Dispatches > Quick Takes
Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Quick Takes

Issue: "Clutching two, dropping four," April 23, 2011

Trillions for tunes

Now that they have specified what sort of legal damages they would like to recoup, a group of 13 record companies is suing file-sharing website Lime Wire for what can only be described as all the money in the world. After securing summary judgment against the music pirating website, the group of record companies, including Warner Brothers, Virgin, Motown, and Atlantic, has requested damages approaching $75 trillion. In court documents, the record companies justify the request by applying the standard penalties for single violations of copyright law to the millions of file-sharing incidents that have occurred on Lime Wire. But Federal Judge Kimba Wood of the Southern District of New York questioned the record companies' logic. "As defendants note," she wrote in an opinion, "plaintiffs are suggesting an award that is 'more money than the entire music recording industry has made since Edison's invention of the phonograph in 1877.'"

Dragon tales

Walking through Indonesia and happen upon a few giant lizards? Officials at the Surabaya Zoo might want to have a word with you. Officials at the zoo said three young Komodo dragons have turned up missing and have either been stolen, eaten, or have simply wandered away. The largest of the three young dragons is nearly 3 feet long. Zookeepers say the dragons, though young and probably skittish of humans, should be considered toothy and dangerous.

Paper chase

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One Newport Beach, Calif., public library is considering closing down for renovations. And when it reopens, librarians say it could have all the latest in electronic gadgetry. One thing the new library won't have is books. "That caused me the most angst," said City Manager Dave Kiff. "People identify [book] stacks with the library." But librarians pushing the plan say they simply want to focus on library offerings the public uses.

Taking the cake

For their 10-year anniversary, one Dallas couple went all out. Innocent and Chidi Ogbutu renewed their vows, but the real show was at the vow-renewal reception where Mrs. Ogbutu unveiled a 5-foot-tall cake-created to be a baked and iced doppelganger of herself. "Growing up, I always wanted a doll made in my likeness," Mrs. Ogbuta told the British paper Metro. But in this case, a 400-pound butter cream cake would have to do. Mrs. Ogbutu said they had planned also to create a replica cake for her husband, Innocent, but ran out of time. As it was, the cake required 200 eggs and two gallons of amaretto.

Think of the snakes!

Officials in Wheeling, Ill., are concerned that a proposed new bike and pedestrian path-one that stretches directly through a den of vipers filled with now-hibernating massasauga rattlesnakes-may be a health hazard. But the problem, according to the Village Board of Wheeling, isn't the danger posed to humans by the venomous rattlers. Rather the village spent $25,000 on an environmental survey to study how the $1.2 million path could be built to minimize the impact on the snake, which is endangered in Illinois.

Cable blowout

If Daniel DeVirgilio had known his cable bill was this high, he might have splurged on a few on-demand movies or even some pay-per-view fights. Recently the Ohio man received his bill from Time Warner Cable informing him he owed about $16.4 million in past-due charges. With a bill that normally totals just $80 per month, DeVirgilio would have needed more than 17,000 years of service to rack up such a tab. Time Warner said it is working with the customer to fix the miscalculated bill.

Split decision

Till death-or an electoral opportunity-do us part. Guatemala's first lady and president announced earlier in March they would be getting a divorce despite being happily married. The couple says they are divorcing to skirt Guatemalan laws that would prevent Sandra Torres de Colom from succeeding her husband, Alvaro Colom, as president of the Central American nation. In a bid to stamp out corruption, Guatemalan law disqualifies close family members of the president from running for the office. If allowed, the divorce would help Torres de Colom clear her first obstacle to replacing her term-limited husband. But her would-be opponents' charge of immorality in the prevailingly Catholic nation may still prevent her from becoming president.

Catch of the day

A trio of Texas fisherman recently discovered that the best catch can be the least suspected. Jason Kresse and two fishing companions were 50 miles away from the Texas Gulf Coast fishing for red snapper when a mako shark approached. Apparently attracted by the fish guts the fishermen had thrown overboard, the shark bolted out of the water and accidentally landed in the trio's boat. Kresse said the 8-foot, 400-pound fish was thrashing too violently for the fishermen to come close enough to throw it overboard. And despite not having a permit to fish for mako sharks, the state wildlife department said the trio don't have anything to worry about. A spokesman with Texas Parks and Wildlife said they are ruling it an accidental death.

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