April 27, 2002

Commentary: The future of copyright laws creates two separate worlds

- By Marco Alvarado -

Here's a tale from two worlds: I don't know what could happen in the following situation, but let's see the way our imagination works. Imagine it's the year 2025, 23 years after the passage of a new U.S. copyright law, created to control the way we think and what we can or can't do.
Now, the United States has the nightmare of living with this law. Any intellectual work needs to be made outside the United States, Europe and Japan, because its creators simply can't work in these places without dealing with the many restrictions enforced by large companies that control most copyrighted material. Yes, Europe and Japan had to change their laws because it was too difficult to trade with the United States without enforcing this type of restriction. This is only a consequence of the inevitable.

The rest of the world, including Latin America, Asia without Japan, and Africa, needed to separate from the "copyright" act because it squeezes them, restricting their intellectual advances because huge amounts of work was copyrighted by the so-called First World countries from the beginning of the 21st century. Now, all the scientific and technical work grows in all these places, because creative advances in the old First World countries were slowed by their property protection laws.

In 2025, a person in Central America can interact with another person in Africa with a holographic projection based on an open platform running over a Linux 7.4 kernel and locally made hardware, but their U.S. colleagues can only use the telephone because the 2008 addendum to the 2002 law prohibits the use of the Internet because it could be a medium for piracy.

Some medical workers in the United States can record some pictures from an operation, but they need to register the images with the "Media Control Council," to check if the pictures don't violate the 2010 addendum to the copyright law, controlling graphical material that shares more than 15% of similarities with any other source. This is the reason most video can't be made in the United States, and the professionals have created a subculture language to describe what they're seeing, based on Latin (because of restrictions about the use of any written English material). Yes, the addenda to the 2002 law eventually increased the rights period of copyright holders to 450 years.

However, in Africa, it's common to use the "African Media Library" with billions of graphical images without any viruses, using the most advanced searching engine on the planet. And yes, anyone connected to the Internet can use most of these images.

Worried about trade problems with the few products the U.S. people are still permitted to export from their country (not one technology artifact), the rest of the world simply doesn't use all the graphical material produced by U.S. business. Hollywood is only a dream of the past. Much better options exist in the form of interactive 3D movies from Brazil or the India, based on a vast quantity of written material from the myriad of past and present non-English language writers.

We can share only a few literary works between the two current worlds, the closed and the open worlds. They're the Bible, the Koran and another popular books from the universal history without a "copyright" notice on them.

However, that sharing of information only lasts a few years before U.S. lawyers and the tiny U.S. motion picture industry act to restrict the use of the English language, so a story like this could be one of the last messages written in this language outside the United States, and the King James version of the Bible will become a part of some type of copyright created from material previously not copyrighted.

In the end, maybe another 100 years, this concept of stronger and stronger copyright law will support the most restrictive society on the planet. We only need to wait for that moment.

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