Good News for Bloggers & Internet Publishers

From Nevada comes news of this favorable Federal court ruling that will buoy the work of bloggers, social networkers, and anyone who publishes on the Internet. Had this decision gone the other way any outlet that quotes from online articles could have been deemed in violation of copyright, even when proper attribution and linking are provided, as is the custom on this blog. Thank you Electronic Frontier Foundation for becoming involved in this troublesome case, where Fair Use on the part of Democratic Underground was essentially the ruling given by Judge Roger Hunt. He slapped down the copyright trolling machinations of the plaintiff, who according to the article by Kurt Opsahl, Senior Staff Attorney of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, had “filed hundreds of copyright cases based on its sham copyright ownership claims.” h/t @jayrosen_nyu

Ereading Devices in Independent Bookstores?

Today my publishing friend David Wilk has posted Booksellers and Co-opetition, an intriguing commentary on his blog, suggesting that indie booksellers should consider selling ereading devices in their brick & mortar stores, even Kindles and Nooks, as a way to maintain their connections with customers who are migrating to digital reading, even as many of them continue to read print books too. I suggest you read David’s piece, and think about how independent bookstores might carve out a new place in the emerging ereading environment.

Book Camp–Fostering Innovation Since 2010

Book Camp on Sunday, February 12 was a spirited ‘unconference,’ a confab of experimentally-inclined publishing people enjoyed enormously by the 150 + plus in attendance, including me.

If you’ve never taken part in an ‘unconference’–and I never had until the first NY Book Camp in 2010–these gatherings are deliberately unplanned and unprogrammed up to the moment they begin. Book Camp is very much opposite to the two big digital publishing conferences held each year, Digital Book World and Tools of Change. As scripted and prepped as speakers are at those events, the presentations at Book Camp are informal, casual, and exploratory. Here, people aren’t sure what they think about a publishing question until they’ve had a chance to say it aloud, or listened to a colleague talking about it. / / more. . .

Easy on the Eyes

I recommend a computer add-on called F.lux to spare your eyes & improve your onscreen life, for MAC, Linux, and Windows. It calibrates monitor brightness to your location and time of day. I’ve been using it for several months and really like the mellowing effect, especially when I work evening hours. You can read about it and download it at this link. Oh, and it’s free. Props to @herf and @lorna for making this useful program.

Putting Printed Books and Ebooks on Equal Footing

With indie record labels now routinely making downloads of music available to buyers of vinyl LPs, I’m heartened to see a similar strategy taking hold among indie publishers too, with regard to ebooks and printed books. . . . With the print book and ebook initiative announced today, Coach House has demonstrated their continuing relevance, if it were needed–and that of publishers like them– in the burgeoning digital age that publishing has entered. I wonder how long it will be before big, commercial houses are also routinely making ebooks available, or some digital product, available with purchase of a new book. Meantime, congratulations to Coach House Books for leading the way. // more. . .

“Riot of Life” at 8000 Feet Below Sea Level

Watch Under the Sea Near Antarctica, ‘a Riot of Life’ Discovered in Super-Heated Water on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Startling discoveries have been made of heretofore unknown species in explorations of deep ocean waters near Antarctica. Learning about all these newly discovered species, my mind turns quickly to thoughts of extraterrestrial life. After all, we know that conditions in space would be extreme, even more extreme than 800 degrees and all the pressure that must be exerted on life at 8000 feet below sea level. Still, if life forms can flourish in those conditions, maybe there are some kinds of organisms, beyond our current imaginings, that would also thrive in deep space. // more . . .

Media Organizations Pranking Themselves

Carl Franzen of TPM’s IdeaLab reports that for several hours today News Corp. was erroneously corroborating that the Twitter handle of @wendi_deng was in Twitter-speak a ‘verified account’. Turns out they were wrong, as was Twitter. . . . I detest seeing errors in books I’ve published–I get sick to my stomach the first time I see an error in a book I’ve edited–so my outlook here is informed by that. And yet, I know that I am fallible, along with other people, and that we’re all probably more mistake-prone in our screen-dominated age than in eras past. Mistakes will continue to occur in communications. But what’s inexcusable is to make errors on top of errors. Both companies here failed as organizations to correctly assess the matter at hand. I guess you might say they’re simply too complex to be simple when they need to be. // more. . .

Verizon’s Quick U-Turn a Sign of Anti-Corporate Energy

I love how rapidly Verizon caved on their plan to charge subscribers a $2 fee for processing certain kinds of monthly payments. As reported in the New York Times, reactions from customers, communications industry watchdogs, and FCC officials ranged from outrage to threats of investigations. The recent campaign that made Bank of America drop its proposed $5 debit card fee took a few weeks to reach its goal, while this explosion of anger at Verizon was over in a scant 24 hours. This says something about the anti-corporate mood prevalent in the U.S. right now, thanks to the #OWS movement. Only at their peril do companies blithely try putting anti-consumerist policies into place. GoDaddy’s loss of subscribers over their support for SOPA, which I posted about last night, is another example of the same impulse in the consumer zeitgeist.