Excerpt From Rob Reid's Year Zero; Plus A Chance To Win The Book

from the techdirt-book-club dept

As we announced a few weeks ago, the July Techdirt Book Club book is Year Zero written by Rob Reid and which comes out today, published by Random House. Rob will be joining us in a few weeks to talk about writing a comic sci-fi novel about the mess that is copyright law… but in the meantime, he’s provided the following excerpt, which is Chapter 1. There is a “prologue” before this, which you can read here, or you can just watch this video, which more or less covers the prologue info:

As part of this, Rob and Random House have agreed to do another give away, this time just for Techdirt readers, which will go to five commenters on this post, based on your voting scores on the comments. We’ll give one copy of the book each to the highest ranked “funny” and “insightful” comments, and then the three highest total scores other than the top ranked (so either funny or insightful). There are a few conditions: you have to be in the US or Canada. I know this sucks for those of you not in those places, but there’s nothing we can do about it. Also, to win, we obviously have to be able to contact you, which means (a) you need to be logged in when you comment, so we can email you and (b) you have to respond to our email informing you of your win within 24 hours of our email. Also, you can’t win twice — if you score the highest in multiple categories, you get a prize in one and the others will go to the runners-up. We’ll keep the voting open until Wednesday night and then tally the votes. So, get to work with your funny/insightful comments…


Even if she’d realized that my visitors were aliens who had come to our office to initiate contact with humanity, Barbara Ann would have resented their timing. Assistants at our law firm clearout at five-thirty, regardless — and that was almost a minute ago.

“I don’t have anyone scheduled,” I said, when she called to grouse about the late arrival. “Who is it?”

“I don’t know, Nick. They weren’t announced.”

“You mean they just sort of . . . turned up at your desk?” I stifled a sneeze as I said this. I’d been fighting a beast of a cold all week.

“Pretty much.”

This was odd. Reception is two key-card-protected floors above us, and no one gets through unaccompanied, much less unannounced. “What do they look like?” I asked.


“Lady Gaga strange?” Carter, Geller & Marks has some weird-looking clients, and Gaga flirts with the outer fringe, when she’s really gussied up.

“No–kind of stranger than that. In a way. I mean, they look like they’re from . . . maybe a couple of cults.”

From what? “Which ones?”

“One definitely looks Catholic,” Barbara Ann said. “Like a . . . priestess? And the other one looks . . . kind of Talibanny. You know — robes and stuff?”

“And they won’t say where they’re from?”

“They can’t. They’re deaf.”

I was about to ask her to maybe try miming some information out of them, but thought better of it. The day was technically over. And like most of her peers, Barbara Ann has a French postal worker’s sense of divine entitlement when it comes to her hours. This results from there being just one junior assistant for every four junior lawyers, which makes them monopoly providers of answered phones, FedEx runs, and other secretarial essentials to some truly desperate customers. So as usual, I caved. “Okay, send ’em in.”

The first one through the door had dark eyes and a bushy beard. He wore a white robe, a black turban, and a diver’s watch the size of a small bagel. Apart from the watch, he looked like the Hollywood ideal of a fatwa-shrieking cleric — until I noticed a shock of bright red hair protruding from under his turban. This made him look faintly Irish, so I silently christened him O’Sama. His partner was dressed like a nun — although in a tight habit that betrayed the curves of a lap dancer. She had a gorgeous tan and bright blue eyes and was young enough to get carded anywhere.

O’Sama gazed at me with a sort of childlike amazement, while the sister kept it cool. She tried to catch his eye — but he kept right on staring. So she tapped him on the shoulder, pointing at her head. At this, they both stuck their fingers under their headdresses to adjust something. “Now we can hear,” the nun announced, straightening out a big, medieval-looking crucifix that hung around her neck.

This odd statement aside, I thought I knew what was happening. My birthday had passed a few days back without a call from any of my older brothers. It would be typical of them to forget — but even more typical of them to pretend to forget, and then ambush me with a wildly inappropriate birthday greeting at my stodgy New York law office. So I figured I had about two seconds before O’Sama started beatboxing and the nun began to strip. Since you never know when some partner’s going to barge through your door, I almost begged them to leave. But then I remembered that I was probably getting canned soon anyway. So why not gun for YouTube glory, and capture the fun on my cellphone?

As I considered this, the nun fixed me with a solemn gaze. “Mr. Carter. We are visitors from a distant star.”

That settled it. “Then I better record this for NASA.” I reached across the desk for my iPhone.

“Not a chance.” She extended a finger and the phone leapt from the desk and darted toward her. Then it stopped abruptly, emitted a bright green flash, and collapsed into a glittering pile of dust on the floor.

“What the . . . ?” I basically talk for a living, but this was all I could manage.

“We’re camera shy.” The nun retracted her finger as if sheathing a weapon. “And as I mentioned, we‘re also visitors from a distant star.”

I nodded mutely. That iPhone trick had made a believer out of me.

“And we want you to represent us,” O’Sama added. “The reputation of Carter, Geller & Marks extends to the farthest reaches of the universe.”

The absurdity of this flipped me right back to thinking “prank” — albeit one featuring some awesome sleight of hand. “Then you know I’ll sue your asses if I don’t get my iPhone back within the next two parsecs,” I growled, trying to suppress the wimpy, nasal edge that my cold had injected into my voice. I had no idea what a parsec was, but remembered the term from Star Wars.

“Oh, up your nose with a rubber hose,” the nun hissed. As I was puzzling over this odd phrase, she pointed at the dust pile on the floor. It glowed green again, then erupted into a tornado-like form, complete with thunderbolts and lightning. This rose a few feet off the ground before reconstituting itself into my phone, which then resettled gently onto my desk. That refuted the prank theory nicely — putting me right back into the alien-believer camp.

“Thank you very kindly,” I said, determined not to annoy Xena Warrior Fingers ever, ever again.

“Don’t mention it. Anyway, as my colleague was saying, the reputation of Carter, Geller & Marks extends to the farthest corner of the universe, and we’d like to retain your services.”

Now that I was buying the space alien bit, this hit me in a very different way. The farthest corner of the universe is a long way for fame to travel, even for assholes like us. I mean, global fame, sure — to the extent that law firms specializing in copyright and patents actually get famous. We’re the ones who almost got a country booted from the UN over its lax enforcement of DVD copyrights. We’re even more renowned for our many jihads against the Internet. And we’re downright notorious for virtually shutting down American automobile production over a patent claim that was simply preposterous. So yes, Earthly fame I was aware of. But I couldn’t imagine why they’d be hearing about us way out on Zørkan 5, or wherever these two were from.

“So, what area of the law do you need help in?” I asked in a relaxed, almost bored tone. Feigning calm believably is a survival tactic that I perfected as the youngest of four boys (or of seven, if you count our cousins, who lived three doors down. I sure did). It made me boring to pick on — and useless as a prank victim, because I’d treat the damnedest events and circumstances as being mundane, and entirely expected. It had also helped me immensely as a lawyer (although by itself, it had not been enough to make me a successful one).

Sister Venus gave me a cagey look. “It’s sort of . . . an intellectual property thing.”

"Of course," I said. "Is it media? Patents? Trademark?"

"It's kind of a . . . music thing." She and O'Sama exchanged a furtive look.

"I see. Is it related to royalty payments? Piracy?"

Now O'Sama jumped into the action. And I mean that literally -- he leapt to his feet, and practically screamed in my face. "Who said anything about piracy?"

The nun hit him with a lethal glare. "Zip it," she hissed. He plunked right back into his chair, giving her a hurt, sullen, but obedient look. Impressive, I thought. It was like seeing that dog whisperer guy make a pit bull back down.

"I do have an extensive background in music law," I said, clenching my nose to stop the sneeze molecules from breaking out.

Sister Venus rolled her eyes. "No duh, Mr. Carter. We've done our homework."

Well, yes, up to a point. True, they'd chosen a fine law firm from an impressive distance. But I was beginning to suspect that they had mistaken me for the Carter in Carter, Geller & Marks, rather than a lowly associate who happened to have the same last name as the founding partner. And did she seriously just say no duh?

"Also," O'Sama added breathlessly, "we simply adore 'Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely,' and every one of your other songs."

"Excuse me?" I asked.

But I knew exactly what he was talking about. And if you're a woman born between the years 1984 and 1988, you probably do, too. Otherwise, you're hopefully only faintly aware of the Backstreet Boys -- the vilest confection ever to emerge from a "boy band" factory. Like me, one of their alleged singers is named Nick Carter. He's two years my junior, so I was here first. And I got as far as age twenty-one with a wonderfully anonymous name. Then Nick and the boys unleashed an abomination called Millennium that sold more than forty million copies. I still get about a dozen Backstreet Boys jokes per week.

That said, something told me O'Sama wasn't joking. He just seemed too . . . earnest. "I do not have, never have had, and never will have any relationship whatsoever with the Backstreet Boys," I said, hoping to forever banish the topic from the intergalactic agenda.

"Really?" O'Sama's obvious devastation confirmed that he had been completely serious.

Sister Venus gave him a shocked look. "You didn't honestly think -- "

And that's when we got Rickrolled. If you're not familiar with the aging prank, it's a sonic ambush that causes you to hear a snippet of Rick Astley's foppish late eighties hit, "Never Gonna Give You Up." Rickrolling had its heyday during the late Bush era. But like bell-bottoms, it stages occasional resurgences, and we were in the midst of one. I figured that the culprit was my unattainably gorgeous neighbor, Manda Shark. We'd had drinks the night before, and at some point she must have slyly changed my phone's primary ringtone. And now someonewas calling, filling my office with that cheesy chorus.

Normal reactions to Rickrolls range from eye rolls to ironic sing-alongs. But my visitors started trembling, almost convulsing. And as they clung to their chairs for support, they took on an ecstatic air that was almost smutty. I instinctively grabbed my phone and muted the ringer.

"Big . . . music fans?" I ventured as they calmed down.

The nun nodded, catching her breath. "Almost any of your music can prompt that sort of reaction from us. Which is why we chose outfits with headdresses. They conceal devices that can completely silence our hearing when we're not in a sealed room, to protect us from the ambient music that fills the public spaces in your society."

O'Sama reached a finger under his turban and made a flicking gesture. "You see, I can't hear a thing now," he bellowed, then flicked his finger back the other way.

"Then I better change a setting on my computer," I said, sliding over to my keyboard. "Otherwise it'll play some Michael Bolton whenever an email comes in." That was a lie. Neither of them could see my monitor, and I was actually launching the software that I use to record depositions and other interviews. If they wouldn't let me shoot the meeting on my cellphone, an audio recording would be better than nothing. "Anyway. You know my name. Do you mind if I ask for yours?"

"You can call me Carly," the nun said.

I nodded agreeably, although I'd been hoping for something a bit more exotic. The mullah smiled gently. "And you can call me Frampton."

"Pleased to meet you both. So anyway -- it sounds like you're big music fans. And you need representation. In what specific ways can Carter, Geller & Marks be helpful?"

Carly leaned toward me, almost conspiratorially. "We need a license to all of humanity's music. One that will allow . . . a rather large number of beings to play it. Privately and in public. And to copy it. And to transmit it, share it, and store it."

Decades of marveling at Hollywood aliens hadn't prepared me for this dry request. But my career at a sharpelbowed copyright and patent law firm absolutely had. "That should be feasible," I said, managing to sound like Carly was the third extraterrestrial to make this request today. "And exactly what music are you seeking licenses to?" I struggled not to sniffle as I said this. I failed.

"Every song that's been played on New York?area radio since 1977. Or has ever been sold or widely traded on the Internet."

"That would be . . . complicated, but quite manageable." This thigh-slapper came straight from my firm's equivalent of a cunning marketing script. The partnership owes much of its lavish income to conversations that begin a lot like this one (albeit with Earthlings). A prospective client imagines that our music-saturated society must surely have a rational and well-defined set of rules governing music licensing. They come to us because we famously know everyone in the industry. So naturally, we can get them their licenses in a trice -- right?

You'd think. But music licensing is an arcane thicket of ambiguity, overlapping jurisdictions, and litigation. This is a disastrous situation for musicians, as well as for music fans and countless businesses. In fact, it suits absolutely nobody -- apart from the cynical lawyers who run the music labels, the lobbying groups, the House, the Senate, and several parasitic law firms like my own. Collectively, we are wholly empowered to fix the entire mess. But that would result in a needless loss of extravagantly high-paying legal work for all. So we indignantly denounce the situation to our respective patrons, wave our fists at each other in public, and then privately chuckle slyly over drinks.

In this environment, conversations with prospective clients need to be handled delicately. You don't want them to look back later and think that you were overpromising in a no-win situation. But you certainly don't want to talk them out of attempting the impossible.

"Why would it be complicated?" Carly asked. "Is it . . . hard to get this sort of music license?"

"No, I wouldn't say hard." This part of the pitch calls for offering some misleading relief. But as I started to deliver it, I recalled with a pang that the firm was about to trim some deadwood, and that I was a likely victim. They didn't hate me around here; I just wasn't viewed as being partner material, and would probably be shown the door within weeks. So why should I loyally push their greedy agenda until the bitter end? Particularly to a pair of extraterrestrials who probably lacked American currency anyway?

Carly tugged impatiently at her crucifix. "So, if it's not hard, what is it?"

"Utterly impossible," I said, with the reckless swagger of the noble corporate renegade that I'm not. "You can get close to a license as sweeping as that. But it'll cost you a fortune. And it'll take months at best -- more likely years. And once you think you're done, there will always be lots of loose ends. Thousands at least. Ones that people can sue you over. And when they do, your defense could drag on for years -- at four to nine hundred dollars per billable hour."

"But what if we want a license for places where no rational person would expect any of your music to ever sell, or even be played?" she pressed.

"Like where?"

At this, Frampton got to his feet and leaned across my desk. "The far side of the Townshend Line," he intoned, with the gravitas of a wizard invoking dungeons deep and caverns old.

Carly glared at him. "How would he know about the Townshend Line? You and I are the only beings who have ever crossed it." She turned back to me. "The damn thing's completely overrated anyway."

"Completely," Frampton agreed, retaking his seat.

"Anyway," Carly continued. "We want a license to regions that your record labels can't possibly care about. Specifically, all points one hundred forty-four light-years beyond your solar system."

Frampton stretched his arms wide. "That's over a hundred trillion times the distance from here to Staten Island!"

"I'm afraid the music industry actually cares immensely about even the remotest markets," I said. "In fact, almost every contract that it generates contains language like this." I picked up adocument at random from my desk and gazedat it. " 'The terms of this contract shall apply past the end of time and the edge of Earth; all throughout the universe; in perpetuity; in any media, whether now known, or hereafter devised; or in any form, whether now known, or hereafter devised.' " I actually know this clause by heart, and can reel it off like a cop reciting the Miranda rights. But unless I pretend to read it from a document, people think I must be joking.

A brief, gloomy silence followed. "Well, if that's the case," Carly finally said, "it'll be a lot harder than we thought to save your melodious asses."

Save our asses? "From what?" It took every bit of self-control that I'd honed as a kid at the bottom of the testosterone pyramid to say this with professional calm.

"Self-destruction," Frampton said grimly.

"Yeah," Carly said, then mimed ironic quotation marks with chilling enthusiasm. "Self-destruction."

"Oh, that," I said languidly, while teetering on the brink of terror. "But why come to me about this?"

Carly's testy facade dropped, and admiration flitted briefly across her face. "Because we need to enlist the greatest copyright attorney on Earth. If not . . . the universe."

I allowed myself to savor the sound of this for a few moments. But there was no sense in pretending they had the right guy. "Then you really ought to talk to Frank Carter, who started the firm back in the seventies. Old guy, rich as hell. Sits in a huge corner office two floors up. Although he only comes in about once a month these days. No relation to me, I'm afraid."

Carly looked horrified. Frampton looked terrified. She pointed at me and fixed him with a murderous look. "I thought you said he ran the firm."

Frampton quaked. "I thought he did."

Carly paused, apparently putting two and two together. Then, "No, you thought he was a Backstreet Boy, and were looking for any excuse to meet him!"

"Well -- not entirely."

Carly looked like she might hit him.

"Because there's the firm's name! It's Carter. And something, and something!" Frampton pointed at me. "Nick Carter!"

"You honestly thought a Backstreet Boy was moonlighting as a lawyer?"

"As a music lawyer!"


Frampton just grinned obsequiously and gave her a terrified shrug.

Carly turned her withering gaze to me. "Why doesn't anybody ever tell me anything?" she demanded, as if I was part of some conspiracy. I shrugged neutrally and turned to Frampton, angling to keep the spotlight on him.

Carly kept staring me down. "Mr. Carter," she continued, after reining in her outrage somewhat. "How senior are you around here?"

"Well, it's hard to say exactly. But out of a hundred and thirty attorneys, for now I?m probably . . ." I thought for a moment. "Top hundred?"

Frampton cringed further. Carly glowered as if I'd somehow arranged all of this just to spite her. "In that case," she said, "it seems that my colleague and I have pulled you into deadly waters that are well over your head."

Whatever you might think, it's no fun when aliens talk about drowning you, even metaphorically. "But luckily there's a lifeguard out there, and his name is Frank Carter," I said brightly. "His old assistant has all of his contact info. So why don't we track him down and pass the baton to him?"

"Because it sounds like he's retired, and probably half senile," Carly snapped. "And besides, we don't have time. The gateway back to our planet closes in one minute. If we don't leave before then, we'll be stuck here with you for almost a day before it opens again. And I don't think you want that."

You got that right, I thought. In fact, I wanted nothing to do with these extraterrestrial freaks. Ever. "Well, then," I chirped. "We better get you into that gateway of yours pronto, huh?"

Carly shook her head. "We still have forty-nine seconds. And we need to arrange our next encounter with you, because it looks like you're all we've got. The gateway will reopen for roughly twenty minutes tomorrow morning. Since you've now met us, we won't need to come in person. Instead, we'll connect to an Earth-based dataspace. You will meet us there. And you will need these."

She held up a set of pink, wraparound safety lenses. They looked a lot like the odd specs that Bono always wears.

"They have been specially built to interface with one of your primitive computers. We will teleport this pair to you tomorrow at eleven oh- three a.m., and simultaneously email you instructions for joining us in the dataspace exactly three minutes later. Frampton and I will now exit by way of a Wrinkle. Don't be alarmed."

"By way of a what?"

"A Wrinkle," she said. And then added enigmatically, "The universe is pleated."

And that was when I finally sneezed -- while making a botched effort to rein it in, which only made it sound like I was gagging on a pool ball.

"We could probably help you get over that cold," Carly said, cocking an eyebrow. And with that, the two of them knelt to the floor and bent low, as if praying toward Mecca. Then, in the course of about three seconds, they faded entirely from sight.

Excerpted with permission from Year Zero by Rob Reid

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Companies: random house

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Comments on “Excerpt From Rob Reid's Year Zero; Plus A Chance To Win The Book”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
DogBreath says:

Re: I call the China defence!

It doesn’t matter what defense you call, the Earth will be history.

Earth to be demolished to make way for hyperspace bypass!

You have complaints about the Hyperspace bypass? Too bad. The plans have been on display in the planning office on Alpha Centauri for the last fifty years….. in the basement, down the stairs, in a locked room, with a sign on it saying “Beware of the Leopard”

Mr. Smarta** (profile) says:

What about... ?

A real problem is actually on its way out of our solar system. The Voyager probes include music from our planet… recordings of languages, speeches, and you-guessed-it, music. That music is coming up on 30 years old and its definitely run out of licensing. The music industry in charge of that music better go retrieve it.

There it is, flying out of our solar system and into the cosmos. And on a gold record which means it’s going to last for a million years (or until it gets destroyed by getting sucked into a black hole or fall into a star). I seriously doubt NASA licensed that music for that long. What is the going rate for licensing a song for a million years? Probably a 100,000 times more than NASA spends on its space research program in one year (if attorneys and head honchos for the RIAA have their way). And how come we don’t hear about any sort of lawsuits against NASA?

If I burned a gold CD of a bunch of music and shot it out into space for aliens to listen to, you can bet I’d have lawyers busting down my door with court orders and M-16s coming out of black helicopters sporting bulletproof vests while five M1A1 Abrams tanks crush into my house and level it just because I might own a crossbow or something.

Anonymous Coward says:

Yikes! $25 for hardback, $12.99 for ebook, and $20 for the download. Guess Pirate Mike couldn’t find anyone else drinking the Kool-Aid. No surprise there. Congrats, Mikey! You talk the talk but you don’t walk the walk. You’re pimping a book that’s being sold using the OLD models. WTF? This guy’s a dinosaur! He’s just driving people to pirating his book! What an idiot!

Machin Shin (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Oh the horrors, Mike is pimping a book using the old system!! (By the way Mike, when did you change your name to Rob? That really makes things confusing) Now everyone is just going to pirate it!! (Ironic isn’t it? A book about piracy getting pirated.) Oh, the world is just going to end now!! (Or just maybe all us “filthy pirates” will go buy the book because the guy connected with fans and gave us a reason to buy)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“I’m sure Pirate Mike in private is telling people there are “alternative” ways to get the book. Wink. Wink.”

Idiot, you did not spell the word correctly, it’s an ‘a’ not an ‘i’ , but then when you type the stuff that really gets you hot and bothered you do only have the one hand to type with. My philosophy is that nobody should be harder on you than you are. Good luck floppy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

So long as he’s not aggressively attacking my rights if people do resort to pirating his work, I’m not the slightest bit bothered by his law abiding business efforts.

If people “pirate” other peoples’ work, I tend to sympathize even if their business model stinks, but if it’s impossible to address that without imposing on everyones’ privacy and civil rights, or causing excessive and disproportionate costs to other tax payers, or otherwise imposing unduly on others, then the right holder needs to lump it or find some innovative business solution to fix their problem.

If someone chooses to hold open air concerts adjacent to unfenced public spaces, they’ve no right to demand changes to the law to enable them to have the public spaces cleared so people cannot enjoy their concerts for free.

It’s up to the person trying to make money to do so in a plausible manner without imposing on everyone else, or lump the consequences of the impracticality of their business model.

Get back to me if this author starts acting unreasonably in the event of their work being “pirated” and I’ll alter my opinion about them accordingly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Can you give me an example of how this guy would be “aggressively attacking [your] rights”? How does copyright enforcement overly burden your rights? I’m curious. My comment to Mike, though, was about the fact that Mike preaches one business model, but when he invites authors onto his site, those authors usually aren’t even using Mike’s alternative business models. Having read enough Techdirt, I can tell you that anyone who doesn’t use Mike’s alternative business models is an idiot–at least according to Techdirt. Ergo, this guy’s a idiot. And yet Mike is pimping this guy’s business model. I guess that’s why Mike hasn’t said a word about how the book is being sold. Just a quiet little link. Too funny.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Having read enough Techdirt, I can tell you that anyone who doesn’t use Mike’s alternative business models is an idiot–at least according to Techdirt.

Um. No. Anyone who makes that statement, however…

My argument has always been that you can and should make use of *whatever* business model actually works. The point is that, however, if the market rejects your business model, you shouldn’t lash out and blame others, but recognize that perhaps you chose the wrong business model.

If a particular business model works for you, that’s great. We have no issue with that. We only note it when people blame others for their own failures — or, worse, resort to legal/policy moves because of their own business model failures.

That you could read this site for so long and be so confused… well, I’ll take the blame for that even though I’ve said all of this a bunch of times. However, I do get the feeling that you’ve built up a strawman in your head about who you think I am and what you think this site is about, and no matter how many times we demonstrate how wrong you are, you will respond by calling me names and continuing to state things that are blatantly incorrect…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Fact is, this guy is relying on copyright to make money off of his book and you’re helping him. Fact is, you can’t find more than a couple authors who subscribe to your alternate reality. And fact is, Pirate Mike, if he chooses to sell his book using copyright and others decide to “steal” his book, then IT’S NOT THIS GUY’S FAULT. It’s the fault of the pirates who deliberately chose to consciously disregard and violate this guy’s rights.

But do you ever lay the blame on those who truly deserve the blame? No. If someone violated this guy’s rights and he decided to actually try and go after the tortfeasor, you wouldn’t approve. In your mind, it’s WRONG to “resort to legal/policy moves” against people who knowingly violate other people’s rights. Talk about backwards. Funny how you NEVER blame you pirate friends, you know, the ones who violate other people’s rights on purpose. Instead you blame the “business model.” What a joke. Anything to protect your precious pirate friends.

The “business model” of selling what you create is not outdated. Give me a break. The fact is, what authors create is so valuable that your pirate friends can’t “steal” it enough. The value the product, but they “steal” it ’cause it’s easy to do. And because immoral/amoral douchebags like you spread the nonsense that their “stealing” isn’t their fault–it’s someone else’s fault. What a joke.

The problem with you is that you would blame his choice in business models, and you wouldn’t blame the basement-dwelling idiots that were violating his rights. You side with the lawbreakers under some idiotic, pretextual argument that the criminals are actually the victims and the victim brought it on themselves by doing nothing other than exercising their statutory rights.

You truly are a demented and disgusting person, Mike. The fact that you would blame the victim and not the wrongdoer shows what a morally bankrupt person you are. Why this author chose to pump his book on your stupid, pirate-loving blog is beyond me. But, still, it’s too, too funny that this guy’s business model is full-on, undeniably based on copyright. Kudos for being a two-faced sack of shit, Mikey.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“But, still, it’s too, too funny that this guy’s business model is full-on, undeniably based on copyright. Kudos for being a two-faced sack of shit, Mikey.”

It’s a funny position to take, to decry our including a great work of culture on this site because he happens to own a copyright on that work….after people on your side of the argument worked so hard to ensure that EVERY DAMN THING HAS COPYRIGHT ON IT AUTOMATCALLY. More importantly, not all of us, and I would probably say not even Mike (though he can disagree w/me if I’m wrong), are copyright abolitionists. I’m certainly not.

So, what we have is your side creating mandatory rules, our side liking authors that write about how overblown those rules are but being forced to follow those mandatory rules, and then you put your fingers in your ears and stick your tongue out. It must be nice, to live in this place you live in, with people in your life so devoid of thought and backbone that they never challenged you to – AGAIN – make an actual cogent point….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

LOL! Are you suggesting Random House would be promoting this guy’s book if the book wasn’t protected by copyright? This guy’s business model for this book is totally copyright-based. And fact is, if someone were to violate the copyright in this guy’s book, Mike would blame this guy and not the person who violated his rights. Talk about ass-backwards. Techdirt is a pro-technology, pro-piracy blog through and through. It’s all Pirate Mike knows.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

“LOL! Are you suggesting Random House would be promoting this guy’s book if the book wasn’t protected by copyright?”

LOL! Are you suggesting that his book wasn’t copyrighted immediately upon completion, so the entire question is moot anyway? BTW, you are aware that there are book publishers, big and small, that promote free eBook libraries, lax copyright enforcement, etc. So….your point?

“This guy’s business model for this book is totally copyright-based.”

So? Again, we’re not abolitionists. I’m certainly not, and I write for this site. What’s your damned point?

“And fact is, if someone were to violate the copyright in this guy’s book, Mike would blame this guy and not the person who violated his rights.”

Uh, no. If someone violated the copyright in this guy’s book and he went all legal and ballistic rather than trying to engage potential fans to get them to pay for the work, Mike/me/Techdirt would say there’s a better way. Wrong again….

“Techdirt is a pro-technology”



Mmmmm, no.

“It’s all Pirate Mike knows.”

Uh huh. Let’s compare his and your resumes, shall we? I’ll even throw mine in the mix as well. Where can we get yours?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

You really aren’t too bright, DH. Obviously, it was copyrighted by operation of law the moment it was fixed in a tangible medium (if he was in the U.S.). So what? The point is that he is choosing to use this copyright as his business model. This is completely contra to the Techdirt-approved business models.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Having read enough Techdirt, I can tell you that anyone who doesn’t use Mike’s alternative business models is an idiot–at least according to Techdirt.”

I marked you as insightful, because I always find insight in fiction. You see, fiction, while not factual, can teach us a great deal. It can teach us about the human condition, a la CP’s Fight Club. It can teach us how to imagine and suspend our belief, a la Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

Or, as in this case, it can teach us that the author is an illiterate and likely half-deranged chimpanzee who is too busy spanking himself to come up with anything resembling a cogent thought.

So thank you, oh insightful one, for teaching me how…un-insightful…you are….and now I’ve broke myself….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

He could buy politicians to get them to attack my rights legislatively as some rights holders are apt to do. If he does that, please let me know.

I don’t care who Mike thinks is an idiot. I’d rather make up my own mind about that. I would not appreciate Mike excluding an author who wishes to engage with the blog, on the basis that Mike thinks their business model is idiotic. If Mike thinks the content is likely to be interesting to Mike’s readers, I’d rather Mike put it out there for us and let us make our minds up regarding anyone’s idiocy.

This is why many of us like freedom of expression and the marketplace of ideas. We get information and we figure out what we think of it, no matter who Mike or anyone else thinks is an idiot.

Vog (profile) says:

A brief, gloomy silence followed. “Well, if that’s the case,” Carly finally said, “it’ll be a lot harder than we thought to save your melodious asses.”

Save our asses? “From what?” It took every bit of self-control that I’d honed as a kid at the bottom of the testosterone pyramid to say this with professional calm.

“Self-destruction,” Frampton said grimly.

“Yeah,” Carly said, then mimed ironic quotation marks with chilling enthusiasm. “Self-destruction.”

Conspiracy theorists believe the Mayans predicted the end of the world will come December 2012, and Mayan historians offer another explanation: the occasion marked is one of transcendence and awakening.

It looks like the aliens are offering the same option here: either we perish, or we realize how bad our current system of copyright law is.


REM(RND) (profile) says:

If I were in a similar situation, with my luck the alien would be Xenu. And he would render unto me the glory that is the Holy Copywrits from which would be revealed his wisdom but would only be made manifest to me if I purchased a license, signed an EULA, and had a constant internet connection to his server which would painstakingly transfer one word per week. All at the low low cost of $9.99 per week!

Then, and only then, would it be revealed that I had per the agreement (because who really reads those things anyway) now been married to Tom Cruise who wishes a divorce. The cad!

Yet after all this the RIAA would throw the book at me (2201 Fascinating Facts by David Louis) because my screams of anguish had already been copyrighted (unlike a few remaining bird songs) and the MPAA would sew me to prevent me from making a moovey abowt it becays dey nefar mack misstaks.

Brendan (profile) says:

If my comment is deemed a winner I demand it be broadcasted into outer space for archiving by aliens. Can’t seem to trsut anyone “local” to not ruin everything.

However, I will be secretely witholding the full copyright (a la Righthaven Pseudo-transfer) and my intergalactic heirs will sue every specias in the universe in 500 years. This will be possible thanks to the next 20 copyright term extensions, each for an additional 20 years, based on the Titan convention and the Ceres agreement.

YOU’LL ALL PAY!! (Me… lots of money. Space money.)

Gwiz (profile) says:


Based on seeing very few insightful or funny badges on this article, it’s like people get all stingy with their clicks when it means that the comment author might get some kind of reward beyond the the usual recognition and possible mention on Sunday.

There has to some sort of crowd psychology lesson in all this, I’m just not sure what it might be.

Just Another Joe (profile) says:

Like they really need another reason

Well thank you very, very, very, very much Mr. Reid.#@!

As if the MAFIAAs need more incentives to perpetuate copyright.

Now that you?ve drawn their attention to the fact that radio waves are travelling through space to be intercepted by anyone/thing out there I?m sure the collective pea brained MAFIAAs will use this to get perpetual and more draconian copyright laws enacted to make up for these lost sales.

Copyright alone will need to be extended to cover the duration of the existence of the radio waves to the farthest star.

As an example:
A planet near Gamma Pavonis, a mere 30 light years from Earth, will only now be receiving broadcasts from the eighties and to cover the 125 years of copyright they will need to extend copyright for another 60 years, round trip to Gamma Pavonis, making it 185 years here on Earth.

BUT according to NASA, the Hubble telescope can see a star 3.26 million light years away.


Anybody up for copyright lasting 6.52 million years? Or more?

And yesterday we thought SOPA and ACTA were bad?..

Thanks a lot Mr. Reid.

As Stan Lee would say ?N?uff said?

Anonymous Coward says:


Funny how Pirate Mike just didn’t mention the price of the book or how to get it. He’s obviously ashamed that in order to promote books like this, he has to work with people who use business models that he thinks are stupid. I would expect no less from such a slimy, snake-like person as Mike Masnick. Why is it that the evangelical-and-in-your-face types can never withstand even the slightest scrutiny themselves? Are they all fake pieces of shit?

Mike L. says:

Re: Re: DRM

The purchasing information is available through the links provided. It is within editorial scope to either highlight it or move on. I don’t share your outrage. You are demanding Mike attack an author he is trying to promote.

My comment is reflecting on the reality of the marketplace. As a consumer, I don’t think its worth my money to buy this for more than $5. There are plenty of other interesting books that I can buy and read instead for less. Yea, this plot sounds intriguing, but not to the extent that i’m gonna spend $12+ and also have to deal with restrictions on how I can read it. In six months hopfully I can get a used paperback version for $5.

SujaOfJauhnral (profile) says:

Re: Re: DRM

Funny how Pirate Mike just didn’t mention the price of the book or how to get it.

I just typed 2 words into Google found the book and price, isn’t that funny?


He’s obviously ashamed that in order to promote books like this, he has to work with people who use business models that he thinks are stupid.

I’m pretty sure he’s never actually said if you read his pos- Oh wait, sorry I forgot, you can’t read. Oh well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Why can’t I simply download the book for free? Why hasn’t the author given it away for free? After all, doesn’t he know that the book became “infinite” the moment a soft copy was created? That the cost of reproducing an infinite good is zero, as we have all been taught at Techdirt University? Why hasn’t Mike been able to convince the author, who’s actually writing about how messed up IP is, to give it away for free? Surely he could have taught the author some basic economics.

Kevin (profile) says:

I own all copyright

My great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, grandfather was an alien and brought to Earth all known musical notes. Being the only living descendent I therefore claim all copyrights to all music and you can’t disprove it.

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