Category Archives: What is Your Take

Reductio ad absurdem (clown edition)

Not too long ago I was engaging with my academic colleague and professional clown (some of the more witless from my former business lives might ask “is there a difference?”) Patrick Pennefather (

Our topic of choice, as it frequently is, was the inadequacies of intellectual property as a concept, and how those inadequacies are magnified by the uncertainties inherent in legal definitional processes. Patrick, using his company name ‘Design for Humans’, then created the following rather telling diagram for a “patent process claim” to make his point:


A particularly surreal quality of our ensuing email dialogue (which of course also went directly to proving Patrick’s point) emerged when I proposed removing certain logos included in his original work so that the diagram could be publicly posted. Here is how that went:

Jon: “…Just to be safe, can you send me a version with the logos removed?…”

Patrick: “…I can send you without logos but then it’s no longer art:)”

Jon (trying in vain to be witty): “Who is Art?”

Patrick: “art is a friend i once knew currently lost on an island of doubt”


Pretty well says it all on the subject of legal confusion undermining the creative process…


P.S. Patrick’s blog, suitably titled “The Unknown Collaborative Zone” is at

Games as Art & Expression Examined.

In “Games Are Not Coffee Mugs Ep#1” Prof. William K. Ford of John Marshall Law School and an expert panel delve into the history of games and legal decisions which did not and then did recognize the expressive aspects of the medium. For additional context check out Nostalgia Critic’s analysis “Are Video Games Art?” and Paola Antonelli’s stirring tale of “Why I brought Pac-Man to MoMA”.


Greg Lastowka on Publicity Rights, EA & Ryan Hart

Terrific Gamasutra article which ties to the topics from Week 9 from Prof. Greg Lastowka of Rutgers Law School. He argues that EA should prevail in defending Ryan Hart’s legal action arising from not be compensated for use of aspects of his image in EA’s NCAA Football. As his title “The Erosion of Creative Freedom? The Battle Over Publicity Rights” suggests, the danger Prof. Lastowka sees are the impacts on creative freedom, and he suggests that the inequities suffered by Hart are for best for the NCAA to deal with, not the Courts. A highly recommended read. Find it here:

Thoughts, reactions?


Andy Baio on Remix Culture & the Law

An interesting and articulate piece regarding the real world impacts of copyright on “remix” creators was recently posted. The talk was given in Portland in January by Andy Baio, a writer and coder who had some particularly interesting experiences involving litigation initiated by the photographer Steven Meisel. All of which relates directly to one of the key questions in the course – whether even reforming fair dealing/use would be enough or whether something akin to a “Right to Create” needs to be established?



Natural Violence

To supplement my point that video games CAN teach violent tactics, here’s an example of a practice among FPS “camping”. Yes this is also taught in movies, but with games, you reiterate the same thing over and over – sniping people in a bottle neck from an angle they weren’t prepared for. “It certainly works in paintball”  It’s not just “camping” though, it’s anticipating where the other guy is going to set up shop. Knowing that a melee weapon might not alert other members of the opposite faction that anything is out of the ordinary (the Assassin’s Creed franchise makes teaching this tactic a substantial portion of the game). No, I don’t think the average gamer is incited to go on a melee weapon rampage in the office/school, but if they were to do so, I think it’s safe to say they are a more “weaponized” version of themselves after playing 500 hours on an FPS with sprites programmed to behave more and more human.

[viewer discretion – depictions of death ‘R’ rating, it’s a scene from Saving Private Ryan]

Don’t get me wrong, I think the benefits of video games far outweigh the detriments, but I’m not going to pretend that watching a violent movie, or immersing myself fully in a highly realistic video game where I happen to learn advanced combat tactics doesn’t have any effect on me at all…