Does Google Need Permission From Philip K. Dick's Estate For The Nexus One?

from the seems-a-bit-ridiculous dept

There's been plenty of buzz over the past few days about Google's alleged plans to offer a phone of its own design (built by HTC, potentially sold both directly and by T-Mobile, if not others), which has been dubbed the "Nexus One." I didn't write anything about it, because there didn't seem much to write about at this point. I'm always happy to see more competition in the market, though, and if the phone is really good, that's obviously a good thing. But one thing did catch my eye. The NY Times is noting that the name "Nexus One" appears to be a play on how Philip K. Dick named the replicants in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which was subsequently turned into the still popular movie Blade Runner. In both stories, the replicants are "Nexus-6" devices, being the sixth generation of that type of robots. It's a fun little homage by Google and an obvious play on the fact that its operating system is called Android.

And yet... the estate of Philip K. Dick is not pleased. The article notes (surprisingly) that Motorola paid George Lucas for the rights to use "Droid" for its Android phone, but no one spoke to the Dick estate, who now claim they are "shocked and dismayed." Really? Shocked? Isa Dick Hackett, Philip's daughter is claiming:
"We were never consulted, no requests were made, and we didn't grant any sort of permissions."
Perhaps that's because Google doesn't need permission from you to do such a thing. Of course, since Google hasn't made any official announcement on this, there's still a good chance they could change the name, just to avoid having to deal with an angry and misguided family member who doesn't like the idea of anyone paying tribute to her father without first paying up. You have to imagine there must be some other science fiction author out there who would be thrilled to have Google promoting his or her work, rather than whining about getting permission (i.e., "payment") for the use of a name.

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  1. icon
    Derek Bredensteiner (profile), 16 Dec 2009 @ 5:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: To be fair....

    "How is it a problem to push your license fees and royalties to the maximum extent possible, if that is what your company does for money?"

    I would counter with "How is it a problem to rape and pillage poor farmers if your company is an army that's authorized to do so?". Now of course that's quite absurd, and an unfair comparison by any measure, but the point I mean to make is just because something is legal doesn't mean it's a good idea, even if you've signed up with a company that does that.

    When did personal responsibility get thrown out the door? Just because it's legal, or because someone else might do it if you don't, doesn't mean you should or it's "a good thing".

    There's business reasons not too, and I would argue there are moral reasons not too.

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