Liveblogging from a science fiction convention
Richard Stallman was a member of a panel discussion called “Copyright: Theory and Practice Today and Tomorrow.” I have never seen him in person before. He is extremely articulate and plays with his long hair when he is not speaking. He said: “Never use a product with DRM [Digital Rights Management] unless — you know how to break the DRM.”
At the same panel discussion, a librarian stood up to speak about orphaned works, that is, works which are covered under copyright law but where the copyright owner can no longer be found. “Librarians want to make orphaned works available,” she said. Librarians, she claimed, want to reach as wide an audience as possible, but under current copyright law it is illegal for them to digitize orphaned works; this limits how libraries can make information available to the people they are trying to serve. She wore a costume that you might see in an 18th C. historical re-enactment: white blouse, bodice, full skirt.
This is one of those conventions where people wear costumes. Earlier, I saw a woman wearing leopard-skin-pattern cloth over most of her body, a wide black belt, and an orange cape passing by a man in black leather pants and a black leather coat and a fuzzy red lobster hat. Just now, a woman walked by wearing a very short latex miniskirt. Now a man just walked by wearing a large grey tri-cornered hat, and a colorful quilt as a cape.
The film series here at Arisia has been excellent so far. Highlights this evening: Our Man Flint, a 1966 parody of the old James Bond films, which is subtler and much funnier than the Austin Powers franchise. We saw it in a 35 mm print that was in poor condition; but even in poor condition, I still prefer film to digital video. Also fascinating was a six-minute film in 16 mm called “Heave Away.” It looked like an amateur film, with bizarre footage of the decommissioning of a NASA spacecraft; the soundtrack was a recording of a sea shanty performed by obscure folk singer Helva Peters. This film represents what people did before YouTube videos. And later this evening, they’ll be showing a new print of Metropolis, with live organ music.
Carol just arrived. “This is fantastic,” she said. This means: Boy, there is unbelievably good people-watching here.