If you thought the last way to save newspapers was stupid

You will love this.  And I quote:

Expanding copyright law to bar online access to copyrighted materials without the copyright holder’s consent, or to bar linking to or paraphrasing copyrighted materials without the copyright holder’s consent, might be necessary to keep free riding on content financed by online newspapers from so impairing the incentive to create costly news-gathering operations that news services like Reuters and the Associated Press would become the only professional, nongovernmental sources of news and opinion.

If you read the whole thing on the dead tree apocalypse, you might read through this paragraph without thinking. But look at it again. Bar linking to or paraphrasing. The judge has a frakking blog, you’d think that gives him some understanding of how the internet works  hell, you’d think he knows how fair use works. I mean, you want to save an obsolete business model by outlawing the core functionality of HTML? MMMMM’kay. If you do that, how does he expect anyone to end up on the on-line walled garden of the NY Times? Oh, right, this is about the perpetuation of dead trees, not allowing the N.Y. Times (or anyone else) to actually profit from the new media to pay for their journalists.

This idea is made of FAIL.

(via here and here)

Just because it’s Wikipedia don’t mean it’s not plagiarism

A new plagiarism story is afoot on the web seeing light in many places.

freeAuthor Chris Anderson writes about the web, and web marketing. He is one who you expect to be savvy about things like social networking, open source, creative commons, and all that other Web 2.0 stuff that’s all the hot shite on teh interwebz. He knows the dynamics of the online mob like few other dead tree writers. . .

So you’d think he’d see this coming, wouldn’t you? You’d think if massive lifts of uncredited quotes from Wikipedia ended up in his book, he might realize that, well, there’d be a reaction. I mean, target audience anyone? Even if we’re as kind as his publisher and accept the explanation that it was all just a snafu: “All those are my screwups after we decided not to run notes as planned, due to my inability to find a good citation format for web sources…”

And somehow I don’t quite buy the explanation, especially given that the plagiaristic passages aren’t just a reprise of fact in the author’s words, but word-for-word cribbing of Wikipedia including transcription errors. Even if you had footnotes in place, that would be ethically problematic unless it was all set off as a quote.

Here’s a kicker, though: (From VQR Online)

Though reproducing words or original ideas from any uncredited source is widely defined as plagiarism, using text from Wikipedia presents an even more significant problem than reproducing traditional copyrighted text. Under Wikipedia’s Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license, Anderson would be required to credit all contributors to the quoted passages, license his modifications under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, note that the original work has been modified, and provide the text of or a link to the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

IMO, the Wikipedia usage goes a bit beyond fair use, so he’s probably violating the license even with footnotes. Of course the ready-made remedy is to release the book under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. I wonder if that’s going to happen?

So I need to explain why this is a bad idea

The Dutch government wants to tax the internet to fund print media. To put a finer point on it, the Dutch have come up with the swell idea that the way to save print journalism is to tax another, different, sector of the economy. Now as a friend said on Facebook: “It’s nice to talk about the freedom of the internet, but the freedom of the internet doesn’t pay for actual journalism, especially the kind of investigative journalism upon which liberty in a complex society relies.”

Here’s the first problem: Journalism is not this pure shining platonic absolute. Journalism reflects the biases of those who pay for it. Journalism paid for by tax dollars becomes an organ of the state, or at the very least becomes subject to all sorts of ugly political influences.

Here’s the second problem: This is not funding Journalism. This is funding newspapers. This “assistance” will do absolutely nothing to stop the death spiral of the dead tree media, and will actually suck talented people away from other forms of expression. The reporters and employees from a bankrupt newspaper do not vanish from the face of the earth, they migrate to other platforms that may actually reach people.

Here’s the third problem: They are attempting to revive a dying industry by punishing the industry that is most likely to provide its replacement. Most newspapers are attempting to shift their business model on-line. Those will be the ones who survive. If this regime is in place it is unlikely any of those will be Dutch.

Publishing is not a Zero-Sum game

But an asshat named Robert Stanek seems to think otherwise.  This gentleman appears to think that anyone’s success comes at the expense of his own career.  I’ve heard of misguided authors trying to game Amazon to pump up their own work, but this has got to be the most vindictive wrinkle I’ve yet heard about.  I mean, dude, WTF did Patrick Rothfuss do you you, other than sell better?  I mean, at least I can understand the motive behind you going after David Louis Edelman, I mean he did let everyone know how you (badly) Photoshopped yourself into a book signing.   Even the vendetta against Jim C. Hines, at least he was critical of you in the comments of his little anti-self-publishing anti-asinine-self-publishing-tactics post.  But this sockpuppet jihad against the Name of the Wind?  Makes no sense.

A new era for conspiracy, take II

So on June 3rd, a couple of unidentified men who were allegedly Japanese nationals were arrested by the Italian police crossing into Switzerland with what appeared to be $134.5 billion dollars in U.S. Treasury Bonds.  The men were subsequently released and the US Treasury says the bonds are crude fakes.

I mean bad fakes like:

Another U.S. official said the seized bonds were purported to be issued during the Kennedy administration in the early 1960s, but the certificates showed a picture of a space shuttle on it — a spacecraft that first flew in 1981. Some of the bonds were purportedly issued in a $500 million denomination that never existed.

So it is kind of interesting that it took two weeks to figure out that was a fake, hmm.

As far as the “Japanese” men who were arrested and released:

The Japanese nationals who were caught bringing in the bonds have been released as they “broke no laws”

So why were they arrested in the first place?  Either they were smuggling huge amounts of money across the border, or they were in possession of obscene amounts of couterfit bonds.  I think one of those might be just a little illegal.  Just a little?

Of course if it was all a Mafia courtefit scam, perhaps that makes sense.  Does it make more sense than if Japan is unloading its US debt holdings on the down low?  As the LA Times says,  “This is manna from heaven for conspiracy theorists.”

Question to my Liberal friends.

I’m not going to rant about this, because it was pretty damn obvious what was going on as it happened. However, as a little bit a hypothetical I want to ask you the following:

Let’s just say our last president made some policy announcement about a cornerstone of his administration’s agenda in a wildly publicized and quoted public forum, making a speech reaching out to those not-quite-approving of his policies. Let’s say further that in that speech he made a rather unambiguous promise about how the core part of those same policies would work, trying to win over the crowd he was speaking to.

Let us continue by supposing a week later “White House officials suggest the president’s rhetoric shouldn’t be taken literally.”

In a Bush White House, what would this be evidence of?

A) Bush is a liar.
B) Bush is an idiot.
C) Bush doesn’t care.
D) All of the above.

Why do I get the feeling that in an Obama Administration, the same rules don’t apply?

The children did not eat me

funny pictures

All in all the class yesterday was a success, I manged to avoid choking, and I actually interacted with human beings who did not exist when I started writing professionally. More important, I think I did manage to get a few things across. It helps that we had a smart group that really seemed to have some writing talent. If any of them do pursue this gig, I’m curious to see what they produce a decade or two from now to see if my genre assessments of them turn accurate (I see one kid doing psychological horror, another going into either techno-thrillers or military SF…)

This was also good in another way. I’ve done a fair bit of pondering how one puts words together to make a story, but I never thought of an action scene as a separate entity until I was asked to present some guidance on it to this class. It gave me an excuse to dissect one of my strengths as a writer, and from that examination I think I came out with a better understanding of the topic, or at least a more conscious awareness of it.