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Brian D. Wassom is a partner in the Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, office of Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP. His practice focuses on intellectual property and First Amendment litigation, with experience in the areas of copyright, trademark, publicity rights, entertainment, and other related IP litigation. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Y ear Zero has been lauded for accomplishing an unlikely feat: making copyright infringement litigation funny, accessible, and entertaining. The praise is well deserved, as the book does exactly that, in the course of spinning a satirical sci-fi adventure story that is fun to read even without the snarky legal commentary. To top it off, the story is peppered with digs at the legal and music industries that will make members of either group smile or even laugh out loud—so long as no partners or clients are looking.
The book’s political message is no accident. It stems directly from author Rob Reid’s personal quest to expose what he sees as the fallacy of our copyright enforcement scheme in general, and with its calculation of statutory damages in particular. In March 2012, Reid recorded a TED Talk on the subject entitled “The $8 Billion iPod,”1 in which he skewers some of the more extreme assertions of economic loss that the music and video industry attributes to piracy. Reid even coins a term to describe the logic used to justify these apocalyptic pronouncements: “©opyright Math™.”2 The talk’s title is a reference to the liability one might face if a court awarded $150,000 in statutory damages for willful infringement as to each of the 40,000 tracks on a completely full iPod.