Tag Archives: derivative works

Tech Coed

My father-in-law (in Massachusetts) was in town for his fiftieth MIT reunion — class of 1958! He took my partner and me to a couple of events, and we noticed among the red-jacketed men a few red-jacketed women. By various accounts, there were nine to fifteen women (out of a thousand students) in the Class of ’58 at MIT, a half dozen of whom were at the 50th reunion.

Tonight, five of them — representing mathematics, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, and physics — got together and revisited a song they sang back in the 50s, called something like “My mother was a Tech Coed” — apparently a takeoff of another MIT favorite, “My father was a something something engineer.” We chatted with some of them tonight for a while, and got to hear amazing stories about classes, the women’s dorm that held only 17 students — so the rest had to live off-campus — and other experiences of MIT in the 1950s.

But the song was the highlight, and they were kind enough to give us permission to reprint the lyrics that they sang — they said there were probably ten or fifteen verses altogether in the original. The first four are what they recalled of those verses. The last two they wrote at the reunion.

She never held me on her knee
But she was all the world to me
That lady with the pointy head
My mother was a Tech coed.

She couldn’t cook she couldn’t sew
But she could fix a radio
She used T-squares to make a bed
My mother was a Tech coed.

As she approached maternity
She also got her PhD
And started working on Pre Med
My mother was a Tech coed.

Her cocktails were a potent brew
She learned the trick in 5.02*
She always bought her cakes and bread
My mother was a Tech coed.

Now 50 years have come and gone
I still remember dear old mom
Her dying breath she taught me well
Above all else, that Tech is hell.

We are the queens of gray and red
The very coolest Tech coeds.

* Second semester freshman chemistry.

fannish media studies

A friend just sent me a link to this fan video about the TV series “Supernatural”. What an awesome demonstration of the power of technology to enable media criticism. A thousand feminists could comment about exploitative or graphic visual depictions of violence against women in a series or on TV generally, and it would never have the effect of this video. … And to conclude: this is why DRM and the DMCA suck. Because they prevent (or try to prevent) people from being able to do this.

tacky but lawful derivative liberty

Statue of Liberation Through Christ; photo by Rollin Riggs

A fundamentalist mega-church in Memphis has repurposed the Statute of Liberty. [7/5 nyt] Lucky for them the Statue is in the public domain. Shake your head at its awfulness at thestatueofliberationthroughchrist.org. Christian nationalism, indeed.

Maybe someone should remind them that the Statue’s French.


copyright versus writers

“I wish with all my heart that you will be able to publish a new translation.”

Simone de Beauvoir, 1982.

Another example of copyright being used by the copyright owner to control or restrict dissemination of a copyrighted work — regardless of the likely desires of the creator. Ampersand at Alas, a Blog writes about publisher Knopf’s control over Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, citing Sarah Glazer’s editorial, “Lost in Translation”, NYT Aug. 22, 2004. Apparently, Knopf refuses to allow a new French-to-English translation to fix the (apparently) glaring problems with the first translation. This editorial is over a year old, so I just checked amazon.com as a quick & dirty proxy for a Books in Print search. All the English versions I found still cite to the Knopf translation (copyright renewed in 1980).

Ann Bartow’s commentary on Sivacracy includes this very pointed observation:

Once again copyright law is preventing rather than incentivizing the creation and distribution of important ideas and expression.

When the government brings the force of law to bear to prevent a person from using particular words or images to communicate, and/or to prevent her from distributing or reading certain words, to some of us that seems a lot like censorship. Copyright laws are a restraint on speech, but one that is tolerated by the First Amendment because the copyright system is supposed to incentivize the creation and distribution of useful, creative works. That’s not what is happening here.

Like most authors, Simone de Beauvoir probably had to capitulate to every demand made by her publisher just to see her book in print. Copyright laws could be re-written to at least slightly improve the balance of power between authors and publishers, but don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

update 12/21: Alas, a Blog has heard a rumor that Knopf may have agreed to a new translation, and links to another article on the issue.

peter jackson: piracy (vs. derivative works)

ordinarily i’m interested in quotes from artists & creators that evidence awareness of or interest in non-copyright maximalism. but in today’s NYT article (“King Kong vs. Pirates of the Multiplex”) there was a quote from Peter Jackson:

“Piracy has the very real potential of tipping movies into becoming an unprofitable industry, especially big-event films. If that happens, they will stop being made,” said Mr. Jackson in an e-mail message from New Zealand, where he is putting the final touches on his version of “King Kong.” “No studio is going to finance a film if the point is reached where their possible profit margin goes straight into criminals’ pockets.”

which I thought was interesting compared with an off-the-cuff conversation between Peter Jackson (PJ), Fran Walsh (FW), and Philippa Boyens (PB) on one of the LOTR DVD director commentaries:

PJ [5:42]: It’s unlikely to find a place actually because there’s nowhere to put it now really even in The Return of the King. So maybe in the 50th anniversary box set we can put it in somewhere.

FW [5:54]: Wouldn’t it be fun to do an edit of all 3 films in chronological order?

PJ: Like the, The Godfather box set?

FW: Oh is that what happens there?

PB: Did they? Oh cool.

PJ: Yeah.

FW: You could put that scene, you know, right after the, the council meeting.

PJ [6:09]: Well, you could, that’s right. I mean, well, people could do that with their – I shouldn’t suggest this, but people could, could do this with the sort of interesting software available on home computers these days, it’s, um, it’s something that any, any fan could do.

PB: Maybe they could do it for us, and we wouldn’t have to do it ourselves.

posted here 2004/12/5, on The Two Towers, Extended DVD, Directors’ Commentary, Disc 2, 5:42 – 6:24

derivative works on intelligent design

two great tastes that taste great together: (critiquing) intelligent design, and derivative works.

Ernie Miller rewrote Pastor Niemöller’s classic work for the modern era of attacks on science:

First they came after biology
and I did not speak out
because I was not a biologist

Then they came after geology
and I did not speak out
because I was not a geologist

Then they came after astronomy
and I did not speak out
because I was not an astronomer

They they came after my discipline
and there was no one left
to speak out for my discipline.

First, I love this; what an excellent point. The sooner all rationalists figure out that ID is an attack on reason, education, and the scientific method, the better.

But I can’t help but note that, viewed in light of the annoying Dr. Seuss case, Prof. Miller’s re-worked version probably falls on the wrong side of the infamous parody/satire distinction. And Siva has republished it! (The original poem seems to have been written in 1938 & so barring complications of international publication, renewal, etc., I presume it is still under copyright.) Clearly the seemingly straight & narrow path of copyright balance leads directly to Flamboyant Copyright Anarchy! Truly, we are all casual copyright infringers now.