The Internet and Election Processes

Candidly Speaking: The YouTube Election

But YouTube may be changing the political process in more profound ways, for good and perhaps not for the better, according to strategists in both parties. If campaigns resemble reality television, where any moment of a candidate’s life can be captured on film and posted on the Web, will the last shreds of authenticity be stripped from our public officials? Will candidates be pushed further into a scripted bubble? In short, will YouTube democratize politics, or destroy it?

[…] Some political analysts say that YouTube could force candidates to stop being so artificial, since they know their true personalities will come out anyway. “It will favor a kind of authenticity and directness and honesty that is frankly going to be good,” said Carter Eskew, a media consultant who worked for Senator Lieberman’s primary campaign. “People will say what they really think rather than what they think people want to hear.”

But others see a future where politicians are more vapid and risk averse than ever. Matthew Dowd, a longtime strategist for President Bush who is now a partner in a social networking Internet venture, Hot Soup, looks at the YouTube-ization of politics, and sees the death of spontaneity.

“Politicians can’t experiment with messages,” Mr. Dowd said. “They can’t get voter response. Seventy or 80 years ago, a politician could go give a speech in Des Moines and road-test some ideas and then refine it and then test it again in Milwaukee.”

‘Second Life’ Frontiers

Unbelievable.  I’m older than I think.  Business consulting comes to ‘Second Life’

“The idea is that as I began to learn more about ‘Second Life’ and saw how the business community had established itself, it will undoubtedly just continue to grow, and the community is unserved,” Ciroula said. “No one is serving this community with accounting, business consulting, strategic planning or budget forecasting services.”

While it may seem odd that players of a virtual world would need business advice, “Second Life” is clearly one where it may well be valuable. The open-ended digital environment, in which anyone can create nearly anything they can imagine, look like nearly anything they want and build just about any kind of business, has proven since its 2003 launch to be fertile ground for many innovative thinkers.

Missed This: Google BookSearch in the WaPo

Search Me?pdf [via Pho]

[…] There, at an undisclosed location, it will be scanned and added to the ever-expanding universe of digitally searchable knowledge.

Why undisclosed?

Because for one thing, in their race to assemble the greatest digital library the world has ever seen, Google’s engineers have developed sophisticated technology they’d prefer their competitors not see.

And for another, perhaps — though Google executives don’t say so directly — the library scanning program already has generated a little too much heat.

[…] “Copyright 1950, Vantage Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved” reads the notice in “This Is Our Land” — a clear enough warning at the time, but what does it mean, more than half a century later? The book is not in print, a fact that is easily ascertained. But does Vantage Press even still exist? Was the copyright ever renewed, and if so, who owns it now: the publisher, the author or the author’s heirs? These questions are not so easily answered.

Most important, perhaps, even assuming Dean’s book is still under copyright, would it be “fair use” for Google to copy it anyway, allowing it to be searched but making only “snippets” of text available for public view? (Fair use is a section of U.S. copyright law that allows portions of a work to be reproduced without permission under certain circumstances — for example, in criticism, news reporting and scholarship.)

[Stanford head librarian Michael] Keller asked Stanford’s general counsel to help him consider this question. He consulted Stanford law professors and outside copyright experts, too. “We end up having a big seance,” he says. “We get lots of opinions.”

iTunes Holdouts

Online music holdouts give in to iTunespdf

Analysts say the online holdouts — including the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Garth Brooks, Radiohead and Kid Rock — probably can’t avoid iTunes forever as fans flock to the Internet to buy music.

But the artists argue online distribution leaves them with too small a profit. And, they say, iTunes wrecks the artistic integrity of an album by allowing songs to be purchased by the track for 99 cents. Some bands, such as AC/DC have released albums on other, more flexible sites, but not iTunes.

[…] There are other reasons bands avoid cyberspace. In some cases, various parties that own or control older music catalogs can’t agree to a distribution contract. Others have avoided the Internet altogether out of piracy concerns. (Most online stores, however, use rights-management technology to protect against unauthorized distribution.)

Since record companies have realized the popularity of iTunes and other sites, many reworked contracts to give artists less money per download. Andrews said while record companies once offered artists about 30 cents for each song sold, now musicians are earning less than a dime.

The Times on the OLGA Shutdown

Now the Music Industry Wants Guitarists to Stop Sharing

The Internet put the music industry and many of its listeners at odds thanks to the popularity of services like Napster and Grokster. Now the industry is squaring off against a surprising new opponent: musicians.

In the last few months, trade groups representing music publishers have used the threat of copyright lawsuits to shut down guitar tablature sites, where users exchange tips on how to play songs like “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” “Highway to Hell” and thousands of others.

The battle shares many similarities with the war between Napster and the music recording industry, but this time it involves free sites like, and and even discussion boards on the Google Groups service like and, where amateur musicians trade “tabs” — music notation especially for guitar — for songs they have figured out or have copied from music books.

[…] The tablature sites argue that they are merely conduits for an online discussion about guitar techniques, and that their services help the industry.

“The publishers can’t dispute the fact that the popularity of playing guitar has exploded because of sites like mine,” said Robert Balch, the publisher of Guitar Tab Universe (, in Los Angeles. “And any person that buys a guitar book during their lifetime, that money goes to the publishers.”

Mr. Balch, who took down guitar tabs from his site in late July at the behest of the music publishers, added that, “I’d think the music publishers would be happy to have sites that get people interested in becoming one of their customers.”

[…] Assuming a tablature site musters the legal resources to challenge the publishers in court, some legal scholars say they believe publishers may have difficulty arguing their complaints successfully. Jonathan Zittrain, the professor of Internet governance and regulation at Oxford University, said “it isn’t at all clear” that the publishers’ claim would succeed because no court doctrine has been written on guitar tablature.

Mr. Zittrain said the tablature sites could well have a free speech defense. But because the Supreme Court, in a 2003 case involving the extension of copyright terms, declined to determine when overenforcement or interpretation of copyright might raise a free speech problem, the success of that argument was questionable. “It’s possible, though, that this is one reason why guitar tabs generated by people would be found to fit fair use,” Mr. Zittrain said, “or would be found not to be a derivative work to begin with.”

An Andrew Vachss Nightmare Series

I finished reading the most recent in Andrew Vachss’ “Burke” series of novels last night, Mask Market. These books are all viceral, unapologetic tales of vengeance upon child molesters and a reflection upon the hideous consequences of preying upon children, which is particularly eerie in light of Vachss’ professional background. His autobiographical essay further clarifies the cathartic dimensions of his writing.

Like his books, this New York Times series is bound to make a lot of people’s flesh crawl. More distressing is the realization that this series will almost certaintly put Internet regulation in the political crosshairs for the coming election and beyond.

OpEd Followup to MLB’s Legal Loss

Who Owns the Back of a Baseball Card?pdf

Amid this boom, Major League Baseball stomped, denying licensing of players’ names and statistics to all but a handful of chosen fantasy league providers. The MLB power grab was designed to force out the hundreds of other baseball fantasy league providers — the very same folks who helped grow the industry from its infancy.

In response, a provider named C.B.C. sued the league in federal court, arguing essentially that MLB did not own the back of a baseball card; the public did. On Aug. 8, a judge agreed, ruling that MLB did not have exclusive rights to players’ names and statistics.

The case was fascinating on several counts. The court held that baseball’s right to publicity was not greater than fantasy providers’ 1st Amendment right to republish newsworthy information, even if they use that information for commercial purposes.

Most important, the court found that player statistics are not copyrightable. In all, the opinion is a grand slam for fans.

See earlier More Claims Of A Property Right In Numbers for the opinion; the title of the op-ed is drawn from a law review article by the author, Jack Williams of Georgia State – Who owns the back of a baseball card? A player’s rights in his performance statistics. [via Marinomics]