And this is what the world would look like according to Tarmle:
No one has to pay for numbers anymore. No one is threatened for merely experiencing the development of their own culture. No one is sued for participating in its creation or propagation. The old media business models are gone, burned away by their total inability to adapt to the reality of new technology. In the end they simply failed to comprehend that any product which can be reproduced endlessly by anyone at virtually no cost has, in any reasonable estimation, a market value of zero. Trying to break the technology that threatened them was the final desperate tactic – it hadn’t stopped the Industrial Revolution and it didn’t stop this one.
Copyright is your right to copy… anything. You are permitted to duplicate, to alter, to republish any piece of information, any text, sound, image or source code, even any object, anything that does not impinge on the privacy of another individual. It even protects your right to make money out of such duplication, if you can. In non-profit situations it also supersedes the now very limited and expensive application of patents. About the only right retained by an artist after they have released a work is their moral right to attribution. So don’t get carried away, fraud, forgery and counterfeiting are still crimes.
Like all the technology in your home, your computer and everything on it is your own, down to the last resistor, the last byte. Ironically it still runs Windows. The old proprietary OS has been rebuilt into dozens of open source flavours – there was no point throwing out codes and standards with years of work behind them and such a vast catalogue of useful applications already developed. Even more unexpected is that Trusted Computing has become universal. The technology that would have allowed big business to monitor your activity, to reach into your home and control your computer and your data, is now used to stop just that kind of interference. Encrypted drives, curtained memory and protected media paths prevent malware snooping on your personal files or siphoning away your home movies. Ubiquitous VoIP, secured by privacy amplified encryption, means the national security agencies of the world have to actually investigate threats instead of sitting around waiting for potential suspects to blurt incriminating evidence over illegal wiretaps.
Your culture is faster and more fluid than it has ever been, or ever could have been had the rules not changed, you’ll only ever experience a tiny fraction of it in your lifetime. The new movie you glimpsed playing on the back of someone’s animated t-shirt at the bus stop last week has already spawned a handful of mash-ups and parodies, by next month the spreading ripples of its influence will be unrecognisable. Even then, if the feeds do not provide what you’re looking for, there are the vast peer-distributed media libraries from which you can retrieve almost anything that has ever been digitised, any talk show or radio play, video game or comic, newspaper article or published photograph.
Time and space shifting of media is the norm rather than the hard won exception. You rarely notice the exact source of the information and entertainment you receive, it may have come through the traditional broadcast television channels, via the manifold multimedia blogs piped through your fibre optic Internet connection or picked up virally from wireless peers by your personal server while walking down the street. You rely on your intelligent agent to filter this never-ending flow of information, an application that reduces and organises the mass of live data to a few dynamic feeds, constantly adjusted to match your profile, habits and even your mood. But still, there is so much material even this system has to co-operate with others on local networks to process it all.
With free and instant access to every book ever written there is little use for bookshops, the few that are left sell limited ranges of bound paper works as charming novelties. Often those buying them are just doing so to get their favourite author’s signature. For those who miss the feel of a real book but want access to more than the few pulp prints in the shops there are ‘magic books’ with simulated bindings, touch sensitive e-Ink pages and voice interaction to let them summon an approximation of any volume ever written. The primary functions of public libraries today are the maintenance of municipal servers in the back rooms, used to ensure that less frequented material is never lost from the peer networks, and public access to the Internet for those who might find themselves without a mobile device. The stacks are now roped-off museum exhibits.
You just don’t see physical media anymore. Awkward, low-end portable storage like CDs and DVDs are rarely useful, not with ever-increasing bandwidth availability, and not without the requirement to divide culture up into tradable units, the need to trick consumers with physical objects in exchange for their money and their rights. Blu-ray and HD-DVD, their technology moulded to constrict the hold on consumers, never had a chance, too rapidly overtaken by faster, more versatile and more open live storage devices.
The cinema chains have been decimated. Those that persist cater to customers who seek an authentic movie theatre experience. You’ll often find movie sponsors subsidising tickets, food and drink sales in return for screenings of ‘official’ versions of films, desperate to have their product placements seen by audiences in a controlled environment. You often find yourself return to really good movie again and again, drawn by dynamic content generation and commissioned extensions. There’s no point banning cameras and threatening legal action, the movie doesn’t need to be protected, quite the opposite, and almost everyone there has already seen it. When you walk into a cinema you probably have versions of all the latest films stored in your inside pocket, if you don’t you can download them from the cinema’s own server as you’re watching, or access countless other titles through the powerful ad-hoc networks that settle invisibly over any significant gathering of people.