20 July 2011

Link Sausages Broiled on the Sidewalk

We've had three of the hottest years in the last century in the last six. Global warming is at least more probable than the Easter Bunny... or politicians genuinely working for the public good... or Illinois governors staying out of jail.

  • My favorite from this list of "medical benefits" is Harry Potter Casts a Spell on Accident-Prone Children. I think someone at the Trib spent too much time surfing on the 'net yesterday to avoid going outside during the heat wave... not that I'd ever do anything like that.
  • The grievously underconsidered IP Finance Blog offers this fascinating perspective on handling US IP licensees in bankruptcy. I can't imagine what current news item makes me think that's relevant right now...
  • I will be reacting to the Borders situation tomorrow, after the judge rules on pending conversion motions. It is entirely possible — indeed, it is more probable than not — that certain aspects of the proposed "liquidation sale" that have thus far been publicized will change, and change significantly. For one thing, the docket (as of this morning) still showed this case as a Chapter 11 (reorganization) case, not a Chapter 7 (liquidation) case... and the sale cannot go forward for "all or substantially all assets of the debtor" without judicial approval and conversion.
  • Similarly, I'm not going to proclaim much about the rather abortive status hearing in the Google Books matter; there just isn't enough data. The parties claim to be working on an opt-in class settlement proposal... but that's not likely to proceed without other significant changes that have been punted by the various parties. Admittedly, they're still negotiating, so there's at least a tiny excuse for keeping quiet. However, it wasn't just opt-out that Judge Chin objected to; he merely said that would have been enough by itself for him to reject the settlement. As I've noted previously, the failure of adequate representation was also enough, even though he didn't emphasize it; the antitrust objections would probably have been enough, although his discussion of them was more an outline of undecided issues than anything else; and so on.

    The key point is that if the parties put another settlement proposal on the table, there will be another round of solicitation of authors (and estates, etc.)... and it's going to confuse the hell out of a lot of people. I'll do my best to help people ask intelligently for advice concerning their individual situations, but that's not a solicitation — not the least due to potential conflicts of interest!

  • A Harvard student studying ethics has been indicted for hacking into, then massively pirating, JSTOR's academic journal database. Leaving aside the multilevel irony of "Harvard," "ethics," and "piracy," there's another issue here: The presumption that the journals that are on JSTOR are, in fact, the proper permission-granting parties under Tasini. Now, as it happens, I generally like JSTOR; the fact that its downloads are image files that preserve pagination helps those of us in anally-retentive fields that demand excrutiatingly precise pinpoint citation, even it if does require a quick trip through OCR for extended quotations and makes the individual articles nonsearchable. I also strongly suspect that the limited range of JSTOR itself largely means that the authors really do want the continuing availability of/publicity for their works, and are generally not seeking further compensation. That, however, is only a default assumption... and, as footnote 6 of Tasini tells us:

    More to the point, even if the dissent is correct that some authors, in the long run, are helped, not hurt, by Database reproductions, the fact remains that the Authors who brought the case now before us have asserted their rights under § 201(c). We may not invoke our conception of their interests to diminish those rights.

    New York Times Co., Inc. v. Tasini, 533 U.S. 483, 497–98 n.6 (2001).