Copyright protections were never supposed to last forever. Copyright was originally designed to protect creators long enough so that they could profit from their work, after which time that work would enter the public domain. However, changes to copyright law have made it so that copyright protections in the US generally last for 70 years after the creator's death. Duke Law School Professor James Boyle runs the Center for the Study of the Public Domain. He tells Bob about all the works that would have entered the public domain this year, but didn't.
Last week, The Atlantic ran a piece of sponsored content on its website for the Church of Scientology that looked a lot like their standard editorial content. Within 12 hours, the magazine had pulled the article and apologized. Bob talks to digital media management consultant Dorian Benkoil about how the online world is redrawing the line between advertising and editorial — because the alternative may be extinction.
In recent years, the CIA has authorized many of its former operatives to land lucrative book deals and pundit gigs — a fact that would have horrified previous generations of spooks. And yet, notes journalist Ted Gup, the agency remains notably selective about the information it allows to be disclosed. Bob talks with Ted about what he calls the CIA's "double standard" on secrecy.
Yo-Yo Ma - Bach's Suite for Cello #6 in D Major
Until this week, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o was famous not just for his on-field skills but for his compelling backstory, which included the tragic death of his girlfriend. This week, the sports blog Deadspin exposed that story as a massive hoax, although it is still unclear what, if any, participation Te'o had in the lie. Bob and Brooke delve into the myth and consider how it snuck by the national media.
On Thursday, Vice President Biden sketched out early hints of what gun control reform might look like. One potential reform concerns something that you might mistakenly assume already exists: a central database of gun transactions in the US, maintained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. The NRA has blocked all such efforts in the past. New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg tells Bob why the ATF's record-keeping on gun sales is actually incredibly antiquated.
In December, Al Jazeera Berlin correspondent Aktham Suliman left the news outlet, saying he felt its primary funder, the Qatari government, exerted too much influence over Al Jazeera's coverage. Suliman is just the latest in a string of resignations from Al Jazeera in protest of editorial interference. In an interview from August of last year, Bob talks to blogger and political commentator Sultan Al Qassemi about what he sees as the problems with Al Jazeera's coverage of ongoing fighting in Syria.
Yo La Tengo - I'll Be Around
Following the school massacre in nearby Connecticut, a New York state paper published a map showing the names and addresses of handgun permit owners in its readership area — all except for one county, where local officials have refused to provide the paper with the information. This decision violates explicit New York State law, but has a supporter in New York state Senator Greg Ball, who tells Bob why he's supporting Putnam County officials.
We take a moment to correct two recent mistakes.
The most serious kind of subpoena - called a 'National Security Letter' - used to have a lifetime gag-order automatically attached. That is until Nicholas Merrill appealed his and won the right to talk about it. Despite 50,000 national security letters a year, there are only three organizations that have ever won the right to say they got one. In a segment that originally aired in January of 2011, Nick Merrill tells Bob why he's the exception and the rule.
We all claim to want privacy online, but that desire is rarely reflected in our online behavior. OTM producer Sarah Abdurrahman looks into the futile attempts we make to protect our digital identities.
Johannes Brahms - Violin Concerto op.77 in D Major
Police car mounted license plate readers collect date, time and location information and are used by law enforcement around the country to help catch criminals. But when Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter Eric Roper filed a Freedom of Information request for information on his own car, he got a lot more than he bargained for. In a segment that originally aired in August of 2012, Bob talks to Roper about how Minneapolis police and agencies across the country deal with this potentially sensitive location information.
Last March, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) was granted unprecedented power to collect data on ordinary U.S. citizens, data like flight records or lists of casino employees. Critics have likened the NCTC to the "Pre-Crime Squad" in the movie "Minority Report." Wall Street Journal reporter Julia Angwin talks with Bob about this dramatic shift in the intelligence community's power over US citizens.
Reality TV — the very institution that has saved the medium by delivering high ratings at low cost — has also pretty much defiled the culture in all the obvious ways. What is perhaps less than obvious is how manufactured and unspontaneous it all is. To understand the reality behind the unreality of reality TV, we spoke to a former producer of such fare. The anonymous producer tells Bob about some of the elaborate staging and scripting he participated in while helping produce these shows.
Dwight Twilley Band - TV
On a Sunday evening in the late 1980s, two or more unknown men hijacked the signal for two Chicago area TV stations. They broadcast a spooky, subversive, disturbing message — twice. Brooke talks to Bohus Blahut, a Chicago broadcaster, who saw the broadcast and was unable to forget it.
Doctor Who Theme - Delia Derbyshire/Ron Grainer
Back in 2005, Bob explained his Chaos Scenario about the future of media — including TV. Now, he reflects back on predictions he made and the status of television viewing today.
The Who - Baba O'Riley
Live sports broadcasts account for a big part of your cable bill. Why? Because cable providers know they can count on sports to draw large audiences even as audiences shrink for other types of programming. Peter Kafka of the website All Things Digital returns to talk with Bob about the remarkable rise of ESPN and the importance of live sports to the cable ecosystem.
Web TV services, DVRs, and on-demand TV encourage us to ignore the broadcast schedule and watch at our convenience. So what will become of the experience of watching the same show at the same time as your friends? Bob sits down with David Carr, media critic at the New York Times, and Matt Zoller Seitz, New York magazine's TV critic, to see if the water cooler will evolve or perish.
Once Adam Lanza had been correctly identified as the shooter, speculation quickly turned to why he killed so many. Much of the media raced, as it often does, to explain the tragedy by speculating on Lanza’s psychological state. Particularly bandied about was whether Lanza had been diagnosed with either a personality disorder or Asperger’s Syndrome. Bob talks with the Columbia Journalism Review's Curtis Brainard about the perils of this sort of coverage.
Fifty years ago this month, 17,000 New York City newspaper workers went on strike, shuttering the city's seven daily papers for 114 days. Rooted in fears about new "cold type" printing technology, the strike ended up devastating the city's newspaper culture and launching the careers of a new generation of writers including Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, and Nora Ephron. Vanity Fair contributor Scott Sherman talks with Bob about the strike and its legacy.
Amon Tobin - Stoney Street