aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, September 14, 2007
The economic value of Fair Use
We’ve known for a while that fair use has allowed entire new industries and companies to grow, and to bring beneficial new services and innovative devices to consumers. Now, an interesting new study released yesterday by the Computer and Communications Industry Association (of which Google is a member) attempts to quantify the contribution of industries relying on fair use to the economy.
The study—which I encourage you to check out—concludes that the “fair use economy” in 2006 accounted for $4.6 trillion in revenues (roughly one-sixth of total U.S. gross domestic product), employed more than 17 million people, and supported a payroll of $1.2 trillion (approximately one out of every eight workers in the US). It also generated $194 billion in exports and significant productivity growth. Using a methodology similar to a previous World Intellectual Property Organization guide, the results of the study demonstrate that fair use is an important economic driver in the digital age.
Copyright law involves a delicate balance, and here in the U.S. fair use is an important part of that equation. This study suggests that it’s also an important part of the U.S. economy.
Prince starts talking like it’s still 1999
Uh, apparently not.
U.S. pop star Prince plans to sue YouTube and other major Web sites for unauthorized use of his music in a bid to “reclaim his art on the Internet.” [...]
In addition to YouTube, Prince also plans legal action against online auctioneer eBay and Pirate Bay, a site accused by Hollywood and the music industry as being a major source of music and film piracy. [...]
“Prince strongly believes artists as the creators and owners of their music need to reclaim their art,” the statement added.
“These actions mark a historic moment for music artists in terms of the battle to regain control of their rights on the Internet.”
Prince...has brought on British firm Web Sheriff to coordinate the clean up of his unauthorized materials online. According to Web Sheriff, the company has removed roughly 300 items from eBay and 2,000 videos from YouTube.
Two thousand? Perhaps Prince himself said it best:
“They say two thousand zero zero party over, oops, out of timeÃ¢â‚¬Â¦”
Virtual kids worlds
My 11-year-old nephew wants me to have some of our computer science students build he and his friends their own version of Club Penguin. I’ve kind of agreed thinking it would be a good exercise for all concerned.
I thought he wanted to do it because of how much he liked Club Penguin. It may be the opposite.
Slate’s Emily Yoffe organized a focus group of five sixth-graders to check it out:
The Walt Disney Co. won’t be happy to hear that nobody was enchanted with Club Penguin. The site, which Disney just bought for $700 million, has a limited free area where you can get your own igloo, befriend other penguins, and invite them over to admire your igloo-decorating skills. The biggest drawback of the site: In order to do advanced decorating, players have to ask their parents to pay $5.95 a month, or $57.95 a year. All the kids had enough insight into economics and psychology to know that asking their parents would not only get a “No” but draw undue attention to their leisure activities. “I only do what’s free, but you get bored quickly,” Anna said. Ellie thought the befriending feature was something of a sham. First of all, these penguin friendships were too meaningless even for kids who do much of their real-life socializing online. Second of all, because she wasn’t a member, Ellie was embarrassed to invite people to her barren igloo because it looked “pathetic.”
All of my testers much preferred Millsberry. This is a creation of the food company General Mills (which owns Pillsbury, thus Millsberry). It, too, allows kids to earn money by playing arcade games so they can decorate their homes and fill them with healthy foods such as Lucky Charms, Trix, and Reese’s Puffs. Emily says the site offers some valuable lessons: “It teaches me not to spend so much money because they price things so outrageously high.” The costs of goods in Millsberry were reminiscent of the Weimar Republic. At the Millsberry Academy store, a sweat shirt is 200 Millsbucks, a notebook 75, and a ruler 35. Such prices emphasize the necessity of working hard-at the arcade. Emily says she’s managed to accumulate big savings because she multitasks by playing the games while she chats on e-mail. Ellie proudly showed off the pool that cost her 15,000 Millsbucks. “It took me a long time to save for it. Then I used all my money and I starved.”
Emily says the girls also like barbie.com. Maybe I’ll build my nephew an
On bike paths and bridges
We have the new Georgia share the road plates (ironically passed by the legislature in the same bill as the NASCAR plates). But now we have to wonder if the US Secretary of Transportation doesn’t really consider biking transportation:
The Minneapolis bridge collapse on Aug. 1 led Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters to publicly reflect on federal transportation spending priorities and conclude that those greedy bicyclists and pedestrians, not to mention museumgoers and historic preservationists, hog too much of the billions of federal dollars raised by the gas tax, money that should go to pave highways and bridges. Better still, Peters, a 2006 Bush appointee, apparently doesn’t see biking and walking paths as part of transportation infrastructure at all.
In an Aug. 15 appearance on PBS’s “NewsHour With Jim Lehrer,” Peters spoke against a proposal to raise gas taxes to shore up the nation’s aging infrastructure. The real problem, the secretary argued, is that only 60 percent of the current money raised by gas taxes goes to highways and bridges. She conveniently neglected to mention that about 30 percent of the money goes to public transit. She then went on to blast congressional earmarks, which dedicate 10 percent of the gas tax to some 6,000 other projects around the country. “There are museums that are being built with that money, bike paths, trails, repairing lighthouses. Those are some of the kind of things that that money is being spent on, as opposed to our infrastructure,” she said. The secretary added that projects like bike paths and trails “are really not transportation.”
In fact, only about 1.5 percent of federal transportation dollars go to fund bike paths and walking trails. In the meantime, 10 percent of all U.S. trips to work, school and the store occur on bike or foot, and bicyclists and pedestrians account for about 12 percent of annual traffic fatalities, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
The article points out that Peters is less anti-bike than she is opposed to the Democratic advocates of raising the gas tax to fix bridges.
We also learn that, “In 2006, state departments of transportation sent back $1 billion in unspent bridge funds to the federal government, according to the Federal Highway Administration.” I gather there’s plenty of blame for our failing infrastructure to pass around.