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Can you keep a secret?

Can you keep a secret? published on No Comments on Can you keep a secret?

Published yesterday on ReadWriteWeb

Don’t you worry – we’ll get to the cartoon in a moment. But first, would you mind signing this standard document?

It simply says you won’t give away the joke to the cartoon. And that you won’t tell any jokes with the same punchline, or a similar punchline. Ever.

Oh, that section? That’s just boilerplate. It means you acknowledge that anything you create from this point forward is a derivative work of this cartoon, and is therefore our property. Purely standard wording.

Um, yes, that next passage would appear, on the surface, to obligate you to buy a set of encyclopedias and four Magic Bullet food processors. Here, let’s just strike that out.

Look, can I level with you? Somewhere along the line, our lawyers… well, they went kind of… well, you don’t want to say “crazy”, because that’s potentially actionable. Let’s say “overzealous.”

Once they finished drafting contracts and handling the incorporation, I think they had some time on their hands. And they started thinking of ways to fill it.

Suddenly, we had to sign a liability waiver to use the coffee machine. You couldn’t use the photocopier without a notarized affidavit that you weren’t violating anyone’s IP. I found Terms of Use agreements posted above the urinals in the men’s room.

Look, you seem like a decent enough person. And the cartoon’s Creative Commons-licensed anyway. So go ahead and read it – knock yourself out.

Um, although in case you do knock yourself out, I’m going to need you to sign this waiver…

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2009-03-09-reality

2009-03-09-reality published on No Comments on 2009-03-09-reality

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