Cynthia Meyers’s Techdirt Profile


About Cynthia Meyers

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  • May 13th, 2016 @ 7:10pm

    Fear in academic publishing

    As a fellow scholar of media history, I have seen this kind of copyright maximalism infect the field. Many publishers are adamant that scholars request "permission" for materials that ought to fall under "fair use." I have had several go-rounds with journals and university presses. I believe that academic publishers ought to stand up for "fair use" in scholarship but many are too afraid of lawsuits and have few resources to fight them. I hope the University Press of Mississippi does not cave in to these threats but I won't be surprised if they do. So sad that a scholarly book project that helps illuminate an artist's legacy is punished for doing exactly what scholarship should do.

  • Nov 23rd, 2014 @ 7:44pm

    (untitled comment)

    I use Downcast on my iPhone--easy to subscribe to podcasts, downloads episodes direct to phone when I've got wifi, I can control podcast when iPhone screen is locked, etc. Looking forward to listening to Techdirt's podcast!

  • Jul 27th, 2013 @ 9:35am

    (untitled comment)

    I was appalled at the AHA's "solution" that seems to accept, uncritically, ridiculous assumptions on the part of both publishers and tenure committees.
    My diss has been available online and here are the results: people in the field read it and invited me to participate in panels and conferences and cited it in their published research. It is even cited in Wikipedia articles. This is the purpose of research, to share your findings! As I revised it into a (different) book manuscript, my growing reputation as an expert in this area helped me get a book contract. I consider the online diss to have promoted and helped my academic career, not harmed it.
    Publishers should consider online dissertations as a form of free marketing--stimulating interest in advance of its more developed publication as a book. Tenure committees should give credit to other metrics for scholarly impact than print publications. University presses would benefit from publishing more monographs as E-books, but tenure committees need to accept this for "credit" toward tenure.

  • Oct 11th, 2011 @ 7:26am


    I remember when Rosas took the dance world by storm with that dance. So revolutionary, people said, to use gesture in unison! I remember thinking the hype was overblown back then. De Keersmaeker had taken a basic idea, explored by many others, and made an especially effective piece with it.
    Looking at the Google translation of De Keersmaeker's statement, I notice that she points out that it took popular culture "30 years" to pay attention to her groundbreaking avant garde work.
    Her actual grievance may be that it took that long for her to influence popular culture!

  • Sep 8th, 2011 @ 6:51pm

    How to evaluate student work? (as College Professor)

    Weighing in as another college professor who has struggled with this: I have wondered about the infringement-plagiarism issue, are they equivalents?

    Why do professors want students to write in their own words, to use their own ideas? Because we have no way of evaluating (grading) what they have learned (or not learned) if they just copy and paste from elsewhere. So, when they plagiarize successfully, they get credit for material they did not master.

    Unlike the entertainment industry, the educational system bestows degrees and credentials on those who master certain material. How to award those credentials when it is hard to evaluate who has actually mastered the material? Does it lower the value of a degree to award it to students who never "learned" the material?

    I really don't know. I agree with the NYU professor that focusing on catching cheaters is a losing game. I work on finding ways to help my students learn and to evaluate their learning without leading them into plagiarism traps, like research papers. But it is a constant struggle.

  • Apr 23rd, 2011 @ 10:19am

    Protecting children from pervasive waves

    The rationale behind the limitation on broadcasters' First Amendment rights originates in an impulse to "protect" children. When broadcasting was a new technology, many were upset that "pervasive" waves could penetrate their homes, that they had no control over what was carried on those waves. The fear that children could be exposed to harmful broadcasts was eventually crystallized in the Pacifica case, in which WBAI had to pay a fine for airing George Carlin's monologue about dirty words because a listener claimed his teenage son overheard it. Of course, how children are ever harmed by indecency has never been proven!

    The indecency regulations also arose when broadcasters had a monopoly over spectrum. Competition from cable programming, not to mention online media, make that concern over monopoly control moot. And broadcasters now complain that they cannot compete effectively with other media with full First Amendment rights--having to constantly second guess when the FCC will enforce indecency regulations.

    Really, it's a classic case of old media standards (and old moral panics about a formerly new technology) hanging on well past relevancy.

  • Dec 31st, 2009 @ 10:00am

    Re: Anything you can't sell, you don't own. (as Cynthia)

    Yes, BUT the physical copies (CDs, DVDs, games) take up space in your house and the digital copies do not. The need to dispose of them is far less.

    When the digital copies reside on a distant server somewhere, the need to clean them out is even less pressing.

    The physical copies cost money to manufacture and distribute; the digital copies have nearly zero marginal costs for duplication/distribution.

    So, while we demand that content producers lower the prices for digital copies because of those lower distribution costs, we still demand that we be able to *resell* those digital copies, copies that we know have *zero* value because they are digital? I think that is wanting to have our cake and eat it too.

    Time for *everyone* to rethink the concept of "ownership"!

  • Dec 31st, 2009 @ 9:44am

    Amazon E-books accessible by account not just by device (as Cynthia)

    Please investigate Amazon's policies and clarify them: Amazon E-books are not linked to a specific device but to a specific account.

    Your "ownership" of the Ebook is not just the digital copy on your device, it is registered at Amazon as "yours" to access there again in the future. Amazon calls your Kindle account "your library." You can also back up your E-books on your computer. Books can be shared between Kindles that are registered to the same account. Up to six devices can be used on one account. An upgraded Kindle registered to your account will be able to access E-books you accessed on an older Kindle.

    You will not lose your E-books if you lose your Kindle.

    This complicates the "rental" vs. "purchase" analogy. Instead of buying a physical copy, you are buying permanent access to digital data on a server somewhere, which is not really a "rental" relationship because it doesn't "expire" (unless Amazon does). Given that you always run the risk of losing your physical copy (whoops, left it on the plane!), having permanent access to a digital version could actually be a *more* permanent form of acquisition!

  • Dec 12th, 2009 @ 9:21am

    Opt out not opt in (as Morningsider)

    As a relatively new user, I carefully went through all my privacy settings, making as much as possible only visible to "friends." Just a few weeks later, the new privacy policy defaulted all of my settings to the most public settings. I had to go back and *reset* all my privacy settings *back* to "friends only." This is requiring users to actively opt out rather than opt in to the new default.

    I believe many users are unaware that suddenly much of their info they thought was limited to friends is now public. Clicking on a few "friends of friends" whose profiles were private last week, I found all the info to be public. I considered writing on their wall to alert them!

    Meanwhile, I have gone through *every* setting I can find and have discovered more places that FB has made my info public and have *reset* again! What FB doesn't make clear is that all sorts of info is showing up on the public profile that did not used to appear there.

    I am now a very disgruntled FB user--former user???

  • Apr 29th, 2009 @ 11:27am

    why broadcasters are responsible

    Actually, local stations are responsible for not allowing indecent material on air; when they carry a network feed, the networks usually cover the fines (to keep their affiliates happy) but not always, and usually pursue the legal challenges. (The FCC only regulates the actual broadcasters, local stations, not networks.)

    The reason the broadcasters are liable is because when the Comm Act of 1934 was passed, requiring broadcasters who get a monopoly on a piece of the spectrum to act in the Public Interest Convenience and Necessity (PICON), their 1st Amendment rights were thereby limited. Print media has a 1st amendment right to print indecent material, but broadcasting was assumed to be an invasive or pervasive medium, less controllable by receivers than print, and so had to abide by different rules in order to protect audiences from inadvertent exposure to damaging content.

    Tape delays are the usual solution to the problem of spontaneous expletives--most network feeds use this since it became clear during the Janet Jackson nipple exposure incident that the FCC would be punishing broadcasters for fleeting indecency (as the FCC defined it).

    By the way, cable networks and operators have full 1st amendment rights (because viewers pay and request the service), and so whatever beeping of expletives you see on cable networks is solely a function of the networks' decision to cater to its perception of its audience (among whom may be some offended by expletives), not because of any FCC regulations.

  • Jan 5th, 2009 @ 10:41am

    cable program providers (as Cynthia)

    I'm signing up for the daily email because I learn so much from this blog--thanks!

    Now my nitpick: I would avoid using the term "cable stations." "Stations" usually refer to local broadcasters. "Networks" originally referred to the companies that linked broadcast stations together by longline, extending geographically limited broadcast signals nationally. (BTW, the early radio networks were also known as "webs" in the 1920s and 1930s!)

    Since broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) have been the main program providers for broadcast stations (their affiliates), the term "network" carried over into cable to indicate program providers. Although they do not technically run networks of stations but send their signal to local cable operators via satellite feed, companies like MTV, CNN, and so on have been known as "cable networks." The term "network" implies a nationally distributed program provider, so it is preferable to "station," which is always a local program provider.

    Sorry to be pedantic, but I teach in this field. My students use "channel" and "station" and "network" interchangeably. I spend way too much time trying to help them understand the differences between a "station" and a "network," not to mention the differences between a broadcast network and a cable network. "Channel" is a whole other story! (Spectrum allocation etc....)

    TW and Viacom are each big gorillas known for bullying their competitors with their market power. Rather than choose sides (between the content provider Viacom and the distributor TW), I think we can view this as an example of the increasing conflicts that will erupt as *all* the existing business models continue to be undermined by digital networking. The fights will get more vicious. No one knows who will survive or what business models will replace the existing ones.

    That's why I read TechDirt--looking for clues!