Copyright, fair use, and officiating in professional sports

This was originally about an article about an NFL officiating blunder on I had the link saved as a draft with the idea of wrapping up the article as soon as I could watch the video.

However, today, I went to watch the video. I instead got a black screen with “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim from NFL Properties, LLC.”

Clearly, the use of a short video clip of part of an NFL game to illustrate a point is fair use, at least in spirit if not actually in letter. My comment (still pending approval at the moment) left on implies that the real reason the NFL told YouTube to take it down was the fact that it made their officials look bad, and the number of other NFL clips that have been allowed to remain on YouTube tends to back that up. Shame on you, NFL.

I still haven’t gotten a chance to actually see the video that the article is about. If anyone has a copy, please let me know in the comments. I do look forward to writing the article I originally planned to write.

Hidden traps in the Windows 7 beta EULA

As reported in Ed Bott’s recent blog article, Microsoft is up to their usual nasty tricks with the license for the beta version of Windows 7.

Even though it is far from new, I find the prohibition on benchmarking particularly obnoxious. A company that truly believes they are releasing a superior version of an existing product should be able to accept a benchmark with a previous (and intended-to-soon-be-inferior) version as yet more feedback. But this isn’t just any company, this is Microsoft, and publishing a benchmark subjects you to immediately losing your privilege of running the Windows 7 beta.

Continuing in this same theme, Microsoft has specifically forbidden the use of the Windows 7 beta in a production environment. That, combined with the prohibition on benchmarking, suggests very strongly to me that this is just a pacifier for the people who really hate Windows Vista and Microsoft just wants people to casually kick the tires and rev the engine a little bit, not really test what new PCs will ship with this summer.

And of course, there’s the expiration date. On 2009 August 1, your Windows 7 beta chariot turns into a pumpkin. I suspect this can and will be defeated by some enterprising souls, but given the de facto corporate police state of Windows starting with XP with regard to validation and activation, it probably won’t be easy.

I’ve looked back enough, so I’ll wrap this up before I turn into a pillar of sand, or something.

Completely unacceptable conduct alleged by ex-KBR worker

(Warning: potentially offensive content, especially if you follow the linked story.)

Found this one in the Houston Press about a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against KBR. For those unwilling to follow the link, I’ll summarize by saying it started with a worker rubbing himself on a male co-worker’s desk, escalated to leaving a sexually suggestive picture on that same co-worker’s digital camera, defacing the exterior of the camera’s memory stick with a “$%#&ing rules” taunt, and got much, much worse from there.

It shocks me that any corporation thinks it can let this type of conduct go unchecked. The particularly horrifying part of this is that this is KBR, and this happened over in Iraq.

I think this is the one story I’ve seen so far that shows what is truly wrong with outsourcing what should be the military’s jobs to the private sector. If anyone in the military did this, any branch, any rank, he/she would already be in prison for it after a court-martial. There would be none of this “it’s your own damn fault” and then later “pack your stuff, you’re on the next plane back home, you’re fired” to the victim of this outrageous conduct.

I wish the plantiff in this lawsuit the best; this is a suit that needs to be won. For all of us, the decent people in the United States of America.