Dead Fish Swimming: a Horror Story for Creators of Intellectual Property

I recently visited a product development and turnkey services blog right here on WordPress that contained a post about Apple and its “accidental” confiscation of original music. What, you are wondering, does this have to do with writing Horror?

Answer: Everything. It erased original files of original music from the artist’s hard drive.

Why is that important? Because it is the musicians who are leading the charge in intellectual property rights and – it seems – violations.

The post is titled “Apple Stole My Music – No Seriously” and is located at .. It is a hard lesson learned that anyone who does creative work using a computer and accesses the web should read.

Why? Because I suspect Apple is not alone in poking its blind fingers in intellectual pies. And in a world of Thought Police and creative control (along with its residuals and rights and proof of existence) it is the Artists that must be muzzled first.

It doesn’t have to be intentional to be covert. It doesn’t have to be mean-spirited. It just has to happen. And it is. Happening.


Technology is Not a Safe Zone

We hear warnings all of the time…about hackers slipping into your private reserves of data, snagging everything and holding it hostage. We hear about tech crashes, about small children barely out of diapers who reprogram things into user oblivion, about spilt beverages and lightning strikes. But we forget that every time we log onto an online service – paying a fee or just trying it out – that we give control of our hard drive to that service to download its software in order to make that service usable.

Embedded within that software can be innocent-sounding script that reads the rest of your files for the purpose of consolidating data…

But here’s the thing many of us have to learn the hard way: computers don’t really “think” – at least not in the variables and preferences that the human mind does – computers process data, consolidating data that appears to be the same, often having been written to favor the newest version of things…

It is easy to hide behind the veil of software programs and the decisions made in back rooms by programmers conveniently not thinking about such things, by those paid to “look the other way” or paid to just benefit the company that employs them when in doubt. It’s also easy to blame non-programmers for “operator errors” that they have no idea how to disprove.

But today’s artists are having to become more and more fluent in technology – including programming languages – in order to create and sell their products. And as in this particular case, the artist was too savvy to be “snowed” by those unwilling or unable to help.

Not many of us can make the same claim. And it is for that reason that the reference to that blog post is on THIS blog post.

Computer programs DO NOT THINK….they do as programmed…

As Artists, our only protection from that blizzard of HTML and newer languages in an innocent download or opening an email is TO BACK UP OUR WORK.

Not just “save” it…. Put it on another drive separate from your computer – like a thumb or zip drive.

This is especially true if other people have access to or USE your computer….




This is About More Than Your First Draft

Really think about what a loss of your data means….as a writer….

Your computer files date the origination and time of your file creation and record your saves… a valuable piece of copyright protection.

Maybe you experiment with your drafts well into many versions before deciding on one. Or two. How many pages is that? How many words? How many unpaid hours of your labor?

If lost, how likely are you to recreate the same story the same way with the same word choice as before?

What would that loss feel like?

Answer: You don’t want to know. EVER.

Never mind that such a program intrusion as mentioned in the post seizes your data as its own, placing it in ITS catalog for purchase or download…And YOU would have to REPURCHASE your own work potentially. But altered. To the program’s preferences.

Never mind that this is a little too Big Brother for most of our liking.

As Artists, our work is our BABY. Our SANITY. It is who we are.

This is intellectual assault in the worst form.

Imagine for just a moment a total loss of everything right now on your computer.

It won’t matter that it was “innocent” or “accidental” or just “part of the program.”

“ ‘Sorry’ seems to be the hardest word….” (thank you, Elton John!)

And you probably won’t hear it.

Because most of the Technology Sector doesn’t appear to be. It’s why you keep having to buy the newest technology to access everything you’ve already bought with your hard-earned money.

It’s why I work in a bookstore.

It’s why I have print in my house. And buy DVDs. And keep CDs. I don’t want any computer anywhere (or by extension its programmer or parent company) to decide how, when, what, or what version of what I want to read, listen to or watch.

That is the definition of CENSORSHIP.


Back It Up, Back Musicians Up

I’m going to say it again. Musicians are on the forefront of the battle against the control of technology and the theft of intellectual property by those who feel so entitled.

But our work – the work of Artists – is only free when we SAY it is. And until Technology is completely free, Technology needs to keep its opinions about the obligations of all Artists to provide free access to our work and its sticky tentacles off our creative endeavors.

Fans need to realize that Art is not created in a vacuum, but by real people putting in real blood, sweat and tears for years of unpaid labor to bring them just a few minutes of unforgettable pleasure.

If it isn’t free for the Artist to create, it shouldn’t be free to download. Unless the Artist gives his or her permission.

Costs need to be respected because they support whole industries that support whole legions of people working real jobs. That means money must be exchanged or you are contributing to the death of that industry and the end of original Art.

So fellow Horror writers, and writers, and Artists and fans of Artists and writers of every ilk…

Support musicians EVERY TIME they stand up against the bullying of Technology and its less savory users. The music industry is setting the precedent that intellectual property cases will rely on far into the future.

Be present and accounted for. And don’t forget to back up your files.