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Fair Use

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

Dear Author

Wednesday News: HathiTrust wins against Author’s Guild, Kindle installment plan, book...

Fair Use Victory in HathiTrust Litigation – So this is the one about how the Author’s Guild sued the HathiTrust and lost. The HathiTrust — comprised of more than 80 academic and research institutions — created a digital library (the HathiTrust Digital Library) and then digitized more than ten million works for the Library. The Second Circuit ruled on two issues and did not rule on a third, and both of the issues they did rule on — full-text searchability and digital access for print-disabled readers — to be Fair Use. Go figure. The third, as yet unresolved, issue is related to the question of whether a library can print a replacement copy of a book that is otherwise unobtainable for a reasonable price.

Today’s decision is an important reaffirmation of the fair use doctrine’s role in enabling transformative uses of copyrighted works that enable the creation of new information-location tools and in the ability of libraries to serve the needs of their print disabled patrons. –The Berkeley Blog

Three Months in, Amazon’s Kindle Installment Plan is Here to Stay – Did you know that Amazon was offering an installment plan for Kindles? I sure didn’t. Apparently everything but the Fire is available for purchase in five payments, and the program has already been in place for three months.

It makes a lot of sense for Amazon to offer this program. Once they have maxed out their retail channel by selling to everyone who can pay full price, and lowered the price as much as they can via ad subsidies, the next logical step was to offer an installment plan and lower the purchase barrier another notch. And since Amazon handles their own payment processing, the actual cost (compared to having the stock sitting in a warehouse unsold) is minimal. –The Digital Reader

Absent Friends: Lean Years of Plenty – Katherine Mansfield was the fiction reviewer for The Athenaeum for about four years, between 1919 and her death in 1923. And for all of the complaints we have about genre fiction of today, trust that Mansfield made note of most of them almost a century ago. That’s right, dear readers, streams of literary dreck have been running unchecked through pens, typewriters, computers, and book presses for decades and decades, and authors have resented negative reviews. Seriously, though, it’s pretty amusing to see how little things have changed when it comes to complaints about writing quality and the value of critical reviews.

Public Opinion, garrulous, lying old nurse that she is, cries: ‘Yes! Great books, immortal books are being born every minute, each one more lusty than the last. Let him who is without sin among you cast the first criticism.’ It would be a superb, thrilling world if this were true! Or even if the moderate number of them were anything but little puppets, little make-believes, playthings on strings with the same stare and the same sawdust filling, just unlike enough to keep the attention distracted, but all like enough to do nothing more profound. After all, in these lean years of plenty how could it be otherwise? Not even the most hardened reader, at the rate books are written and read nowadays, could stand up against so many attacks upon his mind and heart, if it were. Reading, for the great majority—for the reading public—is not a passion but a pastime, and writing, for the vast number of modern authors, is a pastime and not a passion. –Open Letters Monthly

7 Highlights from a 19th Century Book of Sample Love Letters – Perhaps this 19th century advice on writing love letters should be filed under things not to include in your Romance novel. Among the examples (with helpful annotations):

3. “FROM A GENTLEMAN OF SOME FORTUNE, WHO HAD SEEN A LADY IN PUBLIC, TO HER MOTHER”

He gets to the heart of the matter eventually, but it’s the opening paragraph that’s worth considering:

I shall be very happy if you are not altogether unacquainted with the name which is at the bottom of this letter, since that will prevent me the necessity of saying some things concerning myself, which had better be heard from others. Hoping that it may be so, I shall not trouble you on that head; but only say, that I have the honour to be of a family not mean, and not wholly without fortune.

I think that’s 19th century speak for “Do you know who I am?!” –Mental Floss