“If not for copy protection, everybody and their mother would be quoting me.”
"People are going to go to hell if they don't turn from their wicked behavior."
- Madonna on illegal filesharing
"If you copy my music, then the terrorists have already won. Did we learn nothing from 911?"
- Cliff Richard on illegal filesharing
Copy protection is an intiative by the entertainment industry to protect all copyrighted work from being illegally reproduced, sold, distributed, altered, misread, misheard, or thrown away. Early attempts at copy protection have resulted in many brutal and unnecessary deaths, but recent attempts at copy protection have resulted in little more than the destruction of personal property, physical harm, or jail time. The word 'copyright' is simply an unfortunate misconstruing of the 'right to copy'.
History of Copy Protection
Copy protection has been in use ever since the days of the Roman Empire. In 62 AD, Emperor Nero issued a decree that would severely punish any person who attempted to reproduce any written work. This infuriated Roman scholars who earned a living by regularly reproducing works of great philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle. These Roman scholars began an underground artistic preservation movement to protect their income, but their illegal practices didn't escape the eyes of the Roman Intellectual Artist Association (RIAA), a for-profit artistic organization that petitioned Nero to prosecute illegal scholars to the full extent of the law. The wrath of the Roman Empire was soon felt on the unassuming public when Nero set Rome on fire for a week in 64 AD to punish all violators of the copy protection decree.
Many more examples of copy protection, and the violation thereof, exist throughout history. Italian explorer Christopher Columbus discovered America after fleeing from Europe to avoid being convicted of illegally reproducing a set of maps. U.S. President Thomas Jefferson was forced to pardon himself after the Republic International Anti-Piracy Activists (RIAA) falsely accused him of copying the Declaration of Independence from various independent sources. Samuel Morse invented morse code for the sole purpose of allowing publishing industries to transmit copies of their books over long distances with a special coding system that only experts could understand.
In one of the more recent examples of copy protection, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) tried to sink the Titanic in 1912 with a submarine torpedo when they received word that the musical band aboard the Titanic was playing the song "New York, New York" without paying the necessary $25,000 per-song royalties to the RIAA and receiving express written permission from the author, Frank Sinatra. The torpedo misfired and avoided hitting the Titanic; however, the massive ship did sink less than an hour later when it struck an unsuspecting iceberg. The RIAA stated shortly thereafter in a press release: "Let's see them bitches play on now."
Copy Protection Legislation
With the advent of digital technology, compact discs, and computers came a new threat to copy protection. The creation of the internet allowed criminal masterminds such as all children, teenagers, and adults to copy songs from their musical CDs and distribute these songs to people all around the world. Executives in the entertainment industry lost so much money through this process that several CEOs were thrown into poverty, forced to sleep on crowded city streets as they begged at the local soup kitchen for food.
As entertainment lobbyists tried to have legislation passed that would destroy the lives of any and all copyright violators, the RIAA teamed up with Sony to prosecute any actions by ordinary citizens that threatened the entetainment industry with a loss of revenue. First, they sued and destroyed a free internet filesharing service known as Napster. Then, they prosecuted several teenagers for illegally downloading and distributing copyrighted music over the internet. Finally, they managed to send a Chicago resident to prison for 40 years after inviting three friends to his house to watch Gigli. "It was three friends too many," said a Sony representative. "We've just lost over $40 in DVD sales now that there are three more people in the world who are aware of how worthless the movie is."
Copy Protection Technologies
In 2005, Sony began to introduce new technolgies on their CDs that would prevent the illegal copying and distribution of music. Several of their new CDs were packaged with computer software that would prevent music from being burned to more than three blank CDs. The software would embed itself onto a user's computer and torture computer users with new Windows error messages, as the old error messages were apparently buggy. The software would also cloak itself to make it undetectable and unremovable without reducing the functionality of the computer to that of a toaster, in which case the computer simply heats up and throws things at you. An outcry against these devious practices forced Sony to issue a patch that would allow the software to be removed from a computer, but the RIAA has sworn that the entertainment industry would not stop there.
A recent investigation has revealed that a partnership between Sony and Dell has produced several more upcoming copy protection technologies. One such technology will involve a special keyboard that will issue a small electrical shock to anybody who tries to copy a song on their computer. Another technology will monitor all computer activity and transmit it to Sony headquarters via satellite so that they can send a police squad to the homes of anybody who tries to illegally download a song. Beta tests on these new technologies have apparently backfired, as several test subjects have recently been thrown into prison after being shocked several times by their computers as they were searching for only simple song lyrics through Google.
The RIAA has also sponsored these new technologies, and they have announced that these recent drawbacks in beta testing will not discourage their initiative to prevent all people from downloading movies, music, and general information off of the internet. According to the RIAA in another recent press release, "If all else fails, we'll just have to make like Nero and set fire to the United States. That'll teach those internet bastards a lesson."