Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Vanished from the web- of more interest...

In my last post I told of a Masters Thesis that vanished from the web, into the night. I suspect I am one of the few people who wants a copy, hence this incident will not attract any wider attention. This is a contrast to today's tale of vanishing.

A while back a talented fellow named Kevin Ryan recorded and put on the web Dylan hear a who, which was 7 Dr. Suess stories sung in Dylan style. (Since I own what is probably the largest collection of Bob Dylan satires in the world-- 127 satires and an additional 14 songs that I don't count as satires but others do--- this was a must have.)

Kevin Ryan got a Cease-and-desist order from the Dr. Suess people to remove it, and he did, as you can see here. One version of the story, which seems correct, is in this article

One Moral of the story: If you find a SOMETHING on line that you may want to keep, DOWNLOAD IT. Do NOT depend on it still being there later. But there is a different issue here:

Is what the Dr. Suess people did legal? I do not know. Is what the Dr. Suess people did moral? I do not know. Is what the Dr. Suess people did stupid and against their own interests? Yes. I can picture someone hearing Dylan hears a who and going out and getting some Dr. Suess books. I cannot picture hearing it and therefore not getting some books. Businesses need to devolp different business models for the e-world in which we live. For example, they may have worked out a deal where a link to purchase Dr. Suess books is on that same website and/or an advertisement. It is likely there are other possiblities. For more on this, read the book wikinomics, which I might blog about at some later date.


  1. They should read the articles under the title "Promotional Piracy" by Karen Croxson...
    see http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1752-5209.2007.00012.x
    (longer version) http://users.ox.ac.uk/~ball1647/Piracy.pdf

    The case of remixing/satire should pose even fewer concerns, IMHO.

  2. Just making those links clickable:
    They should read the articles under the title "Promotional Piracy" by Karen Croxson...
    see this synopsis
    this this longer version

    The case of remixing/satire should pose even fewer concerns, IMHO

  3. 1)"Cease and Desist" does not make anything illegal. It is a scare tactic, that most individuals buckle under, because of the cost of potential litigation.

    2)Copyright is one of the really murky areas of law. Satire is a possible exception to strict protection. On the other hand, the courts have been quite forceful protecting not only text, but the character itself. Lawyers may argue that Horton has a certain image which has monetary value and is being usurped and changed by the infringing song.

    Whether the concerns of Dr. Seuss' lawyers are justified, and whether this is rational are very different questions.

  4. Let's not forget that a concern of a trademark holder is that they can lose their trademark if they don't make a suitable effort to protect it. I think this is the primary corporate motivation to stop these things. The value of the PR is minimal compared to the threat of loss of value if the trademark is lost. (I don't think this holds for copyright, but I'm not a lawyer.) In this sense, the Seuss estate acted perfectly rationally.

    (And indeed, to me, reading a Seuss book in the voice of Dylan doesn't reach the level of satire, and wouldn't be fair use as I understand it. I side with the estate.)

  5. (THis is an absurdly late comment, but I'll make it anyway.)

    Anon 4: I DO NOT CARE about
    the legality. I am saying that
    the company acted against its own interests. Your trademark argument may prove me wrong, but your notiong of ``siding with the estate'' misses the point.