V4 (April)

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Occasional links & observations from
Steve Bogart

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photo by FiancéWoman


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26 April 2001

An excellent summary from Dan Gillmor of the problematic consequences of effectively-indefinite copyright:

  • Copyright tempest over 'The Wind Done Gone' is outrageous [SiliconValley]
    ...the case should never have come to court. That only happened because Congress has twisted tradition and law beyond all recognition, and a book that should have long since entered the public domain remains protected by copyright. ... When Mitchell wrote the book, the maximum term was 56 years, said Lawrence Lessig, professor of law at Stanford University. In other words, the copyright should have expired in 1992...

    Snow White was in the public domain before Disney got around to using her to make money. Victor Hugo must be spinning in his grave at the way Disney has turned the Hunchback of Notre Dame into a ridiculous cartoon -- but Disney can do this, can create new ways to look at cultural icons, because the public domain exists.

And a spot-on editorial from the Post:

  • 'Frankly, My Dear . . .' [Washington Post]
    The Mitchell copyright extends until 2036, although the author died more than 50 years ago. Whatever artistic energy this lengthy term of protection may foster, it is probably not coming from estate lawyers.

    More than 400 years ago a writer named Raphael Holinshed published a historical work of sorts that created some vivid characters, among them a king of greatly exaggerated wickedness named Richard III and another unfortunate ruler known as Macbeth. Not long afterward, William Shakespeare was busily mining Holinshed and other sources ... If only copyright law of the time had been more advanced, Holinshed, or his publisher or estate, might have been able to head off this infringement...

Transcript of John King's interview with Bush on his first 100 days [CNN]. Finding any content in all his generalities and contradictions is a real chore. Why King didn't follow up with more questions seeking specifics when Bush brushed him off, I'll never know.


King: ... On a policy question, you've instructed your attorney general to move to end the practice of racial profiling. ... given the tensions in Cincinnati, is that reminder to a president to say, "Mr. Ashcroft, let's hustle up and get this racial profiling...?"

Bush: Well, I think we got to address racial profiling, and John Ashcroft will. And I think he's making good progress along those lines.

Secondly, good policy makes good politics, John. I'm not the kind of person that sits around here in the White House saying, "Well, gosh, I wonder how I can enhance my political standing?"

...and after that non sequitur, he veered off into 'tax cuts are good', which I'm pretty sure had nothing to do with King's question.

So, the first questions that came to my mind were: "Can you elaborate on what 'progress' Attorney General Ashcroft has made? What further steps would you like to see him take?" Maybe he was pressed for time, because he just let it go by and threw a few other softballs.

I'm beginning to believe Bush's stumbling manner is a deliberate cover to keep from ever answering any question he doesn't want to. He'll say "we'll address that" or "we're having good discussions" (or, occasionally, he'll say two things in a row that directly contradict each other; no one knows what to say, then!) and the happy or puzzled little reporter-entertainers are so happy to get a parseable sentence that they just write it down and walk away.

Is there a real reporter in the house?

Can you believe I get to marry this woman? Me neither, sometimes.


"Giving police officers constitutional carte blanche to effect an arrest whenever there is probable cause to believe a fine-only misdemeanor has been committed is irreconcilable with the Fourth Amendment's command that seizures be reasonable," Justice O'Connor wrote... but that's just what they did. [NY Times]

A riveting read (for anyone who's thought of growing their own company or investing in a startup): ArsDigita: From Start-Up to Bust-Up [Philip Greenspun] (long)

Bush says he's a Methodist, but acts more like a Southern Baptist [OnlineJournal via BookNotes]

Arnold will not run for California governor, perhaps because of potential scandal [NY Post]

"Why yes, you can opt out of MBNA's practice of sharing your purchase information with, well, anybody." "Really?" "No, not really." : Deconstructing my privacy... notices by Brock Meeks [MSNBC]

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