18 February 2007

Catching Up

Between a few technical problems (that wiped out three posts, thanks to a network-level problem that I had to tell the ISP's tech support people how to fix) and being snowed in with an irritable teenager (free to a good home, and I'll pay shipping), I'm a bit behind on the blawg. I'll try to re-post the wiped-out material in the next few days, as some of it relates to ongoing threads. In the meantime, though:
  • Two key technocommercial developments over the last decade are slowly forcing changes in the way individual consumers experience (and acquire) the arts: Internet-based stores and finding services, and decentralized delivery services to residences. On the one hand, it's awfully darned hard to buy a book, or DVD, or film, if one doesn't know about it, or can't find someone who carries it. On the other hand, UPS was never a satisfactory non-USPS solution to delivering relatively small packages, and speed of delivery was never a strength of either (except, perhaps, if you wanted your secretary to giggle over those borderline-pornographic-"art house" films you were ordering from Italy and Germany...).

    In turn, this leads to the potential future demise of recording companies, at least among the part of the public that doesn't understand the value of "editorial discretion and assistance." Such as the substantial part of the public that makes Grisham's Law ("bad, derivative fiction will drive good, original fiction out of the bookstores") more than just a pun.

  • There's a big, big copyright pirate nation. Its name begins with a C. And no, it's not in Asia (Cambodia isn't a good example, and "People's Republic of China" begins with a "P" anyway). That's right — it's our neighbors to the north, Canada. Or, at least is you listen to the shrieking in Hollywood, and the shriller shrieking of its shills, Canada is a pirate nation, because it hasn't yet satisfactorily adopted the WIPO treaty of 1996 with enabling legislation. There's an ongoing effort to begin doing so, but that all ignores the irony that Hollywood has moved so much production north of the border in the name of lowering costs. On the one hand, it's hypocritical for Hollywood to bitch, whinge, and moan about poor copyright protection in Canada, for works being created in Canada in an effort to avoid paying LA-based union scale. On the other hand, it's hypocritical for Canada to put forth immense publicity, tax, and public infrastructure efforts to get that production business without complying with a decade-old treaty.
  • I'm getting really, really sick of marginalized/fringe "experts" relying on their niche-based experience to state what the law is. In particular, I'm tired of "authors" who broke into publishing in the 1960s and 1970s, and "artists" whose sole exposure to actually selling reproducible art is based on their personal sales of their fanboy depictions of media characters, standing on soapboxes and proclaiming "This is what fair use always means," or "There's no copyright problem here, so there's no legal problem here." One of the worst miscreants recently proclaimed that there's no possible legal barrier to using song titles as chapter titles in a novel, since titles can't be copyrighted. When I pointed out that trademark theory might reach a different conclusion (and has, in at least four live disputes of which I'm aware in the last decade), this particular "expert" declared that "I don't know any publisher that doesn't allow song titles to be used as chapter titles, or cares a whit if the the title is somehow trademarked." I refrained from responding in that forum, but I've heard that same assertion quite a few times; I don't know of any publisher that is sophisticated enough to even consider trademark issues in the first place.

Enough for the moment. More caffeine necessary.