05 June 2007

Tuesday Tirade

This particular collection of miscellaneous items doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what's out there. You'll not find much commentary on the dismissal of charges at Gitmo (good for the judges), or the Joyce copyright settlement (the linked article barely scratches the surface). I won't even give the FCC the raspberry it so richly deserves after the Second Circuit's smackdown yesterday (although I'm not entirely sure what Judge Leval thought he was doing in his internally inconsistent dissent). No, I'll just stick to the little stuff.

  • As should surprise no one, I have little but disdain for the ethics and the intelligence of the music-distribution segment of the entertainment industry. That some elements are starting to wake up, by authorizing limited availability of lyrics online, does little to change that. We're still stuck with the inanity of the so-called "broadcast royalty," and in particular with a content-insensitive basis for those "royalties," despite all the strangeness surrounding classical music (even if that article concerns itself with purchased recordings, it implies a great deal about broadcast). And this just worms its way back around to the distinction among musical composition, musical recording, and musical performance.
  • It helps to remember that that net profits don't exist. The guys at Enron may have been the smartest guys in the room, but their creative accounting had nothing on the music and film segments of the entertainment industry! A lot of people simply don't realize that functionally, the typical music-recording contract acts a great deal more like a vanity publishing contract than anything else...
  • Of course, the publishing industry isn't exactly sure how to market its wares. On the one hand, we have the continued musings on Harry Potter and the Cauldron of Marketing, which seem to miss the point as widely as anything else. On the other, it has no clue whatsoever concerning online/electronic availability of literary works, whether as whole books or through search engines (leaving aside, for the moment, whether the publishers even have the right to make this decision...).
  • Here's a surprise for you: Microsoft may have outsmarted itself with its most-recent attempts to include science-writing-friendly features in its Office family of products. Science and Nature have both announced that Word2007 documents are not acceptable, whether merely translated using a file format converter or in the "new" formats. Hint to the guys in Redmond: Complying with existing standards is usually a good idea. So is asking the opinions of the people stuck complying with those standards.
  • Last, and probably least, there's this disturbing juxtaposition of three seemingly unrelated items: Valerie Plame's (Wilson's) troubles getting her memoirs approved by the CIA; Ray Bradbury's revisionist statement of authorial intent concerning a famous novel about censorship (with all due respect, Mr Bradbury, you don't get to define what your work means — at most, only what you intended it to mean); and parodies of Star Wars... like this one. File this item under "revisionism and authorial control."