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Monday News: The Turtles’s copyright case, discrimination suit against Nicholas Sparks, PW’s publishing survey results, and “motion as metaphor”

Monday News: The Turtles’s copyright case, discrimination suit against Nicholas Sparks,...

Music recordings produced before 1972 are not subject to the provisions of the 1995 federal law that makes digital radio services like SiriusXM to pay for post-1972 music they play on their stations. So now state copyright laws are being called upon to fill in this gap, and that’s an enormous problem, not only because of the differences among states, but also because all of this music has never been subject to royalties payments. And don’t we all know how disastrous attempts to extend copyright and trademark in other areas have been (Disney, anyone)?

It mean that companies could be on the hook for a new type of state-based copyright royalty every time they play a song that dates from prior to 1972. Worse, the rules vary from state to state. Depending on what courts decide, a radio station may have to pay in California but not in New York.

The quagmire gets deeper still because no one is sure if the DMCA (an important federal shield law that can give websites immunity for copyright infringement by their users) applies to state-based copyright action. Based on the logic of the SiriusXM ruling, record labels could now be in position to go after sites like YouTube or Facebook whenever people upload an oldie.

In this confusing legal environment, lawyers may begin advising media companies of all stripes to refrain from playing music from the 1950’s, 1960’s and early 1970’s. –Gigaom

Epiphany school is independent from official religious affiliations, but says its values and guiding principles are rooted in Judaeo-Christian traditions. Sparks, who was raised Roman Catholic, had his first Jewish protagonists in his 2013 book The Longest Ride.

Benjamin, who is of Jewish heritage and Quaker faith, believes that his efforts to make the school more diverse “enraged” Sparks and members of the school’s board of trustees. –The Guardian

Employees at publishing houses worked a little bit longer each week and made a little more money in 2013 than they did in 2012. Those were just two of the findings of PW’s annual salary survey, which was conducted this summer and which, for the first time, featured a number of questions on racial diversity in the industry. While it’s no surprise that the publishing sector is overwhelmingly white, the lack of diversity is a bit eye-opening: of the 630 respondents who identified their race, 89% described themselves as white/Caucasian, with 3% selecting Asian and another 3% indicating Hispanic. Only 1% said they are African-American. –Publishers Weekly

I think in movement terms. Human beings move on two legs across the floor, across the earth. We don’t do very much on the ground. We don’t have that kind of power in us. And we can’t go as fast as most four-footed animals do. Our action is here on our two legs. That’s what our life is about. When one thinks about falling, dying, or a loss of consciousness, this is a condition that is out of the normal range of human momentum. With jumping, although we all try to do it, we are again caught, because we can’t stay up there very long. So it becomes virtuoso. You know, when someone jumps high and stays long enough for it to register, it becomes a virtuoso feat. –Brain Pickings

REVIEW:  Ballroom to Bride and Groom by Kate Hardy

REVIEW: Ballroom to Bride and Groom by Kate Hardy

Dear Ms. Hardy:

I’ve read Kate Hardy’s Medicals and Presents novels for years, and the Posh Docs series is on my keeper shelf. When I saw a new novel in the Harlequin Romance line, I was intrigued, because it seemed a good fit in terms of voice and style.

Ballroom to Bride and Groom

Polly Anna Adams has just been dumped by her fiance, a week before the wedding, and she’s resigned her job on a children’s TV show, left the flat they shared, and is spending her time taking care of cancelling all the wedding details. Her agent gets her an audition for a Dancing-With-the-Stars type TV show, where she is partnered with Liam Flynn, a professional dancer who is returning after 18 months of rehab for injuries he suffered in an auto accident. Liam’s life fell apart after the accident; he wasn’t sure he could ever dance again and his dance-partner wife left him for a new partner. So Polly is shell-shocked and Liam has decided he won’t get emotionally involved again.

Polly’s bright and cheerful personality and always-on smile protects her from showing her true feelings. She perfected the technique after a crisis in her teens (we figure out pretty quickly what the crisis was). Liam sees through it and they develop a tentative friendship as they train for the competition, with an undercurrent of mutual attraction running through their time together. Polly is sure that she is too clumsy and awkward to be able to dance properly, but Liam is persistent and his alternately bracing and sympathetic attitude gives her confidence:

She’d never, ever experienced anything like this. And when he guided her effortlessly round the corners and danced her all the way back down the room again…

‘Wow,’ she said when the song ended. ‘I never thought I’d be able to do that.’

At the beginning of their lesson, he’d had his doubts, too. But she’d worked hard. Made the effort. And, from the look of wonder in her eyes, he was pretty sure that she’d just got what he loved about ballroom dancing. OK, it was tiny, as far as breakthroughs went, but it was a start. Part of him wanted to pick her up and spin her round. But the sensible side of him remained in control. Just.

‘Told you so,’ he said laconically.

‘Smugness,’ she said, ‘is not a good look on you, Mr Flynn.’

It was the first time she’d really answered him back—teasing, confident, and incredibly sweet. Liam couldn’t help responding to the glint in her eyes: he smiled at her.

Polly is appealing and sympathetic, and while she’s a bit of a doormat at the beginning, you can understand why she took the actions she did. She has almost no relationship with her parents, she has a circle of loving and supportive friends. Liam is more of a stock character at the beginning: the ambitious, gifted professional who shuts up his emotions and places everyone at arm’s length until he meets the woman who unwittingly pierces his defenses. The twist here, though, is that Polly is more reluctant to act on their mutual attraction than he is. There’s an utterly over-the-top but lovely interlude set in Vienna, where Liam takes Polly when she is having trouble getting the hang of the waltz. But after a wonderful night together, Polly is the one who draws back, not Liam. Their career plans put them on different paths, and at no point does Polly do that annoying romance-heroine thing of deciding that she’s willing to give up everything for her man.

The first half of the story involves introducing the characters and the dance competition plot. The scenes with Liam teaching Polly to dance and their weekly performances are a lot of fun, although they focus primarily on the two of them and don’t show much of the rest of the competitors (the snippets with the judges are amusing). The second half develops the relationship and deals with the fallout when the details of Polly’s teenage crisis are revealed. The scene where Polly faces her past and talks frankly about what happened is very moving. The last few scenes and the ending, though, like so many categories, feels rushed, and the Big Gesture at the end is one of those that readers either love or hate. Since they hadn’t resolved the believable issues that were blocking an easy HEA, I wasn’t quite sure I could believe the ending. I did believe that they really loved each other, though, which is probably more important.

Since this is in the Sweet line, the heat level is very low. I’m fine with that, but readers who don’t want to stop at the bedroom door will likely be a bit frustrated. I found the repeated use of one word to describe what the French call a coup de foudre to be a bit tiring (there’s a reason we borrow so much from French, as it turns out). I know you can’t explain coup de foudre feelings, and I understood not only why Polly was willing to marry her fiancé without it, but also why he felt something was missing. But the emphasis on Polly’s discovery of that feeling and its importance didn’t quite work for me as written. At a more technical level, there are also a lot of POV shifts within scenes that were sometimes difficult to follow.

In spite of those issues, though, I enjoyed the book. The arcs of character growth for Polly and Liam were believable, and I liked that they were not just falling in love because they were physically attracted to each other but because they liked each other as people. The backstage scenes about the dance training and competition were nicely woven into the romantic progression. And no one was a pure villain, not even the person who triggered the public revelations about Polly’s past. I think the HR line suits Hardy’s voice well, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else she does within it. Grade: C+

~ Sunita

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