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Leonicka Valcius

Leonicka Valcius: April 2008

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Goin' Green

My mom went sale hunting this weekend. Without me mind you. I was lucky enough to stay home and watch hours upon hours of mind numbing TV. Fun. She did well and found plenty of discounts, clearances, and two for one deals. So she was in a generous mood. In honor of Earth day she decided to buy a reusable eco - friendly tote bag - you know to carry all the stuff she bought.

So she gets to the checkout line to pay for the bag (which was on sale :). The sales woman scans the bag, rings it up and - get this - puts it in a plastic bag! I could have died when my mother told me. It just goes to show you that no matter how many people try to do the right thing, there will always be an idiot who screws it up.

Happy Earth Day everybody

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Pirating Ideas: Is No Thought Safe?

I recently came across two articles on that really made me realize how tenuous copyrights can be.

The first article was about a lawsuit between George Lucas's company Lucasfilm Ltd. and a Mr. Andrew Ainsworth over the rights to the stromtrooper helmets. Apparently, Mr. Ainsworth, a prop designer who made the helmets for the 1977 Star Wars movie, has been selling replicas.

The second article was about another lawsuit. This one feature J.K. Rowling against a Mr. Steven Vander Ark. Mr. Vander Ark is planning to publish a book called Harry Potter Lexicon based on his website.

These situations are similar in several ways. Both feature billionaires against the average Joe, tempting the casual observer to side with the underdog. Both of these "average Joes" seem to be trying to cash in on someone else's success and, considering the size of the other party's pocketbook, who can really blame them?

What concerns me is this concept of intellectual property. That is, who owns the idea? I strongly doubt that Rowling and Lucas are suing for money. Perhaps I'm being over idealistic, but I think they are suing for the ability to say "It was my idea first."

Notice, Rowling had no problem with Mr. Vander Ark when he was just runnig a website. In the article, she admits to visiting and appreciating his website. She did not feel violated until he tried to make money of it.

Because of the vast popularity and wealth of the Star Wars franchise, it is easier to say that Lucas is suing Mr. Ainsworth out of greed. But it is also because of the ubiquity of Star Wars that Mr. Ainsworth can not credibly say he did not violate any copyright laws. I am sure Mr. Ainsworth has worked on plenty of other movie sets (if he is indeed a prop designeer by profession) but somehow I doubt he is making replicas of those props in his garage to sell online. Is it fair for him to take advantage of Star Wars' popularity simply because he had access to some forms?

At the end of the day, it comes down to pirating. pirating has become the pariah of the music industry and it is slowly extending to other forms of media as well. It is unfortunate because it may deter many talented people from publishing their work. Why share your masterpiece when some hack is just going to rip you off later?

It is also damaging to those who simply want to explore their creativity. There are dozens of websites devoted to fanfiction. These site allow fans to write their own story using characters from a show, movie, etcetera. These sites appeal to overzealous fanatics (that is typical Harry Potter or Star Wars fans) who want to see their favorite characters live beyond series. What happens when overcautious authors or filmmakers start targeting these well-meaning fans because some hack who wasn't so well-meaning set a dangerous precedent?

Mr. Ainsworth and Mr. Vander Ark would best serve themselves and their community if they would come up with there own ways to make money. If Mr. Ainsworth is such a creative prop designer he should start his own line of action figures or become a sci-fi costume designer. If Mr. Vander Ark is seriously pursuing a writing career, he could consider creating a mythical encyclopedia of his own, then developing a fantasy series besed on his entries. In both examples they would make alot more money and it would be their idea.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Say Auf Wiedersen to Runway?

Now, I always take AOL news with a grain of salt but I was pretty distressed when I saw this article. Apparently, there is a good possibility that season 5 of Project Runway will move from BRAVO to the worst of all TV networks - Lifetime!

I know, I know, the horror is overwhelming. But it seems like the process is already underway. In my opinion, Lifetime had a good reason for trying to nab such a great show, but ultimately it will be a lose-lose situation for all parties involved.

BRAVO: Project Runway is a great show with a passionate fan base. Losing it would be akin to losing an arm - not fatal but really really painful. Not to mention the huge amount of advertising dollars that comes with Project Runway. TRESemme hair care, L'Oreal Paris makeup, Saturn,, and ELLE magazine all poured money into making Project Runway a succes. Where is that money gonna go? Lifetime?

Lifetime: Sure they would be getting a great show to add to their line up. But the question remains: will the fans follow? I for one wouldn't watch Lifetime for anything. Also would Project Runway really improve their ratings? If people did tune in to Lifetime for Heidi's sake, they'd watch Project Runway and only Project Runway. Most likely they would use DVR to record it and skip the commercials - meaning that Lifetime advertisers would not reach a wider audience than they did before.

The Fans: After four succesful seasons on BRAVO, is it really necessary to move the show? BRAVO has a certain culture that the audience knows and loves. Lifetime has no culture. Or if it does, it is a dull bland culture that is about as enticing as cardboard flavored tofu. I could not imagine watching Project Runway and then seeing a commercial for Lifetime's next made-for-TV-movie about battered women. It just doesn't fit.

In other words no one would profit from this deal. Things should stay just the way they are: Project Runway continues to be one of the Top 5 shows on BRAVO and Lifetime continues to be a pathetic channel for pathetic women who have nothing better to do with their pathetic lives. That's just my opinion. But then again that's all that matters ;P

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