01 July 2008

Summer Sausage

Another overload of miscellaneous animal parts ground into a tasty summer sausage this week, in anticipation of this Friday's forthcoming celebration of declaring "mission accomplished" some 230ish years ago via a festival of gluttony, drunkenness, charcoal-starter accidents, and explosives...

  • The recording companies are seeking to impose music performance royalties on radio broadcasting. Frankly, I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for either side in this dispute... particularly since the actual recording artists will never see a dime of it, thanks to the kind of accounting that Enron could only dream of. Further, at least in the UK an increasing share of recording company income comes from other than record sales (again, with little or nothing going to the artist). What, then, is a starving artist to do? How about create the next stage of Bowie Bonds?
  • Publishers are spending their time and effort in a futile attempt to find the next blockbuster. Futile? Really. Pretend it's, oh, 1995. Would you have predicted that the next big publishing blockbuster would be a children's book written by a single mother? In Edinburgh? The flip side is the increasing move toward "disposable" book inventory, which reminds me of Clive James's shamelessly gleeful poem,

    The book of my enemy has been remaindered
    And I am pleased.
    In vast quantities it has been remaindered
    Like a van-load of counterfeit that has been seized
    And sits in piles in a police warehouse,
    My enemy's much-prized effort sits in piles
    In the kind of bookshop where remaindering occurs.
    Great, square stacks of rejected books and, between them, aisles
    One passes down reflecting on life's vanities,
    Pausing to remember all those thoughtful reviews
    Lavished to no avail upon one's enemy's book —
    For behold, here is that book
    Among these ranks and banks of duds,
    These ponderous and seeminly irreducible cairns
    Of complete stiffs. [....]

    Those English poets sure know how (and what!) to celebrate.

    But it's not just remainders that authors need to worry about. They, just like everyone else who creates works, need to worry about getting paid. And the EU is sticking its nose into that process on antitrust grounds... which is actually, on balance, a good thing. I have long questioned the administrative costs claimed by some of the collecting societies; there is no question, though, about their general ineptness (and refusal to respect authors' preferred editions or other restrictions on what is being copied).

  • From the Department of Unintentional Irony, consider the source of this article on "unequal America". <SARCASM> Hereditary entitlement, financial and ethnic preselection, and antiintellectualism among the chattering/political classes have nothing to do with anything like this. </SARCASM>
  • Intellectual property can be big business. This has led to so-called "patent sharks" (a term that Jaws and I find insulting, since most of them are so incompetent), applications for applications' sake, and patent misconduct, such as the so-called "plot patent".
  • On a more jurisprudential note, Professor Patry made some cogent, and revealing, observations on the relationship between Heller and copyright last week. This is well worth considering, particularly now that the NRA has (sometimes improperly) filed a bunch of lawsuits against gun control laws. Why "improperly"? Because it was already a party in a suit in one of those jurisdictions... and lost. It is collaterally estopped from trying again against Morton Groves, and will just have to let some other set of gun nuts try. Like, perhaps, Jackie Broyles (HT: The Perfesser).
  • Apparently, I'm not the only one to question Justice Scalia's grasp of historiography. Professor Mark Tushnet also has some serious reservations about Scalia's use of history in both Heller and Boumediene.
  • Finally, on the free speech front, sometimes even telling the truth isn't enough, such as this memoir withdrawn despite documentation and confidence in its truthfulness. On the other hand, Canada is moving closer to the US model with this Supreme Court of Canada ruling on "fair comment" (here's a slightly less lawgeeky description).