Round up #263: parody legal in the UK, Kindle case for those with grip issues

Round up #263: parody legal in the UK, Kindle case for those with grip issues

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Kindle case for those with grip issues

I have a sibling with a medical condition that makes it hard to hold on to things…lots of things get dropped.

We happened to be visiting today, and my sibling told me about a Kindle case which had been recommended in a class…and which really worked very well:

MarBlue Atlas (new) for Kindle Case, Purple (Fits Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle and Kindle Touch) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

You can’t see it at all well in the product pictures, but it has a broad strap on it…roughly the size of a deck of cards (well, an almost two dimensional deck of cards).

My sibling is able to slip a hand in there, and then can even turn the Kindle upside down without dropping it.

It could be useful for a lot of people who want to make sure they can hold on to a Kindle (even in the bath, for example).

It’s $24.99 for basic colors at time of writing, and is also available with a customizable design (which could be good for gifts, or if the person is in a group living situation).

One other thing: we don’t use leather, and this one is all synthetics.

My Fire Phone tells me where to go

No, it wasn’t insulting me. 😉

I’m liking my

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

more as I use it more.

Today was the first time I tested it out for navigation (using the native Maps app).

It worked fine. 🙂

I liked the timing of it…with my S4, I sometimes wouldn’t get the upcoming directions at the right time…too soon or too late. One test isn’t enough, of course, but the timing seemed quite good. It didn’t announce the next move way ahead (once I was on the right path), which meant it was less “chatty”. Oh, and if it had to re-route (because I went a different way), there was just a little chirrupy sound, and it seemed to re-route very quickly…within half a block, I’d say.

I’ve also been playing

Planet Puzzles (at AmazonSmile*)

which came on my phone. It’s a puzzle game: you have a Rubik’s Cube looking thing, and there will be two squares of the same color on it. There might be several pairs. All you have to do is “connect the dots”, coloring the squares in between, say, blue and blue.

That sounds easy…it very quickly became quite a challenging puzzle!

It has the dynamic perspective, the sort of 3D effect.

I had a New Millennial (born roughly between 1980 and 2000) relative try it (and play around with the phone). The response was good. 🙂

August Kindle First books


Kindle First (at AmazonSmile)

books are out for August, and this time, I had an easy choice.

Prime members can choose one of these pre-release titles…not to borrow, but to own.

The choices this time are:

  • Fantasy: The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
  • Mystery: A Cold and Broken Hallelujah by Tyler Dilts
  • Historical Fiction: Portrait of a Girl by Dörthe Binkert (translated by Margot Bettauer Dembo)
  • Romantic Suspense: Crazy for Her by Sandra Owens

I went with The Paper Magician…

If you wait until they are released (in September), you should be able to read them through Kindle Unlimited, and borrow them through the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library).

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Public Domain Detective

I haven’t reported on this one yet, but the U.S. Supreme Court, according to this

BBC article

and other sources, declined to hear an emergency appeal by the Conan Doyle estate, effectively ending (at least for now) a legal battle over the copyright status of Sherlock Holmes.

It’s a bit of a tricky case, but very interesting and potentially with sweeping implications (including for fan fiction, in my opinion).

It goes like this:

A lot of the Sherlock Holmes stories are in the public domain in the USA. That means that the public owns them: they are not under copyright protection. Anybody can publish them, distribute them, profit off them, and make media adaptations of them without first getting permission.

Ten of the stories, however, are not.

The estate argued that a new work which is “informed” (my term, not theirs) by the last ten stories would infringe upon their rights if unauthorized.

The suggestion was that a new work with Sherlock Holmes as a character might infringe their copyright…because those last ten stories were under protection.

The declination to rule clears the way for new Holmes works…although not, of course, for reproduction of the last ten, without permission.

In a related story, the British House of Lords has just okayed the use of parody there, according to this

The Drum article by Angela Haggerty

and other sources.

I think most Americans don’t realize our relatively freedom to parody works (which I’ve done many times in this blog).

When you parody something, you can use the original characters (even the names) if what you are doing is critiquing that work. In the USA, we see it all the time…Saturday Night Live, Mad Magazine, and so on.

That hit me years ago as the explanation for a mystery: why are so many comedians (including ones on SNL) working in the USA Canadians? John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, Jim Carrey, Eugene Levy…the epiphany was that Canada doesn’t specifically have parody as a defence in copyright cases. In order to make parodies, it makes sense for them to come to the USA to practice their art. That’s not the only reason, I’m sure, but I would guess it is a contributing factor.

Another way that the UK is updating copyright laws is to make format shifting legal of items you legally own, when you do it for your own use:

Intellectual Property Office PDF

I’ve been saying for some time that the USA needs to make this explicit change as well.

Currently, it isn’t clear that it is legal for you to digitize a p-book (paperbook) you own, if it is not in the public domain…even for your own use.

Oh, the odds are that no one would come after you, of course, but you can’t judge morality and legality just on whether or not you will get caught (at least, I don’t).

The hard thing in the USA is that it might be legal…this is one of those fuzzy areas that the Copyright Office often has.

I’d like to just see a straightforward statement: format shifting for your own use of legal items (just like it is now in the UK) is legal.

It seems unlikely that we’ll get that soon, though. We need a major overhaul of copyright: I’ve suggested one possibility would be to go to permanent copyright in exchange for much greater Fair Use provisions for educational and non-profit uses. That may have been my most controversial article to date, even though I didn’t advocate for the idea, just explored it:

Should copyright be permanent?

A great example of the value of Kindle Unlimited

I was working with a physical therapist who recommended a book to me:

Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change your Life (at AmazonSmile*)
by Michael Merzenich
4.3 out of 5 stars, 74 customer reviews

I’m guessing this will be the kind of book I won’t want to re-read.

It’s price in the USA Kindle store right now is $9.95…but I could borrow it for free as part of

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

So, this month, I’ve already almost saved enough with KU to pay for itself…with one book. 🙂

What do you think? Should it be legal to format shift books? Will the US make any major changes to copyright in the near future? If so, what would you like to see? If you are on the trial of KU, will you pay for it when that trial is up? Which Kindle First book did you pick? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


6 Responses to “Round up #263: parody legal in the UK, Kindle case for those with grip issues”

  1. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I had the opportunity to visit my local ATT store a few days ago to check out the Fire Phone. I have to say that my local store is giving it a lot of prominence (they cut the iPhone space in half to make room for the Fire Phone FWIW).

    I have to say the phone is very easy to use. One thing that struck me right away: if you are already a Kindle Fire user, you going to find this to be the no brainer of no brainers — as it follows the KF UI logic quite closely. The pundits are right in that it hooks very tightly into the Amazon eco-system, but as they get wrong with the KF they also get wrong with the FP: Amazon is not the only ecosystem you can use.

    One thing I didn’t like: the color black — shades of Henry Ford (:grin) — I know I could get a case, but adds to weight, and none of those currently on offer appeal — I guess I’m used to the colorful poly-carbonate housings on Nokia phones.

    I like the carousel, but the screen full of icons — not so much.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      I’m going to disagree a bit here, or at least give a different impression.

      When I first started using it, I did see the similarity to the Kindle Fire, and that helps. However, much of how I use the phone now doesn’t have an analog to the tablet. I flick and tip…physically moving the phone to invoke commands.

      I wish it was more hooked into Amazon! The need to download an app to access Prime music…that was a bit weird. That should be integrated with your music, or at the least, the app should have come pre-installed.

      I got a (very) cheap ($5) case for my Fire Phone:

      Case for Fire Phone – Bear Motion Slim Back Cover Case for Fire Phone – Sandy (Black) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping)

      I just wanted some drop protection: I carry my phone in a microfleece pouch, so it doesn’t get scratched and I have something with which to clean it. 🙂

  2. Man in the Middle Says:

    On copyright, I believe there is now far too long a protected period already. A friend has been arguing today that economic inequality is a huge and growing problem, and so far as I can tell, extending copyright lifetimes only makes that worse.

    The original goal of copyright was to protect the creator of content, and perhaps their immediate heirs. Now we are instead protecting huge corporations that may not include anyone who ever even met the original content creator.

    Free Mickey Mouse!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Man!

      I’m not sure that the original U.S. copyright term of fourteen years was intended to protect the immediate heirs…lifespans were shorter, but not that much shorter. 😉

      Let me state a question for you, and I’m curious as to your response.

      A person creates an item which has a commercial value. They license that item to someone else who can better commercialize it, and the creator is compensated for it. The item still has a commercial value.

      What justifies the government taking that item away from the people now legally controlling it and giving it to everybody else?

      That’s question one. 🙂

      Second, how does extending copyright lifetimes increase economic inequality? I’m not clear on that one. Here’s that scenario.

      A disadvantaged individual writes a book. That’s one nice thing about being an author: there isn’t a lot of investment in materials necessary.

      That individual licenses the book to a publisher. The book is a success for decades, and the royalties raise the author out of poverty…and enable the author’s descendants to also stay out of poverty. Hasn’t that decreased economic inequality?

      In today’s world, we can also have the author independently publish the book (no traditional publisher involved). The author’s grandchildren, having inherited the rights through the estate, are again kept out of poverty by this legacy. Shortening copyright terms will increasingly affect individuals and their heirs, not just big corporations.

      Now, I can see a hypothesis that when a book falls into the public domain, more people can exploit it, by publishing it or adapting it for media without having to compensate the creator or the creator’s agents. I find it unlikely, though, that many people are seeing their economic strata change by publishing public domain works…since other people can do so as well, and there is a good chance the work is available for free. It devalues the work…and my guess would be that the fewer books of value there are out there, the more publishing tends to be controlled by large entities.

      Finally, instead of freeing Mickey Mouse, eliminating the copyright protection on the character seems more akin to me to forcibly making someone an orphan (admittedly, a common Disney trope) 😉 , and throwing them out into the street to be exploited by anyone who chooses to do so. Mickey Mouse is largely free now: it’s the use (and potential abuse) of Mickey Mouse which isn’t free.

      Summing up my questions for you (and your friend?):

      * What justifies terminating copyright protection?
      * How do longer copyright terms increase economic inequality?

  3. Man in the Middle Says:

    If you have the time, here’s a link to an excellent free 45 page paper on WHY our nation’s founders wanted copyright periods to be brief: It answers all your questions well.

    Key sentence: “Without the conditions of an original writing and a limited term, copyright would enable publishers to lock up all writings and retain the key.” Having already experienced this in England, they certainly didn’t want a repeat here.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Man!

      I’ve got at least a three hour drive ahead of me tomorrow…maybe I’ll listen to the paper with text-to-speech during that (with ezPDF Reader).

      I’m not clear on how the copyright in America is seen by the authors of the paper as a radical change from England’s Statute of Anne…which also had a 14 year term, renewable once (although there was a “grandfather clause” for some older books that made the term 21 years rather than 14). It’s always seemed to me that the law in America was an imitation of the law in the “old country”, not a radical departure.

      What I was really interested in, though, was your opinion about the government taking away someone’s property, and how longer copyright increases income disparity…I don’t think either of those will be answered by the paper. 🙂

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