24 November 2008

Sausage Time!

And yes, I do know what that phrase really means. I lived Over There for several years, and I'm a Blackadder fan.

  • It's all about the Benjamins. Or, more likely, it's all about the Doric columns, given that these stories come from Europe... and how much the purported beneficiaries are likely to see from them. The European Court of Justice (First Instance)1 has denied the music-collecting societies in five EU nations stays against antitrust judgments issued against them. The order concerning the Hungarian society is available in English, and the IP Finance blawg has a useful summary in English.

    Ultimately, the problem with this ruling is that it neglects a concept that European law rejects: The real party in interest. Presuming that these collecting societies are actually performing their proper functions in an efficient manner, and passing the benefits through to the beneficiaries (songwriters) quickly and at minimal administrative cost — hah! — it is not the societies' own financial interests that matter, but those of the beneficiaries. A US or UK (or, indeed, any common-law) court would at least have had to consider — and, on these facts, probably reject — an RPI argument that these societies are merely "acting for" a class of beneficiaries whose interests would be irreparably harmed by a delay in the final decision. That, however, would at least require the court to weigh the factors in the relevant balancing test for staying a judgment slightly differently; it would not change the fact that the EU is anti-Balkanization (except when it comes to the language(s) in which EU courts issue their opinions). And it's not going to happen in a civil-law regime like that dominant in the EU, which largely (and silently) rejects the entire concept of RPIs and representative actions.

  • That's not the only item on long-lasting IP rights out of Europe in the last few days. The IP Finance blawg also notes an article on the value (and burden) of inherited IP. Of course, there is one assumption underlying that European-based article that is distinctly inapplicable in the US: moral rights. With very limited exceptions, we ain't got 'em Over Here.
  • For about the six hundredth time, a Wired staffer proclaims that the printed book is dead. I suspect that the magazine's staff is hoping that they'll be able to point to their prescience some day. Just like some day, the little boy would be able to point to one of his shrieks about the nearness canis lupus as being accurate.

    Frankly, I'm getting very tired of this bullshit. It smacks very much of the advertising lemma that one can sell products by creating demand for them out of thin air... a lemma that the staff at Wired would be shocked (shocked, I say) to understand that they share. It's one thing to discuss possibilities, particularly when the future is unclear. It severely undercuts one's credibility, however, to claim that one of those possibilities is reality now, and that any other view is that of Luddites. Or, for that matter, of authors opposed to the Google Library Project settlement, who are (in the august opinion of the Wired staff) worse.

  • In a related story, Random House is announcing an expanded initiative to make its catalog digital, which assumes that it has the right to do so. Since I have personal knowledge that the contracts signed by at least one author named in the article do not license e-book rights to the publisher, I can only assume that either (a) there's a side agreement that I don't know about, or (b) Random House is hoping that nobody cares/notices/remembers Rosetta Books.
  • Nonetheless, I'm greatly comforted that books are better than sex. After all, I have a lot of books around here, so I guess I'm getting some…thing.

  1. This is a quasi-trial court in the European justice system, roughly similar to a Federal District Court... considering a habeas corpus petition (by a prisoner claiming wrongful imprisonment or conviction). It has very limited factfinding powers, particularly in civil litigation, and usually reviews matters on collateral attack; again, this is similar to a federal trial court considering a habeas petition.