Thursday, May 26, 2022

Age Ranges for Fiction

Editor Laura Simeon writes about determining whether a children's or YA book is "appropriate" or "inappropriate" for a certain age:

What Makes a Book Age-Appropriate?

Current "battles over so-called 'inappropriate' content in kids’ and teen books" can lead to situations where "school librarians nationwide report that some administrators are incorrectly treating these age recommendations as prescriptive and using them to craft policies that override the expertise of library professionals and limit students’ access to books." But determining which readers certain books are suitable for isn't that straightforward.

Do age guidelines for reading materials refer to vocabulary and sentence complexity or to content? The two criteria don't necessarily align. Simeon points out that a child with advanced literacy skills might be able to read a particular novel's text fluently but not be developmentally ready for the themes it includes or the way it deals with them. Her essay offers several examples of 2022 books that cover potentially sensitive topics (e.g., divorce, mental illness) in ways suitable for middle-school and YA readers, respectively. Conversely, I could mention numerous classic novels with stories fully accessible to preteen readers but with vocabulary and style that could prove challenging for some contemporary twelve-year-olds—for instance, THE SECRET GARDEN, especially the Yorkshire dialect passages.

Simeon lists issues that trouble people who want to restrict students' access to the "wrong" or "inappropriate" books, among them the fear that kids might "lose a romanticized notion of childhood innocence." It is to laugh. The only people who believe in the "innocence" of childhood are adults who've forgotten large portions of their own childhoods. When James Barrie calls children "innocent" in PETER PAN, he couples that adjective with "heartless." It has often baffled me when would-be censors object to having child readers exposed in fiction to phenomena they're almost certainly aware of in reality. "Books can be upsetting and confusing," Simeon acknowledges, "but so can real life. Unlike real life, readers can skim, skip, take breaks, and walk away."

Anyway, age range recommendations for books, like genre categories, are marketing tools. Their chief purpose is to help booksellers and librarians decide where to shelve things. C. S. Lewis says somewhere that any book worth reading at age eight (aside from "books of information") is equally worth reading at any age. I first encountered many of my favorite children's and YA authors in adulthood. I have a vague memory of reading a couple of the Narnia novels in elementary school, but I tracked down the entire series only in my twenties. I've reread them over and over since then. I'd never heard of the Winnie the Pooh stories until my high-school Latin teacher read us a chapter every Friday (while we passed around WINNIE ILLE PU).

My own policy about children and books, based on my own prodigious quantity of "inappropriate" reading from about age eight on, has always been that their reading shouldn't be censored. If they stumble upon a literary work and find it interesting, let them tackle it. If they come across passages "over their heads," they'll be either bored or repelled and will simply skim or skip. As for the few books I owned that I flatly didn't want my underage offspring to read, I kept them securely stowed where the kids didn't know they existed.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Saturday, May 21, 2022

For Art's Sake

For the purposes of today's blog, Art is not an alien god, although, given the evolving meaning of the word "icon", Art could be synonymous.

My title might also allude to Aestheticism..."art for art's sake", also to a line in the romantic song  Art For Art's Sake by 10cc. 

For some weeks, I have been accumulating copyright-related legal blogs to discuss Art Rights (not for the first time), and the Davis vs Pinterest result is a good hook. Pinterest is a great place to display ones cover art; I believe that I have also seen it used by book pirates to advertise their allegedly ill-gotten "collections".

Spoiler: Pinterest won the copyright infringement lawsuit brought against them by a photographer. 

Nevertheless, as with many stories (such as a romance novel), one knows how the story will end almost immediately; the interest lies in how the protagonists get there. 

Likewise, the summary of the court's reasoning in dismissing the photographer's suit, as provided by legal bloggers Frank D. D'Angelo and Marwa Abdulaziz for the multi-service, international law firm Loeb & Loeb LLP, is complex and interesting.

Original Link: 
Lexology Link:  

Possibly, and this is merely an opinion, the plaintiff was a tad too dog-in-the-mangerish.

In Europe, the courts are looking at (but have not resolved) the question of whether cloud services create duplicate copies of copyrighted work, and whether they have any responsibily to copyright owners depending on how cloud storage is used.

It appears that a cloud storage provider is covered by a sort of safe harbor where a lawful owner or licensee stores a copyrighted work for private use. The wrinkle emerges if the cloud product is used for "sharing" copyrighted works. 

Legal bloggers Patricia Ernst and Christiane Stuetzle for the law firm Morrison & Foerster LLP summarize the recent ruling of the European Court of Justice, and what it means for private copies stored in a cloud, and whether or not cloud storage providers might have to pay a levy for storing copies of copyrighted works... and who should decide how rights holders might be compensated for the reproductions of their works.

Original Link:  
Lexology Link: 

For a comprehensive, entertaining and thorough explanation of Art rights in the USA, I recommend the Q and A format shared, apparently exclusively, on Lexology by art-dispute expert Gabrielle C, Wilson,  looted-art specialist Yael M. Weitz, international litigator Lawrence M. Kaye, and the probably-storied* Howard N. Spiegler for Park Avenue law firm Kaye Spiegler PLLC


The team explains how a copyright owner proves ownership for the purposes of suing for copyright infringement; whether or not a copyrighted work of art can be displayed without the copyright owner's consent; whether or not copyrighted artwork can be copied for publication in catalogues and advertisements without the copyright owner's permisison... and much more.

Some of the Q and As are merely fascinating, others can be extrapolated to be useful advice to authors and bloggers.

*I opine "probably-storied" because the bio reminds me of at least one Daniel Silva novel sub-plot.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry