By , February 18, 2011.

I’ve decided to start doing a weekly wrap-up of items I’ve found interesting enough to share, a mix of old and new, legal and nonlegal, relating in some way to copyright and the content industries. Enjoy!

Would the Bard Have Survived the Web? — From Authors Guild president Scott Turow, executive director Paul Aiken, and Shakespeare professor James Shapiro comes this fascinating essay comparing the “cultural paywalls” of the outdoor playhouses to the “virtual paywalls” of copyright. It explains how commerce and stable property rights help the arts and entertainment flourish. Predictably, most copyright skeptics completely missed the point of the article.

Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on online piracy and counterfeiting — Scott Turow proves he’s been busy lately, testifying at the Committee’s hearing on a new version of COICA. Representatives of other stakeholders representing the “big 5” players in the internet ecosystem needed to effectively address online piracy — domain name registrars, hosting service providers, payment card processors, internet service providers, and online advertising providers — also testified. Well, four out of the five did at least.

In Defense of Copyright: Creativity, Record Labels, and the Future of Music — via Lon Sobel’s Entertainment Law Reporter, Brian Day looks at the role of copyright and record labels as digital technology continues to dramatically change the music business landscape in this great article from the upcoming issue of Seton Hall Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law.

Good news or bad? CDs still 74% of all album sales — Overall, still not good news for the music industry, as total album sales continue to slump. Still, an interesting statistic. If you spend enough time on hip, young blogs, you start to think the only places selling CDs are antique shops.

The Chicago Code — I checked out this out when it premiered last week because it was created by the Shield’s Shawn Ryan and haven’t been disappointed. Dubbed a “love letter to Chicago“, and shot primarily in the Windy City With Broad Shoulders And Lots of Other Nicknames, the series features great performances and terrific writing. Mondays on Fox, or online at Fox and Hulu.

Ingrid Michaelson — I had the pleasure of seeing the talented Ingrid perform last fall. Earlier this month, she had a dessert recipe in Parade Magazine (it was delicious). This past week, Hypebot presented a look at a promotion experiment that she used to help make her fall tour profitable. Ingrid also premiered a new(er) video for her latest tune, Parachute:



  1. Post’s response was rather predictable–and silly. He completely missed the point, indeed. It cracked me up how he says Shakespeare created in a “copyright-free world,” only to be proved wrong in the comments. Funny how he had no comment for his commentators.

    I’ll have to check out The Chicago Code on Hulu. Thanks for the pointer.

  2. Merely FYI, while it is largely directed to “inventions”, there are lessons to be learned that translate quite nicely into the copyright arena:

    The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention, by William Rosen.

    It has been terribly panned and mocked by Against Monopoly and Techdirt, which surely indicates that it struck a raw nerve. Purchased from Amazon, and believe it was well worth the price.

  3. Nope, don’t agree that copyright is actually needed. Shakespeare himself hacked other people’s works and either improved them or outright copied them for his plays. Granted, he made his own poems and the theater was given to him (notice the rural indication. He was poor his entire life)

    But King Lear was changed around later on by Nathan Tathum (IIRC) without his permission. Shakespeare’s entire philosophy was always to look for the next great thing and write about that, which is why Henry VIII is one of his greatly lauded plays (at least at the time). Perhaps Shakespeare could survive nowadays if he had a patron or he may just ended up as another webcomic artist (Penny Arcade, Order of the Stick, Erfworld) or do something truly innovative like become an author without all of the copyright issues.

    • Like Post, you’ve missed the point of Turow’s article; and in the same way that James Boyle has in another article. The 1709 Blog explains the problem with this line of criticism:

      Turow is making a point about how it helps if creative people can make a living out of their work, whether through selling tickets (in the case of Elizabethan playwrights) or copyright (from the 18th century). Boyle tries to undermine the argument by commenting on whether 21st-century copyright law would have presented stylistic problems for Shakespeare. That may be an interesting question but it’s not what Turow is driving at.

      • I found this

        I can agree that Shakespeare made money on other things:
        ground floor tickets were the cheapest, but filled up the most in the theater, while the nobles would have the ones that were the highest, even if they were the most expensive. I don’t think that’s ignoring the point being made.

        Turow is making a point about how it helps if creative people can make a living out of their work, whether through selling tickets (in the case of Elizabethan playwrights) or copyright (from the 18th century).

        Yes, he made a living off of his work and if a play wasn’t popular, it was quickly put away for another. King Lear wasn’t popular during Shakespeare’s time, but is still being performed today, with more popularity than the times of Shakespeare. Think also of what he used to do, which is take older tales, such as Pyramus and Thisbe and make out his own Romeo and Juliet.

        So here, we have someone “plagiarizing” before it was cool. Something that copyright is supposed to prevent. What I can’t see (since the NYT has an accursed paywall!) is how copyright supposedly helps others create a living…

        Shakespeare had patrons to help him through the day. He was a favorite of Elizabeth and of course Henry VI is popular (with three extensions…) so he had prestige to make plays. The myriad of writers and artists didn’t make that much through copyright. What hasn’t been really explained is how artists make money through copyright. IIRC, artists in the 18th century got paid in a far different manner than currently. Mark Twain and Charlotte Bronte were paid by the size of the book and directly through big advances. How exactly that equates to them being paid by copyright law is what I’m not seeing.

  4. And yes, Ingrid’s voice is awesome.