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Friday News: Controversial new Spider Woman cover, Canadian copyright’s unintended consequences,...

“But while diversity on the page has improved, diversity behind the pens really hasn’t,” said Sneddon. “There still just aren’t enough women breaking into the superhero comics industry, and covers like these help illustrate why – they put up a very big ‘no women welcome’ sign, which puts off not only women readers, but the many women creators working on a great variety of other comics.” –The Guardian

I think this is a really tough situation, because in the US, for example, textbook prices are insane, and many students, especially those at community colleges and state public institutions simply cannot afford to pay the exorbitant prices that are charged, especially for textbooks that become more and more expensive with each new edition, as compared to older editions with many less expensive, used copies available. There needs to be some kind of balance between compensating rights holders and upholding the spirit of fair use for educational purposes, which helps to facilitate new scholarship and research, as well as a strong foundation for educational access and learning.

Roanie Levy, the executive director of Access Copyright, explained that in educational institutions’ interpretation of the law, “it is fair for them to use up to 10% of a work or a chapter of a book. And they believe it is fair to copy a chapter, put it on a course management website, and share it with a class of 10 students or a class of 150 students…. It would be fair to take chapters from multiple publications, journal articles, and 10% of a book, compile it all into a course pack, and use that as the readings for a given class, without paying any of the rights holders.”
. . .
That impact is perhaps most apparent in the revenues lost when educational institutions decided not to renew collective licensing agreements administrated by Access Copyright. Under those agreements, universities pay C$26 per student and colleges pay C$10 per student as a flat fee for the reproduction of copyrighted material, and Access Copyright distributes royalties to the appropriate publishers and creators. According to figures provided by the organization, the drop-off in licensing renewals in 2013 resulted in a C$4.9 million decline in Access Copyright’s payments to publishers and creators last year. They lost another C$13.5 million in 2013 because provincial education ministries also stopped paying licensing fees for the K–12 sector in public schools. –Publishers Weekly

These translated thrillers captivated Egyptian readers in part because they shined a torch on the contested legal system of colonialism. The plots would be familiar to those who watch The Wire—inefficient courts, bumbling officers, the law’s futility in the face of crime. A classic example is Tawfik Al-Hakim’s Diary of a Country Prosecutor, a 1947 novel that’s part biographical, part hard-boiled, with a dash of bitters thrown in. The prosecutor waxes cynical about the legal institutions of British colonialism. In a satirical courthouse scene, Al-Hakim demonstrates the law’s worthlessness in the Nile Delta, where rural Egyptians are “required to submit to a modern legal system imported from abroad.” As in James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity, the law here can be fudged; the real disputes are settled outside of court.

“These novels form a tradition of legal muckraking,” writes Elliott Colla, chair of Georgetown’s Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies and the author of a new thriller, Baghdad Central. “Writing fiction about impolite or contentious social issues became an alternative way of addressing problems normally resolved through legal deliberation and action.” The stories of prosecutors and shamuses portrayed the ambiguity of law and order. All crime novels are political. –The Paris Review

But despite the whittling away of the legal distinction that made Gretna a marriage capital, it retains a romantic allure. “Running away to Gretna Green” remains a commonly used phrase. And couples still come. –BBC News

isn't sure if she's an average Romance reader, or even an average reader, but a reader she is, enjoying everything from literary fiction to philosophy to history to poetry. Historical Romance was her first love within the genre, but she's fickle and easily seduced by the promise of a good read. She approaches every book with the same hope: that she will be filled from the inside out with something awesome that she didnʼt know, didnʼt think about, or didnʼt feel until that moment. And she's always looking for the next mind-blowing read, so feel free to share any suggestions!

11 Comments

  1. Madscientistnz
    Aug 22, 2014 @ 04:50:57

    I didn’t get married at Gretna Greene, but while visiting, my then boyfriend and I were asked to be witnesses for a couple who lived a few hours away. They had two small children and had decided to run away for the weekend and surprise their family. (Initially I thought the celebrant was asking if we wanted to get married! It took a bit to realise he was asking us to be witnesses :) )

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  2. Lada
    Aug 22, 2014 @ 07:24:35

    Read a couple of articles this morning on the that ridiculous Spider Woman cover (Time, iO9) and they all pretty much say the same thing: Do better Marvel. Marvel’s main response currently seems to be “but it’s only in limited release”. Gah.

    Is it just me or is that cover ugly, even disregarding the butt-crack focus. Her nose is really weird and it seems the artist focused on one aspect and barely bothered with the rest.

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  3. Isobel Carr
    Aug 22, 2014 @ 09:05:48

    @Lada: They hired an erotic illustrator, of course he did an erotic illustration. Marvel knew exactly what they would be getting.

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  4. Diana
    Aug 22, 2014 @ 09:19:00

    @Lada: I agree. The cover looks weird. It’s not even the boob bouncing, cheesecake style of “sexy” they’ve done in the past. It looks like a high school art project made with crayola colored pencils. And what’s with the horribly unsexy butt shot? So uncomfortably bad on so many levels.

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  5. Heather Greye
    Aug 22, 2014 @ 09:54:04

    The Arabic noir article was really interesting. I recommend running through the slide show of the covers at the top too. The translations of titles and the descriptions of the books are well worth reading.

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  6. wikkidsexycool
    Aug 22, 2014 @ 10:07:41

    Milo Manara’s cover looks like it was inspired by the Nicki Minaj video Anaconda, or vice versa. But Nicki’s uber behind was manufactured: http://bossip.com/268166/nicki-minaj-before-plastic-surgery/

    Some of the comments in the Guardian are spot on, like the one by MarquisDeSod wondering what male superheroes would look like in the poses created for females.

    http://www.entertainmentfuse.com/images/sexism3.png

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  7. Maite
    Aug 22, 2014 @ 10:57:43

    Marvel’s art direction: mentally gender-shift covers as part of the approval process. It will help avoid PR mistakes in the future.

    Could anyone tell me WHY are textbooks so expensive? My university has a 48-hour loan on course textbooks, so that everyone could have a chance of photocopying the entire thing. Does anyone win when this is the only affordable alternative? (At 450 students in some courses, it wasn’t an option to have copies for everyone).

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  8. P. J. Dean
    Aug 22, 2014 @ 12:30:20

    @widdidsexycool LOL. LOL. The male super heroes! It’s all about dat azz. I want it animated so I can see The Hulk drop it like it’s hot and then twerk for Mama. Now that’s the film I’d pay to see.

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  9. P. J. Dean
    Aug 22, 2014 @ 12:31:12

    correction @wikkidsexycool.

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  10. Tabs
    Aug 22, 2014 @ 13:44:44

    I thought the Minara cover, in addition to being wildly inappropriate, was also just poorly drawn and executed. I looked up some of his other work and he has lots of gorgeous pieces. This one’s crap.

    I thought this post at the Mary use did a great job of critiquing the art without crapping on the style: http://www.themarysue.com/controversial-spider-woman-covers-redrawn/

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  11. Nemo
    Aug 22, 2014 @ 17:15:54

    Am I the only one who thought “Kiss of the Spider Woman” when they read this? I was kind of eager to see a new erotic cover…that would be something inventive.

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