Saturday, October 20, 2007

Lucky Dube - R.I.P.

Awful news today. South African reggae star, Lucky Dube, was killed in a carjacking in South Africa in front of his 15-year-old son. He was very big when I lived in Zimbabwe, and his popularity has not waned. I hope that some good can come from this tragedy, and that the government of South Africa will address the causes and effects violent crime.

In "Victims," Dube wrote:

Didn't know she was crying
Until now as she turns to look at me
She said boy o' boy you bring tears to my eyes
I said what, she said
Boy o' boy you bring tears to my eyes

Bob Marley said
How long shall they kill our prophets
While we stand aside and look
But little did he know that
Eventually the enemy
Will stand aside and look
While we slash and kill
Our own brothers
Knowing that already
They are the victims of the situation

Radiohead and Pay What You Will

Radiohead has made an interesting move by releasing its new album on a pay-what-you-will basis. In an article I started drafting in 2000, I suggested that musicians can succeed under this model so long as purchasers think of the transaction as a show of support. Whether characterized as the "warm glow" of do-gooder consumption or as a refletion of the restitutionary impulse that Wendy Gordon argues is at the base of copyright law, it is not surprising that people are paying for something they can download for free.

The risk in this model is that the frame of the transaction depends on perceptions and norms. If the frame switches to that of neoclassical economics, in which consumers and producers are adverse parties competing for a larger share of surplus, then the model fails. Stephen King seemed to think his experiment along these lines was a failure, and if it was, it may be because he charged a specific price ($1) for each installment of his serialized novel.

Amateur Hour Conference - 11/2/07

On November 2, 2007, New York Law School’s Institute for Information Law & Policy will host the inaugural Amateur Hour Conference to bring together leaders in business, law and technology to focus on the opportunities and challenges of user-generated content to traditional media & entertainment businesses.

A number of very interesting speakers are lined up, and this looks like a promising gathering to begin a new series of conversations about the changes that the Internet brings to media and entertainment. For conference schedule and registration please visit:

NIH Policy - Urgent

In a last ditch effort to undermine the public interest, Senator Inhofe (R-OK) has introduced amendments to pending legislation with the intent of denying American taxpayers access to medical journal articles reporting research funded with American tax dollars.

It is urgent that American readers contact their Senators to OPPOSE amendments that strike or change the NIH public access provision in the FY08 Labor/HHS appropriations bill.

The Senate is currently considering the FY08 Labor-HHS Bill, which includes a provision (already approved by the House of Representatives and the full Senate Appropriations Committee), that directs the NIH to change its Public Access Policy so that participation is required (rather than requested) for researchers, and ensures free, timely public access to articles resulting from NIH-funded research. This provisions requires public access within 12 months of publication - a very generous lead time for journal publishers.

On Friday, Senator Inhofe (R-OK), filed two amendments (#3416 and #3417), which call for the language to either be stricken from the bill, or modified in a way that would gravely limit the policy’s effectiveness. Amendment #3416 would eliminate the provision altogether. Amendment #3417 is likely to be presented to your Senator as a compromise that “balances” the needs of the public and of publishers. It does nothing of the sort because the current voluntary policy is a failure and this amendment is designed to maintain the status quo.

Please contact your Senators TODAY and urge them to vote “NO” on amendments #3416 and #3417. (Contact must be made before close of business on Monday, October 22). Contact information and a tool to email your Senator are online at No time to write? Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to be patched through to your Senate office.