Sunday, March 31, 2013

MediaWeek (V7, N13): London Town, Kirtsaeng Copyright, Bacon, Today Show + more

An homage to Uncle Monty who died this week. Also known as Henry from Pie in the Sky. New Statesman.

A long The Nation article discussing several books about London. How distinct, original and independent is London or has it all just been "Made in America"?
The arrival of new sensibilities in pop, couture and conceptual art coincided with the arrival of youngish, self-consciously forward-looking, extravagantly promise-making politicians who sought to persuade American journalists and not a few other people that London was the home of a distinct contemporary set of ideals. (Though in a way, this was nothing new: in 1966, Time magazine had identified London as “the swinging city”—with people saying ever since that London swung for about thirty people for maybe half an hour—while in the mid-1990s, the “Cool Britannia” moment was announced by Newsweek and duly covered in Vanity Fair.) It was a time of jubilation, partly about what was happening, but mostly about what was going to emerge: a post-Thatcher, post-Major utopia populated by politicized guitarists and guitar-playing politicians. It lasted until late 1997, with—depending on where you were standing—the release of Oasis’s bloated album Be Here Now or the revelation that the new prime minister, Tony Blair, part of the generation pledging to end political “sleaze” (the word appeared in national newspapers 3,479 times in 1994–95), had exempted the Formula One racing empire, run by the Labour donor Bernie Ecclestone, from the government ban on tobacco sponsorship. It turned out that, despite what people believed, Oasis wasn’t infallible and, as many people suspected, Blair was a cynic. Blair’s friend Peter Mandelson later assured a Silicon Valley audience that New Labour was “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich” (“intensely relaxed” doubling as an uncannily accurate description of Blair’s persona).
James Grimmelmann writing in Publisher's Weekly about the Kirtsaeng copyright case the Wiley lost last week.
Justice Breyer, writing for himself and five colleauges, disagreed. "Lawfully made," he explained, refers only to infringing versus noninfringing copies; it does not make geographic distinctions. First sale applies to copies made anywhere in the world "as long as their manufacture met the requirements of American copyright law." Since the textbooks Kirtsaeng was importing were printed with the permission of the copyright holders, they were legal, and so were his imports. Game, set, match.

Breyer's opinion gives particular weight to concerns suggested by the American Library Association and other groups who submitted amicus briefs. If copies made abroad aren't subject to first sale, there goes the lending right for imported books; art galleries couldn't safely display foreign paintings; and don't even think about trying to sell your imported car, which contains copyrighted software. Indeed, one might ask, why wouldn't publishers shift all their priting overseas, to be rid of first sale once and for all? Breyer's opinion for the Court denies this parade of horribles a permit.

Justice Ginsburg's forceful dissent, however, points out the serious consequences the decision will have for publishers. If Kirtsaeng can import international editions, so can Amazon, or anyone. The price differential between the two will collapse. Publishers will be reluctant to create inexpensive editions for those in less affluent countries who can't afford the eye-watering prices (some) Americans can. That's bad for readers around the world, and could make it infeasible to publish some books at all.

The Kirtsaeng opinion seriously undermines the viability of English-language territorial rights in this age of global e-commerce and cheap shipping. All English-language editions will be competing against each other, which means licensing a U.S. edition and a Canadian edition and an Indian edition is inviting the three publishers to compete against each other on price.
Columbia Journalism Review is one of the best media industry journals going and I've linked to their articles many times. Here in brief they jump on some link bait set by BusinessWeek about the Amazon Goodreads deal:
Bloomberg BusinessWeek makes itself look silly today, running a speculative piece on how much Amazon paid for its latest acquisition, Goodreads.

Here’s the headline: Amazon likely paid $1 billion for Goodreads
Philip Pullman on bacon (More Intelligent Life):
Frying bacon: is there any smell that prompts the saliva glands to gush more freely? Roasting coffee is almost as good, perhaps, but bacon is the king. And it has to be fried. Grilling the stuff makes it self-conscious and prim. Grilled bacon is for people who are too polite for sensuousness, let alone sensuality. The rashers have to wallow in a blackened frying pan, curling up with delight, spitting with glee, letting the fat molecules, as they rise in excitement from the stove, carry the news of the ongoing savoury-umami-salty-Maillard orgy to every corner of the house. And what sort of fat? The bacon will generously supply some of its own, but if it needs supplementing, the best of all is lard. No olive oil here, thank you.
In a way you have to feel sorry for Matt Lauer over at the Today show although the irony is lost on everyone at this point. (NY Mag)
The irony of the current situation is that almost no one with an eye for live television thought that Curry, all things being equal, was a natural for Today’s couch. Curry was a television pro—her emotionally charged reporting on Darfur and Haiti won awards and performed well in the ratings—but that’s a very different skill than making small talk about salad dressing and bantering with Matt Lauer. Wide-eyed and breathless with empathy while interviewing people touched by tragedy, Curry could be awkward and mercurial in the morning happy-talk milieu, her real feelings bursting forth at odd moments. She was considered intensely earnest and somewhat fragile, despite her hard-news chops. In the past, Couric would sometimes tease her about her clothes, remarks that Curry took badly. When Lauer and Today producers tried to “punk” the rest of the cast one morning in 2011—sending them to a fake magazine photo shoot where the photographer had a meltdown and started firing all his assistants—Curry was infuriated with Lauer and retreated to her dressing room. Roker, her longtime friend, was sent to comfort her.

From my twitter feed:

BBC News - Your Week in Pictures Check out the seventh photo!
Launch Pad Finalists Announced for SLOAN-C Conference on Emerging Technologies.  

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