Limbo of the Copyright and Adventures in Fair Use

Slashdots coverage of the Limbo of the Lost controversy has yielded some really interesting linkfodder. Steve Bovis is apparently a real world class idiot and has taken up the banner in his own name. His lawyer (solicitor) has advised him to keep quiet but it’s pretty obvious he’s proud of his own invention and thinks videogames are big money. He also claims he was developing the game (Limbo of the Lost) for two other consoles before they were “killed off”. Nevermind the fact that a development license on a console is exactly that – you need to actually buy a license to develop and you need to buy the hardware to develop on which is big money to discourage us non-big-game-company folk to not buy a console which doesn’t check the copyprotection on discs.

Apparently Steve also has had his account suspended on Wintermute, which tells us a lot about how he intended the game to look. Wintermute is a free-to-all engine which retains copyright control over it’s code. This means the engine itself is suspect in terms of fair use, let alone all the produced artistic materials. So far no-one on their forums has weighed in on the topic aside of banning his account outright.

But it gets better – with Wintermute being used with questionable legality and redistribution rights, Steve decides to go over to Games Radar and talk a pile of trash. His arguments are fairly braindead and illustrate why I don’t believe that physical property law is any type of analogy to intellectual property law. It’s clear that Steve and company ripped off these games wholesale and violated the intellectual property law protecting them, but his views everything in terms of property law. His examples include the ideas that screenshots are not derived works and they are the same as photographs. He also says that copying Big Ben wholesale would be clear infringement but a photograph of Big Ben is not. (The actual legal status of both examples is that this is OK for educational or personal use but commercial resale is strictly prohibited). While I hate EULAs attached to software, this is clearly why they come in handy.

Colonization

God, game resurrection from nowhere. As I was browsing SMART update at work, I decided to check in the games section just to see what was around.

I found FreeCol, a remake of Colonization in java. There’s a precompiled version on there which you should use if you don’t want to put up with the JAR. In Linux, it just works.

Turns out that Sid has been plotting to remake Colonization with the Civilization 4 engine. In fact, it’s being released this year. The news is from the Colonization Fans page, and it’s good news indeed. I always felt Civilization lacked the human element, where population itself had only so many people by so many work units by so many skills. 1701 AD answers a lot of that, but for people who want a deeper military sim, Colonization may scratch the itch. It’s also free.

Shooting Clays

One of the changes I particularly enjoy, especially on a hot day when it’s tough to be comfortable at a shooting bench is shooting clays. It’s pretty cheap, and you can quickly amass a rolling collection of shotshells suitable for hunting (or busting clays). The going rate is $20 for a box of shells (100 shells) and $6 for a flight of clays. But, like any decent hunter, I’ve got four different brands of shotshells and four different sizes from 8 to 7. Generally shooting for me is cheap since I’ve just got disgusting piles of odds and ends, and the weapon investment only needs to happen once. Unlike rifles, it’s really hard to shoot out the barrel of a shotgun and generally the chokes die long before the barrel does. Unlike shotguns, rifles are only as good as you are. Your mileage may vary.

I’ve found that the local gun club is empty Sunday afternoons when people are generally sticking to Church. Since they don’t open until noon now (an entirely separate complaint), it’s good to know that there’s still time when you can get on the line. Maybe it’s the heat, but the place was a ghost town last time. We had our pick of the clay throwers. Jon brought his Remington 870 Murder Party Edition. Jon will probably kill me for this later, but I’m not impressed with it. Out of box it wouldn’t cycle a spent shell I cut the skirt off of, and the tolerances are so tight on the chamber that it will jam. I had to hammer it on the ground once to open the action. It may improve, but there’s little reason for all this on a shotgun. It’s not to say my Remington Spartan 320 – oops, IZHMASH Baikal IZ-27 – is perfect, but at least the tolerances are correct. Also whoever owned it before me did so with love, the wooden stock has pretty typical field wear but the bore is bright like mirrors. Anyway, I just enjoy clay shooting, and I think that instant feedback is well and good for developing skills. Next time I’m up there I plan on shooting the motorized traps for epic wins.

Obama and Philadelphia

I’m pretty sure he’s smoking crack. Someone has to be. Then again I never understood Bill Clinton either and thought the double-talk from him was just as bad. Couldn’t ever nail down an honest word from the guy. You might disagree with Bush’s policy, but it’s been a largely transparent presidency which is why no-one dare mention “impeachment” (except the UFO guy). Obama came to Philadelphia and I had plenty else to do (like shooting clays). John McCain has the lite version of the visit, but there’s much more to it. Both of the following can be found from the McCain page.

The Page reports:

He said that Philadelphia needs change. “We don’t have a choice but to win.”

Obama retold the story of an unemployed man who offered to buy Obama and Casey a beer during one of their stops on the Pennsylvania bus tour. “Bob and I were at a sports bar trying to catch a little bit of the game. A guy offered to buy us a beer. We already had a beer we drank but he offered to buy us one,” Obama said. The man could not afford gas to drive around looking for a new job.

OK seriously – Philadelphia has been a Democratic stronghold for the last 10 some years, I can’t imagine why keeping the Democratic leadership would make it less of a shithole. Or bring about change, since voting Democrat would simply be voting the status quo. And what’s a guy who can’t afford gas doing pissing his money away at a sports bar? Considering the fact that his next line was about a balanced budget, the irony abounds.

Obama wraps with:

“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said. “Because from what I understand folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.”

That’s right, it’s Philadelphia, it’s a violent shithole of Democratic leadership, thank you for your understanding. Please leave the state as fast as possible Sir.

So how does he really feel about guns? Politico answers:

Both versions of the 1996 questionnaires provide answers his presidential campaign disavows to questions about whether Obama supports capital punishment and state legislation to “ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns.”

He responded simply “No” and “Yes,” respectively, to those questions on both questionnaires.

Now it’s not to say that John McCain has the most squeaky clean record when it comes to gun control – he tried to close the “gun show loophole” (sales between private individuals are unregulated) and Arizona voters invited him out to the street to get shot. He took the clue and changed his course.

Frankly, it’s OK to be wrong. Bush admitted there was no “smoking gun” which is what we expected to find (there’s plenty of other reasons to hang Saddam) and apologized for it. McCain also apologized over his faux pas. Obama so far hasn’t apologized for anything and merely “clarified” his points. Thanks, we heard you the first time.

The Price of Oil

Powerline has a really interesting take on the price of oil. What it basically boils down to (complete with a chart I won’t steal), the windfall tax thing is a total sham. Obama didn’t even see fit to show up for a vote on the “tax the oil companies more” legislation he touted.

If we want to play devils advocate on the blog, then Obama might be right – tax the oil companies and force them to evolve. However, powerline’s point is that they’re already taxed enough and it’s legislation which is holding them up. I tend to agree more with powerline than Obama, we have this massive oil reserve in Texas and in ANWR, with possibly more in our waters and all anyone cared about previously was “disturbing the wildlife”. While it probably makes someone feel good saving a moose, I say drill the living hell out of ANWR and save some Americans.

Hillary and Obama

My take on the whole nomination thing is that if Hillary and Obama can put together a joint-ticket, they would be in the whitehouse tomorrow. The problem is twofold – Obama won’t accept backseats to Hillary (and looks like he wants another minority running mate) and Hillary doesn’t want backseats to Obama. Then the DNC stepped in with some stupid technicality that says they’re not allowed to consolidate. Then the DNC said they were allowed to run a joint ticket. Then the DNC decided that Michigan and Florida only had half a vote (just to make sure Hillary didn’t get that far ahead). And where’s Cindy in all this? She’s the Democrat’s Ron Paul. But, she might just be Obama’s stalking horse for the War in Iraq. The Democrats in Senate and Congress were all elected to “end the war” (whatever that means, apparently Bill Clinton didn’t read Blackhawk Down which is required reading for modern interventionist foreign policy) and this is why their approval rating is in the pooper.

So why won’t Hillary concede? Well, for one, it’s currently vogue to sue for votes (see: Florida, which has always traditionally been GOP, and Kerry blaming “hanging chads” for his loss instead of the obvious trend), so she could probably make enough of a stink to make a mess of the process. Number two is that if she has enough delegates to keep Obama guessing, she stands a much better chance of getting that VP pick.

But here’s the real problem: Everyone that’s voting for Hillary has already made up their mind that Obama isn’t the guy for them. If Hillary doesn’t get the VP nomination, their mind is already made up and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that McCain wins from all the votes that would have gone to Hillary.