Archive for the ‘law’ Category

Explaining Health Care

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

We’ve been talking a lot about how comics are a great way to boil down complex topics, conveying these topics in a form that will get people to actually read and understand them. Publisher Hill and Wang has really taken this to heart, having published graphic narratives such as the The 9/11 Report and The Stuff of Life: a graphic guide to genetics and DNA. For their next project, they’ve enlisted MIT economist Jonathan Gruber to adapt the 2,400-page Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into a graphic guide tentatively titled Health Care Reform.

As one of the architects behind the bill, Jonathan Gruber is uniquely qualified to adapt the bill, though he was reluctant at first:

“I just wasn’t sure this would be useful enough. Then my wife and kids said, ‘You’re crazy. You’ve got to do this.’ So I decided to give it a shot. My family made me realize that there is such a misunderstanding of the bill and that it’s important to explain why we need this, and what it does. I’ve found that when people understand it, they like it.”

The book is slated for publication later this year (though anyone who needs easier-to-digest information now can always check out the bill’s official website).

(via ICv2)

The Company You Keep

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Getting out of jury duty has become such a running joke that it almost feels like a national pastime at this point, but John Backderf (aka “Derf”) still managed to surprise the judge and lawyers—they even dropped their pens—with his response to “Has anyone you know ever been convicted of a crime?”

“I had a close friend in high school who killed 17 people”

By close friend he means infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who killed 17 men between 1978 and 1991 before he was caught in 1991 and killed 3 years later in prison.

As for John Backderf, he was dismissed from jury service. In addition to getting him out of court, the incident is great publicity for his self-published comic, My Friend Dahmer.

(via The Plain Dealer)

Criminal Justice for Kids

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Reading, writing, math, history, science—of all the things kids learn in school, one of the things we usually don’t teach them is how to deal with being arrested. It can be a pretty daunting situation for a juvenile, with no concept of how the system works and no control over the situation; in the criminal justice system, they’re largely at the mercy of adults.

The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) seeks to return some power to kids who get arrested by creating a special comic to walk them through each step of the process, laying out what’s expected of them, and most importantly, letting them know that getting arrested won’t ruin their lives. With that thought in mind, it will probably make everything else—from the initial arrest to family court—go much smoother.

I Got Arrested! Now What? is one of a number of fold-out posters from Making Policy Public (part of CUP) that help explain public policy to ordinary people, but the only one presented as a comic. The art is by Danica Novgorodoff, and the issue was produced through a collaboration among with the Center for Court Innovation and the Youth Justice Board.

(via Doodles and Dailies)

Class Notes

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010
  • Water Cooler Games shut down last year on August 15th. This was a blog operated by Ian Bogost and Gonzalo Frasca, dedicated to researching “video games with an agenda.” It was part of the inspiration to create this site, so we’re a bit sad to see it go. WCG is archived in full over at and Bogost will continue to blog about video game theory and design there.
  • A few days after we posted about it, Bound By Law was updated, including a new introduction by Cory Doctorow and forward by Davis Guggenheim.
  • Luxee, the restaurant featured in the Cooking Manga panel at last year’s New York Anime Fest, closed on August 16th.

Fair Use – Use It or Lose It!

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

October 28, 2008 represents the tenth anniversary of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, while October 27, 2008 is the tenth anniversary of the Copyright Term Extension Act. These among other changes have made copyright law a complicated legal minefield. And yet, ordinary people are finding themselves entangled in this net more and more, what with things like blogs and YouTube and BitTorrent to facilitate the sharing of information which may not necessarily belong to those individuals.

But information should be free, right? Well, depends on how you use it. There is a little thing called fair use which allowed limited use of copyrighted material in order to create new works, though it depends on the nature of the new work in particular. But even fair use can be confusing, so what’s a humble creator to do?

Well, if you’re a documentary filmmaker, the Duke Center for the Study of the Public Domain has come to the rescue with a special comic titled Tales from the Public Domain: BOUND BY LAW?, which will walk you through the things a documentarian needs to know when it comes to all that messy IP law that might interfere with their vision.

The comic gives a brief explanation of current copyright law and how you determine if a particular work is copyrighted. It then delves into the particular issues that documentary filmmakers have to deal with, and the best part here is that they give real examples of when a known documentary film was compromised because of outrageous licensing fees, or cases where the filmmaker exercised their rights to fair use.

Unfortunately, the comic provides no easy answers. It isn’t a handbook to tell you what to do—Step 1, Step 2, Step 3—it’s merely a guidebook to tell you what you CAN do. Luckily, documentarians still have options, the CSPD just wants them to know what they are.

(Bound by Law is available under a Creative Commons—Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 license, so feel free to download a PDF copy, print it out, post it elsewhere, translate, or of course, use excerpts from it in your own work.)