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Hi Score Girl Halts Serialization After SNK's Copyright Charges

Anime News Network:

The editor-in-chief of Square Enix’s Monthly Big Gangan posted a message to its readers announcing that the magazine will temporarily halt serialization of Rensuke Oshikiri’s Hi Score Girl in light of alleged copyright violations. SNK Playmore had filed a complaint, asserting that the manga features over 100 instances of characters from The King of Fighters, Samurai Spirits (Samurai Shodown), and other fighting games owned by SNK. Police searched the publisher’s headquarters last Tuesday.

An SNK Playmore representative told ITmedia News that there were “absolutely no” requests or discussions by Square Enix to obtain consent to use SNK characters. The manga also uses characters from CAPCOM’s Street Fighter II, Sega’s Virtua Fighter, Namco’s Genpei Tōma Den, and other games. ITmedia News contacted CAPCOM, Sega, and Bandai Namco Games, and each one said that it gave formal consent for the manga to use its games’ characters.

That they properly licensed the other characters but not SNK’s is probably the most bizarre part of this story.

(In case you weren’t aware, Square Enix has a manga publishing division inherited from Enix, and they actually publish a lot.)

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Does a Company Own Its Facebook Likes?

Joshua Brustein, Bloomberg Businessweek:

The story (of the legal dispute, not the television show) begins in 2008, when Stacey Mattocks started a fan page for The Game. Soon thereafter, the show went off the air, but the Facebook page lived on. When BET decided to revive The Game in 2010, the network reached out to Mattocks, offering to give her part-time work maintaining her page as the show’s official fan page. BET wasn’t eager to start from scratch: Mattocks had already gathered about 2 million “likes,” according to court documents.

Mattocks and BET signed a deal giving the company administrative access to the page; each agreed not to lock the other out. BET employees and Mattocks worked together, quickly amassing 4 million additional “likes.” But Mattocks wanted a full-time job, and she decided to play hardball to get it. She revoked BET’s administrative access, saying she’d give it back when they agreed to pay her an acceptable salary. The company responded by starting its own page. It also asked Facebook to shut down Mattocks’s page—it contained copyrighted material—and have all the “likes” transferred to its own page. Facebook obliged and Mattocks sued, arguing that she should have the right to capitalize on the business opportunity she had created by getting a lot of people to approve of her page.

Where was the futurist who predicted mundane shit like this? Flying cars my butt.

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The mystery of the falling teen birth rate

Sarah Kliff, Vox:

For five years now, America’s teen birth rate has plummeted at an unprecedented rate, falling faster and faster. Between 2007 and 2013, the number of babies born to teens annually fell by 38.4 percent, according to research firm Demographic Intelligence. This drop occurred in tandem with steep declines in the abortion rate. That suggests that the drop isn’t the product of more teenagers terminating pregnancies. More simply, fewer girls are getting pregnant.

But there’s something uniquely frustrating about the recent, steep decline in teen birth rates: nobody knows why it’s happened.

She then runs through a number of theories, ranging from somewhat unsatisfying to deeply unsatisfying.

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San Francisco Giants win protest over rain-shortened loss in Chicago

Chris Haft,

San Francisco’s protest of its loss to Chicago on Tuesday was upheld on Wednesday by Joe Torre, MLB’s executive vice president for baseball operations. Torre agreed with the Giants’ stance that the flawed deployment of Wrigley Field’s tarp meant that the game should have been suspended instead of awarded to the Cubs, who led, 2-0, when rain halted activity after the regulation 4 1/2 innings had been played.

"Were we surprised? Sure," pitching coach Dave Righetti said. "How many of these have been upheld? Nine? 10?"

The precise number is unknown, but winning such an appeal is definitely rare. It last occurred in 1986, when a protest by Pittsburgh — that a game against St. Louis had been called too soon — was upheld.

Yes it’s the first successful protest lodged in twenty-eight years, and it’s over fuckin’ rain.

Incidentally, the last one was also over fuckin’ rain.

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Michele Roberts, N.B.A. Union’s New Leader, Confronts Gender Barriers

Andrew Keh writing for The New York Times about Michele Roberts, who was recently elected executive director of the NBA players’ union, the National Basketball Players Association:

She said she was all too aware that if she was selected, she would represent several hundred male athletes in the N.B.A.; she would deal with league officials and agents who were nearly all men; she would negotiate with team owners who were almost all men; and she would stand before reporters who were predominantly men.

She did not flinch. “My past,” she told the room, “is littered with the bones of men who were foolish enough to think I was someone they could sleep on.”

Holy shit.

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France Dumps Abortion Restrictions, Will Cover the Cost of All First Trimester Abortions

Ms. magazine:

A new law in France will now allow first-trimester abortions without requiring women to prove a justification for needing the procedure.

The new law, proposed by the French Minister for Women’s Rights Najat Vallaud-Belkacem was promulgated last Tuesday. It amends the country’s current law, which allows abortion only if a pregnant women can prove “distress.” The new law also bans any attempt to restrict women from getting information about abortion services.

The French National Assembly voted to approve the new law in January amid heated controversy. At that time, Vallaud-Belkacem defended the change to the current law, saying “Abortion is a right in itself and not something that is simply tolerated depending on the conditions.”

I like that quote.

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Remains of 9 Jonestown massacre victims found in Delaware

Ray Sanchez, CNN:

Nearly four decades after hundreds of people were led to their deaths in a mass murder-suicide pact in a South American jungle, the cremated remains of nine of those victims have been found in a shuttered funeral home in Delaware.

The eerie find was made after the owner of the site of the former Minus Funeral Home in Dover contacted authorities about 38 small containers left behind on the property, authorities said.

I… had no idea some were missing.

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Duke’s Legacy: Video Game Source Disc Preservation at the Library of Congress

David Gibson writing a guest post on the Library of Congress’s blog The Signal: Digital Preservation:

Several months ago, while performing an inventory of recently acquired video games, I happened upon a DVD-R labeled Duke Nukem: Critical Mass (PSP). My first assumption was that the disc, like so many others we have received, was a DVD-R of gameplay. However, a line of text on the Copyright database record for the item intrigued me. It reads: Authorship: Entire video game; computer code; artwork; and music. I placed the disc into my computer’s DVD drive to discover that the DVD-R did not contain video, but instead a file directory, including every asset used to make up the game in a wide variety of proprietary formats. Upon further research, I discovered that the Playstation Portable version of Duke Nukem: Critical Mass was never actually released commercially and was in fact a very different beast than the Nintendo DS version of the game which did see release. I realized then that in my computer was the source disc used to author the UMD for an unreleased PlayStation Portable game.

I immediately subscribed to this blog after reading this.

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Behind Toledo’s Water Crisis, a Long-Troubled Lake Erie

Michael Wines, The New York Times:

It took a serendipitous slug of toxins and the loss of drinking water for a half-million residents to bring home what scientists and government officials in this part of the country have been saying for years: Lake Erie is in trouble, and getting worse by the year.

Flooded by tides of phosphorus washed from fertilized farms, cattle feedlots and leaky septic systems, the most intensely developed of the Great Lakes is increasingly being choked each summer by thick mats of algae, much of it poisonous. What plagues Toledo and, experts say, potentially all 11 million lakeside residents, is increasingly a serious problem across the United States.

When Mayor D. Michael Collins told Toledo residents on Monday that it was again safe to use the city’s water, he was only replaying a scene from years past. Carroll Township, another lakefront Ohio community of 2,000 residents, suspended water use last September amid the second-largest algae bloom ever measured; the largest, which stretched 120 miles from Toledo to Cleveland, was in 2011. Summertime bans on swimming and other recreational activities are so routine that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency maintains a website on harmful algae bloom.

Note to our dear readers: please do not, under any circumstances, move to Toledo, Ohio.

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The NFL Passes Out Crippled Surface Tablets to Quarterbacks

Joshua Brustein, Bloomberg Businessweek:

The digital revolution is finally coming to the NFL—sort of. The league’s preseason kicks off Sunday, and the Hall of Fame Game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants will be the first game in which tablet computers are allowed on the sidelines. Thirteen Microsoft Surface tablets will be present on each sideline, and the coaches in each box will have access to another dozen.

But just as the NFL preseason is football in name only, the devices that the players will be using aren’t tablets in any normal sense of the word. The league reached a $400 million deal with Microsoft last spring to make its Surface tablets the exclusive computer of the NFL sideline, albeit with several conspicuous alterations made to the company’s standard tablets. The NFL’s Surface tablets have had their cameras disabled and can connect only to a private in-stadium wireless network. The devices can only run a single program, which allows people to browse through digital game photographs.

It’s not exactly a groundbreaking moment of innovation in football.

The NFL is comically serious about this sort of thing.