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Farewell, Polaroid; Good Riddance, VHS

Format wars buried two victims this year:  instant photographs, and VHS videotape.  Curiously, the demise of Polaroid and instant photography is accompanied by poignant farewells in The New York Times, for example, while in the pages of the Los Angeles Times, for example, just about no one is shedding tears over videotape.   

Why the difference?  Why the elegies for some analog formats and “good riddance” to others?  Why has vinyl gone from a cult-ish post-CD afterlife to a full-blown revival?

There is a connection (or there are connections) between the answer(s) to those questions and the puzzles of copyright law, but I’m not sure what the connection is.  I’ve always thought that “digital changes everything” was technologically over-determined as a framework for understanding the direction that copyright law should take.  Analog formats won’t go away – large numbers of people don’t want them to.  But format isn’t irrelevant, either.

Hmmm.