General

NY Times Looks at Books and Magazines in Digital Transition

We were struck by the appearance in today’s New York Times of two prominently placed stories about media in transition. Both are well worth reading.

Dave Streitfeld explores the enduring appeal of the traditional book in the digital era.

“Even as the universe of printed matter continues to shrivel, the book — or at least some of its best-known features — is showing remarkable staying power online. The idea is apparently embedded so deeply in the collective unconsciousness that no one can bear to leave it behind.”

Writing that “efforts to reimagine the core experience of the book have stumbled,” Streitfeld notes that a number of tech startups that have tried to incorporate social networking or multimedia into books have either gone out of business or been forced to change their business model.

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Posted in E-Books, General

Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

David Orr, author of Beautiful and Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry, writes a column for The New York Times Book Review.

He wrote, “At any given moment, millions of people in this country are happily not reading poems, and dozens of poets are happy to say they don’t care.”

Does one have to study poetry to become a fan? Orr quotes Philip Larkin, “Oh, for Christ’s sake, one doesn’t study poets! You read them, and think, that’s marvelous, how is it done, could I do it? And that’s how you learn.”

Orr concludes: “When we talk about accessibility, we should remember that poetry, unlike churches and fortresses, has never loved a wall.”

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Posted in General

End of the Road for Siegel and Shuster Heirs’ “Superman” Battle? A Cautionary Tale

First the Jerry Siegel heirs, in February; now the Joe Shuster heirs. The lawsuits over the rights of the heirs of Superman’s co-creators may be over. The Shuster heirs appear stuck with a 1992 agreement paying a “pension” of $25,000 per year. The Siegel heirs fared much better: their 2001 agreement included $3 million up front and an ongoing 6% of gross revenues.

Last Thursday, an appellate court effectively affirmed DC Comics’ ownership of the copyright for Superman in what may be the final chapter in a long, complex and ultimately losing struggle by the heirs of Superman co-creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster to regain their rights to the iconic superhero.

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Posted in Copyright, General

Judge Extends Order Blocking Sale of Malcolm X Diaries

On Friday, attorneys for the heirs of Malcolm X told a federal court in Manhattan that The Diary of Malcolm X was available for sale online, in violation of the court’s November 8th temporary restraining order blocking sales of the work. Judge Laura Taylor Swain wasted no time, warning the defendant that it could be held in contempt of court if it disregards her order, and extending the order blocking the sale of the book until a court hearing in January, according to the Associated Press.

The Diary of Malcolm X, which was scheduled to be published earlier this month by Chicago-based Third World Press, is based on journals written by Malcolm X in 1964 as he traveled to the Middle East and Africa. Those journals have been on loan from the civil rights leader’s estate, X Legacy, to the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center since 2003. X Legacy had filed a copyright infringement suit earlier this month asserting that it had the sole right to publish his diaries.

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Posted in Copyright, General

New York Times Obituary for Herb Mitgang

Today’s obituary for Herbert Mitgang in The New York Times goes into much more detail than we did yesterday. For example, we wrote about Herb’s work for Stars and Stripes in World War II. The Times tells you he did much more than that during the war, serving as an Army intelligence officer, parachuting into Greece, and earning six battle stars.

The Times highlights Herb Mitgang’s 1988 book Dangerous Dossiers: Exposing the Secret War Against America’s Greatest Authors, which he wrote using FBI, CIA, and other files he obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

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Posted in General

Herbert Mitgang, Former Authors Guild and Authors League Fund President, Dies at 93

We’ve just learned that our dear friend Herbert Mitgang died this morning at the age of 93. Since joining the Authors Guild in 1957, Herb had been a stalwart supporter of the Guild and its organizations. He served as president of the Authors Guild and the Authors League Fund, devoting countless hours in the service of his fellow writers.

Herbert Mitgang began his distinguished writing career as an army correspondent for Stars and Stripes during World War II; he would soon become managing editor, first for the paper’s Oran-Casablanca edition, then for its Sicily edition.

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Posted in General

No SOPA: Speakers Downplay Legislation at House Online Piracy Hearing

At a House subcommittee hearing Tuesday to discuss online piracy, speakers emphasized education and voluntary cooperation over legislation, even as they acknowledged that voluntary efforts by search engines–a chief gateway to pirated works–had not been effective. John Eggerton of Broadcasting and Cable reports:

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Posted in Copyright, General

Not Just the French: Argentina and South Korea Debate Limiting Book Discount

While limits on book discounting in France and Germany receive much more attention, Publishing Perspectives took a recent look, in separate pieces, at how pricing and discounting is shaping the book market in two countries with vastly different reading and book buying cultures–Argentina and Korea.

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Posted in Authorship, General

New Era in China? Video Sites Sue Search Giant Baidu for Spreading Piracy

Can lawsuits slow piracy in China? We may soon find out.

Top Chinese video sites Youku Tudou, Sohu Video, Tencent Video license their content lawfully and sometimes create their own programs. Now, with the backing of the Motion Picture Association of America, they’ve filed suit against Baidu, China’s dominant search portal, and a smaller competitor for spreading links to unlicensed content. The suits seek about $50 million in damages, according to a story in The Hollywood Reporter.

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Posted in Copyright, General

House Committee to Tackle Fair Use and DMCA’s Takedown Rules

Congressional efforts to update U.S. copyright law are set to resume next Tuesday, when a House Judiciary subcommittee meets to discuss changing business models and content delivery methods in the digital age.

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Posted in Copyright, General