Showing posts from September, 2012

Some Suggestions For the Times

If it seems like I am critical of the NYtimes, please note that this is because I bear deep affection for that organization, and hope for the best. I know that the entire newspaper industry is in crisis, and I'd rather see venerated and important organizations like the NYTimes make the transition to the digital world (largely) intact, rather than watching them collapse and hoping someone else fills the void.

That having been said, I am very much of the opinion that a simple paywall is not going to get them the money they need to continue to operate, and I'm also of the opinion that online ad revenue will not fill this gap. So, as a result, they need to start selling services that actually represent value above and beyond the basic delivery of news. Additionally, as seen below in other posts, I think that their slow creep towards interest pieces and magazine style focus pieces is really detrimental to their mission. However, that is neither here nor there. Fundamentally, here i…

Uncritical Reporting of Thiel Fellowships in NYTimes

Update: This post was put on Techdirt as of 9.20.12.

Yesterday, the New York Times had a headline article about Thiel Fellowships.
The program is very interesting, and I was hoping to garner some insight into its success.

However, I was left severely disappointed at the lack of any critical examination of the program, which is still quite controversial. The whole piece read like a PR blast. For instance:

1. The program encourages high achieving indidivuals to skip college in exchange for $100,000 over two years of fellowship grant, plus access to Thiel's network. While many projects discussed in the article were interesting, there was virtually no information about the sustainability of any of these projects or whether or the fellows had achieved any academic success - such as publications - or business success.

2. The article entirely omitted any examination of the fact that Thiel himself has an undergraduate degree from Stanford and a law degree from the same -- this was relegated…

The Trademarkability of Red Soles

A recent decision came down, wherein Louboutin was allowed to keep its trademark on red soled shoes. I think this is a very poor decision, and misunderstands the basic point of trademark law.

Copyright law and patent law (whether or not you agree with their efficacy, overall) are at least explicitly designed to protect creators and their business interests. However, trademark law differs in that its primary purpose is consumer protection: trademark exists to allow for product marking so that consumers can be confident about the origins of products and all their attendant considerations, ranging from quality of product to the reputability of the company supplying said product. For instance, you want to know that the batteries in your remote control won't explode, and if you see the label "duracell" or "energizer" on the battery, you can be reasonably sure that there is a responsible company behind their manufacture. 
However, the consumer is actively harmed by t…

Fair Use, Gotye and Star Wars

FYI, this is a repost of a post I wrote on my company blog.
Back in August of 2011, my girlfriend sent me a link to a charming music video that had just dropped. 

Within the next year, this video received several hundred million views, and propelled two young artists -- Gotye and Kimbra -- to international fame. Clearly, this was a huge win for them, and I'm sure this video generated tons of additional ticket, album and t-shirt sales, despite the fact that they probably made peanuts from the video itself. This video was a loss leader, driving traffic to paid services, while itself representing a largely sunk cost.

The video became a cultural phenomenon. And, as the saying goes, the sincerest form of flattery is imitation. Not surprisingly, some extremely well done remakes were created, which also received millions of views on YouTube. For instance, here is the talented band "Walk off the Earth" performing the song on a single guitar being played by five people. 

It’s pre…