Waiting for the shoe to drop

How much will the award be in the Tenenbaum versus RIAA case? It could go as high as $4.5 million. I wonder if the SONY management and shareholders have first night rights with Joel’s fiancee too?

Corporate-people versus the people-people

commiepics_2The RIAA warriors are suing another kid for file sharing. Joel Tenenbaum faces a huge judgment for willful copyright infringement. Defense attorney Charlie Nesson, of Harvard Berkman Center fame, appears to have been out-gunned by the corporate lawyers. His effort to raise the level of the discussion to something more philosophical has been stymied by the judge’s stubborn refusal to ignore the law.

I hope Joel has an appeal coming based on incompetent representation. The whole Mister Chips thing is great in the classroom, but Nesson doesn’t seem to have brought any discipline to the courtroom. He certainly hasn’t been an effective advocate so far. Maybe tomorrow he will save Joel’s bacon with a brilliant summation or something.

Here’s a short list of what sux so far:

  • No expert witnesses have been called by the defense to speak to economic issues. Did Joel’s downloading of thirty bucks worth of music cause CD sales to drop by half over the last decade?
  • The defense intended to call John Perry Barlow as an expert witness on the zeitgeist or something. Since Barlow couldn’t focus on what he intended to present, couldn’t provide a report for the plaintiff’s attorneys on just what the heck his expertise was intended to reveal, the judge ruled that he couldn’t appear.
  • The kid has admitted he’s guilty of downloading thirty songs so the whole issue now seems to pivot on willfulness. The verdict is pretty clear, but the amount of damages remains to be decided and they could go as high as a four and a half million bucks. Just based on his admissions, statutory damages could be awarded of thirty thousand per work, so that would be $900,000. But if willfulness is factored in the damages could go to $150,000 per song.

Tune in to twitter on Friday to hear what Nesson has up his sleeve.


A sleeping dog will always tell the truth, even when authorised or encouraged to do otherwise. In 1961, Soviet scientists claimed to have trained a sleeping dog to lie, but it was discovered that it was really a dingo that had misrepresented itself during the screening process. ∞

I lifted the above citation from Anne Mathewson at Ample Sanity. She posted a grab bag of linkage this morning that reminded me what a web log is about. (What’s that they say about plagiarism being the most sincere form of flattery?) Anne had eye surgery today. I’m wishing her the best, and I’m in her blog, stealing her found sentencez.


Travel writers are gathering in Chicago this weekend under the aegis of #tbex (yeah, that’s a twitter hashtag), the Travel Bloggers Exchange. Not coincidentally, the BlogHer 09 conference is in Chicago this weekend too. Both events are sold out. #tbex founder Kim Mance and the tbex team will gather the travel bloggers again this fall at the Blog World New Media Expo in Las Vegas.

I know these things because that #tbex hashtag shows up a lot in the twitter stream this week, and I had to hunt it down to satisfy my curiosity. The idea of travel writers traveling to a travel writer gathering and writing about the trip seems positively RECURSIVE!

A National Broadband Plan for Our Future, GN Docket No. 09-51

Ms. Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20244

Re: A National Broadband Plan for Our Future, GN Docket No. 09-51

Dear Ms. Dortch,

Compared to the rest of the world, America’s broadband efforts are shameful. An open internet is a public resource that deserves scrupulous regulation and a regulating authority that is its champion. An open and accessible Internet is essential to America’s future. It will help revitalize our economy, improve our education and health care, engage millions more people in our democracy and give new meaning to freedom of speech. In crafting the national broadband plan, the Federal Communications Commission must protect Internet users from corporate gatekeepers who seek to keep prices high and speeds slow, limit access to content and stifle innovations and market choice. Net Neutrality must be a basic and enforceable rule of the Internet. Allowing powerful corporate interests to dictate the future of modern communications is a mistake that cannot be repeated. Corporate finance, by its very nature “games” the system in order to maximize profits regardless of service levels. Public service regulation allows providers reasonable profits while assuring that the public has the best service possible. Today, America ranks 19th worldwide in average broadband speeds available to our citizens. Australia ranks seventh. Yet Australia has committed $45 billion toward extending their fiber infrastructure to every home. The FCC must demonstrate the will to plan a level of investment that will put America in the top tier of countries vis a vis broadband speeds. We owe it to the country to gain a place on the leading edge of this technology, a place we have abandoned in deference to maximizing corporate profits.

Frank Paynter

Town and Gown

Cambridge, Massachusetts was in the news this week. A city cop busted a black professor on his own property following some verbal hassles. The professor was understandably freaked out by the cop’s behavior. The cop interpreted that as disrespect for the law or disorderly conduct or something. Basically, the effect of the arrest was to underscore the bust ‘em if they’re black and sort them out later practices of too many police departments across the US. It underscored too, the powerless rage that a lot of people have when confronted or challenged by police authority.

My first thought was that this is just another case of Driving While Black, only this time it’s about forgetting your keys so you gotta go down to the station to get it sorted out. It was probably more nuanced than that.

That it happened in Cambridge is an eye opener. The cop lives in Natick, a town that’s more than 90 percent white and less than two percent African American, and a place where housing is more affordable than Cambridge. That old Unitarian pederast and Harvard graduate, Horatio Alger, was perhaps Natick’s most notable resident. He retired from his Cape Cod pulpit to Natick, disgraced by his “imprudent behavior” with some teenage boys in Brewster. His reputation did not follow him when he left Natick, moved to New York, and befriended young bootblacks who provided inspiration for his tales of young men who found success through constant striving.

Doug Flutie, who exemplified Alger’s “Strive to Succeed” philosophy, went to Natick High School. The Hostess Twinkie factory (think Dan White, famous San Francisco policeman) in Natick is closed but I suppose that the Cambridge cop could still get them retail at the Quik Trip Market. I know. That’s not fair.

So here we have a white working class cop from Natick, and an upper middle class black professor with the reasonable expectation that the shit could hit the fan simply because of the racial dynamic within the Cambridge university community–I’m surprised no one got tazed.

But I wasn’t there…

This is old news, but it’s probably a meme worth propagating. Singer/song writer Dave Caroll had a grievance. United Airlines baggage handlers broke his $1500 Taylor guitar. Earlier this month the musician, with backing from his band The Sons of Maxwell, released his YouTube lament about the breakage. Three weeks later over three and a half million people have seen the video and the song has been released on iTunes.

Caroll says he’s beyond taking money from the company at this point, so United Airlines has reportedly donated $3000 to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in an effort to salvage some goodwill from the events. Too late. the cat is out of the bag.

Bloggers at Social Web Strategies have published more details and a nice analysis of the continuing power of webular interaction as a countervailing power in the face of the monolithic global corporate culture. Contextualizing Dave Caroll’s public relations coup, they say:

The ‘old economy’ is the world economy, now shrinking and transforming, that produced the global consumer society. The ‘new economy’ is the world economy emerging now that is producing a global sustainable society. The old economy created wealth by resource consumption, leading to resource overuse and depletion. The new economy produces wealth by resource amplification – doing more with less by continually substituting knowledge for energy, material, labor, finance and time. This new strategy is leading to wealth creation that lives always lighter on the Earth.

Cluetrain boosterism? Time will tell. Meanwhile, Caroll’s story shines a spotlight on crappy airline service. We can hope that United Airlines will treat customers better for a while as a result.

Play them off Keyboard Cat…

Writer’s crap

Writer’s crap:
Derived from writer’s cramp, writer’s crap refers to a stage when one is only capable of writing utter crap.

Writer’s crap is distinguished from writer’s block by the existence of a work product. Writer’s block is a paralytic condition originating deep in the amygdala and extending outward to the somatic nervous system, a condition that short circuits motor neurons whenever the writer is in the presence of a keyboard preventing the output of text. Oddly, when the keyboard is set to provide intermittent variable rewards, the writer has access to limited keyboarding functions. Spider Solitaire is a piece of cake. Vampire Wars on Facebook, twittering, tweets and re-tweets — all are possible. But arranging words on a page seems to be beyond the blocked writer’s capabilities. Some blame the neurons in the frontal cortex, which is responsible for planning behavior, or in the anterior cingulate cortex, which is associated with cognitive control. According to the New York Times (in the article linked above), “Whatever the explanation, consistently doing any activity that requires self-control seems to increase willpower — and the ability to resist impulses and delay gratification is highly associated with success in life.”

Which explains a lot, really.