Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Presidential poems, copyright, and the dangers of dacoits....

Remember that terrible poem that George Bush wrote for Laura (his wife. The first lady of America etc)? (Sample couplet:
The dogs and the cat they miss you too,
Barney's still mad you dropped him, he ate your shoe.
That one.)

Well, it turns out he didn't write it.

On the other hand, Laura Bush has said she didn't actually lie when she said "President Bush is a great leader and husband -- but I bet you didn't know, he is also quite the poet. Upon returning home last night from my long trip, I found a lovely poem waiting for me. Normally, I wouldn't share something so personal, but since we're celebrating great writers, I can't resist."

How odd, one thinks. If her husband didn't write that rubbish, who did leave her a poem about how jealous he was that she was kissed by that charming French guy? And why would she read it out to people voluntarily, without even being at gunpoint?

The only logical explanation is that the folksy dire toe-curlingly bad poetry was concocted, not by some secret lover, but by Laura herself, or by people behind the scenes at the Bush Administration, in to divert attention from George Bush's actual poetry.

Think about it.

Why would the First Lady read out bad poetry, and claim it was by George Bush? Obviously because his actual poetry would bring down the administration.

Imagine the real presidential poems: complex sestinas and triolets, rondels and villanelles, crammed with allusion and metaphor, litotes and auxesis, and every kind of metre from iambic and trochaic to anapestic and spondaic and that other one I can't remember the name of. Poems in the manner of Byron, of Shelley, of Ezra Pound. Sonnet sequences of such brilliance that they cannot be read without tears unbidden pricking the eyes of the person reading. Sensitive, subtle, gentle, fierce poetry. Good poetry. Great poetry.

If he's writing poetry like that, it would need a full-scale cover-up.

America would never trust someone who wrote real poems in a position of power. America understands how dangerous poets are, and would not allow one in the White House in any position of responsibility.

Seen like that, Laura Bush's need to lie for her husband, to cover up for his poetic impulses, to have someone create horrible "if you want adventure / just land on my carrier" verses, or the birthday poem they put up on the Whitehouse website made up of lines from seventies rock songs, must be seen as something noble. The public must, at all costs, be protected from the real thing.


I was just reading your journal about the Spawn copyrights and I was wondering about something. Well, when I was in Media Tech (a highschool film class at my school) my instructor used to be largely apart of the journalistic and writing world and told my class and I about a screenplay she wrote and sent to an important studio and never heard back from them. But a couple of years later a film debuted with a strikingly similar story and the same starring actress my instructor had intended in her work!
"Oh, why didn't you sue?!" we all asked, outraged. We were informed that if you sued someone in Hollywood, you can kiss any chance of making it in the biz goodbye.

So when you saw this injustice, when you acted upon it, did you feel that it would interfere with many of your business relations? Has it done you more harm than good? I've noticed no particular worry over the case in your blog, maybe in an assurance of gaining justice, but were the opinions (including the dissenting) of yourcolleaguess of any impact on your decision to take this case to court? Of course, my instructor's situation was not as similar in distress for she had not copywritten her work... so, no justice for her, sadly enough. Right?
Thanx for listening/reading/whatever!!!!!
You're the coolest author/writer/whatever!!

TFGoddess aka Raime

No, I didn't mind, and I don't think it's done me any harm, and it's made my days a lot brighter and more fun. I've learned a lot about the law, and about copyright and contracts and trials and things I would never have known otherwise.

Having said that, it was a pretty straightforward case of a publisher trying very hard to cheat a writer, where it was easiest to put all the evidence before a judge and a jury and let them sort it out, which they did, very effectively, finding Todd guilty on every point, and throwing out his countersuit.

I suspect your Instructor may have been exaggerating slightly: for a start, you own your copyright the moment you write something, whether you've filed or not. And studios mostly don't steal ideas from unsolicited scripts that come in, because if you do that you do get sued. It's cheaper to buy the script than to steal the plot.

Lots of people sue in Hollywood (Harlan Ellison famously won one case, and had others settle) and it doesn't mean you'll never work again. On the whole, in Hollywood, they only hate you till they need you.


Judge Posner is one of the authors we publish at West Group.

He is easily our most respected and prolific author, well he's right up there with the very famous Arthur Miller of Harvard Law school.

Posner is also on staff at the U of Chicago. Real smart guy, very well thought of. I have somewhere a magazine with a full length photo of him standing in his study with a very fuzzy puddy tat in his arms.

Your case, like that catty, was in good hands.

Rick (dethbird)

I was genuinely impressed listening to his questioning in the Oral Argument, and after reading I started looking forward to reading his judicial opinions. Copyright's a sensitive subject for an author (it's what most of us make our living from -- giving publishers the right to copy things we've written) and an important one, and I got the impression that he took it very seriously.


Charles Shaar Murray reviews ENDLESS NIGHTS in the Independent --

While at Silver Bullets Craig Lemon reviews the Dark Horse edition of Violent Cases, the very first book by Dave Mckean and me, back in print 16 years after it was first published. I was delighted it's finally available again.


James Branch Cabell fans will be amused by


And the following story made me fascinated, then sad, then hopeful...

This one -- the first thing I ran across -- made me sad: A fuller -- and more colourfully written -- version is from the Times of India site: and was the next thing I found, trying to understand it. (I think I really really like the Times of India's prose style. Any newspaper that begins a news story with the words "In a dastardly attack" is my kind of newspaper.)

This one -- just before the vandal attack -- fascinated me, and puzzled me. (Why destroy your life's work?)

And this -- the sequel -- reminded me that people care: