Archivio dei testi con tag 'english'

a poetic interlude:
“Tears” by Dj Batman

I think I’ve lost you forever this time

The words I used for you
You now use for another person

Sometimes I wish I could forget your existence
But there’s no red pill for the unforgettable.

Mulve, too good to be true?

Reading early comments and reviews about it will make you think: this seems too good to be true. promises free, super-fast and great quality mp3 files, without the often lenghty waiting times of p2p systems like eMule or BitTorrent.

With the advantage of not being forced to share anything, not being based on peer-to-peer technology and (so it seems) not involving any responsibility for users (which remain anonymous and – not re-sharing the downloaded files from their side – do not become “liable” in any filesharing activity as it happens in other systems).

It seems the typical “Columbus egg”… the “celestial jukebox” dreamed by many users (okay, there’s already Spotify but not for everyone; plus Mulve is free) and also the ultimate nemesis for old school record labels; that, and the death of copyright.

Are we sure it is really like that?

Mulve states to have 10 million tracks available, and maybe this is true. it looks like heaven for users: just a small-sized download, no dubious spyware (even if some commercial banners are displayed), no kind of registration is required. Apart from the small program, the .zip file contains only a text file suggesting to make a donation. Right now Mulve needs 500 dollars to go on. As we type, they have already quickly secured about half of that.

You get the Beatles and the Stones but also exotic recordings like Italian pornstar Cicciolina performing a cover of “Russians” by Sting, half in English and half in Italian. But you may not find “everything”. There are relatively known names that might still be absent.

There’s the bonus of being able to read the bitrate and on average getting less junk (and no trojans or viruses) than most p2p systems. But there are also moments in which the sotware will be acting up and displaying “No results” even for most popular names. Luckily, you just need to shut down and restart the program, and results will be back.

In Mulve, which self-defines as a “music discovery program” you will not find movies, images, or software but just music. Provided that you can download the client. Because yes, has some issues. It will be probably too much success and too quickly. Oh well. There’s also an inevitable Facebook page.

The service states it will remain free and will be ad-supported; it even has some advertisers, already. Speed? Super-fast. In the range of hundreds of Kb per second, so in half a minute you will get any music track. Such a speed in normal p2p systems is unthinkable for many things.. In eMule it is maybe valid for the most popular recent music. In BitTorrent & co., maybe, for the most successful porn movies. Not having seeds or filesharing, the system is democratic: everything will be downloaded at the same, high speed (in p2p a rare track will probably only exist in one or two copies).

Will it be real glory? We have some doubts. No Mac or Linux versions at the moment. The legality remains uncertain, and some actions could still be taken. Mulve cannot be easily tracked: the domain name has been registered through a proxy (Protected Domain Service in Denver, Colorado; their site seems anyway dead). So we cannot know with a simple “whois” search who could be the site owner and his location. But authorities with a special mandate could verify the above and block the .com site and client distribution.

But the problem is that by then, the client will be already elsewhere. Duplicated on sites and traditional peer-to-peer systems (it is already happening). Renamed, modified, redistributed. And if servers are really in Russia as some suggest (and as the cyrillic characters in some of the filenames displayed in search results seem to confirm) things get more complicated. In In that country, record labels lost the batlle with sites such as years ago. “Loopholes” in the Russian law allow a sort of legalized piracy, with collective licenses released by a couple of entities that should in turn pay artists and producers (but in the end don’t). Mulve might reply on them, thus entering a vicious circle.

To record labels now well over their given deadline we can only advice to take all their back catalogue out of their drawers and put it online at accessible prices, not over the typical 99 US cents per track (but also not to exaggerate in the other direction: users will think they are being ripped off and they will stop paying at all: we are referring particularly to certain special offers seen in iTunes, which honestly seem an offence to those who previously paid full price for those albums…). if nothing goes wrong, Mulve will be another passing fad. After all, for example, file names are manipulated and not always exact, sometimes the nasty cyrillic characters appear; file quality is not always the same. In other words, if the US market – which is where the real match is being played – had a Spotify at hand, many people wouldn’t have areason to go onto Mulve for unauthorized copies.

A little bet: in a while, at Mulve‘s place they will run out of money and advertisers and the system will not be able to stay up. If it will survive, it will just mean that on the other side someone is not doing enough to let people understand that there are decent, legal and affordable alternatives.

a poetic interlude:
“30 Cents, Two Transfers, Love” by Richard Brautigan

Thinking hard about you
I got onto the bus
and paid 30 cents car fare
and asked the driver for
two transfers
before discovering that I
was alone.

Peer-to-Peer, Pirates, Public Domain… and chic Porn. aka: Debbie Does Dallas? It’s in the Public Domain.

Copyright and the Porn Industry: a match made in hell.
It seems the adult-oriented industry (whether it was Playboy Magazine vs. Italian 1970s not-exactly-a-clone Playmen, which had a second match about online sites in 1996, or adult majors vs. pirating internet websites) has always had great interest in the copyright debate.
In the past decades, an XXX movie studio or adult mag publisher has often had a better vision of things evolving in the copyright field, than their counterparts in “legitimate” and more “respectable” businesses like the music industry or mainstream moviemaking and book publishing. Or so it seemed.

One of the new p2p lawsuits hitting “John Does” (unknown users) allegedly sharing unauthorized material on peer-to-peer networks is about a classic porn movie. And a particularly important one: “Debbie Does Dallas”, distributed by VCX, which is responsible for the lawsuit.
“Debbie” is not only a porn classic; the movie, and things that surround it – including the myth of “disappeared” actress Bambi Woods – seems to be a piece of pop culture, which even resulted in an Off-Broadway musical, in recent years.
So, what apparently is happening is that VCX is finally enforcing their copyright on one of the most important adult movies ever made.
Nothing new or exciting, in that.

But this recent event (the news about the lawsuit are dated September 1, 2010) brings to memory another lawsuit from last year.
Between two adult “majors”: Arrow and VCX.

Basically, VCX was distributing DVD copies of another porn classic: “Deep Throat”. Arrow stated they owned the trademark and other trademarks connected (note: the lawsuit is about trademark, not copyrights…).
Arrow, on the other side, distributes “Debbie” and “The Devil in Miss Jones”. VCX seems to have claims on both.
Before anyone says, “ok, but this is crap that was produced more than 30 years ago, who has still interest in these?” it has to be said that all of these titles still generate nice profits for their distributors.

Now the horrible, horrible truth.
Speaking about the Arrow/VCX case, the Las Vegas Sun, in 2009, also quoting trademark attorney Ryan Gile, suggested that maybe these movies are in the public domain, and that the above mentioned companies despite the fight aren’t willing to have a judge rule that any of these is entirely non-copyrighted.

We did a quick check.
Debbie Does Dallas”? Seems to have been released without proper copyright notice. Pre-1989. It’s Public Domain. It has shortly appeared on on September 6, 2010. Removed after a few hours because porn is not allowed there, not because of the copyright status, apparently. So much for the VCX/John Does case; a judge will have a lot of fun very soon.

“Deep Throat”?
1972 release. Like “The Devil in Miss Jones” (1973) it was never properly registered with the Copyright Office until 1978. A search in the records at shows that both titles were registered June 27, 1978 together with a third – and more obscure – film from 1974, “Wet Rainbow”.
This should already be enough for it to fall in the Public Domain: before 1976, registration was mandatory, and you could not register the work at a later time.

It was only in 1976 that US law changed and did not consider anymore Copyright Office registration as a mandatory element for copyright to exist.
As for copyright notices for “Deep Throat”: at least for the copy we were able to see, the 1972 version – whether publicly screened or not (because some argue about this point, since initial screenings of the movie were controlled by the mob-linked family that financed it…) – apparently never had a proper copyright notice. One was added later for home video release (and seemed unreadable in a copy we watched, but it is probably “1981”) but the movie had already been out for ages at that point.

Funnily, VCX added a black screen with copyright information at the end of the DVD version; they must have a perculiar view of Roman numerals, because whatever they intended to type, that reads as “1907”.
Now, as we know, in 1907 Linda Lovelace (and full colour cinema) wasn’t even born, and the movie was made decades later.
But, if someone decided to use this 1907 date as a way to cover the copyright, that would be a very bad idea.
Anything pre-1923 is Public Domain anyway, according to the crazy, complicated, many times manipulated US Copyright Law.

This last bit should be enough to clear the Arrow/VCX case too. Am I wrong?

a poetic interlude:
“September 24th 1945” by Nâzım Hikmet Ran

The most beautiful sea:
hasn’t been crossed yet.
The most beautiful child:
hasn’t grown up yet.
Our most beautiful days:
we haven’t seen yet.
And the most beautiful words I wanted to tell you
I haven’t said yet…

Weird IMVU chats #2: say hi to the young Asian scammer.

(real chat logged July 18, 2010 on IMVU)

Charr11 has joined the chat
djbatmanRuizN: hi?
Charr11: Hi’ There., this is a message from one of the “Affiliate of IMVU for Access Pass (AP) Procuct. For Making IMVU such a Creative,Inspiring and Fun Place to play,Learn and Interact the Reality with the help of “AP Product”. As a sign of our Appreciation to all of you. We’d like to Inform to all of our “IMVU supporter will be given 100,000 worth of Credits as Our Thankful Gift”
Charr11: do you like to claim it now sir?
djbatmanRuizN: uhm.
djbatmanRuizN: there is no such “Affiliate”.
Charr11: what do you mean?
djbatmanRuizN: though if you wanna gift me 100.000 or more you’re welcome.
djbatmanRuizN: also it’s spelled “Product”
djbatmanRuizN: :)
Charr11: its not easy for me to gift you 100,000 Cr
djbatmanRuizN: then why did you say what you just said.
djbatmanRuizN: How are things in China, by the way?
Charr11: im not from china
Charr11: im from philippine
djbatmanRuizN: good. Spelling mistakes sounded very Asian style anyway. Not UK as you claim in your profile.
Charr11: yeah
djbatmanRuizN: So what is your offer, young male scammer in a female avatar?
djbatmanRuizN: :)
Charr11: huh?
Charr11: im not male
djbatmanRuizN: you have 5 seconds to tell me what was the message at the beginning of your stupid chat request.
djbatmanRuizN: 100000 credits. Bah.
djbatmanRuizN: 4
djbatmanRuizN: 3
djbatmanRuizN: 2
djbatmanRuizN: 1
djbatmanRuizN: hmmm.
Charr11: then?
djbatmanRuizN: it’s a timeout.
Charr11: so?
djbatmanRuizN: so?
djbatmanRuizN: it’s me asking “so?” here
djbatmanRuizN: not you
djbatmanRuizN: you haven’t explained what you have to offer.
djbatmanRuizN: learn English before talking shit to other people in here
Charr11 has left the chat
djbatmanRuizN: oh thanks for slapping my avatar. This will be reported.

(later, I flagged this person’s IMVU homepage, which also had badges claiming to be “Staff” and “Moderator”; unsurprisingly, the page had been flagged already).

Weird IMVU chats #1: a newbie and 90 billion credits.

(real chat logged July 9, 2010 on IMVU)

AdamMonsterr123 has joined the chat
AdamMonsterr123: do u hav creadits
djbatmanRuizN: yes, and why.
djbatmanRuizN: are you begging for them?
AdamMonsterr123: how many
djbatmanRuizN: not too many, about 2000 now.
djbatmanRuizN: and no, I am not gifting them to people I don’t know.
AdamMonsterr123: do u want 90 billon
djbatmanRuizN: it’s not possible having “90 billion” in here.
AdamMonsterr123: if u sav them
AdamMonsterr123: i just got on my stuff to day
djbatmanRuizN: English please
djbatmanRuizN: what do you mean.
djbatmanRuizN: trying to promote your objects?
AdamMonsterr123: i got on my account
djbatmanRuizN: you’re a new user?
AdamMonsterr123: yes
djbatmanRuizN: then how can a newbie offer me “90 billion credits”?
djbatmanRuizN: :)
djbatmanRuizN: I’d love to hear that.
AdamMonsterr123: my dad on imvu
djbatmanRuizN: your “dad” on imvu?
djbatmanRuizN: your real life dad
djbatmanRuizN: or some crap you call dad in here?
AdamMonsterr123: yes
djbatmanRuizN: he would send me those?
AdamMonsterr123: yes
djbatmanRuizN: this seems a funny conversation
djbatmanRuizN: ok, let’s see the “90 billion” then we can talk.
djbatmanRuizN: lol.
AdamMonsterr123: i need uur pw i swear to god i want do nun
djbatmanRuizN: LOL
djbatmanRuizN: kid.
djbatmanRuizN: I am 39 years old
djbatmanRuizN: have spent the last 15 years online
djbatmanRuizN: and got my first computer in 1981.
djbatmanRuizN: Do I look so dumb?
AdamMonsterr123: im 40 years old in real life
djbatmanRuizN: oh.
djbatmanRuizN: and this should convince me to give you my password?
AdamMonsterr123 has left the chat

Music & Copyright: ASCAP vs. The World; The World vs. ASCAP?

How would you react if you were a musician and the society of authors and publishers that represents you writes you officially to discourage supporting entities like Creative Commons, Public Knowledge or the Electronic Frontier Foundation, putting them on the same level as copyright thieves? Or ever to donate funds to “fight” these supposed “thieves”?

Certainly – in a historical moment in which you probably are enjoying sites and services such as Internet Archive and you have made your own use of a CC license at least once, maybe in places such as Wikipedia or Flickr – you would feel at least a bit perplexed.

But this is what happened to some members of (once?) respectable US society ASCAP, as reported by sites and blogs over the last couple days, starting with BoingBoing.

ASCAP is one of the three “sisters” (the other two being BMI and SESAC) dealing in music performance rights in the USA. It is one of the most important royalty collection agencies worldwide, for the music industry.

And for years has been embracing technology in a positive way; for example allowing public access to the ACE database: a searchable archive of millions of records which is an indispensable tool for some music professionals seeking for permissions, sample clearances, or simply checking credits when reprinting a certain song on cd or as mp3.

ASCAP – unlike other societies like Italy’s SIAE – is not difficult or expensive to join to. It just costed $10 to join in days when SIAE not only asked you much more than that but also required to complete one or two exams to prove you were able to write/read music and to compose lyrics. It costs a one-time $35 fee now with no annual dues (our lovely SIAE here has annual dues that are about three times ASCAP’s one-time fee).

But over the last couple of decades, ASCAP in various moments has self-exposed, causing a level of controversy.

Sometimes it was for a good reason: ASCAP seeked eventual performance royalties from download services; but honestly, the law never clearly explained what a downloaded mp3 is. Does it involve mechanical (reproduction) rights or performance rights? After all, a file transmitted over the internet is neither a printed record nor a song played in a club or on the radio. ASCAP lost, this time. But it was for a good cause, we could say.

Some other moves sound dumber, though.

Recently, ASCAP has attacked AT&T over ringtones (should people pay ASCAP when the phone rings and a fragment of song is “publicly” heard?); asked for double royalty payments on YouTube videos (i.e. payments from those who embed videos too, even if actually YouTube already pays for videos embedded elsewhere… since it is hosting that content!); asked sites like Amazon and Apple iTunes to pay for 30 second streaming clips (traditionally, in the US, those never required any payment since they are considered promotional excerpts, that help preview and sell tracks).

Finally sued a Manhattan pub over unpaid licensing fees, putting Bruce Springsteen’s name in the lawsuit (without Springsteen knowing or wanting to be involved); and the memory of a 1996 public relations disaster is still indelible: that was the time when ASCAP attacked girl scouts singing around campfires.

ASCAP lost the 2009 ringtone case in a District Court: public ringing is not a commercial public performance; phone companies and users don’t have to pay a royalty every time the phone rings.

It seemed they were really scraping the barrel between last year and the first months of 2010. Instead, a new level was reached when ASCAP urged some members – in writing – to finance fighting entities such as EFF, Creative Commons and Public Knowledge.

The timing for ASCAP’s move is suspicious. Does it have anything to do with CC’s “Catalyst Grants” initiative, collecting funds to “empower individuals and organizations everywhere that are working to make knowledge easily, freely, and legally available to everyone”? For the record, as I write, the initiative has collected over 27,000 of the proposed $100,000 to be distributed to creators. The Milan Chamber of Commerce – which certainly will not be happy in being labeled as a supporter of presumed “copyright thieves” – happily donated 10,000 Euros (over $10,000) to support innovation.

I tried to reach some of the parties involved and the reactions are mostly as expected, apart for the fact that Lawrence Lessig chose the wrong moment to pack for holidays, apparently (he was busy “trying to pull the world together”, in his words, before taking a break with the family).

Art Brodsky of Public Knowledge sent a quick message (through his Blackberry) that defines very well his astonishment and perplexity on ASCAP’s actions: “We are puzzled by their attention to us. We are in favor of a balanced copyright policy, not in favor of theft“.

Eric Steuer, Creative Commons‘ Creative Director told me:

It’s very sad that ASCAP is falsely claiming that Creative Commons works to undermine copyright. Creative Commons licenses are copyright licenses – plain and simple, without copyright, these tools don’t even work. CC licenses are legal tools that creators can use to offer certain usage rights to the public, while reserving other rights. Artists and record labels that want to make their music available to the public for certain uses, like noncommercial sharing or remixing, should consider using CC licenses. Artists and labels that want to reserve all of their copyright rights should absolutely not use CC licenses.

Many tens of thousands of musicians, including acts like Nine Inch Nails, the Beastie Boys, David Byrne, Radiohead, and Snoop Dogg, have used Creative Commons licenses to share with the public. These musicians aren’t looking to stop making money from their music. In fact, many of the artists who use CC licenses are also members of collecting societies, including ASCAP. Incidentally, that’s how we first heard about this email campaign – many musicians that support Creative Commons received the email and forwarded it to us. Some of them even included a donation to Creative Commons.

Another reply to ASCAP came to us from Rebecca Jeschke, Media Relations Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

We don’t really have much to say about this. Certainly, we are not “mobilizing to undermine ASCAP members’ copyrights” nor do we “want all music to be free.” We simply want to preserve balance and ensure that the Internet and digital technologies continue to empower people as consumers and creators. We believe that artists should be compensated for their work, and one proposal we have is Voluntary Collective Licensing:

The proposal mentioned by Jeschke is nothing new. The EFF document is dated 2008.

And if you wanna laugh, it was 2001 when I myself suggested (sorry, original article written for Interlex is in Italian…) that after all the original Napster was like other “private copy” systems, only without physical media (cd or cassette) involved. Of course there was no compensation form for copyright owners, unlike other media, and that was the big problem.

But this means a similar model could have been used, if the relevant parties had agreed on it.

ASCAP and other similar entities had more than a decade to express their view on that point, but apparently they never stopped for a moment to think. Lawsuits money could have been saved, consumers might have been given access to music and more rights; authors would have been compensated.

ASCAP could take a chance to examine EFF’s old proposal, propose suggestions to it, or – if any – alternative solutions to the old filesharing compensation problem; instead of scaring author members about nonexisting “threats” by entities such as CC, EFF and PK, that have only helped authors – and consumers – so far.

Special thanks to: Nicola D’Agostino, Rebecca Jeschke (Electronic Frontier Foundation), Art Brodsky (Public Knowledge), Joichi Ito, Eric Steuer (Creative Commons).

Jerique Allan – “I love you” (English)

The publication of a track called “I love you” submitted to a contest (Toyota Music Rock The Space II) born from a collaboration between Toyota and MySpace, gives us a chance to talk about him.
The contest winners will receive a recording contract with MySpace Records: the fact is that Dutch artist Jerique Allan should deserve […]

Marvels, Miracles & a Mighty Copyright Mess.

Marvelman. Miracleman. Names which sounds like legends to many comic book fans around the world.
And names that bring back decades-long controversy around character ownership and related copyright issues.

Born in 1954 to replace Fawcett’s Captain Marvel for the UK market (the “Big Cheese” had suddenly become unavailable to his readers: in the USA, National/DC had won a battle with rival publisher Fawcett over the character, too similar to Superman), Marvelman had been a favourite of British kids for a decade between the 1950s and 1960s. Then it was oblivion, until resurrection on “Warrior” magazine, under Derek (Dez) Skinn‘s direction. This also led to further publications in the USA on Eclipse between the 1980s and 1990s, under the Miracleman name (“Marvel” was definitely a sensitive word, in the American comics industry).

When in 2001 Neil Gaiman announced the formation of Marvels and Miracles, LLC to clear the copyright status of Marvelman/Miracleman and later sued Todd McFarlane over the ownership of some co-created characters, I tried to make some independent research. I had read George Khoury‘s fascinating book Kimota! The Miracleman Companion, published by TwoMorrows in 2001 (an updated “Definitive Edition” is due for release in August 2010), and through it had examined some of the information and versions given by some of the main “actors” in the Marvelman saga.

I performed websearches and tried to compare information from that book with data found online. In the end I checked the status of a company called L.Miller and Sons Ltd. (not “Son” but “Sons”, but apparently it seems to be a publishing company, so there is a good chance that we are talking of the same Miller company that went bankrupt in the 1960s), which turned out to be dissolved in 1990, many years after ceasing publications.

I came out with a few ideas; first the two obvious bits:
a) Marvelman started as a Captain Marvel clone (some of the characters are identical to their Fawcett counterparts);
b) it was Len Miller asking Mick Anglo to create that clone not to cease publication of some popular comic book titles;

then there are some infos that can be taken out of the Kimota! book:
c) Mick Anglo (directly or through his collaborators) was performing work-for-hire for Len Miller’s company; copyright law certainly wasn’t his main area of expertise.
d) it is dubious that Derek Skinn acquired anything when starting to publish Marvelman in Warrior. According to what Alan Moore suggested in his Kimota! interview, the rights could still be with the “official receiver” after Miller went into bankruptcy.

Finally, my own little, above-mentioned, discovery:
e) a company called L.Miller & Sons Ltd. (not “& Son” like often quoted) was dissolved in the United Kingdom in 1990. Apparently, nobody acquired its assets.

What conclusions can be drawn out of all this?
If Marvelman is heavily plagiarised from Captain Marvel, it is basically a bootleg of a Fawcett/DC character. It now belongs to DC and always belonged. ’nuff said.

If Marvelman had some level of originality/copyrightability, it was a L.Miller & Sons copyright, created/written/drawn by Mick Anglo’s studios as work-for-hire. Anglo never owned anything as he says in his own words on the Kimota! interview.
Skinn sort of bought Anglo’s silence through small payments for some reprints, in the 1980s. But certainly didn’t acquire any real rights from him or other sources.

If Miller owned the copyright, Skinn should have bought the rights off the “official receiver”. A bankruptcy court, since L.Miller & Sons went bankrupt around 1966. Neither Skinn nor anyone else ever provided any evidence to have done so.

Marvelman and its subsequent incarnation Miracleman stayed with L.Miller, as copyrights.

All of the subsequent passages involving people like Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Eclipse Comics, Todd McFarlane (who tried to recycle the character in his “Spawn” comics and even produced a Miracleman resin statue) and other people have no value, since all of those “shares” that were traded originated from Skinn. Who had nothing in his hands, in first place.

And of course Marvel acquiring the rights on the character from Mick Anglo (through Emotiv Records in Glasgow) is even more dubious, since Anglo didn’t own them in first place.

Miller’s company was dissolved in 1990: since nobody acquired anything, according to the British law, its assets now belong to the Crown.

This is what I discovered years ago and tried to get to Neil Gaiman via some Internet forum. I have no idea if he ever saw that.
And I don’t have 100% proof that my version is the definitive one: the L.Miller & Sons company I’ve found might not exactly be the same “L.Miller & Son” mentioned by many other sources. Someone in UK might go and check all of this better, and find evidence supporting my vision or denying it. Provided that some further tracks can still be found after all these years.

One last element needs to be checked; recently, in April 2010, my attention was caught by some bits of the Marvelman entry in Wikipedia (English language). Those bits suggested that another UK publisher who worked mostly with cheap reprints of American comics for British audiences, Alan Class Ltd., had acquired at least printing plates (if not the rights) to Marvelman, directly from L.Miller & Son.

Knowing that in 2005 Alan Class’ personal collection was put on sale by UK dealer 30th Century Comics, I contacted them.
Will Morgan of 30th Century Comics was so kind to reply:

Thank you for your enquiry. Unfortunately, you are misinformed.

A journalist asked a similar question last year for an article in Back Issue magazine, and I asked Alan Class at that time if he had any involvement with Marvelman. His response then, to the best of my recollection, was;

No, I didn’t have anything to do with Marvelman. When Len Miller, the publisher, died, I heard that some of his properties might be available, but by the time I got to his offices, virtually everything had already gone.

– those may not have been his exact words (it’s been a little time now), but those are certainly his recollections as he told them to me.

No Marvelman material has ever been reprinted in an Alan Class comic.

I think the Wikipedia confusion arises from the fact that Alan Class and Len Miller were active during much of the same period (mid 1950’s to early 1960’s), and produced similar lines of black & white comics primarily reprinting US material.

There were several other similar publishers (Strato, Arnold, etc.) during the period US comics were largely undistributed in the UK, and while there were links between many of them, Miller and Class were two separate and distinct publishers.

This solves one problem and keeps at least Alan Class and his company out of the enormous mess, but of course doesn’t clarify what happened to Miller’s assets (who eventually acquired them?).

Personally, I prefer to believe my finding to be the ultimate solution: it would be just natural – and somewhat poetic – that the only true British superhero belonged directly to the British Crown. :)

And since in the meantime Marvel was acquired by Disney, one could anticipate what we will see at some point in the future: high-level negotiations between Mickey Mouse and Queen Elizabeth over Marvelman/Miracleman’s rights; that’s an eventuality, and it wouldn’t be the most absurd bit of the Marvelman legal saga.

Malcolm McLaren (1946-2010): the Ultimate Bastard.

It’s better to be a flamboyant failure than a benign success.
Malcolm McLaren

To be bad is good… to be good is simply boring
Rose Corre Isaacs, grandmother of Malcolm McLaren

He “invented” punk, scratching, vogueing and chip music, single-handedly. Or so it looked to many. ;)
He wanted to run as Mayor of London and -circa 1983- was indirectly responsible for the birth of seminal UK group Art of Noise.
He used African music, Puccini arias and Strauss waltzes selling them as if they were his own composition. Forgot to pay or at least credit some people in the process, but that was part of the game.
He ripped off countless people, including members of his own creature the Sex Pistols, and was a bastard.
Hearing Malcolm McLaren left us at 64, because of a bad form of cancer, wasn’t fun though.
He was a bastard, I said, but a fine bastard. Even John Lydon who probably didn’t have much simpathy for him in many moments was reported saying he will miss him.

McLaren was a legend: he managed Sex Pistols and is seen as almost the originator of punk.
In that process, he actually stole many elements from Richard Hell, which he had seen in US. Hairstyles, clothing, accessories and more were directly taken from Hell (pun intended) and thrown onto the UK scene. The “Sex” store he ran with (then partner) Vivianne Westwood started popularizing punk stuff. The Pistols exploded in UK and changed music history.
The Beatles were the first to have control of their own material and compositions.
The Pistols showed you didn’t even need the Beatles’ skills to make a fine mess. Liberation.
McLaren promoted the idea of a great “rock’n’roll swindle”. But ironically, the major the Pistols criticized in the legendary song “E.M.I.” later ended up owning Virgin, and thus the master itself of the parody song.

McLaren later started a solo career which had some brilliant peaks: the seminal 1983 album “Duck Rock”; the opera-inspired pastiche album “Fans”, including masterpieces like “Madam Butterfly”; “Waltz Darling”, which juxtaposed Jeff Beck and Bootsy Collins to Strauss waltzes and dances directly stolen from aspects of the US black gay scene. The French-inspired atmospheres of “Paris”, from 1994, featuring living icons like Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Hardy.
He even managed to get a track in one the Kill Bill movies and get into legal troubles in France over an alleged sample in it.
That was an old vice. Not paying Sex Pistols in full (and losing a lawsuit to them). Getting into trouble with Puccini’s heirs about “Fans”.
Personally, about a decade ago, after writing a review of “Duck Rock” for a site, I was contacted by a person claiming to be the offspring of some American musician whose folk music had been incorporated into bits of that album without ever being properly credited.
In the meantime, his output was being stolen by everyone else, himself becoming source of inspiration over at least a couple decades to too many to name all, from Tim Simenon (Bomb The Bass) in “Megablast” to Eminem to apparently unsuspectable people like Mariah Carey.

Then there were the last 7-10 years or so, in which McLaren sounded tired, almost unable to catch trends in advance as he usually did. By the time he spoke enthusiastically about “chip music”, made onto old 8-bit computers, the scene had already been around for years and had already generated live acts and commercial releases. Blasts from the past like the never completed “Fashion Beast” film project with Alan Moore (from the 1980s) resurfaced. Even a 1998 work, “Buffalo Gals – Back to Skool” which among others had none else than hip-hop superstar Rakim in it, was already another echo of past glories: he looked like he was living in the past without realizing.
Some of his most incredible adventures are chonicled in a 1991 book called The Wicked Ways of Malcolm McLaren. An illuminating take on many of the crazy things he was involved with.
He was a fascinating character. An old style band manager. A multi-talented (or talentless?) prankster and artist. A pirate. And a bastard. The Ultimate one.
They don’t make that kind anymore these days: Alan McGee sorta agrees on that.

Is John Titor an upcoming Disney franchise?

The John Titor hoax is an old story largely known on the Internet: alleged “time traveler” posts crap on the ‘Net, generates a lot of talk among us conspiracy theories lovers ;) and at some point ends up even discussed in kitschy Italian tv program “Voyager”, known for its cleverly staged and enormously enjoyable disinformation features.

I would like to add my 2 cents here and leave speculations to the readers.

Wouldn’t you find slightly suspicious the fact that the lawyer who represents the “Titor family” (provided it even exists) and the John Titor Foundation Inc. (or LLC) is based in Disney-created town Celebration, Florida?

A post on dated October 4, 2004 mentions the following contact details for the guy:

Law Offices of
Lawrence H. Haber, PA
Larry Haber
PO Box 470171
Celebration, FL 34747-0171
407-566-0181 Fax 407-566-0182
larryhaber {at} aol(.)com

According to, The John Titor Foundation is a Limited Liability Company and the site displays the following data:

The John Titor Foundation, L.L.C.
Incorporated by Lawrence H Haber, The John Titor Foundation, L.L.C. is located at 7862 W Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy Kissimmee, FL 34747.
The John Titor Foundation, L.L.C. was incorporated on Tuesday, September 16, 2003 in the State of FL and is currently active. Lawrence H Haber represents The John Titor Foundation, L.L.C. as their registered agent.
Source: Public Record data – Department of State – Division of Corporations


Note: the Foundation holds copyright for a now deleted book (A Time Traveler’s Tale, still listed and sold as used for outrageous prices on sites like Amazon UK and .com) telling Titor’s story.

Here is the Copyright registration information retrieved from

Type of Work: Text
Registration Number / Date: TXu001126005 / 2003-10-27
Title: A time traveler’s tale : the story of John Titor.
Description: 137 p.
Copyright Claimant: John Titor Foundation, Inc.
Date of Creation: 2001

Interesting that the work was created in 2001, same year as the last Titor posts, though only obtained registration a couple years later.

So – and that was mostly already known – Haber is the Foundation, the Foundation owns the copyright on a book (and thus everything John Titor-related) and Haber happens to be in Celebration.

BUT, nobody seems to have noticed also that Larry Haber worked for the Disney company in the past.
His public LinkedIn profile says:

Director, Business Affairs
Walt Disney World
(Public Company; DIS; Entertainment industry)
July 1995 — August 1999 (4 years 2 months)
Responsible for Business Affairs for all WDW original television programming.

Now. Walt Disney World is not everything Disney, but the guy has connections. Could he possibly stage this John Titor thing (together with a few friends and relatives) to promote a future Disney feature? Might be a stupid question, but not entirely improbable.

Whoever “John Titor” is, all hints point to a clever case of astroturfing.

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