Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill
policy-making, technical standards development, and technological
innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we
know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property
conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of
copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying
and the law, and more.
Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.
From von Lohmann's postings you can jump directly to the 300-page PDF of the settlement to read the relevant bits for yourself.
Or, if that's too much heavy reading for you, the Copyright Clearance Center has put online a 21-minute podcast of their analysis by Lois Wasoff (also available as transcript). CCC would also like you to note that they're hosting an online seminar Dec 10th with Ms. Wasoff. CCC is a rights-holders organization and so approaches this settlement from the point of view of those who might want to claim rights over the books that Google has (or will) include in this plan.
It has been pointed out to me that I may have underestimated the impact of some of Lynn Viehl's hypotheticals in yesterday's Blink. Although the statement she posted is indeed a factual description of her income, the column surrounding it has several big "if"s in the middle that I glossed over on first read.
Second, there's an assumption that this one-book-per-year gig is the sole source of income for a family of four. I don't know Ms. Viehl's personal situation but I think it's safe to say that anyone who is sole support for a family of four is probably holding down either multiple jobs (one of which may indeed be "writer") or is trying for a job with a predictable income large enough to feed said family, and writing is far from a predictable income stream. Finally, even if one is a full-time writer, one has other sources of income available such as speaking fees, and possibly royalties from other books.
That does not mean Ms Viehl's column is wholly misleading; at base I think she's trying to give people a more realistic view of writing for a living. You can't just take one number - the advance - and draw conclusions from it.
One would think that the authors' positions in publishing, being better than the artists' positions in the recording industry, would lead to somewhat better incomes. No such luck. Rob Beschizza at boingboing pointed to Lynn Viehl's posting of her latest royalty statement. Significantly, this is a book that's been on best-seller lists and stocked well in stores. Ms Viehl calculates that one such book per year would probably leave her qualifying for food stamps.
Viacom, says Fricklas, isn't out to destroy fair use. Indeed, the company has won lawsuits and published Web sites based on fair use principles. It's just that, like the rest of the Cartel's philosophy, it wants your fair use to be on its terms and under its conditions.
For example, Viacom supports a "three strikes" policy - another terrible bit of info-propaganda. When people say "three strikes" they're usually referring to things like state laws that assign extra punishment to people who have been convicted in courts of breaking felony statues multiple times. When the Cartel says "three strikes" it means "we accused you of three copyright violations."
And of course if you've been accused by the Cartel you MUST be guilty, so it's OK to take away your Internet. And your household's Internet, too. Damned terrorists... oh, wait, it's Viacom who are the terrorists. Can we take away their Internet?
Fricklas is also still a big fan of DRM, a position for which Cory has no sympathy at all, calling it "magic bean syndrome." In essence, the Cartel have sunk so much money, time, and public image into the idea and implementation of DRM that they're unable to understand that it's the cold fusion of the content world. Fricklas appears to believe that the problem isn't DRM-the-concept, it's just the specific DRM that the Cartel have used to date. I don't think, so, Mr. Fricklas.
So what do we make of this set of admissions and non-admissions? I think it's important to remember that Fricklas is not an independent person. He's paid to create and promote the party line and that's what he's doing. It's no surprise to any sentient observer that the Cartel have figured out that suing their customers is a disaster from both financial and PR standpoints, so backing down there is a given. But in a sense this is a diversionary tactic. The Copyright Wars are, and have always been, a struggle for control. Viacom is just shifting which weapons it uses to maintain and extend that control.
The indefatigable Michael Geist has posted the slides and audio of his "ACTA 101" talk. This is must-see stuff, covering pretty much everything you need to know about ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement that's being negotiated mostly in secret right about now. (I had some problems with the embedded version - you might need to click through to blip.tv to watch it.)
As Cory says, ACTA "stands to fatally wound all user-generated content sites from mailing lists to YouTube; [...] criminalize kids for noncommercial file-sharing; [and] put your internet connection in jeopardy if anyone in your house is accused of infringement..."
The shocking part about this whole thing is that now, ten years or more into the Copyright Wars, we still have such stupid people in positions of control. Take this week's example, Alan Wurtzel. This specimen of executivius fossilus cartellae works for NBC as, apparently, some president of some research of something.
Whatever he's researching, it's certainly not television because Mr Wurtzel is shocked by the "completely counterintuitive" result that if you let people watch TV how and when they want.. surprise! they watch MORE of it. Give the consumer what he wants - clearly a new and revolutionary idea, and one that a whole network's research department was unable to come up with. Simply shocking!
Sorry, dear readers, but even making fun of these idiots has gotten old for me. I'll just post the links and you can go read and nod your head sagely because we - you, me, all the rest of the readers here - have known this forEVER. And I bet we don't draw Mr Wurtzel's salary, either.