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November 10, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-11-10

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4 - Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Excelling online
Cost of copy shops can be offset by online course materials
At several hundred dollars per semester, the cost of course
materials can be a sizable burden for many students. For
students who purchase coursepacks from Excel Test
Preparation, that burden might get a bit heavier. Last week, a
federal district court ruled that Excel was violating copyright
laws by not paying fees to publishers. And while there is a valid
need to clear up the legal issues surrounding copyright laws that
affect students, infringing upon students' access to knowledge
is problematic. This ruling underscores the need for copyright
laws to be friendly to students in the education process, but more
importantly should serve as a reminder for professors to make
more of their course materials available online.



emD: '
to' onnd

An elevator to the future


Federal District Court Judge Avern Cohn
issued a statement Nov. 2 sidingwith several
publishers alleging that Excel had commit-
ted copyright infringement. In June 2007,
Blackwell Publishing, Elsevier, Oxford Uni-
versity Press, SAGE Publications and John
Wiley & Sons filed suit against Excel and
claimed the company had committed copy-
right infringement on 33 documents. Excel
was targeted because, unlike other copy
shops in Ann Arbor, it wasn't paying fees
to publishers. Excel owner Norman Mill-
er claimed that since students copied the
information for their own personal use, the
company wasn't violating copyright laws.
But the federal district court disagreed,
ruling last week that copyrighted materials
were being sold for profit and without pay-
ment of appropriate fees.
Excel's practice of not paying the pub-
lishing fees may seem questionable, espe-
cially considering that the company was
in competition with local businesses that
were following the letter of the law and
paying the fees. But opaque copyright laws
that fail to clarify what is or is not "fair use"
for college students are at least partly to
blame. These laws need clarification so that
all copy shops can follow clear, consistent
But in formulating a consistent legal defi-

nition, it should be taken into account that
Excel was able to offer its services at half
the price of other Ann Arbor copy shops
because it didn't pay publishing fees - pro-
viding cheaper coursepacks for students.
Making course materials less expensive is
important. When course materials are too
expensive, some students have no choice
but to not of buy them and suffer the conse-
quences. Copy businesses need tobe able to
provide materials to students at a low cost,
and if copyright laws prevent this from
happening, it might be the laws that need
to change.
Luckily, many professors are aware of
this, and already post their required read-
ing materials online for students. Moving
academic materials online is an important
trend that should become the norm for Uni-
versity classes whenever possible. Online
access to course'materials can negate some
of the costs associated with buying and
printing texts, and gives students more
options. It also makes knowledge more
widely available through the Internet.
But students in many classes will con-
tinue to need access to hard copies of their
materials. For this reason, copy shops
will continue to serve a vital purpose and
require laws that understand the services
they offer to college students.

Buried in the news this past
week was a story that NASA
had announced a winner in
its Power Beaming
Challenge, a com- -
petition aimed at
rewarding innova-
tive designs that
may lead toward
a new meansaof
getting to space:
using an eleva-
tor. A space eleva-
tor is just one of BEN
dozens of projects CALECA
rattling around
in the brains of
futurists that has
not only the power to inspire people,
but also the potential to change the
way people live in general. If our
species hopes to make the world a
better place, it is essential that orga-
nizations such as NASA continue to
encourage research into expansive
projects for the betterment of our
The space elevator is a perfect
example of a massive engineering
undertaking to open up access to
space by making space travel afford-
able. The concept was the brainchild
of author Arthur Clarke as an eco-
nomical means of getting into space.
A cable over 20,000 kilometers long
is placed between a floating offshore
platform on a body of water and a
space station that orbits the Earth
at the same rate as the offshore plat-
form is moving. An elevator car could
move payloads between the two ends
of the cable at only a fraction of the
cost of current orbital rocket tech-
nologies. What's holding the concept
back is current technology. Materials
strong enough for such a cable don't
yet exist outside of laboratories, and a
vehicle that can move up such a cable
isn't like anything ever before built.
The NASA competition aims at help-
ing to solve this second dilemma.
There are of course, many other
avenues for researching massive

scale projects. International Ther-
monuclear Experimental Reactor is a
fusion reactor project in France that
could, in theory, solve our clean ener-
gy concerns for good through the use
of a fusion reactor, that mimics the
sun's internal energyprocesses. A cell
biologist at the Mount Sinai School
of Medicine in New York last week
published a proposal to artificially
fertilize great deserts in Africa and
Australia. That would create a new
ecosystem that would absorb more
carbon dioxide than man produces
per year, effectively removing man's
contribution to global warming. Oth-
ers have proposed solar screens the
size of countries that would decrease
the total sunlight sent to Earth.
But these kinds of projects require
billions upon billions of dollars -
perhaps even trillions - and would
require alevel ofcooperationbetween
countries that seems unachievable
today. Without the ambition to try for
such lofty goals, there is less incen-
tive for quantum leaps in innova-
tion. The exponential rate of growth
of technology should be motivation
enough for ever bigger projects, and
if people are given just a little push to
reach for lofty goals, innovators come
out of the woodwork.
The most recent noteworthy exam-
ple was the Ansari X-Prize, a private
group that awarded $10 million to
the first team to reach space with a
privately financed and built space-
craft. The group's intention was to
spark entrepreneurship and innova-
tion to jumpstart space exploration.
Within just a few years, engineer
Burt Rutan's team, Scaled Com-
posites, created what they dubbed
SpaceShipOne. The team nwb*'has a
budding space tourism venture that
uses an upgraded version of Rutan's
prize-winning design. Many other
proposals for space hotels and space-
planes have popped up since then.
To say that there isn't excitement
over pie in the sky goals is just plain
wrong - there's no greater way to get

engineers and scientists to use their
talents to their fullest or for govern-
ments to cooperate better than to
give them dreams.
What if these kind of endeavors
fail? A project like the space elevator
or massive geoengineering projects
aimed at changing the very climate
of Earth are perhaps too difficult for
our generation to realize. Perhaps
we're fating ourselves to Daedelus'
folly by aspiring to such grand ideas.
The same thing that happens when
other scientific initiatives fail - the
thousands of hours of work, the mate-
rials developed and tested and the
small innovations designed to work
around problems in a larger picture
all find their way into our lives in
ways their creators never intended.
Even if we can't build a cable strong
enough to hold a space elevator, we
might design one strong enough to
make safer, stronger and more effi-
cient bridges.
Big investments
in technology
will pay off.
By financing and encouraging
research into ambitious projects,
organizations both public and pri-
vate that encourage innovation are a
benefit to society as a whole. Orga-
nizations like NASA and the Ansari
X-Prize encourage the first steps
toward research in fields that indi-
viduald miight otherwise not attempt
to tackle on their own. More than
making a massive project possible,
they give more avenues for intended
and unintended advancements in
beneficial technology.
- Ben Caleca can be reached
at calecab@umich.edu.




Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, Jamie Block, William Butler, Ben Caleca,
Brian Flaherty, Emma Jeszke, Raghu Kainkaryam, Sutha K Kanagasingam,
Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee, Harsha Panduranaga, Alex Schiff, Asa Smith, Brittany Smith,
Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Laura Veith

Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor.
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Letters are edited for style, length, clarity and accuracy. All submissions become property of the Daily.
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Editorial Board members are responsible for discussing and writing the editorials
that appear on the left side of the opinion page.


Review overlooks value in
Sufban Stevens' new album

When it comes to criticism of The BQE, I
think Mr. Stevens is a victim of his own suc-
cessful, pop-albumy past. And it's no surprise,
as music fans (myself included) are growing
ever more eager for a Michigan and Illinois

TO THE DAILY: follow-up. But stepp
It's November 2007 and I'm at the Brooklyn picking up such an a
Academy of Music, about to see Sufjan Stevens's ect is why he continu
premier of The BQE. The stage in front of tme musicians of our gen
breathes discomfort on the audience, becoming
more and more crowded as the band members Michelle Yu
file in, their instruments only inches apart. Add Public Policy graduat
to this a backdrop of a large film screen, soon to
be displaying images of one of the nations' busi-
est expressways - one that connects the New Author was
York City boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn. It
is hardly a scene that seems it would lead to a the crowd'It
pleasing experience, yet the excitement among
the audience feels heavy like the brass instru-
ments before us. It has been four years since TO THE DAILY:
Michigan, two since Illinois and nothing came Regarding Andy
of the "Majesty Snowbird" single on Mr. Ste- umn, the University
vens' last tour. We are like a pack of indie-rock ey isn't just "racy" (I
starved wolves in the middle of Fort Greene, out of Yost Ice Arena
and times are getting desperate. The lights It's profane.
dim, the stage is set and our Brooklyn hero Yet it's political cor
enters the room - Sufjan, our much-revered roids - that hears a p
provider of musical nourishment and orches- dick, wuss, doucheb
tral movements in the dark. bitch, whore, slut, c
Having been at The BQE premiere (and singles out gay pract
having paid six times face value for a ticket cule. Nobody puts t1
to attend) you may or may not consider my ness quite like Ann A
response to The Michigan Daily's review of This news flash jus
the release biased. But labeling the project in a chicken suit, occ
"a wonky mess" deserves a reaction (Sufjan's glass and bellowing i
winding road: 'The BQE', 10/25/2009). Yes, it is "participating in the
true the project was ambitious and seemingly ing it, "dude."
too big a concept to fit into a 40-minute multi- Why slam the Ath
media experience, but if the goal was to convey nothing "for the last]
the chaos of New York City traffic ("Movement exactly what you wa
IV: Traffic Shock"), the qualms of city plan- disingenuous, don't]
ning ("Movement V: Self-Organizing Emergent a critique of the Ath
Patterns") and evoke the feelings of solitude something - ejecting
("Postlude: Critical Mass"), peace ("Movement cheerleader - just b
It: Sleeping Invader") and occasional self-real- head was you?
ization ("Movement I: In the Countenance of Should've tasered}
Kings") commuters experience in their vehi- activated. ("Fortunat
cles, then The BQE is more than successful. The bered for just such
feelings of disconnection and awkwardness in Leghorn.)
both the footage and music, I believe, is exactly
what Mr. Stevens was hoping would emerge Nord Christensen
from the project. Alum

ping outside the norm and
ambitious and unique proj-
es to be one of the greatest
e student
sn't just one of
'n C-Ya' chant
Reid's SportsMonday col-
's 'C-Ya' chant for ice hock-
I shouldn't have been kicked
this weekend, 11/08/2009).
rrectness - on stilts and ste-
ublic recitation of "...chump,
ag, asshole, prick, cheater,
ocksucker" as a chant that
titioners of fellatio for ridi-
he "tic" in political correct-
st in, Andy: If you're dressed
upying the aisle next to the
nto a megaphone, you aren't
'C-Ya' chant." You're lead-
letic Department for doing
15 years," when "nothing" is
nted them to do? Just a tad
you think, to then pivot to
letic Department for doing
the highly visible and vocal
ecause that galloping knot-
you until your pop-up timer
ely, I keep my feathers num-
an emergency." - Foghorn





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