31 August 2004

The news just gets more bizarre all the time. First, let's look at Boston:

Grokster is carefully tailored, like Napster, to enable users to find the songs and performers they want, and there are no mechanisms in the software to inhibit copyright violation. Grokster generates advertising income based on its ability to attract users who routinely share copyrighted material without permission. The court should have considered the obvious intention of the software as well as its architecture. "We live in a quicksilver technological environment with courts ill suited to fix the flow of Internet innovation," declared the judges. True enough, but this case involves a technology with an exceptional record of copyright violation. It would be unfortunate if the movie and music industries now redoubled their efforts to persuade Congress to pass a wide-ranging bill that could throttle innovation. The Supreme Court must square this case with its Betamax ruling. Given the openness of the Internet, tension between copyright and technology is inevitable, but the Grokster decision has badly tilted the balance.

"Copyright Breach" (30 Aug 2004) (fake paragraphing removed for clarity). The editors at the Globe are either smoking pot or calling the kettle black. Note that this article does not mention the Globe's direct and indirect participation as a losing defendant in Tasini (the Globe is part of the NYT's empire), which showed even less respect for copyright than is shown by the P2P software developers. At least the software developers are following precedent pointing the way toward their actions, and are dealing with a truly unsettled area of law! Then, on the other hand, we have the rapacious copyright grab that the Globe and the NYT forced on freelancers in the wake of Tasini: on pain of never working for those papers again (or at least so was threatened, and usually not very politely), freelancers were required to sign away their copyrights not just in the current work, but in every work they had ever done for any member of the NYT empire. That doesn't show a whole lot of respect for others' copyrights, does it?

The, on the other hand, we have Trekkies back in the news. Or at least Star Trek and its continuing viability as an entertainment franchise.

Even if a pause could be creatively useful, commercial calculation will probably determine Star Trek's fate, and its recent problems may not be decisive…. Though he acknowledges that the performance of Star Trek Nemesis was disappointing, Rick Berman, the film's producer and the executive producer of the current Enterprise television series, noted that it was the 10th film in the series, "and I highly doubt it was the last." Discussions about the next film are "in a very preliminary stage," he said, adding that the story being considered "would not involve any of the casts that have existed in previous films and television series."

"Fans Hope Sun Can Rise Again on Star Trek," NYT (30 Aug 2004) (typography corrected; fake paragraphing removed for clarity). Well, if they want things to improve they can start by getting some good stories and clear thinking involved in the presentations. That probably includes firing Mr Berman and a number of other top-level people at Paramount. Ever since Mr Berman took over, the only kind of tension that either the TV series or films have seemed interested in has been sexual, not dramatic. That's not to say that sex can't ever be an issue, only that it can't be the only one—unless one is trying to replicate Three's Company.