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[d@DCC] Forget Captain Copyright

From: Darryl Moore <darryl _-at-_>
To: "General Copyright Discussions (questions, organizing, etc)" <discuss (at)>
Date: Sat, 03 Jun 2006 21:46:33 -0400
References: <>

What about Private Infringer?

Private Infringer isn't a super hero like Captain Copyright of course.
He is just a lowly private who wants to know why everybody keeps trying
to tell him what to do, even in the privacy of his own home.

Every time he tries to rip his CDs to put them on his MP3 player, that
guy Captain Copyright in spandex pajamas, is in his face telling him
it's wrong. Yesterday he downloaded a copy of DJ Dangermouse's Grey
Album. When CC showed up to lecture him in his usual condescending way,
Infringer tried explaining that DJ Dangermouse put it on the web for
free himself. But Copyright said that didn't matter. Paul McCartney did
not approve, and that is all that really did matter. 

How was it, Infringer wondered, that a society which judges itself to be
so enlightened could find it so easy to suppress art. He then thought
about all the other lost art which he had either heard of, or in some
cases, even seen parts of himself. "The Cat NOT in the Hat", "Eyes on
the Prize", and another new book. What was it again? Oh yeah, "How Opal
Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got in". 

The last one was ChickLit, so the thought of reading it did not really
grab him, but he did begin to wonder just how much stuff might be out
there that had not seen the light of day long enough for him to be able
to discover its existence. Even worse how much art was never being
created in the first place because people were too afraid of the

Oh well, he wasn't going to worry about this now. He was almost home.
With any luck the movie he started downloading this morning would be
finished and he could kick up his feet, order some pizza, and chill in
front of a great movie.

Rounding the corner onto his street in his busy downtown neighbourhood
he saw the street vendor who often sells things in his little stall on
the sidewalk. Usually the vendor sold the same old stuff, cheap
electronics, cheap DVDs and CDs, and assorted nicnaks. Today some new
nicnaks grabs his eye. Infringer had always been a ravenous reader. He
had fond memories of when he was a kid and he read the entire collection
of “Anne of Green Gables. “ with his mother. The new nicnaks all looked
like various Anne of Green Gable characters. He picked up a couple to
examine them thinking one of them possibly tied in with a some flowers
and a bow might make a thoughtful mothers day present. 

Choosing a rather nice one, which was distinctly Anne with the freckles
and red hair, he paid the vendor and started to walk away. But he'd only
gone about 3 feet when that self important busy body Captain Copyright
flew in out of the blue. Wow. Just like a real super hero too.

“Did you know that you have just purchased an unauthorized and
unlicenced product” said Captain Copyright in his deep, strong and
authoritative voice. Everyone on the street could hear this and as he
spoke the vendor started cowering in his seat and glancing up and down
the street with a very guilty look on his face.

Infringer's first instinct of course was to immediately put the product
back. Copyright spoke with such authority and certainty, and his words
always seamed so reasonable on the surface that it was very difficult
for anyone not to do exactly what he said. But Infringer gathered his
strength this time. 

“Oh no, not you again”, he sighed, “What, what, have I done this time?”

“That ceramic doll you just purchased was not licensed by the Anne of
Green Gables Licensing Authority. It is illegal. You must hand it over
to the appropriate authorities along with information about who you
received it from so that they can all be destroyed. If you don't, the
authorities will prosecute you instead.” 

“huhh” Private Infringer was confused, “Wait a minute. I haven't done
anything wrong. What do you mean licensed? What is there to license?
These are characters from a book. There weren't even any pictures in
those books. How can this be breaking copyright?”

“It isn't” said Captain Copyright with his arms crossed and a stern
disapproving look on his face. 

The look on Private Infringer's face was more a look of bewilderment. He
began to wonder if perhaps Copyright's spandex pants were a little to
tight and were cutting off circulation to the the part of his anatomy
his brain must be in.

“It's breaking trademark law” Copyright continued, “The Anne of Green
Gables Licensing Authority is a corporation jointly owned by the
province of PEI and the heirs of Lucy Maud Montgomery. They own all
rights to any character likenesses from the books as well as the words
'Anne of Green Gables' and the Montgomery name” 

Private Infringer still had a bewildered look on his face. “But wait a
minute, these books are all in the public domain now aren't they?
Doesn't that mean, they don't need to be licensed? Besides”, Infringer
paused for a moment, “ I thought your name was Captain Copyright, not
Trolling Trademark”.

Captain Copyright's face started to look a little more angry. Infringer
began to get a little worried that maybe he'd gone too far and stepped
over the line. He had heard about how Captain Copyright had completely
destroyed people in the past with his powerful 'Statutory Damages' death
ray. He did not really want to make Captain Copyright angry if he could
avoid it. He broke eye contact with Copyright and instead stared down at
his feet.

The Captain continued. “ It does not matter what the status of the books
are. This is trademark law. There is no limitations on trademarks. The
owner of a trademark can continue to dictate how that trademark is used
for as long as they maintain its registration. The AGGLA has complete
control of every....” 


Copyright's words were suddenly interrupted by the loud sound of a
vehicle backfiring. Copyright and Infringer both turned to see an old
army jeep turning the corner of the street. Its paint was peeling, and
smoke was coming out of the tail pipe. The front axle was obviously bent
as the vehicle had a pronounced vertical wobble in its movement. It
pulled up in front of Copyright and Infringer, coughed and sputtered
then stopped. An old man got out who looked like he could be Moses'
grandfather. He had a short white beard, wrinkled face, and a tattered
but clean, old army uniform which was full of rusty medals.

“Who are you?” said Captain Copyright and Private Infringer at the same

The old man paused in front of them for a moment to catch his breath. 

“I am General Intelligence”, he said.

Copyright's face changed to look a little more worried. For years now he
had managed to maintain order and control without having to worry about
anything that had anything to do with Intelligence. Was this guy back
now to undo all his good work. Copyright sized up this Intelligence and
hopefully concluded that he was to old and frail to offer much of any

“What do you want?” scoffed Copyright.

“For years now I have not paid attention to these issues of copyright
and Intellectual Monopolies, while you and your corporate friends have
slowly tightened the noose upon our society. It is almost to the point
now where nothing creative can be done without explicit permission from
some corporate entity or another. Our culture is dying and what's left
is being sold off to the highest bidder. I'm going to protect this boy
from the likes of you.”

“Words of intelligence eh?” Captain Copyright scoffed with a wide grin
on his face.

“Yes”, replied General Intelligence, looking a little perplexed by the
new look on Copyright's face. 

“The word is 'property' you simpleton”, Captain copyright shot back with
a laugh. “Intellectual Property”, he yelled, “Boy, if you can't get that
right, you really haven't got a hope defeating me.”. Captain Copyright
was starting to feel much more sure of himself now.

There was a pause before Intelligence spoke again. Then he spoke slowly.

“I said 'Intellectual Monopoly', and that is precisely what I meant.
Just because you and your control obsessed cohorts have managed to
convince the world that the inappropriate use of the word property is
justified, does not make it right. A monopoly right granted to you by
the state, allows you to dictate other people's behaviour. It is not
property. In fact it is the exact opposite of property, as it gives you
the right to tell others how they may or may not use their own property.
This is one of the first things I need to rectify.”

Copyright was starting to worry again, and small beads of sweat were
forming on his forehead.

Intelligence continued, “Now as for this Anne of Green Gables thing.”
the General paused as he turned to look at Private Infringer, “Alas my
boy, I'm afraid Captain Copyright is correct. In fact the trademark
owners already won a landmark victory in court which prevents anyone
from making commercial use of any of the characters or names associated
with the Anne of Green Gables story. Verbatim copies of the book are
probably OK but any derived works would violate the registered

Private Infringer was in shock. “You mean these people can use trademark
law to totally circumvent the purpose of copyright law and effectively
maintain a monopoly on these stories forever?”

“I'm afraid so,” replied the General.

Captain Copyright had a look of satisfaction on his face, strikingly
similar to the one Mickey Mouse wore the day the American overlords
successfully extended their term of copyright, thereby saving their
iconic mascot from falling into the hands of the pagan artisans.

“Not so fast Captain Copyright”, General Intelligence turned to Captain
Copyright just as he was reaching for ceramic figurine, intent on
smashing the poor thing to bits with the sincere belief that this was
somehow going to save the world from evil. 

He pulled a large roll of red tape out of his jacket as he continued

“The Private here is quite right. As you yourself have said, this is a
trademark issue, and as such it is completely out of your jurisdiction.
Not even the American FCC has successfully been able to rule outside
their jurisdiction and impose their dreaded Broadcast Flag.” General
Intelligence and Private Infringer both shuddered at these words. “You
too are restricted by jurisdiction and will have to leave this poor boy

Captain Copyright was utterly stunned by this. Could General
Intelligence really use such a technical detail to prevent Captain
Copyright from saving the world for the exclusive cultural exploitation
of large multinational corporations?

While Copyright was contemplating this horrible concept, his jaw slowly
moving up and down so that he resembled some kind of large green fish
trying to breath out of water, General Intelligence took advantage of
the opportunity. With a little help from Infringer he tied Copyright up
in the red tape as tightly as he could. Then the two of them proceeded
down the road in the direction of Infringer's Apartment.

“Thank you General Intelligence, I thought I was a goner back there.”

“Don't thank me too quickly my boy.” said Intelligence, “These are dark
times that we live in. They will get much darker too I'm afraid before
they get brighter. These multinational corporations are very powerful
indeed, and they have a tight reign on both our culture and our
government. I've slowed Captain Copyright down by tying him up in red
tape, but I certainly have not stopped him. He will be back, and he will
bring his friends.”

There was a long pause as they walked slowly down the street together.

“I'm getting old my boy,” continued General Intelligence after a while,
“and people don't listen to me very much many more. I can advise you,
but I can do no more. If you want a society different then the one the
multinational corporations and the collective associations want, then
you will have too take action on your own. You will have to do something
about it.”

They were approaching the front door to Private Infringer's third story
walk up. Infringer knew the General would have difficulty climbing those
stares so instead of inviting him up, he thanked him, shook his hand,
then reached for his keys and made his way up to the his apartment.

General Intelligence turned around and slowly started walking back to
his jeep by himself. He didn't mind. He was actually getting use to
being by himself. Most people, he we was beginning to think, simply did
not want Intelligence. And he could live with that.

Private Infringer checked his mail box on the way up and was delighted
to discover that a DVD he had recently ordered from the BBC in the UK
through mail order had finally arrived. 

The saga continues...

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