Bullying again, pants on fire in the 6th District, yellow (book) fever, off to Liberia, and when people do good.
It's a nearly mythical tale. Mothers cleaning out the flotsam and jetsam of childhoods threw away baseball cards that were -- allegedly -- worth millions. A person could retire comfortably on one Honus Wagner card. Now, people hold onto everything -- how many Beanie Babies are in your closet? -- because nobody wants to throw out the next Honus Wagner-like object.
There are only about 60 Honus Wagner cards left in circulation (thanks, Mom!) and the Associated Press today reports that one of them has been sold at auction for $262,000. It was bequeathed to an order of Roman Catholic nuns.
What's in your attic?(2 Comments)
Jammie Thomas-Rasset, the Brainerd mother of four, this week lost yet another court battle over whether she committed copyright infringement by distributing 24 songs on the KaZaA peer-to-peer file sharing network. She has to pay $1.5 million. That works out to over $60,000 per song.
How is that computed? TechDirt has the answer today, saying it's in the instructions to the jury.
Under the Copyright Act, each plaintiff is entitled to a sum of not less than $750 or more than $30,000 per act of infringement (that is, per sound recording downloaded or distributed without license). Because the defendant's conduct was willful, then each plaintiff is entitled to a sum of up to $150,000 per act of infringement (that is, per sound recording downloaded or distributed without license), as you consider just.
TechDirt says there's not much a juror could have done:
They're exactly what the law basically says the judge should say. But, if you're the average person in the jury box, these instructions effectively say "pick a number higher than $30,000 and less than $150,000." That's basically it. The numbers are framed right there, and the jury just has to pick. So, the last two juries picked $80,000 and now $62,500. If you're on the jury, you're not really thinking about what this actually means, or if the punishment fits the actions. You're told, by law, you should pick a ridiculously high number, and then you just sorta pick one within that frame, which has already been set for you.
To many people, Jammie Thomas-Rasset is a hero in efforts to "free" the Internet. But this week, the Internet made a hero out of someone whose situation is more closely aligned, perhaps, to the dastardly recording industry -- a woman whose work was stolen via the online route.
Monica Gaudio, of Pennsylvania, found out a magazine, Cooks Source, lifted her online work and published it in the magazine. So Gaudio sent the publisher a note asking for a donation to the Columbia School of Journalism, then got this note in return:
..Honestly Monica, the web is considered "public domain" and you should be happy we just didn't "lift" your whole article and put someone else's name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me... ALWAYS for free!"
That's when the Internet went nuts.
The magazine's Facebook page has been today's most entertaining read:
Humorous as it is -- and it is -- the outcry raises a big question: How can two people on opposite sides of a copyright debate, both be Internet heroes?(11 Comments)
The Internet is doing its thing this afternoon after MSNBC announced it's suspending liberal commentator Keith Olbermann. The action came after Politico reported that Olbermann made campaign contributions during the election cycle.
"I became aware of Keith's political contributions late last night. Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay," MSNBC president, Phil Griffin.
Olbermann fans are bombarding MSNBC offices with e-mails and phone calls.
The reaction from the "journalism community:"
Removing overt partisanship from media is good, if it's followed by a re-affirmation of good journalism. So CNN, NPR and MSNBC should be applauded.
One problem: leaving Fox to continue to play the anti-Obama partisan card makes the rest of the media look weak by comparison. Fox will continue to wrap itself in the mantle as defenders of free speech; the rest of the media will wrap themselves in their internal ethics guides. -- Jeff Dvorkin, former NPR ombudsman
Fox's Sean Hannity made several campaign contributions, including $5,000 to Michele Bachmann, but FoxNews didn't discipline him. Fox doesn't have a policy against its journalists -- or derivatives thereof -- from making campaign contributions.
Here's media watchdog Jeff Jarvis' take:
But liberal (yes, liberal) news organizations -- MSNBC and NPR, not to mention the NY Times and others -- have gotten this all bolloxed up lately, continuing to separate their journalists and commentators -- Juan Williams and now everyone at NPR else out of fear -- from their communities. They all refused to let their journalists attend the Rally to Restore Sanity, which turned out not to be a political event at all but a repudiation of media -- including most of Fox News plus Olbermann himself ... a lesson all their journalists should have heard.
They do this because they want to stand above Fox News as objective. What they do instead is stand apart from their communities as -- what? -- sterile, gutless, distant. Fox News comes off as caring to its audience ("Fox News speaks for us," say the tea drinkers. "Fox News understands"). MSNBC comes off as ... what? Don't we liberals deserve our Fox News, but with intelligence, sanity, openness? That was its promise. But like NPR, is is now a place where opinions and action are verboten.
In 2007, MSNBC did an investigation of journalists who gave campaign conributions. It found a fair number, including a morning anchor of a Twin Cities TV station, and a few NPR journalists. It also found Joe Scarborough, another MSNBC commentator.
MSNBC's response then would seem to have a bearing now:
"Yes, he did make a donation to Derrick Kitts. Kitts is an old friend of Joe's. Joe hosts an opinion program and is not a news reporter."
What's the source of Olbermann's popularity? This week, the Philadelphia Daily News' Stu Bykofsky monitored both Olbermann and Bill O'Reilly of FoxNews:
"Countdown with Keith Olbermann" had 20 guests from the left, two neutral and not a single voice from the right. Zero voices of dissent.
So, if you never want to hear anyone challenge liberal views, lock in on Olbermann. While progressives disdain Fox's claim of being "fair and balanced," "The O'Reilly Factor" does present opposing views. O'Reilly will cut them off in midsentence, true, but he even does that to people who agree with him. (Shock therapy might help.) Olbermann seems unable to even listen to anything other than progressive orthodoxy.
If the tea party wants a "theocracy for white males," as he said, Olbermann could be an imam. He offered a paltry four women among his 22 talking heads, 18 percent. (Wasn't Joy Behar available?) Only two African Americans got face time.
O'Reilly had three African Americans and scattered 18 women among his 38 guests, for 47 percent. (Don't expect NOW to give him an award.) O'Reilly had three Hispanic-surnamed guests; Olbermann had two.
When it comes to their sources of news, too many Americans live in "silos," protected from contrary views. We'd do better, learn a bit more, by listening to some opposing ideas.
You get that from Fox's O'Reilly, not MSNBC's Olbermann.
Who can replace Olbermann? How about Ben Affleck:
Next month, Policy and a Pint will host a discussion on the question of politics and the ethics of journalism. Guess who one of the panelists is?
Update 5:14 p.m. Some have said the rules shouldn't apply to Olbermann because he's not a journalist, he's a commentator. Olbermann refers to his show as a "newscast," and in this interview with Bill Moyers, he defined himself as a journalist. (Scroll to 8:11) "what I've done on the air in the last 4 1/2 years, and particularly in the last year and a half since the special comments began, is really journalism," he said.(4 Comments)