Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the word-on-the-blog dept

Hollywood hates it when fans get creative. We were reminded of that this week when a popular re-edit of Mad Max Fury Road was taken down, and That One Guy won most insightful comment of the week with his lack of surprise:

The only allowed creation is authorized creation

Disappointing, but not in the slightest surprising at this point.

A work was built on to create something different, something apparently more true to the director’s idea of how it could have been, and it was killed off.

Because it was an act of creativity, and not money, it was removed.

Because it was created on a whim and not after careful negotiations with the expected sales sheets filled in, and the profit ‘sharing’ contract signed and sealed, it was shut down.

Because it was created not to make a buck, but because of a desire to create, to take an idea and make it real, it was blocked from the public.

More songs, more books, more films and more pieces of art may be being created than ever before in history, but it’s not because of the laws in place regarding ‘creativity’, not because of the permission culture that demands payment for every use, lest it be killed off, but in spite of those things. People are creating because that is what people do, despite the repeated attempts by those that would lock creativity behind a paywall, and prohibit the growth of culture unless every single parasitic middle-man was paid first.

We also got a glimpse beneath Hollywood’s surface this week, where all the screwing-over-of-artists happens in contrast to the screwing-over-of-the-public, as it was revealed just how creative the accounting got for Goodfellas. DOlz won second place for insightful by reiterating the key takeaway from this and similar revelations:

MPAA remind me again, who are the pirates that are robbing the hardworking creators, actors, and the support people that make the movies?

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start out on our post criticizing Wired Magazine’s new exclusive early stories for iOS devices, where a discussion broke out in the comments as to how this differs from Techdirt’s own Insider offerings. There were interesting perspectives on both sides, with some focusing primarily on the platform exclusivity aspect as a key differentiator. We certainly feel that our Crystal Ball is a bit different — and I think the best explanation came from nasch:

I don’t think it’s a matter of “bad” and “good” but a question of how people react. Mike isn’t saying this is immoral, he’s saying it might not be a good business decision because it pisses people off. If there had been an uproar in the Techdirt community about the crystal ball/insider feature, I’m sure he would have reconsidered it, but we seem to have accepted it just fine.

Next, we head to the bad copyright ruling of the week, where the Batmobile was recognized as a character deserving some sort of protection in the abstract. Larry Zerner, one of the attorneys in the case, supplied some additional thoughts in the comments:

As the (losing) attorney on this case, I just wanted to add a bit of background and give my 2 cents. I’m a big fan of Techdirt and the Techdirt community and appreciate that they understand that not everything is automatically protected by copyright.

First, with regard to the question as to whether DC does license an official Batmobile car, they do. My client began selling replica Batmobiles in 2001. Ten years later, in 2011, DC entered into a deal with another replicator, Mark Racop (, and gave him a contract to sell officially licensed Batmobiles. Racop then told DC to sue Towle.

Second, and what most people seem to forget, is that the copyright act specifically states that there is no copyright protection for the design of automobiles because they are “useful articles.” In fact, if you go to the Copyright Office website you will find a page that states this:

“Copyright in a work that portrays a useful article extends only to the artistic expression of the author of the pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work. It does not extend to the design of the article that is portrayed. For example, a drawing or photograph of an automobile or a dress design may be copyrighted, but that does not give the artist or photographer the exclusive right to make automobiles or dresses of the same design.”


So the Copyright Office has made it clear that drawing a car does not give you the exclusive right to the design of those cars.

Third, even if the Batmobile were to qualify as a character, the copyright should only extend to the qualities of the character that are not part of the car’s design. This decision absolutely says that Ian Fleming’s estate now owns the copyright to the Aston Martin, Disney owns the copyright to the Volkswagen (because of Herbie the Love Bug), and Universal owns the copyright to the Pontiac Trans-Am that played KITT. I believe many of you can see that this makes no sense. These characters exist in movies and TV shows. They don’t exist in the real world. If someone sells a Trans-Am and calls it KITT, that may be a trademark issue, but in no way should it violate a copyright.

Anyway, thanks for letting me rant for a bit and get that off of my chest.

Over on the funny side, we start on the story that spurred a lot of rage this week: the drug company that raised the price of Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill. Mason Wheeler won first place by giving the company a new slogan, borrowed from highwaymen and pirates:

Turing Pharmaceuticals: Your Money or Your Life.

In second place, we’ve got a response to France’s decision that Google must honor right to be forgotten requests across its sites globally. Anonymous Anonymous Coward‘s original comment included a silly error that was corrected shortly afterwards, and since it still racked up lots of votes, we’ll just fix it and pretend it didn’t happen:

I can see it now. Some young person opens Google Maps over Europe and see’s this black splotch just south of England and west of Germany and says “Mommy, Mommy, what’s this black thing?” Of course Mommy will reply “Well honey, that use to be France, but they have a right to be forgotten, so we have.”

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we’re looping back to two earlier stories. First, on the subject of the Mad Max Fury Road edit, some commenters had some carefully worded thoughts on just how “gone” it is:

I can neither confirm, nor deny the allegations that kick ass torrents, or the pirate bay, may harbour links to ways to obtain that masterpiece, but I can definitely say I’m not downloading it and won’t be watching it tonight. I’m very excited.

Finally, on the subject of the Batmobile, jupiterkansas took a shot at treating the “character” to some accolades:

And the award for best actor goes to… “The Batmobile” Yes, it brought tears to my eyes when it jumped over that ravine, and who can forget it’s hilarious performance trying to find a parking spot in the garage. Hopefully this award will end the ongoing argument over which vehicle portrayed The Batmobile the best.

That’s all for this week, folks!

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Comments on “Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Dodging the issue

On pp. 8-9 of Judge Ikuta’s opinion in the Batmobile case, in footnote 4, the court writes:

The district court also concluded, in the alternative, that the 1966 and 1989 Batmobiles were entitled to copyright protection as a sculptural work under 17 U.S.C. § 102(a)(5). Because we agree that the Batmobile is a character entitled to copyright protection, we need not reach this issue.

It seems likely to me that the Ninth Circuit felt that it could not honestly sustain the district court on this point, given 17 U.S.C. § 113(b), the definitions of “Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works” and “useful article” in 17 U.S.C. § 101, and the legislative history in House Report 94-1476. From the House of Representatives report:

To take the example usually cited, would copyright in a drawing or model of an automobile give the artist the exclusive right to make automobiles of the same design?

When the “example usually cited” during passage of the act is the case before the court, then it takes a warped and twisted sense of the law to decide the case other than according to the Congressional intent. That would be a good reason for Judge Ikuta not to want to touch the district court’s alternative basis.

But is it any more honest to sidestep the issue of the proper scope of the limited, statutory monopoly by resorting to a judge-made expansion which protects the non-literal expression of “characters”? That side-step does just as much to thwart Congressional intent in this case.

Copyright is not patent right.

The Ninth Circuit’s decision has a stench to it.

This stench is in no way lessened by the decision of the Court of Appeals that they were “well-equipped” to decide on “character” without a jury. The Seventh Amendment does not ask judges to decide whether they think juries are a good idea—or whether they’d rather not have the bother.

The decision ought to be reversed.

Daydream says:

'Right to be filtered out'?

Is it too late to snark about the right to be forgotten thing?

Because I’ve thought of an excellent way to implement it; user-based filtering.
Using this innovative method, users can input a server request and receive only the narrowest cross-section of data relevant to their request, excluding anything and everything you could possibly want forgotten by the world.
Previous testing by Google indicates that this is by far the most effective content-control mechanism in the world, with a proven 97% effective rate of censoring unwanted information, less than 0.1% false negatives, and over 90% approval from consumers.
Yessir, just implement user-based filtering, and you’ll be forgotten when you want to be!

(Disclaimer: we claim no responsibility for the filtering decisions of clients who use our user-based filtering system.)

(If you don’t get it: I’m talking about the thing where you do a google search; it returns a list of results that you might want and excludes the rest.)

Whatever (profile) says:

I get to shoot them all down in one place.

Wow, a great week at Techdirt. So much misinformation and misrepresentation, it’s almost hard to know where to start.

Batmobile: Pretty simple, really – there is no copyright on “cars” or even “modified ford car show one offs”, but rather specifically for the Batmobile itself. You know, black, fins, fire thing in the back, bubble roof… it’s a pretty specific thing and yes, a character in it’s own right (perhaps no different than KITT the Knight Rider car). You say Batmobile or KITT, and everyone (of a certain age, I guess) knows what you are talking about. It’s actually really reasonable for the car to be considered a character. Heck, Herbie the love bug is a character too, that wouldn’t give them rights over VWs, just perhaps that specific character / representation.

Creation: Nobody is stopping creation – they are addressing duplication. You have to be fairly slanted to not understand the difference.

Hollywood Accounting: Anyone signing up for NET anything is an idiot, plain and simple. Interestingly thought, I don’t see too much complaining about companies like Google who offshore their profits by using things like “logo rights” or whatever to create expenses to move money from profitable higher tax areas to lower tax / no tac havens. Perhaps some “dirt” about “tech” would be a nice change. Double Irish, anyone?

Wired / Ios: The issue is that Wired is taking away something from people to stick it in a preferential walled garden. The Techdirt CB seems to be more about seeing stories before they are published. Wired took an approach that starts equal and excludes people, Techdirt’s thing starts equal and offers a plus without taking away from the initial equal setting. Think of it like an ISP offering “our highest speed internet” by intentionally lowering the speeds on their existing customers. They didn’t improve things, they made it worse overall.

See, Techdirt does get some things right. 🙂

Klaus says:

Re: I get to shoot them all down in one place.

“You say Batmobile or KITT, and everyone (of a certain age, I guess) knows what you are talking about”

Not really – I never watched Night Rider so it doesn’t mean that much to me. And when I say Batmobile to people around me right now, the response I’m getting is “which one?”.

ottermaton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: You don't know what you're talking about

Is it irony that by pointing out that others may know what someone is talking about when they say, “The Batmobile” you illustrate that you don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.

How about if I said, “Bat Utility Belt” and people recognized that? Does that make it a “character”?

Hell no.

An example from another superhero: Superman’s “Fortress of Solitude”. Is it a character because people have heard of it?

Of course not.

Wonder Woman’s lasso a “character”?


I could go on and on and on and on. Just because someone is familiar with an object you mention does not make that object a character. Hell, one could even make the very reasonable argument that because people recognize those objects that they are part of our culture and therefore not “owned” by anyone.

Trying to justify things that are nothing more than mindless objects as characters just so they can be controlled and profited from is the height of cynicism and greed.

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 You don't know what you're talking about

Are you suggesting, as the example, that KITT is not a character? Is Herbie the Love Bug not a character in it’s own right?

They are not simply things – perhaps no different from the Starship Enterprise (in it’s various guises). They are of themselves iconic and defined players in the game. Would you consider Mr Data to be a character, even through he was essentially an Android? A tribble?

I know it’s hard because it’s not black and white and absolute. It’s in the grey and the court saw the grey as being more on the character side. It’s not a bad decision, really.

ottermaton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 You don't know what you're talking about

Are you suggesting, as the example, that KITT is not a character? Is Herbie the Love Bug not a character in it’s own right?

Hey dumbass: how about you read this comment I made which just happens to be right below this one that totally dismantles your “character” argument for the Batmobile.

Only a moron would consider an inaminate object a character. You seem to fit the bill.

ottermaton (profile) says:

Re: You aim is WAY off

In your rush to attack the TD analysis of the Batmobile by comparing it to Herbie the Love Bug and KITT you forget (or, more likely, intentionally leave out) one (at least) very important point: will.

With Herbie/KITT they are characters (and yes, I’m willing to call them characters) because … well, they’re characters. They have motivations, whims and foibles that are completely their own. They are independent entities. They have a PERSONALITY.

The Batmobile possesses none of these qualities. It is simply a device. A tool, if you will. Kind of like you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I get to shoot them all down in one place.

You know, black, fins, fire thing in the back, bubble roof… it’s a pretty specific thing

And yet the ruling in that case did not protect as “a pretty specific thing” – it protected it as an entirely generalized concept. It does not require any of the things you listed – merely a “bat-like appearance” and “up-to-date weaponry and technology”. In other words, it utterly spits on the idea/expression dichotomy.

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