Zero Price, Today Only: *Copyright Unbalanced*
By Garett Jones
Today is the first anniversary of Wikipedia’s SOPA Blackout: A 24-hour shutdown to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act. To commemorate the anniversary, the Mercatus Center is making Copyright Unbalanced: From Incentive To Excess available free for today only. Download it here in .mobi or .epub format (free software for reading these formats are easy to come by).
On November 28, 2009, police arrested a 22-year-old Chicago woman named Samantha Tumpach, jailed her for two nights, and charged her with “criminal use of a motion picture exhibition”–a felony offense punishable with up to three years in prison. Her crime? She had captured two brief clips of The Twilight Saga: New Moon while recording her family’s surprise birthday celebration for her sister, who had come to the theater to watch the film. Tumpach copied under four minutes of the movie in total and obviously had no intention of making a bootleg for resale. “You can hear me talking the whole time,” she explained.
Given that the Times spent extra money to make sure that its paywall was especially porous, it seems absurd to criminalize the act of circumventing it.