Unknown Ownership
March 4, 2014 9:35 PM   Subscribe

Fans of both Joy Division and Star Trek TNG may be amused by the imposition of the pulsar graph as Worf's ridges (as well as Peter Hook's Extraordinary Stories), but they may also be interested in reading one's man attempt to find out if the image itself is copyrighted or in the public domain.
posted by juiceCake (34 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
"but because of my apt to be a law abiding citizen"???
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 9:48 PM on March 4, 2014


OK, just made it to the end of the first sentence. The grammatical skills actually get worse.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 9:51 PM on March 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Two Worf posts in a row. That's odd.
posted by Jahaza at 9:57 PM on March 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


Tuesday night is Worf night on Metafilter?
posted by RollingGreens at 9:57 PM on March 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


Tuesday night on Metafilter is clearly where time becomes a loop.
posted by asterix at 9:58 PM on March 4, 2014 [11 favorites]


Hopefully THE MAN doesn't stomp on Worf Day, like what happened with Elephant Day.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:00 PM on March 4, 2014 [1 favorite]




I'm in favor of adopting Worf Night as a weekly holiday.
posted by honeybee413 at 10:06 PM on March 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Surely it was Groundhog Day yesterday?
posted by fallingbadgers at 10:11 PM on March 4, 2014


On the Internet, every day is Groundhog Day.
posted by telstar at 10:17 PM on March 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Tuesday night is Worf night on Metafilter?

Every night is Worf night. Also $20 SAIT.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:00 PM on March 4, 2014


I love this (the copyright part)
posted by bottlebrushtree at 11:01 PM on March 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's weird to me that the guy put that much effort in to making sure it was kosher. That is one of the most widely parodied and overused graphics of the past ten years. I've seen riffs of it on everything, and variations of it minus the text or direct association with JD sold at all kinds of major clothing chains when it was blatantly changed just enough that it wasn't the "same" so they didn't have to pay.

Granted, that kind of thing is really common, but still.
posted by emptythought at 11:02 PM on March 4, 2014


This is the perfect Metafilter thread. Semi-obscure 80s music, STNG, and copyright. Perfect.
posted by LarryC at 11:09 PM on March 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


While i agree it's almost the platonic ideal of a short mefi fpp, in what world is joy division semi-obscure? I feel like they're one of the most well known 80s bands even among people who weren't even alive in the 80s.
posted by emptythought at 11:11 PM on March 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


The Worf of .Wav Street
posted by bicyclefish at 11:12 PM on March 4, 2014


...There needs to be a modern Pythonesque sketch featuring seniors with Bat'Leths having a Worf night at this rate...
posted by oonh at 11:13 PM on March 4, 2014


Captain, we're receiving 285 000 hails, all threads about Worf.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:39 PM on March 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


yImaqfilter.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:09 AM on March 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


aye, as emptythought points out it's really common, and more recently blatant mining of illustrators portfolios to make Etsy t-shirts seem to have become the norm.

This was super interesting little hunt down the rabbit hole for - as it turned out - the computer-creator of the original pulse image.
posted by dabitch at 2:36 AM on March 5, 2014


It would be more accurate, though completely unnecessary imho, to say that Joy Division are a 1970s band.
posted by Flashman at 3:43 AM on March 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


This is one of the downsides of having a copyright system where rights-holders don't have to renew their copyright terms. If over the years people lose track of who really owns the copyright, then most potential publishers of the work will be afraid to publish it because they have no idea if they will eventually get sued. This will just tend to get worse and worse if the copyright terms continue to get longer, because it's going to be difficult to figure out a 100+ year long chain of rights transfers in a lot of cases.
posted by burnmp3s at 5:40 AM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


meta
posted by leotrotsky at 6:11 AM on March 5, 2014


This is a classic attempt to use wishful thinking justify infringement:

The images above from Scientific American do not appear to have to have a © (copyright symbol), the word copyright, or date, which would have been required back then for protection.

Since image seems to have first been published in Scientific American and it’s missing those key elements, this leads me to be fairly confident the image is in the public domain.


No. Absolutely wrong.

Go to the Library of Congress, consult the Registrar of Copyrights. Scientific American has been manually registered by depositing a copy at the Library of Congress, continuously since 1845. The contents are copyrighted by Scientific American, Inc. A copyright notice in the collophon is sufficient to copyright all contents of the magazine. I guarantee that SciAm was scrupulous about rights clearances for all published data and would have put a copyright notice only if it was copyrighted by some other source.

This article is full of willful misunderstandings of copyright law.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:56 AM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


ah yes, the old: "unless otherwise noted everything © us "
posted by dabitch at 8:35 AM on March 5, 2014


The copyright search article is so bizarre to me.

Yes, those are single pulses from a well known pulsar, B1919+21. The observations were acquired at Arecibo, probably using one of the early iterations of the "Princeton pulsar machine"?

The data are acquired over a band of radio frequencies (probably at 330 MHz with a 30 MHz bandwidth back then?), and because of the ionized interstellar medium, radio waves travel a bit slower at lower frequencies. So across an observation band, the pulses are swept in frequency. Extended aside: this is called pulse "dispersion", with T_DM = 8.3 μs * DM * Bandwidth (MHz) / (Obs frequency in GHz)**3, where DM is the dispersion measure for the particular pulsar being observed - in this case, 12.455 pc cm**-3. (Yes astronomers use weird units - this says there were 12.455 electrons per cubic cm on average if the pulsar was 1 parsec away.)

The pulses are stochastic. The receiver noise is truly random. The de-dispersion depends on the instrument and the number of channels. So each realization of that waterfall plot is unique.

The plot was most likely made by a grad student or postdoc - one of a very small handful of people in the early days of pulsars. And yes, they obviously own the original copyright to the original version - there's no US government employee non-copyright issue just because it was observed at a national facility. But like Jerry Ostriker said, they would be thrilled that their image was being shared by the public.

(This really makes me want to ask around till I find the original author. But what's the point, eh?)
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:53 AM on March 5, 2014


I meant to add: you can look at average pulse profiles (like a fingerprint) for this pulsar
here if you click on the GIF image links.

Or do that for any of 1078 other pulsars too.
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:58 AM on March 5, 2014


Whoa, this post is awesome for introducing me to Jocelyn Bell Burnell!!
posted by latkes at 9:23 AM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


This article is full of willful misunderstandings of copyright law.

It seems clear that it's anything but. Copyright law is an utter mess, and even copyright lawyers frequently get it wrong.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:10 AM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


No, he clearly makes deliberately bad assumptions.

Anyway.. I will assert a copyright:

© 1967 PSR B1919+21

Of course someone could assert it is in the Public Domain, since the signal was originally broadcast about 2300 years ago. The question remains, was the 1967 graph of this data transformative in nature?
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:01 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


copyright lawyers frequently get it wrong? Really? As a friend of one, she'll tell you she never gets anything wrong. Ever. (psst also don't get on her bad side)
posted by dabitch at 12:44 PM on March 5, 2014


The question remains, was the 1967 graph of this data transformative in nature?

Of course it was! That's what I was just saying above - it's a unique combination of specific single pulses, interstellar weather, receiver noise, electronics, etc. - there is *no* way to get that exact specific combination twice.

And then the end product is just a single sequence of radio pulse intensity vs. time - everything about that plot involves creative choices. Scaling, axes, colors, the decision to offset consecutive pulses vertically when stacking them - there's no question that it's copyrightable by the author.
posted by RedOrGreen at 12:52 PM on March 5, 2014


An old quasar is spinning nearly as fast as possible.
posted by juiceCake at 7:20 AM on March 6, 2014


Related: Furr Division Threadless tee shirt
posted by blueberry at 2:17 PM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


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