"And By Raging I Mean Flailing, And By Light I Mean Relevance"

A fine rant:

David Young, Hachette's chief executive, says: "Publishers can't meet to discuss standards because of antitrust concerns. This has had a chilling effect on reaching consensus."

Mr. Young lays it flat out: that laws prohibiting anticompetitive collusion and price-fixing are having a "chilling effect" on major publishers' attempts to collude, fix prices and thwart competition.

I can't imagine a functioning adult saying this with a straight face, but there it is. "Laws against doing evil things are having a chilling effect on the efforts of aspirant evildoers." I'm sure it's a problem for somebody, but as far as I'm concerned, mission accomplished, gold stars all 'round, well done laws and keep up the good work.

As has been noted many times, by many people, we've juiced up the entirely artificial copyright laws of the world to the point that if libraries weren't already a centuries-old cultural institution, there's no chance they'd ever be able to come into existence today. And here in this miraculous age of free-flowing information, that's sad as hell.

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4 Responses:

  1. MKV says:

    Aside from the sad cultural commentary re: libraries, digital distribution and first sale doctrine are a huge mess. It's really hard to imagine a sensible endpoint for it, although if first sale doctrine were held up for digital distribution it would create an amazing economics experiment as price discovery on software happened in a largely transparent and loggable state. Imagine if every app on the App Store or game on Steam must legally support re-saleability...

    • Gryazi says:

      While it's annoying to have been shaken down for a donation by some starving open source devs this holiday, it's also kind of weird to realize we've been living in a world where artists once weren't directly compensated because of the vagaries of distribution and logistics.

      If we ditched libraries and dumped the same funding on food-stamps-for-books, would that be so bad? Even though digital resale is a mess (and I've realized I'd rather have the likes of Amazon provide a 'cloudy' personal bookshelf than the bullshit of having to select 'delivery' to one device and shuffle later - at half the cost of a hardcover I'd like the convenience it feels like I'm paying for) it seems like it would be better to create an economy where people can potentially earn an income instead of having the legacy carve-out.

      I still don't know how to reconcile that with my memory of being a broke no-allowance kid who was definitely in the target market for Napster - having $10 in your pocket makes micropayments seem a lot more reasonable than having $0 - but if we're doing this capitalism thing it seems like actually finding ways to let society distribute wealth in the 'right' directions is the way to go.

      PS: What's everyone using to edit text on Android? Having to paste this into Yahoo Mail to get a text field I could actually scroll to the bottom of kind of sucked (and is a bug with the browser not knowing what I'm trying to do with my fingers, not the page design).

      • Doctor Memory says:

        "If we ditched libraries and dumped the same funding on food-stamps-for-books, would that be so bad?"

        Yes. Libraries work. We know that they work. We know that they work well. We have centuries of experience with libraries working. You're suggesting that we replace them with a cobbled-together subsidy program designed by people who's stated end-goal is for it not to exist in the first place. (Remember how awesome PressPlay was?)

        I prefer my hen-houses to be designed by someone other than a committee of foxes and wolves, thanks.

  2. Jeremiah Blatz says:

    What's really messed up is that the NYT article tries really hard to make publishers look reasonable, and not the lazy, uncreative, grasping evildoers that they act like. The most depressing thing is that the system of checks & balances that prevents wholesale exploitation of consumers has the publishers and government on one side, and thepiratebay.org on the other.