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Wednesday News: Antitrust concerns for Comcast merger, China’s book banning, Publishers Weekly talks about diversity with publishers, and Walt Whitman’s advice to Oscar Wilde

Wednesday News: Antitrust concerns for Comcast merger, China’s book banning, Publishers...

According to the 16-page submission, the merger will reduce competition by providing Comcast with over 40 percent of the market for broadband internet services, and make it easier for the incumbents to hobble “over-the-top” challengers like Netflix by congesting their internet traffic.

The document, signed by antitrust experts from across the country including Columbia’s Tim Wu and Stanford’s Mark Lemley, comes as the FCC decides whether or not to approve the $45 billion merger, which was announced in February. A decision is expected in 2015. –Gigaom

China has detained a prominent scholar who helped blind dissident Chen Guangcheng flee to the United States two years ago and has banned books by eight writers in an escalating crackdown on dissent.

Guo Yushan, a founder of the Transition Institute, a think-tank that researches business regulations, reform and civil society, was detained on Thursday, his wife, Pan Haixia, said.

More than 10 police officers took him away along with his laptop, wireless router, mobile phone and iPad, she said. –Reuters

The panel drew a small but lively audience that, while more diverse than most industry gatherings, inadvertently highlighted one concern among many attendees: the people with the power to address the issue of diversity in the industry are not making it a priority. Only one senior publishing executive from a Big Five house attended the panel with the majority of the audience consisting of editorial staffers. There was only one person from marketing, cited during the program as a key department for providing support to a diverse list. –Publishers Weekly

The real subject of Whitman’s conversation wasn’t literary form; it was how to build a career in public, with all the display that self-glorifying achievement requires. We can deduce that with confidence because the first thing Whitman did when he reached his den was to give his guest a photograph of himself. Whitman had pioneered the idea that a writer in search of fame should fashion himself as a literary artifact. When Leaves of Grass was self-published in 1855 it did not have Whitman’s name on the title page; instead, it had his portrait on the preceding page, showing the author standing tall in workman’s garb, his collar open, his left hand in one pocket of his slacks, his right resting on his hip, his bearded head topped by a hat set at a cocky angle, and his eyes meeting the reader with a stare simultaneously casual and challenging. No writer had ever presented himself to the public this way, let alone so intentionally. (Or with a visible button fly.) This frontispiece is now considered, the scholars Ed Folsom and Charles M. Price write, “the most famous in literary history.” –New Republic

Friday News: Conan Doyle estate smacked by SCOTUS, Rupert Murdoch pursuing Time Warner, future-world Archie dies, and new Emily Giffin review drama

Friday News: Conan Doyle estate smacked by SCOTUS, Rupert Murdoch pursuing...

There is a case to be made for the aggressive protection of an author’s intellectual property rights by their estate. However, it must also be remembered the the US Constitution guaranteed those rights for only a “limited time,” and that the whole of the copyright clause is related to the “Progress of Science and useful Arts.” And this progress necessitates the public’s interest in copyright, in the sense that works in the public domain provide inspiration and fodder for other works. That the Conan Doyle estate seems content to collect licensing fees raises my cynical left eyebrow (that one gets a lot more upward movement than the right one these days), and I doubt this is their final move.

Doyle has been dead for eighty-four years, but because of extensions of copyright terms, ten of his fifty-six short stories continue to be protected from copying. All of the short stories and four novels were published between 1887 and 1927, but all of the collection except ten short stories have entered into the public domain as copyrights expired.

The Doyle estate, though, is pressing a quite unusual copyright theory. It contends that, since Doyle continued to develop the characters of Holmes and Watson throughout all of the stories, the characters themselves cannot be copied even for what Doyle wrote about them in the works that are now part of the public domain and thus ordinarily would be fair game for use by others. –Scotus Blog

Combine their international cable footprints and its uber-huge with Fox revenue 44% of total and strong in Europe while TW 36% and well penetrated in Latin America. Murdoch’s resultant international cable scale would create synergies on ad sales, affiliate fees, and pay-TV penetration, according to the analysts. That’s good for the companies.

What this also means is that, just as a time when a wealth of new buyers like Goggle, Hulu, Amazon, YouTube, Yahoo and Netflix for scripted professional TV programming have appeared, it’s entirely possibly that 2 of the biggest traditional buyers will become one combined entity to better control over how content is sold to these new online players. That’s bad for you. A merged Fox/Time Warner company would negotiate digital rights more effectively and create an even more formidable rival to these still fledgling programmers and distributors. That’s good for the companies. –Nikke Finke

Why did a series that for so long revolved around malt shops and the virtues of blondes versus brunettes take such a dark and political turn? Jon Goldwater, Archie Comics publisher and co-CEO, told the Associated Press they “wanted to do something that was impactful” and that would “resonate with the world.”

“That’s how we came up with the storyline of saving Kevin,” Goldwater said. “He could have saved Betty. He could have saved Veronica. We get that, but metaphorically, by saving Kevin, a new Riverdale is born.” –MSNBC

I did not finish this book because I did not like the direction that the relationship between the Coach and Shea was going. I wrote on Emily Giffin’s Facebook page that I loved all of her previous books, but I wasn’t comfortable with the direction this book was going in, my comments were deleted by her staff. I then wrote to her organization only to have her husband, Buddy Blaha wrote back to me with some “poor Emily” type stuff. –Amazon, Goodreads