Melanie stared open-mouthed at the mug toppled on the shag as if it were a hand grenade.
"It'll come out!" Stef cried.
"I can't get it to come out. I can't believe this!" Melanie spit on her thumbs and rubbed the lace furiously between them. The spot just laid there like a relaxed beach-bather.
"This was your idea in the first place! I told you not to do it. Ronnie, soda water, now!"
"Look, everyone is already sitting down. The music is already playing! I can't go down there with a wet dress! This is not some junior prom! What am I supposed to do?"
"It's going to be okay. We'll get it out and everything will be fine. No, no, don't do that. Give me that! Soda water will get it out, I know it will."
"This a sign. This is a sign that I'm not supposed to do this. I've got to go, now. Get out of my way!" Melanie shrieked and threw the scissors against the wall.
"Get a hold of yourself! This is not a sign, it's a spot! And it's not the goddamned stigmata, it's just tea! Get back here! What about Dylan? What are you DOING?!"
Melanie kicked the mug through the doorway ahead and stormed after it, flailing her train behind her. The mug rolled through the balcony railing, missed a balding head in the front row, and bounced a few times on the red carpet.
Dylan felt something splash on his cheek. He turned his head in surprise and glimpsed a dark stain spreading on the white collar of his tuxedo. It smelled of bergamot.
He squinted at the stain, missing the whirl of white lace disappearing through the church front door; but he heard the organ halt and the crowd gasp. He turned around, walked to the men's room, and started to scrub out the stain.
Books were printed only on printing presses until recently. It was possible to
make a copy yourself by hand, but it wasn't practical because it took so much
more work than using a printing press. And it produced something so much less
attractive that, for all intents and purposes, you could act as if it were
impossible to make books except by mass producing them. And therefore copyright
didn't really take any freedom away from the reading public. There wasn't
anything that a book purchaser could do that was forbidden by copyright.
But this isn't true for computer programs. It's also not true for tape
cassettes. It's partly false now for books, but it is still true that for most
books it is more expensive and certainly a lot more work to Xerox them than to
buy a copy, and the result is still less attractive. Right now we are in a
period where the situation that made copyright harmless and acceptable is
changing to a situation where copyright will become destructive and
intolerable. So the people who are slandered as “pirates” are in fact the
people who are trying to do something useful that they have been forbidden to
do. The copyright laws are entirely designed to help people take complete
control over the use of some information for their own good. But they aren't
designed to help people who want to make sure that the information is
accessible to the public and stop others from depriving the public. I think
that the law should recognize a class of works that are owned by the public,
which is different from public domain in the same sense that a public park is
different from something found in a garbage can. It's not there for anybody to
take away, it's there for everyone to use but for no one to impede. Anybody in
the public who finds himself being deprived of the derivative work of something
owned by the public should be able to sue about it.
-- Richard Stallman, interview in BYTE, 1986
This page was last modified on 2011 December 20. "A Spot of Tea" by John Sullivan is Copyright ©2003 - 2011, and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.