07 January 2016

Merry [solstice-related holiday name deleted because THIS IS WAR]

The coal has been file-stamped and committed to the kind services of an aerial delivery service staffed by Eastern Orthodox reindeer. Whether those reindeer have appropriate FAA clearances for flight over populated areas is their problem, not mine; they're a common carrier who accepted the delivery instructions and bills of lading for 24,098 lumps of coal in two irregularly-sized and -shaped bags (exclusive of exhibits).

In no particular order, then, and carefully ignoring everything political-campaign related as part of my New Year's resolutions:

  • Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court has just provided yet another data point for why no judicial or law-enforcement officer should be selected (or retained) through a popular election, with his utterly inane hair-splitting anti-gay bigotry that gives ardent legal hair-splitters a headache. Not only is Justice Moore an elected judge, but (a) he's been in trouble over government-imposed religious "respect" before, and was removed from office as a (partial) result for unethical misconduct inappropriate to any lawyer (let alone a judge); and (b) was elected to his current post after that previous incident of a judicial officer failing to honor the rule of law over... well, an accurate description would contain too many expletives for your screen to safely accept. I'll just have to restrict myself to directing a well-known, anatomically impossible phoneme-fricative imperative to all Heffalump candidates for the highest office in the land, because at various times in the last four months each and every one of them has not just stated tolerance for, but expressed advocacy of, this kind of religious bigotry.

    Damn. That resolution didn't even last a full paragraph. At that, it probably lasted longer than most "get in shape"-type resolutions...

  • But at least that was about humanity. As held yesterday by a respected judge in San Francisco, a macaque does not own the copyright in its selfie photograph when the photographer set the camera up to enable the macaque to activate the shutter/record the image. Although it was an oral ruling, it appears to be following the principle that copyright belongs to humans — not to animals, and not to electronic text-generating systems. (I'm somewhat pissed off that I had to go to a non-US neutral source to get a clear, accurate description of a US copyright decision that is not deluged with ads of dubious copyright integrity.)

    That leads to a side issue, though. It seems clear now that monkeys can't own copyrights (or, at least, can't be authors for the purpose of copyright protection). What about the unicorns and silverback gorillas of the tech and entertainment industries, who claim "authorship" under the work-for hire doctrine (see 17 U.S.C. § 201(b))? Or the venture-capital vultures who buy them up? OK, the imagery is a bit excessive, but it's really the same point: If a macaque, because it's an animal, can't be an "author," why can a business entity? (Yeah, the obvious answer is "Because the statute says so." Our statute — nobody else's.) And if the governing statute in a foreign jurisdiction allowed nonhumans to be owners (even in part) of business entities... No, I'm not thinking of Switzerland at all, and anyone who says I am is being just as disingenuous as was PETA in filing this lawsuit in the first place (I have a different jurisdiction in mind).