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Fox, CBS, and NBC have sued DISH Networks over its “Auto Hopper” feature, which allows viewers to auto-skip commercials in programs they record.
What’s wonderful isn’t that the TV networks are claiming that skipping commercials is “copyright infringement.” I mean, that’s insane, but no, there’s more. The networks are also claiming that if you record a bunch of shows intending to skip the commercials…and then, the next day, you watch the commercials anyway…you’re guilty of “copyright infringement” anyway, because you intended to skip the commercials back when you recorded the shows. They’re arguing that this supposed “infringement” (which is, of course, not actually infringement) inheres in the intent.
It goes without saying that the word “copyright” is here being used in ways that would be utterly unrecognizable to the people who originally devised the concept. Beyond that, this is Because-We-Say-So legal reasoning of the purest, most flamboyant kind.
The problem isn’t that these loopy arguments are going to win in this particular case. The problem is that the entertainment conglomerates have the resources to keep doing this kind of thing nearly forever, endlessly wearing away at the legal system and at our notions of what’s just and unjust.
Pretty much the same way the energy conglomerates have nearly unlimited resources to keep propping up the notion that there’s a “controversy” over whether we’re undergoing anthropogenic global climate change.
The problem is that in order to spur economic development, we created a class of human organizations that are sociopathic. Our army of killer robots has made it clear: they work for themselves, not for us, and they will break the world.