The Copyright Playbook

Based upon the behavior of the Music, Movie and Publishing industries – and the laws and treaties that they have foisted upon the rest of us – I have assembled the following hypothetical rulebook:

  1. Intellectual Property is King, even when there’s no such thing
    We know that there is technically no such thing as Intellectual Property – ideas can not be owned, just expressions of those ideas – but anyone who points this out should be shouted down. This is because “a lie spoken often enough becomes the truth” (Herman Goering); so we should keep using this term until the great unwashed (aka our customers) start to believe it.
  2. Longer is better. Forever is best
    Copyright on Books was originally 28 years, which was sufficient reward to authors to encourage them to write more books. It is not enough for us, however, and thanks to our efforts we – I mean “the artists and creators” – now enjoy life+70 years, which works out to about a century on average. The vast majority of Movies, video games and software programs make most of their money inside about five years, but we have managed to get 95 years of “protection”. That’s not enough for us; more would be better – but it’ll do for now.
  3. Our Customers are Thieves and should be treated as such
    It is vital for the continued survival of our business model that all of our products should be locked down, encrypted and resticted wherever possible. The inconvenience to our customers is incidental. Should they choose not to purchase our goods, we should always blame the losses on piracy. To mis-quote Gollum “It has stolen the Precioussss… and we hates it for ever!
  4. The Internet is evil, and must be stamped out
    We have a long and distinguished history of fighting every new technology that comes along. From Piano Rolls to the Compact Cassette, FM Radio, the VCR, the Minidisk (thank God Sony went on to become one of us!), the CD Burner and the TiVo are just a few of the technologies that we have declared to be a threat to our business model, our profit margins and civilization as we know it. Our current nemesis is that piracy and file-swapping networn of tunes know as the Internet. We must mobilize our truthspeakers to spread the word that any technology that might conceivably be used to copy information should be labeled as “piracy” and shut down. The fact that they could be used for legitimate purposes is utterly irrelevant.
  5. Everyone else should clean up our mess (aka “Externalities are good“)
    Our need to make a profit is so important that it is everyone else’s job to safeguard our income and business model, including:
    The Justice Department, who is expected to allow us to investigate without a warrant, threaten with impunity and prosecute without the inconvenience and expense of a Coutroom hearing, and assist us every step of the way.
    The ISPs, who are expected to snoop on their customers, cos we are that important.
    The TSA, who is expected to search travelers’ laptops and music players looking for “contraband” content (anything we don’t approve of or like), and sieze any hardware
  6. Always assume the worst
    Every Computer is used only for swapping, trading and downloading copyrighted material.
    Every download is a lost sale.
    Every lost sale is a full-price retail sale.
    Every shared file has been copied one thousand times.
    The customer is always guilty. If they are not, just threaten them with expensive legal action until the problem goes away.

Now Reading: The Shack, by William Young

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