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Best columns: Russian roulette, Royalties wrestling
If you have mutual-fund investments in Russia, says Brett Arends in <em>The Wall Street Journal</em>, &ldquo;it&rsquo;s time to cash in your chips.&rdquo; Record labels may be near-sighted, says the<em> Los Angele
 

From Russia, with haste

“Ordinary Americans” have more than $3 billion in mutual-fund investments in Russia, says Brett Arends in The Wall Street Journal, and if you’re one of them, “it’s time to cash in your chips.” The Russian market has been booming, and “no wonder,” given that half of it is oil and gas stocks. But Russia’s invasion of Georgia shows why investing in the country is “playing with fire.” You’re betting on a game with rules that Westerners don’t understand and that can “change without notice,” as BP is finding out. In the end, the risks are “far greater than most ordinary investors realize. And at current prices, shareholders aren’t being paid enough to take them.”

The music industry’s royalties crusade

Record labels are still smarting over the success of MTV, says the Los Angeles Times in an editorial, which sold itself for a tidy profit four years after launching, thanks to free videos from the labels. That still-festering irritation is evident in the music industry’s royalties battles with Web-based broadcasters like Pandora, which is threatening to close shop, and videogames like Guitar Hero and Rock Band. “Labels and artists clearly benefit from having a new partner in the video-game industry and a healthy, diverse roster of webcasters,” but those are long-term gains, and the music industry has the short-term problem of “collapsing CD sales.” It may be near-sighted, but asking for higher royalties is a reasonable request.

 

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