A modest copyright proposal

January 28th, 2012

Everybody is so negative about SOPA and PIPA and ACTA. Nobody sees the opportunities! In the US legal system, plaintiffs who can prove willful infringement are entitled to up to $150,000 per work in damages. Let’s make a conservative estimate that a million Americans have downloaded 100 songs each. This would mean potential damages of $15M ($15,000,000) per person. Across a million people, that’s 15 million million, or 15 trillion US dollars in damages.

What does this number remind you of? You’re right, the US gross public debt. So hear me out on this modest proposal. Use this money to pay back the public debt. Then give each of the million people a 400 year prison sentence (not unheard of in the US) and let them work their asses off for 400 years to pay back the debt that is now on their shoulders. (Should anyone try to die from natural causes prior to the end of the sentence, you simply threaten to kill the person in question, which is usually enough to make him or her want to stay alive.) Putting another million people in prison won’t even double the US prison population, so the relatively small increase would hardly be a strain on the American correctional supervision system.

It’s doubtful whether anyone could object to this modest proposal which would instantly solve the two biggest problems America is facing today, copyright infringement and rampant public debt.