Michael Geist had a Tyee article about the shortcomings of the new upcoming Copyright legislation. A Copyright lawyer (Hey there Mincov, how's it going?) put his 2 cents in. So I read his post where he compared copyright infringers to rapists. And I went and looked at his blog where he writes really long essays about why everybody else is wrong. And I thought it warranted a response. I really had to chop it down to get it to 3000 characters.
Mincov. I read your blog. I'll see your ridiculous analogy and raise you one of my own.
What if a company came up with a great beer that everybody wanted. Somehow, the beer was free and they made all of their money off mug sales and advertisements on those mugs. The only way you could drink that beer was in beer company approved mugs that cost a fortune. They made up all kinds of crazy rules about how you could use the mugs. You couldn't cover up the logo or the advertisements. You couldn't lend your mug to your neighbour. You couldn't take the beer in the mug and use it to make some other food. You couldn't transfer the beer into a bottle to enjoy it at a later date. In short, you couldn't do anything with that mug that they didn't want and they would only sell you the beer if you agreed.
People got tired of this. Everybody really wanted the beer but the company insisted. Then, somebody figured out that they could just go on the internet and download the beer, and then put it in their own mug and do what they wanted. They wouldn't have to pay the company for their restricted mug. They had to search in strange places to find the beer now, and it was often infested with viruses or missing key parts. But they quickly realized that this almost-as-good beer was good enough. And they appreciated the ability to do whatever they wanted with the beer. If things had been reasonable in the first place, maybe they would have just kept buying the beer/mugs from the company? But boy did they adjust quickly! All of a sudden, the beer company wasn't making much money because their mug sales dropped. Somehow the beer found its way on to the Internet and people downloaded it and enjoyed it.
So, what did they do? Well, first, they complained about it. A lot. Then, they attempted to sue people for breach of mug contract. That didn't work so they commissioned a bunch of economists to come up with studies that proclaimed the beer company was losing the Canadian GDP on a weekly basis due to rampant mug piracy. Then, they met with the government behind closed doors and drafted legislation that made it illegal for people to download beer from the Internet. Not only that, they actually made up laws that punished the people that were still buying their mugs, but that happened to be doing some of the stuff that was outlawed in their mug contract. It wasn't enough that people had paid them money for their beer/mugs, they wanted to punish them for doing what they wanted once the transaction was complete. And force them to buy their new beer cans!
And they were shocked that people were upset! It was their beer. If people wanted it, it had to be on their terms. They had a right to force people to drink it exactly how they wanted. After all, they didn’t have to buy it, right?