February 22, 2007
February 18, 2007
“Show, don’t tell,” we’re told. Jonathan Lethem follows that maxim brilliantly in an essay published in this month’s Harper’s called “The Ecstasy of Influence.” I hope it appears on the syllabus of many classes on rhetoric, postmodern theory, and copyright law.
It’s a commonplace that copyright maximalism is fundamentally incompatible with postmodernism. Lethem’s essay shows that it would have destroyed modernism, too.
I was recently alerted to a congressional proposal to radically change the traditional contours of copyright law! See the amendment below.
Section 111(e)(2) of title 17, United States Code, is amended by striking `or the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands’ and inserting `the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, or the Republic of the Marshall Islands’.
Okay, maybe it’s a totally inconsequential change to the Copyright Act. In case you’re wondering, it doesn’t even change the extent of the exception to copyright law for shipping videotapes around between cable systems in the South Pacific, which is what the amended portion of 17 U.S.C. 111(e)(2) is about. The Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands just doesn’t exist anymore. Wikipedia explains the situation.
Like substantially all of you (unless I have an unexpectedly large number of readers who run Micronesian cable systems), I don’t care a whit about this amendment to the Copyright Act. But the way I found out about the amendment gave me confidence that I’ll be informed of even the most minor changes to copyright law. A site called govtrack.us allows users to set up RSS feeds informing them about action on all bills having certain user-configurable properties. My feed just lets me know every time something happens to a copyright bill.
This is a great application of web technology to do what would otherwise have required a pretty big check to Westlaw or a private bill-tracking service. For amateur congress watchers like me, it’s a godsend.