08 March 2013

Not USDA Approved

Tasty link sausages filled with indigestible chunks. Or, at least, they're indigestible unless you think about them.

  • One of the major problems with intellectual property debates is the masking of who the speakers are, and what their interests are. One of the obvious examples is the substitution of the RIAA, and of ASCAP and BMI, as the primary voices concerning contemporary/popular music rights... when the former represents pure transferees, and the latter doesn't represent many of the artists (only the songwriters/composers at best, and de facto only the corporatized ones). Things are even worse in publishing, with most people listening to the publishers about the interests related to textual works; when authors' groups speak at all, they represent niches of the authorial ecosystem.

    That longwinded introduction, though, concerns just the obvious problem. The next-higher level of abstraction is even more disturbing, particularly when considering cultural values: Who actually owns the various corporate actors in our little immorality play? This is not to say that only 'murikans should be speaking on and/or have access to 'murikan markets related to intellectual property — far from it. It is only to say that it should be transparent.

  • At a lower level of abstraction, there's the question of whose voices should matter. The Grauniad manages to screw up that portion of the conversation with an article proclaiming the demise of the "creative classes" that makes two fundamental errors. First, "creative" and "class" go together about as well as "honest" and "politician": Although there are exceptions, particularly regarding the amount of time that can be devoted to creative activity, creativity itself is not very strongly class-linked. Second, the article misidentifies "creative" to include the skilled craftsmen and tradesmen who form parts of creative teams producing large projects like major motion pictures... and bankers. Sorry, but creative bookkeeping is not the preserve of the creative classes.
  • But that's better than certain assholes in the House of Lords who are trying to torpedo libel reform by attaching amendments to control some of the ickier activities of the British press... that is, subverting the very purpose of libel reform, probably because they're afraid of personally becoming targets of the tabloid press.
  • Then there are the inexcusable, bad-for-everyone structural issues with distribution of books. Of course, hearing a publisher complain about this is a bit much... especially given Mr Dale's political record.
  • President-and-Dictator-for-Life of SFWA John Scalzi (you don't really think you're getting off the hook by just refusing to run again, do you?) is far too nice and circumspect regarding the contract offered by a "new" Random House imprint. And I'm entirely serious when I say his screed is too nice. I would have mentioned things like "unfair trade practices," "intellectual dishonesty," and so on... but then I'm a high-falutin' intellectual who knows damned well that the antiintellectual S&M hierarchies, and the even-more-antiintellectual beancounter hierarchies, at the media-conglomerate publishers wouldn't listen — and wouldn't understand the objections if they did listen.

    Sam Goldwyn and Louis B. Mayer are not positive role models. This is the monopsony problem raising its ugly head again: That the media conglomerate publishers have sufficient market power to believe they can get away with this implicates antitrust law, but antitrust law enforcers have (for the last three-plus decades) restricted their visions to restriction of supply instead of restriction of demand.