Four short links: 23 February 2011

Programmable Watch, Flying Cars, Shakespeare's Copywrongs, and Publishing Unified

  1. Programmable Bluetooth Watch — OLED display, bluetooth, vibration, button, timers, and two-way Bluetooth. I’m enchanted by the possibilities of our environment talking to us through such a device. (via Tom Coates on Twitter)
  2. Flying Cars (XKCD) — a reminder to appreciate the future we live in, and not grizzle too hard that the ones we dreamt of in the 60s haven’t eventuated yet. (Part of my optimism riff)
  3. Presumed Guilty (James Boyle) — setting to rights a bizarre op-ed by Scott Turow (head of the Authors Guild) which sought to make Shakespeare sound like an argument for copyright law. The argument is so strange it is hard to know where to begin. The problem is not simply that Shakespeare flourished without copyright protection for his work. It is that he made liberal use of the work of others in his own plays in ways that would today almost certainly generate a lawsuit.
  4. Context First: A Unified Theory of Publishing (Vimeo) — Brian O’Leary’s talk at TOC. (via Liza Daly on Twitter)
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  • bob

    If Jamie Boyle and Larry Lessig want to do something about being misunderstood by people like Scott Turow, they might start scold the people who misuse your arguments. It’s entirely possible that 99.9999% of their fans are only interested in getting something for free.

    Consider their argument about Shakespeare. Boye’s right that he borrowed entire story lines, but the words were almost entirely his. He actually did some work. Yet as we speak some kid is using his argument to justify not paying 99 cents for a song. Take a look at YouTube. The place is littered with so-called mashups created by taking a song and matching it up with a picture of the album cover. Here’s an example.

    I would have more sympathy for his arguments if there were more than a handful of kids spending more than a few seconds on their so-called contributions to society. But 99%+ aren’t breaking a sweat on their so-called creations. Over in the middle east there are real people who are fighting for the right to express themselves, but over here the cabal of law school professors are falling over themselves to argue that saying anything mean about IsoHunt is a terrible infringement on their first amendment rights. Hah. There’s a huge difference between what Shakespeare did and what the automated tools at IsoHunt do every day.

    If Boyle wants to be seen as more than a member of a rabid anti-copyright cabal, why doesn’t he try to showing more sympathy for the content creators who don’t have tenure? His little tidbit at the end about fully adjudicating every infringement case is a start, but it’s almost an insult in and of itself. It’s like telling a city being torn apart by red light runners that they should hire Lance Ito and give O.J.-grade trials to every person who runs a red light because automated red light cameras would be a violation of some ephemeral right.

    What I find depressing about the so-called cabal is that it always struggle to find any reason to excuse what the file thieves do but it rarely give the creators a break. DMCA forms must be filled out absolutely correctly and presented in triplicate, but any limitation on some punk’s internet connection is a violation of every single amendment in the constitution. When school gets out, my Internet connection slows as the file sharers start up their P2P engines, but perish the thought that anyone would even regulate the speed of their connection. That would destroy “net neutrality”. (I realize this is a deep issue with many stake holders, but I often just feel like the so-called cabal are just astroturfers for the billionaires at YouTube and Google.)

    The amount of infringement is staggering and it continues to grow even as Apple develops better software that pretty much obviates any of the old arguments that blame the industry for not making it simple enough for the couch potatoes who haul their ass down to spend $5 at Starbucks but can’t bring themselves to spend 99 cents on a song.

    And let me just say that his little quip about tuition was funny because it reminds me of Duke Law’s own little bogus stats. See, it’s not just the RIAA that’s sticking it to America’s youth.