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Letters In a bid to tackle piracy, the MPAA has helped design a copyright badge for the Los Angeles Scouts. As well as learning five kinds of copyrighted material, and three kinds of infringement, prospective badge wearers might even get to go on a field trip to a movie studio to learn about the evils of piracy. Some of you decided to take this very literally:

Presumably the field trip won't be to the sets of Pirates of the Caribbean, Pirates, Hook, Treasure Island, The Princess Bride or Cutthroat Island (actually, come to think of it, Cutthroat Island would be a fine example of how piracy hurts people - Geena Davis' career has only recently started to recover)

Surely there are only 3 kinds of copyrighted work? Those the pigopolists own, those they don't and those that they haven't lobbied back under copyright yet.

Richard


I think that you may have got this bit wrong: "The scouts will have the basics of copyright law hammered into their young minds".

Surely that should be more along the lines of: "The scouts will have select portions of todays already basterdised copyright law hammered into their young minds, along with loads of made-up propaganda and inaccurate statistics"

Here's hoping the EFF can take a cue from this and run their own 'badge'. Or given the EFF's woeful history, perhaps someone competant could do it instead?

Regards, Mike


Why do I get the odd feeling that Fair Use law is not going to be part of the lessons to earn the badge?

Arah


"The scouts will have the basics of copyright law hammered into their young minds, and to win the badge will have to know five types of copyrighted works and three kinds of copyright theft."

1) This answer. 2) The answer after this 3) The previous answer 4) GPL code 5) News broadcasts

1) Unconscionable contracts that make the artist "work for hire" 2) The extension of copyrights, impoverishing the public domain 3) The retroactive extension of copyrights, removing public domain material

Do I get my badge?

Mark


This is a great idea actually, it's changing society to not steal things (which is good), whilst still allowing us people to make our own decisions :]

James


Well, I have to give them credit. At least they're trying to be proactive about preventing copyright infringement, instead of going off the deep end and suing everyone and their grandmother.

Then again, they could be doing that too, but I'd wager it's a bit more low-key than the RIAA's witch hunts have been.

Aeryck


Further analysis of the government's proposed changes to the Freedom of Information Act have spectacularly failed to cheer us up. In fact, the more detail one goes into, the bleaker the picture gets:

They could just explain that, if the officer thinks the requests are vexatious, then they can be refused and taken to court where a judge will examine the evidence. If the judge agrees they are being vexatious, then they can be fined costs and refused. If they are judged not being vexatious, then the information needs to be released and costs paid to the accused.

Mark


So basically, ignoring all the chit-chat, the FoI act is now dead???

Nathan


How about a citizens' database of willing volunteers prepared to 'front' requests by journos?

I'll happily volunteer my services.

Richard

Not a bad idea. Maybe someone could start a pledge?


This week, someone stole Vodafone's network. Literally: someone dug up the copper and ran away with it. So what follows is a master class for those who'd like to get into the slightly used copper recycling business:

Hi, normally the cable thieves stand by a deserted bit of railway track, grab a handful of cables from the lineside ducts, loop the bundle over the track - then walk a mile up the track, and loop the cables again.

Have a fag or two, wait for a train which neatly transects the mile of cables and as soon as the diesel has disappeared, they roll up the mile of copper wires into the back of their waiting flat bed truck. Then zoom off whilst all network hell breaks loose!

I'd like to see their faces as they try and sell a ton of single mode fibre for scrap, which has mostly replaced the analog-era copper&coax etcetera. (I hope the fibre is put in a worthless plastic jacket!)

For a network provider this is where your basic network infrastructure redundancy comes in, it was so common at the London Regional Operations Centre to lose a mile of fibre that we had a hot-standby fibre terminating van always available.

Maybe Vodaphone don't have enough core network redundancy , certainly as this affected other areas they had multiple simultaneous probably unconnected faults, or very poor network topology, planning and O&M?

David

Seems simple enough, though. El Reg's typing pool is collectively considering a career change.


Speaking of career changes, as you know, the great and the good of Europe's paper media met to discuss the future of print media this week.

As always, the money people don't understand anything. In my experience, young people are very interested in printed media, but only if it contains interesting articles. They like the fact that it is impossible to reproduce a glossy magazine, they like ownership, collecting, 300dpi, glossy paper, all that.

To blame their "disinterest" on the medium is yet another way for the money people to deny that their total lack of creativity produces boring results that nobody wants. You Tube has content they want. The Guardian does not. If you printed You Tube, they would want it. If you put the Guardian online, they don't want it.

Get a clue, media owners! Get a freaking clue, and give creative people the chance to take risks and produce innovative content. Stop producing for advertisers and start producing for your audience. It is not rocket science.

Mark


Some quibbles with the statistical analysis in the hunt for some trolls:

"If one method is only 60 per cent accurate and it is combined with another method - for the nonce let us assume an independent method - which is only 60 per cent accurate, than the combined method has an accuracy rate of 36 per cent, far below chance. One would be better off guessing than combining unreliable methods." It depends highly on what exactly you're looking at, but it sounds like Chaski needs a course in remedial Bayesian statistics. Identifying an image from the input of a single retinal cell has a very low accuracy. Is her claim, then, that it is impossible to see by combining those unreliable methods?

Jan


The statement by Carole Chaski: "If one method is only 60 per cent accurate and it is combined with another method - for the nonce let us assume an independent method - which is only 60 per cent accurate, than the combined method has an accuracy rate of 36 per cent, far below chance...." is just plain wrong. If the methods are independent, then the errors (0.4 in the above cases) sum by Gaussian quadrature: sqrt(0.4^2 + 0.4^2)/2 = 0.283, or the accuracy is improved to 0.717. Of course, the real question is, are the methods independent, and are the errors random. If not, my error analysis doesn't apply.

William


The latest lobbying effort in the battle between proprietary and OS software is baffling a few, distressing some, and amusing the rest:

I fail to understand this whole mess.

To put it simply,

Open Software doesn't require any sort of incubation. If anything, by not having resources/money thrown at OS initiatives tends to help the evolution process. Only the fittest survive.

With respect to patents, software patents, (outside of microcode) should not be patented. Copyrighted? Now that's another story... ;-)

What is interesting are the new business models which build proprietary product suites on top of OS software blocks. Perhaps that's the new model.

But hey! What do I know? -G


Actually, the ISC has at least one good point. Free Software has struggled along quite nicely with out any tax credit funded old rubbish getting in the way to date. It is an old saw that innovation happens in spite of money not because of it.

However we do look foward to proprietary software companies turning down tax allowances for R&D for broadly the same reasons

Gerry


Particle physicists are even quarkier than we thought:

for what it's worth, the top and bottom quarks were originally called truth and beauty, one of the few physicists romantic lapses, and fairly quickly stifled. the initial letters keep a trace of their original meanings. the massive experiments and data trawl that find these things are maybe akin to the romantic quests of old

Kevin


A reader complains about a misleading headline, as we announce Skype's diversification into the animal trade:

"Skype offers Brits free yak"

So I went to their site and there was no yak. Not even the daily llama. That really gets my goat!

Chris


Another complaint: this time for using nasty radiation symbols to illustrate a story about cancer:

The article written here is clear and balanced enough. However, on the main page the article is accompanied with a Trefoil (radiation sign) despite no mention of radiation being involved at all.

Come on guys, don't just tack a Trefoil on to anything vaguely cancer related.

Jon

Can be a cure, as well as a cause, though...


Which leads us neatly to something we don't like. Trains.

Regarding your article "Smouldering badger disrupts rail services", it is precisely this kind of negative, tabloid reporting which creates such a negative public opinion of the UK Rail Network.

The UK does in fact have a world class rail network. Public perception of our railways is needlessly tarnished by regular and repeated negative reporting by the mass media, who seem to see it as their duty to ignore the positive aspects of how our railways are run.

Over the years, I have come to respect the reporting on The Register. I am very disappointed to see this needless repetition of tabloid trash.

Mike

Lester replies:

World class? You must be joking. We invented the railway and our rail network is a bloody disgrace. I used it for years but would rather crawl on broken glass than get on a train.

To which we would add, that poor services, industrial action, and exorbitant fares should also be taken into consideration when considering how it is that public perception of the railways is tarnished.

In the interests of balance we must also add that the train currently inhabited by this Vulture is very lovely, and could only be improved by free Wi-Fi.


And finally, you have some concerns about the possible prison sentence currently menacing the hapless GPS-enabled pot-grower. And a very pertinent question:

FIFTY-NINE YEARS IN THE NIC???!!!??? What did he kill a few guys and rape some babies as well as the dope growing?

Fraser


So where are these fields?

Mike

Even if we knew, we wouldn't tell. So there. And that's all from you, our beloved readers, for today. Back on Friday with more. ®

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