June 2, 2008

MLB Denied Cert [5:25 pm]

So, it’s not like the Supreme Court ruled — they just didn’t want to, given the appellate decision. But, for the moment anyway, MLB can’t claim to “own” baseball statistics: MLB loses fantasy sports appeal (pdf)

Major League Baseball and the players association struck out on Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected their appeal of a ruling that sided with a company that uses player statistics for fantasy baseball.

The high court declined to hear the appeal of a lower-court ruling that a St. Louis-based company called C.B.C. Distribution and Marketing Inc. has a free-speech right to use the names and performance statistics of famous athletes.

Later - Boston Globe editorial — In this fantasy, fans come first (pdf)

Pro leagues have long played a double game: appealing to public spirit when they seek, for instance, tax dollars for new stadiums, while fiercely protecting their own bottom lines. Once fantasy sports caught fire on the Internet, Major League Baseball clearly saw a business opportunity and took steps to concentrate the activity on a small number of high-profile licensee websites.

But not every expression of fan enthusiasm needs to fall under leagues’ corporate control. [...]

NYTimes’ coverage: No Ruling Means No Change for Fantasy Baseball Leagues (pdf); LATimes’ coverage: U.S. Supreme Court lets fantasy leagues play on (pdf)

The NYTimes editorial — Take Me Out© to the Ballgame&rtm; (pdf)

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Prince and Radiohead [12:53 pm]

Too crazy for words, really: Radiohead To Prince: Unblock Creep YouTube Vids (pdf)

After word spread that Prince covered Radiohead’s “Creep” at the Coachella festival, the tens of thousands who couldnt be there ran to YouTube for a peek. Everyone was quickly denied — even Radiohead.

All videos of Princes unique rendition of Radioheads early hit were quickly taken down, leaving only a message that his label, NPG Records, had removed the clips, claiming a copyright violation. But the posted videos were shot by fans and, obviously, the song isn’t Prince’s.

In a recent interview, Thom Yorke said he heard about Princes performance from a text message and thought it was “hilarious.” Yorke laughed when his bandmate, guitarist Ed OBrien, said the blocking had prevented even him from seeing Princes version of their song.

“Really? He’s blocked it?” asked Yorke, who figured it was their song to block or not. “Surely we should block it. Hang on a moment.” Yorke added, “Well, tell him to unblock it. Its our … song.”

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Derivative, Yet …. [7:35 am]

Is the Main Character Missing? Maybe Not. (pdf)

When Dan Walsh, a 33-year-old technology manager in Dublin, started posting doctored versions of the comic strip “Garfield” on his blog in February, he thought he might amuse a few friends.

Instead, his site on Tumblr started receiving as many as 300,000 hits a day from the United States and beyond. More recently it has leveled off to 30,000 to 35,000 a day, which is not bad for a site whose content takes about five minutes to create.

Mr. Walsh does nothing to the panels except strip away Garfield and other characters — like Odie the dog and Nermal the kitten — to create a new, even lonelier atmosphere for Jon Arbuckle, the main human. Without the cutesy thought-bubbles of his lasagna-loving cat, Jon’s observations seem to teeter between existential crisis and deep despair.

[...] Jim Davis, the cartoonist who created “Garfield,” calls himself an occasional reader of the site, which he calls “fascinating.” He says he is flattered rather than peeved by the imitation.

[...] Mr. Davis, who has been drawing Garfield for 30 years, said that “Garfield Minus Garfield” has actually prompted him to take a different look at his own work. He compared Mr. Walsh’s efforts to the cerebral approach of Pogo, the comic strip by Walt Kelly.

“I think it’s the body of work that makes me laugh — the more you read of these strips, the funnier it gets,” Mr. Davis said. As for Garfield himself, “this makes a compelling argument that maybe he doesn’t need to be there. Less is more.”

The site: http://garfieldminusgarfield.net/

And a much earlier article from the WaPo: When the Cat’s Away, Neurosis Is on Display (pdf)

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Kindling Fear and Uncertainty [7:28 am]

Electronic Device Stirs Unease at BookExpo (pdf)

Is the electronic book approaching the tipping point?

That topic both energized and unnerved people attending BookExpo America, the publishing and bookselling industry’s annual trade show, which ended at the convention center here on Sunday.

[...] But excitement about the Kindle, which was introduced in November, also worries some publishing executives, who fear Amazon’s still-growing power as a bookseller. Those executives note that Amazon currently sells most of its Kindle books to customers for a price well below what it pays publishers, and they anticipate that it will not be long before Amazon begins using the Kindle’s popularity as a lever to demand that publishers cut prices.

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An Old Story Resurfaces [7:24 am]

I’ve been working with an STS student who’s been chasing the original story of this transition and, despite the Nyquist Theorem, this myth keeps resurfacing. It’s not the CD, it’s the recording/playback devices, and the sound engineers using and designing them: Vinyl goes from throwback to comeback (pdf)

Almost any other decade, this scenario would have been ordinary. But the scene - a teenager perusing stacks of cumbersome vinyl in a sleek digital age that is gradually rendering the compact disc obsolete - was unfolding on a Friday afternoon in 2008. And it is one that is being replicated in small but growing numbers across the country. Although she may be an anomaly among her peers, Morgan and other young music fans are embracing the virtues of vinyl.

Mike Dreese, cofounder and chief executive of the New England music store chain Newbury Comics, says his company’s vinyl sales, which had been increasing at an annual rate of about 20 percent over the past five years, are 80 percent higher than they were at this time last year.

“Right now, we’re selling about $100,000 a month worth of vinyl,” Dreese says.

But why vinyl and why now, especially when even CD sales have plummeted 40 percent since 2005? Dreese blames the sterility of technology. “I think there are a lot of people who are looking for some kind of a throwback to something that’s tangible,” he says. “The CD was a tremendous sonic package, but from a graphic standpoint, it was a disaster. People still want a connection to an artist, and vinyl connects them in a way that an erasable file doesn’t.”

Vinyl lovers insist that analog records sound warmer and fuller, as opposed to the brighter yet brittle digital experience of CDs. The compressed sound of MP3s, meanwhile, sacrifices both the highest and lowest ends of the sonic spectrum.

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