Creative Expression and its Supposed Limits

B'fuselek the AndorianIf you haven’t seen this already, Starship Exeter is a fan-film series based on the original Star Trek TV show. And while the campiness is at times laughable (I especially love the way the crew members rock when their ship is “blasted”; Also, when the officer is stuck under a piece of heavy iron, and the captain says, “Stay here!”), I found that it accurately captured the look and feel of the show. The acting wasn’t superb, but I suppose they had to take what they could get. (The Klingon dude seems he’d be better off in professional wrestling than in a Star Trek film). It’s pretty cool to see how far technology has come, now that the average person can produce what took an entire studio some decades before. Thanks to Planet Fandom for the link.

Right now people are fleeing Texas in droves as Hurricane Rita slowly approaches. Hindsight is always 20/20, and I think this time people are listening to the forecasters when they say this one is going to be big. What you are hearing more and more as well is that these increased strength hurricanes have a lot to do with Global Warming, which subsequently warms the seas and causes increased tropical storms. With gas prices soaring, perhaps this will convince some people that a switch to cleaner, less CO2 emitting technologies like solar, wind, hydrothermal, and hybridization of gasoline and electric engines are the way to go now, and not in some Kyoto-distant future. In other words, a mere twenty percent reduction of our greenhouse emissions below 1990 levels ain’t gonna cut it my friends. Severe weather is one of the predictions of the IPCC, and we’re already seeing that now.

In other news, writers are suing Google over its alleged copyright infringement for allowing searchable digital copies of the contents of several universities’ libraries. While I’m all for free information, and I think having such volumes of data freely available on the net would be of great benefit to the world, I do have severe reservations about how this should take place.

Google says, “We regret that this group has chosen litigation to try to stop a program that will make books and the information within them more discoverable to the world. Google Print directly benefits authors and publishers by increasing awareness of and sales of the books in the program. And, if they choose, authors and publishers can exclude books from the program if they don’t want their material included. Copyrighted books are indexed to create an electronic card catalog and only small portions of the books are shown unless the content owner gives permission to show more.”

Personally, unless I gave permission to use my work in such a database, I believe Google has no right to offer it to the world, regardless of whether its in a public library or not. There is a large difference between one person having free access to your work at a time (as in a library book) and having millions access it. And while this might promote the author in question, more than likely, people will (ab)use the system to get free electronic books, all the more likely as technologies like these e-book readers become ubiquitous.

My solution: Have a registry, set up by the Library of Congress where authors can permit their work to be shared publicly (as in the Creative Commons License). But if the author does not enter his name and work in the registry, the work is to be considered copyrighted and it would be illegal to distribute it. Also, Google can still list thousands of works online, especially with such great concepts like the Gutenburg library, which has the full texts of works whose copyrights have expired long ago.