Is this link dated?

…or is it eleven months avant-garde?*

Check out “Traveling Group Of Medieval Mummers Is America’s Top Pick For Holiday Entertainment” at the Onion News Network and let me know.

If I don’t miss my guess, the screenshot there is a contemporary artist’s representation of the Bodleian Alexander MS I use so often in my Mmm… Marginalia thing.** Small world.

[UPDATE BELOW!]

[UPDATE] I decided to check my hunch after posting, and it’s a much clearer dupe than I thought.*** Behold the Onion’s source:

Not sure why they hired an artist to make a copy, though,**** since the Bodleian makes huge high-resolution scans of the manuscript available to all. Surely the Onion’s clearance people consider works from 1344 to be in the public domain by now. Though maybe the Onion’s got the inside track on SOPA/PIPA 2: Electric Boogaloo. Better safe than sorry suddenly booted off the Internet two years from now because you neglected to find out which media conglomerate gets to decide who is retroactively allowed to crack wise with the back catalog of Jehan de Grise’s 14th-century manuscript workshop.*****

Actually, I say “surely”, but I get email from media interns often enough regarding the rights status of manuscript images used here to know that nobody’s sure what the rules are any more. That might even be part of the content holders’ long con. Once the boundaries of copyright are sufficiently muddled, reasonable people will tend to err toward caution and preemptively self-censor.

Thanks to helpful reader “Flipsockgrrl“,****** who sent the link to me on the fifth day of Christmas past.


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  1. * Let’s say it’s the latter. Aren’t I nice, the way I look out for you guys? []
  2. ** I like to think of this particular page’s image as having been taken from the opening credits of the Medieval Muppet Show. []
  3. *** Does the resemblance make my hunch more or less impressive, I wonder? Let’s say more. Better safe than sorry. []
  4. **** OK, I lied, I know it’s because [SPOILER ALERT!] they wanted to use an image later of the mummers going into a modern house, and there’s no amount of photoshop that can put something from a medieval manuscript into a contemporary work, or vice versa. But I lied for the sake of the jokes in the later footnotes. Let’s just pretend you didn’t read this one until after, OK? []
  5. ***** If we don’t protect their intellectual property, 14th-century Flemish manuscript illuminators will simply stop making de luxe compilations of the Alexander romances, and then where will we be?†  
    †Did you answer “Probably in the same place either way, since the illuminators won’t be able to get the rights to the Alexander romances cheaply enough to afford all that gold leaf”? Score two points if you did, but remember next round point values are doubled, so no one is out of the game yet. []
  6. ****** Which might not be her real name. I mean, most states have laws requiring names have no more than five consonants in a row–but she could be foreign, I guess.††  
    †† Don’t worry, I won’t let DHS know that ferners read this blog thing if you guys don’t. Otherwise we might end up buried to the eyeballs under backscatter machines and cupcake icing litigation. []

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