The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Breaking the law! Breaking the law!

Ah … wierdness in law. It seems that Adobe® added code to Adobe® Photoshop® to prevent images of currency to be manipulated using said program. In the discussion on Slashdot, USC Title 18 Part I Chapter 25 §504 came up. Relevent bits:

(i) all illustrations shall be in black and white, except that illustrations of postage stamps issued by the United States or by any foreign government and stamps issued under the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act of 1934 may be in color;

(ii) all illustrations (including illustrations of uncanceled postage stamps in color and illustrations of stamps issued under the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act of 1934 in color) shall be of a size less than three-fourths or more than one and one-half, in linear dimension, of each part of any matter so illustrated which is covered by subparagraph (A), (B), (C), or (D) of this paragraph, except that black and white illustrations of postage and revenue stamps issued by the United States or by any foreign government and colored illustrations of canceled postage stamps issued by the United States may be in the exact linear dimension in which the stamps were issued; and

(iii) the negatives and plates used in making the illustrations shall be destroyed after their final use in accordance with this section. The Secretary of the Treasury shall prescribe regulations to permit color illustrations of such currency of the United States as the Secretary determines may be appropriate for such purposes.

USC Title 18, Part I, Chapter 25, §504

I may be breaking the law.

According to (i) above, all illustrations have to be in black and white, except for certains stamps that fall under the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act of 1934 (code). But (ii) above states that all illustrations have to be larger or smaller than actual size, unless they are in black and white! at which case, they can be actual size.

Blink. Blink.

(iii) is pretty explicit, although I'm now concerned I may have to destroy my scanner.

You see, it all comes down to the most linked image on my site—that of Jeff Conaway Andrew Jackson. I scanned the image off the new US $20 bill (well, not so new now) and while I don't have the full US $20 bill being displayed, I do have the portrait that is fairly close to actual size (at least on my monitor) and it's in color (okay, black and green). So, I'm either violating provision (i) above (by having it in color) or (ii) above (by having it near actual size) and (iii) by virtue of not having destroyed the image or scanner, although technically speaking, the scanner does not have plates, and the concept of a “negative” is pretty tenuous, so I may not have to destroy my scanner.

But the size issue does concern me. I could check against a real US $20, but my wallet is currently in the bedroom, and there's this huge ever growing pulsating bee wasp that rules from the center of the bedroom so the actual check will have to wait.

But if the check does prove that the image of Andrew Jackson is smaller or larger than actual size (“Really officer! Check out the image here on my 72″ monitor—see! That doesn't match the actual size at all!”) I'm still probably violating provision (i) above by having it in color. I suppose I could just delete the image entirely and solve this and other problems but that still doesn't actually answer the question of “Am I breaking (or have I broken) the law?”

And it sucks that it would cost me $400 to have a lawyer go “Don't know, but delete it anyway just to make sure, unless you really want to test this in a court of law in which case hand over your bank account.”


According to Adobe®, I need to include trademark information whenever I mention Adobe® or any Adobe® products, like Adobe® Photoshop®. Thanks to Kisrael for the heads up.

Adobe and Photoshop are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.

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