Monthly Archives: January 2018

The Maasai want their brand back

31 January 2018

PG says Intellectual Property law can be interesting.

From Quartz:

The Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania have a distinctive look that is widely imitated. Their style and name alike have been used by high-end designers such as Louis Vuitton, manufacturers like moccasin maker Minnetonka, and many more. You can buy a “Maasai” bathing suit for $300, or a “Maasai mosh dress” for $430, online, right now.

These items are not actually made by the Maasai people, though, nor are they compensated for anything sold under brands using their name, which has helped sell billions of dollars worth of goods worldwide over the years, according to Light Years IP, a Washington, DC nonprofit that works on public interest intellectual property issues internationally. That’s why it created the Maasai Intellectual Property Initiative (MIPI), putting businesses on notice. Companies must cease and desist referring to the trademark name Maasai or copying the signature Maasai style without a licensing agreement.

MIPI works to represent Maasai IP rights by organizing the community, gaining consensus on appropriate usage of the brand, forcing companies to obtain licenses from the Maasai to use their intellectual property, and then distributing funds as has been deemed appropriate by the people. “Nearly 80% percent of the Maasai population in Kenya and Tanzania are living below the poverty line,” the website explains. “Yet their distinctive and iconic cultural brand and intellectual property concepts have been used commercially around the globe.”

. . . .

Here’s an example of how copyright and trademark work in this situation. Burberry—like the Maasai—have a signature check, and a distinct name that has positive associations in consumers’ minds, connected with their brand. They defend their name and pattern with IP enforcement action. The Burberry plaid can’t be copied, and the name is so famous it belongs exclusively to the British brand.

The Maasai are saying that companies borrowing traditional designs and patterns of cloth and beading, as well as their name, should pay for the privilege or desist, just as Burberry would demand. But IP rights have to be enforced by those who claim them.

Link to the rest at Quartz

We’ve all heard that a million monkeys

31 January 2018

We’ve all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true.

Robert Wilensky

Authors with Websites: Who Owns Your Domain Name?

31 January 2018

From Indies Unlimited:

The initial response to the question of who owns your domain name would likely be, “I do”. In most cases, you would be correct. That’s what I thought, too, when I received a renewal notice last August. As it turns out, I was wrong – sort of.

. . . .

I’ve had the domain name since 2009, when my first website was initially set up and my first book published.

. . . .

It all began when I received an email from some random company telling me my domain was up for renewal and offering to renew it for me. It had been purchased so long ago that I couldn’t remember who it had been set up with so I asked my techie, Carolyn to check into it. When she looked it up, the domain was registered with a company called eNom, which neither of us had heard of, and at an old address of mine where I’ve not lived for years. She suggested I call them.

The rep there told me that the domain name was listed under a reseller out of Toronto. They informed me that I could get it back for five years if I paid $249.00, seven years for $500+ or ten years for more than $700. By this time I was so upset I could not remember the exact figures. But I smelled a rat and sensed eNom, and/or the secondary reseller, were holding my domain for ransom. Somehow a shred of sanity remained and I said I’d have to look into that.

. . . .

Then I got the renewal notice for the other domain name, due to expire in October. It was registered with Namecheap, also taken over by eNom. I considered letting it expire, but Carolyn suggested trying to transfer it to GoDaddy, to get it out of eNom’s clutches.

Link to the rest at Indies Unlimited


An Upbeat Winter Institute—With Some Caveats

31 January 2018

From Publishers Weekly:

Winter Institute, which American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher has called “some of the most significant few days in our calendar,” drew 1,000 attendees to Memphis the week of January 22, including more than 680 booksellers from all 50 states.

. . . .

“For more than five years now, our channel has seen sustained growth—the result of your clear focus on ongoing professional development, tireless work, and continued entrepreneurial innovation,” Teicher told booksellers. He acknowledged that some stores continue to face challenges, particularly as retail dollars continue to shift online. But he assured booksellers, “Our advocacy on your behalf regarding a level playing field will continue as a major priority for 2018.”

. . . .

In addition to working for a playing field on which physical and online stores are treated equally, other bookseller priorities emerged over the course of the conference’s four days—among them the need for diversity in the book business. As Hannah Oliver Depp of Word Books in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Jersey City, N.J., a member of the ABA Task Force on Diversity, noted, “We’ve made a lot of progress, and we have a lot further to go.”

Keynoter Junot Díaz also pushed booksellers to do more for diverse books. In a powerful address, which he titled “In the Time of the Wolf and Fox I Dream of Books” (the “wolf” being conservative whites and the “fox” liberals), he elicited many tears and a standing ovation. Díaz criticized the book industry for being a business in which predominantly white gatekeepers publish predominantly white authors. It’s imperative, he said, for booksellers and librarians, who are on the front lines, to “stop talking about diversity and start decolonizing our shelves.” On behalf of the next generation, he called for “new stories where every single one of us can find ourselves.”

Amazon’s growing dominance in many aspects of our lives, not just books, was also a significant concern. For Kenny Brechner of Devaney, Doak and Garrett in Farmington, Maine, one of the most threatening aspects of that dominance is the erosion of list price. “One thing I hear is, ‘What are you charging for this book?’ ” he said. “We’re in a competing narrative with Amazon. There’s a narrative we need to share. The antitrust laws are just paper, or whatever, without the will to do something about it.”

. . . .

Booksellers should be able to pay their staff a living wage and not have to work long hours or take a second job to do so, she said. “I know publishers that make good profits,” she added. “It would be nice if they could give us an extra percentage.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

The key to surviving the forthcoming robot revolution

31 January 2018

From The New York Post:

Millions of Americans are fearful that robots will take their jobs.

And rightly so, say some recent studies. A 2017 study from Forrester Research projected that 25 million jobs will be axed from the US workforce over the next decade because of automation, but only 15 million jobs will be created in their place. Another widely cited 2013 study from Oxford University found that as much as 47 percent of the US workforce could be at risk of losing their jobs to automation within the next 20 years, particularly those workers in sectors like transportation, logistics and commercial retail.

. . . .

Other research takes a more optimistic view: A report out this week from professional services firm Accenture and the World Economic Forum projects that as few as 16 percent of jobs “are at risk of displacement … after accounting for potential job gains that would arise from the same trends.”

“There will obviously be some displacement, but I think, net-net, these technologies really allow for the expansion of human consciousness and the expansion of jobs,” said Brian Uzzi, a professor at the Northwestern University McCormick School of Engineering. “It shouldn’t be thought of as machines substituting for jobs, but it’s going to be about job growth in current areas.”

. . . .

Whatever the numbers ultimately turn out to be, they’re likely to worry people with no STEM or engineering backgrounds to speak of — the actors, writers, English and psychology majors of the world. The good news though: Even if you don’t have a tech background, automation may help you at work.

Indeed, Uzzi and other experts believe that the future for such workers will revolve around using AI to enhance their efficiency and productivity, rather than regarding it as a job-taking threat. These experts see the selling point of human labor as residing in humans’ trademark creativity, sympathy and intuition — qualities not even the most advanced of automatons can effectively replicate.

LivePerson is one tech firm that’s proving that people with non-STEM backgrounds can find work in this changing environment. The New York-based company, which creates chatbots for clients in sectors like hospitality or telecommunications, employs a battalion of trained actors and linguists to write the content that customers interact with digitally.

Whatever the numbers ultimately turn out to be, they’re likely to worry people with no STEM or engineering backgrounds to speak of — the actors, writers, English and psychology majors of the world. The good news though: Even if you don’t have a tech background, automation may help you at work.

Indeed, Uzzi and other experts believe that the future for such workers will revolve around using AI to enhance their efficiency and productivity, rather than regarding it as a job-taking threat. These experts see the selling point of human labor as residing in humans’ trademark creativity, sympathy and intuition — qualities not even the most advanced of automatons can effectively replicate.

. . . .

Bradbury and his team develop the chatbots’ voices and written content — “very much a different job,” he explained, than what their coworkers on the programming side do. He likened his company’s left brain/right brain structure, in which writers and engineers work side by side, to using Microsoft Word: “It’s a different job to write the words into the word processor than to build the code into the word processor [and] decide where the buttons go.”

Psychology is yet another industry already benefiting from AI, Uzzi said, pointing out emerging technologies that diagnose patients’ mental health challenges and aid licensed psychologists in developing treatment plans for them more expeditiously and effectively.

Link to the rest at The New York Post and thanks to Judith for the tip.

Writing Income: What I Made in 2017

31 January 2018

From author Kameron Hurley:

In my continuing series related to what I actually make writing fiction every year
. . . .

Book payments, royalties, foreign sales, film $1,600
Self pub royalties $167
Short story reprint sales $1,750
Patreon $29,179
TOTAL $47,096

. . . .

I tell writers often to “diversify your income streams” and this is why. Some years royalties and book payments and foreign sales are better than others.  There is more income that will show up on my actual taxes, including Amazon affiliates and Paypal donations, but I didn’t include those here (just as I didn’t include day job income) because I want this to be limited exclusively to writing income.

. . . .

Patreon Saves the Day (But Don’t Count On It)

Patreon has been a godsend this last year, as I’ve been producing a short story every month, instead of every other month or so as I did last year. That said, the shitstorm at Patreon at the end of last year when they were going to up their fees by 40% for folks at the $1 tiers saw me bleeding fans from the platform. That experience reminded me again that this income – though provided by a large pool of 750+ fans, is still reliant on a third party system that could implode and fuck everything at any time.

Self-Pub Isn’t a Magic Bullet

As you can see, I don’t make much money in self-pub beyond Patreon. When I state this, many folks who make lots more there just tell me I’m doing it wrong, and hey! Maybe so. But it’s not where I put most of my time. Self-pub sales primarily come from one-off fiction shorts and collections, not novels. I like to include this revenue here, though, to point out that yes, I do self-publish some stuff, and yeah, no, it’s not a cure-all moneymaking scheme.

Link to the rest at Kameron Hurley.

Here’s a link to Kameron’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Lawyers Faced With Emojis and Emoticons Are All ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

30 January 2018

From The Wall Street Journal:

Lawyers gathered at the Atlanta office of a big law firm were debating a head-scratching legal question. What does the emoji known as the “unamused face” actually mean?

They couldn’t even agree that the emoji in question—it has raised eyebrows and a frown—looked unamused.

“Everybody said something different,” recalls Morgan Clemons, 33 years old, a regulatory compliance lawyer at Aldridge Pite LLP who organized the gathering last summer at Bryan Cave LLP, called “Emoji Law 101.”

She didn’t even know that’s what the emoji was named. “I don’t think many of us in the room ever thought that’s what it was.”

Emojis—tiny pictures of facial expressions or objects used in text messages, emails and on social media—are no longer a laughing matter for the legal profession. Increasingly, they are bones of contention in lawsuits ranging from business disputes to harassment to defamation.

In one Michigan defamation dispute, the meaning of an emoticon, an emoji-like image created with text characters from a standard keyboard, was up for debate. A comment on an internet message board appeared to accuse a local official of corruption. The comment was followed by a “:P” emoticon.

The judges on the Michigan Court of Appeals concluded in 2014 that the emoticon “is used to represent a face with its tongue sticking out to denote a joke or sarcasm.” The court said the comment couldn’t be taken seriously or viewed as defamatory.

Puzzled lawyers are turning to seminars, informal meetings and academic papers to discern innuendo in seemingly innocuous pictures of martini glasses and prancing horses. Researchers at Deakin Law School near Melbourne, Australia, produced a 61-page study on the topic slated for publication in the April issue of an academic journal.

Debra Katz, an employment lawyer in Washington, D.C., says she was stumped by a combination of emojis that included horses and one that “looked like a muffin” in text messages associated with a harassment case. She solicited opinions from her colleagues in the office about what it might mean. Her client told her it meant “stud muffin.” She says her client viewed the emojis as an extension of the alleged unwelcome advances at issue in the dispute.

“There are no limits to the emoji possibilities,” Ms. Katz says. “The reality is people are just going to keep using their technology to communicate.”

Last year, emojis or emoticons were mentioned in at least 33 U.S. federal and state court opinions, according to research from Eric Goldman, a law professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law. That is up from 25 in 2016 and 14 in 2015. He’s already counted three this year.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal

PG says the subjects of dispute between human beings never stop growing. It’s great for business.

DC Comics Leaves Barnes & Noble Newsstands

30 January 2018

From Bleeding Cool:

DC Comics and Barnes & Noble have had a fractious relationship on occasion. When DC Comics released 100 graphic novels as a digital exclusive on the Amazon Fire, Barnes & Noble, owner of the Nook, pulled all those books in print from the shelves. It was quite a thing. Eventually, B&N blinked.

And of late they have been happy to run DC Days across all their stores and Marvel was able to use B&N stores to promote their floppy series Mosaic.

But Barnes & Noble also sells floppy comics as part of their magazine newsstand offerings. However, in 2013, they stopped selling Marvel Comics titles, while still selling plenty of DC, Dark Horse and Archie.

But as of late last year, it seems that offering now no longer included DC Comics.

Link to the rest at Bleeding Cool

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