19 May 2009

Leftover Barbecued Internet Sausage Links

Slightly more finely and evenly ground than the last couple of batches:

  • Sublieutenant Ogilvy is as alive as ever and living near Kaluga. Ironic that post-Stalinist Russia is adopting Stalinist Soviet tactics satirized by Orwell...
  • I'm not sure which is more disturbing: The Poz's new book on the financial crisis that rejects a pure-market, laissez-faire solution for everything... or Jonathan Rauch's misguided, Anglo-American-centric review.
  • Would you like to play a nice game of global thermonuclear war?
  • I'm saving my ire about yesterday's Supreme Court actions (and inactions — see the next paragraph) for further consideration. The key point is that the closer of the two opinions released — Iqbal — is at best dubious on both the substance of the opinion and (as is all too typical when Justice Kennedy attempts to hold the center) several aspects of civil procedure. Remember, Justice Kennedy, the decision not to take sides is, itself, a decision.

    Noted without comment: Supreme Court rejects challenge to cutting off authors' heirs' termination rights.

  • A dispute from Sweden illustrates why writers need wills.
  • "Reforming" the arts by paying performers/creators less isn't a new business model, as anyone who has dealt with the publishing industry over the last thirty years (and compared median — not outlier — compensation for authors on an inflation-adjusted basis) could attest. Then, on another tentacle, consider Radiohead v. Mothra.
  • More "woe is me" in Hollyweed: DVD sales are down — at least in part because they're largely releasing worse crap than usual on DVDs this year. That said:

    The problem is that studios have invested years in obfuscating their DVD profits, fearful that A-list actors and filmmakers would get wind of how much money was pouring in and want a bigger piece of the action. By Sunday, everyone knows what movies made in theaters — it's a carefully monitored cash business.

    DVD has little of that transparency, especially with some DVDs being rentals while others are sell-through purchases, making the numbers more difficult to quantify. When studios announce their opening-day DVD numbers, they aren't actual sales figures — the numbers represent the amount of DVDs shipped to stores. The DVDs that don't sell get shipped back to the studio. The industry abounds with stories of studios who have warehouses full to the ceiling with DVDs that went unsold and were shipped back, left to rot in storage.

    That sounds an awful lot like the publishing industry...

  • Category (sometimes) matters; denialism doesn't. It's really not very far from "it's a good book, so it can't be science fiction" to "he/she's brilliant, so he/she can't be [insert favorite 'inferior' ethnicity here]."
  • Some thoughts on best practices in fair use. I'm still chewing my way through the source documents, but thus far my disagreements have been at the detail level... and I don't claim infallibility.
  • The copyright registration backlog is growing in the face of the new electronic system. Maybe the solution is to scrap registration in the first place and pretermit Muchnick.