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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.”
. . .
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

Wednesday News: NYPL hosts Amazon roundtable, Guernica names first paid publisher, JK Rowling’s plot map, and Game of Thrones wedding costs

Wednesday News: NYPL hosts Amazon roundtable, Guernica names first paid publisher,...

Amazon: Business As Usual? – Although I have not had a chance to watch it, and therefore cannot comment on the content, I’m thinking that the 759 comments (as of Tuesday night PST), some of which are pretty entertaining, suggest that it might be worth sitting through the 90-minute discussion of everyone’s favorite subject (not). From the website describing the event:

Authors, agents, and publishers take to the LIVE from the NYPL stage to tackle these urgent questions in a conversation moderated by Tina Bennett, literary agent at WME. Guests include: best-selling author James Patterson; Morgan Entrekin, publisher and president of Grove Atlantic; Bob Kohn, attorney and founder of EMusic.com; Tim Wu, law professor and theorist of “net neutrality;” Danielle Allen, political theorist, author of a new book on the Declaration of Independence and elected chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board; and David Vandagriff, intellectual property lawyer. –New York Public Library

Guernica Magazine Names Lisa Lucas PublisherGuernica Magazine is celebrating its 10th anniversary as an entirely free, volunteer-run publication that, as its latest edition demonstrates, is better than many professionally run publications. Lisa Lucas, who has been serving as volunteer publisher, is poised to be the magazine’s first paid employee, and she is expected to undertake fundraising to pay more contributors and even produce a print version of the magazine. It will be interesting to see how, if at all, funding changes Guernica‘s priorities, content, and/or reach.

“I am thrilled to be charged with ushering Guernica into a new era of growth and sustainability. For 10 years, the magazine has been publishing the highest caliber of intellectual and literary work for free,” Ms. Lucas said in an announcement. “With keen long-term strategy, we will continue to do so while fostering creative culture by supporting our incredible contributors and expanding our offerings to new platforms.” –New York Observer

How J.K. Rowling Plotted Harry Potter with a Hand-Drawn Spreadsheet – First, if you don’t already visit Open Culture on a regular basis, start today – the site is devoted to locating free content, whether it be music, film, books, or cartoons. This is a particularly interesting entry, as it contains a piece of notebook paper on which JK Rowling plotted chapters 13-24 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. If you find writerly processes interesting, check out Rowling’s intricate chart.

At the height of the Harry Potter novels’ popularity, I asked a number of people why those books in particular enjoyed such a devoted readership. Everyone gave almost the same answer: that author J.K. Rowling “tells a good story.” The response at once clarified everything and nothing; of course a “good story” can draw a large, enthusiastic (and, at that time, impatient) readership, but what does it take to actually tell a good story? –Open Culture

The true cost of every wedding on ‘Game of Thrones’ – Want to recreate one of the Game of Thrones‘ weddings? According to wedding planner Sarah Haywood, all it takes is money. How much, you may ask? Somewhere between $500 and $10 million ought to do it, depending on your wedding of choice.

What if you were truly determined to host one of Game of Thrones’ infamous weddings in real life, and had the resources to do it? What challenges would you face, and just how much would it set you back?

Even with our copious infographic experience, we couldn’t calculate this one alone. So we roped in the help of Sarah Haywood, described by Time as “Britain’s most sought-after wedding planner and an authority on multimillion-dollar weddings.” Haywood has dozens of high-end nuptials under her belt, and she agreed to lend us her professional perspective. –Daily Dot