February 15, 2004
I recently saw an ad from the MPAA's new "Respect Copyrights" campaign. The ads are interesting, I think, for a couple of reasons. First, the general approach is to discourage media swapping with a rationale composed of equal parts incentives to produce movies and fairness aspects of media trading. For example, the "activity pack" for classrooms is intended to help students, among other goals, "connect personally with the concept of fairness": for example, "Simon lost his wallet. A friend found it, but decided to keep it. [... Discuss...]." The idea being, I suppose, that the copyrighted works are the property of the creator, and it's bad to take other people's stuff, etc. That's all well and good for a media campaign, and actually it makes a lot of sense to appeal to people's sense of fairness rather than their sense of economic incentives. Unfortunately, that's not really the idea behind intellectual property law (at least not in the United States).
Take the constitution first: "Congress shall have power...To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries..." Art I, Sec 8. There's no moral component to protecting copyrighted works, at least not in the constitution's formulation -- it's all about incentives, and ultimately, the general public's benefit. Europe, in contrast, does embody a conception of artists' rights.* With the exception of some aspects of the Visual Artists Rights Act, US law does not really endorse this approach. Nevertheless, I can't fault the MPAA for going with what works.
It's also interesting, given that movie trading is still in its infancy, that the MPAA is almost preempting the technology (although I'm sure there are some young whippersnappers already trading movies). I wonder what the Napster would have looked like if the RIAA had begun running ads similar to these in 1998. My guess is that it wouldn't have reduced the Napster craze. However, it might have made the transition to legal, payment-required systems, such as iTunes faster.
* See Baird, Common Law Intellectual Property, 50 U Chi L Rev 411.
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Hello CS readers. I have to say I find the honor of writing for you all quite daunting. Despite Will's kind introduction, I'm not sure that I'll have much of interest to say. Fear not, that won't stop me from writing stuff anyway (if history is any predictor, that is).
That's about it for me by way of introduction. As Will said, I'm a U of C law student... and as for the rest of my eccentricities, I'm sure those will become obvious as I blog. Unfortunately, since this lone little entry took me well over 30 minutes (I actually had to figure out how to use html to get that link in there), it's time for me to get on with my work for tomorrow. However, the fact that this took me 30 minutes probably says more about me than several more paragraphs could.
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From Steven Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum:
I don't know how to say it But there's something about a war. Mere words cannot convey it But there's something about a war. It's noisy and it's crowded and you have to stand in line. But there's something about a war that's divine.
You march until you're bleary.
But there's something about a war.
The company is dreary.
But there's something about a war.
Your fingernails get broken and the food is often vile.
But there's something about a war that makes you smile.
The rain may rust your armour,
The straps may be too tight,
But decapitate a farmer
And your heart feels light.
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Thanks again to Heidi Bond for gracing us with her presence this past week. Don't forget to go read her own blog at Letters of Marque. If you missed them, here are links to all of her posts this week:
Power; Sheep; Guest-Blogging; Giving Up (my own favorite); Not-Passwords; Ballots; Passwords; Spelling; Farewell
Anyway, tomorrow will bring with it a new guest blogger-- one Ben Glatstein, famous for arousing the Curmudgeonly Clerk's wrath. He's a very smart U of C Law Student who I spent last summer with as a Koch Fellow. The rest, he can say for himself.
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I noted below that En Banc-- the group-blog Unlearned Hand created-- is no more.
It's now become apparent that the other En Banc bloggers were caught quite by surprise by this move. Jeremy Blachman comments on it here. Chris Geidner comments as well, expressing disappointment on behalf of himself, Jeremy, and the blog-less Nick Morgan. But Greg Goelzhauser has perhaps the most acidic comment of the three of them, but with particularly effective understatement. He writes:
[Unlearned Hand] says the "site may resurface in another form at some point in the future," but I can assure you it will not be En Banc as it was before--it will not, for example, include Unlearned Hand.
Thus far, no word from PG about her own feelings.
Anyway, I liked En Banc a great deal myself, and I talked to Unlearned Hand a lot before and during its creation. I disagreed with some of the administrative choices he made, but I'm sad to see them go. I've added several of the En Banc-ers' blogs to my sidebar, and encourage you to read them.
Also, keep an eye around here for other En Banc -related news in the future.
UPDATE: UH has updated his post. Worth reading if you're curious.
Second UPDATE: I should also note that my gloss on the posts above could well be inaccurate (as always). Feelings sometimes fly high, but it's just a blog, and I don't think there's too much acrimony here.
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I don't know if it's just coincidence, if I've been leaving my email address in more places than usual, or if it's a deliberate Valentine's Day weekend ad blitz, but I've received far more than the usual amount of spam offering enlargement and lengthening services. If only the following were true:
Is it an option to cling on to the punctuation and grammar we know and love? Hope occasionally flares up and dies down again. In May 1999, Bob Hirschfield wrote a news story in The Washington Post about a computer virus "far more insidious than the recent Chernobyl menace" that was spreading throughout the internet. What did this virus do? Named the Strunkenwhite Virus (after The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E. B. White, a classic American style guide), it refused to deliver emails containing grammatical mistakes. Could it be true? Was the world to be saved at a stroke (or even, if we must, at a forward slash)? Sadly, no. The story was a wind-up. Hirshfield's intention in inventing the Strunkenwhite Virus for the delight of his readers was simply to satirise the public's appetite for wildly improbable virus scare stories. In the process, however, he painted such a heavenly vision of future grammatical happiness that he inadvertently broke the hearts of sticklers everywhere."
- from Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots & Leave: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (198)
I'd have to shape up. But it would be worth it to me to have everyone else shape up.
An interesting but unrelated side-note:
"Moreover, what many people don't know, as they fulminate against ignorant greengrocers, is that until the 19th century this was one of the legitimate uses of the apostrophe: to separate a plural "s" from a foreign word ending in a vowel, and thus prevent confusion about pronunciation. Thus, you would see in an 18th-century text folio's or quarto's - and it looks rather elegant.
- ibid, 64.
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My tenure as a guest blogger at Crescat Sententia is running short. Alas that I haven't had as much time to post as I hoped.
Before I run out of time, though, I wanted to say one last thing: Brian Leiter.
(doesn't make sense? look here.)
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I posted previously on the considerable credentials of Mr. Linz Audain. A reader asked whether perhaps Mr. Audain did not actually exist. Other readers of Crescat assure me that he does, but also suggest that one might not wish to aspire to emulate him, for untold reasons.
Of course, that still leaves Dean Hashimoto . . .
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I learned at a very young age that spelling matters. And I was just reminded of it by an entry over at Silent Treatment's blog about washable crayons. (Disclaimer: Kerene of Silent Treatment is another Michigan blawg. There are a lot of us).
When I was very young--probably around three or four--I really loved to write on the wall. With crayons, pencils, Sharpies--you name it. The wall was the perfect place to write. It was so white and textured, the surface was expansive, and it was even better than art on the refrigerator, because everyone would see it.
Needless to say, my parents tried to squelch my artistic endeavors as soon as they appeared. I was given Dire Warnings not to write on the wall. Not even in pencil if I erased it afterwards. No. Writing. On. The. Walls. Of course, there was some dire threat attached. Since my mother issued the threat, it probably wasn't a spanking. Still, it was something sufficiently bad that I was unwilling to risk the punishment.
Actually, that's what I would say if I were a well-behaved child. In fact, it's a complete lie. I was already trying to figure out how far I could push the envelope. What I really thought was, "How can I write on the walls and get away with it?" And so I colorfully decorated the hallway with multiple colors of crayon. And then in an act of sheer deceit, I signed my older sister's name.
My mom found me in a little while. "Heidi," she said, "I told you not to write on the walls!" I was completely baffled. My scheme didn't work. Too upset to disclaim responsibility on the fly, I wailed: "How did you know?! I signed Jenny's name!" "Jenny," replied my mother grimly, "knows how to spell her name." Hrm. I had figured it was the thought that counted, but "Jenifr" (with a backwards J) probably didn't cut it. Drat.
And so I learned my lesson: if you want to fool people, you better spell correctly.
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So . . . what does "Here's looking at you, kid," actually mean?
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How long will it be until Daniel Okrent abandons this to create the "Ombudsblog"? [UPDATE: David Adesnik thinks it's a blog already...]
On the one hand, you might say, "who cares about Haldor Laxness?" I might reply, not only the Nobel committee, but also Brad Leithauser. (As readers of this blog will know, I'm a great Leithauser fan. Even if he did go to Harvard.)
sex prim sells.
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Hey-- what's wrong with Volvo station wagons?
For what it's worth, the car I drive the most often is a Volvo wagon-- and I'm willing to admit it. But then, this is coming from somebody who drove a Saab in high school that was decreed by the class to have "the sex appeal of a toaster."
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Will askswhen we'll quit caring if our presidents served in Vietnam, and Matthew Yglesias responds that the focus currently "has less to do with concern about military service than with concern about Vietnam. I agree that the focus on "what did you do during the war?" has more to do with how we think of Vietnam. It was an over-all hellhole on a level not really seen in previous wars -- 50% of those who went over never came back, yes? [update: No, wrong, see below] Previously, individual battles might have had worse survival rates, and certain fronts (the Pacific in WWII?) probably came to around there, but not an entire war. The Nazis were fairly clearly bad. The advance and containment of Communism requires a bit more PR before it becomes an evil, and a cause we should defend against. And so as the incentive to stay far away from Vietnam increases and desire to fight decreases, the jealousy against those who did manage to stay away builds. This is admirable, but it's rare
Kerry's record, on the other hand, is what I think most anti-war boomers think they should or would have done, were they more moral or more high-minded. Done their personal duty honorably and come back to oppose the war in a manner untainted by allegations of self-interest or personal cowardice.But it takes a pretty amazing person to fulfill that description. And so, why would it be so bad for a candidate (ok, a Democratic candidate) to stand up and say:
"Look, the government was engaged in a war I didn't particularly agree with and handling it in a manner I thought poor [shows how this is consistent with his current foreign relations policy]. And I could have gone to Vietnam and faced even odds of dying and living. Or I could have taken one of the alternatives the government offered.
"I applied for both the National Guard and the Peace Corps. I got in. I was lucky. It wasn't my family, for you've seen that I don't come from a famous name. Had I not been sent to spend those years in the Tennessee National Guard or teaching in Kenya, I would have likely been drafted to Vietnam. And if drafted, I wouldn't have dodged. Had I gone over there and come back, I would have also been lucky, because that's what surviving Vietnam came down to. But it didn't come to that.
"And if you look at my record, you know I'm anti-war, you know I won't be throwing our troops into armed conflict willy-nilly, you know I'll try to work within the bend of the rules to try to preserve their lives. I'll try to negotiate around war; I'll talk to other nations in NATO so we can send in the same number of troops when the conflict is a common cause, but fewer soldiers will be Americans; and I'm not a dodger — if we do need to send the troops in, I will. Pacificism isn't good at all costs."
UPDATE: The 50% is wrong (must remember to cite-check casual conversations; thanks to Ed Frank for pointing this out). According to J.M. Roberts's The Twentieth Century, 57,000 Americans died in Vietnam. The rate of deaths was seen, especially by those who opposed the war, as too high.
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It turns out that being the foolish duckling that I am, I did start reinstalling Gentoo on my desktop. Problem? Well, I had my password for Crescat Sententia saved only in my "automatically save this password" thing on my desktop. I figured it wasn't a problem since I wasn't overwriting my personal files.
Alas. It turns out that I forgot I wouldn't be able to use my desktop, in its normal capacity, for a few days. So I had to play around with a few things and try and tease the password out of random files. It actually wasn't as hard as I feared it would be.
At any rate, speaking of passwords, I have a problem. I don't know who anyone is. I just don't remember names of actors. And even if I knew the name of an actor, I wouldn't be able to remember what they play. I'm completely flabbergasted at the amount of pop culture that people are able to keep in their heads. I mean, if I had my way I would flush all the song lyrics to bad eighties songs and keep--well, you know. Useful information. Like, for instance, randomly chosen passwords to places where I'm guest blogging.
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