Copyright and non-essential parts of screendump

Karl at Cyberlaw reports of a recent interesting copyright case decided at the Swedish Court of Appeal (Svea Hovrätt).

The case (2008-07-01, FT 685-08) concerned the question whether a screendump of one web page (containing pictures) being displayed on another web page constitued a violation of copyright of the pictures.

The court found that, first of all, the pictures displayed on the webpage which was pictured and displayed on another web page were not protected under 1§ of the Swedish Copyright Act (English version Pdf) but under Photolaw 49 a§ Swedish Copyright Act.

This difference is a remnant of the time when photographs were not covered by Copyright law at all. Today photographs are covered by Copyright law but the length of protection differs from other typical works protected under copyright law.

Since the images were small and hardly distinguishable to the naked eye they made up an unessential part of the the exception in 20a§ is applicable. According to this exception there is no need for permission to use works which appear in the background or are an non-essential part of the picture.

Shooting Back

Providing cameras and video cameras to different groups is not an uncommon method which allows the subjects to bring their own lives into focus without the direct mediation of the “outsider” camera/filmmaker. Naturally all uses of technology contain risks of bias and slanted views – nobody still believes that the camera never lies? Even if many still believe that fashion images are “real”.

In January 2007, B’Tselem launched Shooting Back, a video advocacy project focusing on the Occupied Territories. We provide Palestinians living in high-conflict areas with video cameras, with the goal of bringing the reality of their lives under occupation to the attention of the Israeli and international public, exposing and seeking redress for violations of human rights.

In projects such as these technology in the form of the cameras and Internet as a distribution medium can be used to empower those involved in a conflict while still providing a preaceful alternative way of coping with everyday violence.

Mix Tape is back

Remember the mix tape? Struggling to choose the right music for that special person… Well if you thought that geeky experience was lost – think again! From Suck comes the mixed USB stick disguised as a tape.

(via Neatorama)

PhD Wordle

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like.

I chose to upload my PhD thesis 🙂
click here for larger version

I am spreading

So I was looking at Slideshare which is basically a site where lots of people upload and download powerpoints. Besides avoiding other work the reason for me being there was to see whether this would be a good tool to use. Or maybe it’s enough already with the whole 2.0 thingy.

Anyway while looking at all the slick (some are very slick) presentations I saw something I recognized. The first slide in a presentation on How to Describe and Improve your Business Model (not my area at all!!) was one of my photo’s from my Flickr account.

The ppt maker (Alex Osterwalder) has even followed the CC instructions when he used my original image of a silver spire in Dublin (original photo here) and attributed me in the notes section of the slide. Very nicely done. I was surprised to run across myself like that, after the initial surprise I must say I really like it. Wow, Creative Commons works 🙂

Women in Science

The numbers differ between the disciplines but there is a basic sad truth in academia and that is that the higher up you climb the less women are left. Anna Kushnir writes in Wired:

Take my graduate school for example: My class was made up of eight people — seven women and one man, or 7 to 1. He was Snow White and we were the seven dwarves — each with a remarkably appropriate nickname. I was Grumpy, should you be curious to know.

Snow White and at least four of the dwarves have continued on to postdoctoral research jobs. That is a 4 to 3 ratio of women who went on to do a post-doc to those that chose alternate career paths.

Everything is adding up so far, right? Lots of women are around. Lots of science is being done. All is well.

The next set of numbers is slightly puzzling, however. That is the ratio of female to male professors in our department, at a well-respected academic institution, is 48 to 7 men to women.

Interesting reversal, isn’t it? We go from 7 to 1 in grad school to roughly 1 to 7 in professorships.

There are plenty of reasons and explanations but none that adequately explain the whole process. One of the reasons is that, unfortunately, academia for a long time been a boys club where girls are not welcome. This is a really silly reason but who said that professors were not silly?

Calvin & Hobbes G.R.O.S.S. club (get rid of slimy girls)
by Bill Watterson

Data retention is pointless violation

Not only is data retention a potential violation of civil liberties but it now may turn out to be pointless according to the Max-Planck-Institute for Criminal Law. (via Gisle Hannemyr)

A report (PDF) from Max-Planck-Instituts für Strafrecht about data rentention was recently featured in and the online edition of Der Spiegel. Below is a summary in English.

According to the study, the logging and retention of certain telecomminications traffic data for six months that was made compulsory in Germany in January 2008 will only have mariginal effect and traffic data will be of use in as little as 0.002 % of the total number of criminal cases. This is within the marigin of statistical error and the annual variation in criminal cases solved is one hundered times greater.

This finding corresponds to estimates from Bundeskriminalamts, who in a separate study from the summer of 2007 says that data retention will incease the percentage of solved crimes “from 55 percent today to, at most, 55.006 percent.”

The Max-Planck study also shows an exponential increase in use of traffic data by law enforcement, from 5000 queries in year 2000 to about 41000 in the year 2005 (see summary and figures on pages 77, 90, and 402 in the report). In Bayern traffic data queries increased by 60 percent from 2006 to 2007 according to this report.

With respect to types of crime, 50 percent of IP-address queries concerns fraud and 25 percent concerns copyright violations. The argument that traffic data are needed to prevent terrorism is not supported by the statistics.

The study also warns about dangers from abuse due to unauthorized access to the stored data by inside or outside agents at well as the potential to use such data for “strategic surveillance” of large segments of the population.

Books as decoration

For some books are more than just reading material they provide collectively a visual and tactile experience. Some would even go so far as to compare it to a fetish – Candida Höfer’s gorgeous book Libraries (some images here) is hot stuff! Others are more creative with their design of shelves – check out thirty creative bookshelves here.

Via Boing Boing another focus for books emerges – no longer is content king but over at Book Decor you can now buy old leather bound books by the meter. This is not really new but what I like is there different styles and their descriptions. In particular these two:

Hand Picked – This books are carefully Hand Picked for their beauty and craftsmanship. They are highly detailed with gilt (gold) with beautiful images such as flowers, animals, people, cherubs and intricate patterns, Embossed on wonderful leather, the workmanship is exquisite and rarely seen in today’s mass produced books. Our Hand Picked books are truly a small work of art. They will grace any home with there beauty for years too come. Available only in limited numbers and most likely will never be recreated. Truly a book anyone would be proud to have in there home.

Less Than Perfect – The Less Then Perfect books do not quite meet our usual standards. These books have bits and pieces of the spine missing, maybe a small tear. Sometime they may be in a color that is less desirable, however none of these books are falling apart. When put together they look beautiful and it is only on closer inspection that it is noticeable that these books have been lovingly used over many years, and as such have developed that worn patina look that some find very desirable.

Now its OK to love the books without caring to read them. How strange that the artifact has become greater than the content.

Photography galleries

For some reason this week my online world has been heavy on some really cool photo galleries. Richard Ross has really creepy book on the way in which architecture can be used to control people The book Architecture of Authority is creepy not only because it shows your typical jail cells, detainment rooms and even images from Guantanamo – it’s creepy for the pictures of more ordinary locations like schools and offices. Check out the online exhibition here.

Photo: Richard Ross

A second online gallery is Mr Toledano’s Bankrupt is pictures taken of empty offices. Moving stuff with beauty to be found in the small things. Or as Toledano puts it: “everywhere I went I found signs of life, interrupted”

Photo: Mr Toledano

A third gallery is Joseph Holmes’ Workspace which as the title suggests is pictures of peoples workspaces – good voyeuristic stuff. Just the kind of photo essay I enjoy.

Passionate scientists

Explaining what scientists do is complex, and it doesn’t get easier if you are one of those scientists who hasn’t got a lab coat. Occasionally, when asked, I just say that I am a teacher which everyone “gets” and has an easy, positive relation to.

Peter Medawar wrote in Pluto’s Republic that:

Scientists are people of very dissimilar temperaments doing different things in very different ways. Among scientists are collectors, classifiers and compulsive tidiers-up; many are detectives by temperament and many are explorers; some are artists and others artisans. There are poet-scientists and philosopher-scientists and even a few mystics.

I love this quote and use it regularly in my teaching. But there is one factor which unites many scientists across different scientific disciplines and that is passion – most scientists are passionate about what they do (some maybe a bit too much)

A nice example of the passion science inspires among its practitioners (yes we are proud to be geeky) is represented in Carl Zimmer’s Science Tattoo Emporium:

Underneath their sober lab coats and flannel shirts, scientists hide images of their scientific passions. Here they are revealed to all.

Only a truely passionate person would get tattoos such as these


This is a formula called the Y Combinator. It is a fixed-point combinator in the lambda calculus and was discovered by Haskell Curry, a rather prolific mathematician and logician whose work helped start Computer Science.

“What this formula does is calculates the fixed point of a function, which in turn allows for recursion by calling on that fixed point; recursion is perhaps the single most important concept in Computer Science. Being a computer scientist and a mathematician, this formula is very important to me and represents the innate beauty of computer science and mathematical logic.” –Mark

…and only those who share a passion (but no the subject) understand and enjoy them!