Letters for the Week of January 22

Readers sound off on corporations stealing the work of independent artists and whether or not OPD should stick with Interim Police Chief Sean Whent.

“When Corporations Want Profits, They Don’t Ask for Permission,” Feature, 01/08

Neglect Should Be Illegal, Too

I think the moral of this story is that the independent artists seeking justice need to work the angle that neglect from a corporation is just as illegal as the abuse of a law. Right now the moral compass of society is biased toward corporations. Only through bureaucratic obstacles can we obtain something that is at its essence unlawful — it’s theft after all!

Sara DaMert, Oakland

Making Theft Convenient

To add some perspective to the scope of the online infringement problem, in November 2011 a Google lobbyist testified before the House Committee on the Judiciary. She stated that Google had processed about three million infringement complaints filed under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in 2010, and that by mid-November 2011, it had processed another five million. Then, in late 2012, Google itself reported that complaints had grown to roughly ten million per month!

If you set out to design a global system making theft convenient and nearly penalty-free, you could wind up with the Internet. It’s bad enough that the tools are in every computer and that much of the justification for theft came originally from the computer industry itself, but there is also a major grouping of attorneys and law academics who agree. They argue that it is difficult, sometimes nearly impossible, to monitor the Internet as it’s presently constructed, so we shouldn’t try. We shouldn’t propose changes to the law or the Internet that make preventing theft easier. We shouldn’t even call much of the theft a crime. It’s the “well, everybody does it,” argument, but, unlike illegal activity, making art and science is legal and the Constitution (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8) specifically calls it out as needful of protection.

Mike Bradley, Oakland

“Targeting Homeless Encampments,” News, 01/08

Important and Neglected Issue

Thank you for writing about this important and neglected issue. The rest of the local media haven’t covered it for years, although Susan Shelton, Elaine de Coligny, and Alex McElree have been working on it for decades.

There are many places where the homeless set up camp, but I want to mention two other locations where the city has made substantial improvement investments that don’t seem to be coordinated with the homeless service network: specifically, the Kaiser Municipal Auditorium and the southwest side of Lake Merritt near 10th Street; and Peralta Hacienda Park at 2465 34th Avenue near Hyde Street and Coolidge Ave. Both of these sites have deep roots in the history of Oakland and millions of dollars have rightly been spent to improve and preserve them, but they are both blighted by homeless camps. It’s really sad.

Kathryn Kasch, Oakland

“Quan Should Stick with Chief Whent,”
Seven Days, 01/08

Other Considerations

Not a bad idea to retain Whent, but the background reasoning is poor. The apparent reductions in some crime categories do not represent statistically valid affirmations of the performance of Chief Whent and the Oakland Police Department as a whole. Without getting technical about this, year-to-year variations, in whatever direction, don’t tell us much, despite such variations’ attractiveness to the short attention spans of politicians and journalists. If important crime rates continue to fall significantly over a period of several years, yes, then some conclusions regarding the chief and OPD as a whole may be valid. It’s also relevant that homicide rates nationally are down, for reasons unattributable to Chief Whent, but still reflected by Oakland’s numbers.

There are many other considerations with regard to evaluation of an Oakland police chief’s performance. For example Oakland, and its police chief, need to deal with the high police attrition rate — we lose some sixty cops a year to attrition. Attrition reflects morale (e.g. citizen and political support for cops), working conditions, etc. Also, Oakland lacks and needs a long-term plan for crime reduction. A good chief should work on this, along with the mayor and council.

Michele Ocla, Oakland


In our January 15 Culture Spy, “The Waiting Room,” we incorrectly stated the end date of ArtComplex; it’s March 23. Also, ProArts is not providing funding for the exhibit. Also in that issue’s music story “The Bizarre Beat-Maker,” we misspelled Jacob Van Leeuwen’s last name. And in that issue’s theater review, “Family Feuds,” we misspelled the last name of actress Zara Benner.

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