14 March 2012

Link Sausage Pi

I'm really looking forward to this date in four years — in the American style of dating, it'll be even closer to round (3/14/16)...

  • So, a relatively high-ranking banker at Goldman Sachs has discovered that the corporate culture there is toxic, self-righteous, and disdainful of the people it is supposed to serve. Imagine my surprise at this discovery... which was obvious as long ago as the 1980s, when Goldman Sachs escaped the public outcry at the Boesky/Milken "tippee" culture on Wall Street even though a substantial proportion of the leaked information being bandied about originated at Goldman Sachs.

    Remember, guys, Adam Smith's point was that profit served enlightened self-interest. It appears that ignorant self-interest is even better served by the profit motive...

  • Here's another example of the silliness of the "must defend" aspects of trademark law: Saul Zaentz Enterprises, which controls merchandising rights to Tolkein properties (acquired through some remarkably sharp dealing and not honored the other direction), is trying to force a Southampton pub to change its name and menu. Objectively, this is truly ridiculous. Even H'wood dead-hand producers aren't stupid enough to think that a pub in Southampton is a real threat to their income!

    But their lawyers are, with reason. This is a quirk of trademark law: That if one fails to defend a mark against every known potential infringement, one can lose the mark. In this particular instance, I think the "defense" is going much farther than it should... but I don't have access to the entire case file, either. This is one of the sillier and stupider aspects of trademark law, because it essentially deprives a trademark owner of the right to either have a sense of humor or a sense of proportion. And when you put lawyers in charge of something that is already humor- and proportionality-free, you're really asking for trouble.

  • Also across the pond, there was a strange decision on copyright a while back in photographs that I'm still pondering. In Temple Island Collections Ltd v. New English Teas, [2012] EWPCC 1, the judge held that a new photograph of a comparable (but not identical) scene, even after substantial digital manipulation, infringed the copyright in a photograph from a competing advertisement that had been taken earlier. The two (three?) works are visually quite distinct, and a casual viewer would not consider them fungible. Of course, no judge is a casual viewer... just ask him (or her). The decision is currently in the appeal process.

    As reproduced in The Art Newspaper, http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/+Landmark+ruling+to+be+challenged/25891, 14 Mar 2012

    This is a rather disturbing contrast with the preceding item, isn't it?

I think I'll stop here before making a full circle. And go get the car from the muffler work...