Monthly Archives: February 2018

Disney’s lawsuit against Redbox may have backfired

27 February 2018

From Engadget:

Disney’s attempt to prevent Redbox from buying its discs for rental and resale may have blown up in the House of Mouse’s face. The Hollywood Reporter describes how District Court Judge Dean Pregerson sided with Redbox to shoot down a Disney-mandated injunction. In addition, Pregerson contended that Disney may itself be misusing copyright law to protect its interests and its own forthcoming streaming service.

If you’re unfamiliar with the backstory, Redbox didn’t have a deal in place to procure Disney DVDs and Blu-rays for its disc rental kiosks. So, the company simply bought the discs at retail, often snagging combo packs that include a DVD, Blu-ray and a download code for the movie as well. Redbox would then offer up the discs for rental, and sell on the codes at its kiosks for between $8 and $15.

Such a move enraged Disney, which includes language in its packaging and on the website demanding that users must own the disc if they download a copy. But this is where Pregerson began to disagree, saying that Disney cannot dictate what people do with copyrighted media after they have bought it. Specifically, that there’s no law, or explicit contract term, that prevents folks from doing what Redbox did with Disney discs. Although it’s possible that Disney can amend the wording on its packaging in future to make its objection to reselling legally binding.

Link to the rest at Engadget and thanks to Felix for the tip.

PG thinks a lot of overreaching contract language printed on product packaging or popped up on a computer screen on a click-to-accept basis may be difficult to enforce if such language goes very far beyond what the copyright laws protect.

While he does not advise anyone to violate the rights of a copyright owner or any other owner or licensor of intellectual property, PG suspects a rule of reasonability will be applied more liberally by most judges to shrinkwrap and fine print contracts included as part of a product’s packaging, click-to-accept agreements or website terms and conditions referenced in a small-print link at the bottom of a computer screen.

PG suggests that customers/visitors, etc., read and understand such documents, but observes that a great many IP owners rightly hesitate before applying sanctions to violators more serious than terminating customer access to the protected material.

At least in the United States, if a judge sees anything resembling a trap for the unwary, particularly an unwary consumer, that judge will seek and find a reason to avoid enforcing provisions that overreach. Of course, most individuals are not anxious to be the test case under which the agreement is voided in whole or in part.

Google Changes Images Policy

27 February 2018

From Nicholas C. Rossis:

As Shannon Connellan explains on Mashable, Google recently made a subtle change to its image search — but one that may have big repercussions for copyright. The company has now removed the “view image” button from image search, which will make it trickier to save copyrighted images directly. Once a direct link to a high-resolution version of your chosen image, the “view image” button was a concern for photographers, publishers and stock image sites alike, as it allowed people to access a high-res version of the image without visiting the source site.

With Google’s elimination of the tool, you’ll still be able to visit the source of the image with the remaining “visit” button, but it’s this additional step that’s hopefully meant to make people less likely to steal copyrighted material — seeing images in their original context could be a red flag for users.

. . . .

This change was probably at the behest of Getty Images, as it comes in the wake of Google’s new multi-year global licensing partnership with the company, enabling Google to use Getty’s content within its various products and services. Interestingly enough, the partnership was developed after Getty filed a complaint against Google in 2016, accusing the company of anti-competitive practices within Google Images and “distorting search results in favour of its own services” — thus creating less of a need to visit source stock websites likes Getty to download the original image.

“Because image consumption [in Google Images] is immediate, once an image is displayed in high-resolution, large format, there is little impetus to view the image on the original source site,” Getty’s press statement read.

Link to the rest at Nicholas C. Rossis and thanks to Suzie for the tip.

PG says one if the distinctions in fair use between text and a photo is that a text excerpt that includes some of the interesting/relevant points in the OP like PG uses for most of his posts that reference of other sites is much easier to create than using an excerpt from a photo.

For example, here is the left foot of Michaelangelo’s famous sculpture of David:

It’s a very nice foot, but doesn’t convey either a sense of the entire work or its emotional impact. In fact, PG has not seen any photograph with the impact of the original statue.

The entire statue can be viewed at the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy (and is worth the trip by itself). As of the date of this post, you can take non-flash photos of the statue.

As an alternative to attempting to use copywrite-protected photos on your website, here are some alternatives, including one included in the OP.

Websites with Royalty-Free Images:

Here are the four big sources of royalty-free images of which PG is aware:

While PG has found excellent images on each site, the capabilities of the search engines varies from site to site. He suggests trying all four to see which one(s) suit you the best.

Each of these websites has terms of service, however, which you will want to quickly scan before including an image in a commercial product such as a book. For example, here’s a link to Pixabay’s Terms.

You find lots of reference to Creative Commons licenses. Creative Commons is an organization that has created a series of IP licenses that creators can use to control the use of their creations with licenses that include standard terms and are relatively easy to understand. The licenses have numbers to clearly distinguish between one another.

In fact, you can perform searches on Google for images that are free for use under Creative Commons Licenses – See  In PG’s experience, you’ll find the largest number of total images via Google, but you may end up with a lot of amateur quality which is much less common in Unsplash, Pexels and Pixabay.

Here are features of each Creative Commons License regardless of other terms in the license:

  • Every Creative Commons license requires giving appropriate credit. It’s important to understand this, and to also know what this phrase “appropriate credit” means.
  • A Creative Commons licensor (the person granting you the license) may not revoke your license so long as you are following the terms of the license. This is often a sticking point because many do not provide credit as required.
  • There are 6 Creative Commons license and they apply worldwide.
  • The license, once granted, lasts as long as the copyright on the work so long as the license is used properly.

Here’s an example of a broad Creative Commons License

For example,

CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) 

Public Domain Dedication

No Copyright

The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.

You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission. See Other Information below.

Other Information:

  • In no way are the patent or trademark rights of any person affected by CC0, nor are the rights that other persons may have in the work or in how the work is used, such as publicity or privacy rights.
  • Unless expressly stated otherwise, the person who associated a work with this deed makes no warranties about the work, and disclaims liability for all uses of the work, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law.
  • When using or citing the work, you should not imply endorsement by the author or the affirmer.


Here’s a different Creative Commons License with some additional conditions:

(CC BY-NC 3.0 US)

Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 United States

You are free to:

  • Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material

Under the following terms:

  • Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
  • NonCommercial — You may not use the material for commercial purposes.
  • No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.

Following is a more-detailed description of each of the main license types that demonstrates some of the differences between them.

Licensing types

The following is the Creative Commons description of each of the six main licenses offered when you choose to publish your work with a Creative Commons license. We have listed them starting with the most accommodating license type you can choose and ending with the most restrictive license type you can choose.

  • The Licenses

    CC BY

    This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.

    View License Deed | View Legal Code

    CC BY-SA

    This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.

    View License Deed | View Legal Code

    CC BY-ND

    This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.

    View License Deed | View Legal Code

    CC BY-NC

    This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

    View License Deed | View Legal Code


    This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.

    View License Deed | View Legal Code


    This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

    View License Deed | View Legal Code

    We also provide tools that work in the “all rights granted” space of the public domain. Our CC0 tool allows licensors to waive all rights and place a work in the public domain, and our Public Domain Mark allows any web user to “mark” a work as being in the public domain.

Here are descriptions of the limitations the owners of images can place upon their use under Creative Commons licenses by others:

License Conditions

Creators choose a set of conditions they wish to apply to their work.

Attribution Attribution (by)

All CC licenses require that others who use your work in any way must give you credit the way you request, but not in a way that suggests you endorse them or their use. If they want to use your work without giving you credit or for endorsement purposes, they must get your permission first.

ShareAlike ShareAlike (sa)

You let others copy, distribute, display, perform, and modify your work, as long as they distribute any modified work on the same terms. If they want to distribute modified works under other terms, they must get your permission first.

NonCommercial NonCommercial (nc)

You let others copy, distribute, display, perform, and (unless you have chosen NoDerivatives) modify and use your work for any purpose other than commercially unless they get your permission first.

NoDerivatives NoDerivatives (nd)

You let others copy, distribute, display and perform only original copies of your work. If they want to modify your work, they must get your permission first.

PG says there are lots of ways to find excellent visual content without violating the creator’s rights if you spend a few minutes searching for it.

And here are a few photos available for reuse that PG found using Google Advance Image Search:

A J Butler

Dimitris Kamaras


Umberto Baldini, Michelangelo scultore, Rizzoli, Milano 1973


R Barraez D´Lucca

Clayton Tang


The 15 Most Memorable On-Screen Bookstores

26 February 2018
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From BuzzFeed:

With books and comics drumming up big business on both the small and silver screens, it’s no surprise that Hollywood execs find themselves spending a lot of time in bookstores. And when those bookstores find their way onto celluloid? Pure bibliophile perfection.

. . . .

12. No need to fear in Vertigo‘s classic bookshop


Even the boys (formerly) in blue need a hand, now and then. Retired policeman John “Scottie” Ferguson (James Stewart) is brought back into the game when he is hired as a private detective, tasked with following his client’s wife, whose strange behaviour has not gone unnoticed. In the course of his investigation, he is referred to the Argosy Book Shop, where the proprietor is known for his mastery of California history, and is able to provide Ferguson with intel that shines light on the case. Just another friendly neighbourhood bookseller saving the day.

Notable for: non-book inventory, table display mastery, insider info

Want to go to there?: The Argosy lives! While much of Vertigo was shot on-location in San Francisco, the bookstore was filmed on the Paramount lot in Hollywood. You can, however, seek out the shop it was based on, San Francisco’s Argonaut Book Shop. The antiquarian and second-hand shop specializes in American history & geography (with a delightful interest in “railroadiana”). Or: shop online!

Here’s a link to Vertigo

. . . .

6. Antiquarian’s never been better than at 84 Charing Cross Road


Based on a play that itself is based on a memoir documenting a 20-year correspondence between writer Helene Hanff and the staff of Marks & Co. antiquarian booksellers, located at 84 Charing Cross Road in London, movies can’t get more bookish than this* real-life story of an enduring love… for books. Come for the transatlantic pen pal letters and capitalistic exchange, stay for the wartime intrigue and bookstore fly-on-the-wall gossip!

Notable for: stiff English upper lips, casual Yankee spitfires, excellent penmanship

Want to go to there?: Though Marks & Co. closed up shop in 1970, shortly after the death of primary Hanff correspondent Frank Doel, there are many opportunities for a touring booklover to revisit its history. After its closure, neighbouring address 24 Cambridge Circus was expanded into the storefront Marks & Co. initially occupied, and the London theatre-district address has since played host to a revolving set of restaurants and bars over the years, currently Léon de Bruxelles. Present-day visitors to the site are treated to a memorial plaque honouring the shop, but literary travelers may want to may homage to the indie bookselling spirit of the neighbourhood by visiting nearby bookseller Book Ends, which once occupied nerby storefronts on Charing Cross Road and is currently a quick 15-minute tube ride from 24 Cambridge Circus.

Here’s a link to 84 Charing Cross Road

. . . .

3. Gilmore Girls‘ Stars Hollow Books

Ah, Stars Hollow Books, the small-town bookshop where Rory Gilmore held a brief part-time job. The importance of this brief period of employment cannot be understated: this fictional bookshop was frequented by one of the most prolific readers ever to appear on television. Rory Gilmore racked up an astonishing 339 titles on her reading list over the duration of the series. Daria’s got nothing on you, girl.

Here’s a link to Gilmore Girls

Link to the rest at BuzzFeed


26 February 2018

Censorship is the tool of those who have the need to hide actualities from themselves and from others. Their fear is only their inability to face what is real, and I can’t vent any anger against them. I only feel this appalling sadness. Somewhere, in their upbringing, they were shielded against the total facts of our existence. They were only taught to look one way when many ways exist.

 Charles Bukowski

Jordan Bohannon’s intentionally missed free throw keeps Chris Street record in the books

26 February 2018
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Per PG’s comments in an earlier post today, absolutely nothing to do with books, but a lovely story from flyover country.

From The Des Moines Record:

Jordan Bohannon looked into Section KK at Carver-Hawkeye Arena to make eye contact with his older brother, Zach, to confirm one last time: The plan they had discussed was still in motion.

Iowa’s sophomore guard would intentionally miss a free throw, even with the Hawkeyes nursing a late lead in their regular-season finale against Northwestern.

And with one short-armed attempt, Bohannon’s mission was complete. He had ensured his name would be next to — not in place of — that of Iowa legend Chris Street in the Hawkeye basketball record book.

“It’s been in my mind for a while,” Bohannon said afterward. “I knew I wanted to leave it short a little bit. I didn’t want to make it too obvious.”

Having made 34 consecutive free throws to tie Street’s school record, Bohannon stepped to the foul line with 2 minutes, 15 seconds remaining with Iowa leading, 73-65. He left the shot short, off the front rim, and pointed to the sky.

. . . .

It was a touching tribute from one Iowa-born Hawkeye to another. Street never got a chance to extend his streak to 35. He was killed in a car accident Jan. 19, 1993 — three days after his final game, a 65-56 loss at Duke during Street’s junior season at Iowa in which he made both free throws he tried.

Afterward, Mike and Patty Street — Chris’ parents, who are season-ticket holders — embraced Jordan on the Carver-Hawkeye floor. Patty Street was moved to tears by the gesture.

“What a good kid. He’s so kind,” she said. “That was so special that he thought of Christopher and that record.”

Mike Street had told people who asked leading up to this that he wanted Bohannon, a hard-working player like his son was, to break Chris’ mark. But he understood and treasured the tribute.

“Christopher would want him to do to the best he could do and stay after it. But that was Jordan’s decision, and if that’s what he wanted to do, then we appreciate it,” Mike said. “We certainly in the future want him to get another shot at it.

“I told him, ‘Next time, you need to go right on by.’”

. . . .

“We had an agreement that God’s plan wasn’t going to let that happen. You saw that tonight,” Bohannon said. “I missed it. We got the ball right back. I don’t know if it was really destined to happen, but it worked out like it should have.”

Even though Bohannon was born more than 4 years after Street’s death, his legacy has meant a lot to a kid who grew up in Marion wanting to be a Hawkeye. That’s why this record meant so much. Now the two Hawkeyes share it.

“I know where the record deserves to stand, and that’s in Chris’ name,” Bohannon said. “… It gets me a little emotional, knowing what one player can do for an entire state and entire Midwest and entire country, just to know what type of player he was.”

Link to the rest at The Des Moines Record

The Men Behind the Words

26 February 2018
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From No Shelf Required:

In 1974, a book by Theodore Rosengarten was published and went  on to the win the National Book Award for Contemporary Affairs (a category that later became “Nonfiction”). The work itself was an oral history of a man identified as Nate Shaw (Ned Cobb), a sharecropper in Alabama who stood up against sheriffs who had come to take away a fellow sharecropper’s property.

. . . .

In both print and audio formats, the work has received wide critical praise, and the man underneath the writing and then the performance of the written—Nate Shaw/Ned Cobb—remains alive through these interventions of other men’s voices. In effect, the fact of Nate Shaw can become fixed because his unscripted speaking was heard, recorded in written text, and now heard again through the oral performance of an informed actor. Instead of these interventions diluting the immediate and personal accounting of Mr. Shaw, they serve to extend the reach, and the permanence, of his witnessing to history.

Link to the rest at No Shelf Required

Here’s a link to All God’s Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw

What’s the Best Way to Promote Literature in Translation?

26 February 2018

From The Omnivore:

You may have heard that the National Book Foundation is launching a new annual award for best work of translated fiction or non-fiction. It’s welcome recognition for an area of publishing that’s exploded in recent years, and a return to form, since the NBA gave out a translation for sixteen years, before stopping in 1984.

. . . .

How much has changed for the fortunes of international writers since 1984! For one thing, in the US, there are a lot more translations, by a lot more translators. That writers from all over the world are finding audiences is due in no small part to their craft, as well as the indefatigable publishers, periodicals, and university programs that give literature in translation consideration and focus.

Still, translations play the underdog, because America’s reading habits, compared with those of other countries, are notoriously provincial. An often-cited statistic is that, while in most countries between thirty and sixty percent of books published are translations, here it’s only three percent. This is popularly known among translation advocates as the “Three Percent Problem.”

. . . .

To get a handle on the issue, we reached out to Esther Allen, a professor, writer, and the translator of many books, including Antonio di Benedetto’s Zama. “The three percent figure was drawn from a fairly impressionistic 1999 NEA study that covered only literary fiction and poetry — roughly 3% of which (300 books out of roughly 10,000 literary titles that year) was translated from another language,” she said in an email. Allen was part of the research team. But that sampling, she suggests, can hardly have been representative, since literature and poetry make up a sizeable majority of translations. “It was never accurate as a total percentage of all books published, but that has been what it’s taken to mean. If you just look at all books published in 1999 (roughly 100,000) the figure should be more like .03%.”

. . . .

So what about a challenge to address what I’ll call the Zero Percent Problem — that is, finding, translating, and accounting for literature from countries that have otherwise been overlooked by translators, and totally inaccessible to English-language readers?

Three notable examples (and believe me, there are more): Honduras, Thailand, and Vanuatu. Honduran literature, despite being written primarily in Spanish, a language that is well-translated, remains untranslated. Thailand because its language isn’t widely spoken or studied outside of the country — in fact, the first Thai work of literature by a living writer to appear in an English translation officially only did so last year, despite all signs indicating a thriving Thai literary culture. Vanuatu because reportedly only one novel has ever been published by a native Vanuatan, a work that only appeared a decade ago, meaning if you’ve read it, you’ve read all of Vanuatan literature. Crazy.

Link to the rest at The Omnivore

PG cannot resist pointing out that, in the United States, the publishers that make decisions about which books in translation to publish are virtually all located in New York City and mostly staffed by people who grew up and/or went to college within 300 miles or so from New York City.

Thus, the statement made in the OP, “America’s reading habits, compared with those of other countries, are notoriously provincial,” is definitely reflective of parts of NYC, and NYC’s opinions (often based on rumors and stereotypes) of the rest of the United States.

PG suggests that if a person grew up near NYC, went to college in Massachusetts or Connecticut and has taken a couple of trips to the West Coast, he/she is less than an expert on the United States and its reading tastes.

PG has been interested in the East Coast reactions to Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance, an author whose family (per the cover description on the book) lived poor in the Appalachian parts of Kentucky, then moved north to Ohio, but were never able to fully escape “the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America.”

Here are a collection of excerpts from reviews written by people from pretty much the same background as those who staff New York publishers:

“[A] compassionate, discerning sociological analysis…Combining thoughtful inquiry with firsthand experience, Mr. Vance has inadvertently provided a civilized reference guide for an uncivilized election, and he’s done so in a vocabulary intelligible to both Democrats and Republicans. Imagine that.” (Jennifer Senior, New York Times)

“[Hillbilly Elegy] is a beautiful memoir but it is equally a work of cultural criticism about white working-class America….[Vance] offers a compelling explanation for why it’s so hard for someone who grew up the way he did to make it…a riveting book.” (Wall Street Journal)

“[Vance’s] description of the culture he grew up in is essential reading for this moment in history.” (David Brooks, New York Times)

“[Hillbilly Elegy] couldn’t have been better timed…a harrowing portrait of much that has gone wrong in America over the past two generations…an honest look at the dysfunction that afflicts too many working-class Americans.” (National Review)

[A]n American classic, an extraordinary testimony to the brokenness of the white working class, but also its strengths. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read… [T]he most important book of 2016. You cannot understand what’s happening now without first reading J.D. Vance. (Rod Dreher,The American Conservative)

“J.D. Vance’s memoir, “Hillbilly Elegy”, offers a starkly honest look at what that shattering of faith feels like for a family who lived through it. You will not read a more important book about America this year.” (The Economist)

“[A] frank, unsentimental, harrowing memoir…a superb book…” (New York Post)

PG is substantially less startled and amazed by Vance’s story, because variations of that story can be found in hundreds of different parts of the United States of which the reviewers were apparently unaware prior to reading Vance’s book. He suggests a visitor to a welfare services or public defender or Legal Aid office in virtually every state would encounter people with the same sort of problems Vance describes.

On the other hand, should a visitor to the middle-class neighborhoods in the same communities where those welfare services, offices were located would find successful and intelligent people with successes, experiences and aspirations equally alien and unknown to the publishing class.

PG suggests that part of the success of many indie authors and their books arises from the substantially deeper and more nuanced understanding those authors have of enormous swaths of readers and their communities that are terra incognita for the acquisition editors working for publishers in New York City who regard themselves as taste-makers for American readers.

How to Collaborate Effectively with Other Indie Authors In Your Genre

26 February 2018

From The Alliance of Independent Authors:

Shortly after releasing my first book in the fall of 2015 I had my first exposure to other indie authors. It was at the Living Dead Horror Con in Portland, Oregon and they taught me two important things:

  • There was a lot I didn’t know about when it came to selling books
  • Other authors did not have to be seen as competitors.

. . . .

I spent most of 2016 struggling to sell that first book and learning from others. I joined author groups online and started watching to see what others were doing to be successful.

One of the key things I saw that was driving results was authors working together.

There were groups for all the main genres and many sub-genres. I had success working with other horror authors and even the broader sci-fi genre, but there wasn’t one for my particular niche, zombies.

. . . .

At the end of 2016, I began reaching out to other authors writing in our sub-genre and asking them to join together.

The idea was simple, none of us can write fast enough to keep our readers occupied, so let’s not look at each other as competing for the same audience and instead let’s build a shared fan base.

We came together in a Facebook group to network, do cross-promotions, brainstorm, and work together. In short, #authorshelpingauthors. We call ourselves The Reanimated Writers.

. . . .

In 2017 our group grew to over 200 authors strong. I was shocked to learn there were that many of us writing in the zombie sub-genre, and we cover everything from dystopia, romance, humor, action, extreme horror and more underneath that umbrella. A number of authors stepped up to help me grow the group and bring ideas to fruition.

Link to the rest at The Alliance of Independent Authors

PG is once again reminded of one of the great benefits of the online communities of the Internet – groups of people with interests rare enough that they would be unlikely to encounter one another in the physical world can discover one another, cooperate and socialize online.

“The Lonely Lives” authors may have lived on an involuntary basis in earlier times need no longer be quite so lonely if authors do not wish them to be so.

During much of his early life, PG lived in rural areas and attended country schools. His classmates from grades 1-3 were Andy, Danny, Jim, Ernest plus two Sandies. From grades 4-6, his classmates were generally itinerant. He was never the only student in his grade, but was frequently in grades with two students and never recalls being in a grade with more than three.

He mentions grades because the two elementary schools he attended each had two classrooms. In the first, grades 1-4 met in a single classroom taught by one teacher (Edna Lascelles) in the basement while grades 5-8 were in another classroom taught by Mr. Lascelles upstairs. In the second elementary school he attended, grades 1-3 were in one room while grades 4-6 (taught by Betsy Smith) met in another. Betsy’s mother taught grades 1-3.

PG was extremely blessed by two excellent elementary school teachers, among the best he ever had, including college and law school.

PG mentions his early educational background, because, like many indie zombie authors, he never met anyone with interests very similar to his until he went to college. He was a gregarious little guy in elementary school and managed to get along with most of his classmates, but he has sometimes considered how his early life would have been much different if the Internet had been in existence and he could have explored friendships with a wider variety of his contemporaries.

Free news gets scarcer as paywalls tighten

26 February 2018

From Yahoo:

For those looking for free news online, the search is becoming harder.

Tougher restrictions on online content have boosted digital paid subscriptions at many news organizations, amid a growing trend keeping content behind a “paywall.”

Free news has by no means disappeared, but recent moves by media groups and Facebook and Google supporting paid subscriptions is forcing free-riders to scramble.

For some analysts, the trend reflects a normalization of a situation that has existed since the early internet days that enabled consumers to get accustomed to the notion of free online content.

“I think there is a definite trend for people to start paying for at least one news source,” said Rebecca Lieb, an analyst who follows digital media for Kaleido Insights.

. . . .

 A study last year by the Media Insight Project found 53 percent of Americans have paid for at least one news subscription. A separate report by Oxford University’s Reuters Institute found two-thirds of European newspapers used a pay model.

. . . .

News organizations are unable to compete against giants like Google and Facebook for digital advertising, and are turning increasingly to readers.

“For large-scale news organizations whether they are national or regional, that want to have a large reporting staff, reader revenue needs to be the number one source,” said Ken Doctor, a media analyst and consultant who writes the Newsonomics blog.

Doctor said some news organizations are getting close to 50 percent of revenues from subscriptions and sees that rising to as much as 70 percent.

The New York Times reported the number of paid subscribers grew to 2.6 million and that subscriptions accounted for 60 percent of 2017 revenues. The Washington Post last year touted it had more than one million paid digital readers.

. . . .

While well-known national publications may be able to navigate digital pay models, it will be harder for smaller, regional and local news organizations on slimmer budgets, said Radcliffe.

“Smaller local organizations might find it harder to make their case to readers (to pay), and they have a smaller pool of customers,” Radcliffe said.

. . . .

The paywall trend may have some other consequences by limiting national “conversations” based on shared news.

“Content that is behind a paywall does not go viral,” Lieb said, but noted that important news scoops can still spark national discussion.

Link to the rest at Yahoo

Is arbitration the answer to settling disputes in the art world?

25 February 2018
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From Apollo:

Privacy has long been of utmost importance in the art world. But in the context of the recent global move towards transparency in business and finance, the art market has increasingly been the subject of criticism for its perceived opacity. A great deal of publicity has been generated by exceptional cases in which criminal investigations have been launched against people alleged to have laundered money through art transactions: take, for example, an embezzlement case being investigated by the US Department of Justice in which Christie’s appears to have been used by the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB to purchase art worth millions of dollars.

However, most collectors, dealers and galleries wish to preserve their privacy not because their behaviour is untoward, but because individuals’ collections are personal and part of their private affairs. Sometimes collectors are compelled to sell artworks due to financial problems that they wish to keep secret; in other cases, privacy can add to the allure of artworks that have been held in an exclusive collection. Obviously, businesses operating in the art market always need to remain vigilant, and be mindful that they do not become vehicles to facilitate money laundering or any other criminal or fraudulent activity; it is only if they are vigilant from within, by keeping strict checks and balances in place and reporting anything that looks wrong, that the market may be able to maintain and preserve the level of privacy at which it often prefers to operate.

Art-related disputes between collectors and dealers, or between buyers and sellers and/or auction houses arise all the time. Such parties often find themselves the subject of court proceedings that are entirely public, and often include the details of private affairs and finances relating to the dispute. The threat of publicity can be such that parties with good claims may abandon them without recompense because they simply do not wish to go through with court proceedings.

If the dispute relates to the authenticity of an artwork, court proceedings can have disastrous implications for that work’s value: where authenticity has been called into question, however weak the arguments, any future prospective buyer is bound to hesitate, and certainly not offer the price they might have done prior to public court hearings.

. . . .

Arbitration, particularly in London (which has a well-developed arbitration jurisdiction), can provide a suitable forum for resolving art disputes in private. Importantly, at this point it is also a good way to make sure that any decision granted can be enforced in most countries around the world, irrespective of the result of Brexit negotiations – which, until there is greater clarity in the negotiations, cannot be said of cases heard in the British courts in respect of other countries in the EU.

In arbitration, disputes are resolved with binding effect by a person or persons acting in a judicial manner in private, rather than by a national court of law that would have jurisdiction unless the parties have prior agreement to exclude it. It requires a decision by the parties, at the time of making their agreement, to take any dispute outside of the court system and have it settled in private by an arbitrator jointly funded by the parties. Such an arbitrator, usually an experienced lawyer, would have the role of a judge, and their decision would be entirely binding and enforceable in most countries under the New York Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (1958).

. . . .

Professionals in the art world increasingly prefer to put paperwork in place rather than operating, as in the past, on the basis of handshake agreements.

Link to the rest at Apollo

PG says arbitration has application to the publishing world as well.

Under a typical Big Publishing contract, if there is a dispute, it will be handled in New York City. If the author lives anywhere but the state of New York, either party can file or ask for removal to the US District Court in the Southern District of New York.

This means that a US District Judge will be in charge of trying the case. District Judges are usually well-qualified for their work, but their work is not specialized. They’ll handle criminal and civil cases, including a great many drug cases. It is unlikely that a typical Federal Judge has ever seen a publishing contract before. Since criminal cases take precedence for constitutional reasons, civil cases, such as a dispute between an author and publisher, get bumped to pretty close to the bottom of the priorities list.

The District Judge may also assign the case to a Federal Magistrate who works with the District Judge. While some magistrates are well-qualified, others are less-qualified than a typical District Judge. The magistrates are also overwhelmed with criminal cases.

Most criminal cases are settled via plea bargain or dismissal for errors on the part of law enforcement. Many civil cases are settled by the parties while awaiting trial, sometimes because one party runs out of money. Others are dismissed on pre-trial motions because of defects in pleadings, etc. Only a relatively small number of cases are typically taken to trial before a magistrate and even fewer before a District Judge.

Contested civil cases like a dispute between an author and a publisher which are not dismissed during preliminary jousting between the parties can take 2-3 years, sometimes longer, (and sometimes much, much longer) to actually reach a trial.

By comparison, arbitration is handled by an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable about the subject matter in dispute. The Arbitrator (it can also be a retired judge with similar qualifications) is typically more active during the earlier parts of the arbitration, looking for shortcuts, pressuring the parties to pare away peripheral matters, etc.

The arbitrator is chosen by the arbitration agency (often the American Arbitration Association) based upon his/her expertise and evaluations of prior arbitrations conducted by the arbitrator. However, if either party objects to a particular arbitrator due to something like potential bias, another arbitrator may be appointed.

The arbitrator is paid a fee for arbitration services. Generally speaking, each party posts 1/2 of the anticipated fee. Depending upon the terms of the underlying contract and/or arbitration agreement, the arbitrator may require that the losing party pay arbitration costs and/or attorney’s fees of the winning party. Generally speaking, it’s probably a good idea for each party to assume he/she/it will pay their own attorneys fees and half the arbitration fees.

After the arbitration is complete, each party (or their attorney) is asked to evaluate the arbitrator’s performance, including how quickly the arbitrator moved the case to conclusion. The arbitrator may or may not receive future arbitration appointments based upon the evaluations of the parties.

It is common for the arbitrator to schedule some time for the parties to discuss settlement prior to the hearing. The arbitrator may participate in these discussions to help reach a settlement. Unless the parties and their attorneys are within a relatively short distance of the arbitrator, settlement conferences are often handled by phone.

The arbitration is set for a specific time and place and is very unlikely to be postponed or rescheduled absent serious illness or some similar reason. One of the ways the arbitrator is evaluated is by how long it takes the arbitrator to move a matter to hearing and to deliver a final verdict.

If both parties agree, either in the original contract between them or otherwise, the arbitration can be confidential. By contrast, federal court records are generally open to the public for examination.

In an earlier day, before PG stopped handling litigation matters, he represented clients in both litigation and arbitration matters. The arbitrations were generally faster and the qualifications and subject matter knowledge of an arbitrator with respect to nature of the dispute were better than a typical trial judge, who is a generalist due to the wide range of cases that come into his/her court.

What about costs? Each dispute is unique in some ways, so there are no hard and fast rules. A judge-tried case is overseen by a judge who receives a salary paid by the government. As mentioned before, an arbitrator is paid by the parties. On the other hand, in both a trial and arbitration, typically the parties are each paying their own attorney. If there are a couple of years between filing a civil court case and trial, the attorneys won’t sit around doing nothing during that period and fees will mount up as discovery matters, including depositions, examination of documents and records, etc., happen.

If the losing party is unhappy with the court’s decision, he/she/it may file post-trial motions that require a response from the winning party, through the attorney. If the losing party files an appeal, the winning party has a lot more attorneys fees to look forward to.

In an arbitration of a contract dispute, an arbitrator may be able to take a matter to a final decision within a matter of a few months. Typically, arbitrator’s decisions are not subject to appeal.

In PG’s litigation experience, a drawn-out court matter is a definite drain on the emotions of both parties, to say nothing of their bank accounts. If a case is set for trial, then postponed, that’s an additional drain.

As far as cost differences between arbitration and a civil trial, it depends. If the civil trial is a drawn-out matter, arbitration is probably cheaper, even if the parties are required to pay the arbitrator. A good arbitrator is also a good and active case manager, working with the parties to resolve the case and discouraging or denying permission to either party to try to slow the case down. Since the arbitrator is already an expert in the subject of the dispute, it is not necessary for the parties to educate the arbitrator about the legal background in which the case takes place, unlike the parties would do with a judge.

As usual, PG is a lawyer, but he is not your lawyer unless you hire him to be your attorney. PG’s comments are a general discussion of the topic, so don’t take any of this as legal advice. You obtain legal advice by hiring an attorney.


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