Day: December 20, 2011

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

08:29 – I finished the chapter on Porifera and Cnidaria. Today I’m starting on invertebrates.

09:49 – I was just reading an article the other day about the huge decline in use of the GPL and similar encumbered licenses among software developers in favor of more permissive licenses like BSD, Apache, and even public domain. I’ve never considered the GPL and related licenses “free” in any sense other than Orwellian, so it’s good to see developers abandoning the GPL in favor of making their code freely available and reusable.

Free versus encumbered licensing bears on the biology book project as well. Ironically, even though the book will be released under a Creative Commons license, in practical terms I can’t use images or other material that’s CC-licensed, let alone Gnu-licensed, because of potential encumbrances on the book. To use such images, I’d have to contact the copyright owners, if they can even be found, and get them to sign physical documents provided by O’Reilly’s legal department to give us legal permission to use the material without encumbering the book.

That’s simply nuts. (Not O’Reilly’s legal department’s requirements; they’re just doing their jobs to protect O’Reilly and us.) The whole idea of CC is to make material freely accessible and reusable. If it’s easier just to re-invent the wheel, what did CC licensing accomplish? Nothing. So, all of the images in the book will be either ones we’ve shot ourselves or ones that have been released into the public domain. And, not being hypocrites, we’ll release all of the images we shot for the book into the public domain so the next author who needs, say, a cross-section image of a Hydra will have our high-res images available to re-use freely.

15:17 – Speaking of copyright garbage, I really hate it when they disappear stuff off YouTube. The other day, I noticed they’d pulled the parody Literal Video version of Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart, which was actually better than the original. My favorite lines?

“Get out of my way! I gotta pee!
Never mind. I just went on the floor!”


“What the effing crap?
That angel guy just felt me up!”

Oh, well. At least that video is still available in modified form. Someone reframed it and added a cat to the screen to prevent YouTube’s auto-deleter from finding it. The same can’t be said for a video that was run on French TV of Cyndi Lauper doing a haunting version of Walk Away RenĂ©e with Peter Kingsbery. That used to be on YouTube, but it’s gone.

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