Reviews for Sale

I guess there really is a market for everything. It would never have occured to me to sell reviews, or to buy reviews if I were a seller. Amazon is suing 1114 individual reviewers, as well it should. I rely, to some degree, on reviews when buying things.

I have perhaps a bad habit of never getting around to reviews, though sometimes if I am especially pleased, or vice-versa, I will. There are products you can’t review until you’ve used them a while. I recently bought an Android tablet that was well reviewed, seemed reasonable in quality, and had a higher price than three ill-fated tablets I’d ordered from Walmart. The cheaper ones disappointingly lasted only a few months, and were flaky in the meantime. I bought the seemingly better one to replace one of those. It lasted ten days. Technically, eight, since the date of the order is two days before we received it. The weakest point of all of them seems to be the screen. This one at least had wi-fi that worked reliably, plus it charged reliably and lasted well between charges. It breaking inspired a review. But I digress.

If I am going to look at reviews and average stars to help steer my buying (not that I haven’t bought things that had no rating at all yet), I want to know they are legitimate. I was dismayed enough that the company from which I bought my daughter a clarinet rewards a review with a second year of warranty.

Public Domain Alternate History

Had copyright law remained as it was in 1957, quite a list of works would have become public domain on January 1, 2014. As noted at the link, famous works will tend to remain available, if not as inexpensively so as might be the case, but I am concerned with orphan works. When I look up books I liked as a child and cannot find them in print, or in print at a price one can afford, then the copyright holder either has no interest in holding them in copyright, or there is no living copyright holder, heir or assign who is aware or interested in that status. Such works have no reason to remain protected. Even if that protection lies only in fear that someone who can legitimately prove ownership might come out of the woodwork after all, if any interest is shown.

Worst are the academic publications that are behind overpriced paywalls that keep the useful arts and sciences from being promoted. Congress ought to be ashamed of extending copyrights to unconstitutional lengths, and courts out to be ashamed of going along with it. At least, I assume they have, since there must have been challenges. Copyright should not be controlled by media corporations. That was never the idea.