Archive for October 29, 2008

Is Another Suit Against Google Book Search Coming?

October 29, 2008

I think so.

Google has arbitrarily stepped in as an uninvited third-party to put “in print” thousands (perhaps millions) of books that have been out of print.

Being out-of-print is grounds for an author to demand a reversion of rights granted in the original contract.

That basically ends the business arrangement between writer and publisher.

The publisher took a commercial chance, it didn’t work out, the book was never kept alive, it stopped earning money, and the writer should have all rights reverted and be free to make commercial deals elsewhere.

Google has upset this equation by putting those books back “in print” and has suddenly jeopardized the future livelihoods of thousands of writers as we enter this age of eBooks.

Publishers holding contracts that long ago should have reverted can now claim grounds of works being “in print” even though those damned publishers never did the deed themselves.

And what’s more: they probably never, ever intended to do that deed, either!

I really don’t give a damn what a limited author’s group and a limited collection of publishers have agreed to.

Neither one of them speaks for me. Neither one of them can speak for any other writer who is not party to this agreement.

Google is going to find itself having to negotiate with individual writers for the rights they mistakenly believe they have been granted by this “settlement.”

This is a settlement only between Google and those two parties.

The two parties suing Google do not at all have the right to speak for every writer out there.

I foresee writers getting together and filing suits either singly or in groups.

That big 67% to “rightsholder” is still bullshit, when it comes to conventional book contracts. Some of these contracts will not contain provisions for electronic rights and I’d damn well bet money that publishers are going to dole out only the printed book royalty rate — and the lowest rate they can get away with too.

That 67% should bypass publishers who have kept works out of print — that money justly belongs solely to the writers.

Google, stop dancing around your desks.

This isn’t over.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #362: CitiGroup 2

October 29, 2008

Investors losing faith in Citigroup

NEW YORK ( — What now, Citigroup?

That is the biggest question that investors are itching to have answered by the nation’s fourth largest bank by deposits.

It has certainly been an interesting time for the New York City-based firm to say the least. Earlier this month, it was one of the first nine banks chosen by the Treasury Department to receive a cash injection in exchange for stock. Citigroup will receive $25 billion.

However, since Treasury made that announcement more than two weeks ago, shares of Citigroup have tumbled 15% and are trading only slightly above their 52-week low, leading many on Wall Street to wonder what Citigroup’s management can do to get back in the good graces of Wall Street.

The prevailing opinion among analysts is that Citigroup is looking to do what many other banks have done lately – acquire deposits.

Emphasis added by me.

What? Acquisitions?!!?

This is what I wrote in Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #342: CitiGroup:

as the bank sheds more than $400 billion in noncore operations, low-returning assets and toxic mortgages. Citigroup also eliminated 11,000 jobs in the third quarter, bringing the total number of layoffs to 23,000 this year,

CitiGroup has been getting rid of bits of itself — and now Wall Street wants them to go on a buying spree?

Get this:

Citigroup should be capable of pulling off a major deal now that the banking giant has $25 billion in capital to play with.

What the hell do they mean “$25 billion to play with”?!!? That’s our money — it’s supposed to be used to grant loans!

And both Morgan and Goldman are receiving $10 billion from the government, cash they could potentially use to shop for banks.

Emphasis added by me.

OK, fuck these bastards!

They’ve been granted our money and they’re going on greed sprees with it!

It was given to them to keep them alive — and to relieve the credit crisis!

They should be prohibited from acquiring companies. They’re already under the Too Big To Fail category. How much bigger do we want these tumors to become?

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #361: Roubini 2

October 29, 2008

The Nightly Business Report on PBS had Roubini on last night.

One on One with Nouriel Roubini, Economics Professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business

GHARIB: So you’re saying that the worst is ahead of us. What is going to be the magnitude of it?

ROUBINI: Well, I expect that the recession is going to last two years. We’re still at the beginning stages of a recession. I expect that the cumulative fall of output from the peak might be on the order of 5 percent, much bigger than the recent recessions. I worried that the unemployment rate might rise to be about 8 to 9 percent. Right now it’s only 6.1 percent. So it’s going to be severe and we’ll have hundreds of smaller financial institutions (INAUDIBLE) are going to go bankrupt. And even some of the regional banks might be in severe trouble, might have to be closed down or merged with other institutions. So this is a severe crisis.

GHARIB: So how important are falling home prices in all of this?

ROUBINI: As long as they fall, there’s a residential construction, recession’s going to continue. Secondly, homeowners feel less rich and they’re going to spend less. There is going to be less consumption. And three with falling prices so much, there will be about 20 million houses going to be under water with the value of their homes being less than the value of their mortgages and therefore with an incentive to walk away from their homes.

Emphasis added by me.

OK, that’s the first time I’ve heard of the possibility of twenty million homeowners entering negative equity.

That’s devastating.

And it’s even more incentive for the Feds to finally adopt the plan by Luigi Zingales.

More Bad News For Sony

October 29, 2008

It’s like that company is living under a frikkin curse.

Sony profit plunges 72 percent on strong yen

TOKYO (AP) — Sony Corp.’s quarterly profit plunged 72 percent as a surging yen wiped out perks from flat-panel TV and PlayStation 3 sales, as well as box office revenue from the movie “Hancock.”

Sony said Wednesday it posted a net profit of 20.8 billion yen ($214 million) for the July-September period compared with 73.7 billion yen a year earlier. Sales in the fiscal second quarter slipped 0.5 percent to 2.072 trillion yen ($21.4 billion).

Sony makes about 80 percent of its sales overseas and is vulnerable to fluctuations in exchange rates. A rising yen erodes the overseas profits when converted into the Japanese currency.

“We already expect a poor performance for the Christmas shopping season,” Chief Financial Officer Nobuyuki Oneda told reporters. “On how things will fare after Christmas, I can only say we will continue to keep a careful look.”

Sony loses 7.5 billion yen ($77 million) in profit for each 1 yen gain against the euro, and 4 billion yen ($40 million) for each 1 yen gain against the dollar, he said.

Emphasis added by me.

I wonder now … since the Sony Reader division is now completely based here in America, will that grant it some immunity from the currency flip-flips? I hope so. It’d be great if, back in Japan, Sony sees some very surprising — and high — numbers from America and eBooks.

I’d like to see some bust-out numbers like this:

Sony reduced quarterly losses in the gaming business as sales in the sector improved 10 percent. Sony sold 2.43 million PlayStation 3 consoles during the quarter, up 85 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Emphasis added by me.

Gambatte, Sony!

Two Links At Mahalo Now

October 29, 2008

My old blog is there for the gazillion posts I did about the Barbie Bandits:

And the Doctor Who leak got me there too:

Go try Mahalo!

David Tennant Leaving Doctor Who?

October 29, 2008

That’s what the Guardian said in a tweet moments ago!

But the URL is dead.

However, calling up search reveals this:

Update: Moments after posting this, I clicked on that search link and found the Guardian has apparently deleted the item! WTF? I’m glad I got the screensnap!

Update 2: To be sure I wasn’t losing my frikkin mind and that I’m not playing some sort of hoax here, I retrieved the tweet from Twitter itself:

Click = big

Update 3: BBC confirms Tennant is leaving Doctor Who:

Thanks to a Guardian screw-up, I had a world exclusive there for a few moments.

Reference: Google Book Search Settlement Site

October 29, 2008

Google Book Search Copyright Settlement

Because this has suddenly turned personal.

Sony Reader Revolution Cam #11

October 29, 2008

This is Day 29 of 30!

Tomorrow Dave Farrow emerges from the window!

This is what he looked like at 2:17PM EDST today:

And right now there’s a substitute reader — using the gorg-o-licious red Sony Reader!

Reader Revolution cam live video!

Writer Victor Gischer Gets Library Luv

October 29, 2008

Why does the Lake Mills Library kick total ass?

I give a hint with this screensnap, but you really have to watch the video. All the way to the end!

Congratulations, Victor!


At The Sony eBook Store
At Fictionwise
At the abominable Kindle Store

All prices are lower than the print edition!

So, Apple Wanted To Buy Palm After All!

October 29, 2008

Android: First Impressions

Jean-Louis Gassée reveals:

A perhaps little known fact: in the Summer of 1997, Steve Jobs called Eric Benhamou, 3Com’s CEO (the company owned Palm). “Give me the Palm and come and join my Board of Directors. Only Apple can make Palm a true consumer brand.” Nothing happened. Apple’s foray into the product segment had to wait ten more years.