What Cutting Edge, You Ask?
The cutting edge of electronic publication, that's what cutting edge. What, you ask, the Hell does this have to do with Law, Prosecution, all that stuff up in the header? Well, I actually can make the connection.
One of the hot "new" areas of law is Intellectual Property. New, you understand, in the sense that people outside the patent bar and the practice of entertainment law actually have heard of the subject. When I went to law school, 20-mumble years ago, there was one, three credit, intellectual property survey course at my law school at a large, Midwestern research university. Last year, one of our interns graduated from an other law school in the state, also at a big, Midwestern research university, with an actual endorsement on his degree that he had specialized in intellectual property law. Of the roughly 90 credit hours needed for his JD, almost a third of them were IP courses.
Electronic publishing, and its benefits and pitfalls and potential to make money, is still publishing and the question of copyright is a large part of the discussion. The purpose of Digital Rights Management, the digital millennium Copyright Act, and other, even more obnoxious legislation pushed by the MPAA, the RIAA and other trade organizations is to protect copyright. That is to say, money. They can dress it up any way they want, the bottom line is still the bottom line. Because this is law, and law that includes treaties and international trade agreements as well as statutory law in virtually every country on earth, lawyers are involved. Both civil and criminal penalties are involved in the law of copyright. So there -- That's the link.
And this is the electronic publication I want to talk to you about. Jim Baen's Universe. For those of you who have followed this blog from the early days, it will come as no surprise that Mister DA is a science fiction fan. I've talked about my DVD collecting habits in the past, particularly Stargate: SG-1 and others. Until very recently being an SF fan meant a science fiction reader almost exclusively. The movies and television just didn't provide all that much in the way of worthwhile SF for the enthusiast, adult or teenager, so if you wanted SF, you read books and/or comic books. I started reading the stuff so long ago, I still cringe, just a little bit, at the term Sci-Fi. But I'm getting used to it. Today, it's a very different world in SF fandom. There are media fans of the various SF video franchises who have never been exposed to written SF outside their particular niche. Star Wars fans may read a Star Wars novel, but may have never heard of Robert A. Heinlein or John W. Campbell or Isaac Asimov, let alone contemporary authors like Larry Niven or John Scalzi or Charlie Stross. But this is a digression. If you are not a reader of fiction, Jim Baen's Universe is not going to make you one. If you are a reader, and anything of a video SF fan, Jim Baen's Universe wants to make you a reader of quality science fiction and fantasy by offering an electronic magazine that showcases the best of the past the present and the future of written science fiction.
Jim Baen had very strong ideas on the proper place of copyright in the world. With Baen Books he was a (maybe the) pioneer in providing electronic versions of his authors' work for reasonable prices, in multiple formats, with no Digital Rights Management nonsense. Jim Baen's Universe works the same way as Baen Books - copious amounts of free stuff combined with multiple formats and ease of access once you've paid for something.
Go to this site http://www.baens-universe.com/ to see what I'm talking about. The third issue is out and there are a number of stories and articles available on the page, in full, for you to sample. The subscription rate is $30 for six issues. The first issues have been running about 200, 000 words, plus illustrations, so it's something of a bargain. You can also read the third installment of editor Eric Flint's analysis of why copyright is a necessary evil. The third installment discusses how long is long enough.
Enough from me. Go take a look. Let me know what you think.