Owen Egerton on Writing, SCOTUS on Selling Used Books, Valuing Your Script, Odd Punctuation – Random Things for this Week

December 24, 2012

A few random things for this week:

  • Advice for writers. Owen Egerton, Austin’s favorite author for a billion years running and someone I interviewed two years ago, recently published a list of 30 pieces of advice for writers.  My favorites are 12, 14, and 21.
  • Could selling used books become illegal? Though the title is sensationalist, this is a well-crafted article about a student from Thailand who bought textbooks overseas (where they’re cheaper) and then sold them in the U.S. at below-market rates for profit. Wiley sued, claiming a copyright violation of sorts, and has thus far has won the suit to the tune of $600,000. The case is now before the Supreme Court, and whichever way they rule, the implications their decision could have on the publishing industry could be pretty staggering.
  • How much is your film script worth? Script mag put together an article on valuing your work as a writer breaking into the industry. Most of the beginning is pretty basic and self-explanatory, but once you get to the bottom it has some really interesting points about coming in as an “investor” or a co-producer.
  • Unusual Punctuation Marks. I think the interrobang, the percontation point, the exclamation comma, and the question comma should become standard usage. What do you think?

Getting Out of the House

May 30, 2011

I wrote the following several weeks ago, submitted as a guest blog, but it didn’t quite fit their need so I’m now posting it here:

I’ve been working on a screenplay rewrite that’s been kicking my butt. It seems that my wildly inventive, foolproof plan for finishing the first draft (a.k.a. writing every day) completely failed me during the rewrite process, and I let roughly a month go by before I sat down to do any meaningful work on it.

Fortunately, I know that I work best under deadlines, so as the May 15th deadline for Austin Film Festival’s screenplay competition drew closer, I was more likely to sit down and get the darn thing done. But I was still having a horrendous time working at home, because for whatever reason I associate home with “the place to play video games and watch TV.”

So I posted a message on Facebook, asking if someone would loan me their house for the weekend, for the express purpose of getting some concentrated work done on the screenplay. After a few hours I got a text message from a friend of mine, saying she was going out of town from Friday to Tuesday and volunteering to let me use her house while she was gone. I snatched up the opportunity, and by Saturday night I was sending the author of my screenplay’s source material a draft, with the promise that he’d have edits back to me by noon Sunday.

As I [wrote] this it [was] now Wednesday, 11 days before the AFF deadline, and I [was] one scene away from having a working draft to send to some other screenwriter friends while I tighten up the characters’ voices. Oh, and tomorrow my mom goes out of town for three weeks and is letting me use her house as my office while she’s gone. I’m a genius.

So, obviously, that was written on May 4th, and it is now May 30th, Some three and a half weeks later. Turns out my mom’s place wasn’t really ideal for working either. Not sure why. But Postville is pretty much finished, and registered with the U.S. Copyright Office and WGA. I will soon be submitting it to various festivals, and then setting it aside for several months, probably.

Now, what to work on next …

The WTO endorses copyright infringement? Why? Because of online gambling, of course

July 17, 2009
Several months ago I was researching an article, and came across a book that discussed the ways in which IP laws expanded as distribution and copying becomes easier. In 800 BC, copyright wasn’t even on the radar, because copying stuff was so difficult. With the printing press and then photocopiers and then the Internet (skipping a few steps in between), became widespread, it became seen as necessary and/or appropriate to “protect” a creator’s right to sell and distribute his work.
The problem is, we’re not necessarily better off for the expansion of those rights. Look at the massive amount (99%?) of materials that are unavailable because they are out of print and copyright laws prevent them from being made available for free. Much of it is crap, but much of it, I imagine, is an uncharted goldmine.  And life plus 70 years, really, goes far beyond what’s “necessary and appropriate” for protecting a creator’s right to profit from his work, especially if he hasn’t been profiting off it for 60 of those years.
I’ll post that full article soon, since it was never published.  The one above points to a different situation, but I thought it was relevant to the topic and to the fact that our government has its head completely up its own butt when it comes to protectionist legislation.

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