06 May 2008

Absolutely Ridiculous (I Don't Paint)

I'm down to one teenaged kid. The other one is officially an adult now.
  • Speaking of which, he got mail from the Selective Service Administration a few days ago. Just as I was handing it to him, an all-too-appropriate song popped up on the random play. I sent him straight to the Group W bench.

    On his birthday, he registered to vote. His remark was, "I'm glad that the forty-first ballot counted in Chicago under my name will be one I actually cast."

  • The Library of Congress has issued a long-overdue rulemaking that proposes that all group registrations shall be done electronically. One of the major problems with the registration system is that individual components in a group registration do not have a well-defined search system; hopefully, an electronic system requiring an electronically entered table of contents will help with this.
  • In reaction to an awful ruling from the Second Circuit, New York has passed a libel tourism law. Of course, not all is as rosy as it seems from this writeup in PW (which last accurately reported on new legislation in 1968). The legislation signed into law on 30 April is much, much narrower than that PW article implies. More detail another time; for the moment, it suffices to note that it protects the publisher, but probably not the author unless the author is a resident of New York.
  • Some publishers are finally finding a good use for POD: keeping public-domain "classics" available on paper. Many "classics" are either best studied in new, critical editions that correct printers' errors and deal with difficult textual provenance, or via online versions superior to most (or, indeed, all) print versions. That's why this is apt for POD, because the market is unpredictable.
  • And then, at the other extreme of rights issues, there's this misguided call for a "user right." Why misguided? Because most music is already available for "user rights" under the compulsory-license provision of the Copyright Act (§ 115). What these people really want is not the music per se, but a particular performance of that music... and that's not just a question of copyright. It is also misguided because the proponent is someone who falls within Jaws's Third Law of Copyright Controversy:

    The probability that an individual believes that creative content should be "free" to end-users is inversely proportional to that individual's financial dependence on earnings derived directly from his or her own creative content.

  • Sometimes judges have to get creative when they try to fashion nonmonetary remedies. This is a particular problem in trademark and trade-name cases. One judge's solution: Requiring the infringer to use negative key words. Of course, the problem is that negative key words — terms that block particular pages/ads from appearing in a search result — are only as good as the searcher's spelling.
  • In yet another reflection of the publishing industry's myopic focus on the short-term bottom line, Peter Olson is being forced out as President of Random House. The irony that RH is the one conglomerate not subject to the tyrrany of quarterly reports (its parent is a German close-hold) is a bit much to take.
  • The indispensible Intel Dump has moved to the WaPo, where Capt Carter holds forth on military issues with uncommon sense... but sometimes fails to take the next step. For example, when he questions the propriety of releasing a West Point graduate to play pro football, he does not take the next step and question whether we still need military academies.
  • Last, and far from least, there's this bit of amusement from Iron Man. Terence Howard plays Lt Col Rhodes, USAF, the Air Force "liaison" to Stark Industries. However, his uniform appears to have a fascinating in-joke. Above his ribbons, he is wearing two specialty badges. The top one is pretty obvious: pilot's wings. The lower one, however, is not. I cannot be certain what it is, but it is not a missile badge (which is on the pocket itself, not above it)... and the only other badge with that particular center shape and size that does not reflect a cross in bright light is the Information Management badge. Pilot and paper-pusher! Perhaps this just demonstrates that I spent too much time as a protocol officer, when one's uniform must be as close to perfect as possible... and wore that badge myself (senior, not master, but who's counting?).