Via zappovednik -- looks to be from the same show as last night's post, Berlin, 1978.
There have been a lot of disheartening rulings, over the past few years, in cases where comic book creators or their heirs attempted to reclaim the rights to their work: the Siegels, the Shusters, the Kirbys. And Gary Friedrich.
Friedrich -- co-creator of Ghost Rider with Roy Thomas and Mike Ploog -- has fallen on hard times. Like far too many creators in comics, he's gotten old and poor and sick while the company he used to freelance for has made millions off his work. Like far too many creators in comics, he tells a story of the company promising far more than what it delivered.
Friedrich sued Marvel in an attempt to reclaim the rights to Ghost Rider. Marvel countersued -- Friedrich had been selling signed Ghost Rider prints without giving them a taste -- and, because Friedrich is not an artist, he was signing other people's Ghost Rider art.
Friedrich lost. And not only did he lose, but Marvel made an example of him. They sought not only $17,000 from a man who was too broke to pay his medical bills; they also demanded that he stop publicly referring to himself as the creator of Ghost Rider. I've seen lots of creators lose cases like this -- but never seen terms that seemed so punitive and downright mean-spirited.
Friedrich appealed. And today, a three-judge panel unanimously vacated last year's ruling.
On Tuesday, a unanimous three-judge panel of the appeals court deemed that Friedrich's 1978 agreement with Marvel was ambiguous.
"First, the critical sentence defining the 'Work' covered by the Agreement is ungrammatical and awkwardly phrased," Circuit Judge Denny Chin wrote in the 48-page opinion. "Second, the language is ambiguous as to whether it covered a work published six years earlier."
The appeals court found that Marvel was not entitled to a judgment based on its argument that a statute of limitations has expired. The court also found that there is a genuine dispute of facts regarding the authorship of the character.
And The Hollywood Reporter quotes Chin further:
Spotlight 5 had been published six years earlier by a different corporate entity (Magazine Mgmt.) and had grown so popular that Marvel had already reprinted it once and had launched a separate Ghost Rider comic book series. Given that context, it is doubtful the parties intended to convey rights in the valuable Ghost Rider copyright without explicitly referencing it. It is more likely that the Agreement only covered ongoing or future work. Hence, there is a genuine dispute regarding the parties' intent for this form contract to cover Ghost Rider.
There are several points at issue. First, like in the Kirby case, the question of whether the work was created for-hire, in which case Marvel would be the legal author, or whether Friedrich and Ploog created that story independently and therefore co-authored it and sold it to Marvel. Thomas, unlike Friedrich and Ploog, was an employee of Marvel, and the extent of his role is disputed -- was the book authored by Marvel? Co-authored by Marvel?
And, like in the Siegel and Shuster cases, there is a question as to whether (if Friedrich was a legal co-author of the work) he gave up the right to reclaim the copyright. Chin's quote above is instructive: put frankly, it requires quite a stretch to believe that Friedrich would have knowingly given up his right to termination for such a small amount of money.
I believe that legal point is also at the root of the Siegel, and especially the Shuster, cases. That the Siegel and Shuster heirs would have deliberately given up their rights to reclaim Superman for the small amount of money DC offered them -- especially the Shusters, whose payout was reportedly only tens of thousands of dollars -- defies common sense.
All that said, while this gives Friedrich another chance, it doesn't give him any guarantees -- indeed, the appellate court has already noted several facts in Marvel's favor. Jeff Trexler runs down the facts, and compares the case to Siegel's 1974 case against DC.
I don't know what Friedrich's chances are -- I wish him the best but fear that recent trends aren't on his side -- but this case has repercussions beyond his case. Even if he loses again, this case raises more questions about Marvel's 1970's-era contracts -- and that could have some serious repercussions throughout the industry.
Despite the Sheik Yerbouti image, uploader timmo1782 says this is the original live version -- actually a solo in The Torture Never Stops -- in Berlin, 1978.
So I mentioned last night that asking the question, "Is Snowden a hero or a traitor?" completely misses the fucking point.
I guess we should applaud The New Yorker for showing its journalistic integrity by presenting both sides of the not-actually-the-fucking-story.
Look. I don't give a goddamn if Edward Snowden raped a bear in his meth lab while canceling Firefly. First of all, he'd still be less of an asshole than Dick Cheney, and second, if you think it's okay for the government to spy on your phone and Internet habits, you should probably come up with a better reason than "Well, I'm for it because that bear rapist is against it!"
Now, I happen to believe, based on the limited information we have at the moment, that Snowden did the right thing, and also that Snowden has gigantic balls. But I don't believe he's the most important person in this story. I don't think he's even in the top fifty.
Someone who is in the top fifty is James Clapper, perjuring fuck and Director of National Intelligence, who recently testified before Congress that the government is totally not collecting surveillance information on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans. Here, go watch John Oliver kill it on his first episode as fill-in host of The Daily Show (and be sure to stick around for the Moment of Zen where 2006 Joe Biden explains how this sort of thing is totally not okay when a Republican does it).
Fred Kaplan at Slate advocates firing Clapper, because, among other reasons, he has proven himself totally incapable of discussing this subject in an intellectually honest fashion or any other kind of honest fashion.
Among other reasons, here's Clapper's inept fucking explanation for why his lie was actually true:
Rambling on in his rationalization to Mitchell, he focused on Wyden’s use of the word “collect,” as in “Did the NSA collect any type of data ... on millions of Americans?” Clapper told Mitchell that he envisioned a vast library of books containing vast amounts of data on every American. “To me,” he said, “collection of U.S. persons’ data would mean taking the book off the shelf and opening it up and reading it.”
Jesus Christ. Between this asshole and Petraeus, I'm beginning to worry that our entire intelligence apparatus is made up of people who can't even come up with a convincing lie if they're given months of warning and an entire team of speechwriters.
Hey Clapper -- this is my comic book collection.
I haven't read most of those books in years. Does that mean they're no longer part of my collection? Or does reading them once count? Does that mean the comics I bought last week and haven't gotten around to reading aren't part of my collection yet? Is this some kind of quantum physics shit where my collection is altered by the act of observing it?
What about garbage collection? Does it only count as collecting my garbage if the sanitation workers break open the bags and root through 'em? Because I've never seen them do that, and yet the city keeps charging me a garbage collection fee anyway.
You get the point. He's claiming his lie is not actually a lie because he was using a definition of a word that he just completely made up. Like how I had sex with Natalie Portman. It's not a lie because when I say "had sex" I actually mean "sat on the couch" and by "with Natalie Portman" I mean "and played Nintendo".
Man, I have had so much sex with Natalie Portman.
I don't know if I'm even as bothered by his lying -- hell, that's his job, I'd expect nothing less -- as the sheer fucking laziness of his lying. It's downright goddamned insulting. It lacks even the sublime, recursive absurdity of "That depends on what your definition of is is." It's just worthless. And so is Clapper.
I don't really think throwing him out on his ass is going to change things. Throwing the Republicans out of the White House sure as hell didn't.
But what the hell, they still deserved to be thrown out, and so does he.
Firing Clapper certainly wouldn't guarantee we'd have an honest national discussion about the nature of our government's various spying programs.
But not firing Clapper will guarantee that we won't.
Another one from Zappa Universe Live, '91. Posted by bzurgland.
I was going to write a post about Edward Snowden.
But then I realized: that's bullshit.
Because this isn't about Edward Snowden.
I just read a great piece by Matt Taibbi titled As Bradley Manning Trial Begins, Press Predictably Misses the Point. He argues, persuasively, that focusing on Manning is what the government wants. It wants the story to be about a person instead of about the information he disclosed.
The NSA story isn't about Snowden, any more than the military leaks are about Manning or Assange. "Hero or traitor?" is a bullshit question.
There are real questions we should be asking. Here are a few courtesy of Bruce Schneier:
We need details on the full extent of the FBI's spying capabilities. We don't know what information it routinely collects on American citizens, what extra information it collects on those on various watch lists, and what legal justifications it invokes for its actions. We don't know its plans for future data collection. We don't know what scandals and illegal actions -- either past or present -- are currently being covered up.
We also need information about what data the NSA gathers, either domestically or internationally. We don't know how much it collects surreptitiously, and how much it relies on arrangements with various companies. We don't know how much it uses password cracking to get at encrypted data, and how much it exploits existing system vulnerabilities. We don't know whether it deliberately inserts backdoors into systems it wants to monitor, either with or without the permission of the communications-system vendors.
And we need details about the sorts of analysis the organizations perform. We don't know what they quickly cull at the point of collection, and what they store for later analysis -- and how long they store it. We don't know what sort of database profiling they do, how extensive their CCTV and surveillance-drone analysis is, how much they perform behavioral analysis, or how extensively they trace friends of people on their watch lists.
All that said: I can't resist linking the petition for Obama to debate Snowden. Obviously it's not going to happen, but if it gets 100,000 signatures, the White House will have to issue an official response.
And presumably up the signature requirement for an official response to 150,000 for next time.
Another piece of the Vancouver 1980 show, courtesy of Steve Sparx.
I am currently entertaining Internet Buddy Brentai.
I'll post a better post tomorrow.
Santa Monica, 1980; uploaded by tomtiddler1.
Major spoilers follow, I guess, albeit mostly stuff everybody's been expecting since roughly the end of the last movie.
So let me get this straight.
Eric Bana travels back in time and kills Kirk's father.
And this causes Ricardo Montalbán to turn into Benedict Cumberbatch?
Did that happen 300 years prior to the era Bana actually traveled to, or did it cause an already cryogenically-frozen Ricardo Montalbán to turn into Benedict Cumberbatch?
Like, was he really surprised when he woke up?
I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and for the real Khan to be the guy in the pod they had to open up to save Kirk.
I mean, it's not like the plot reasons for Khan's ethnicity and national origin changing are that important. There is a rather strong argument to be made against the Hollywood trend of recasting minority roles with white guys (and no, trolls, casting Laurence Fishburne as Perry White is not "the exact same thing", because you see making a film's cast more diverse is not the exact same thing as making it less diverse), and, moreover, there are some rather regressive overtones in making the ultimate genetic model of a human being a pasty white guy. But as for the plot reasons? You could really handwave all that stuff. Whatever; it's just a movie; they recast the guy. Don't think too hard about it.
Which would be much much easier to do if the last act of the film weren't spent beating you about the head and shoulders with Wrath of Khan references.
After the first couple, I thought, You know, I'm getting way more out of this than people who haven't seen Wrath of Khan recently.
By the end of the film, I thought, You know, they're much happier for not getting all those damn references.
Hell, I was the only person in the theater who laughed out loud when Spock yelled "Khaaaaaaaaaaan!"
Anyway. I'm a casual Trek fan. I've seen a few episodes and movies here and there; I generally enjoy them.
I can definitely see the fans' gripes that the new movies are dumbed-down action flicks -- but what the hell, they've been pretty entertaining, and impeccably cast.
I still love Benedict Cumberbatch. Even if I don't think they should have cast him as a Mexican.