Fighting Over Choreogaphy, and More

Pilobolus Suffers Bitter Breach Over Rights to Choreography

Ms. Chase, who was one of the company’s four artistic directors and whose Dartmouth College dance class gave birth to the company 35 years ago, broke away last fall after a bitter exchange of letters by lawyers.

Ms. Chase said that she was cast out by a new, corporate-minded executive director and board after three decades of service, and was denied ownership of the dances she created. “It was artistic differences and sort of a mean-spirited power grab by the board,” Ms. Chase added.


Ms. Chase choreographed five pieces, alone or in collaboration, appearing on this season’s Joyce programs. She said that she asked the company not to perform the works and to “dare to tell the world what you’ve done to the mother of Pilobolus.”

Mr. Kubovy declined. “She does not own that work,” he said, “nor does she have the right to decide whether or not we perform it.”

Some YouTube News Analysis

YouTube dances the copyright tango

“We have been told by many dozens of content owners that we are by far the most cooperative and responsive of the video-sharing sites,” Zahavah Levine, YouTube’s general counsel, said in an e-mail to CNET

So who’s right? For now, YouTube is standing on solid legal ground, according to several legal experts who said that YouTube is protected–under the same federal law that covers other online services such as Craigslist, eBay and Yahoo’s GeoCities–from liability for copyright violations its customers may commit.

But intellectual-property attorneys also see areas where YouTube risks butting into the DMCA. For example, the law specifically prohibits a Web site from profiting from copyright material. Recently, ads have begun appearing on YouTube alongside individual video clips.

Speculations on Community vs. the Market

This one is bound to get tongues wagging, but there’s an important idea here: On the Contrary: Long Live the Nanny State

Social structures like close extended families that once constrained behavior have weakened even as widespread affluence has democratized overindulgence. A result is that Americans eat too much, save too little and absolutely guzzle planet-warming fossil fuel, all to our collective detriment. Forget about the national debt. What we have here is a ballooning self-control deficit.

[…] It’s tempting to suggest that government shouldn’t even be in the business of influencing noncriminal behavior, except that it already is and always will be. States advertise their lotteries constantly, for example, although they rarely mention the infinitesimal odds of winning. Internet casinos are usually a better deal.

[…] So there is no point in pretending that government doesn’t influence behavior. Some changes in the government’s own behavior, in fact, could have a big economic payoff by saving us just a little from ourselves. Taxing consumption rather than earnings, for example, would probably bolster savings and reduce consumer indebtedness even while dampening inflation and increasing productivity.

The question is, what would an effective nanny state look like? […]

Upsetting the Paradigm

Hollywood Clicks on the Work of Web Auteurs

Some people say that the film industry has more to fear than just being late to the party. If the Net begins spawning films — and not simply helping to market or deliver them, as has happened to date — studios’ grip on the business of putting pictures on screens may be challenged.

“Their nightmare is a direct feed from moviemaker to audience,” said Walter Kirn, a frequent contributor to The New York Times who has been serializing his novel “The Unbinding” on and saw one of his other novels, “Thumbsucker,” adapted to the big screen. “Their only trump cards are that they are pools of capital for making expensive things. Otherwise they are cut out of the action.”

Geoffrey Gilmore, director of the Sundance Film Festival, said: “We are probably at a period of greater change than we have had in the past 50 years. The industry is scared about what they should make and how they should deliver it. What’s the next step? Where’s the development coming from?”

A Little More on the Order in the AT&T Suit

The courts and NSA snooping

The real significance of the case exceeds the NSA wiretapping story and the use of state secrets. Walker’s opinion is a stirring defense of the role of the courts, even in times of war. Quoting the Supreme Court’s decision in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, he reminds us, “Whatever power the United States Constitution envisions for the Executive in its exchanges with other nations or with enemy organizations in times of conflict, it most assuredly envisions a role for all three branches when individual liberties are at stake.” The president and Congress seem to have forgotten that lately; Judge Walker has reminded them.

Tim Wu on The Long Tail

The Long Tail: a dubious theory of everything

Like most good ideas, the Long Tail attaches to your mind and gets stuck there. Everything you take in—cult blogs, alternative music, festival films—starts looking like the Long Tail in action. But that’s also the problem. The Long Tail theory is so catchy it can overgrow its useful boundaries. Unfortunately, Anderson’s book exacerbates this problem. When you put it down, there’s one question you won’t be able to answer: When, exactly, doesn’t the Long Tail matter?

[…] This insight goes only so far, but like many business books, The Long Tail commits the sin of overreaching. The tagline on the book’s cover reads, “Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More,” which is certainly wrong or at least exaggerated. Inside we learn about “the Long Tail of Everything.” Anderson’s book, unlike his original Wired article, threatens to turn a great theory of inventory economics into a bad theory of life and the universe.

OT: Not Getting A Lot Of Work Done This Week

Because we have a ring side seat for viewing the demolition of the old garage next door to our building.

Still no idea what MIT has in mind for the space, but it’s been the distraction that a bunch of engineering faculty and students can’t resist — watching the use of big machines to execute on the interesting engineering task of destroying a building without harming the surrounding ones. Each machine has a name, as do the operators. (Surprisingly, despite the number of Futurama fans here, the “Crushinator” name has gone unused) Sadly, the hose guys demonstrate that we’re MITers — they’re merely Hose Guy #1 and Hose Guy #2.

They broke one of the crushing claws the second day (they really do look like lobster crusher claws), and today there’s a “veterinarian” out there fixing it.

And to see what machines like these can do to reinforced concrete and brick walls can change your world view forever!

The graphic will take you to an animated GIF — a demonstration of what having a digital camera can do to you once you realize you’re not constrained by film costs.

More on Virtual Marketing in 2nd Life

Virtual marketingpdf

In an office located nearly 2,000 feet above his island estate, Bill Lichtenstein is overseeing construction of the new headquarters for the public radio show “The Infinite Mind.”

None of this actually exists in the real world, but rather in a 3-D virtual world known as Second Life. Here, “The Infinite Mind” is planning to broadcast its weekly one-hour radio program on health and science and create an immersive experience.

“This represents an unprecedented leap forward for broadcasting into virtual reality and 3-D online communities,” said Lichtenstein, president of Lichtenstein Creative Media in Cambridge, which produces “The Infinite Mind.” “There’s a huge potential to bring people together in a dynamic, cost-effective environment.”

When “The Infinite Mind” opens it virtual doors next month, it will become the first regularly scheduled national media broadcast within the increasingly popular 3-D web space. […]

See also I’m Falling Behind The Curve

EFF Wins First Step In AT&T Wiretapping Case

Judge rejects US request on eavesdropping lawsuitpdf

In a 72-page ruling, Judge Vaughn Walker rejected that request regarding a case that has highlighted the domestic spying program acknowledged by President George W. Bush.

“The very subject matter of this action is hardly a secret,” the U.S. District Court for Northern California judge wrote. “Public disclosures by the government and AT&T indicate that AT&T is assisting the government to implement some kind of surveillance program.”

“The compromise between liberty and security remains a difficult one,” he continued. “But dismissing this case at the outset would sacrifice liberty for no apparent enhancement of security.”

EFF case page; the ruling

Later: Judge Declines to Dismiss Privacy Suit Against AT&T

Mixtapes and Marketing

Critic’s Notebook: Mixtapes Mix In the Marketing That Fuels the Hip-Hop Industry

Last week, when Johnny Cash topped the album charts with his posthumous CD, “American V: A Hundred Highways,” it was good news for his estate and bad news for record executives everywhere. Bad news, because the CD sold only 88,000 copies in its first week; that’s the lowest sales figure for a No. 1 album since SoundScan started keeping track in 1991. Put another way, Cash’s album would have to keep selling at that pace for half a year to tie the one-week sales record set by ’N Sync in 2000, near the end of the 1990’s CD boom.

But there is at least one CD market that still looks healthier than ever. Only one problem: that market doesn’t officially exist.

Mixtapes — unlicensed collections of new and unreleased hip-hop tracks, invariably distributed on CD’s, despite the name — continue to be an essential part of the hip-hop industry. These days they often seem less like shady contraband, circulated by samizdat, and more like vital extensions of slick marketing campaigns.

[…] “Southern Smoke 27” is a corporate-sponsored CD, even though you can’t legally buy it, which means that it’s probably also an endangered species; the era of major-label bootlegs can’t last forever. But then, mixtapes aren’t supposed to last forever. Like magazines, which they resemble in both price and energy, mixtapes are intended to be perishable. (Although the best ones, like the best magazine issues, hold up well.)

And despite their relentless hunger for novelty, mixtapes have always been a trailing indicator of the music industry. In the late 1980’s, as CD’s were booming, mixtapes were literally mixed cassette tapes. Now mp3’s are booming, and mixtapes are on CD. And you don’t have to be a nervous record executive, sweating over the latest SoundScan numbers, to know that no CD boom lasts forever.