Lawsuit Against Warner/Chappell Music Claims Happy Birthday Belongs to Public Domain

20 years ago, I chose for my dissertation texts written from 1920 through 1950, expecting them to come out of copyright one after the other during my career as a professor, but the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 added 20 years. Disney has made dozens of movies based on characters that are in the common domain, but lobbied for a law to protect its own property. The story of…

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Raise It Up! :: Star-Spangled Banner – 1814-2014

I usually start my American Lit I course with an analysis of “The Defence of Fort McHenry.” “Two hundred years ago, Francis Scott Key, inspired by the sight of the flag’s ‘broad stripes and bright stars,’ wrote a song that gave new significance to a national symbol and started a tradition through which Americans have invested the flag with their own meaning and memories,” said John L. Gray, director of…

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Even in the U.S., Chinese Students May Have Tiananmen ‘Amnesia’

But now that he was at college in America, someone had mentioned Tiananmen, a friend. And he went online, to YouTube and Google, and pulled up videos and photographs from 25 years earlier, images not easily accessible behind China’s Great Firewall, as its Internet-censoring regime is called. He kept looking at one, he said, “the one.” A photograph of an unknown man, futilely trying to block a column of tanks.…

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What Causes the Smell of New & Old Books?

Generally, it is the chemical breakdown of compounds within paper that leads to the production of ‘old book smell’. Paper contains, amongst other chemicals, cellulose, and smaller amounts of lignin. Both of these originate from the trees the paper is made from; finer papers will contain less lignin than, for example, newsprint. In trees, lignin helps bind cellulose fibres together, keeping the wood stiff; it’s also responsible for paper yellowing…

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DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous (DASER)

Live in the DC area? June 19 I’ll be speaking about the play Rossum’s Universal Robots for a panel on “robots and theater,” sponsored by Cultural Programs of National Academy of Sciences. (The event will also be webcast.) D.C. Art Science Evening Rendezvous (DASER) is a monthly discussion forum on art science projects providing a snapshot of the cultural environment of the region and fostering interdisciplinary networking. This month, DASER explores…