19 April 2024

More of an FM Vibe

Not the Steely Dan piece, either.

  • There's a pending "controversy" about whether AM radios should continue to be required in cars. Leaving aside the more-than-faint echo of buggywhip manufacturers, there's an interesting irony here. On the one hand, the op-ed "contributor" is affiliated with a relentlessly pseudo-free-market, right-wing-tinged "policy institute" that is extremely friendly to two constituencies that distinctly benefit from AM radio: Right-wing controlled-by-descendants-of-the-founder-without-any-competition Sinclair Broadcasting, and right-wing talk radio shows (especially those west of the Appalachians). Troubling how one's principles can get in the way of loyalty to one's friends and patrons, isn't it?
  • Turning to piracy of manga rather than piracy of the airwaves, the District Court in Tokyo imposed a ¥1.7 billion (US$11 million) penalty on a pirate website's operators. This is interesting for two reasons. First, unlike in the US, evading such a penalty through bankruptcy proceedings will be virtually impossible — it's merely complex in the US, but certainly achievable. Second, it's interesting that the court imposed a penalty based not upon "lost profits" but upon "lost revenues" — a measurement almost impossible to achieve in the US, especially given the "long discount" and typical court offsetting of costs avoided. Harlan is cheering the court on from beyond the grave — which rather sounds like a story he might have written…
  • That was "just" piracy, not outright fraud. "Fraud" of this nature — given who the "victims" are — has me playing a sad lament on the world's tiniest violin (and wishing that some of the money went to the artists); a little later, that lament will evolve into a folk dance, perhaps even a tarantella. It also has me shaking my head at the primitive-magic aspects of "the original" subscribed to by the denizens of self-proclaimed fine art, and suggesting that the exclusivity of trading only in "the original" is precisely what made the fraud possible… and determined the particular victims.

    It's worth pondering what this scheme might have looked like if we were talking, instead, about "the original manuscript." Leaving aside any editorial contributions — or more than merely "contributions" — a reader gets the same authentic Experience from a mass-market paperback as from the longhand/typewritten/word-processed manuscript. Indeed, the typography and design of a printed edition are almost certainly better, and one can read a printed book on an airplane or holding it in one hand (not to mention e-books).

  • A seemingly abstract legal issue also exposes a hypocrisy in litigation (surprise — it's only one of many). Most contracts these days have a forum selection clause, frequently putting the matter in the home court of the more-powerful party. Many publishing contracts require that (serial numbers filed off)

    Any action or proceeding regarding this Agreement or the Work shall be brought solely in the New York courts (state or federal) in New York County.

    or similar language — even for publishers not located in New York. One of the rationales most often stated is that the judges (and lawyers!) in the selected forum are "more familiar with" and even "expert in" the particular kinds of disputes. This, however, contradicts the "generalist judge" and "nonspecialist lawyer" memes of American law practice, and rather exposes the hypocrisy… and not-invented-here syndrome (go ahead and check the Second Circuit's track record in copyright matters before the Supreme Court, and for that matter in Congressional hearings and with the United States Trade Representative, since the 1976 Act came into effect — it's worse than the purportedly out-of-step Ninth Circuit in criminal law and civil rights!). In this, I envy full-bore patent lawyers a bit — at least their appeals are to a specialist court, where the judges more-probably-than-not can accurately pronounce "sphygmomanometer" and "D-lysergic acid diethylamide," not to mention understand the difference between a decimal and a binary megabyte.

  • At least rising sea levels won't directly impair Swiss citizens who obtained a ruling that their human rights were violated by government inaction on climate change from the European Court for Human Rights.