01 August 2014

The Popguns of August

Blawgging is a much lower priority than recovering from back spasms, I'm afraid... especially when it takes three days to present this particular platter.

  • I'm shocked — shocked, I say — to find further efforts by the music industry to screw the artists. Mark this date in your mental calendar; some time between six and eleven years from now, you'll see a similar issue arise with print publishing.
  • Many large cities have "arts districts" — usually former industrial or heavy-commercial districts filled with somewhat rundown buildings and attractive to artists because (a) the rents are something approaching affordable and (b) there aren't a lot of skyscrapers or traffic jams, two of the big distractions. Sometimes, though, landlord and speculator greed gets in the way of the community, and things begin to fall apart.
  • Nature walks are probably more appropriate in rural Germany than just off the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, or in semirural McLean, Virginia... although these nature buffs would probably have more success near the latter. If this didn't sound like the setup for a classic Python sketch, though, it might be taken a bit more seriously.
  • The UK's copyright system is moving toward something resembling reality, with new privileges for private copying, parody, and quotations that take effect on 01 October 2014. The "private copying" privilege (what they call an "exception" in the UK) is essentially the right to make a backup copy of something that you own, and explicitly does not extend to anything you don't own, without adding a private-copying levy to the price of either the copyrighted material or to blank media. The parody privilege remains extremely problematic, as the UK's lack of a sufficient embodiment of the US's First Amendment rather seriously undermines the scope of its parody privilege; the particular example cited by the IPKat, for example, would contradict our 2Live Crew doctrine (and, further, improperly conflates the performance-copyright aspects with the songwriting-copyright aspects, but that's a quagmire in any event). There's a similar, but less egregious, problem with the fix for quotations.
  • The Amazon v. Hachette fiasco consists largely of arguing over which entity gets what proportion of the angels found on the head of a pin, assuming all the while that there are (a) a pin, (b) angels, and (c) a means of counting angels that leads to a viable result. I can't do anything about (a) or (b), but I strongly suggest that the implications of this fine thought-piece on valuing the commercial contribution of design to a product should inform (c) much more than it does. The entire pricing structure of publishing is based upon assumptions from the 1960s (which, themselves, had shaky foundations) regarding the "right" price for books that have never been confirmed by actual data. "List price must be ten times the printing cost" my (surgically removed) left big toenail!