Happy 4th of July! Since I’ve been pondering creative rights and copyright extension, I’ll take this patriotic occasion to remind you of that famous scene in Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles in which Cap travels back in time only to have the design for his uniform become the original inspiration for the US flag. Cap is upset. Why should Betsy Ross get credit, after all? A creative continuum conundrum. (via Bully.)





A different ethics/etiquette question. My Plato book will be out in paper form in a month or so. When I made the deal with my publisher to let the e-stuff go free (which might reasonably be deemed a serious drag on the paper market) I promised to take it upon myself to work the e-angle fairly aggressively, marketing-wise. And now I ask myself: where do I draw the line between marketing and spamming? Normally I wouldn’t even consider sending an email to 200+ people I don’t know. That’s spam. But sending a bunch of philosophers I don’t know a short email telling them, simply, that there’s an Intro Plato text available free – just click – isn’t so obnoxious. Is it? Spamming means: not giving a damn that you are putting a huge number of people to the mild inconvenience of deleting something they don’t want. Maybe we need a theory of ‘just marketing’, on the lines of ‘just war’: it’s ok to send a mass email so long as you have taken reasonable precautions to exclude those with non-consumer status from the target zone. But that’s a bit vague. Suppose you were in my position. I’ve committed to being an aggressive e-marketer, which of course is in my own self-interest as well: how can I wage an aggressive but just e-marketing campaign?