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October 19, 2006

A Reminder That Laws Require Legitimacy, Not Just Legislators’ Votes [10:51 am]

The G.O.P.’s Bad Bet

In the short term, this law all by itself could add a few more Democratic Congressional seats in the fall elections. We are talking about a lot of people (an estimated 23 million Americans gamble online) who are angry enough to vote on the basis of this one issue, and they blame Republicans.

In the long term, something more ominous is at work. If a free society is to work, the vast majority of citizens must reflexively obey the law not because they fear punishment, but because they accept that the rule of law makes society possible. That reflexive law-abidingness is reinforced when the laws are limited to core objectives that enjoy consensus support, even though people may disagree on means.

Thus society is weakened every time a law is passed that large numbers of reasonable, responsible citizens think is stupid. Such laws invite good citizens to choose knowingly to break the law, confident that they are doing nothing morally wrong.

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Managing The YouTube Copyright Fight [10:47 am]

Music Companies Grab a Share of the YouTube Sale

YouTube’s young founders may have been the biggest beneficiaries of last week’s $1.65 billion deal with Google, but they have some unexpected bedfellows — old-line media companies that had been considered YouTube’s biggest legal threat.

Three of the four major music companies — Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, Sony and Bertelsmann’s jointly owned Sony BMG Music Entertainment, and the Warner Music Group — each quietly negotiated to take small stakes in YouTube as part of video- and music-licensing deals they struck shortly before the sale, people involved in the talks said yesterday. The music companies collectively stand to receive as much as $50 million from these arrangements, these people said.

Plus, it’s kind of hard to sue yourself.

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More Second Life [10:45 am]

A Virtual World but Real Money

[T]he budding fake world is not only attracting a lot more people, it is taking on a real world twist: big business interests are intruding on digital utopia. The Second Life online service is fast becoming a three-dimensional test bed for corporate marketers, including Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Sun Microsystems, Nissan, Adidas/Reebok, Toyota and Starwood Hotels.

The sudden rush of real companies into so-called virtual worlds mirrors the evolution of the Internet itself, which moved beyond an educational and research network in the 1990’s to become a commercial proposition — but not without complaints from some quarters that the medium’s purity would be lost.

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Live By The Sword, Die By The Sword [7:41 am]

Residuals Debate: Old Script on New Set - pdf

In a digital free-for-all, Hollywood trumpets another round of ventures nearly every week making TV series and films accessible on the Internet.

But with each splashy announcement, resentment builds among writers and actors who believe studios are ducking the issue of how to properly pay them when their work is viewed via the Web. With major labor contracts expiring over the next two years, fears are growing that digital distribution will become such a contentious issue that it could prompt a strike.

“We’ve learned from history that when these new technologies emerge that we can be left behind,” said Alan Rosenberg, president of the nearly 120,000-member Screen Actors Guild. “We have to make sure we don’t wait 20 years to get properly compensated.”

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