My good friend and bandmate Oscar works at Planet Records in Harvard Square. Like many of its record-store contemporaries, Planet does not put out CDs and jewel cases in its shelves. Instead, it keeps the CDs behind the counter and puts out either the liner notes or a placeholder card in their place. Oscar, as part of his job, gets to design the placeholders. And he makes it an art form:
Check out the entire photoset here.
You know, Record Store Day is right around the corner. Why not go out to Planet today and celebrate a little early? You can see all these beautiful cards in person, and if you buy the CD you can probably ask Oscar to keep the card.
Care of SoStark and AYCDICM:
Happy 2010, all.
I’m back in DC after another lovely few weeks up in Massachusetts. I feel as though I’ve been out of touch with the world of current events, so I took a slice of my extended break to catch up on my RSS feeds. Here are a few stories that caught my eye. Once things settle down here a little bit I’ll start writing in earnest again.
- Although I never wrote much about it on this blog for reasons I expressed here, I’ve been following the recent developments in the Sony v. Tenenbaum case. After the jury verdict came down and formal judgment was entered in December, much has been made of the constitutionality (and in some circles, the prudence) of the $675,000 verdict in Tenenbaum and $1,920,000 in Captiol v. Thomas. The team defending Tenenbaum have now filed a motion for a new trial on these grounds, arguing the verdict violated due process under St. Louis I.M. & S. Ry. Co. v. Williams and progeny. Predictably, Torrentfreak sees this as potentially diluting the lofty statutory damages used by the RIAA to scare its patrons into so many $3500 settlements, while Ben Sheffner over at Copyrights & Campaigns notes the conspicuous absence of any case that has found statutory damages (as opposed to punitive damages) to be violative of due process. UPenn was gracious enough to host an excellent back-and-forth between Sheffner and Pamela Samuelson on this exact subject, for the especially curious. Constitutional question aside, Ron Coleman over at Likelihood of Confusion gives a great wide-angle perspective on the whole affair, which I found rather refreshing.
- Speaking of Mr. Sheffner, he posted up on Wired the 5 cases that defined music law for 2009. While I disagree with his analysis (I often do), he lays out exactly where we are in this field today: RIAA filesharing battles finding results with massive judgments against individuals, the MGM v. Grokster “inducement” theory finding some teeth in the Bit Torrent realm, and content creators clashing head-on with online service providers over DMCA safe harbors. (And Bridgeport v. Dimension Films is still good law, much to my chagrin.) And while we’re on the subject of Wired end-of-the-era lists, here are the top 10 cybercrimes of the decade.
- Meanwhile, some law nerd circles – including the always excellent Volokh Conspiracy – are buzzing about the constitutional questions raised by the health reform legislation pending in Congress. The argument, according to those raising it, is that the mandate that all persons buy health insurance is an unconstitutional exercise of congressional power under the Commerce Clause. As I was discussing with my roommates tonight (GWU Law 2Ls, the lot of us), I just don’t see this argument flying under the modern-day Lopez test. Nevertheless, there appears to be a lawsuit waiting for ripeness in the wings.
- On the music front, my friend Sawyer Jacobs’ fantastic music collective Underwater Peoples just released their winter sampler. For those of you that missed it, they made a good splash back in June with their summer analogue, including some rare praise from Pitchfork. Fully acknowledging my bias after spending a great summer with Mr. Jacobs last year as Berkterns, I think these guys are one of the coolest collectives to hit the scene since Elephant Six. And speaking of those cats, one of the first new issues to come out of E6 in what seems like years is a new Apples in Stereo / Olivia Tremor Control side-project, Thee American Revolution. Both the UP Winter Sampler and the Thee American Revolution albums have been in heavy rotation on the ol’ iPod over the past week or so. Well, those and the annual DJ Earworm United State of Pop mashup.
- My buddy (and singer-songwriter) Brian Bergeron has gone all Kerouac on me and moved from his (and Kerouac’s) hometown of Lowell, MA out to San Francisco. While out there he’s been firing up the blog and commenting on music, media, and society – subjects close to both of our hearts. I am delighted to see him take up the issue of net neutrality (which he correctly identifies as a less-flashy-than-normal cause for artists, but extremely important), and wish him all the best on his adventures out there.
- For Brian and my other music industry friends: take a moment to read Bob Lefsetz’s predictions for 2010 and beyond. It’s rather 30,000 feet and raises more issues than it solves, but I suppose those are the sort of characteristics that go with the future-predicting territory. I think he was dead-on to raise the potential Live Nation / Ticketmaster merger as the most significant event on the horizon this year. I’m studying antitrust law now, in part to help me wrap my head around this beast. My fellow industry wonks may also appreciate this recent interview of Donald Passman in the Berklee Music Business Journal, marking the release of the new seventh edition of his All You Need to Know About the Music Business.
- On the lighter side, way back in November Wicked Local Brookline brought us the best use of federal stimulus money I’ve heard yet: a proposal to fix the MBTA 66 Bus.
- My new favorite blog is the Legal Satyricon, brought to you by IP and First Amendment lawyer Marc Randazza (working in one of the most interesting places a First Amendment lawyer can work these days: the adult entertainment industry). Randazza is most recently famous for representing the owner of glennbeckrapedandmurderedayounggirlin1990.com against an attempted WIPO takedown by Glenn Beck himself. Randazza’s eventually successful response brief (PDF) has to be the funniest legal filing I have ever seen. As his casework suggests, the Legal Satyricon is a profoundly irreverent (and sometimes downright nasty) look at IP and free speech issues, delivered in a smug but intelligent way. Recently he took aim at Alan Grayson for using an anti-fraud statute to attempt to imprison the founder of an anti-Grayson website (I know. I used to like the guy too.), and totally destroyed former Representative Ted Klaudt for trying to use “common law copyright” to keep news sources from printing stories about his conviction of child rape and witness tampering.
- Another excellent blogger is my friend and former coworker Chris Devers, who has been combining his various Internet presences into a Posterous blog which I’ve been following recently. A recent highlight was his writeup of the last day of the Zeiss Projector at the Boston Museum of Science’s planetarium. Half the fun of going to the planetarium was seeing that mutant steampunk barbell in action. I hope the new projector can live up to its predecessor.
- And finally, while I’m as excited as the next tech-minded 20something about the new Apple tablet, I share Mr. Colin Ashe’s well-honed and succinct skepticism about its ability to singlehandedly save the publishing industry.
It’s good to be back. Here’s to a successful new year in all of our endeavors.
Last week, WFMU‘s ever-amazing “Beware of the Blog” announced that they would be holding the first-ever 24-hour fund-raising drive to cover their operating costs between their annual, excellent Marathons in the spring.
From the Blog:
WFMU prides itself on holding only one on-air fundraiser per year: our annual Marathon, which is a 2-week-long frenzy of great prize giveaways, hilarious co-host banter, surprise guests, and more caffeine than a case of Sparks (RIP). The listener support we bring in during the Marathon is normally enough to fuel our fire for a full year. While WFMU came very close to making our goal during the Marathon this March, we still fell short (I smell recession).
Because it’s tough to operate with an empty bank account and there’s an entire winter to get through until our next Marathon, WFMU needs to break with tradition by holding a brief on-air fundraiser next week.
Truly independent free-form radio is crucially important for music, the arts, and culture, and WFMU is (in this author’s humble opinion) the cream of the crop. I know times are tough all over, but any money you can give to these guys will help tremendously.
In this age of institutional corruption where money buys programming on the overwhelming majority of commercial radio, this station remains one of the few detached from this corporate influence and wholly dedicated to taste. The station has launched thousands of bands and tastemakers (Jeff Magnum was a DJ at WFMU, for goodness sake!) and are tremendously important in shaping modern culture. It’s your social obligation – like PBS or NPR, but for young people.
The 24-hour marathon just started about half an hour ago, and runs through tomorrow. You can donate on the phone at 800-989-9368 or online here. And while you do so you can listen to the station online.
(waveform of the “Amen Break”)
Carleton (and before him James Nord and YouTube user mobius32) brings to my attention this excellent video about the “Amen Break” – one of the most important 6 seconds in recorded music, originally recorded by The Winstons. Check it out:
This is loosely related to a journal article I am writing on sampling rights. I don’t think I’ll be getting as abstract as the “cultural public domain” argued here, and my conclusions might cut directly against some of mobius32′s arguments here, but his concern about copyright re-appropriation and the incoming clash between copyright law and digital sampling are certainly right up my article’s alley. And I’ll certainly be taking up the Bridgeport Music case mentioned in passing towards the end of the clip. This is a must-watch to understand the foundations of many of our modern discussions on sampling rights. Check it out.
Meet Gretchen, and the cause she is fighting for:
Gretchen is participating in a contest put together by TravelOregon.com, which is offering a series of “Cuisinternships” to the candidates with the most convincing pitches via YouTube movie. Gretchen is participating for a chance to win a week-long brewmaster internship at the very excellent Full Sail brewery in Mt. Hood. While the final candidate will be picked by those running the program, a “people’s choice” pick – selected as the video with the most positive ratings – will win a basket of goodies. Besides, a boost in the rankings may attract that all-important attention from the Full Sail crew that lands her the gig.
Gretchen is a brilliant scientist and brews some mighty tasty beers. (She is also my girlfriend, but I would say that about her even if she weren’t.) She talks about beer the same way I talk about music and intellectual property. You should really help her land at a spot where she can hone her craft.
So come on all you craft beer lovers out there: click here to go to the YouTube page for the video, and give that movie a good rating. Spread the word!
Big thanks to the Anti- Records Blog for posting up a pair of conversations Beck and Tom Waits shared on Beck’s website. A lot of it is inside jokes about LA, but you get a good discussion on the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile and Wienerwhistles, playing live shows, the lifespans and utility of songs, Japan, and yo-yos. Check it out.
For more Waits interviewing, check out this amazing AntiBlog post from May of last year (just before the PEHDTSCKJMBA tour). Quote of the post:
Q: What is a gentleman?
[Tom Waits]: A man who can play the accordion, but doesn’t.
Two articles stand out as great reads on the Twitter Security Breach debacle:
- Sam Bayard from the Citizen Media Law Project discusses the constitutional right to publish hacked documents here. The analysis here draws on many of the same cases Sam and I used in an amicus brief sent by CMLP and the Cyberlaw Clinic to the Supreme Court of New Hampshire about a month ago.
- Journalism professor and tech pioneer Dan Gilmor takes Sam’s analysis and adds his own spin, coming right to the point on the merits of how Michael Arrington and TechCrunch are handling the breach.
This video has been percolating around the net for a few days, but bears reposting due to its namecheck of my almost hometown Fitchburg, its reference to the Spock endorsement story (see my post on that subject here), and for general Hodgman awesomeness. Enjoy!
As part of the Ignite show (a bureau within the O’Reilly media franchise), Berkman Center compatriot Tim Hwang did a 5-minute, 20-slide talk on the spread of Internet memes. He’s one of the only academic minds seriously studying the RickRoll, LOLCats, Three Wolf Moon, Keyboard Cat, Xzibit, or any of the other strange Internet phenomena. The structure of the talk prevented deep, quantitative analysis, but Tim still manages to throw in a little bit of data, cut with a whole lot of e-mirth. Check it out:
Be sure to read/see more from Tim in the U.S. Bureau of Fabulous Bitches, Broseph Stalin, or the Tim and Diana Show.