Surf’s Up Dept.

September 15th, 2007 | Posted in General

Some links and tidbits of interest from around the Internet-

Auctions of MADness-The Journal of MADness” was a fanzine about MAD published by longtime MAD fan John Hett. It was a very well done fanzine and featured some great interviews with MAD contributors. John has a few auctions on eBay right now of some of his MAD memorabilia, including some pretty unique and rare stuff. Among the items:

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Original Don Martin art for the cover of “MAD’s Maddest Artist Don Martin Bounces Back” (the Warner 1976 reprint), which was the book that started is all (by that I mean National Gorilla Suit Day).

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Bill Gaines Paymaster Machine– This is very unique. I exepct it to be authentic knowing John is good about those kinds of things. This is apparently the actual Paymaster check machine Bill Gaines used at EC to pay all this bills, including to his contributors. Gaines was famous for using this machine and a giant tree of rubber stamps to process all his bills, invoices, correspondence, etc. It also comes with some “official E.C. Publications paperwork that came from the Paymaster company”… whatever that is. This is a piece of comic’s history.

There are other cool things. Check out all his auctions by following this link.

Paris Hilton Right of Publicity Lawsuit Hmmmm. I thought only real celebrities could collect on Right of Publicity cases? The Smoking Gun is reporting that Hilton is suing Hallmark Greeting Cards over this card, depicting her face and her “trademark” saying “That’s Hot”:

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She’s seeking $500,000… must need pocket money. It will be interesting to see how this case is decided. California has some of the most comprehensive Right of Publicity laws (along with New York and Tennessee (Nashville, et al), the entertainment states) and the decision will be cited as a precedent in future cases.

Initially I thought Hilton would win this one, but now I am not so sure. Clearly this is making fun of her and her pseudo-celebrity and is also clearly transformative in it’s use of the photo. Those are good grounds for a fair use exemption for parody/satire of a celebrity. The case will probably hinge on whether or not the court feels a greeting card is an acceptable venue for social commentary.

Nice Gesture from Caricature EnthusiastRomina Tolu is a student and art lover from Malta who has a nice blog about the different kinds of art she likes, caricature being one. She wrote me last month to say she wanted to feature me as “Caricaturist of the Month” for September. In August the honor went to my friend Elgin Bolling aka the “Subway Surfer” from Noo Yawk. Romia has the feature up on her blog. One of the nice things about it is the way she went about it… placing the proper copyright disclaimers and checking with me for what was okay to show. She didn’t need to according to the fair use rules with respect to copyright, but it was a nice gesture and a nice honor.

Ringtones for the iPhone Finally, one of the dumbest things about the iPhone is getting fixed… albeit not as completely as I would have liked. Even the cheapest and simplest phones in existence have been able to use custom ringtones for years, but not the ?¬?berexpensive iPhone. Apple finally released an update to the iPhone and their iTunes program that allows users to download ringtones and use them as opposed to the twenty or so standard ones that come preloaded. Of course nothing is that easy.

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The rub is that hardly any of the gazillion songs in the iTunes store are allowed to be ringtones… just a handful. That is I am sure due to the agreement of rights for a given song to be used as a ringtone, which is not the same as just listening to it. That’s a good example of how copyright pertains to intellectual property (creative works). Buying a song on-line or via a CD only buys you the rights to listen to it, not to use it as music for your website, in a presentation, as a ringtone or any other use. The artist needs to grant those things as a separate right, and usually wants to get paid for it. So, it’s not Apple’s fault that only some songs are allowed to be used as ringtones, but it does suck that so few have those rights available.

And, of course, we have to pay for the privilege of using it as a ringtone. The iTunes program will search your music library, and will mark any songs that are available for ringtone use with a bell icon (once you check “ringtone” in the sort column menu bar, which you do by right-clicking or control-clicking any column header and checking it). It looks like it only checks “Protected AAC” files, meaning ones you bought from iTunes and not ones you imported from your own CDs. Clicking on the bell icon launches a little mini ringtone program that requires logging in to the iTunes Store. The mini-program loads the song on a nifty timeline at the bottom of your iTunes window. You can then select any portion of the song (up to a 30 second long clip), chose to fade in and/or out, your time between rings and some other options. Then you click on “buy” and you are charged $.99 for the ringtone. Once it’s complete it appears in your ringtones list and you can sync them to your iPhone. Make usre you got it the way you want it before you buy, as you don’t get to revise your ringtone later.

Therefore a ringtone from Apple costs $1.98 total… $.99 for the song itself and then $.99 for the ringtone conversion and rights. It will be better when they have more available, and hopefully they’ll also have ringtones that aren’t songs also available.

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