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May 19, 2009

Of Course [4:47 pm]

Move to Electronic System Means Long Waits at U.S. Copyright Office (pdf)

A serious logjam in the U.S. Copyright Office has created a growing mountain of paper applications, more than the staff can process. Like the marching buckets of water in “The Sorcerers Apprentice,” the envelopes just keep coming, threatening to flood the operation.

The problem has tripled the processing time for a copyright from six to 18 months, and delays are expected to get worse in coming months. The librarys inspector general has warned that the backlog threatens the integrity of the U.S. copyright system.

The irony is that the slowdown stems from a new $52 million electronic process that is supposed to speed the way writers and others register their literary, musical or visual work.

The delays do not appear to be hampering the business of the major publishing houses or those willing to spend $685 for a “special handling fee” that expedites registration. But the slowdown is frustrating hundreds of thousands of little-known people with big dreams. They paid $45 for the right to claim legal ownership of poems, fabric designs, plays, jingles, even computer manuals.

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Books To Borrow, But Not Own [3:31 pm]

Taking Sides in the Revolution - Greg Kot’s ‘Ripped’ and Mark Helprin’s ‘Digital Barbarism’ (pdf)

Such questions are being increasingly asked, as old and new media clash in cyberspace, and issues of copyright have become the subject of hotly contested debates. Two new books offer very different partisan takes on these arguments. In “Ripped” Greg Kot — a music critic at The Chicago Tribune since 1990 — contends that peer-to-peer file sharing and CD burning has empowered music consumers, while providing musicians with more “opportunities to be heard”: “In this world, the fringe players could more easily find and build a dedicated audience, and a musical ecosystem encompassing thousands of microcultures began to emerge.” In “Digital Barbarism” the novelist and sometimes political writer Mark Helprin argues that “copyright is important because it is one of the guarantors of the rights of authorship, and the rights of authorship are important because without them the individual voice would be subsumed in an indistinguishable and instantly malleable mass.”

The problem with both books is that the authors fail to come to terms with arguments that run counter to their own opinions. [...]

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Really? [3:17 pm]

The Missing Link … to a Bigger Audience? (pdf)

It is science for the Mediacene age.

On Tuesday morning, researchers will unveil a 47-million-year-old fossil they say could revolutionize the understanding of human evolution at a ceremony at the American Museum of Natural History.

But the event, which will coincide with the publishing of a peer-reviewed article about the find, is the first stop in a coordinated, branded media event, orchestrated by the scientists and the History Channel, including a film detailing the secretive two-year study of the fossil, a book release, an exclusive arrangement with ABC News and an elaborate Web site.

“Any pop band is doing the same thing,” said Jorn H. Hurum, a scientist at the University of Oslo who acquired the fossil and assembled the team of scientists that studied it. “Any athlete is doing the same thing. We have to start thinking the same way in science.”

Later: German Fossil Found to Be Early Primate (pdf)

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Uh-huh [3:14 pm]

For $5 Million, Woody Allen Drops Lawsuit vs. American Apparel (pdf)

“Annie Hall,” the Oscar-winning film directed by Woody Allen, earned the director $5 million on Monday morning, and it was not from DVD sales.

The money came from a settlement in a lawsuit Mr. Allen brought against American Apparel, the clothing company, for using an image from the film without permission on billboards in the spring of 2007. The settlement, which was announced by both parties on the steps of the federal courthouse in Manhattan, came as a jury trial was set to start.

After making a brief courtroom appearance, Mr. Allen read from a prepared statement: “It’s of course possible by going through the trial, a jury might have awarded me more money, but this is not how I make my living.”

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