Archive for December, 2002


Process over reason

Monday, December 23rd, 2002

My mother-in-law was visiting us here in Toronto until early in December. She sent off some Christmas packages and cards from our house to Canadian and US destinations.

She got a large card in the mail today at home in England. It was a card she had mailed from Toronto to Los Angeles, but because it had insufficient postage for the dimensions of the envelope, they returned it to the sender address – all the way to the UK.

I’d say it’s unbelievable, but it’s not.


Derivative Works

Sunday, December 22nd, 2002

It turns out that Republic Pictures owned the original story upon which “It’s A Wonderful Life” is based, plus much of the music in the movie. It’s on that basis that in 1993 they began to excercise copyright control over the movie which had for twenty years been considered by all to be in the public domain.

It still says a lot that the movie only got its wings when freely distributed, and is now much less available.

Here are some relevant links:


Creativity, control and revenue

Saturday, December 21st, 2002

Two stories in the Toronto Star television supplement caught my eye this week.

The first was about David Foley’s upcoming Christmas Special. In it, he and Joe Flaherty are doing a sendup of David Bowie and Bing Crosby singing Little Drummer Boy / Peace On Earth. Foley tells of having to rewrite both tunes and their lyrics when it was discovered they couldn’t get the rights to either song.

I wondered how it was that the authors or their representatives decided that they didn’t want their songs used in this way. I wondered further whether having released their creativity to the world they should really have injunctive power over its use or whether they should only have a right to be compensated for its use.

The second article was about It’s A Wonderful Life. Apparently it was not well received on release, losing half a million in late-1940’s dollars. It languished for years until 1973 when, not having had its copyright renewed by its owners (Liberty Films), it fell into the public domain after 14 years. At that time, TV stations started picking it up cheap to play at Christmastime and it became a perennial favourite.

For 20 years it remained in the public domain, there were many $4.99 VHS copies available, and there was even a colourized version. Somehow, in the 90s, Republic Pictures managed to reclaim the copyright. They have taken control, and produced a new master black-and-white print, and now it only airs on NBC and CBC and is only available on video from them.

How is it that this happened? Will it happen every time some obscure title becomes valuable after falling into the public domain that someone – not necessarily the creator – will find away to claim it for themselves?


Spontaneous Combustion

Thursday, December 19th, 2002

Kinda makes me feel warm all over to hear you say it, spyderella.


iframe bye-frame?

Tuesday, December 17th, 2002

I’m building a web app in which I build the page from components. A section here on the page with its own elements, layout and control code, another one over there, insulated from the first. I’m using iframes because each one is self-contained, has its own JavaScript and DOM namespace, styles etc.

An alternative might have been to house each component in a positioned DIV, but the namespace issues and the dynamic reloading of the components made iframe the perfect tool.

Unfortunately, iframes seem to be being pushed out of the picture. XHTML Strict has no support for iframe. I understand it is to be deprecated.

In order to emulate the functionality that iframes provide, I may have to write code that enforces namespace via prefix and then div-loading code.

Anyone got any better ideas?


it’s hammond cheese for dinner

Monday, December 9th, 2002

While trawling through my referrer logs today, I caught a paranoidfish. Perhaps it will go well with gruyere.


shaking up the education system with technology

Wednesday, December 4th, 2002

Albert Delgado is hosting a new blog about using Disruptive Technology in the education system. Check out the category links for explanations of a whole slew of resources. (not just a half slew, mind you, an entire-regulation-measure slew)


The slope’s getting slipperier

Sunday, December 1st, 2002

Dan Gillmor comments on the latest installment of measures accelerating America’s descent to Hell in a handbasket.

This is absolutely serious shit, folks. The constitution is now next to useless with stuff like this happening. The very foundation of American society is being rent asunder and unless it’s caught early, there may be no way for it to become unfucked.