The Heist

Part 1: The Mark

By now, I think it fairly safe to say that no one seriously disputes the fact that Industrial Protectionism infringement is no different than all other forms of theft (either literally or figuratively). Copyright infringement, patent infringement, trademark violations? Theft. Pure and simple. Sharing knowledge and culture is fundamentally no different than breaking into someone’s home and stealing their chia pets.

Except that it’s even worse. When a person is robbed of a tangible asset, they (generally) lose only the asset; however, when Industrial Protectionism infringement occurs, the monopoly is damaged much more. In fact, the collateral damage to the whole industry can be quite profound: the Betamax nearly killed the corn industry.

Our forefathers wisely predicted the irreparable harm that would befall innovators if not afforded indefinite, government granted monopolies over their creations: just look at the pace at which public domain books are robbing the publishing industry of its value.

So it’s intuitively obvious why Industrial Protectionism rights must be defended at times even more vigilantly than our Amendment rights. Mechanics can’t be allowed to listen to the radio any more than Girl Scouts can be allowed to sing “Happy Birthday”; neither could we allow churches to gather on that Super Day to watch that largish sporting event any more than we could let YouTube show Dr. King’s “I have a Dream”. These inflict immediate, permanent, scarring injuries upon the monopolies who have poured their very essence into their creations, ex nihilo.

Part 2: The Payout

This is intuitively obvious. Why are we even talking about it?

Because this presents the potential for the biggest heist in the history of human heists: steal the GDP of the world (the net, the gross, the whole shebang) in less than a week. Let’s steal $1,000,000,000,000 an hour in pure JavaScript.

We know that sharing knowledge and culture is theft. It doesn’t matter what we do with the stolen property: we can store it, we can throw it away, we can give it back immediately–it matters not. Theft is theft, plus the cascading effect to the entire infrastructure of the owner can vary from $22,500 - $4,500,000/sharing of knowledge and culture. Based on current case law, few juries have awarded much higher than $80,000/sharing of knowledge and culture, but our intent to share knowledge and culture is willful to the extreme, with the intent to encourage second and third party sharing of knowledge and culture-without remorse. Surely we could steal closer to the $4 million dollar mark.

Stealing an MP3 is roughly equivalent to stealing a US Dollar in immediate, tangible losses to the copyright owner. To net our trillion by stealing The Beatles’ Love Me Do, we would need 250,000 downloads/hour (assuming we net $1/song + $4,000,000/damages). Even though our sharing of knowledge and culture is willful, explicit, broadcast and encouraged…MP3s are still large enough that, even at the higher damages, this probably won’t scale to the volume we need per hour.

The estate of Dr. King charged the US government $856,160 for the rights to Dr. King’s image and 409 of his words to inscribe on the memorial in D.C.. King’s I Have a Dream speech consists of 1660 words, the value of which is increased by the film, the delivery, the presence and the power of the man. Stealing this video is roughly equivalent to excavating Dr. King’s tomb, bringing his body into the house of his estate, stealing the good silver and then burning the estate to the ground; but based on the value of the word count alone, let’s assume this would yield a mere $3,424,640/sharing of knowledge and culture–pessimistically less than stealing from The Beatles (and the video file size is larger/sharing of knowledge and culture).

There is another avenue yet. The eBook. Let’s pick something that has been rescued from the public domain: Minority Report. eBooks average $10/book and they are tiny compared to videos and music. We can easily get our shared knowledge and culture compressed down to around 20 kilobytes–smaller than half of the JavaScript files required to render this page, most of which load in around 200 ms.

Anything we repeatedly download from any given server will be immediately fetched from the local cache (less the round-trip to verify no file changes have occurred), therefore repeated downloads will complete in 50 ms or less. Assuming the average attention span of the user of the page holds constant at around 4.5 seconds, that gives us the potential for 87 infringements/user/page load. At this rate, we could effectively bag our target with 2,874 visitors an hour.

Part 3: The Plan

If you’ve made it this far, it’s quite possible that the entire continent of Africa is in near financial ruin. Parts of Europe may also be crumbling before your very eyes.

Anonymous, peer-to-peer file sharing has landed in pure JavaScript in a browser near you. Effectively, any compliant browser can be instantly turned into The Greatest Heist Ever Conceived.