Ernie the Attorney : searching for truth & justice (in an unjust world)
Updated: 6/5/2003; 11:08:03 PM.


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Saturday, February 01, 2003

Filesharing is good for the music industry - first we had Janis Ian, a famous songwriter, tell us what we already knew.  Now we have a record executive speaking truthfully about this issue.  And quoting John Berry Barlow no less.  Still, let's not kid ourselves: this is not the kind of truth that is going to win the day just because it makes sense.  In Washington you have to put money in the tip jar if you want to be understood.

Doc Searls is right that the record companies have the edge because they've convinced the media that the key buzzword is "piracy".  As if this is the main feature of online file-sharing.  Why can't we make similar headway in branding the music industry as a haven for crooks, and predators of people with artistic talent?  What other industy has a more storied history of payola?  And how about regular old anti-competitive behavior? Recently, the five largest music companies settled a price-fixing case over the prices charged for CDs. 

And who is better at exploiting artists?  Ask Don Henley about how the RIAA hosed the artists.  Oh, and remember when Fantasy Records sued John Fogerty for producing songs that sounded too much like the songs that he had written early in his career (and Fantasy held the rights because Fogerty had been convinced, as so many artists are, to naively sign them away early on in his career)?  At least he won the right to collect the attorneys' fees he had to pay to defend himself all the way to the Supreme Court. 

The record companies all say that they have to drive a hard bargain with the artists so they can make money, but I don't see many record companies going broke.  But you see a lot of artists that wind up dirt poor in nursing homes.  Read Courtney Love's account of how record companies profit handsomely, while the artists (whose careers they exploit) do not, is worth reading.  Sounds a lot like the boxing industry corruption that was portrayed in the 1956 Bogart film "The Harder They Fall."

So I say forget file-sharing.  There's a bigger problem here that Congress should tackle.  Here we have an industry that has a demonstrated history of massive greed leading to repeated illegal and highly exploitative behavior.  They have worked to extend the terms of copyrights to an unimaginable length.  They have managed to get Congress to pass the freedom-rending DMCA, and now seek to further solidify their gains by obtaining digital rights management, which would obliterate fair use as we know it.  Why?  Answer: $$$$$$$$$$$

We need a Kefauver investigation.  And we need more people to use their common sense.  These guys aren't losing money.  They just aren't making enough to support the outrageously lavish lifestyles to which they have grown accustomed.

5:24:36 PM    

Richard Feynman's thoughts on the Shuttle Disaster - Richard Feynman is a renowned physicist and played a pivotal role in the investigation of the 1980s Shuttle disaster that occurred on takeoff.  His thoughts, which are available here, are worth considering.  Here is one excerpt from the conclusion of his thoughts on the perils of spaceflight:

Official management... claims to believe the probability of failure is a thousand times less. One reason for this may be an attempt to assure the government of NASA perfection and success in order to ensure the supply of funds. The other may be that they sincerely believed it to be true, demonstrating an almost incredible lack of communication between themselves and their working engineers.

In any event this has had very unfortunate consequences, the most serious of which is to encourage ordinary citizens to fly in such a dangerous machine, as if it had attained the safety of an ordinary airliner. The astronauts, like test pilots, should know their risks, and we honor them for their courage. ...

No doubt the engineers and NASA officials responsible for the flight did everything they could, and no doubt their decisions will now be scrutinized and second-guessed.  That's a shame.  Space flight is still a very dangerous undertaking, notwithstanding the increasing efforts to put celebrities in space.  When we humans undertake dangerous activities there are sometimes tragic consequences. 

Here are some first hand accounts from Texas from Kendall Clark, JoniElectric, and Nacanowhere.  Theories on the cause will abound, but here's one that sounds plausible.  Also, I mentioned Instapundit, but Dave Winer is also doing a great job of coverage so it's best to just check his site for updates.

One last point: NASA's director Sean O'Keefe is from New Orleans.  His brother Pat is a lawyer here, and --through him-- I've met Sean briefly.    Sean became the Secretary of the Navy at a critical time (i.e. after the tailhook scandal) and did a great job.  A lot of the reports say he's just a numbers cruncher, but that's misleading.  Sean is a wonderful guy, very bright, very approachable and committed to doing "the right thing."  I'm glad to know that he is at the helm of NASA as it enters another difficult phase of its history.

10:46:18 AM    

Shuttle Breaks up on reentry - Here's the report from Instapundit, with links to useful information.  If you want to see footage of the reentry you can tune into CNN, but the analysis is pretty sparse at this point.  Better off sticking to Instapundit if you want sober analysis.  Forget, terrorism.  This will wind up being the result of structural failure, and I'll bet it is related to a failure of the heat tile system.  Of course, trained investigators will have their work cut out for them.  The Shuttle broke up at 200,000 feet while travelling 12,000 miles per hour, which means that the debris field is going to be very, very large.

The best thing for us to do is to pray for the crew and their family members.

9:24:39 AM    

© Copyright 2003 Ernest Svenson.

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