The Faces of Britain’s Banknotes

18 July 2019

A comment on a prior post said that Alan Turing would be the face on a new £50 Bank of England note:

From NPR:

The Bank of England’s new 50-pound note will feature mathematician Alan Turing, honoring the code-breaker who helped lay the foundation for computer science.

Alan Turing, the father of computer science and artificial intelligence who broke Adolf Hitler’s Enigma code system in World War II — but who died an outcast because of his homosexuality — will be featured on the Bank of England’s new 50-pound note.

The new note will be printed on polymer and will bear a 1951 photo of Turing, the bank announced Monday. It’s expected to enter circulation by the end of 2021. It will include a quote from Turing: “This is only a foretaste of what is to come and only the shadow of what is going to be.”

Turing was just 41 when he died from poisoning in 1954, a death that was deemed a suicide. For decades, his status as a giant in mathematics was largely unknown, thanks to the secrecy around his computer research and the social taboos about his sexuality. His story became more widely known after the release of the 2014 movie The Imitation Game.

“Alan Turing was an outstanding mathematician whose work has had an enormous impact on how we live today,” the Bank of England’s governor, Mark Carney, said in unveiling the new note. “Alan Turing’s contributions were far-ranging and pathbreaking. Turing is a giant on whose shoulders so many now stand.”

Link to the rest at NPR

From a 2016 edition of The Guardian, other non-politicians featured on British banknotes:

The new £20 note will feature artist JMW Turner, and will be available in 2020.

£10 note featuring Jane Austen, issued in 2017.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

Certainly the Plagiarism

18 July 2019

Certainly the plagiarism, and dealing with the fallout of it, was the most difficult thing I’ve ever faced since I started writing.

~  Nora Roberts

. . . .

Ideas improve. The meaning of words participates in the improvement. Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it. It embraces an author’s phrase, makes use of his expressions, erases a false idea, and replaces it with the right idea.

~  Guy Debord

Where There is Creativity, There is Plagiarism

18 July 2019

From Plagiarism Today:

Plagiarism can often seem invisible.

Not only do plagiarists often go to great lengths to hide the activities but, even when it’s done in broad daylight, those that aren’t actively looking for it will usually miss it. It’s very easy to look around you and feel confident that you’re in a relative plagiarism-free zone.

But the truth is much different. Plagiarism is literally everywhere that there is creativity. It doesn’t matter what kind of work you create or how it’s created, if there is originally and expression, you’re likely to find plagiarism.

In the more than 15 years I’ve been running Plagiarism Today, we’ve discussed plagiarism in a wide variety of environments including knitting, board games, video games, flag design, API development, YouTube videos (not counting other copyright issues), poetry, podcasts, comic books, architecture, marketing and much, much more.

If there’s creativity in an industry, there’s a near-guarantee that there is plagiarism in it. That’s because, whenever there’s a barrier to creating something, whether it’s an essay or movie, you can rest assured someone will be there to take whatever shortcuts they can to create their own.

. . . .

As Jason Chu of Turnitin once said, “Plagiarism is about putting outcomes ahead of processes.”

In short, plagiarist is someone who wants the outcome of having created something but doesn’t value or respect the process of creating that thing. In a simple example, a student who wants an A on a paper but doesn’t want to go through the trouble of actually writing such a paper may be tempted to plagiarize it.

To be clear, not every person that feels this way will be a plagiarist. Many students may not care about or see the value in writing an essay, but most will grit their teeth and do the work, either out of a sense of honesty or a fear of reprisal.

However, a student that values or even enjoys the process of writing an essay or completing an assignment will be much less tempted to plagiarize, regardless of their sense of honesty or how much they fear getting caught.

. . . .

But to creatives, this can seem alien. Why would you want to create something and not have it be original? Why would you want to put your name on something that someone else already made?

The reason is that we, as a society, value creators. Though, not always enough to avoid pirating their work, there is still a cult of celebrity placed around authorship and creativity. Whether it’s authors, filmmakers, musicians, artists, photographers or any other type of work, there’s a lot of appeal to being a creator.

That societal value is only matched by some people’s individual willingness to take shortcuts. In short, being a creative is very appealing, especially in the digital age when just about anyone can find an audience, but being creative requires a great deal of hard work and there are many that find that too high of a cost.

. . . .

[One step toward the deterence of plagiarism] is to be honest about what it takes to create a work.

For example, this post, and ones like, do not spring fully formed from my mind. They often take hours or works, sometimes broken up over multiple days. Even for all of my typos and grammar mistakes, there is a great deal of editing, revision and preparation that goes into them as well.

However, that’s not something that people see. We have created a mythos around creativity where a great work is the product of a brilliant mind, not the toil of countless hours of hard, often dull, labor.

Creativity is not something that’s available on demand and it rarely bears any fruit of worth without being combined with hard work. However, we don’t talk about those elements and that sets up an unrealistic expectations for those who have never done it themselves.

How can we expect others to respect the process of creating something when we aren’t always open and honest about that process ourselves?

Our cult of creativity has minimized the work that goes into creating something and put the focus on an intangible spark or a mythical completely self-contained idea that sprang forth fully formed. Neither are true.

Creativity is work and, though more work does not equal better product, if we were more open about how works were actually created, others might feel less justified in skipping the invisible work or copying the elusive creativity.

Link to the rest at Plagiarism Today

Photographer’s Copyright Claim Against Officer of Company over Photos on Website Moves Forward

18 July 2019

From Internet Cases:

Plaintiff, a professional photographer, sued defendant company and an individual who was its “registered agent and … officer, director, manager, and/or other genre of principal” for copyright infringement over two photographs that appeared on the defendant company’s website. The infringement claims against the individual defendant included one for vicarious infringement.

The individual defendant moved to dismiss the vicarious infringement claim. The court denied the motion.

One “infringes vicariously by profiting from direct infringement while declining to exercise a right to stop or limit it.” Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., 545 U.S. 913, 930 (2005). “In order to establish vicarious liability, a copyright owner must demonstrate that the entity to be held so liable: (1) possessed the right and ability to supervise the infringing activity; and (2) possessed an obvious and direct financial interest in the exploited copyrighted materials.” Nelson-Salabes, Inc. v. Morningside Dev., LLC, 284 F.3d 505, 513 (4th Cir. 2002).

In this case, plaintiff alleged that the individual defendant controlled nearly all decisions of the company and was the dominant influence in the company.

. . . .

As a principal of the company, the individual defendant’s financial interests were intertwined with the company’s. Therefore, the individual defendant had a direct and obvious financial interest in the company.

Link to the rest at Internet Cases

PG suspects this is a case with a backstory that is more interesting than that described in the pleadings.

As a general proposition, one of the benefits of a corporation, limited-liability company (LLC) or limited-liability partnership (LLP) is that the business entity protects individuals who are acting in the name of the entity and within the scope of the entity’s business operations from being sued in their individual capacity for debts or obligations of the entity. Anyone with a claim against the entity must look to the assets of the entity to satisfy that claim instead of the personal assets of the officers/directors/partners/employees, etc.

If a limited-liability entity is operated as a shell with no assets from which to satisfy any sort of meaningful claim for business debts, a court may permit a claimant to sue the entity’s owners directly. This is sometimes called “piercing the corporate veil” in a legal context.

The copyright infringement claim against the individual owner/controlling person described in the OP is what caught PG’s attention.

Unlike most species of personal or business debts or other claims against a person or business, Section 504 of the United States Copyright Act provides for the potential for statutory damages which can help to avoid an argument about how much the reasonable royalties for the infringing use of the creator’s work might have been.

In a case such as that described in the OP, the fight over the appropriate amount of damages would likely be the most difficult and expensive part of the litigation if the infringer wanted to put up a fight.

Section 504 statutory damages are often between $750 and $30,000 per work, as determined by the court.

However, the damage amount can be increased up to $150,000 per work if the infringement is found to be willful (intentional). If the infringement is “innocent,” meaning the infringer did not know they were violating copyright law, the damages can be reduced to a minimum of $200 per work (if the work did not contain a proper copyright notice).

There is one important precondition for Section 504 damages, however. In order to qualify, the work that is the basis of the infringement claim must be registered with the US Copyright office (1) within three months of publication of the work, or (2) before the infringement starts.

See a more detailed but easy-to-understand description of Section 504 damages at The Copyright Alliance.

For indie authors, it’s a good idea to include copyright registration as one of the checklist items when the author releases a new book. For books, it’s a simple task that should not require an attorney.

Here’s a link to the Registration Portal for the US Copyright Office. Here’s a link to an online Form TX for non-dramatic literary works that includes detailed instructions.

In most cases, the Registration Portal is the easier and faster way of submitting Form TX or another standard copyright form. The Registration Portal will walk you through the process of selecting and filling out the appropriate form, then submitting the completed form electronically to the Copyright Office.

If an indie author has released books without registering their copyright to those books in the past, registering them after publication is still a good idea. As stated above, statutory damages can be awarded if the books were registered before infringement by a particular party began.

Also, it is important for indie authors to include a copyright notice in their books. This is inserted semi-automatically by Amazon and other online booksellers as part of the upload process.

Here’s an example of a copyright notice:

© 2019 John Doe

Here’s a link to a US Copyright Office Circular discussing copyright notices.

IMPORTANT NOTE for visitors from countries other than the US – PG’s discussion of infringement, penalties for infringement and copyright registration benefits and processes are applicable only to US copyrights and their infringement in the US.

There are two principal international copyright treaties/conventions – the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (Berne Convention) and the Universal Copyright Convention (UCC) which can provide an author who is a national or domiciliary of a member country or works first published in a member country with protections against copyright infringement and rights to pursue infringers for damages or other remedies. The US and many other western countries are members of these conventions.

Pearson Launches Digital-First Textbook Strategy

17 July 2019

From Copyright and Technology:

Pearson, the world’s largest educational publisher, announced on Tuesday that it is transitioning to a digital-first model for textbook publishing, moving away from the print-edition-based model that has been the foundation of higher education publishing for centuries. In its press release, the company announced that it will move almost all of its 1500 U.S. textbook titles to continuously-updated digital-first content and will only make print textbooks available on a rental basis.

This is a major turning point in higher ed publishing. Pearson’s move contrasts with that of its rival Cengage, which launched a subscription model called Cengage Unlimited last year. Whereas Cengage is offering access to all e-textbooks from its catalog to students at a rate of $120 per semester or $180 per year, Pearson is renting them individually for an average price of $40. Both Pearson and Cengage will make print textbooks available as rentals only. The e-textbook rental model has been around for several years through providers such as eFollett and VitalSource (formerly CourseSmart, a joint venture of Pearson and other higher ed publishers).

. . . .

Yet the switch to digital-first has a whole host of implications beyond student access or pricing models that indicate how big a deal this is. Higher ed publishers have been talking about going digital-first for many years, and there are several reasons why none of them — at least none of the major publishers — have done it until now.

First are all the implications of moving from one edition at a time to a program of continuous updates for digital textbooks. This requires major changes to editorial processes and technologies, and it requires that textbook authors — typically full-time faculty members at universities — commit to continuous updates to their material rather than committing only to one edition of a book at a time. Pearson has been putting in place the editorial infrastructure and processes required to do this for several years now and has been leading the way in setting standards for online educational content such as EDUPUB.

Then there are all the rights clearance challenges. Textbook publishers typically license thousands of items of content for use in each of their textbooks — illustrations, photographs, quotations, tables, etc. — and do so for discrete editions of those textbooks. In many cases, those rights have to be re-cleared for continuously-updated digital textbooks.

. . . .

The impetus for Pearson’s announcement is very simple: higher ed publishing is (finally?) in enough pain to make these disruptive transitions necessary. Publishers have been competing with a combination of used textbooks, third-party textbook rental services such as Chegg, and course instructors using online materials that are free and potentially more up-to-date than material that had to be committed to print-oriented textbooks months or years in advance.

Publishers’ strategy in coping with these forces over the past several years has been to keep raising textbook prices. But as prices go further and further into the stratosphere and backlash increases, that strategy has become self-defeating; Pearson’s revenues are expected to fall up to 5% in the U.S. this year.

. . . .

The other important implication of digital-first is that it can enable publishers to build their own distribution channels to students, bypassing college bookstores as well as third party distributors like Chegg and MBS Direct. The first evidence of this happening for e-textbooks was in 2014, when the four major publishers involved in the CourseSmart joint venture sold it off to VitalSource, a unit of the publishing services giant Ingram Content Group. The deal involved moving CourseSmart e-textbooks to VitalSource’s platform, and the publishers decided not to make all of their titles available on a platform they didn’t own. More recently, Pearson and McGraw-Hill have been working towards distribution channel control for print textbooks through something called consignment rentals. And certainly Cengage Unlimited is a further move towards distribution channel control by publishers.

It seems likely that Pearson will insist that students engage with its own service to obtain their course materials as part of its digital-first strategy.

Link to the rest at Copyright and Technology

PG says this is entirely about money – killing the used textbook market once and for all plus taking all the markup generated by sales of new and used titles from college bookstore and redirecting that money to the publisher.

PG hopes college and university departments are motivated to create their own course materials and distribute those to their students at a reasonable price. This could benefit individual professors with an additional income stream and help the students avoid piling on more and more student loans to acquire textbooks they won’t be able to keep or sell after the class ends at exorbitant prices.

Andrea Camilleri Had a Late but Great Career in Crime Writing

17 July 2019

From The Guardian:

Andrea Camilleri, who has died aged 93, was one of the latest starters and latest finishers in crime fiction.

He was almost 70 – after a rich career as a theatre director, TV producer, playwright and novelist in other genres – when, finding himself stuck on a historical story, he distracted himself by quickly writing a detective story. In a sort of literary European Union, he was influenced by three literary heroes: the Belgian Georges Simenon, creator of Inspector Maigret; Leonardo Sciascia, author of The Day of the Owl, who was a native of Sicily like Camilleri; and the Spanish writer Manuel Vázquez Montalbán.

First met by Italian readers in La forma dell’acqua in 1994 (in English as The Shape of Water in 2002), Camilleri’s cop, Commissario Salvo Montalbano shared many traits with his creator: a Sicilian with a love of literature, cigarettes and food. As in Montalbán’s Inspector Pepe Carvalho books, Montalbano – named in homage to the Spanish novelist – uses delicious cuisine as a counterweight to his deathly profession. Eating, Camilleri liked to say, is one of the greatest pleasures the dead surrender.

After his delayed start in the mystery form, Camilleri wrote fast. Their sales accelerated by an atmospheric TV series (seen on BBC4 in the UK and SBS in Australia), 27 Montalbano novels have been published in Italy to date. The 24th will make it to English this September, when The Other End of the Line will be published.

That book starts with Montalbano dealing with a huge group of political refugees arriving on the Sicilian coast – a characteristic topicality in a series of novels that have followed Italy into the eras of the euro, the contentious governments of Silvio Berlusconi (to whom Camilleri was strongly opposed), and Euroscepticism.

“In many crime novels, the events seem completely detached from the economic, political and social context in which they occur. In my books, I deliberately decided to smuggle into a detective novel a critical commentary on my times,” he told me when I interviewed him in Rome – still furiously chain-smoking at the age of 88 – in 2012.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

‘Bletchley Park and D-Day’ Review

15 July 2019

From The Wall Street Journal:

The success of the British code-breakers at Bletchley Park during World War II has become legendary. The technological challenges they faced were huge. Racing against the clock, men and women like Mavis Batey, Dilly Knox and Alan Turing took messages intercepted by Allied intelligence and looked for ways to decrypt the German Enigma codes—which changed daily and Adolf Hitler believed to be unbreakable. Many books have been written about Bletchley, but none has focused exclusively on the significance of its work for D-Day.

As Allied nations commemorate the 75th anniversary of the largest amphibious landing in military history, historian David Kenyon reveals in “Bletchley Park and D-Day: The Untold Story of How the Battle of Normandy Was Won” that the British signals intelligence operation, by then known as “Ultra,” reached its peak performance only immediately prior to the beginning of Operation Overlord, the codename given for the invasion. By the day the first troops landed, Mr. Kenyon writes, Bletchley Park had become “an intelligence factory, with ancillary operations conducted all around the UK.”

. . . .

It all began in the summer of 1938, as war with Nazi Germany loomed. British intelligence purchased the country estate called Bletchley Park and relocated the Government Code and Cipher School there from its headquarters some 50 miles to the southeast in central London. Polish and French efforts to crack the Enigma codes had already begun. But in 1939 the British, laboring in sparsely furnished huts amid the quiet and secluded surroundings of Bletchley Park, began working around the clock on the problem.

Hut 6, for example, was responsible for deciphering German army and air force Enigma codes. The intensive analysis of enemy communications traffic carried out in Hut 6 helped produce a map of German networks, army movements and formulations. Decrypted messages helped locate the headquarters of the elite SS Panzer-Korps divisions and informed the Allied commanders of the locations and strengths of SS units in France.

Mr. Kenyon draws attention to how Bletchley provided the intelligence necessary to ensure the success of the D-Day invasion, as well as corroborating the effectiveness of the false plans laid out to fool Hitler into believing the invasion would happen further up the coast, near Calais.
Among the most valuable sources of intelligence were the decrypted “Fish” messages intercepted from the “Bream” and “Jellyfish” networks. Bream was the communication link between Berlin and Field Marshal Albert Kesselring in Italy. Jellyfish was the teleprinter connection between Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt—Hitler’s commander in chief in the West—and his masters. The first Jellyfish breaks came in April 1944, mere weeks before D-Day, and allowed the Allies to read the top-secret messages and strategic discussions between von Rundstedt and Hitler’s military command.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal

I Don’t Want to Really Scare You

15 July 2019

I don’t want to really scare you, but it was alarming how many people I talked to who are highly placed people in AI who have retreats that are sort of ‘bug out’ houses, to which they could flee if it all hits the fan.

James Barrat, author of Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era


« Previous PageNext Page »