I was gonna send an email to JMS , but the amount of stuff he must still get, puts me off this course of action , so I thought I would throw it out to the dope.
Who owns the rights to any idea that was presented in any Babylon five universe series, I am thinking specifically of a newspaper kiosk that Sheridan , Garibaldi and probably Franklyn getting their morning papers from.
I think the OP isn’t wondering so much about the title “Universe Today”, but about the concept of a personalized paper, with just the sections the buyer is interested in, printed up at point of sale on demand.
And I would expect that that newspaper kiosk in B5 was probably used before somewhere else. It’s not a particularly innovative concept – museums, for instance, had kiosks giving video lectures about exhibits long before B5 was created; a newspaper is just a simple logical progression. I’d be surprised if no one thought of it before JMS.
So if you portray something like that in a story, you don’t have to ask anyone’s permission.
Don’t Yahoo! and CNN already have something akin to this, online? By the time we get to whatever point in the future you’re writing about (assuming that’s what you’re doing), I imagine there will be more sophisticated versions, with all sorts of options for access, public, mobile, and otherwise.
What’s important isn’t where the idea comes from originally, but that you write it your way.
I’m certain that somewhere I’ve read stories where it was mentioned that a character received a personalized newspaper, either at a public kiosk or at a home terminal of some sort. As Reality Chuck pointed out, you can’t copyright ideas.
Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age (1996), uses the idea of personalized newspapers, for example; interestingly, in one society in this book, personalized newpapers are a signifier of lower-class - as one advances in society, one is expected to take an interest in more than just one’s personally favorite topics.
I jumped on your reply , but it is sort of important if you want to implement something like that in real life. Now through the magic of special effects the paper in B5 came out folded like one you would find in an actual newspaper box.
In reality , it would probably be something like the magic paper thats supposed to be coming out soon, probably in the next decade if there is no major hurdles left, called electronic paper which is probably plastic of some kind.
Research is currently underway to apply the kindle E-ink to the new medium, and if some of the more fantastic claims I have heard are true, then its possible while you wont get internet , a tabbed browser style “paper display” would let you read sports , news , gossip and what ever, all on the same sheet.
Traditional print media is going through stormy waters , several papers have either closed or are in major financial trouble, so the writing is on the wall so to speak. Yet I think people want a tactile medium to read their news, this might bridge the gap between news media moving to an all web interface and folks who want to read the sunday paper at the breakfast table.
So who owns the intellectual property might be worth knowing.