20 August 2010

The More Things Change

Non Sequitur, 18 Aug 2010

This is a surprise?

  • Now here's a copyright/trademark lawsuit about Harry Potter that actually makes some sense: A Swiss company's "Harry Popper" condoms have drawn the ire of Warner Brothers.
  • In an English-language piece bearing remarkably few translation artifacts, Der Spiegel discusses a book asserting that perhaps the nineteenth-century industrialization of Germany arose from a lack of copyright, and thus failure to pay the authors. That, however, makes little sense; at that time, the author's typical share of proceeds was much the same as it is now — about one eighth of the purported selling price — and Heinrich Heine's comment illuminates what is really going on:

    Heinrich Heine, for example, wrote to his publisher Julius Campe on October 24, 1854, in a rather acerbic mood: "Due to the tremendously high prices you have established, I will hardly see a second edition of the book anytime soon. But you must set lower prices, dear Campe, for otherwise I really don't see why I was so lenient with my material interests."

    That is, line-item maximization was alive and well in 1850s Germany... as was the problem of fighting the last war, which was a critical element of Clausewitz's Vom Kriege published during that period.

  • But then, sometimes writers get some measure of vengeance. It's not just limited to TV, either; the Tuckerization of real persons (named after speculative fiction fan Wilson Tucker) occurs apace, oft without prior notice... as when both the remoras and I got blown up on page twenty, which sort of balances the acknowledgement in a rather sick way.
  • Speaking of author compensation, some authors seem to be doing reasonably well... which is a fascinating counterpoint to the median first-novel commercial fiction advance of about $6k.
  • What's more disturbing: That someone registered "Delicious" as a trademark for shoes, or that it's going to require a trial to determine whether the "unsophisticated consumer" would find Victoria's Secret's freebie shirt-thingies confusing (PDF)?