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Odds and Ends in May

BadData on Strategies for Dealing with a Sadistic Interrogator.

Xinran on Sex Ed classes in China.

Technology News: Qualcomm to support Linux on their DSP chips (BTW, I work for TI, the company that manufacturers DSP’s to compete with Qualcomm).

Oreilly article on the kupu RichText Editor for Zope/Plone. I’ll get back to plone sometime.

Reuven Lerner now has a WordPress weblog. He’s a web app guru from Israel who writes for Linux Journal.

Marco Fioretti on open ebook formats.

Chris Anderson tries to reconcile Lessig’s argument that copyrighted property lose value quickly with his own idea of the Long Tail (that people’s tastes are expanding, and more midlist content is staying in print longer):

Many of those extracting new value from old content are not the original creators or rights-holders. Some of them are repurposing older material, and others are aggregators who have found ways to find new markets for material that’s fallen beneath the commercial radar. Either way, they typically aren’t the original record label, film studio, publishing house, TV production company or any of the other names that might be on the copyright declaration. They are someone else, probably someone entirely unexpected. This is, after all, the dawn of Remix Culture.

What’s changed is the presumption that the primary rights-holder is the best at extracting the commercial potential of creative material. Instead, anyone can do it: the advertising company that remixes an old movie to sell a car; the Linux t-shirt done Warhol-style, or just plain old DJ magic. What you need to encourage this multiplicity of commercialization potential is tiered alternatives to one-size-fits-all copyright, from allowing derivative works (good marketing!) to shorter terms for the sake of the remix-culture social good.

Anderson really hasn’t answered the question here. Regardless of whether other artists can extract further value from a work is almost an argument for rigorous copyright enforcement. I would make the old vs. new argument here. When a Britney Spears song or The Simpsons book enters the public consciousness, a good part of its corporate value lies in its novelty, the sensation of experiencing something for the first time. Derivative works have their own novel qualities as well, but if the influence of the original work predominates, the derivative in fact becomes an advertisement for the work that inspired it. If that is the case, then the only legal obligation for derivative works should simply be proper attribution. Unfortunately, copyright monopolies are so excessively long that artists end up having to pretend that recent manifestations of popular culture exert no influence on them.

Garrison Keillor on Right-Wing AM Radio:

I don’t need someone to tell me that George W. Bush is a deceitful, corrupt, clever and destructive man–that’s pretty clear on the face of it. What I want is to be surprised and delighted and moved. Here at the low end of the FM dial is a show in which three college boys are sitting in a studio, whooping and laughing, sneering at singer-songwriters they despise, playing Eminem and a bunch of bands I’ve never heard of, and they’re having so much fun they achieve weightlessness–utter unself-consciousness–and then one of them tosses out the f-word and suddenly they get scared, wondering if anybody heard. Wonderful. Or you find three women in a studio yakking rapid-fire about the Pitt-Aniston divorce and the Michael Jackson trial and the botoxing of various stars and who wore what to the Oscars. It’s not my world, and I like peering into it. The sports talk station gives you a succession of men whose absorption in a fantasy world is, to me, borderline insane. You’re grateful not to be related to any of them, and yet ten minutes of their ranting and wheezing is a real tonic that somehow makes this world, the world of trees and children and books and travel, positively tremble with vitality. And then you succumb to weakness and tune in to the geezer station and there’s Roy Orbison singing “Dream Baby” and you join Roy on the chorus, one of the Roylettes.

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