Unlawful Art

Jerry dipped his brush into the paint and made a single red slash on the canvas. He put the brush down and picked up another. Before the second brush could reach his paint palette the Intellectual Property Protection Agency kicked in the door.

Burly, armor-clad agents swarmed into the room like flies after fresh dung. Each peered at Jerry from behind a gun barrel. A cacophony of shouts, all variations of “get on the ground”, assaulted him from every direction. Jerry held up his hands. He had known painting could get him in trouble but he hadn’t expected anything like this. He opened his mouth to voice his surrender when someone tackled him.

He laid on the floor trying to regain his breath while the agent wrenched his arms back to apply restraints. Through watering eyes he saw a pair of polished black boots come through the door and advance toward him.

“Jerry Newton,” said a voice from above the boots, “By the authority of the IPPA you are under arrest for suspicion of plagiarism, in violation of the Creative Arts Protection Act of 2036. You have the right to remain silent.”

The monologue continued. Jerry didn’t pay attention, knowing it would drone on for another half hour. Back when private industry took on the duty of law enforcement the corporate lawyers had added half a dozen pages of gibberish to the Miranda speech.

Their purpose in doing this was to guard against any conceivable legal trouble. This meant he would have to lie on the hardwood floor for an eon while some brute’s knee ground into his spine. Police brutality was allowed, so long as there was enough paperwork.

The speech came to a merciful end just as Jerry’s legs progressed from tingling to numbness. The pressure on his back finally eased. The gorilla who had been knee surfing on his vertebrae yanked him up by his fetters. His arms burned from the abuse. His legs, still numb, would not support him so the agent tossed him into a chair.

“So you thought you could just go into business plagiarizing our clients and no one would notice?” This was the man who had read the Miranda speech. He was less of a brute than the man who had been holding Jerry down. He was thin, with an angular face that looked out of place sitting atop the IPPA body armor. His badge read Special Agent Valenti.

“I wasn’t plagiarizing,” Jerry said, “I just wanted to try my hand at painting.”

“Oh, of course.” Valenti sneered. He snatched the canvas off the easel and thumped at the small red slash. “What do you call this?”

“It’s just a red slash. I was just trying out the brushes.”

“This color,” Valenti thumped the canvas again, “is copyrighted by the Kokia Corporation. The shape of this slash looks suspiciously like part of the logo for their Bokni line of footwear. Either one of these is enough to send you away for a long time.”

“But I wasn’t trying to copy either one of those.”

Valenti picked up Jerry’s paint palette. “And I suppose you didn’t realize that all of these colors were also copyright protected?”

“But… I only… This is totally unreasonable!”

“I see,” Valenti said, “So you have no remorse for what you’ve done? Very well then. That gives me just what I need.”

Without warning, Valenti drew his sidearm and shot Jerry between the eyes. He holstered the weapon, tapped on his wristwatch and then pulled a handkerchief from his pocket to wipe the blood from his face.

A moment later a voice from the watch spoke, “Kokia Real Estate Division, how can I help you?”

“This is agent Valenti with the IPPA. Please let your manager know the Newton residence is available as requested. Oh, and tell her she’ll need to send in a clean up crew.”