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Many scientific studies confirm common sense. It's the process of turning assumptions into fact.

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> but I feel like the Open Source community could do itself a lot of favors by avoiding this kind of tone.

To be accurate, that comment was from a security researcher at Google commenting on a closed-source software project. I agree that the tone of the comment was not beneficial, but I don't view it as being associated with or reflective of the open source community.

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Forget the specificity of Micky Mouse, as that character just represents Disney's brand. Do you really think a company should lose their brand after X years? Disney doesn't care about Steamboat Willy, they care about people selling knock-off mouse ears, which comes with Willy entering the public domain.

I was just listening to an NPR segment on how Elvis Presley's image has become tainted by cheap crap, and that inspired Frank Sinatra to ensure the same doesn't happen to him. His biggest fear was that his face would be sold on a coffee mug. Should anyone be able to do anything with Frank Sinatra's likeness now that he's passed?

Should the estate of George Lucas be able to create new Star Wars movies in X years to compete with Disney's Star Wars movies in effort to undo everything they added to the universe "Because it wasn't George's vision", even though he sold off the rights?

I know I'm throwing hypotheticals and edge cases out there, but I just want us to focus on the issue deeper than "What reason is there to keep Steamboat Willy out of the public domain?" There's no good reason. But there are tons of good reasons to ensure people can't profit off an active brand's image.

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The system for doing that is called trademark.

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Why should a company have control of "art" into infinity just because they make money on it. Kind of the tail wagging the dog. Copyright was giving someone limited "ownership" to something they created for a limited time so we could create jobs for artists. Think of all the derivative works that aren't created because they are blocked by copyright.

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But there are tons of good reasons to ensure people can't profit off an active brand's image.

So, should a brand get to control in perpetuity whatever they choose to associate with themselves? Should we extend trademark protections to whatever a brand wants to self-identify with, even if it falls outside the traditional scope of a mark?

Basically, I'm getting to the question: should it be the brand's responsibility to choose a protectable mark, or should it be on society to accept a loss to the scope of public domain whenever a brand has a lack of foresight? (and/or arrogance they could keep getting laws written for themselves?)

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I am fine with trademark protection, but you can't say that everything sold under a trademark constitutes the trademark itself. As for this...

I was just listening to an NPR segment on how Elvis Presley's image has become tainted by cheap crap, and that inspired Frank Sinatra to ensure the same doesn't happen to him. His biggest fear was that his face would be sold on a coffee mug. Should anyone be able to do anything with Frank Sinatra's likeness now that he's passed?

I favor a 'longer of (alternatives)' term that can persist beyond death, so if you finish your great work of art and drop dead the following day it doesn't become public domain as soon as you hit the ground, but that post mortem copyright should not last very long - maybe 20 or 25 years, the typical length of a human generation, and thus enough to support a newborn heir to adulthood, for example.

Elvis' image is only 'tainted' to the extent that the availability of cheap crap makes it more difficult to sell premium-priced crap exploiting the same image. I'm old enough to remember reading of his death in the newspaper and while I'm well aware of the existence of tacky Elvis products none of them reduce my enjoyment of an Elvis musical or movie performance if I'm feeling nostalgic. Elvis is as great as he ever was, you just can't charge as much for stuff with his name on it as you used to.

Sure, I understand Frank Sinatra not wanting to end up as the commercial equivalent of a punchline, nobody would. But let's be realistic here, his estate is licensing his recordings and likeness to sell whisky right now, so why should they enjoy a legal subsidy to operate a Cult of Frank Sinatra?

Should the estate of George Lucas be able to create new Star Wars movies in X years to compete with Disney's Star Wars movies in effort to undo everything they added to the universe "Because it wasn't George's vision", even though he sold off the rights?

Of course, yes. Would we be better off culturally speaking if people had to get a Shakespeare license before staging one of his plays, to ensure that no theater goers ever had to endure a shitty Shakespeare experience? Of course not.

I don't think brands and the products put out under then should enjoy legal protection in perpetuity, and for that matter I'm not sure corporations should either. In wills and trust/contract law, there's a 'rule against perpetuities' because giving people the power to set conditions that last forever just doesn't work out well in practice and so individual autonomy is sacrificed on the altar of the larger social good. When we apply property interest to immaterial things like texts or legal bodies, they should in some way reflect that which they imitate; just as a corporation is a legal embodiment of a collective human action - ie we treat it as a person for administrative simplicity - intellectual property is the legal instantiation of private human knowledge and that privacy should not be so strongly protected as to exceed human discretionary capacity.

Put another way, persons involved in a commercial negotiation centered around an exchange of information for consideration has the option to reject inadequate offers, withdraw from negotiations, and keep the valuable information to themselves until such time as a better offer appears or the value of the information expires. We grant a property right in certain kinds of information because of the considerable costs of creation relative to the tiny costs of reproduction, and I believe there is a sound economic and moral basis for doing so - but that basis must be rooted in some cognizable measure of individual human experience, which after all is the only sort of experience we can honestly lay claim to. Collective organizations may well have experience (in the sense that an ant colony may be capable of cognition, experience, and consciousness notwithstanding the limited mental capacity of individual ants) but the threshold of eusocial consciousness remains obscure and may be formally undecidable using existing methods. Insofar as legal rights and responsibilities accrue to individual humans, the median individual human experience must therefore remain our legal yardstick for the time being.

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Just to list a few of the valuable properties off-hand: Homepage, Mail, Search, Tumblr, Flickr, Finance, News, Sports, Fantasy sports (including daily fantasy). Some of the bigger ones are billion+ dollar properties. Others are hundreds of millions.

> It's not clear to me that it actually does anything worth paying for at this point.

Few users of Google and Facebook actually "pay" for those services, they're primarily all advertising funded companies.

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In what sense are they billion dollar properties?

I didn't mean that users would pay for them; I meant that I don't see how one could use them to make money, or at least enough money that it would be worth bothering to acquire them.

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Mail is the #1 e-mail provider.

News is massive.

Sports is massive and has one of the top Fantasy operations, a growing market.

Homepage is still the homepage for people who set homepages.

All are monetized through one of the most effective ad selling operations out there.

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This is news to me. I suppose it is because I now move into more restricted Internet circles (not so much time to waste as I used to have), but I haven't visited anything Yahoo!-related since 2004? 2005?

Glad to hear they still have a following. I thought GMail and Hotmail were bigger than Yahoo! Mail but what do I know!

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Entirely dependent on who decides to buy Y! Mail. Safe to assume it'll be around for a while though, since straight killing Y! Mail doesn't make much business sense.

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If Yahoo could find a way to start charging for legacy Yahoo email addresses without enraging a sufficient portion of the installed base, they could have a pretty lucrative business right there.

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This can be answered by the question "Is Flickr profitable by itself?" If so, someone will certainly buy it. If not, who knows.

My guess, someone will buy it and it'll languish for a year or two as the product strategy is developed and migration of technology occurs, then the new vision by new owners will be executed.

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Yahoo has done a pretty good job with the languishing part all on its own. Though, snark aside, I think part of the issue is that it's not entirely clear what a next-generation photo site with a pro/prosumer slant looks like that's different from today. (And, of course, whatever changes you make are going to be hated by some percentage as was the case when flickr went through a redesign a few years back.)

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Despite the "wall" between the two organizations from a knowledge-standpoint, there isn't one from a financial standpoint. If you had ambitions to be a $100+ billion company (see: Uber), and think Google might eventually want to compete with you, why would you want to fuel your competitor via your own success?

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In 1835, the New York Sun (a serious newspaper [0], 1833-1855) published some articles [1] describing alien civilizations on the moon that can be seen through a new telescope in South Africa.

From Wired,

> The Sun, ever the champion of the public good, claimed, no joke, that it was actually all a public service… to get the nation to stop worrying so much for a second about that whole slavery thing.

So, there are good journalists, bad journalists, "journalists" who aren't even journalists, and they've all existed since the birth of the printing press.

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sun_%28New_York%29

[1] http://www.wired.com/2014/12/fantastically-wrong-thomas-dick...

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That's pretty much the approach of Virgin Galactic. Reasons why it works for them, but not for NASA would have to be explained by someone more qualified. I do know that VG barely gets into LEO, whereas NASA's requirements are much higher. In any case, I presume the scientists at NASA (and SpaceX & co) have considered just about every alternative, and the current approach still remains the most efficient for their needs.

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Orbital Sciences is doing something similar, IIRC.

They are the two big approaches to cheap space being done now. 1) Be cost-effective at making rockets, 2) launch from jets. My money is on #1, which SpaceX is doing, but #2 has some things going for it that could prove me wrong. #2 is also strictly limited in just how big you can make a payload, while for #1 you can get up to around 200 ton payloads before things start working against you.

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The issue is that people confuse getting into space with getting into LEO. Virgin Galactic are not even close to getting into LEO – their plan is to fly a ballistic trajectory which takes them just above 100km before falling back to Earth.

Since they don't need to achieve anywhere near the required velocity to enter LEO, they can use a much smaller solid-fuel rocket engine and launch from a jet.

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I think there are strength/scaling issues with winged aircraft that, given the fuel requirements for any sizable payload to orbit even from the speed/altitude a jet can achieve, makes this extremely challenging, but its something people keep working on.

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I'm sure this has been studied to death, but my guess is that the extra risk during flight/separation, and the extra weight of designing the rocket to handle the different forces encountered when attached to the mothership are not compelling enough to make it worth the extra few % in delta-V. (SpaceShipOne went to Mach 3, not 25, so the boost was greater by percentage)

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Not even LEO; so far, all of Virgin's flights have been strictly suborbital.

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Seems far more likely that in 40k years, humans will have discovered the ability of interstellar travel. Heck, at that point we could go out and fetch Voyager 1 ourselves before it comes within 1.6 light years of AC+79 3888. If we can't in 40k years, it's likely not possible that we'll ever leave this solar system. It could be that's it's just not physically possible. But more likely, do we survive long enough to develop that technology?

I've always viewed the Golden Record as a way to make humanity feel better about its future. The need to leave a legacy behind is core to who we are, and that's exactly what we did with those two discs. We left something behind that will survive for 1 billion years, with the infinitesimally small hopes that someone will find it. But, it makes us feel good.

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This is a related effort http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KEO

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