The year isn’t even a day old, and yet I have only one day at home before I have to fly somewhere for work. Tuesday’s flight to Las Vegas for CES will mark the 25th time I’ve begun that pilgrimage; this, as they say, is the business I have chosen.
The early read on Gov. Kathy Hochul signing a bill that had passed the legislature six months earlier was that it represented a major win for the “right to repair” movement, but the governor’s last-hours amendments of the Digital Fair Repair Act significantly weakened some of its force, and I’m glad I took a little time to look into this story before writing this post.
After more than two decades of covering intellectual-property policy, writing about the arrival of a new year’s worth of works into the public domain has been a real treat the last few years. The latest edition of this staple gave me a chance to give a shout-out to the first movie to feature a robot leading character, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis; I have yet to see it, but now I can watch it without paying for it or feeling guilt about not paying for it.
Updated 1/2/2023 to add a mention of the Patreon post.
Weather permitting, Monday morning will see me resume my annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas to cover CES. I expect to see a much smaller version of the usual gadget show, thanks to all of the exhibitors that have opted out of a physical presence; for once, CES traffic may be tolerable.
After writing about the overdue expansion of the public domain for Forbes at the end of 2020, I had to revisit the topic for PCMag on the eve of a new crop of creative works entering the public domain. This piece led to one of the more amusing correction requests I’ve ever gotten: The piece as posted envisaged a literary mashup of A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh and Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises in which Pooh and Tigger would journey to Hemingway’s 1920s Paris to indulge in some drunken debauchery, but multiple readers noted that Tigger doesn’t make his entrance until Milne’s The House on Pooh Corner, which won’t enter the public domain for another two years. I regret the error.
I’m beyond tired of seeing companies shove a mass password reset on their customers without explanation, and this time I had an opportunity to quiz one company briefly about what led to this kind of customer-hostile move.
I had meant to write last year about the overdue reopening of the public domain after 21 years of its expansion being closed off because of the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. But my friend Glenn Fleishman beat me to it with a terrific story for Smithsonian. Fortunately, Congress refrained from passing yet another retroactive extension of copyright terms, allowing me to celebrate the impending unlocking of 1925’s creative works for reuse and remix–and explain how we haven’t seen the old intellectual-property-policy script get yet another remake in Washington.