In what novel are the characters brains scanned for copyright royalties?
December 13, 2007 9:54 AM   Subscribe

Help me remember what book I read this in: In this sci-fi dystopia, you don't have to buy books or recordings. They're free for the taking. But at regular intervals, you have to report to a "copyright center" to have your brain scanned, at which point you are charged for the media you've consumed. Not reporting...

is a pretty serious crime. I want to say was Anthem by Ayn Rand or something by Orwell. But i can't put my finger on it and don't have access to my books to thumb through and figure it out. Anyone have any ideas? Help!
posted by raconteur to Society & Culture (12 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds more like Cory Doctorow to me, but I don't have a title for you.
posted by baf at 11:03 AM on December 13, 2007

posted by niles at 11:44 AM on December 13, 2007

Response by poster: Nice comic, niles, but sadly looking for something a bit more substantive. More brain-diving has led me to consider Harrison Bergeron and Brave New World, but I don't think those fit the bill either. I hope this scene isn't some figment of an overactive teenage imagination that somehow became real to me. And if it is, I hope the brain scanners don't charge me for it.

Keep 'em coming, please!
posted by raconteur at 11:55 AM on December 13, 2007

I have no idea, but this is a great list of books tagged dystopia on Shelfari.
posted by lumpenprole at 12:12 PM on December 13, 2007

Response by poster: the materials could've been other copyrightable things too, like movies or books.
posted by raconteur at 12:26 PM on December 13, 2007

Hmmm. There was some really weird stuff going on with copyright in "Noir" by K.W. Jeter, but I don't remember it well enough to tell if this was it. Were copyright thieves executed in rather nasty ways?
posted by Justinian at 12:51 PM on December 13, 2007

baf, Cory's Eastern Standard Tribe has a music-sharing system for cars that's polled at tollbooths - the more you share with other cars, the less you're charged for what you consume, but that's the only thing i can think of that comes close...
posted by pupdog at 2:23 PM on December 13, 2007

Justinian, Noir was the first thing I thought of, but as I searched my memory, I realized it doesn't feature that at all. It does, however, have the Hideous Punishments Clause, like pirates being stripped down to just enough brainmatter to function as, say, a toaster or a bulky speaker cable with a lump in it, and forced to suffer that way in the infringed-upon artist's home. First Jeter novel that didn't horribly disappoint me. We can rule out Noir.
posted by adipocere at 2:58 PM on December 13, 2007

Damn, Noir was my best stab in the dark. It's not Terry Bisson's The Pickup Artist either which was the answer to the last copyrightesque SF question I answered on AskMe. Well, shoot.
posted by Justinian at 4:41 PM on December 13, 2007

For what it is worth, raconteur, this doesn't sound much like something by Rand, Orwell, Huxley, etc. This sort of examination of copyright strikes me as far more contemporary.

Do you know when you read this story? You say it was a book... was it a novel or a collection of short stories? Do you remember anything else about it? This should be an easy I.D....
posted by Justinian at 4:46 PM on December 13, 2007

Response by poster: Justinian, I would say I read it at least ten years ago. To expound upon some details (I too thought it'd be an easy ID), I seem to remember that media was freely available and everywhere. Books, newspapers, music, all just wrapped in cellophane and free for the taking, without even a transaction. But the deal was that, everyone had to go in to have their brain scanned every so often (monthly?) and the scanner was completely accurate in determining what was consumed and producing the appropriate charges for it. I don't even remember how this fit into the concept of a dystopia.

Jeez, it could've even been some obscure philosophy paper in college... who knows. Anyway, appreciate everyone's help, and please do keep throwing out ideas.
posted by raconteur at 9:31 PM on December 13, 2007

It was certainly neither Anthem nor 1984.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:57 PM on December 13, 2007

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