That’s a full and complete account of innovation and other things in Pittsburgh today, or the good, the bad, and the ugly about Pittsburgh’s continuing journey on the road to recovery post-steel collapse, economically speaking and otherwise. Anyone coming to Pittsburgh or coming to Pittsburgh’s story via a line arguing that Pittsburgh’s innovation is in high gear and that Pittsburgh is a model region for tech, tech policy, and urban reinvention … should read further. Good things are happening in Pittsburgh, but there is more going on – more innovation than innovation in tech, and things that aren’t so innovative and that aren’t so good – than are captured in the headlines.
First the loss of the colonies, and now an American manager in the Premier League. It might as well be the end of the Empire.
The big news for American soccer fans, of course, is the appointment of Bob Bradley, a New Jersey native, as manager of Swansea City AFC, a professional club currently standing 17th in the 20-team Premier League. That’s the top division of British football (for any non-soccer fans still reading this piece: Scottish teams play in their own, Scottish leagues, but top Welsh teams, such as Swansea, play in the Premiership, alongside teams based in England, rather than in the Welsh Football League), and arguably the top flight of club soccer worldwide – certainly the case from the perspective of revenue, expense, and television attention, and likely the case from the perspective of top-to-bottom quality of play. Bradley is the first American, in short, to reach the absolute top echelon of club soccer as a coach. Continue reading →
There is more to say, as it turns out, about law and tech and entrepreneurship and Pittsburgh and various and sundry other things.
Since the end of Pittsblog (born 2003, suspended 2013) and the earlier version of this site (born 2004, suspended 2015), I’ve been looking for the right moment to get back on the ’round, and this morning, there it was: The Pittsburgh Tribune Review, one of Pittsburgh’s two daily newspapers, announced that it will discontinue print publication on November 30. A number of small-ish regionally and locally-oriented “publications” will carry forward, online only.
At long last, Pittsburgh will finally join the ranks of cities with only one daily newspaper. As the old joke goes, if the end of the world finally arrives, be glad that you live in Pittsburgh, because you’ve got another five years to wait. That’s how long it usually takes for new stuff to wash up on the banks of the city of Three Rivers.
Digesting the fair use reading in The Authors Guild v. Google in the Second Circuit, I went back to some things that I wrote when the case was filed, ten years ago, in 2005. What did I get right, what did I get wrong, and where and how is the jury (proverbially) still out?
Will Google Print [as Google Book Search was then known] kill the book?
Books are really, really important things culturally, particularly in Western culture. Have been for hundreds of years. Almost everyone loves books and depends on books. And books are absolutely central to modern copyright law, both conceptually and doctrinally. (They’re even more important than authors, in my view. But I’ll take on one controversial topic at a time.) Books are fixed, limited containers of creativity. Books have beginnings, middles, and ends. Without books, we wouldn’t have “works,” and without “works” we wouldn’t know how to process questions of incentives and questions of access. We wouldn’t know where to put the author’s “moral right,” if there is one; we wouldn’t know what to refer to when we make “fair use” of a work. We wouldn’t know what to distribute, and distribution of creativity is the ultimate goal of the whole system.
If you expose the creativity without framing it in a book — and this is what Google proposes to do — all you have is data. Data that you can mix and remix and reuse and share in bits (bytes) and pieces and aggregates of new scale and scope. Data that is everywhere and nowhere, all at once.
When this happens — and Google may not do it, but I suspect that in the long run, it will happen — we’ll need to rethink not only the premises of copyright law, but we’ll also need to rethink some of our arguments about where culture comes from, where it goes, and what we do with it. This is the sense in which Google Print may be killing the book. And if the book dies, copyright as we know it ultimately dies too. (Note, by the way, how this question tracks what has been happening for the last few years in the music business, and particularly how it tracks the evolution of the concept of the copyrighted “work” in the context of sampling litigation. When copyright protects individual chords, then copyright really is protecting just data.) I confess that I have mixed feelings about this, and I haven’t come to a conclusion about where my sympathies lie. Right now I’m looking forward to, or at least hoping for, a good fight.
But there’s more. In Google Print II (here at madisonian.net), I characterized the case as “bet the Internet” litigation. GBS turns books into data (one might say, as Judge Leval did, that GBS “transforms” them); data means search; search means the Internet. Not to get all reductive and everything, but that, it still seems to me, just about sums it up. I was right (this case is all about how the concept of the book interacts with the concept of the Internet), I was wrong (I was somewhat skeptical of the fair use argument), and we still don’t know where, exactly, the roulette wheel will stop. Google has made an enormous bet. I wrote once that all of Internet law can be summed up in the stories represented in the movie Casablanca. That idea, too, seems to have legs. Google has put its chips on twenty-two. Les jeux sont fait. Is Judge Leval a contemporary Rick Blaine? Or will copyright find its Victor Laszlo at the Supreme Court?
Are there tensions in recent fair use cases regarding methods? Fair use analysis has traditionally and conventionally posed a set of very “work-specific,” nuanced questions. For at least 15 years or so, since the rise of the original Napster technology (and really, at least since “librarying” was at issue in the original Betamax litigation), social practices and information technologies have raised the question of large-scale alleged fair uses. Yet copyright law sticks somewhat stubbornly to the “work-specific” legal framework. Are cracks appearing in that facade? Have recent cases opened that conversation in earnest? Continue reading →