Friday, January 27, 2006


The past 24 hours have not been good ones. Mostly for reasons I either can't or won't go into here. But there's at least one item that's bothering me that is totally appropriate for this nominally Transformers-related blog.

If you follow Transformers with any enthusiasm, you probably know that the new edition of the Transformers Collectors' Club Magazine is now shipping. You probably have also seen a picture or two scanned from the magazine introducing certain toys that are due to hit the shelves in upcoming months.

And therein lies the problem.

As is well-known (if you've been following TFs) by now, Fun Publications (henceforth called "FP," these are the publishers of the Club Magazine) has specifically asked not to have such scans posted. Yet arrogant Transformers fans have been posting them left and right on the web in direct violation of these requests. I have called such people "thieves," and I do not think that word is too strong.

When I've complained about this matter on the boards, I have been treated with utter disrespect and contempt. Among other things, I (and the few others who have complained) have been told (paraphrased):
  • That's a stupid rule.
  • It's not fair that some people get to see these pictures and others don't.
  • Hasbro themselves don't really care. It's FP who's jealously protecting the scans.
  • This is the "real world," and you can't stop people from posting these pictures if they want to.
And the requests for "PMs" (Private Messages) to get the scans, circumventing message board restrictions, continue....

As the last sentence indicates, most of the moderators of the better Transformers message boards have been trying to respect the wishes of FP, and have taken down any scans or links they've found. But the damage is already done, and the sheer number of "send me a PM, please" messages indicates that there are still lots of Transformers fans who don't care about respecting FP's wishes (nor copyright laws).

There are a few reasons this bothers me:
  • Regardless of what the laws say, FP has every right to dictate how their material is to be used, and that deserves respect.
  • While the magazine is but a small part of our club membership, those of us who pay for it have a right to this exclusive content before the rest of the internet grabs it. It's not fair to us that the information is public before we even get the magazine in our own mailboxes! This detracts from the value of our membership fee, which is arguably not the greatest value to begin with.
  • There are copyright laws that prevent this sort of thing. A few folks have argued that this kind of thing falls under "fair use." To that, all I can say is that I spend a lot of time dealing with copyright matters, and while "fair use" is not a clear-cut definition, allowing for some flexibility in how potential violations are decided, I'm pretty confident that posting these scans on the internet does not fall under "fair use" by pretty much any legal definition.
  • This kind of information is made available to fans under certain conditions. If those conditions are not met, we are less likely to be granted such information in the future, and then all fans lose.
  • It violates my personal sense of "right" and "wrong."
Admittedly, this last is fairly petty. But it is, at least in part, dictated by my Christian faith, and it is not an argument I have brought up anywhere else. I am well aware that many (if not most) Transformers fans are not Christian, and I do not expect them to be persuaded by arguments based on Christian ideals. I do still expect them to have better respect for the wishes of those who have worked to make this information available to fans in the first place, even if they don't have respect for the law. It's just common decency.

But this is definitely one of those times when I'm embarrassed to call myself a Transformers fan....

Thursday, January 26, 2006

What to Say?

There's so much that's happened in the past 24-hours in the news that I feel at a loss to comment on anything. Two quick observations:

1. I'm scared to death that, with the recent Hamas victories in the Palestinian Parliament, the conservative Christian right will become even more galvanized. (I'm scared of a Hamas majority for other reasons, too, but this is actually a big deal to me.)

2. I'm tired of hearing President Bush tell me (through press conferences) that certain questionable actions he undertakes are "what the American people expect [him] to do" in order to protect the American people. Clearly, with half of the country expressing severe displeasure at his policies, he is not doing "what the American people expect him to do."

Monday, January 9, 2006

New Doctor Who Guide: Children in Need Special

With the advent of new actor David Tennant playing the Doctor (the 10th!), it seems a good time to start reviewing new episodes as they come out. When the new season starts properly in the spring, these should come out a week or two after the program has originally aired, to give people who want it a chance to find and watch the episode before being spoiled on any of the details here. For those familiar with it, I will be following a format adapted from The Discontinuity Guide, which has previously been adapted by others to review novels and audio adventures. Since I have a little bit of catching up to do, I'll start out with the short post-regeneration sequence that was featured as part of the recent "Children in Need" fundraising event. Since this episode lasted all of 7 minutes, this entry will be a comparatively short one, with several items missing ("Dialogue Disasters" and "Dialogue Triumphs," for example, will be included when appropriate.). Also, if anyone finds that I've gotten something wrong, or feels that I should have added something, please feel free to let me know in a comment, and I will correct the entry. I'll have a larger entry next week when I get around to reviewing "The Christmas Invasion."

Children in Need Special

Links:Immediately after regenerating, the Doctor intends to take Rose to Barcelona ("The Parting of the Ways"). Rose thinks that the new Doctor might be the result of nanogenes ("The Doctor Dances"), or that he may be a Gelth ("The Unquiet Dead") or a Slitheen ("Aliens of London"/"World War III"/"Boom Town"). The new Doctor recounts his first meeting with Rose ("Rose") to prove his identity to her. The luminous gas escaping from the Doctor's mouth appears to be related to the time energies he removed from Rose which caused this regeneration ("Parting of the Ways"). As the TARDIS speeds toward Earth, the Cloister Bell sounds ("Logopolis").

Location: The TARDIS Console Room, en route to Barcelona, 5006; then en route to contemporary London at Christmastime.

Untelevised Adventures: The Doctor asks if Rose remembers "hopping for [their] lives."

The Bottom Line: In the span of less than 7 minutes, Rose is given a nice bit of characterization, and David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor holds promise, although there is little to be gleaned about his personality given the post-regeneration instability.

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