Should Media/Tech Companies Be Determining Our Copy Rights?

Earlier this week “representatives of the music and tech industries pledged to oppose government-mandated technology to stop consumers from copying copyrighted songs and video. Instead, the technology and music companies agreed to collaborate on creating their own technical solutions to preventing the swapping of copyrighted materials. Press releases announcing the deal called the agreement ‘groundbreaking.’ At least one news organization followed suit and labeled the agreement a ‘landmark’ in its headline.” But is it a good idea to let the companies themselves decide which rights the public ought to have?

Big Times In A Small Town

In Annapolis, Maryland, a drama is unfolding surrounding the local symphony orchestra, and while the ensemble may be small, the intrigue is worthy of a much larger organization. It all began when Annapolis music director Leslie Dunner’s contract was not renewed last fall, sparking protests from the orchestra’s musicians, and shock from donors and concertgoers. At the time, the board cited declining ticket sales as the reason for the change. Speculation has been growing that there may have been other, darker reasons for the dismissal.

Getting Around The Idea Of Chekhov

“Unavailable to account for himself, Anton Chekhov has become the invention of his admirers, who may variously prefer him tentative or exuberant, skittish or implacable, walking as delicately as a girl or tough as old boots. Some get excited about the new Chekhov, now that those old-maidish Soviets have got their hands off him to reveal new warts on the familiar face; all this does to others is to prompt a smile. For what, I think, could be more natural for a man with delicate physical difficulties in a barbarous age than to complain daily to his sister about water closets? What more obvious for a consumptive whose euphoria turned erotic at inconvenient times than occasionally to turn down some discreet alley in a Siberian town? Thank God for the loss of sanctity.”

Supreme Court Refuses Copyright Challenge

The US Supreme Court, while conceding that a 1998 extension of the Copyright Act might not be good public policy, has rejected the idea that the law is unconstitutional. “The 7-to-2 decision came in the court’s most closely watched intellectual property case in years, one with financial implications in the billions of dollars. A major victory for the Hollywood studios and other big corporate copyright holders that had lobbied strenuously for the extension, the ruling had the effect of keeping the original Mickey Mouse as well as other icons of midcentury American culture from slipping into the public domain.”

Costly Bite – “Vampires” Closing On Broadway

“Dance of the Vampires” opened on Dec. 9 to “lukewarm reviews and mediocre daily sales. The producers had hoped to fight the show’s poor critical reception with new television advertising, but the last two weeks proved particularly difficult, as the weekly box office take dipped below $500,000. (The show’s weekly running costs are about $600,000.) At $12 million, ‘Vampires’ ranks among the most expensive losers in Broadway history, taking its place alongside famous flops like ‘Capeman’ and ‘Carrie’.”

Justice Breyer’s Dissent

“The economic effect of this 20-year extension – the longest blanket extension since the Nation’s founding is to make the copyright term not limited, but virtually perpetual. Its primary legal effect is to grant the extended term not to authors, but to their heirs, estates, or corporate successors. And most importantly, its practical effect is not to promote, but to inhibit, the progress of ‘Science’ by
which word the Framers meant learning or knowledge.”