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20 years hence

As he walked across the road begging for alms, Page could not believe his fortune. From being the CEO of the world's biggest company on the internet, he was reduced to a lowly beggar barely able to make ends meet. A lifetime of dedication to developing better and better software was rendered meaningless in one swift blow.

Yes, he could remember as if it were yesterday. The Congress had passed bills, many bills funded by big corporations (his was a big corporation, yes; but he did not believe in such lowly tactics) that suddenly changed the way the law viewed copyrights. Suddenly, before anyone knew it, display of copyrighted material became an offence, which needed no proof, only a single complaint by any of the 420 organizations who were the sole copyright owners. Suddenly, Page found his company shut down for violations of copyright.

Tim was one of the 1001 great bloggers of yesteryear. Yes, he was the same one who walked out of the 13th storey window. Assailed with copyright infringement suits for reproducing without permission words like "is," "an," "the," Tim was in debt because of his legal fees. At the same time, thanks to the take-down laws enforced, his blog was taken off the internet before he knew what happened. Deprived of his source of income, with the prospect of spending his life in debtors prison, he was left with no other alternative.

"Frugga Bugga!" said Page as he knocked on a door. Yes, language as we know it does not exist any longer. Use of any words of the American language is now considered a copyright violation. At the same time, America went to war with Britain, claiming that the English language borrowed without proper licensing, words from the American language, causing grievous hurt to the American economy. Decades of war in different parts of the world coupled with loads of "Occupy" movements had left the American economy in tatters, and the state would have collapsed were it not for the licensing fees it charged over the use of the American language.

Joe remembered the days he had been a part of the presidential election campaign, as he drew pieces of lead towards his home on a sled. By the standards of the bourgeois, he was rather well off, his home was a cave set in the mountain, and not a grove. He smiled as he saw his partner, remembering the good ol' days of internet dating sites. Assailed by lawsuits, Lee's creation was destroyed, the damned Higgs Boson never found, because the data generated by the LHC could not be stored and analysed. Yes, no one used computers. Also, since books were never published, because scientists could not put in DRMs in the paper medium, humanity had lost a considerable amount of its knowledge. With years and years of fighting over patent lawsuits, almost all technology had to be abandoned because it just wasn't feasible enough.

Even so, the 420 copyright owners too began to find their lives difficult. Without the billions to feed on, they were left without money, without technology, without anything. In fact, all that they had to their credit were some rights to make copies of work no one ever could understand or use. So they asked the Congress to come up with a new law, that required people to provide money and food to the 420. Without this law, they would have probably starved to death. Of course, though people had nothing to their name, no one wanted a lawless anarchy. So, people consented to feed the 420.

The world was facing another problem, an acute shortage of doctors and hospitals. Without computers, without the internet, and protected by patents, drug manufacturing had become so expensive, that the cost of a pill was more than the worth of a human life. With no patients, doctors had left their professions, hospitals became haunted houses.

It is very cold, freezing and yet Joe does not light a fire. The Manhattan protocol put limits on carbon dioxide emissions. With the amount of work Joe was doing, he was dangerously close to the limits with the amount of carbon dioxide he exhaled. Exceeding the limits was a capital offence, and Joe wanted to live.

Cold and shivering, he remembered the good ol' days of free culture.

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