Thursday, October 12, 2006

Skip the Intermediaries

Sometimes copyright law is just stoopid. Sometimes the rules just don't apply. Have you heard the story of Steve McDonald and White Stripes? Here's nice flash animation of what happened, or you can keep reading.. Steve McDonald is a veteran member of the band Redd Kross. He likes the White Stripes, but he thought they would sound better if they had a bass guitarist. So he appointed himself. He had the equipment, and the skill, so he made up some bass tracks and added them to his favourite White Stripes songs. He then posted those songs on the Redd Kross website - without permission. Of course, this could land him in hot water, but luckily he bumped into Jack White who gave his assurances that he wasn't going to sue. Before that happened I'm guessing Steve McDonald just didn't give a damn.. after all, he's a rocker, man.

I'm not a rocker, but I am a rebel, ask anyone. I once posted the full c99 standard to my web site so people wouldn't have to pay $10 for a copy so they could double check all the nasty things I was saying about it (don't get me started) or, worse yet, take my word for it. The mean lawyers from the C standards committee sent me a cease and desist email which I just ignored. Well, I didn't completely ignore it, I forwarded it to the dude who ran my web site at the time and asked him if he wanted to do anything about it, and he said he didn't, so then I ignored it. Know what they did? Nothing. Guess they figured they were on shaky ground, or their legal budget extends to sending mean emails and not following through.

In that case I was just trying to make a point. People shouldn't have to pay for something to recommend to others that they don't support it. I currently have a web site where I give out copies of a favourite old game of mine. I'm also involved in an open source project to recreate that game for modern platforms. You can play the game on DosBox, sure, but can you run DosBox on your pocket pc or palm pilot? No, I didn't think so. One day you may be able to play that game on these new platforms, and as mobile phone games have shown, it's not just the nostailgic who benefit when that happens.

What will happen when the owner of the copyright on this game comes knocking on my door? Will I ignore them? Hell no. I will beg them to release the game under a creative commons license so that we can legally distribute it.

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