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Letters to the Editor

How Much Mayhem?

Re "YouTube Democracy" (Cover Story, Nov. 5): Thanks for the thought-provoking and timely interview with Mark Hosler. As a performing musician and composer, I am very much in agreement with his principles, and it is encouraging not only to see the ongoing revolution of media re-use, but to know that Congress is finally getting a chance to hear from responsible advocates on "the other side," since for years the lone voice in their ears has been an intransigent media industry and their lawyers.

Although we like to think of copyrights as protecting the creators of media in its myriad forms, the evolution of copyright law suggests that its principle motivation has always been to protect publishers, rather than authors. That's not an entirely unworthy goal, but it seems to have been taken entirely too far in legislation such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

On the other hand, I'm curious as to how far Mr. Hosler and digital consumer advocates are willing to go. If Hosler considered it entirely reasonable for Mark Wahlberg to sell a million records containing a "five or ten second" sample from Negativland without permission or royalties, would he feel the same way if General Motors or Budweiser used the same sample in one of their nationally aired advertisements? Is there a fundamental difference between these two re-use cases?

Personally, I'm torn on the issues. While I didn't particularly care for DJ Danger Mouse's Grey Album, I absolutely loved the idea of it, and I would hate to see that sort of artistic creation stifled. Had the duration of copyright restriction remained at 14 years, the ensuing legal controversy might have been avoided. But would that also open the doors for the NRA to freely use "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" in their next YouTube PSA?

Daniel Steinberg

Mountain View

Vin Trouble

Thanks for the great story about the chef at Vin Santo (Silicon Veggie, Nov. 5). He was great at Il Forniao, and he's even better in Willow Glen where he gets free reign—though I was surprised about how the vegan experience worked out.

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad that vegan's experience was good. Ours was a bit different. We were there on a slow Sunday, and the waitress really seemed perplexed by us asking what she recommended for vegetarians. And then suggested the bolognese sauce? Hello! Not a good recommendation. We politely declined and asked for a selection of their vegetarian dishes, including ravioli. Somehow that was too complicated and we ended up with something less than a full selection (two kinds of ravioli and nothing else)?

I don't attribute this to the chef, but to the waitperson, who really seemed like she couldn't care less. I'm not surprised when I get that treatment at a fast food place, but at the most high-end restaurant in Willow Glen?

Nate Wolf

San Jose