Ramblings, citations and "brainwaves" of a college librarian in Toronto. 475 square feet refers to the size of my home, not the size of my office or library.

Unofficial Guides and Copyright and Trademark Infringement

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"Makers of the wildly popular "World of Warcraft" online game now face a lawsuit from an eBay seller who claims he was improperly barred from selling copies of his own unofficial gaming guide. The complaint argues that his book does not infringe on any of the companies' copyrights for several reasons: The book presents a disclaimer on its first page about its "unauthorized" nature, contains no copyrighted text or storylines from the game and makes "fair use" of selected screenshots under copyright law, the complaint said. " Get the complete story at CNET News.

People are developing new content that challenges existing commercial players. Fan fiction, fan blogs, parody videos, parody ads, how-to guides, and many others. Luckily we have lawyers to snuff out any little flowers that may be blooming. Dojinshi practices in Japan are perhaps a glimse into the future whereby official products exist alongside unofficial creations in the market place. Each feeding consumers to each other. I remain optimistic.

When I first read this story, it got me thinking of all the content faculty are developing, that is to some degree sourced (with and without attribution) from copyright protected materials. Luckily most remains uncommercial at this time. But with budget pressures, more departments are asking faculty to cut back on photocopy costs, so they are selling their works to students on a cost recovery basis. Some "course-packs" or "course-notes" are legit (royalties are paid to copyright holders) but many are not. The ease of online dissemination makes tracking faculty practices even more difficult. Maybe the vast majority of faculty creations are legit, maybe they are not. We'll never know.

I just worry about a future day of reckoning, and what the fallout may be.

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