Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Car Rental Rates for the Mathematically Challenged

In today's outbox:


I need some help with the math here ...
On 2/28/07, XXXXX Car Rental wrote:

28 days rental of an Mini car (MCMN) will cost £276.00gbp plus £102.00 (taxes(17.5%)) = £378.12. Weekly rate £69.00 and daily rate £9.00.
A daily rate of 9 x 7 = 63, so why is the weekly rate 69?

And 9 x 28 = 252, so why is the 28 day rate 276?

Don't you have a weekly rate that is less than 7 times the daily rate, and a monthly rate that is less than 4 times the weekly rate?

Also, 17.5% of 276 = 48.30 . Where did 102 come from?
This will include unlimited mileage, Collision damage waiver, Theft protection, Location fee, Road fund recovery fee and vat. There is an excess/deductible of £750.00gbp, which can optionally be reduced to £100.00gbp for just an additional £6.49 per day plus vat.
I believe that my credit card company protects me automatically for a large number of these fees, such as CDW, theft protection, and so on. Can I get quotes without all that stuff, please?

And 213 pounds to reduce my deductible from 750 to 100? Isn't that a bit excessive for a risk that I will get into an accident that causes exactly between 313 to 750 pounds?
Would you like to go ahead and make the reservation?
Not quite yet, thanks.


Sports in Israel

As some of you may have heard, some major league baseball players are getting together to organize Israel's first professional baseball teams. Israel currently has two professional sports: basketball and soccer (called football here, in the European tradition; what American's call football is called "American football").

Israel's history with sports is rather up and down.

Historically, Jews and sports didn't mix well, stemming from their refusal to take part in the ancient Greek sports games that required participation in the nude, and generally represented a heathen pastime and hero-worship. In the twentieth century, Jews managed to overcome that old association, and I'm sure many of you can list famous Jewish sports players in almost all disciplines, from Sandy Koufax to Al Singer to Mark Spitz.

Despite Israel's fascination with American culture, it follows European culture more closely. As such, it competes in the annual Eurovision song competition, and is also consumed with soccer fanaticism.

Israeli's soccer and basketball teams compete at a very high level, both within Israel and around Europe.

The fact that many soccer teams in Israel take their name from the Maccabees, the zealous Jews who fought against the Greek sports culture, is rather ironic.

Israel also has a long history of triumphs and disasters at the Olympics, the high being a silver medal in Judo by Yael Arad in 1992, and the low being the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Olympics. Israel hosts the Jewish equivalent of the Olympics, the Maccabiah, every four years, which has had its own share of triumphs and disasters.

English speaking immigrants have brought their own sports to Israel, but up until now only in a minor way, such as the American Touch Football League in Israel, which is played by teams sponsored by American-sympathetic local businesses. Equivalents exist for softball, cricket, rugby, Frisbee, and so on.

For more detailed information, please see this excellent overview.

Game News

Giddy Up pointed me to a podcast interview with Chris Brooks about board gaming that I had missed last month.

An elderly woman is arrested for playing poker (with $20 stakes) in South Carolina.

Thingamababy reviews Four First Games by Ravensburger. They're pretty awful.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Myth of Multiple Paths to Victory

Gamers value board games that provide multiple paths to victory. A game with multiple paths to victory is one where more than one strategy may be successfully used during a game.

A game with a single path to victory is one in which a single strategy dominates. For instance, ....

Well, like ....

Um ....


I just went through the 265 games that I have rated on the Geek and couldn't find a single example. All I could find were games where there were no choices at all, such as Candyland.

In even the simplest games, such as Chinese Checkers, Sorry, or Connect Four, players generally have a choice between aggressive and defensive play styles, or some combination of both. You can play safely, trying to minimize the possibility of being hit by your opponent, or aggressively try to hit your opponent. Or, you can ignore your opponent altogether.

Whether victory is decided by the most points, most money, first player to reach the end, or last player remaining, the types of tactics in which you engage are determined by the strategic options you employ: slow, cautious, and steady, fast and risky, or aggressive and interfering.

In contrast, the games touted as having multiple paths to victory actually give less strategic options.

Why? Because no one can interfere with your gaining points. Someone can expend resources to block you off from one avenue, but you have a dozen other avenues still open. Interaction becomes far less important, except for limited short term annoyances that you are able to do while maximizing your gain, anyway.

The game becomes, perforce, more tactical, and less strategic, which I admit is highly counter-intuitive. The game becomes less interactive and more like mutual solitaire.

For example, when the winner of the game is the one with the most points, and the only way to get points is to gain doohickeys, your options are to gain the doohickeys recklessly, gain them cautiously, work to prevent your opponent from doing so, or some combination.

In contrast, when you can gain points either by a) gaining doohickeys, b) gaining sets, c) retaining money, d) scoring interim positions, or e) being first to do hoozitz in any of seven territories, your strategic options decline.

You can either maximize your points each round by hill climbing, or plan to maximize your points over several rounds by investing and then reaping. And that's it, really.

If you extol games with "multiple paths to victory", you are really extolling games with more tactics and less strategy. More calculation and less interaction. More planning and less instinct.

Which is great, if that's what you like.

Game News

First of all, lay off Britney Spears already, please. It was funny when she was a dope, and titillating when she showed her privates, but making fun of someone suffering from a mental breakdown is inexcusable. I mention this because of another jab at her in the form of a fake board game Britopoly, which is simply mean, not funny.

Lost level pleads with game designers to make their in-game penalties something that creates more of a challenge, and not something that simply makes the game less fun to play.

Gilad Yarnitzky, a fellow Israeli board gamer, is doing a series on board gaming in Israel on Board Game News. Speaking of Board Game News, Eric Martin, the new editor of Board Game News, has just opened up free guest membership to those who want to comment on the site. BGN is the second best stop for board games on the Internet, after Board Game Geek.

The Wall Street Journal talks about Hasbro's openness to new board games, but I don't have registration access to the site. If anyone can send me the complete article, I'd be much obliged. Update: here it is in full. (via Eric)

d21 talks about the down side of Settlers becoming a huge success if it moves to XBox, since the lure of monetary gain might take over the fledgling board game design world.

The Human Side of Computer Games Dept

Jeff Orkin is hosting an open game development process, to see what happens if games are designed from the bottom up according to what players actually wish to do, in The Restaurant Game.

David Sirlin describes how to design games that are both fun to play and also accomplish useful things as a side effect.

Your Assistance is Required Dept

Nigeria is trying to up its chess performance at the next Africa Games, and is getting a boost from a partnership with grandmaster of England, Nigel Short. Nigel Short is rumored to have responded to an email from one of their players asking him to assist in winning Ten Milion Chess Games (10,000,000) if he deposits a mere Seven Hundred and Fifty chess games into the Nigerian chess player's track record.


Reminder: People Are Dying in Darfur While You Read This

This is a reminder: please don't let indifference keep this topic off your radar.

There is no more important issue in the world today than preventing genocide. The world is still wringing its hands debating the call to intervention versus the timidity against interfering in another country's internal affairs.

When hundreds of thousands of people are being killed and raped, tortured, starved, and displaced, the timidity has to end.

If you're a blogger, please keep this on the radar every once in a while. If you have any influence over your politicians, please keep this on their radar. Support organizations that do the same.

Play the game Darfur is Dying for an interactive experience as a resident of Darfur.

Visit one of these sites for information on what you can do:

Save Darfur
Darfur Genocide
Holocaust Museum: Alert


Monday, February 26, 2007

My 1000th Post: It's Payback Time

This is my 1000th post, and it's not going to be about me, it's going to be about you. I also have a gift for you (several, actually).

Thank you for reading and commenting, for linking and discussing. Without you, I'm just another fool writing to himself in cyberspace.

Thanks to you, I am encouraged to write every day. Thanks to you, I am inspired to post my thoughts about gaming, my poetry about law, and my pictures about nothing. Copyright laws don't inspire me, you do.

Thanks to you, I have earned around $75 in the last year in advertising and affiliate links. Since that's not enough to live on, I'm going to use it all to buy you a bunch of presents.

As thanks for reading my blog, I'm giving it all back to you.

Since this is primarily a game blog, I'm going to give it back in the form of games. Five games, to be precise. Let's get started. (*)

Game 1: Applied Game Theory

Send me an email with the subject "Game 1" and a real number an integer (see comments) between 1 and 100. Deadline for entry is 8:00 am Israeli time, Thursday, March 1. One entry per person.

The player who sends me the second highest number wins a $10.00 Gift Certificate for If two players choose the winning answer, they'll split the prize. For multiple choosers, we will go to another similar game to determine the winner(s).

Game 2: Why Did The Chicken?

Why Did The Chicken? is a party game by Kory Heath published by Play Again Games. Your job is to find the funniest answers to simple questions.

Here are five questions:

2a: What did the board game player say to the grocer?

2b: How is a board game player like a newspaper?

2c: What is the difference between a board game player and a bar of soap?

2d: How many board game players does it take to screw in a light bulb?

2e: What do you get if you cross a board game player with a rock band?

Send me an email with the subject "Game 2" and your answers to these questions. Deadline for entry is 8:00 am Israeli time, Thursday, March 1. You may enter as many times as you like.

The player who makes me laugh the most wins a $10.00 gift certificate to FunAgain games. If two players make me laugh equally, I will ask them to split the prize (one gets the certificate, and must Paypal $5.00 to the other, since Funagain doesn't give $5.00 certificates).

Game 3: Rock-Paper-Scissors 11 Variant Tournament

David Lovelace has devoted his apparently empty life to creating larger and larger variants on Rock-Paper-Scissors. So far, he's up to RPS-101, which has more possible arrangements than the known number of electrons in the universe.

We're going to play RPS-11, which is RPS with 11 possible choices for each move.

Send me an email with the subject "Game 3" and a list of 21 moves using the RPS-11 chart found here. I will use a single elimination tournament system to compare ordered odd and even entries, giving passes when appropriate. I will use the same moves for each level of the tournament (unless you all really want me to extend the tournament, in which case I will allow new moves for each round of the tournament).

Deadline for entry is 8:00 am Israeli time, Thursday, March 1. One entry per person.

The tournament winner wins his or her choice of Reiner Knizia's book Dice Games Properly Explained or Sid Sackson's book Card Games Around the World (from my collection). On ties, the tied players go on to a sudden death match.

Game 4: Puerto Rico tournament

We will play a tournament of Puerto Rico on . Send me an email with the subject "Game 4" and a message indicating that you want to join. Deadline for entry is 8:00 am Israeli time, Thursday, March 1. One entry per person. I will also be playing, under a pseudonym.

I will try to create simultaneous games so that all players play each other an equal number of times. Therefore, you may be playing several games at the same time. Each player must agree to make at least one move a day. Your score for each game is the difference between your score and the lowest score. The "winner" of a game gets a five point bonus.

At the end of the tournament, the player with the highest total score among all games wins a $25 gift certificate to anywhere he or she wants.

Game 5: Site works

This site is for you, so tell me what you want!

Send me an email with "Game 5" in the subject, with suggestions for:

- Previous posts that should be in the highlights sidebar but aren't
- Posts in the highlights that shouldn't be
- Rearranging the site layout
- Better or more useful tags
- Ways to pump up my resumé

For every suggestion I receive that I use, I will send you $1 via Paypal or 5 GeekGold on BoardGameGeek (your choice).

For great comments on my resumé, and for links to public domain source code snippets that I decide to implement for my site, the reward is either a) a small card game I have for trade, or b) a copy of The Menorah Game prototype, a nice set-collection auction game I invented and am hoping to get published one day. (If it ever does get published, anyone who owns a copy of my prototype will get a discount on the actual game.)

The first person to make a specific suggestion wins for that suggestion. Enter as often as you like. There are no limits to the number of winners. The game ends when I run out of the remaining money from my blog income or my game prototypes.

Looking Forward to the Next 1000

For the next 1000 articles, I hope to keep getting out the message about the joy of board games and continue to write my thoughts about life, blogging, ethics, law, and everything in between.

If you want to support me, then when you want to buy through Amazon or Funagain, click through my affiliate links on the sidebar of my page. If you want me to get rid of the advertising, give me something else to put there instead, or help me find more affiliate programs (let's see if we can pester Time Well Spent into running one).

In the meantime, I hope you'll stick with me through the next 1000 posts and continue to comment, link, and enjoy. Thanks again.


Contest details: Contest is run as-is and complies with no laws of any country. I reserve the right to discriminate based on sex, religion, race, disability, eye-color, personality type, or anything else I so feel like. Entrance is permitted to whom I say and may end at any time without awarding anything. The judging will be run in a highly partial and unfair manner, and the judge will accept all offers of bribes and flattery, and may respond in a cowardly fashion to blackmail. Prize value is not guaranteed. By entering this contest, you agree to all rules written here as well as all rules I wrote in Sanskrit in a secret file on my son's laptop. If you are reading this, you are too close to your monitor.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Winning is Incompatible With Business

In my last post in this series, I mentioned briefly that the idea of winning is incompatible with the business world. However, I glossed over this, so I expand on it in this post.

I will repeat some of the themes that I have already covered, as well as add a few new ones, and apply these to the world of business, marketing, and sales.

A Recap on Winning

Winning is what happens at the end of a competition. When you apply the idea of winning to a competition, you take whatever results occurred, discard them, and in their place assign a value of "1" to the winner (possibly winners), and 0 to all others (losers).

I assert that scores should stay as they are at the end of the competition, and not be squashed down to the binary result of win or loss. Many times we already do this:
  • When a series of results are added together to result in a final score, then the "swing" of each competition is what is valued, and not the win or loss. An example of this would be a Bridge tournament.
  • When assessing personal or world records, the relative win against the other players is unimportant with respect to the determination.
  • When teaching sportsmanship, we tell our children, and ourselves, that it's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.
Unfortunately, this last one leads to severe cognitive dissonance in today's society. If we really believed that it doesn't matter if you win or lose, then why do we reward the winner in the Olympics? And if winning isn't important, why try? If trying is important, why isn't it rewarded more explicitly?

What we mean is that effort and achievement are important, and that success relative to your expected performance is important, but success relative to others is less so. So you have to try, and try your hardest, and that's what matters.

Labeling one winner at the end of a game is then a problem. It is what I call an arbitrarily scarce reward. It doesn't matter that a professional next to you did better than you did, if you did better than you've ever done before.

It is a disincentive to those in the lead, or far from the lead, to try harder, when win or loss is already guaranteed and all that is rewarded. It results in people forgetting that "how" you play the game is important and concentrating only on winning. They may not break legal laws to do so, but they will break ethical ones.

The solution is as follows: Keep results as a lifetime of achievement. Each time you perform, you reward a sliding scale of rewards based on how well you did relative to how well you were expected to do. The difference in performance between different players still acts as a competition; players will still feel the need to perform better than others do - not absolutely, but relative to personal expectation.

Winning and Business

Today, winning is integral to business in several ways. The major way is the idea of "winning" a contract.

Businesses compete for your money. A successful business plays by offering the best products, best service, or lowest prices, and tries to "win" by collecting the payment or contract. From the other side, governments offer tenders and accept bids for contracts, and consumers judge the performances of competing businesses, rewarding the "winner" with their money.

When the real reward is actually scarce, such as money, there's is no denying that someone is going to "win" it or "lose" it in the short term.

However, there are several problems with the way we approach the idea of competition in business today, and that revolves around the idea of "winning" or "losing".

Winning Implies the End of Competition

The first thing to note about winning is that winning occurs at the end of competition. Up until winning is scored, competition flourishes. After winning, the winner has a monopoly on the business. The competition is over.

Like any other time when someone has a monopoly, winners become complacent. If your company believes that it has "won", then it has some rethinking to do. You don't "win" contracts or money. You "win" attention.

Once you have a client's attention, you have to continuously win the client over and over. Every service call, every document, every training, and every product is another competition, against your client's expectations. If you "lose" this competition, you may end up having won the battle but lost the war.

Winning Implies an Absolute Choice

If you win a competition to provide service, you are likely to think that your client loves everything about you, when the truth is that the client may simply have chosen the best of the available alternatives.

Winning service doesn't mean that everything you did was right. Nor does it mean that the client is not still longing for the parts of the total service that you don't do as well as your competitors. They may be wondering to themselves how they can integrate the best parts of what you offer with the best parts of what your competitors offer.

Your job is either of two things at that point: a) either match or exceed your clients expectations as to the parts they weren't really happy about, or b) until you can do that, find a way for your client to integrate the best parts of what you offer with the best parts of what your competition offers.

Some people might argue that by letting another company get a foothold into your client, you open the door for them to dump you entirely when the client decides that it wants to simplify its accounting. But remember that you were the "winner"; if the client is going to dump a company, you're starting with the better odds. By showing flexibility, you increase those odds.

Winning Implies an Unequal Partnership

Most subtly, perhaps, winning implies "you", not the client. The client is giving out scarce rewards - money and attention. But that's not really what business is about.

If you think in terms of arbitrary awards like winning, rather than a mutual exchange of benefits (your good service for their good money), you are likely to focus on short term rewards, sometimes in ways that are more about winning than about actual service, which will eventually lead to long term disaster.

Business is mutual. Both partners have to reward each other. Both partners are supposed to win, not just the one who gets the money.


It would serve your business well to stop thinking about "winning" contracts and service, and more about "performing" well. Performing is something that doesn't have a goal line or an end point. You start performing well, and you keep performing well. You don't get to have a breather after the contract is landed.

On the flip side, organizations that ask for tenders and then award contracts to the "winning" bidder should reconsider the relationships that they are trying to establish.

In Israel, companies often "win" tenders by promising low prices and then, after the work is begun, try to change the terms of the contract, charge extra for items that weren't specified in the contract, and so on. This is what the "winning" mindset gets you.

Instead, consider finding ways to keep companies on their toes until after the project is complete, either by dividing projects into smaller pieces, or by including successful performance reviews as part of the contract, with the option to move to another provider if this one fails to many reviews.


Seasonal Weekend Gaming

Shabbat lasts 25 hours from sundown Friday evening until stars out Saturday night.

In the winter, that means early start times of 4 or 5 pm and early end times of 5 or 6 pm, while in the summer, shabbat might start at 7 or 8 pm and end at 8 or 9 pm. This depends on where you live, of course. Times might be earlier or much later. Above the arctic circle, special rules apply.

Theoretically, regardless of the time of year, shabbat should be a good time for gaming. No electric use that wasn't set to run before shabbat started, and no work to go to (usually). No major travel.

In the winter, game time means after dinner on Friday evening; shabbat is too short on Saturday. You might play after shabbat on Saturday night, of course. In the summer, dinner is so late that you can't play on Friday night, but you will probably have time on Saturday afternoon, after lunch and a nap.

Of course, you have to have gamers in your area or family, and your meals can't be too long.

Friday evening we ate out until around 10:30. Nice conversation and all that, but too late to game when we got home. Saturday was too short for gaming, factoring in shul, lunch, nap, and Rachel's weekly lecture (currently, we are working through Job).

However, this week's lecture was at Nadine's house, and despite the fact that it finished only a short time before the end of shabbat, we decided to play our regular game of Puerto Rico. One is allowed to end shabbat later (not earlier). So we just ate into our Saturday night a bit.

Which is not a big deal, since the Third Ear video store's copy of the last disk of West Wing's Season 7 is currently out for repair anyway.

Puerto Rico

Rachel drew corn, which prompted both Nadine and I to proclaim her the winner before the game started. And so it was.

Of course, I helped it along a bit by refusing to do what's normal. I opened with Builder/Small Market. Nadine left Rachel the other Small Market, opting for a manned indigo instead.

I took several corns in the next few rounds, an early Large Market, and then a tobacco to give me some shipping and trading leeway. Unfortunately, despite good plays on my part to manipulate the Trading House in my favor, it's just not a strong enough strategy to beat the usual strategy, which Rachel always favors.

Rachel produced everything but coffee, plus Factory and Harbor. That's still pretty unbeatable. I could have done the same, but chose not to, which is why I lost.

Nadine had a coffee monopoly, and even locked a boat, but she had a very slow start, and so wasn't able to catch up with building points.

Game News

CSI games has a nice article on competition as a vehicle for moving a story.

There's a Rugby inspired board game in the works, based on Aberflyarff RFC, the creation of the late legendary cartoonist Gren.

Here you can watch a two-hour game of Risk time lapsed into less than two minutes.


Friday, February 23, 2007

12 Games With No Components For Large Groups

I sometimes need to be ready with a game in unusual circumstances. Especially on shabbat, this can mean a large group of people and with no components (including paper and pen).

The following games can help you in a pinch. They are also good for corporations that need something to do for team building exercises.

Alphabet Minute

To say sentences where the first letter of each sentence begins with a successive letter of the alphabet within an alloted period of time.


Choose a pair or group of people, a starting letter, and a topic or scene. One player starts off with a sentence whose first word begins with the chosen letter, on the topic specified, or acting in the scene specified. Another player (possibly in order) must continue the scene with a sentence whose first word begins with the next letter of the alphabet. If you reach the end of the alphabet (because you didn't start with A) continue from the beginning.

The group has 60 or 90 seconds to reach 27 sentences, beginning and ending on the same letter.


The most well-known of these games, Charades was actually a different game way back when, more like the riddle game from The Hobbit.


Each team is given a word or phrase to act out, and his teammates must guess the item within a certain time limit. The actor may not speak or sign words or letters. If his team cannot guess, the other team may guess the same word or phrase.


Players must guess a rule invented by one player using their own correct and incorrect guesses as clues.


One player picks a rule and indicates whether the rule applies to words, items, or something else (for instance, the players themselves). For instance, that the name includes an "A".

Players try to guess the rule by suggesting items or rules. Each time they suggest an item, the player says whether or not the item is in accordance with the rule or not. Each time they suggest the rule, the player either confirms the guess, or names an item that matches the suggested incorrect rule but is not correct, or an item that does not match the suggested incorrect rule but is correct.

Play continues until the rule is guessed. Players have a limit of time or number of guesses allowed.


Players have to lecture on a topic without hesitating or repeating.


One player from each team is chosen. A topic is selected. Each player has one minute to lecture on the subject without hesitating, repeating, or veering off topic. If they do, the next player takes up the topic with the remaining time left. The player speaking when the minute ends is the winner.

Players can challenge other players for breaking the rules, and a moderator may be necessary.


To provide the opposite of the last word in a chain of words without repeating. Opposites can be in any sense that a player can reasonably explain.


One player picks a word (it may be a simple two word phrase). The next player must say the opposite of this word, defending his choice if necessary. Continue until a player cannot say an opposite without repeating.


An unproven theory suggests that all games of Opposites can eventually come to the word "light". See how many opposites are required to do so from a given word or phrase.

Party Quirks

Players act out strange secret characteristics, and others must guess what they are acting.


A few people are given strange personalities or roles to play in secret, and must act them out in an incongruous scene. After the scene is over, other players try to guess what their personality or role was. Example characteristics: an angry bowler, a depressed clown, ...


Guess words given clues by your teammates and opponents.


Players divide into teams. Each round, representatives from each team either receive a word from a moderator, pick a word from a dictionary, or choose a word together.

One representative starts by saying a single word as a clue. His teammates have to guess the selected word using the clue. If they can't, play passes to the next team who are given a single word clue by their representative. Play continues with both teams hearing all clues by both representatives until the word is guessed.


Passwords can also be proper names.


Players must repeat an ever expanding list of items. A well-known game for children.


One person begins "I went on a picnic and brought an " and then names something beginning with an A, such as "apple". The next player must repeat all items the previous player said, and add another item from the next letter of the alphabet. Continue until a player can't remember one or more items.


There are many thematic variations of this, including names beginning with letter of the alphabet, adjectives, and so on.


Players are eliminated if they talk but do not phrase a question.


Either all players play simultaneously, or one player from each team plays at a time.

Players must not hesitate overly much, and all talk must be phrased as a question. When playing with teams, an eliminated teammate is replaced with another, and this continues until one team is entirely eliminated. Otherwise, play until only one person remains.

Simon Says

The well-known game of knowing when to take orders.


One person is Simon. He gives all other players instruction as to what to do, prefacing all things that they must do with "Simon Says" (e.g. "Simon says touch your head"). He attempts to trick them up by doing things incorrectly himself or slipping in orders that do not include "Simon says". Anyone doing the wrong thing, of following an order that does not begin "Simon Says" is out of the game.


In this game, hungry werewolves are hidden among a town of villagers. Every night, they eat one villager. Every day, the villagers pick someone who they think is a werewolf and lynch him. The object of the game is to catch the werewolves before everyone in the town is dead. The werewolves win if one or more werewolves are the last ones standing.


One person acts as a narrator. All players sit in a circle with their eyes closed. The narrator begins with a lyric description of the situation. As he does so, he picks the werewolves by tapping them on their right shoulders.

He also selects someone to be a seer by tapping them on the left shoulder.

After he finishes the description, he asks the werewolves to open their eyes and choose a victim by pointing. The werewolves do so and close their eyes and he asks the seer to open his eyes and choose any other player. The narrator indicates silently whether or not the person pointed to is a werewolf or regular villager.

All players then open their eyes. The death is announced (that player is out) and all other players must decide as a group who to lynch. If they cannot decide within a certain amount of time, they vote. If the vote is tied, no lynching takes place (optionally, more discussion takes place, if this doesn't drag on too long).

Repeat each nighttime death and seer guess until the game is over.


This is a very popular game among gamers, and gamers have added many many additional roles to the game, such as renegades, priests, ghosts (so that those who were killed can do more than watch) and so on. You can easily find these on the internet.

The same game under the name Mafia involves killings by Mafia criminals instead of werewolves. The seer is then a detective.


Players are eliminated if they use the forbidden words during conversation.


All players play simultaneously. Players engage in conversation with each other. Any player using the forbidden words (exactly these words; synonyms are permitted), or refusing to talk, are eliminated from the game. Continue until only one player remains. A traditional set of forbidden words is "yes", "no", "black", and "white".


Thursday, February 22, 2007

JoyStiq: Interview With Brian Reynolds About Settlers of Catan on XBox

Scott Jon Siegel writes the bi-weekly column Off The Grid on Joystiq, a top video gaming blog. His column is the only one dealing with board games on a regular basis, so I really enjoy it.

This week he interviews Brian Reynolds, CEO and creative director of Big Huge Games, whose team is bringing Settlers of Catan to the XBox.

I wrote something about this several months ago when the announcement was first made, and have mostly ignored it since, although it's been all over the video game news press wires.

However, while I don't plan on getting an XBox any time soon, the fact that Microsoft is paying attention to Settlers of Catan is pretty huge. In fact, they approached Brian to bring Euro games to the XBox, not the other way around.

All of you still stuck in the Monopoly age, pay attention.

The interview includes a lot of great info and some nice pics.

Meanwhile, Critical Gamers bemoans the fact that the release appears to be delayed.


Session Report Up, in which I diss Stephenson's Rocket

The latest Jerusalem Strategy Gaming Club session report is up here. Games played include: Chrononauts, Power Grid, Zertz, Cosmic Encounter, Stephenson's Rocket, Grave Robbers From Outer Space, Bridge.

The report is up, although some parts are still incomplete.

We held first plays of Chrononauts and Stephenson's Rocket. I was unimpressed by the latter, although I'm willing to try again. I also discovered a problem with Zertz not covered in the rules. Turns out it was covered in the rules.

Game News

ITNews talks generally about a new algorithm to help computers improve at Go.

OnMilwaukee discovers Apples to Apples and calls it "a game of strategy". Indiana's Ball State News Daily also discovers Apples to Apples, as well as iMAgiNiff.

The Orlando Sentinel discusses cheating. "We live in a society in which obtaining a goal or an end becomes more important than how you go about obtaining it."


Nobody Ever Pays For Content

The Last People to Pay For Content

Many centuries ago, scholars might travel great distances and pay great fees to have access to the contents of a unique scroll or manuscript.

If the item was owned by some individual or archive, they may have had to pay a hefty sum to gain access to the content. In some cases, they were allowed to copy what was written in the scroll or manuscript. Either way, these scholars or researchers actually paid for content.

And they were last ones to ever do so.

Containers and Licenses

Nowadays, nobody ever, ever pays for content [1]. Not written content, not filmed content, not audio content.

Today, we pay for either of two things: containers or licenses.

When you buy a CD, you buy the container, not the content. Everyone kind of knows that, I think. And it's not because you agree to any sort of license agreement on the box, or anything like that. It's because of copyright laws.

If you work in some sort of broadcasting medium, such as the music industry, a radio station or a movie theater, you pay for license to rent, publicly present, and/or copy the content. You do NOT pay for "the content". If you pay for something, you own it. If you paid for content, you would own the content.

Access to Content

You might conclude, then, that we buy CDs and DVDs, go to movies, and so on, in order to get access to content. You buy a CD, because you want to hear the song. Therefore, you pay for the access to the song.

But you would be wrong. Nowadays, nobody ever, ever pays for access to content.

Every song, movie, or book created in the last ten years has been made available FREE by the very people who sell you these content containers. All you have to do is wait.

You can find just about every text ever written in a library or used books store. You can borrow them from a friend, or you can buy the book and then sell it for the same price.

You can find just about every song playing, for free, on industry websites, on video channels, on MTV, on radio, or again, by borrowing from a friend, or by buying the container and then selling it again. I listened to Shakira's song "Hips Don't Lie" enough times on Shakira's industry web site, for free, and without a license, to make me sick of it.

Their hope was that I would find it too inconvenient to listen to the song on their site, which would prompt me to go out and buy the CD. Didn't work.

Movies, TV programs, and so on are the same deal.

Now, some video channels and radio stations do buy access to the content, via licenses. They in turn send it to you for free by taking money from advertisers. But even they buy it at a premium price, not because they want access, but because they want convenient and timely access.

And if you think about it, all that's really happening is that the money goes from the advertisers to the distribution channels, such as radio or television, to the media companies. The distribution companies actually make money off the content, which can't really be considered "buying".

So, ignoring the middle man, advertisers pay to license content in order to use it to sell stuff. Real stuff. And that's all there is to it.

Convenient and Timely Access To Content

You buy a CD because you don't want to surf to the publisher's web site and search for the video, or wait for Pandora or the radio to play the song. You want to access the content conveniently, and timely. You don't want to have to share the access with your friend [2].

Believe me. There is no song that cannot be heard, about as many times as you want, for free, if you're willing to wait ten years.

The System is Breaking Down

The container manufacturers, such as the recording and movie industries, based their business around the balance between those people who are willing to pay for timely convenient access, and those who can wait. Those who can wait were never going to buy the access in the first place.

But now the system is breaking down. Why?

Because it is becoming more and more convenient and timely to share obtain access without buying the containers, even legally.

Where a used copy of a book or CD would once only be available to those serendipitous enough to find it, you can buy anything used, anywhere, and simply wait a few days for it to get to you. Then, when you're sick of it, you can send it out again, effectively paying nothing for it, except postage costs (if any).

And how about a P2P file sharing system which doesn't copy songs but transfers songs, in other words, erasing the source? If only 10 people need to listen to the song simultaneously, 10,000 people could easily share the song without any legal violations whatsoever. They simply pass the song back and forth, earning or paying a penny if necessary to keep score.

With thousands of television stations and less time to different markets, you can do the same with movies and television shows. Again, there is nothing in any current law that prevents you from watching the movie at a friend's house. Or lending the movie to a friend.

And Therein Lies the Problem

The "convenient access to content" business model is dying. It was predicated on a fact that is no longer true.

All the arguments you hear from the convenient container makers about copyright, fairness, artists, and so on is just so much garbage. What they are trying to do is not find a new market in which to make money. They are trying to change the laws to make access to content inconvenient again for you. Except for whatever models that they control.

They want to take away our ability to share with friends, because sharing has become too convenient. They want to take away our ability to resell content, because we found a way of making reselling convenient.

What Next?

If record companies want to make money off of access to content, they have to stop releasing videos and letting people hear the music on websites. It's just too convenient now.

They have to make CDs and tapes that are made from poor quality, which get destroyed after one or two uses. They have to make them work on only on systems that support only one pair of headphones.

In other words, they have to stop marketing the content, giving free access to the content, and severely downgrade the quality of the content.

Sound like good business to you? It doesn't to me either. All of these techniques will result in far less containers being bought.

But continuing what they are doing - selling bulky containers that are hard to acquire and use, based on the idea that this is convenient and timely access to the content - is a dying model.

An alternative approach is to make the access even more convenient and timely: instant access to great songs and video that play everywhere and are faster, cheaper, and more desirable than swapping with your friends or waiting for the song to come around again on the radio or TV.

Instead, they try all they can to get laws changed to suit their business needs [3]. It's like an electric company lobbying for laws to prevent anyone from manufacturing or selling a new and cheap little doodad that creates all the energy you need.

So much put effort into destroying our rights, rather than to work with new models.

Update: Apparently, Techdirt agrees with me.


[1] Well, almost never. People who commission works pay for content, and people who buy the rights to works pay for content. These people are not like you or me.

[2] You can make an illegal copy, of course, but I'm talking legally.

[3] Which they're doing pretty well, actually.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

PR 6

I was wondering why I was getting so many more offers for advertising for my blog when my Technorati score was dropping. It turns out I moved up a page rank in Google.

Odd thing about my previous post. Yes, I started writing it in December, and with a misspelled title. But I only posted it today, in February, yet the URL still marks it as from December. And complete with the misspelling.

I wasn't going to post more today, but I couldn't resist a backlog of interesting stuff:


Mike Doyle talks Euro games and themes.

Socratic Design talks the future of RPGs (hint: more like board games).

And speaking of learning from board games, Steve Meretzky at Game Daily tells the video game industry to learn from board games, too.

Sababa Toys is merging with Front Porch Classics (source).

"Sababa" is an Arabic slang term used by Israeli youth, and corresponds to "no problem" or "great".


Which brings me to the fact that The Jerusalem Post has a Christian edition. I did not know that.

Lastly, a highly amusing post by the great Joel on Software, who applies the principles of talmudic study, including Rashi and Tosefot, to decipher a post by Steve Gillmor.


Canadian Copyright Code, in Verse

U.S. Copyright Code | U.S. Patent Code | U.S. Trademark Code | U.S. Armed Forces Code

These verses contain
The copyright code
Of Canada written
Down as an ode

If you think you'll learn
Any useful advice
From reading these verses,
You ought to think twice

As some of you know
I've done this before
For the U. S. of A.
If you're keeping score

So what is the difference
Between these two codes?
You might think not much
But actually, loads

Canada's Board
Posts every rule
In the "Canada Gazette"
Which I think is cool

That way you know when
A law has been altered,
A process about which
The U.S. has faltered

Infringement in Canada
Depends on the context
Whether for profit
And what was the pretext

And whether made only
For personal use,
Which leads to less legal
And criminal abuse

It also writes here
In language courageous
That judges can improvise
When fines are outrageous

"Fair Dealing" in Canada's
A bit more constrained
Than U. S. "Fair Use"
As will be explained

In ranking the two
As to which I like more
I think that Canadian
Code gets top score


This section reports,
As a matter of fact,
That you can call this
"The Copyright Act"


It starts with a glossary
Of some terms within
Sensibly put where
Discussion begins


A work compilation
Of two or more kinds
Is considered the type
Most prominently defined


This little section
Clarifies the word
"Maker" in all of
The places it's heard


"Publication"'s printing
Or copying, not display
Or performance, which doesn't
Mean so doing's ok

Also note: works
Performed unauthorized,
Aren't "performed"
As far as the law applies


An author who reads from
A book on the radio
Isn't "performing"
Or letting others do so


Even more specs about
What means "perform"
And whether you're liable
For providing platform


"Renting" out media
Is only when gain
Of doing so outweighs
All of the pain


"Exclusive distributor"
Isn't defined
Possible definitions
Are still kept in mind


If you've got exclusive
License, then smirk -
Even the creator
Can't use his own work

Part I


Here it's decided
What copying means:
Producing or copying
By any machine,

Publishing, converting
From audio to text,
Or text into audio,
As well as what's next:

Deriving from one thing
And making another,
Filming, broadcasting,
Exhibiting (other

Than maps, or for selling),
Renting out audio,
Copying software,
Except when designed so


Gloriously obscure
Paragraphs detail
When copyright will
Succeed or will fail

Citizens or companies
Joined by the Berne
Convention, gain all
Protection they've earned

Or, failing that,
If published in quantity
So as, for the public,
Their interest to satisfy

Or whenever a relevant
Minister notes
In the "Canada Gazette"
(And please heed the quotes)

That a certain country
Respects Canada's
Copyrights, then Big C
Will do as those guys does


Copyright lasts
Until you have died,
And then fifty years
After that, beside


For unknown authors
It's still fifty years,
Thought why even one is
Something quite queer


For multiple authors,
It works as expected -
All of their rights
Aren't neglected


Something about
Works that were published
I think that this section
Could be better Englished


This just repeats
What verse 6.2 wrote
Also, section 8 was
Repealed, do take note


This section covers
Companies and pics
In terms of how shareholders
Enter the mix


Apparently, some kinds
Of movies are not so
Dramatic, and this verse
Takes pains to say so


Government works, or
Works by the "Crown",
Are also protected
Which might make you frown


Unless paid for work
In dollars or yen,
The copyright owner's
The one with the pen


Sec six said fifty years,
This sec says half,
I'm now so confused that
I just have to laugh


Regardless of who owns
A work's copyright,
The author retains
A few moral rights

Including integrity
And work attribution
To protect the author's
Name and reputation

Though no one can license
Moral rights to art
They still can be waived
In whole or in part


Moral rights exist for
As long as copyright -
Long after the author's gone
"Unto that good night"

Part II


Performers own rights
To all of their sounds
Even if illegal
Copies abound


But they still can enter
Licensing deals
To broadcast their music
Whenever they feels


So if they do license
Their work to a movie
They give up these rights;
Isn't that groovy?


Record-maker's rights
Always include free:
To publish, rent, or repro-
Duce (but not lewdly)


This little section
Says moneys collected
For broadcasts are split
After they are inspected

Half to the publisher and
Half to the artist
It doesn't matter which of
The two is the smartest


Remember that all rights
Written herein
Only apply to a


Broadcasters only
Own their own signal
Regardless of whether it's
Analog or dig'tal


If a country respects
The rights of Canadians,
Canada will reciprocate
For that country's citizens


Protection for broadcast
And also performance
Is fifty years after
Fixing in permanence


Performers own concerts,
Makers own records,
Broadcasters claim what
They air as their rewards


All of it's subject
To licensing rules -
This section's repeated
From earlier, fools


How can performers
Own a "performance"
If it's not given
Some kind of permanence?

Strangely enough
Performers do own them,
Whether recorded
On vinyl or platinum

Part III


Don't go infringing
On these copyrights
Doing so won't be
Considered polite

Sometimes you may get
Away with intention
Sometimes you won't,
So please pay attention

Even possessing
A copying doodad
May cause you trouble
Which would be too bad


Copyright law now
Tackles exclusive
Distribution. Why?
The answer's elusive

Why would "copyrights"
Deal with the import
Of legally made copies
Regardless of what sort,

Just to enforce some
Licensing deal?
Something about this
Is not right, I feel

Anyhow, only books,
(I guess I should mention)
Are covered by laws written
Here in this section


*Scritch* *scratch* and *hmmm*
This section explains
That moral rights are moral
Rights, as they're named


"Integrity" of works
Is only violated
If linked to a product,
Changed, or mutilated

Changing it's venue or
Hanging it elsewhere,
Is not problematic if
Handled with good care


Just when you thought
All copying's wrong
Sections that detail
Exemptions come along

Copying for research
Or private study
Is not called infringement
So cool it there, buddy


Copying for criticism's
Also fair game
When mentioning the source
And the artist's name


Same goes for journalism
It's within the line
Making fun of a product
On CBC is fine


Actions that follow
In sections remaining
Are ok if not done
For monetary gaining


Teachers can copy
For testing or training,
If copies from Loblaw's
Are no longer remaining


Student productions
Of music or plays
Are also permitted
And nobody pays


Teachers can also
Record all the news
And for up to one year
In class may reuse

After the year's up
They must destroy it
Or pay a royalty
To still enjoy it


Teachers can record for
Up to thirty days
While deciding whether
Performing it pays


All these activities
Are only permitted
When copied from sources
Lawfully transmitted


Schools that make copies
Must keep proper count
Of copies they make
To make an account


This section describes
The school newsletter
(From what I could gather,
Maybe you could do better)

Limiting quoting from
Authors, it appears,
To two passages only
Every five years

It doesn't define what
Is meant by a "passage" -
A paragraph or two
Seems like the message

But also, why bother?
Is not really clear
When terms of "fair dealing"
Should also work here


Libraries copy
For various reasons
If originals needed
Are no longer in season


Libraries also
Can copy, as service,
For those that may do so -
They need not be nervous


"Archives" may also
Backup their stuff
Unless the rights holder
Thinks one is enough


Warnings hung next to
Copy machines,
Exempt from infringement
Public places, it seems


The National Archives
Can copy recordings
After broadcasting
For saving and sorting


You not only can copy
For backups your software
But also adapt it
To use on your hardware


If you capture something
While filming a movie
When not done deliberately
You don't have to worry


You can copy ephemerally
When broadcasting live,
And newsworthy works
May sometimes survive


Ephemeral copies
May also be made
When broadcasting works
For which you have paid


Similarly, signals
Can be retransmitted
By those who are licensed
And when it's permitted


If someone complains
Pay them no mind
When copying for
The deaf or the blind


Governments pass
Many strange Acts
'Bout fishes and freeways
Tarmacs and tax

Canadian ones
Aren't immune
They pass 'em all year round
July until June

For some of these Acts
Listed herein
Copying objects
Isn't a sin


This section is full
Of laws miscellaneous
About situations
Sometimes spontaneous

An author can reuse
His studies and molds
Even if copyright
He no longer holds

Anyone can draw
Or take photographs
Of buildings or permanent
Statues, for laughs

You can also report
About lectures given,
Read aloud books
In order to enliven

Report on the nature
Of political speeches
Regardless of whether
In town halls or beaches

Performers at any
Agricultural events
Can sing any song
Present or past tense

And churches and charities
And most organizations
Are pretty much protected
From most litigation


All of these acts
Considered fair dealing
Are free for the doer
And in no way stealing


There's too many "later of"s
And "notwithstandings"
Written in this section
For my understanding


Also in this one,
Too bad, I should tell
That up until now
They were doing quite well


All of these last three
Sections are lawses
'Bout countries with treaties
And grandfather clauses

Part IV


In any real cases
Of copyright fooling
The owner can take you
To court for a ruling


Copyright ownership,
When in confusion,
Is whoever's name
Appears in profusion


The fine for infringement
Is only the damage
And any more profits
Defendant has managed (but see 42)


The copyright owner
Must do all the suing
When bothered by something
Some yokel is doing


Any court, whether
Provincial or federal,
Has jurisdiction
For all cases, general


Equipment that's used for
Copy infringing
May soon be relieved
Or may get a singeing


Instead of determining
How much was lost
The owner can ask for
Statutory cost

For willful infringing,
Up to 20k
And no less than five hundred
Dollars to pay

If not done deliberately
Penalty may be
Only two hundred
Dollars in fee

In all the above
If these sums are silly
The court can determine
A fine willy-nilly


Those who may archive,
But not in this case,
Only pay royalties
Just to save face


You cannot collect
Any remedy
Unless you have registered
Your copyright, you see


Otherwise, injunction
Is all the respect
A courtroom will grant you
Is what I expect


For infringing buildings,
Even in construction,
You only get damages
And can't seek destruction


You've only got three years
To file your suit
After which, complaining
Is basically moot


Criminal damages
Are more of a downer
Than what you will pay to
The copyright owner

For summary offenses
You may have to pay
A harsh fine of up to
Twenty-five k

But if you're indicted
(Thou it doesn't say how)
The fine is a million
Which is just ... wow!

By the way, to be charged
There's limited time
It must be within
Two years of the crime

And also I might just
Remember to mention
Along with the fine
Is six months in prison


Performing for profit
Without permission
Nets you a small fine
And possibly prison

And changing the content
Or name of a play
Is twice as expensive
So could ruin your day


Don't bring to Canada
Infringing stuff
What they have now is
More than enough


Customs are able to
Check at the border
If they have a reason
Or given an order


Again with the books?
Dear readers, I must
Tell you I don't think
These sections are just

Giving protection
For distribution
Which violates no copyright
Is not contribution

To benefit the public,
So why have these laws?
The government's throat is
In business' jaws


I'm not sure I got this
But as it appears
Two exclusive distributors
Shouldn't have fears

Of suing each other,
Though how this could be
Doesn't make very much
Sense unto me


This section continues,
As if it were wise,
And says: to recordings
All this applies


Oh whew, thank goodness
For personal use
And other exceptions
They drop this abuse

Part V


Copyright workers
Have to find space
To sit in the Patent
Office's place


"The Commissioner or Patents"
Sounds very officious
And shouldn't be filled by
Someone suspicious

The Commissioner of Patents
Does a few things
Like taking this Act
Under his wings


A Copyright Registrar
Also exists
Or so this here section
Plainly insists


Either the Registrar,
Commissioner, or Office
Signs the certificates
As soon as they notice


The Copyright Registrar
Also must do
Whatever the Commissioner
Orders them to


The CoP also
Generally directs
The Copyright Office
In all its aspects


Registering copyrights
Will serve you quite well,
Certificates are evidence
As any court would tell


The copyright office
Keeps all the records
Of copyrights registered
On papers and postcards


The owner can register
Copyright there,
As can anyone
Who pretends to care


Not only works, but
Things insubstantial,
Like a performance
For profit financial


Fake registration is
Not a good move
You'll have to pay up
When damage is proved


Registering's finished
When all fees are paid
But even then sometimes
Corrections are made


All registrations
Are now international,
That's not an accident
It's quite intentional


The Governor Council
Can charge extra dimes
Or change the fee schedule
To after tea-times

Part VI


Eighty years ago
People had rights;
Read this if this fact
Keeps you up nights


Errors are made -
So the world goes,
They can be corrected
As everyone knows


The Governor Council
Makes regulations
Whenever he's suffering


Items with designs
Integral to function
Are generally copyable
Without compunction


You can draw these designs,
Or add to these items
Levers, or zippers,
Or handles to right 'em


You probably should know
The last two sections
Don't apply to circuits
On further inspection

Part VII


A Copyright Board
Is used to apply
To behinds of those
Who infringe and then lie

Just kidding, it's called that
'Cause all of its members
Must sit still for so long
Like pieces of lumber


The board has a chairman
And vice-chairman, too
Who do all those things
That chairmen must do


For time that they spend
They will get paid a lot -
Assuming "a lot" means
Something it's not


For conflicts of interest
They don't turn their cheeks:
The conflict is limited
To seventeen weeks


The Board gives a welcome
That's open and broad
For workers and specialists
To come on aboard


Board members finish
All jobs they were tasked,
Majority vote decides
All questions asked


Where difficult answers
Might need a revision
The members may reach an
Interim decision


Royalty decisions
Might sometimes be changed
If situation warrants
And someone gets blamed


After the Board makes
Any decision
They head to a bar with
Unfailing precision


Stuff they decide
Has force of the courts
For matters related to
Copyrights, all sorts


The Board can print up
Decisions it's written
And stick them on houses,
Billboards, and kittens


The members make studies
Whenever they're told -
They have to put all of
Their Quake games on hold


They do all these things
And write them all down
To give to the Minister
When summer comes round


The Governor Council
Can chastise the Board -
Five years of hard work
And that's the reward?


Whoever keeps track of
Performance rights
Must answer all questions
Without any fights


This body reports on
Tariffs and such,
And when they are missing
Decides on how much


The Copyright Board is
Where tariffs are set
And published forthrightly
In the Canada Gazette


From what I can tell
This section's advising
On tariffs on income
From advertising


Tariffs and royalties ...
I'm starting to twitch
It seems I've forgotten now
Which one is which


When people perform
Concerts outside
People with radios
Don't have to hide

Only broadcasters
Pay for transmission
And must ensure they have
Proper permission


These sections apply
To license collectives
Who own all the media,
From public perspective


Collectives must answer
All licensing questions
But don't need to take any
Public suggestions


Collectives will sometimes
Discuss with the Board
Or public about all
The works that they hoard


Collectives must file
Before it is Spring
Licenses they charge
For everything


There's nothing to see
Inside of this section
Just references and numbers
In one small collection


The Board can make changes
And then certify
The tariffs as valid,
And then they apply


The Board then makes public
All of these fees
While those who must pay them
Collectively wheeze


For anyone willing
To pay the set fee,
From any form of
Litigation is free


You must pay the fees
Even if they're proposed
So long as the fee infor-
Mation's disclosed


Private agreements
Trump any tariff
And keep far away
The copyright sheriff


In this sort of case
The tariff is mute
And you'll have no fear of
A copyright suit


If you are stuck haggling
The licensing feeses
The Board may decide for
Whomever it pleases


But if, while they're thinking,
Agreement is reached,
The Board will pretend
It was never beseeched


Any agreement is
Enacted both ways:
Who can use what rights
And which party pays


Agreements are filed
And after submission
Reviewed by Commissioner
Of Competition

If not satisfied,
He gives it back to
The Board, and asks them
To make a review


The Board then reviews
And might change some clauses
Telling the parties the
Whys and Becauses


I don't understand -
I'm not trying to be mean -
But this section repeats


The Board takes objections
To its proposed fees
So file a complaint
If you are displeased


After the fees
Have all been approved,
Chance for objection
Has been removed


Small retransmission
Systems get preference
On all of the fees
Previously referenced


In case it's not obvious
Collectives may go
Out to collect all the
Fees that you owe


If you are an artist
You don't have to ask;
Your friendly collective
Will take up the task


If you tried to locate
A copyright owner
And couldn't find him,
It's not such a downer

Whichever collective
To whom he'd belong
Can give you a license
For movie or song


The Board may decide,
When all's in dispute,
A sum, unless someone
In court filed suit

Until it's decided,
The Board may prevent
Use of the items
In any event



The next sections here,
Numbering nine,
Levies for private
Copying define

Which means that they'd rather
Tax blank CDs,
And blank tapes indis-

Rather than chase every
Tom, Dick, and Harry
Personally copying on
Stereos they carry


Copying for personal
Use in permitted
And no form of payment
Need be remitted


Instead they get taxes
On every blank media
A practice which some folks
Consider much seedier

(Little of it gets to
The artist themselves
Most of it sits on the
Collective's shelves)


Makers of audio
Recording devices
Must pay collectives
A fixed set of prices


Collectives make claims for
What artists should get
According to sums
In the Canada Gazette


Whoever collects all
The fees then gives out
The sums to collectives
Without any doubt

(But note that the gravy train
Ends over here;
How money gets to the
Artists ain't clear)


The Minister also
Sometimes agrees
To pass on to foreigners
Similar fees


Retailers selling
Recording devices
To deaf or to blind people
Don't pay these prices


The Governor Council
Fixes these laws
Ensuring that everyone
Follows each clause


Those device makers
Who fail to pay fees
Could get in trouble
Up to their knees

Part IX


No one can make
A copyright claim
Except as the laws in
This document frame


Nothing herein
Has set any fees
Or specified values
For any royalties


The Governor Council
Works to ensure
That all international
Laws are secure


They re-checked this Act
For any type of flaw
After they passed it
And it became law

That's all she wrote
Now I can rest
And yes, this material
Will be on the test


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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

When I Say I'm Finished, I Mean I Just Need More Time

When Rachel says that she finished her thesis, it means that she's done writing it, but still has work to do editing it, and then defending it.

So it is with my having finished the Canadian Copyright Code.

I finally decided to return to it and get it done, and I did. It was just sitting in my Drafts folder, annoying me.

Now I have to go over it and fix up the lame verses with a bit more pizazz. You will probably see it tomorrow or the next day.

The Canadian copyright is generally better than the U.S. copyright. There's less wiggle room as far as what's considered "fair use" - they have very specific ideas of what is "fair dealing". But they give more leeway for judges and Boards to decide that fines or fees are ridiculous and change them accordingly.

Also, they blanketly decided that all personal recording is not infringement, by adding a tax onto all recording devices. Strangely enough, the U.S. also adds taxes onto all recording devices and STILL doesn't consider personal copying "fair use".

The U.S. media conglomerates manage to collect fees from recording devices, fees from blank media, fees from P2P software companies, fees from mp3 player manufacturers, fees from licenses, fees from sales, and fees from downloads, and they still come after you for personal recording. And none of these fees ever seems to end up in the hands of the copyright owners, only the conglomerates. Rather bizarre.

In other news, playing video games makes you a better surgeon.

Infection, the Board Game. "The object of the game is to cure all of your diseases. A player dies [is out of the game] when he has five RED diseases."