For what it's worth, Square Donuts is a pretty good little donut shop, and makes some tasty donuts. And having been in business under that name for so long here in Indianapolis, I can see how the association between its name and logo and that particular shop could be deemed worthy of protection.
The funny thing, really, is that you don't see more places selling square donuts, even decades after this business was founded. If they're not that big of an innovation, you'd think they'd be more widespread.
Isn't it nice of Barnes & Noble to remind us of that yet again? This is the second time they've closed an e-book store and told customers they'd transfer most of their purchases over. It happened in 2012, too, when they closed down eReader and Fictionwise, and I lost a 29-book series I'd paid $6 each for.
As a matter of fact, I did. And that's part of why I think SCOTUS will take the case—to settle that question once and for all. Because the only real difference between Google Books and Google web search is that it's a whole lot easier, physically, to spider the web than it is to scan and OCR paper books.
And yet, in both cases, Google is copying content that doesn't belong to it. (I read somewhere that in order to index the web, Google creates multiple complete copies of the entire Internet on its own servers. Something like five or six complete copies at any given time.) In both cases, it permits people who don't want to be indexed to opt out (by submitting a form with Google Books, or by using a robots.txt file with Google web search).
And the odd thing is, nobody seems to kick up any fuss about Google indexing the web—and certainly there haven't been any major legal rulings on it, as far as I know. And yet, by doing so Google is copying everybody else's content, multiple times, without asking permission ahead of time. Just as it's doing with Google Books.
If Google Books was found to be illegal, it would not only shut down Google Books, but would also throw the entire notion of indexing the web itself into doubt. And there hasn't been a major ruling yet on either kind of search engine. I think SCOTUS will take this chance to make one.
As I wrote here, I think they'll give the Apple case a miss, as it's basically a bog-standard antitrust case, but I think they will take the Google Books case.
As the Authors Guild points out, SCOTUS hasn't had a major fair-use case before it in something like 20 years, which means the entire Internet has grown up and become a public thing since then without any SCOTUS jurisprudence, and this case definitely deals with some Internet-age questions (like whether it can be considered fair use to make a search engine for someone else's content). I don't think they'll pass up the chance to rule on it.
As I wrote on TeleRead, it really is an interesting article. One of the great parts is the way that it uses the traditional "smell of books" argument not as an end in and of itself, but as a launching point for discussing why e-books are still limited to being paper books under glass.
It's a problem that doesn't exist for people who are technogeeky enough to figure out how to do it. Which is, uh, hardly anybody at all, relatively speaking.
The whole reason Amazon got to the top in the first place was that it made buying e-books completely idiot-proof, in a way that somehow none of its competitors has ever managed to approach. You don't have to fiddle about with downloading files and copying them from place to place. You just tap a "buy it now" button and thirty seconds later, you're reading. The question of DRM doesn't even enter the equation. The question of sideloading doesn't even enter the equation—because the idea of sideloading, or indeed, even the idea of emailing it to their Kindle, is completely beyond most of the people who use the Kindle.
Baen had a great setup on their Webscription website where people could punch in their Kindle's email address and click a button to have it email the DRM-free Baen e-books they bought right into their Kindle—but even that was too hard for people. They kept asking Baen "why aren't your e-books on Kindle?" until Baen finally waved the white flag and changed the way its entire e-book store operated for the sake of being able to put their e-books in the Kindle store.
Heck, that's also why The Martian is a Ridley Scott movie that earned $55 million opening weekend, instead of still being free Internet fiction Andy Weir wrote as a hobby for egoboo from his fans. Some of those fans wanted to be able to load the e-book of it onto their Kindle, but they were too lazy to figure out how to sideload—so they asked Weir to put it on Amazon where he had to charge at least 99 cents for it. These people preferred to pay 99 cents than to plug their Kindle into their computer and drag and drop a file over. So he did, and then enough people bought it that it hit the bestseller list, traditional publishers took notice, and the rest was history.
So, yay for you, you know how to crack DRM and back up your e-books. The vast majority of Kindle owners don't even know how to copy a file from their computer to their Kindle—nor do they want to. All that "techie stuff" just goes right over their heads.
Another Kickstarter game based (loosely) on an established property, Chroma Squad got a nastygram from Power Rangers owners Saban…but they were able to settle the matter and proceed in exchange for simply adding an "Inspired by Saban's Power Rangers" to the game's title screen. It's available in Steam right now.
It's funny to think of Saban having more brand savvy than Hasbro, but that's just how it works sometime.
It's gotten to be so you simply can't believe any story that's "too good to be true," because there are just so many fake news sites out there. Some of them pretend to be "satire," but others exist solely to troll the unwary. Always pay attention to the domain name of the news site, and if you don't recognize it, google it. ALWAYS.
Remember, every day is April Fool's Day on the Internet. It should remind us not to be so credulous.
Personally, I prefer Qdoba. Even if they did kind of go the lame-ass route of jacking the price on all their burritos last year in order to be able to claim that guacamole, once a paid-extra add-on, is now "free for all."
It's worth noting that these really aren't the "Gen Con" EN World RPG awards except for the fact that EN World announces the awards at Gen Con. They're not officially part of Gen Con in the sense that Gen Con has any sponsorship or control over them. They're just given out at the convention because that's where everybody is.
They started out as just an unofficial fannish way for the EN World blog to award prizes to games it personally thought were cool. They were fan awards, that was that. More recently, they got some corporate sponsorship and people started taking notice of them; they're sort of gradually acquiring some respectability just from the fact they've been put on at this big ceremony for so long.
If this Mass Effect thing had happened a few years ago, I guarantee you nobody would even have noticed. The whole thing was basically just Mappin wanting his fellow RPG geeks to give him some kudos for how kewl his fan game was. He never stopped to think that so many more eyes are on the awards now that kind of thing just isn't going to fly anymore.
You know, in medieval times, a long stick with a weight on the end was called a "mace" and swung around to whap your enemies with. The angular momentum imparted by the length of the stick means the weight on the end can get up some pretty good speed and do some serious damage.
Ban such a thing in venues where lots of people might get crowded together and there's some serious potential for doing harm by accident? Uh, yeah, let's do that.
John Hodgman explained that these crustaceans are actually johnny-come-latelies, and the original form of the lobster was a furry creature more like a sea otter. Jonathan Coulton wrote a song about it.
Just to note, it's more likely that the "Passwords" folder was created by the hackers as a handy place to put all the various passwords files they found in various locations as they rifled through the stuff to create the information dump they uploaded.
True enough, but those twelve ordinary "reasonable" people on the jury unanimously determined that, given the specific circumstances, they found Elonis's postings to be a credible threat. And they were made fully aware of the context of the thing, including hearing Elonis's "it was just expressive rap lyrics" argument. If those twelve people weren't convinced, I'm not either.
Remember, the SCOTUS case isn't necessarily over whether he's guilty in that context, it's over whether the criteria used to find him guilty should be relaxed because he claims it was written for no other reason than to be expressive rap music, and expressive rap music should be protected.
I don't believe anyone who posts threatening statements that specifically refer to and terrorize another person should get a free pass just because he claims "artistic merit." There are certain standards we hold to in society, and those include not openly threatening other people. It doesn't matter if you're "serious" or not; the crime is inherent to the threat itself. Just like it's illegal to point a gun at someone, even if you don't plan to shoot them and even if the gun isn't even loaded.
It's not a matter of him handling it by writing a song about it. He could have written all the threatening songs he wanted about it, if he wrote them down in a little notebook and kept them to himself, for example.
It's a matter of him posting that song to his Facebook. The right to free speech is not a right to menace other people. Saying "My ex-wife is a (b-word)" is one thing. But you don't get to say you'd like to kill her in a way calculated to make her fearful that you really plan to, even if you do it in rhyme. (You can't tell me that guy wasn't trying to be clever and leave himself an "out" for in case he got arrested for threatening her. "No, no, look, it rhymes, see? It's just a rap! There's nothing threatening about a rap!")
The current state of the law is that we have twelve ordinary, average people on a jury, who look at the statements including their context, and judge from that whether they think they actually constitute a credible threat. And they have to be unanimous about it. That's not exactly a low bar. It's hard enough for a couple of people to agree about where to go to dinner, let alone twelve to agree on a decision with severe consequences for a man's life where there's any ambiguity about it.
This is the system we have now. It's a good system. I'd like to keep it. Free speech doesn't mean the right to say absolutely anything you want, including things harmful to other people.
The way that the current test for threatening speech works is that 12 jurors perform the "reasonable person" test. Would they, as reasonable people, find the lyrics threatening in that context? Furthermore, they have to find them so unanimously; if there's any doubt, they have to acquit. This doesn't get into the mindset of the perpetrator or the victim. It doesn't require the court or the jury to try to be mind-readers, and doesn't give a free pass to anyone who makes a statement that a reasonable person would assume to be a credible threat if they say afterward, "Oh, I didn't mean it."
You can't tell me that Elonis wasn't trying to make a cute end-run around the law. "I want to throw a scare into this woman because she made me feel bad, but I want to leave myself an 'out' so I can claim I wasn't actually serious if I get arrested. I know, I'll make it look like a rap and claim I'm just 'expressing myself'!"
We really don't need to put juries in the position of trying to read minds. What we've got now is a great balance between free speech and rule of law. There's nothing magical about Facebook that means anything people post there can't be considered credibly threatening, whether it rhymes or not.