Saturday, December 24, 2005

Mill Avenue Nights: Christmas Eve Day

Christmas Eve day - this'll be a neat one on Mill Avenue. 

They have decked the streets with lights, wrapping the treesin a glittering wonderland. They wrap the trunks in rising spirals and dripfrom the branches in an icicle haze. Gigantic multicolored fir trees of lightshang from the nearby power-transfer station towers. One of them isred-white-to-blue, looking like a flag scrunched up and hung; the other isgreen and red like a tapestry of candy-cane lights. 

People wander the streets aimlessly, the street preacherscome out to shout about commercials on TV and nobody listens to them as usual.However, even while the street kids sit, wrapped up against the relative chill,and talk to passersby more people pause to listen and talk to them. Theychuckle and laugh at our jokes when we ask for change for booze or debauchery;grin and hang their heads when they have no money—but offer cigarettes whenthey have them.

Tourists stand on the corner of 6th street, glaring across the way into the courtyardof Coffee Plantation. The coffee house and the now dead building that onehoused Duck Soup are surrounded by a cascade of lighted trees—igniting thecrossroads like a Beltane bonfire. The half-light of the Christmas lightsilluminates walkers into an ever shifting masquerade pool of people, facesflickering in and out of focus here and there. Suddenly brought into clarity bya flash, and then dimming away into the hustle-and-bustle again. 

Smiles all around as we descend into the night.

Hoping, wishing, wondering—what this New Year has broughtand will bring to all of us.

technorati tags: , , ,

Thursday, December 15, 2005

City of Heroes Litigation Settled

I just saw this little gem today, posted on by one of our wonderful editors, Atari.

Marvel Entertainment, NCsoft Corporation, NC Interactive and Cryptic Studios announced that they have amicably settled all claims brought by Marvel and all claims brought by NCsoft, NC Interactive, Inc. and Cryptic Studios, Inc. The parties' settlement allows them all to continue to develop and sell products, but does not reduce the players' ability to express their creativity in making and playing original and exciting characters. Therefore, no changes to City of Heroes or City of Villains' character creation engine are part of the settlement. The parties have agreed that protecting intellectual property rights is critically important and each will continue aggressively to protect such rights in accordance with all applicable laws. While the terms of the settlement were not disclosed, all parties agree that this case was never about monetary issues and that the fans of their respective products and characters are the winners in this settlement.

WomenGamers.Com :: View topic - City of Heroes Litigation Update

Thank goodness, I was about to forcefully boycott everything Marvel, after writing them an open letter on the subject.

Aside from the reality that Intellectual Property does not exist except in name and the uses of the City of Heroes costume and character engine extend above and well beyond any possible infringing uses—Marvel had chosen to engage in bully tactics to beat up on NCSoft.

As copyright holders, Marvel is granted certain protections, but in a sort-of-way the near-effect creation of a costume in City of Heroes seems to me a lot like making a costume and wearing it out for Halloween, or in the back yard. Comic books are so ubiquitous and costume types so varied that it is difficult not to come close to one that is copyrighted—but when a creation is made in this manner, one that isn't designed to become the actual copyrighted item, the expression of the design must always trump the copyright holder.

I would like to think that people who produce comics aren't becoming megalithic evil entertainment monopolies like Disney. Comic books and superheroes are a powerful American icon, they are becoming part of the mythology and the heritage, and the sort of behavior of lashing out at someone like NCSoft because they're getting close is the worst bad-neighbor behavior of capitalism.

My feelings on the bad state of copyright and its wicked progeny aside, I am pleased and proud of Marvel for choosing to take a more lenient route, settling in a way that permits the fans to be fans and not be punished by their bully-stupidity.

However, I cannot but feel a little cheated; because the culture that creates this sort of behavior has just been thrown another bone.

technorati tags: , , , ,