Solar sintering, Super 8

Paul Raven @ 28-06-2011

Interesting: take the two things deserts have an abundance of – bright sunlight and sand – and use it to make stuff. Solar powered 3D-printing, basically. [via m1k3y]

Now, this is an art/design project, so more of a spur-for-thought than a realistic business proposition – I wouldn’t wanna have to maintain all the bearings and drives on that machine in a sandy environment, for a start – but the underlying point is sound: materials and energy are abundant. We just need to think of new ways to source and use them.

Speaking of 3D printing, though, there’s definitely a whole new flotilla of work coming down the pike for hungry IP lawyers. Via BoingBoing, we find Paramount Pictures sending a C&D notice to some guy who knocked up a rendering file for a gimcrack from the movie Super 8; apparently some other outfit will shortly be selling “official” versions of the box, but I’d be willing to bet the idea never occurred to Paramount until they’d seen this dude had taken the time to do it himself. But just how similar would the reproduction have to be to be considered a breach of copyright, anyway? I rather suspect that line will get drawn by whoever can afford to take it to court for longer than the other.

This isn’t the time for another debate on the validity of IP law – I think most of you know my stance on that already – but it’s always a good time to point out that this stuff is going to get harder to police and/or enforce at a geometric rate, assuming fabbing and rendering technologies continue to cheapen and mature as they are at present. We’re slowly approaching the Napster moment for physical objects, and I remain to be convinced that anyone in line to be steamrollered by the rise of ubiquitous reproduction of 3D objects has any plan in place beyond “sue ’em until they go away”… which is their choice to make, of course, but it’s not a strategy that seems to have worked very well so far.


The trouble with drones

Paul Raven @ 19-10-2010

When military hardware and software IP disputes meet: via Slashdot we hear of a pending lawsuit that may ground the CIA’s favourite toys, the Predator drones. In a nutshell, a small software firm called IISi alleges that some of their proprietary software was pirated by another firm, Netezza, who then sold it on to a government client which was revealed by further presentations of evidence to be none other than the Central Intelligence Agency. Plenty of grim irony in there, even before you factor in the allegations from IISi that the hacked software may render the drone targeting systems inaccurate to the tune of plus-or-minus forty feet. So it’s not all bad news for the CIA: at least they can start blaming collateral damage on shoddy outsourcing.

In other drone news, Chairman Bruce draws our attention to Taiwan, whose ministry of defense confirms that it is developing UAV designs of its own. We can assume that, in the grand tradition of Taiwanese electronics products, these will be cheap-and-cheerful alternatives to the more respectable brands of the Western military-industrial complex, ideal for tin-pot totalitarians and networked non-geographical political entities working to tight budgets. Hell only knows where they’ll get the software from, though.


The Gaming Fields: crops, copyright and DIY genetic engineering

C Sven Johnson @ 30-09-2009

Sven Johnson reports back from the Future Imperfect once again. This time the IP boot is on the other foot, as a keen gamer casts a copyrighted GM crop in an extremely unfavourable light

Future Imperfect - Sven Johnson

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I suppose I don’t need to ask how many of you have succumbed to the latest “farm game” revival craze. If you’re reading this column you’re almost certainly playing Genetic Seed, the latest in a seemingly never-ending stream of post-aquapocalyptic, real-time strategy MMOs; this one the obvious offspring of such classics as Food Risk and Germplasm II. However, if you’ve somehow remained oblivious and don’t want to google for an explanation, think of it as the cross-pollinated spawn of a scorched-earth Spore and one of those open source gene-splicing applications… only instead of critters, you play God with the plant life. The better your clan’s food, the stronger its fighters, the bouncier the babes, and so on. Continue reading “The Gaming Fields: crops, copyright and DIY genetic engineering”


Dune roleplayers in Second Life squelched by IP takedown notice

Paul Raven @ 09-04-2009

The big brands may have all but abandoned Second Life, but the still-growing (yet still somewhat troubled) metaverse platform remains a haven for niche-interest communities… like roleplayers re-enacting locations and events from intellectual properties such as films and novels, for example.

Second Life Dune simulation (with sandworm)

One such small community is based around Frank Herbert’s famous Dune series, acting out conflicts between the Fremen and House Harkonnen, riding sandworms and so forth. Or at least they were until very recently, when the estate of Frank Herbert issued a legal notice for the group to discontinue their reappropriation of controlled intellectual property. [image by Wagner James Au, borrowed from linked article]

In his write-up, Wagner James Au makes the point that there are other unofficial RPG sims in Second Life that make use of controlled IP (from franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek, for example) but who have been allowed to continue by the legal types – whether that be because they consider it to be not worth the hassle to shut them down, or that they can see value in fans propagating their memes without being paid to do so, remains uncertain.

Au also claims the Dune take-down notice to be the first such official occurance in SL; I’m not so sure about that, as a friend of mine from The Wastelands claimed to have been stomped by Bethesda Software for selling Fallout-themed items from a shack to cover his land tier payments. It may have been an exaggeration, but his bitterness about it suggested otherwise.

But the question remains: how effective is this sort of take-down at preserving the image of a brand or property? Sure, you may prevent people from making a little pocket-money off the back of your copyrights, but the PR value of letting them be (or, heaven forfend, encouraging them) could be pretty significant… as could the inverse.

That Dune sim has been running for a good year and a half; I remember visiting it when it first opened. Now, if it’s taken Herbert’s estate that long to catch on to a genuinely tiny community of roleplayers, things are only going to get harder. After all, there’s only one Second Life at the moment, but in a decade or so there’ll be hundreds of them.

Will big brands hire researchers to trek through digital realities in search of reappropriated brands, characters and memes, like IP bountyhunters? Will kill-filed private sims harbour markets where you can buy cheap and unofficial avatars based on properties owned by Disney, Pixar and all the rest?

Who knows. One thing can said for certain, however: if the lawyers wanted to protect the sanctity of Dune as a much-loved brand, the first thing they should have done was kept Kevin J Anderson well away from it…


MALLORY by Leonard Richardson

Paul Raven @ 01-04-2008

A new month means a new story here at Futurismic … and this one has got everything.

Seriously – geek hackers and classic arcade games, electronic Darwinism and domestic espionage, venture capital and Valley-esque start-ups … and a healthy dose of intellectual property panic. Leonard Richardson‘s Futurismic début is quite a piece of work!

I should also point out for the benefit of the easily-offended that there’s a generous sprinkling of profanity in “Mallory”, right from the outset. Still keen? Good – you won’t regret it! Click on through and read the whole thing … and please leave comments for Leonard to let him know what you thought of the story.

Mallory

by Leonard Richardson

Vijay had been playing video games his whole life, but he’d never really become addicted to one until the first incarnation of Fuck Me. Adding an element of real-time strategy to the already-frenetic Gestalt Warrior combined construction, emergent behavior, and blob-themed violence in a way that both Vijay and the Selfish GAME found satisfying.

Continue reading “MALLORY by Leonard Richardson”