February 4th, 2010

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Afghan Men Who Have Sex With Men Don't Think of Themselves As "Homosexual"


Assuming the reliability of the report, I can't say that this surprises me terribly much. The concept of defining oneself in terms of sexual orientation is fairly modern. Until the 19th Century in the west, you generally identified with your class, country, race, or whatever and happened to find members of the same sex attractive. From what I have read, it really appears to have been a Victorian invention of Oscar Wilde and others in response to the anti-sodomy laws to make sexual orientation a defining element of identity.
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NFL More Persnickity Than SCA College of Heralds On Conflict

OK, I find this story of the NFL claiming Fleur de Lis trademarks as extremely amusing.

As the article notes, the NFL is trying to claim a trademark right in the phrase "Who Dat?" which apparently has some association for the New Orleans Saints. But as the article also notes, there is a company called "WhoDAt, Inc." which already has a trademark in "Who Dat?" So the NFL now claims it has a trademark in any use of the phrase associated with a fleur-de-lis, which is apaprently a symbol of the New Orleans Saints. However, as the president of Who Dat, Inc. noted, the trademark is actually for a very specific -- indeed, heraldically blazonable -- symbol:
f you go back to 1967, to date, they have registered and used the fleur de lis in a very specific way. They put it on the Saints helmet and on the Saints 'shield.' Its colors are very specific -- they're 'old gold and black.' But for the NFL to expand that definition and say that no matter what color and what style of fleur de lis, if you put it on an item, it means Saints, it is, as many believe, is just not correct. The fleur de lis belongs to everyone including the people of New Orleans.

According to the New Orleans Saints website, the official colors were:
Gold helmet, black Fleur-de-Lis emblem with white outline on both sides
. It has been sufficiently long ago since I did any SCA heraldry, so I shall leave the blazon to someone else.

Back when I was doing my bit with the SCA COA, there used to be a rule that if a set of arms had two points of difference, it did not conflict. The NFL would like to believe that if it has 2 points of similarity, it infringes. Finally, I cannot help but note that many years ago, when I first got into trademark law, I noted wryly that all those people who said you could never make a living from what you picked up in the SCA COA were simply wrong. We trained an army of trademark examiners.
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link Harvest: How Copyright Screws Up Educational Video Use

From UCLA, this story of how a claim to infringement has shut down UCLA's ability to do distance learning.

Facts: UCLA leases instructional videos for its courses. For the last several years, UCLA professors have made these available to students, and students only, via a tool called "Video Furnace." A producer of educational films, Instructional Media Collections, now claims that allowing students to view the films via streaming, as opposed to in class or individually in the media library, is not covered under the licensing agreement. They have therefore invoked the Digital Millenium Copyright Act to shut down all use by UCLA of Video Furnace pending resolution of the infringement claim.
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Link Harvest: Dere Trustworthy LOLCat, I iz ritin' yu from Nigerian Litter Box

According to this Ars piece, 419 scams (aka "Nigerian Treasure" scam) are a booming business with over $9 bn lost in 2009. While I'm inclined to attribute some of the rise to the fact that the "optimism fallacy" rises as people get financially desperate, the article sites the primary growth as being from non-U.S. and European markets where large numbers of new internet users are providing fresh pools of potential suckers.