Controversy and Big Ten Football

For the first time in many years I will not be watching the Michigan Football opening game on television. Years ago there was limited coverage and there could only be five regular season games broadcast over a two year period. In recent years it has been extremely rare that any Michigan game didn’t get picked up. Then the Big Ten got greedy and formed their own television network, but what good is a television network which most people cannot pick up?

The network has now gone live but very few cable systems carry it. So far they have deals with Direct TV and some small cable systems but not with the major cable systems in the area. One problem is that the Big Ten Network insists that they be carried on the basic cable tier, arguing that cable systems typically carry channels such as The Food Network which have less interest. On the other hand I believe that these networks are less expensive for the cable systems to carry than what the Big Ten Network is asking.

Presumably the Big Ten Network wants to be carried on the basic tier as it will be viewed by more people than would be seen on a tier requiring additional fees. On the other hand, at present the network is seen by only a small percentage of football fans.

With the season underway I’m hoping that this places increased pressure on both the Big Ten Network and cable companies to compromise. The Big Ten Network will have a hard time selling advertising on a network few can see. The cable companies risk loss of customers to Direct TV and any other systems which might pick up the network.

Controversy and Science Fiction on the Web

This story came out late yesterday, too late for the weekly round up here in Sci Fi Friday. Boing Boing reports on possible abuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Boing Boing charges them with abusing the act to remove numerous text files from works from Scribd, which they describe as  “a site that allows the general public to share text files with one another in much the same way that Flickr allows its users to share pictures.” Cory Doctorow writes that some of the works affected do not infringe upon legitimate copyrights:

Included in the takedown were: a junior high teacher’s bibliography of works that will excite children about reading sf, the back-catalog of a magazine called Ray Gun Revival, books by other authors who have never authorized SFWA to act on their behalf, such as Bruce Sterling, and my own Creative Commons-licensed novel, “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.”

The way they describe the current rules, the DMCA only requires someone filing a complaint state that the work they’re complaining about infringes on richts and internet service providers have to remove the material or face liability for hosting it. Apparently the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America searched out text with strings such as “Isaac Asimov” and “Robert Silverberg” and assumed that such works infringed upon their copyrights. Apparently works which mentioned their names but not written by them were included in the search and there were demands that they be removed.

A statement from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America was added to the original post apologizing. The letter concludes:

SFWA’s intention was to remove from scribd.com only works copyrighted by SFWA members who had authorized SFWA to act on their behalf. This kind of error will not happen again.