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To Slander – To Make False and Damaging Statements About Someone

I am not going to say much about “GamerGate”. If you don’t know the term, please don’t go looking for it. It is an appalling microcosm of some of the most vicious and hypocritical online harassment that I have seen in my relatively short lifetime.

I’m not a huge fan of Felicia Day in general. She’s reasonably cool, but she doesn’t speak for me as a female gamer, and I tend to shy away from spokesperson movements in general. Today she posted about her personal experiences and I recognized myself in her unwillingness to engage.

Now, she’s famous and popular (not always the same thing), so public response to her thoughts is going to be vastly different than my own. The saddest thing about this hopefully short event in gaming history is the pervasive culture of fear it has enforced.

Anita Sarkeesian cancelled a lecture after receiving credible death threats and not receiving assistance from law enforcement to prevent guns from entering the venue.

Felicia Day crossed the street to avoid two unknown gamers in black t-shirts.

And a lot of the rest of us are ignoring it because we would just like it to go away. Don’t speak up, and you won’t be a target. And that makes me sad about humanity in general.

I’m not linking to any of the memes or most of the discussion around this. It’s been covered very well by mainstream media, and the people I’d like to support are included above.

Just remember, the legal defense for libel is that the person speaking out is speaking the truth. Not the truth as they see it, or the “truth” as they have been coached to repeat by an embittered ex. Gamergate is not defensible by “truth” because it is not libel, it is slander and harassment and fear-mongering. Sometimes I wish more gamers were able to play well with others.

Posted in Wednesday: Current Issues.

Annnd…we’re back!

Sorry for the hopefully brief downtime, but we’re up and functional once more!

While we’re on the subject, now taking suggestions for content.

I’d like to post more regularly, but (as I’m sure you can tell), I haven’t been super inspired recently.

What would you like to hear about?

Posted in Miscellaneous.

To Kill a Mockingbird – Digital Copyright Duration

Yesterday, on Harper Lee’s 88th birthday, she thrilled bibliophiles by announcing that “To Kill a Mockingbird” would be available for digital download on July 8th of this year.

A question came my way by a friend who was startled that this book, as a “modern classic”, was still protected by copyright. After responding quickly on Facebook, I realized this was a great moment to talk about copyright duration for older works!

Under the Copyright Act of 1976, the duration for works created after 1978 became the life of the author plus 70 years. Easy enough math, right?

The harder math comes with books like Harper Lee’s, which was published well before the act standardized US Copyright with international law.

To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960, making it eligible for the 28 year term of copyright under 17 U.S.C. 304(a)(1). This copyright was then renewed in 1998, for an additional 67 year term under 17 U.S.C. 304(a)2), making the registered copyright last through 2055.

Interestingly enough, although this work would qualify under the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act (sometimes pejoratively described as the “Mickey Mouse Copyright Extension Act”), the timeline remains the same. Under 17 U.S.C. 304(b), the copyright would last for 95 years from the date copyright was originally secured. Or in this case, 95 years from 1960, which again reaches 2055. For quicker math, 28 (first term) + 67 (extended term) = 95.

This situation was further complicated by the author suing her former literary agent last year to regain control of the copyright for the work, which is generally covered by 17 U.S.C. 304(c).

With thanks to Harper Lee for readying her fabulous book for digital release, to HarperCollins for publishing it in the States, and to everyone everywhere for covering the story yesterday.

Posted in Wednesday: Current Issues.