Nintendo shuts down fan made Zelda film distribution

Posted on January 1st, 2010 by bile
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Hey, everyone. We just wanted to let you know that Dec. 31 was the last day that The Hero of Time was available for viewing. We came to an agreement with Nintendo earlier this month to stop distributing the film. In the spirit of the holiday season they were good enough to let us keep the movie up for you to watch and enjoy through the end of 2009, but not past 2009. We understand Nintendo’s right to protect its characters and trademarks and understand how in order to keep their property unspoiled by fan’s interpretation of the franchise, Nintendo needs to protect itself — even from fan-works with good intentions.

This has been quite an adventure for us and we have a real sense of peace bringing the project to a close. Between the screenings and the online release many of you were able to see the film and we hope to not have only inspired those of you that live, breathe and dream Zelda but we also hope to have inspired all of you aspiring filmmakers out there! Thank you again for all your patience with the project and we hope you had as much fun watching our movie as we did making it. Thanks for all your wonderful messages of encouragement and support! I’m sure our next project will be right around the corner! No, it’s not Majora’s Mask : )

With absolutely no fraud or theft performed by the makers of this film Nintendo has no right threaten them with trademark or copyright infringement. The authors made it abundantly clear that they were not Nintendo or working on behalf of Nintendo or connected to them in any way.

Another arbitrary monopoly priviliage that (in it’s current incarnation and enforcement method) has no place in a free society.

Richard A. Epstein: Not a libertarian

Posted on January 27th, 2009 by bile
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The solid part of the naming hypothesis gives each person the exclusive right to name himself or herself, or for parents to name (jointly–another potential can of worms) their children. But it hardly follows that an exclusive right must necessarily be an unlimited one. After all, my exclusive use of my own land doesn’t allow me to pollute my neighbors with impunity. Quite simply, there are some names at least that have to be regarded as off limits.

Yes, you have unlimited, exclusive use of YOUR land. Your neighbors land is not yours so polluting it is a property right infringement. You can pollute your land all you want. Just because in practice the polluting of your property will likely leech onto your neighbors doesn’t change the unlimited right to your property.

The issue came to a boil in a recent episode reported in the New York Times, in which Heath Campbell vented his outrage that his local ShopRite supermarket did not bend to his will to decorate his son’s birthday cake with his first two given names, Adolf Hitler. Popular sentiment turned out to run feverishly hot against Mr. Campbell, and for good reason.

Analytically, names have two distinct functions. The first is to designate one individual to the exclusion of all others, for which a nine-digit social security number will do just fine. But many names carry an expressive content, as by naming a daughter Chastity or a son Jesus. In most cases, the right response is for others to use the name even if they do not like the message it conveys.

Yet there are fuzzy limits. A name enjoys a peculiar monopoly status. It is the only moniker that anyone else can use to designate the named person. It follows therefore that names do impose what might be termed a “soft” externality on other individuals that becomes really hard to bear when the name in question forces people to be respectful to someone whom they rightly hate. No moral relativism allowed. Who wants to be polite to an Adolf Hitler?

This topic isn’t about moral relativism. Morality and state are seperate topics. You can consider another’s actions immoral but so long as that person does not infringe on the rights of another there is no legitimate use of force against them and therefore no legitimate role for the state.

Yet the objection to the unlimited use of these names cuts deeper. Today, no adult could voluntary take the name Adolf Hitler either. This basic point is explicitly recognized under modern trademark law, which explicitly forbids any person from registering a trademark that consists of “immoral or scandalous matter.”

The established case law won’t let anyone register a new men’s cologne under the name “Adolf Hitler.” Forcing other individuals to use odious names is too high a price to pay when literally millions of other names are open to the user.

His mentioning this in a neutral if not positive light shows again he is no libertarian. Trademark law, just as all government enforced intelectual property monopoly, is unlibertarian.

These vexing controversies should remind us that even limited governments have to worry about externalities that go beyond the use of force and fraud. By all means keep a strong presumption against invoking state power to veto personal or trade names. But this libertarian says, don’t make it an absolute rule.

Perhaps Mr. Epstein should go back and look up what libertarianism is. Not Libertarian. If it’s not absolute its not a right. If it can have “reasonable restrictions” it’s not a right.

Federal Trade Commission to scrutinize gaming DRM

Posted on January 7th, 2009 by bile
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Ars Technica reports that the FTC is getting ready to take a hard look at gaming DRM, setting up a town hall meeting to be held on March 25th. They’re currently recruiting panelists, and they say the meeting will, in part, “address the need to improve disclosures to consumers about DRM limitations.” The controversy over DRM came to a head in 2008 with the release of Spore and the multiple subsequent class-action lawsuits focusing on the SecuROM software that came with the game. Ars Technica says the town hall meeting will also look at “legal issues surrounding DRM” and “the potential need for government involvement to protect consumers.”

What horse shit. DRM is in no way something the government needs to be involved in. There is no protecting necessary. No one is harmed by DRM. DRM isn’t cutting people’s throats or stabbing their pets or stealing their Blu-Ray player. If the customer doesn’t want the product they don’t have to purchase it. Part of the product is the sellers attempts to restrict copying of the information stored on the CD, DVD, etc. Caveat emptor.

It is clear that this whole DRM thing is failing where it actually effects customers in a significant way. In fact it’s likely a vocal minority that’s actually leading to DRMs failure. Look what happened to the videogame Spore. Look at what Apple just announced yesterday. Many if not all of the providers of the music which they provide through their iTunes service have agreed to remove DRM from their songs. Most iTunes users however couldn’t care less. Seems fairly obvious given the populatity of iTunes and Apple products which must have been used (unless the DRM is broken) to play the purchased songs upto this point.

Until complete end to end solutions are created DRM will fail. Even with end to end solutions crackers and hackers will likely break the systems which they care about. The Xbox360 security is pretty good but a bug in the hypervisor allowed experts to break into the system. Blu-Ray, even with a dynamicly changing DRM system, has been continuously cracked.

While I disagree with patents, copyrights and trademarks and dislike DRM I fully support the property rights of the producer. If they wish to offer a product and that include methods to limit it’s use then so be it. The customer is fully in their right to not purchase it or purchase it and attempt to break those restrictions without fear of government interference.

Asset forfeiture brought to a new level

Posted on November 3rd, 2008 by bile
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“If the court grants our request … then if any law enforcement officer sees a Mongol wearing his patch, he will be authorized to stop that gang member and literally take the jacket right off his back.” – U.S. Attorney Thomas O’Brien

“The government can’t ban confederate flags, swastikas, or klan robes, and it sure as hell can’t ban the display of the Mongols’ logo.” – Marc J. Randazza

“What if the government had decided that, because of the Watergate scandal, nobody could use the word Republican again? – Zeichner Ellman

The Justice Department indicted 79 members of the Mongol Nation Motorcycle club for racketeering on October 21. The indictment included federal seizure of the “Mongols” trademarked name.

The case hasn’t even gone to trial yet , but U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper has authorized the seizure of the defendants’ . . .

* Clothing, motorcycles, and other property bearing the Mongols trademark.
* Any similar property bearing the trademark that belongs to the defendants’ “agents, servants, employees, family members, and those persons in active concert or participation with them.”

In other words, many people who weren’t even indicted will have their property seized.

This ruling has serious problems . . .

* In April, Mongol Nation transferred its trademark to Shotgun Productions, LLC, in April, a company that isn’t even named in the indictment.
* Prohibiting possession of trademarked items sets a dangerous precedent. If the government for some reason seizes the Nike swoosh, could FBI agents strip Tiger Woods of his cap, shirt, and shoes?

Civil asset forfeiture was already wrong. The government has no right to seize property without a trial and conviction. But now Judge Cooper and the Justice Department have taken it to a whole new level . . .

* An organization could lose its trademark because of the alleged crimes of some of its members.
* Normal asset forfeiture only seizes property alleged to have been used for illegal purposes, but now the government can take property simply because it sports the wrong logo!
* People completely unrelated to any indictment are now having their property seized too!

Civil asset forfeiture already violates the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution. Now it endangers the First Amendment too. Government officials could trump-up charges against any organization they don’t like, seize its name, and put it out of business! It could happen to!

This will chill freedom of expression.

Civil asset forfeiture must die. Use our Educate the Powerful System to tell Congress to repeal civil asset forfeiture.

Use your personal comments to tell Congress . . .

* About the Mongol case
* That’s its wrong for the government to seize property without due process and a conviction
* And even more wrong to seize property simply because it sports a legally-obtained, trademarked logo.

Demand that Congress abolish civil asset .forfeiture.

Thank you for being a part of the growing Downsize DC army.

And a hat tip to The Legal Satyricon blog for providing links to government documents.

James Wilson
Assistant to the President

This is really slick. I hadn’t considered such an action. Asset forfeiture has generally been able to continue do to its reach. It effects few and often those who are accused or convicted of a crime taking advantage of the fact that many do not wish to be associated with criminals and therefore will not stand up for their rights. However, should that reach grow as it has in this particular case perhaps there will be more public outrage. Then again perhaps not. Eminent domain has been more and more abused recently with relatively little increase in response.