Much Ado About Nothing: The Brouhaha over #AmtrakResidency’s Terms of Service

bildeYou may have heard, if you’re friends with writers, that Amtrak, inspired by an exchange on Twitter, has come up with a really cool program called #AmtrakResidency where writers can catch a cross-country train (with Amtrak picking up the fare) and trek across the states while working on their next big novel. Truth be told, there is something very cool about writing while on a train. The world is your television, and seeing the country rush by you—given the atmosphere of riding the train across our majestic landscape—is nothing short of inspiring.

No, “rush by” is not the right description. From the window of your Amtrak observation desk or sleeper car, a cross-country odyssey unfolds all around you.

It all sound very poetic, which is why some crusaders of truth, justice, and “Your Content is YOURS” did a massive deep-dive into the terms of the #AmtrakResidency Program and  speculate there is trouble at mill when it comes to your content. Nuzzled within the terms of giving you, the author, free train fare in exchange for this opportunity to write, Amtrak reserves “the absolute, worldwide, and irrevocable right to use, modify, publish, publicly display, distribute, and copy the name, image, and/or likeness of Applicant and the names of any such persons identified in the Application for any purpose, including, but not limited to, advertising and marketing. (taken from #6. Grant of Rights of #AmtrakResidency Program)”

This sent some in the writing community into a right tizzy. New York Times Bestseller Diane Duanne warns on her blog “Never sell anyone world rights to any of your writing. Ever. Ever. Because who knows if that one piece of writing is the one that would have made you famous worldwide and rich beyond the dreams of avarice? Or more to the point, what if they later do something with your writing that is absolutely opposite to your intentions and which you find harmful or offensive? You’d have no recourse there either.”

She used bold AND italics. Wow. This must be serious. Continue reading

Stranger on a Train: New York Comic Con

And awwwaaaay we go!!!

Between the surprise priority video job at work, our child getting sick, the drama of getting out of Manassas, and WordPress for the iPhone borking on me and devouring my post, it is hard to believe we are on the way to New York Comic Con and yet here we are, chugging through New Jersey…

The recent crisis at work this week brought about an epiphany: some people are under the impression that video editing is the same as putting together a PowerPoint presentation. Thing is, you can’t do in PowerPoint what I put together in Final Cut Pro. You want more than you average slide presentation. Yes I get that. But as Jimmy has learned under The Commodore’s tutelage: You don’t get anything for free.

Boardwalk Empire. That’s some incredible storytelling there.

I am taking some cold comfort in that I did something no one else could do. It’s what my friend Al Garnett calls “the price of being a badass” — you raise the bar and people expect you to go Superman at a moment’s notice; but then again, no one does what I do there. No one could. That’s fact, bro. Straight up.

So now, Pip and I head for NY ComicCon. We want to get a hardbound copy of Phoenix Rising to Felicia Day, and I’d like to get Mark Hammil to sign my copy of Batman: Arkham Asylum. Funny thing — even with being pro, I’m still the fanboi.

I can live with that.

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