly-protective of their content than anyone I’ve ever seen. And here’s the kicker…
They don’t even own their fucking content. They are a bunch of copyright thieves, stealing lyrics they don’t own and hosting them on their sites to make a profit. And being dickheads about it.
Now you know. Just thought I’d share what I learned about these puss bags.