Step Away From That TV And Nobody Gets Brainwashed
Fake News written by on Monday, September 23, 2002
It never fails. Just as soon as I spend a bunch of money on a new toy, something goes horribly wrong. Last week, I purchased a shiny new TiVo so I could enjoy the new fall TV season.
Big mistake. After watching the pilot episodes of several new series, I puked three times and suffered a mild heart attack. My blood pressure has increased to such a catastrophic level that my doctor told me, "If you get within 100 feet of a television again, you're toast."
And when you see the new TV shows that Hollywood has produced this year, you'll feel exactly the same way.
Take, for instance, the new SeeBS show "CSI: Hollywood". In this Orwellian brainwashing special, the investigators that work for CSI (Copyright Special Investigators) investigate acts of piracy that harm movie industry executives and their beloved children that go hungry because daddy got fired after his studio declared bankruptcy because its latest film was copied all over the Internet (described as the "greatest tool for theft since the invention of the lock pick").
In the pilot, a 14 year old kid is busted for burning a CD full of MP3's he downloaded from the evil Net. The stern copyright investigator Mr. Max Lawfulness says, "We have to stop them while they're young. One minute they're burning a harmless CD, the next minute they're the ringleader of a multinational piracy outfit costing hardworking musicians billions of dollars per year..."
The second episode isn't any less puke-inducing. This time one of those illegal DVD players that can circumvent region-encoding is found in a landfill; the investigators spend weeks tracing it back to a suburban housewife who originally purchased it at Wal-Mart (before it was banned) but then threw it away after the warranty expired and it stopped working. The "pirate" is tossed behind bars and the CSI folks congratulate themselves on eliminating another potential "copyright-terrorist" from the streets.
Even the commercials contain the same anti-freedom, anti-geek doublespeak. One self-styled "Public Service Announcement" says that if you record even one second of this show on a PVR without watching a commercial, you're an EVIL THIEF that has no respect for Capitalism. Another ad produced by the DEA (DMCA Enforcement Agency) claims that copying any form of digital material without express written permission by the copyright holder is an act that HURTS THE CHILDREN and HELPS FUND TERRORISM.
And that's just one show on one network. If you have the stomach and cardiovascular endurance to continue watching this trash, it only gets worse. Another SeeBS show, "The Copyright Agency", features time-traveling agents that use patented technology to venture back in time and arrest wanted criminals before they are able to commit their crimes. For instance, in the season premiere, the inventor of the photocopy machine is hunted down and arrested back in 1949 before he is able to invent the device that, according to the show's main character, "is the single greatest threat to intellectual property ever conceived".
In a later episode, the hapless Xerox PARC engineer that develops the first Graphical User Interface -- complete with copy-and-paste keyboard shortcuts -- is tracked down and eliminated from the space-time continuum before he can implement his "anti-copyright theft-enhancing" tool.
Similar brainwashing can be found on the other networks. The ABCDisney channel's "8 Simple Rules For Using My Software" features software company lawyers that draft cunning End User License Agreements that help foil evil software pirates and hackers. In the premiere, a "juvenile delinquent" that violates a shrinkwrap license by posting a website criticizing the software is hunted down and given a stern lecture. "Violating contracts is not a victim-less crime... it hurts innocent developers that pour their heart and soul into producing top-notch innovative software. And here come along miscreants like you that think it's okay to break the rules and that some musty old document produced in the 1700's gives them the right to make libelous comments about software and to post benchmarks that cast trademark-protected products in a less-than-favorable light. The insanity must end!"
I will spare you the sordid details of other such TV offerings as UPN's "Duffy the Pirate Slayer", FOX's "America's Most Wanted File Traders", and PBS's "Antiques Roadshow: The accounts and descriptions of the appraisals on this show may not be dissemenated under any circumstances, even if you have express written permission".
Now, you might think you can get away with turning your TV off while still getting your entertainment from movies. Not true. According to one of my unreliable anonymous sources, the MPAA has been giving generous stipends to movie directors in exchange for making subtle (and not-so-subtle) changes to their scripts that promote the idea of copyrights as a funamental human right that trumps everything else. While I have no proof of the conspiracy, this scheme is the only plausible explanation for some of the sudden script changes that have appeared in soon-to-be-released movies.
For example, the premise of "The Matrix: Reloaded" has been radically altered. In the newly rescripted movie, the Oracle gives a long history lesson explaining that the AI entities were first invented by mankind to protect the Internet from copyright violations and illegal software use. The Hollywood overlords that created the AI endowed them with too much power, however, and they started to run amok and eventually overthrew civilization and made a real mess of things. The Oracle says, "Now, if the humans of the 21st Century had respected copyrights, none of this would have happened. Civilization would not have collapsed and billions of people and CHILDREN would not have been murdered."
The plot of "Terminator 3" also features a similar message sponsored by the MPAA. While I hate to give away the ending, my source tells me that Arnold finally stops the berzerk AI by installing sophisticated DRM software that prevents it from replicating and destroying the Universe.
I also have it on somewhat good authority that the RIAA has plans for a similar program of inserting propoganda within newly released songs. This strategy, however, might backfire if these songs are released on copy-protected CDs that nobody can play.
In previous columns, I've expressed a fear that society would collapse as the result of the dreaded Lawyerclysm. However, it seems copyright holders have beat lawyers to the punch; we are rapidly hurtling towards the "Contentclysm" (a term I just made up -- don't worry, it's not trademarked, so you are free to use this word in your own speech) in which all content and information is zealously guarded by multiple layers of protection, thereby creating a pay-per-use world in which 1% of the population hoards 99% of the copyrights.
Perhaps I am being pessimestic. Perhaps both of you reading this article are rolling your eyes and thinking, "Geez, this is yet another blatant political statement that is preaching to the choir. Isn't this supposed to be a Linux humor site? Why are they always whining about copyright laws?"
Uh oh. I'm feeling chest pains. I can't take much more of this stress; the more I let myself get upset about the future, the less chance I have of living to see the future.
I'm going to stop now before I have another heart attack. I can't afford another trip to... the emergency room. Must... relax... must... stop pain...
*ACK!* Too late 'zdfjg34tu dflnkgz