M. Alan Thomas II’s Techdirt Profile


About M. Alan Thomas IITechdirt Insider

My addiction started when I began reading copyright law for fun in college, and it's all been downhill from there: library school, a "Guild of Radical Militant Librarians" t-shirt, an information policy Tumblr, and now Techdirt.

M. Alan Thomas II’s Comments comment rss

  • Apr 18th, 2014 @ 4:26pm

    (untitled comment)

    If this DOES push Russian into verifiable persecution of Snowden, it will make it very hard for others to argue that he's a Russian agent.

  • Apr 9th, 2014 @ 1:52pm

    (untitled comment)

    I would assume that geographically diverse authors have a lower degree of overlap in their professional contacts/circles than less diverse authors would, resulting in more people who hear about and cite the work in their own research. That is, the citation index might simply be recording the greater reach of the authors rather than the higher quality of the research in such a case.

  • Apr 5th, 2014 @ 8:27pm

    (untitled comment)

    So . . . their excuse about not mentioning the prior cases earlier is that this order didn't cover them and/or they were the subject of ongoing preservation orders that wouldn't be affected by this order, but their reasoning for destroying the metadata is that this order did cover those prior cases and/or overrode prior orders? They can't have it both ways, if they did indeed destroy the evidence relating to the prior cases.

  • Apr 5th, 2014 @ 8:17pm

    (untitled comment)

    Of course, publishers hate ILL (interlibrary loan), too. Especially the Section 108 clauses pertaining to articles.

    More than a few just don't like libraries, period.

  • Apr 5th, 2014 @ 8:16pm

    Re: Re:

    Even assuming that the library owned a direct license rather than having sublicensed it from a ebook service vendor, there would be too much risk of damage to the device. (I can send a centuries-old book through the mail with little risk of damage, but electronics have much narrower tolerances.)

  • Mar 29th, 2014 @ 2:30am

    (untitled comment)

    Attacks continue, although they tend to be personal rather than institutional; we're not so far from the '80s that some of the same idiots aren't still out there.

    In fact, one retired detective still supplements his pension by getting paid taxpayer dollars to bring moral panics about "kids getting into the occult" to law enforcement agencies. Dr. Thomas Radecki (of the National Coalition on TV Violence, among others) was, up until 2012, still a practicing psychiatrist, although he did take several years off due to having his license revoked for "engaging in immoral conduct of an unprofessional nature with a patient." (He was caught at it again in 2012 and, at last report, was under arrest for trading drugs for sex.)

    In the immediate aftermath of Columbine, there was some attempt to blame RPGs and "goth culture" on the grounds that the shooters wore black.

    In the post-9/11 security state, a ferry guard in NY seized a kid's D&D manual because it had a demon on the front (IIRC).

    And, of course, it's only been four years since the 7th Circuit upheld a ban on D&D in Wisconsin state prisons because a member of the prison staff said it promoted gang activity.

    Plus all the low-level hassling people still get from clueless parents et al.; just look at the number of book challenges in libraries each year for "occult themes" or "promoting satanism."

  • Mar 27th, 2014 @ 8:42pm

    (untitled comment)

    The Federal judiciary tends to take a dim view of any legislation limiting its fundamental powers, particularly the power to hear cases and decide which laws are constitutional.

  • Mar 14th, 2014 @ 2:14pm

    (untitled comment)

    I should like to point out, in case anyone was wondering, that the beer people are liberals and are quite embarassed to be related to her.

  • Feb 28th, 2014 @ 5:47pm

    Re: Re:

    Well, I'd make a distinction between natural rights (which you'd have in the absence of government), civil rights (which the government assures but wouldn't exist without government*), and privileges (which have some prerequisite or are easily revocable). But that's not a universal division.

    *In some cases that's because they're rights protecting you from the government. In the absence of a government, such a right would be meaningless.

  • Feb 28th, 2014 @ 5:35pm

    (untitled comment)

    I'd hope that lawyers, at least, would notice technical truth-telling and evasive answers.

  • Feb 27th, 2014 @ 3:13am

    (untitled comment)

    I wouldn't be surprised if commercial release to malicious exploit took under a week.

  • Feb 19th, 2014 @ 4:59pm

    (untitled comment)

    "Whether it is a lawsuit or just a discovery engagement"? Did he just admit that he might use discovery for an improper purpose (i.e., not for the purpose of bringing a suit)? (c.f. Prenda)

  • Feb 18th, 2014 @ 4:50pm

    (untitled comment)

    The state can regulate the non-expressive activity of maintaining a database, I would think. They would still be free to take all the pictures they want, just not to use them for illegal activities (e.g., invasion of privacy, maintaining an illegal database).

  • Feb 13th, 2014 @ 2:31pm

    (untitled comment)

    If the amount paid by the content company directly offset my bill, that'd be . . . well, not fine, but better. Otherwise, as long as I wasn't going to go over the (arbitrary) cap anyway, it's meaningless.

  • Feb 5th, 2014 @ 5:22pm

    (untitled comment)

    While there's no specific mandate to do so, I rather wish that my government would object to a foreign government interfering with our residents' constitutional rights (in this case, freedom of association).

  • Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 3:28pm

    (untitled comment)

    My impression is that the county cops are much better than the city cops, at least when I left. (I lived in St. Louis City for about 25 years.) The county cops might run non-whites out of town, but the city cops are more likely to shoot unarmed black men and are very resistant to oversight.

    Please remember that it's an independent city, so the City and the surrounding County are completely unrelated legal entities.

  • Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 2:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You have a surprisingly narrow view of anime. [...] Basically your definitely of anime seems to be entirely "battle shounen series".
    Well, that was rather blunter than I was trying to be, but the point is the same.

    Silverscarcat, I suspect that some of the tropes you list have parallel constructions in other genres such that the most likely inspirations for any given series is an exemplar in the same genre, which isn't necessarily Dragon Ball or related to it. For example, Training From Hell goes back to at least Aim for the Ace!, which has more than a decade on Dragon Ball, was wildly popular and influential, and inspired a little parody called Aim for the Top!—better known as Gunbuster—which was a major part of the '80s revolution in mecha anime. (And Training from Hell was a major part of the parody aspect, so there's definitely a line of transmission there.) There's no reason to think that any sports show ever has looked to Dragon Ball for inspiration, and indeed no reason a mecha show would have to, either.

    I can't do the other tropes off of the top of my head, but while you may be right that some of them are codified in Dragon Ball, most of them are specific to fighting anime. And even then you could argue over the degree to which, e.g., Ranma—which started a few years later but ran in parallel with Dragon Ball—was influenced by Dragon Ball vs. representing an independent transmission or creation of the tropes. And let's not forget live-action; anime has long been heavily influenced by tokusatsu series, especially the Godzilla movies and the big four TV franchises,* all of which have power creep over the course of the series and a variety of other such action tropes dating back to long before Dragon Ball.

    *Ultraman, Super Sentai, Kamen Rider, and Metal Heroes.

  • Feb 2nd, 2014 @ 10:45am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I went to the grocery store the day before yesterday but could not find any "food." There was milk, bread, eggs, breaded eggs . . . but no "food." I can accept that those individual objects may contribute to the national food supply, but to say that farmers grow food is inapt.

  • Feb 2nd, 2014 @ 10:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's certainly influenced a swath of shōnen. I'll even grant you some sideways art influence on some magical girl anime with costume power-ups and transforming hair (e.g., the PreCure meta-series, especially Splash Star).* Akira Toriyama's art style in general has been somewhat influential, but even so, some of that has to do with the award-winning Dr. Slump and culture-shaping Dragon Quest series; it's not all because of Dragon Ball.

    On the other hand, I'd suggest that appreciable influence from Dragon Ball is rare or virtually absent in shōjo, shows set in the real world or the harder side of SF, romances, &c. I simply don't see it having much effect outside its genre and core tropes any more than I would credit Star Trek with noticeably influencing sitcoms.

    Of course, it hasn't even been 70 years since most of these anime genres and tropes were invented; if derivative works were policed with no allowance for the usual mechanisms of culture, we wouldn't have any of these genres because early pioneers like Mitsuteru Yokoyama or their heirs would be able to claim anything sharing enough traits to be identifiable as sharing a genre as derivative works.

    *The magical girl genre is actually quite good as an example of culture building on culture, because you can easily subdivide it by what it stole from other genres. For example, transformations all date back to appropriation from Cutie Honey, Super Sentai elements were first appropriated by Sailor Moon, PreCure dares mix elements of Super Sentai and Kamen Rider (both of which air in the same programming block as it), and Nanoha is functionally a shōnen mecha show (with, yes, influence from Dragon Ball).

  • Feb 1st, 2014 @ 9:43pm


    Really? I have. I grew up a few blocks from an author, and I'm friends with others. (Actually, now that I think about it, quite a few of my friends have been published, even if only one makes a living at it.) My wife is an artist. I'd say all of them make things that would fit any definition of "culture" involving "the arts," which is a common part of the primary, non-technical definition of the word in any reference source I've checked. (See, e.g., Merriam-Webster, Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary, Dictionary.com, &c. &c. &c.) I'm sorry that you've not been as fortunate.

    If you want to go with a more Classical or anthropological definition, I've meet some spiritual leaders as well. But then, nobody involved in this debate is an anthropologist, and you don't get to pick and choose your definitions just so you win. (If it was, you could just say you've never met a cheesemaker or brewer or baker or biologist, but what would that have to do with copyright?)

    Now, I do have to admit that I'm no economic expert. But I suspect that "innovation economy" has something to do with an economy that derives a significant portion of its gains from innovation as opposed to copying or routine. In any case, it only comes up once in the article, and while you could reasonably make the case that it's more relevant to patent than copyright, you can't argue against the overall point on the grounds that you couldn't precisely define one term in a conjunction. Not even if your personal ignorance of the definition was a valid argument, which it isn't.

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