- Rufus Pollock uses the occasion of Argentinian copyright extension to take extremely long copyright terms to the woodshed. He shows that once you consider the decay in demand for cultural products (most of which are essentially ephemera) and net present value discounting, the marginal incentive effects of further extending already long copyright terms are absolutely infinitesimal. The most plausible alternative explanation is that extremely long copyright terms represents public choice more than public policy. Although he doesn’t say so, I think one obvious way to demonstrate this is that the extension is retroactive. Even if another twenty years is basically worthless in prospect to a new market entrant, it’s worth a lot to those incumbents who own those few works that have proven to be of lasting appeal. Also worth noting is that Pollock posts his code.
- In oral arguments at the SCOTUS, a lawyer used the word “orthogonal.” Roberts and Scalia were fascinated by the word and seemed to want to make it the secret word of the day. I myself am fond of the word as it’s a pretty clear way to get across concepts like “lack of interaction effects,” which is a more subtle concept than merely “uncorrelated.” For instance, see my discussion of weighting and when it’s ok to omit controls.
- In another SCOTUS case, the NFL gave exclusive merchandise rights for every team in the league to Reebok. A small hat company is suing the NFL on antitrust grounds and so the court has to decide if the the teams are independent firms and the NFL is a trade group (the plaintiff’s theory) or the NFL is a firm and the teams are franchisees (the NFL’s theory). Given how expansion teams and things like that work, it seems the latter. There’s a related question about whether a “Rams” hat is in competition with a “Saints” hat (the plaintiff’s theory) or with a “Cardinals” hat (the NFL’s theory). Given that the price of NFL merchandise rose by 50% after the exclusive concession deal, it seems like the former is the obvious answer. Even though I’ve never watched a football game in my life, I still find this really interesting as it involves a lot of fairly subtle question about monopolistic competition, substitution/categorization, strong externalities, etc.