The things in the PDC 2005 introductory video


I remarked earlier that the creative director for the PDC rummaged through our offices looking for stuff which was to be used in the opening PDC video to decorate a developer's cubicle. It all flashed by really quickly, but if you were paying attention, you might have been able to make out the following:

One thing you won't find in the developer's cubicle, however, is a can of soda. That's because none of the soda companies would give permission for their product to appear in this video.

Later in the video, several pages from the web site tastingmenu.com are flashed across the screen. Puzzle: Why was this site chosen?

(For legal reasons, I can't provide a link to the video. Any comments that claim to include a link to the video will be deleted, sorry.)

Comments (29)
  1. Ring Zero says:

    none of the soda companies would give permission for their product to appear in this video

    I’ve never understood why such permission is needed.

    Does this mean permission was obtained from Knuth, Aho, whoever made the monitor, whoever made the tower, whoever made the desk, whoever made the cubicle walls, whoever made the whiteboard, etc etc etc?

  2. Ring Zero says:

    Oh, and I guess tastingmenu.com was chosen because it’s the baby of a Microsoft employee, Hillel something or other. Hillel, if you’re reading, there are errors in the javascript for your site.

  3. I thought it was just called "the Dragon book", are there other "Dragon" books relevant to programmers?

  4. george says:

    So the video is on the public internet but you are not allowed to tell us the URL?! Perhap it shoudn’t be in the ‘net then. Not very good security.

  5. Wang-Lo says:

    ‘Compilers: Principles, Techniques and Tools, better known as "The Red Dragon Book", being used as a monitor stand’

    I worked in a crowded cubicle at Digital Equipment Corp where my VT340 had to go on top of a filing cabinet. To tilt it forward so I could use it, I used an empty 3-inch orange binder as a wedge. The back of the terminal and thus the spine of the binder faced a busy corridor. I labeled the binder ‘VT340 Support’. Hundreds of people passed by, but of course I don’t know how many got my little joke. One engineer did stop in to remark that although there was no such document, the label was nevertheless correct.

    I try to be interesting as well as useful.

    -Wang-Lo.

  6. oldnewthing says:

    "Perhaps it shouldn’t be in the ‘net then."

    That’s right. It shouldn’t.

    "Not very good security."

    Perhaps we should have frisked everybody coming to the PDC to confiscate camcorders and camera phones.

  7. Phil says:

    I don’t understand why MS kept the video secret to begin with…why not publish it and bring those hits to their own site instead of the other sites hosting the bootleg?

  8. oldnewthing says:

    Microsoft does not own the rights to the music in the video.

  9. Tim says:

    Pikachu – only the previous Dragon book :-)

    In other words, "Principles of Compiler Design" by Aho & Ullman. I believe it had a green dragon on it, but can’t be sure as you could only get the newer book when I was at college. Our lecturer had a copy, but recommended we get the new one anyway – i.e. ‘Compilers: Principles, Techniques and Tools’ by Aho, Sethi & Ullman (the one you’re familiar with).

  10. Michael says:

    If the only problem is the music: Is it allowed to talk about it? Is it about Bill Gates going to school?

    What’s happening in the video?

  11. oldnewthing says:

    I know that the music is one problem. There may be others. (E.g., perhaps one of the companies who granted rights to show their product in the video did it only under the condition that the video never be publically released. JUST SPECULATING.)

  12. Gabe says:

    IANAL, but this "soda can" thing is a fallacy. The producer has just as much right to show a Coke can as he does to show a book by Knuth or whatever other product makes the shot look real.

    No permission is necessary unless it is a commercial, in which case permission would be required for all trademarks where it could be confusing what it was a commercial for. In other words, unless it looked like Coke was endorsing the video, it would have been just fine to use a Coke can. It is possible that whomever was responsible for this thought otherwise, but that’s just speculation.

    The copyright part is probably true, though. In order to use music, it would have to be licensed. MS probably licensed the music for a single performance rather than for distribution to the whole world. They could have made a copy available without the music, but it’s easier to just not make it available. By having a link to it, Raymond could be liable for contributing to copyright infringement.

  13. Ytram says:

    But which TAOCP book was it? Everyone knows that "Sorting and Searching" is the only one worth reading. ;)

  14. Cooney says:

    Volume 4 – Transdimensional transforms and other things that go bump in the night.

  15. James Day says:

    Gabe, the soda can will also be copyrighted. If it is used as a significant part of scene-setting the use may not be de minimis and it may also not be considered fair use if the video is considered to be for marketing purposes. And since the PDC is a marketing gathering to a significant degree, that’s not unlikely.

    Music licensing is a big part of why WKRP in Cincinnati isn’t being released on video tape or DVD. Many other shows have much music replaced with different music than used in the broadcast version but WKRP just has too much music. Crazy world but that’s the way it works.

  16. Norman Diamond says:

    Thursday, October 20, 2005 6:16 PM by James Day

    > Gabe, the soda can will also be copyrighted.

    Hmm. In that case, even though a book’s title aren’t copyright, other cover components such as the drawing of a dragon are. I wonder how many permissions Microsoft obtained for the video? Even the forged diploma. The forgery itself is surely allowed in some countries due to being a parody of the real one, though memory doesn’t serve me correctly because there’s no parody detection logic. But in turn no one can make and distribute copies of the parody itself without permission, they would only be allowed to create and distribute a meta-parody.

    C:Documents and SettingsGuest>link "This is not a claim.obj" /out:"the video.exe"

    C:Documents and SettingsGuest>rem The above line was not a comment. This line is a comment.

  17. Chris Nahr says:

    Soda cans are not subject to copyright, but they typically show a label that is trademarked.

    If the video is shown at or depicts a commercial event, the appearance of cans with such a label could be construed as an illict use of the trademark.

    Normally the soda maker shouldn’t mind, though, since it’s free publicity for them. Usually the sponsor pays to appear in a movie, not the other way round!

    I think the real legal issue for Microsoft is that they might occasionally enter PR contracts to show certain companies’ products in conjunction with MS products, and those other companies wouldn’t want some soda maker to get its cans into a MS video for free.

  18. tastingmenu answer says:

    Hillel Cooperman and most of the contributing writers are MS employees. I believe Hillel is currently responsible for Microsoft Codename Max, http://www.microsoft.com/max.

  19. Michael says:

    Can someone who saw the video post a short synopsis what it was about? What’s happening in the video?

  20. Name not required says:

    A blog entry about something you can’t show us which doesn’t contain things which weren’t allowed to be shown. I have to wonder why you bothered, Raymond!

    Yes, and I’m commenting on it. How’s /that/ for ridiculous?!

  21. name omited for legal reasons :P says:

    But maybe you could try to get the email for the people who can aprove linking the video?

  22. James Day says:

    Chris, interesting – I find no copyright registration records for soda can artwork. Surprised. Do you happen to know why this artwork is ineligible for copyright cover?

  23. oldnewthing says:

    ? *Nobody* can approve linking the video. As I noted, Microsoft does not have the rights to make the video available on the Internet.

  24. Tim Smith says:

    Is it a problem with Trademarks and not copyrights?

  25. Chris Nahr says:

    James, labels or names of any sort are not eligible for copyright. I don’t have the definition handy but basically, copyright only covers intellectual creations that are reproduced and sold for their own sake.

    Say I’m a post-modern poet and I write a poem that consists of the single line "Coca Cola". That would be covered by copyright. (Although good luck trying to prove that anyone else writing "Coca Cola" intended to copy my poem rather than name the soda label…)

    But if I’m a soda producer and write "Coca Cola" on a soda can, that’s not covered by copyright because the valuable object is the soda can and "Coca Cola" is merely a label. Instead I have to register a trademark for "Coca Cola" if I want the label protected.

  26. *laughs* – I use the Dragon Book it as a monitor stand, too! It’s nice and solid, just the right size, and LCDs these days don’t weigh enough to damage it. Besides, I like having something interesting to look at while the code is compiling. :-)

    Trademarks are automatic, at least in the US (as they are based in part on common perception), but they’re easier to prove and prosecute if you have registered it.

  27. Ariel says:

    The real stupid thing here is the fact that everything seems to be owned by someone, disregarding the fact that we are all part of the same community with trillions of external economies consequences that affect each other, for the good and the bad.

    No, this is not the comunist manifesto. It’s common sense… The atrocity is this US legal system allowing such trials to go on allowing attorney to take consumers’ money…

  28. Slapout says:

    Would it be possible to simply have a screenshot of the video?

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