I've always suspected that practicing law is a licence to print money, but I used to think that was just an expression. Of course, that was before the Internet showed us all the copy has just as much value as the original and needs to be recopied and spread around as freely as possible to help build our exciting new culture.
James Gannon is an IP lawyer at the influential law firm of McCarthy Tétrault in Toronto. His personal blog has been the site of some of the most meticulous and sharp-minded research and analysis of the ongoing (some might say "never-ending" -- some others might say "depressingly relentless") copyright reform process and the various new free culture theories gumming up the works for real world cultural workers.
Today, in a cheeky little blog post -- How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Copy -- Gannon skewers several of the most popular free culture canards such as ...
the problem with copyright is legacy businesses clinging to obsolete models instead of embracing the digital age;
there's a moral and ethical difference between illicit personal use and illicit commercial use;
the big corporations deserve to have their copies stolen because they make too much money anyway;
and, of course, copy-protection can't work anyway, so why bother even trying.
For some reason, a lot of otherwise clear-thinking folk have no problem applying free culture logic to the original work of artists and cultural creators; and do so regularly to justify behind-closed-door online behaviours they'd be ashamed to repeat in public, in the physical world of real life. Someone who would never even think of walking out of a bookstore with a copy of a book they hadn't paid for will happily download a pirated e-copy of that same book. Simply insert the appropriate free culture rationalization, and it's all good.
Gannon's Swiftian modest proposal for his new personal "copying" practice asks us to consider what might happen if the same "logical" rationalizations used for content piracy were applied to paper money.
When I start making my own copies of Canadian bills, it’s going to be strictly for my own personal use. Buying gas and groceries, paying bills, a nice restaurant or two maybe. Perhaps I’d share the bills with a few friends or family, but I definitely wouldn’t be producing counterfeit bills on a commercial scale with the intent of re-selling them. That would be wrong and hurtful to the economy...
... What if I want to film a movie and need some fake money for a mob scene? As long as I can think of one legal example where I would want to copy bank bills, then there is no justification for the use of technological measures to stop me from doing so.
Thank James Gannon -- an hilarious end to a crazy week.
(image courtesy kevindooley on flickr, under an Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) licence)