Lots of people claim to have seen UFOs and aliens. Lots of famous people. Physicist Michio Kaku makes a good case for life elsewhere in the universe. Moving on--Dan Ackroyd suggests little green (or grey) men don't land in populated areas precisely because they don't want to interact with us. (Then why come here at all? For the beer?) More here.
In early 2012, a Dutch magician did something unthinkable within the secretive and tight-knit magic community: he posted a YouTube video of himself performing a fellow magician’s illusion, and offered to reveal the secret to his viewers for a $3,050 fee. The illusion, however, was not just any old trick; it was the signature move of Raymond Teller, one half of the famous magic duo “Penn & Teller.” In April 2012, Teller took the unusual step of filing a lawsuit in federal court, alleging copyright infringement and unfair competition, to protect the secret behind his illusion. It is not clear, however, that magic is a copyright-protectable category of work. Neither the United States 1976 Copyright Act nor the United States’ Copyright Office’s working compendium addresses magic. No federal court has held magic protectable since the Copyright Act was amended in 1976. Still, magic meets the constitutional and statutory requirements for copyrightprotectable work. The Teller court should hold that magic illusions are eligible for copyright protection, regardless of whether it finds there was infringement in this particular case.
Ms. Brancolini wrote the piece under the supervision of F. Jay Dougherty, who contributed to Law and Magic (Carolina Academic Press, 2010).
The Committee on the Federal Rules of Practice and Procedure seeks to abrogate Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 84 and its attendant Official Forms. Poof — after seventy-six years of service, the Committee will make Rule 84 and its forms disappear. This Essay argues, however, that like a magic trick, the abrogation sleight of hand is only a distraction from the truly problematic change the Committee is proposing. Abrogation of Rule 84 and the Official Forms violates the Rules Enabling Act of 1934. The Forms are inextricably linked to the Rules; they cannot be eliminated or amended without making a change to the Rules to which they correspond. Yet, the proposal to abrogate Rule 84 and the Forms has received little attention, with commenters instead focused on proposed discovery amendments. This Essay argues that inattention to the proposed abrogation of Rule 84 and the Forms is a mistake, and that the Forms should not just disappear.
Rick Lax, lawyer/magician, runs through the different kinds of possible IP protection for magic tricks (with a sidelong glance at illusions and performance) in a column published in Wired back in July of 2013. Yes, okay, I'm only just getting to it. Hey, it's been a busy semester of inflicting knowledge...
Here's some USPS legerdermain. The post office has issued a new stamp, this time with that famous American, Harry Potter pictured on it. Newscaster Nia-Malika Henderson is flummoxed by this USPS decision--her colleagues not so much.
I decided to visit the USPS website (at www.usps.com, by the way, not www.usps.gov) to see what the rules are for putting individuals, real or fictional, on postage. I found this nifty history of the post office, The United States Postal Service, An American History: 1775-2006. According to this authoritative source, a group called the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee, which the Postmaster General thought up in 1957, "provide[s] a breadth of judgment and depth of experience in various areas which influence the subject matter, character, and beauty of postage stamps." The Committee can have up to 15 members and it can meet as many as four times a year to consider various candidate stamps, which shoudl "stand the test of time, be consistent with public opinion, and have broad national appeal."
Here is a list of the current members of the Committee:
Gail Anderson, Partner, Anderson Newton Design; instructor, School of Visual Arts; author
Benjamin Bailar, Former Postmaster General; postal history stamp collector
Caroline Bauman, Associate director, Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
B. J. Bueno, Founder, The Cult Branding Company; partner, Nonbox Consulting
Cary Brick, Retired, U. S. Congressional Staff; Adjunct Professor of Government and History
Donna De Varona, TV Sports Commentator, Olympic Swimming Champion, Select Director of the Board, U.S. Soccer Foundation
Jean Picker Firstenberg, Chair & President Emerita, American Film Institute
Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphone Fletcher University Professor, W.E.B. DuBois Insitute for African and African-American Research, Harvard University
Janet King, Philatelist, Author, Retired
Harry Rinker, Antiques and Collectibles appraiser, Author, Collector, Columnist, educator, and lecturer, host of WHATCHA GOT?
Maruchi Santana, Founder, the Brand Extension Agency
Debra Shriver, Vice President and Chief Communications Officer, Hearst Corporation, Co-Founder, UNICER Snowflake Ball
Katherine C. Tobin, Ph.D., Former Governor, U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors
Got an idea for a postage stamp? Send it to
Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee
c/o Stamp Development
United States Postal Service
475 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Room 3300
Washington, DC 20260-3501
Be prepared to wait at least three years for the Committee to consider your proposal. And no, you can't appear in person to plead your case. Not even on a broomstick.
More coverage of the debate here at CNN, where commentator Dean Obeidallah (himself a lawyer) points out that not only is the Harry Potter stamp likely to make money for a cash-strapped USPS, but his is far from the first non-US citizen to appear on a US stamp. Think the iconic Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, or the beloved French singer Edith Piaf. They knew how to create magic, too.
Interestingly, when I visited Ms. Browne's site, the page greeted me with a pop-up that offered me the opportunity for "unprecedented access" to Sylvia if I selected either one of two levels of membership (with different kinds of perks). I must admit that it's not just the offer of the copy of the book and newsletter that has me intrigued. What kind of access? Text messages? Emails? Phone calls? Tell me more and I might just be interested enough to try it out.