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How Copyright Law Gave Us STAR WARS

In an alternate universe George Lucas never made Star Wars because he was able to get the rights to Flash Gordon. See, that was Lucas’ original intention, and he even went to meet with King Features Syndicate, who held the rights, to talk with them about making a movie based on the classic comic strip and movie serial space adventurer. Lucas says that King Features wanted 80% of the profits,…

Why NORAD Tracks Santa

The call had come in on one of the top secret lines inside CONAD that only rang in the case of a crisis. Grabbing the phone, Shoup must have expected the worst. Instead, a tiny voice asked, “Is this Santa Claus?” “Dads pretty annoyed,” said Terri Van Keuren, Shoups daughter, recalling the legend of that day in 1955. “He barks into the phone,” demanding to know whos calling. “The little…

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The Bill That Could Save College Students $1,200 a Year

Faculty who need to publish for professional reasons can be motivated for reasons other than a royalty check, so this sounds like a good idea. The Affordable College Textbook Act, introduced by Durbin and Franken this month, aims to lower book costs by promoting the use of open-source textbooks. Open books, as defined by the bill, are texts that are “licensed under an open license and made freely available online…

Terrified Obama Trapped Inside Healthcare.gov Website

“Goddammit, I don’t know what to do!” Obama said, banging his hands in frustration against a wall of binary as the entire healthcare.gov mainframe suddenly froze, forcing all previously flowing lines of code to come to a complete standstill. “I can’t fix this! Get me out of this place!” “Please! Just get me out of here!” Obama added as the data grid below his feet shattered into millions of infinitesimal…

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Google Books ruled legal in massive win for fair use (updated)

Update in a legal battle that’s been going on for 8 years. A long-running copyright lawsuit between the Authors’ Guild and Google over its book-scanning project is over, and Google has won on the grounds that its scanning is “fair use.” In other words, the snippets of books that Google shows for free don’t break copyright, and Google doesn’t need the authors’ permission to engage in the scanning and display…

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How Television Covered the Kennedy Assassination – a 1964 TV Guide Article

It was a new, shocking, traumatic thing for Americans — who were used to getting their bad news from kindly gentlemen who filtered it for them and helped them digest the worst bits — to watch reporters, live on air, learning new details and reacting as they happened. First CBS Bulletin (at 10:45 into a soap opera.) Walter Cronkite announces death of JFK. You can hear in the background people…

Robert T. Conrad, Whig mayor of Philadelphia, 1854-1856.
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Rare Philadelphia win – for a Whig!

For the first time in 159 years, Philadelphians have elected a Whig to public office – specifically, putting a member of the Modern Whig Party into a spot as judge of elections in Northeast Philadelphia’s 56th Ward, in the Rhawnhurst section. Robert “Heshy” Bucholz, 39, a software engineer with four children and a fifth on the way, went door to door soliciting support from his neighbors and wound up garnering…