Your Letters: 'Information Diet'; Legal Karaoke

Last week, we spoke with Clay Johnson, an open-source advocate and digital strategist, about his new book, "The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption." We looked at the confusing copyrights of karaoke music and the Richard Strauss masterwork, Also Sprach Zarathustra, otherwise known as the film score for 2001: A Space Odyssey. Host Scott Simon reads listener comments on these stories and more.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Time now for your letters.

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SIMON: Last week, we spoke with Clay Johnson, an open-source advocate and digital strategist, about his new book, "The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption."

CLAY JOHNSON: You know, our minds are really wired to be affirmed and to be told that we're right. And that's the central premise of "The Information Diet." It's really, who wants to hear the truth when they can hear that they're right?

SIMON: Dennis Stephens sends along a suggestion: When you see an article on your homepage, such as Yahoo!, the title may make it appear to be informative, he says. However, it is not until you've already made that click do you see that the article is really a junk article. What I would like to see would be a system in which the readers are able to rate the article, i.e., one to five stars, and the contributor gets paid by the rating. This would send articles with low ratings to the Internet black hole, even if it receives a high number of clicks.

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SIMON: We heard about another media conundrum last week: the copyrights on karaoke music. Music companies want to be paid more for the orchestrations of songs to which so many sing along.

Sherry Kling writes: It's not just music companies that are due monies from profits gained from public enjoyment of the music they own. The composers of the songs are due their fair share as well. I agree that if an establishment is centering its offerings around music and collecting revenue as a result of that, the people who wrote the music they're using are due fair compensation.

But Colin Clark writes at NPR.org: Copyright in the USA is incompatible with the way the public uses data/music/thoughts/ideas. The laws were designed before computers took hold. And the only people interested in strengthening copyrights are media company stakeholders who were born before 1950 and want to maintain their old-fashioned business models.

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SIMON: We got many thanks for our conversation with Maestra Marin Alsop about Richard Strauss's "Also Sprach Zarathustra."

Steve Curl of Plainwell, Michigan, writes: I love the piece and stop to drink it in every time it reoccurs although this beautiful, powerful piece of art is lately consigned to serve as background music in commercials. The worst part of this indignity is that the crescendo is almost always clipped short, and I thank you for allowing "ASZ" to roll all the way through to the organ-rumbling end.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "ALSO SPRACH ZARATHUSTRA")

SIMON: We may cause you some organ-rumbling - we always want to know. Visit NPR.org. Click on the link that says Contact Us. And you can also find us on Facebook and Twitter at nprweekend. I'm nprscottsimon.

This is NPR News.

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