06 February 2006

Monday Miscellany

In no particular order—

  • In the battle between the Steel City and the Rust City, the Steel City won. I guess Pittsburgh was just galvanized to win.
  • I have not commented on the Copyright Office's Orphan Works Report for a very simple reason: I had a large hand in one of the major "pro-content-creator" position papers, and participated in the hearings. Although I don't agree with every aspect of either the report itself or Professor Patry's analysis, I join him in congratulating the Copyright Office for a well-considered, rapidly done (but pretty even-handed) job.

    My major objection to the entire debate surrounding the orphan works problem is that it is attacking what is, for administrative purposes anyway, a straw man. The problem isn't determining whether a given work is in or out of copyright nearly as often as it is determining who controls whatever rights do exist (and don't forget that some of those rights may be ex-copyright). This is more an artifact of poor drafting of wills (or the absence thereof) and mishandling of business acquisitions, mergers, and liquidations—at the paperwork stage—than the result of "extended" copyright terms or the disappearance of formalities. Trying to determine whether, for example, a particular film library that has a copy of a given film from the 1940s, which was renewed on time, is the correct party to ask for permission is much more of a problem than is determining that the film in question was not renewed—especially if there were several bankruptcies and other changes of possession in there.

  • Professor Rebecca Tushnet notes a fascinating case from Tennessee on puffery in advertising. Not to continue beating an awfully dead and picked-over-by-scavengers horse, but I wonder if Daugherty implies anything about James Frey… and his publisher's characterization of the book?