Some symbols are so powerful that, even though they convey no meaning in the linguistic sense, it is illegal to say them. For example, it is illegal to say 09F911029D74E35BD84156C5635688C0, to post it on a blog, to publish it in a public place.
I find the entire issue of copyright complex. Certainly, it can be reduced to simplicity: copying and transfering copyrighted information — such as my book, say — is a crime. But just as the printing press changed the entire concept of intellectual property, making it possible to “own” words and ideas, so does the internet change the way we must approach copyright. Yet no one making laws about the internet has the slightest notion how it works or, in some cases, what it is (“Someone sent me an internet Monday and I didn’t get it until Wednesday!”).
I am in favor of protecting copyright of movies, music, books, and all other forms of intellectual property. A number, however, is not intellectual property. Making it intellectual property has some rather odd implications for accountants.
Moreover, preventing people who pay for a movie from making a copy for their own use goes beyond copyright. The concept of intellectual property has never denied a customer from making a copy for his or her own use. Making a profit or interfering with sales of a piece of intellectual property that belongs to another — yes, that’s forbidden. So if I rip a copy of a movie for my own back-up, that is legal. If I rip a copy of a movie and share it on the internet — of course that’s illegal. But companies have no right to prevent the former if they wish to avoid the latter. Or, more accurately, they have the right, and I have the right not to buy such things.
It is hard, even for a staunch supporter of intellectual property rights like me, not to recognize that copyright in this country — and worldwide — is in a shambles, not least of all because of the internet, but also because of corporations like Disney who exploit copyright for purposes other than its intended function. Copyright exists to encourage artists to create; it expires to encourage artists to create new things as old ones become public domain. The creators of a piece of art have the right to own it; however, the public has a right to own intellectual property in the public domain.
Finally, copyright protection doesn’t exist so jackasses in suits and ties can sue old ladies, children, and college professors for posting a goddamned number on their blogs.