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26.2.09

That’s right, Iceman: I am dangerous 

Photo by http://flickr.com/photos/asianz/Somehow, I think we are dangerous.
   Jim Donovan, Mark Di Somma and I caught up for the latest Vista Group luncheon today. (Natalie Ferguson had a meeting elsewhere.) We discussed type and chorizo sausage again, but my highlight was early on when Jim recounted his blog post on the job summit. There was the folly of throwing a coin three times, getting heads each time, and saying that a trend was emerging—which tied in to a discussion about the recession; the absence of project-management software that suited all our needs; and the curious world of blog syndication.
   As we ate (Vista was very busy today), a gentleman at the next table approached us and said something along the lines of, ‘I hope you don’t me saying, but the SIS would be very interested to see the three of you collaborating.’
   There are a few possibilities behind this statement.
   First, mistaken identity.
   Secondly, our reputations must reach to a far greater extent than we ever thought, and that the government should be worried about us. Or one of us is more important than we are letting on.
   Thirdly, we were filmed for one of Allen Funt’s shows.
   Fourthly, there must be something automatically suspicious about an Englishman, an Italian and a Chinaman sitting together. (I feel a joke coming on.)
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24.2.09

Free-trade deal with US does not require s. 92A or copyright law change 

Image by http://flickr.com/photos/fertala/I see that the PM has gone on record in the Fairfax Press to say that the Act 1994 would still need something like s. 92A if it were to be brought into line with other countries. He obviously thinks we are thick. Or he has advisers who don’t need to deal with these laws at the coal face.
   I have read the act. And I like to think I am reasonably familiar with other countries’ equivalents, especially the ’s, as I have to make use of its Copyright Act 1976 and its Digital Millennium Copyright Act regularly.
   My recollection of the various pieces of legislation is that New Zealand is duty-bound to respect and help enforce the copyrights of other signatory countries by convention. That means whatever is protected Stateside gets the same protection here.
    clearly does not know this, and that our own laws are actually superior to the US’s in many ways.
   Cross-border relations between equal sovereign states means that there needs to be give and take—and , the last time I looked, had not been admitted as the 51st state of the US or become a protectorate.
   The mechanisms are already there in the Copyright Act for, say, an American company to file suit against a New Zealand pirate. They are roughly the same as the steps that that American company needs to take to bring an American pirate to court.
   What the government—and the Opposition that introduced these amendments when it was in power—are saying is that New Zealand should make it easier for an American company to pursue a New Zealand national than an American one, just to kiss up to certain interests and secure a deal with the US.
   I am all for a free-trade deal with our American friends (with certain conditions) but not at the expense of our freedoms and rights—just as no American would give up theirs to trade with us.
   This kowtowing by the two major New Zealand political parties must paint a picture to the US and Red China that Kiwis are a bunch of pushovers who have no regard for their own people’s rights.
   The pressure still needs to be kept on the government to repeal ss. 92A and 92C, as proposed by United Future leader, .
   The Alliance Party, of which I remain a member, is also against these sections, and these are the only two parties (to my knowledge) that have come out against the government’s moves.
   Today’s statement by the PM and his Minister of Commerce is, by my reading, a slap in the face to all right-thinking New Zealanders—and confirms my earlier statements about a visionless, reactive Cabinet. I would insist on greater balance between the parties to any amendments—something that I am not confident the would even understand as this nation’s legislators.
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23.2.09

The avatars are back, not black—but we still need to keep the pressure on the government 

Thumbnail from http://flickr.com/photos/fertala/Might I revise my estimation of the Prime Minister upwards, now that he has listened to the protesters against ss. 92A and 92C of the Act 1994?
   Let’s say the jury’s still out, but and his Cabinet at least showed they could listen to the voices of the people when he announced that the amendments would not be effected till the following month, on March 27. I might give them a bit of leeway in terms of their understanding of .
   The section will be suspended, says the PM, if no agreement can be reached. It doesn’t mean a full repeal, but it’s a victory in some degree to those of us who joined the this past week.
   It was a poor sign that the government even entertained the sections, which give extraordinary powers to copyright owners—both legitimate and fraudulent—to make accusations against . Netizens were at risk of having their internet connection cut off.
   I am all for copyright protection—indeed, I have campaigned for extending it in the US to bring it in line with what we have here—but the current régime, without the sections, worked.
   Similar laws, as has been pointed out ad nauseam by others, have been rejected by the UK and the EU.
   Until today, the Hon of United Future was the only MP to have been vocal enough about the sections’ shortcomings to be picked up by the . And he seems to be the only MP out of the bunch who was willing, and who has been willing, to take a stand on issues, popular or otherwise. One can draw a contrast between him and the PM’s record to date.
   But Mr Key and his government showed an understanding of the will of the people, at a time when National needs all the support it can get for possible hard times ahead. They should be applauded for doing the right thing here.
   The petitioners numbered in the thousands, but I dare say they represented a great deal more who would have complained had they woken up one day to find a accusation made against them.
   And New Zealand has a low enough take-up as is. Laws such as those proposed would have seen that number stagnate or even reverse—in direct contrast to the government’s stated aims for education and the expansion of broadband.
   This does not mean those who joined the blackout should breath a massive sigh of relief. March 27 is not far off, and campaigners should still consider writing to their local MP to voice their concerns.
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21.2.09

The imbalance of the Copyright Act’s ss. 92A and 92C 

Thanks to Dave Crampton blogging about the Copyright Act 1994 amendments, I came across a very detailed review from lawyer Andrew Easterbrook, who has analysed the sections soon to come into force.
   In summary, Andrew says that the new law is not about ‘guilt upon accusation’, and not technically guilt before innocence. His words:

The reason people think it does: [s.] 92C says that receipt of an notice is one of the things that ISPs (including webhosts) should take into account in determining whether action needs to be taken in removing access to certain content stored on their servers. But infringement notices don’t prove infringement of . All they do is claim copyright has been infringed.

   As Andrew points out, there is nothing to stop a fraudulent infringement notice. The American method is arguably better on this front, where one provides a declaration which would see one be penalized for perjury if it is found to be false. There does not seem to be any balance in the version, which gives a lot of power to claimants. And, as opponents of the amendments point out, innocent people can be caught up in these claims.
   ‘There is definitely inconvenience and hassle and annoyance upon accusation but not guilt,’ says Andrew, and on a technical point he is right—though I suspect that from a layman’s point of view, being accused of something and being made to feel guilty is the same as guilt. However, I’m not arguing against him on this one.
   The major problem, from Andrew’s perspective, is this (original emphasis):

The biggest flaw in my view is that noted above—the fact infringement notices are the basis of judging repeat infringement.

He has a couple of other points, too, showing why the amendments are flawed. His second point I am less familiar with, but his third is important. An accuser has no real penalty for making a bad or fraudulent call against someone (unlike the US), the consequence being:

If I’ve been wrongly accused of copyright infringement I’d gladly stand up in court and say so. If it’s a borderline case … a court is the only place that can or should decide whether I have infringed or not. No way should the copyright owner itself get to decide this!

And that is where Kiwis are getting a raw deal, when you boil it all down. If this is tied in to National Government that feels it must kowtow to American lobbyists, which, as I said, would not be surprising given past behaviour, then it’s even more unreasonable that everyday New Zealanders are getting the short straw in any potential copyright disputes. The law, pre-amendment, was good enough for any copyright dispute that may arise between convention countries and, as I said, was probably stronger than comparable American legislation.
   But of course , of which the is comprised these days, must kiss up to big firms before they tend to the rights and of everyday New Zealanders.
   Regardless of interpretation, there’s still little denying that this is unfair legislation that denies New Zealanders a fair go. And why the has found so much favour among netizens, not just in New Zealand but worldwide.
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Copyright Act amendments sign of a clueless government 

This week, for those of you who follow me on Twitter, you will have noticed that I my avatar in protest of the amendments to the Act 1994 in . The new —to come in as ss. 92A and 92C—essentially (and I am highlighting only the negative bits here) gives copyright owners the opportunity to make an accusation against a netizen, with the ultimate result being that that person’s internet connection is severed. The opponents to this are touting it as a ‘guilt by association’ principle. The other provision is that anyone who provides internet services becomes an ISP under the law. Even Mr Stephen Fry, the world’s most famous Tweeter, has joined the protest by blacking out his avatar.
   You would think that given my background in fighting piracy I would be all for it. But it is unworkable. I don’t believe in the idea of guilt before innocence. If I find our copyrighted work on a server somewhere, there are already very useful provisions for getting it off, whether one is in the US or in New Zealand. I know, and I have used them, and I get results within a week. The proposed law, as far as I can see it, doesn’t work.
   However, the Government has no intention of listening to the protest and has indicated, by my reading, that it will allow the new laws to come into effect—even though the EU and the UK have rejected similar laws. The Hon Peter Dunne MP, leader of United Future, is one of the few who have actually said anything against the amendments. (Mr Dunne’s position is protecting authors is OK, but that these go too far.) But the plan for National is to see how it all goes.
   This is a major shortcoming and backs up all my accusations about National lacking a . , as its all-too-green MPs are going to find out with this law alone, is not a forum for experiments. Nor are laws ways to test the waters with the public. When the sections are repealed, as they only must, someone will claim to be a hero or heroine, when the reality is that the party will simply look slow off the mark.
   Juha Saarinen at The Techsploder suggests that the government is not going to listen because:

The reason our won’t listen is because they’re concerned about New Zealand having signed various WIPO treaties and that the country might not get a deal with the US unless the entertainment industry that vigorously lobbies the Trade Representative gets its way. If that’s the case, then we the voters should be told and not have our being sold down the river on the sly like this. Incidentally, my understanding is that the local rights holders people are not in favour of the law, but have to toe the line laid out for them by their overseas masters. Too bad, if that’s true.

   It probably is. What we do have is a government that functions at an operational level, as I have been trying to say for years about the -led bunch.
   I have nothing personal against the Prime Minister, and I will even say he is far more personable in real life than he appears on television—the same can be said of his deputy. However, actions do speak louder.
   Remember when Key, then leading the Opposition, tried to paint himself the local equivalent of a leader by holding an under-40s’ party in Auckland, inviting trendy types to be seen with him?
   When Labour refused to meet with HH the Dalai Lama during his New Zealand visit, Mr Key decided to stay away, too. Because it was safer, never mind the principles of self-determination.
   When I said it was terrible that the all got a 4 per cent pay rise on the first Monday Key and his MPs took office, nothing was done until President suggested his administration should not get raises. Key didn’t seem to realize it was a good idea till Obama suggested it. A principled stand, or one that looked good that he felt he could pinch? (He said it ‘showed leadership,’ when a two-month delay showed anything but.)
   I’m not sure what Key’s policies really are, even though he is in government, but he looks like a political kleptomaniac to me, ready to get on others’ bandwagons rather than come up with initiatives of his own. I do not mind this too much—but where does he stand?
   Right now the agenda seem to be : the support of (as I bore witness at the Minister of Ethnic Affairs’ splendid New Year function a few weeks back) and, if Juha is right, support of the United States’ trade policies.
   I have long been pro-American, in terms of the traditional principles of the US, and my family has a long history Stateside, but I will not support any legislation that weakens the of New Zealanders. Such a law would be anathema to Americans, so how would abuse of New Zealand freedoms be appealing to a trade partner? Unless, of course, the government sees New Zealanders’ rights as below that of a foreign country’s—Labour allowed Red Chinese “diplomats” to push our own cops around to bar people they didn’t like, and National, it seems, are quite happy to put New Zealanders second to American trade lobbyists.
   Regardless of who is in the White House, New Zealanders do not enjoy their sovereignty being sold out by their elected officials.
   The American trade lobbies, even in the entertainment industry, should know that in New Zealand is actually superior already to what they enjoy in the United States, and the mechanisms for pursuing pirates are already workable if they simply had the skills to use them.
   A blanket guilt-before-innocence principle—something that any American would regard as unconstitutional, or perhaps the principles of the Bill of Rights no longer matter to lobbyists these days, when it comes to non-Americans—is not the way forward in this country.
   We had Labour passing ex post facto laws and rules against satire, now we have this. There’s not much difference between the two in their understanding of democratic government.
   But visionless governments cannot see beyond the arguments of their own citizenry. Insistent that pursuing failed technocratic policies is the only way out of a recessionary mess—when sparking innovation and creating jobs are clearly more beneficial—democracy and giving New Zealanders a “fair go” may well take a back seat under Mr Key and his ministers.
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18.2.09

Here’s a new term for Facebook 

Several days ago, revised its , provoking outrage among its users. The effect of the wording was that the company owned anything you put on to the site, in perpetuity.
   From the Baltimore Sun:

Facebook quietly changed the terms this month but users became aware of it—and some outraged by it—when the popular Consumerist blog posted about it this week and got tens of thousands of hits.
   The change allows Facebook to keep user content such as photos and phone numbers even if members delete their accounts. Under the old terms, the license expired when users left Facebook.


   Today, Facebook announced it has reverted back to its old terms, and , perhaps realizing his PR blunders with the site’s redesign when he called its detractors a vocal minority, actually stepped in early to explain himself. The site even asked users for suggested wording.
   Mr Zuckerberg says that the language was too formal in its quest to protect itself when it showed, say, photographs of a member to someone else. But to extend it beyond the membership of the individual does seem excessive.
   The way in which it snuck in the new terms without alerting members was also problematic: it was almost an admission of guilt that the terms and conditions contained something we didn’t like.
   This is where the Facebook has been tarnished: repeated arrogance in the past has led to mistrust and negative .
   But I do congratulate Mr Zuckerberg—or whomever wrote his blog post on the Facebook site, since I doubt he types with em dashes as I do—for at least commenting. There is something about the boss stepping in to say something.
   The solution, as I have often stated in the brand consulting business, is to just say what you mean, and never mind the legalese.
   It’s not a naïve view. Law stems partly from convention and clear communication, as anyone who has studied statutory interpretation will tell you. A decent contract is one where there is consensus rather that confusion.
   So have a term that reads something like this:

Facebook does not own your material. You do. But in order for Facebook to show it to others, such as your friends, or potential friends, on the internet, insofar as you’ve permitted in your settings, you grant us a licence to do so. Facebook is not responsible for people taking and misusing your material after we’ve shown it. And we promise to delete what we have under your account when you depart as a member, but we might not know if someone else has used your content wrongly on this site and will not be able to act on it unless you tell us.

   Some lawyers might complain that common-sense clauses will do them out of work, but I don’t think so. In fact, it will make their work—which includes advising clients of the pitfalls of certain clauses—that much more valuable. They are meant to see the different sides of an argument, and I’m sure some will be able to see some of the problems behind the above.
   But as a starting-point, it says what Facebook says it wants to say. By all means, add to it to plug other holes if it indeed fears an accidental misuse of user content. However, I am pretty sure that if a company acts ethically and does not take users’ content as its own, no one would jump up and down in complaint.
   It’s only when become damaged, as Facebook’s has, that people’s radar goes on high alert to any little change.
   But may I add my own clause now, and sneak this in, since Facebook never bothered to alert me to its changes:

Facebook and Jack Yan agree to contract out of the standard terms and conditions of Facebook’s site insofar as content ownership is concerned. Jack Yan owns all content that he has uploaded to his Facebook account, or has the authority to upload such content. This content is not owned by Facebook, and never will be. Jack Yan grants Facebook a licence to use this content during the time of his membership for legitimate means, such as for linking, or redisplaying to friends and others he has permitted to show it to. Facebook agrees that it will delete, within 30 days, whatever Jack Yan has uploaded to his account if he chooses to leave the site. This clause is deemed to have been accepted by both parties by its presence on Facebook, just as any other term is when Facebook uploads it to its site.

   The last time I looked, people could still negotiate terms, and that’s my addition. Let me know, Facebook, if you don’t like it. Otherwise I deem that you have accepted it, just as you deemed that I had accepted yours.
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All quiet on the eastern front 

Addy, a reader of this blog, asked today if Dr Chong Yan Chong had written back to us at the Medinge Group about the possible appropriation of the Brands with a Conscience name. I am saddened to report that we have heard nothing from the Hong Kong Institute of Marketing, which does not paint it in a particularly good light. It almost seems hypocritical that it would be giving awards supposedly for , yet cannot respond to a charge that it has acted unethically in naming its awards.
   I am sure that ’s London office—as the matter was serious the letter was issued from there—would have alerted me to any response, since I guess I am the Group’s de facto law guy. I will check today, just to be sure.
   I am also saddened to report I have heard nothing from the British High Commission—not even an acknowledgement of my letter. Yes, I escalated my case to a formal , addressed to the High Commissioner, HE George Fergusson.
   The letter is a recent development and I am willing to give the High Commissioner a bit more leeway, considering he and I attended the same school—and I did let him know that I was a major supporter. (My name is not only on the honours’ board, but a plaque listing sponsors of the school’s rebuilding.)
   Right now I am unimpressed with it all. People do not write letters for leisure much—in an email age the formal letter is far more important than it once was.
   The next step in the case of inaction by HM Government is to get the Foreign Secretary, then the media, in on the act. It’s enough to make you wish that the 鬼佬 were still running the colony. As for HKIM, we shall see, as it is not my decision alone.
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15.2.09

JY Alia’s ready—download the specimen today 

JY Alia, from JY&A FontsI have finished the basic variants of my next family, JY Alia, and MyFonts.com should have it ready for retailing shortly. I’ve already uploaded the archives there.
   It’s been interesting to get back into a retail release, rather than the private ones we’ve been doing for a while. Our designers will tell you I neglected things at JY&A Fonts a couple of years back and in some respects we are still playing catch-up. The website, finally, got a nip–tuck today, and we’re continuing to work on it and updating the links.
   In 2005–6 we did receive some offers to update the website and we asked for proposals but nothing panned out. But that is another story—the main reason for writing is to show off the specimen pages and some shameless self-promotion.

New Zealand’s leading font foundry announces “workhorse” serif family, JY Alia

JY&A Fonts, one of Australasia’s most experienced , has added an aldine to its extensive range

Wellington, February 16 (JY&A Media) JY&A Fonts, founded by in 1987, has announced a brand-new typeface family, JY Alia.
   The -based foundry was the first to branch into digital type in its country, and has spent the last several years working on private commissions only. JY Alia marks its return to releasing retail fonts.
   Initially in four variants only, with extra weights, more complex versions and a second subfamily to emerge in 2009, JY Alia is described by its designer, Jack Yan, as a workhorse serif typeface, based on an aldine model.
   It is meant to complement his 1994–5 release, JY Ætna, which was based around the original Bembo design. JY Ætna was a successful family for the foundry and helped establish its reputation as a source of dependable, traditional designs.
   ‘The problem with JY Ætna, as I saw it, was that it wasn’t robust enough for text usage,’ says Mr Yan.
   He sees JY Alia, which is stronger but still approachable as a design, as a rival for other workhorse such as Adobe Garamond or Monotype Bembo.
   In technical aspects, JY Alia has between 3,200 and 3,300 kerning pairs and a full complement of eastern European and extended Latin characters in its OpenType and TrueType versions.
   Mr Yan cites both his own JY Ætna, based on designs by Francesco Griffo and Giovantonio Tagliente, and Plantin, by Robert Granjon, as his inspirations. However, he says JY Alia does not slavishly follow any model and merely has an aldine skeleton.
   The name originates from a role once played by American actress Alicia Witt.
   A PDF specimen for JY Alia can be downloaded from the JY&A Fonts website, currently being revamped, at <http://jyanet.com/fonts/font145.htm>.
   Mr Yan expects JY Alia to be available for licensing at MyFonts.com shortly, then at other retailers.
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8.2.09

JY Alia: three typefaces kerned so far 

Here’s JY Alia as of today, three variants kerned. Ligatures have been designed, but the below was set on an older Photoshop just to test the hinting and overall colour of the , so they are missing. Most Latin characters are supported. Bold Italic (my least favourite weight to make) is left to do.



   Then it’s in to the . Feedback is, of course, welcome.
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6.2.09

Trialling JY Alia Italic for the first time 


Since it’s a long weekend, I had to put in a few hours into my next family, JY Alia. I use Alia for displaying my emailboxes’ indices, but Eudora italicizes sent-mail entries. I was sick of seeing the oblique so I installed a semi-finished Alia Italic just so what would appear would be optically correct. Feedback is welcome. It’s mostly based on my earlier JY Ætna, which in turn was based on the original . I didn’t slavishly follow the Griffo–Tagliente model and reinterpreted where I “felt like it”.
   I was going to make it more Plantin Italic-like but eventually went back to a more traditional aldine style à la Blado.
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Ringing in the New Year 

If you are around , on Saturday, come along to Queen’s Wharf from 2 to 4 p.m., where Carolyn Enting (The Dominion Post’s fashion editor) and I will host New Clothes for the New Year, a celebration of fashion and dance to kick off the Lunar New Year.
   I was thrilled this year that the Asian Events’ Trust’s Stephannie Tims chose my Yan Series 333 typeface for display and supported our company.
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Entries from 2006 to the end of 2009 were done on the Blogger service. As of January 1, 2010, this blog has shifted to a Wordpress installation, with the latest posts here.
   With Blogger ceasing to support FTP publishing on May 1, I have decided to turn these older pages in to an archive, so you will no longer be able to enter comments. However, you can comment on entries posted after January 1, 2010.


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