This Land Is … in the public domain

EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation): This Song Belongs to You and Me. Follow the dots as we watch a case lesson in how not to profit from copyright:

  1. Website JibJab releases immensely popular Flash animation parody of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” starring Kerry and Dubya.
  2. Ludlow Music threatens to sue JibJab, claiming it owns the copyright to Guthrie’s song.
  3. JibJab engages EFF and files suit against Ludlow, claiming fair use rights.
  4. EFF investigates and finds that Ludlow filed copyright in 1956, eleven years after Guthrie first sold sheet music with the song and sixteen years after he wrote it. In 1940, the copyright term was 28 years, renewable once. Ludlow failed to renew the copyright in 1973, so the song effectively fell into the public domain—Ludlow’s late renewal in 1984 notwithstanding.
  5. Ludlow backs down.

Cool. Good work, EFF. (Via BoingBoing.)

Another giant leap for (wo)mankind

Boston Globe: MIT set to pick its first female president. If highly qualified scientist and Yale University provost Susan Hockfield rises to the presidency of the greatest science and engineering school in the world, she will set a gold standard example to women in science and engineering everywhere—not to mention helping the reversal of the systematic marginalization of female professors at the Institute that was first documented in the 1990s.

New home page design at

My friends on the Home Page team just released a new home page design. Alex Barnett collects some reviews. I note that the JavaScript code for ClickTrax is gone. The code looks cleaner (though it still uses tables for positioning, it’s gone from using over 40 down to seven, and there are now no spacer gifs!). I know there are developers and designers working on the team who understand modern markup (some of the work is done by the same guys who designed the new UI for Search) and it’s really starting to show.

Minor quibble: in Safari, there are artifacts around the Microsoft logo in the upper left corner:

artifacts around microsoft logo on home page

Also, I’d have loved to see a more flexible layout—there’s still a big band of unused space around the edges. But these things are going to be easier to do next time out. Well done, folks.

The last echoes of Big Star: Chris Bell, I Am The Cosmos

I found a lost gem in my aggregator last night: in the iTunes Just Added feeds was a listing for Chris Bell’s I Am The Cosmos. Without thinking, even though I had only heard one song from the album, I clicked and bought it.

And am I glad I did. As many of the Amazon reviewers commented, there are echoes here of John Lennon’s 1970s work (in particular, “Better Save Yourself” sounds like it would be at home on Shaved Fish), and the whole album admirably showcases why Chris should be remembered as Alex Chilton’s equal partner in making the first Big Star record the incredible musical moment it was.