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Friday News: Controversial new Spider Woman cover, Canadian copyright’s unintended consequences, Arab Noir fiction, and Gretna Green’s marriage business

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.”
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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

Monday News: Do small pubs benefit from Amazon v. Hachette, Jay Lake dies, (no) diversity at BEA, and slut-shaming and social class

Monday News: Do small pubs benefit from Amazon v. Hachette, Jay...

“All the anti-Amazon stuff lately would have you believe that Amazon is squeezing all of the publishers,” Shepard told Business Insider. “I don’t know what they do with the big guys, but for us, what Amazon has created is the best outcome that one could possibly deal with.”

         Shepard feels that Amazon has democratized the book market: He says that small publishers no longer    need to buy publicity, because their books will get just as much room online as Hachette titles.

“They’re preserving a literary culture, not just best sellers,” he says. “This is a very good thing.” –Business Insider

Among Lake’s numerous honors were a quarterly first prize in the Writers of the Future contest in 2003 and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in Science Fiction in 2004. His writing has appeared in many publications, including Interzone, Strange Horizons, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and the Mammoth Book of Best New Horror. He was an editor for the “Polyphony” anthology series from Wheatland Press, and was also a contributor to the Internet Review of Science Fiction. Lake’s final collection, The Last Plane to Heaven, an anthology featuring thirty of his short stories, will be available September 2014. –Tor.com

Non-whites are virtually absent from BookExpo planning committees and prime promotional slots. Tavis Smiley is the only non-white among the 16 scheduled breakfast and author tea speakers, who also include Jodi Picoult, Lena Dunham and Anjelica Huston. There is little non-white representation for various other high-profile events, from “Buzz” forums for upcoming adult, young adult and middle grade releases to an all-white panel that will discuss discrepancies between how men and women fiction writers are treated.

“I don’t have a good answer for you,” said BookExpo event director Steven Rosato, who noted that publishers submit candidates for panels and other gatherings. “Clearly, there’s a gap between the industry and what’s representative of the country.” –ABC News

“Viewing women only as victims of men’s sexual dominance fails to hold women accountable for the roles they play in reproducing social inequalities,” Elizabeth Armstrong, a sociology and organizational studies professor at the University of Michigan, said in a release. “By engaging in ‘slut-shaming’ — the practice of maligning women for presumed sexual activity — women at the top create more space for their own sexual experimentation, at the cost of women at the bottom of social hierarchies.” –Al Jazeera America