Fair Use of Comics? Seems Simple, But No! Chris Lanier points us to another legal skirmish. This time between Danne, the author of a Media Center Plug in that shows comics on the screen and United Media who claims that Danne’s software “violates cartoonist rights” and “abuses their skills for self benefit.”
Media Center is basically a shell application that uses Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer, etc. in a more aesthetically pleasing, remote driven, packaged sort of way.
Although Media Center might seem like magic to some, it really is just the combination of existing technology at Microsoft and repackaged to look slick with a 10 foot interface and operated by remote. It’s great software.
So Danee is accessing an RSS feed that, ahem, United Media is publishing and pulling it in through Media Center and United Media is asking that the technology not be used?
Huh? So I can view your comics through Bloglines or another RSS aggregator but if I want to make it look all pretty through Media Center then I’m violating somebody’s rights?
Unfortunately these Media Center plug ins are typically developed by small time operators and enthusiasts and Danee appears to be caving in on this one rather than risk the legal hassle. It would be nice to see the EFF, or Microsoft or someone step up and help him out here. I mean you may not use Media Center but this really is no different than your RSS reader which may be next.
Listen folks, if you don’t want your content displayed then DON’T PUBLISH A FRIGGIN’ RSS FEED! Once again we have someone trying to blame the technology for something that they are responsible for. Personally the beauty of MCE is that over time developers should be able to develop all kinds of tools to access micro content published in RSS feeds or other places on the internet. I’ve long felt that MCE should be aggregating and scrapping public domain places like the Internet Archive to offer up this content in a smarter, more usable, more living room friendly way.
Thanks for pointing this important issue out Chris.
Update: So it appears that United Media might not actually publish an RSS feed for their comics but that other individuals are scraping the content and syndicating it as RSS. You still can of course get a daily email for free sent to you from say, Dilbert. Still, I fail to see the point for going after someone who is just building technology to scrape existing RSS feeds, if they are put out by United Media or not.