“Fond memories of the days when there were alternatives to Microsoft’s OS pass through your mind — but that was before the government realised that software was like petrol — a totally essential commodity in the lives of most businesses and individuals. Legislation was passed in 2003 that required all software developers and vendors to be licensed and a 45% tax added to all sales. Of course, much to Microsoft’s glee, this killed the Open Source movement since being an unlicensed software supplier risks a stiff fine or even a jail term and those licenses are incredibly expensive.
You type in “cnn.com” then enter the ID and password associated with your monthly subscription. Remember when there were hundreds of sites offering the latest news for free? Not any more. Sure, there still a few, but they’re regularly hit with law suits by the big names who allege breach of copyright. Although such suits are inevitably dismissed — the cost of defending them means that the independent news sites usually only last a few months at most.
Flicking the remote beside you kicks your digital music player into action and you marvel that 95% of its computing power is dedicated to the sophisticated digital rights management system it contains.
Following an unsuccessful attempt to copy-protect CDs, the recording industry forced everyone to a new mini-CD format that has yet to be cracked (although there are rumours that some Russians have succeeded). You just can’t buy music on CDs anymore and the old CDR/RW media now costs $10 a disk, thanks to the $9 anti-piracy levy that was introduced in 2003.
Another warning appears — ‘Your license for this recording has expired, unable to play.’ Damn — another $49 if you want to listen to that music for another year. You wonder, if as they claim, these new measures significantly reduce piracy, why music is now so much more expensive?
You type up a quick email to a friend, inviting them to meet you for lunch. Of course you’re very careful not to use the words ‘bomb’ and ‘aeroplane’ in the same message for fear of attracting the attention of the new anti-terrorism police. After all, every single bit that enters and leaves your PC is now scanned by the authorities — under the premise that it is in the interests of (inter)national security and crime reduction.
And if you haven’t already read A Love Song for Napster, you should.