I Can Copyright a Copy, Right?
Another boring meeting. Time for some doodling, and some dawdling. And, time to attempt to write the Great American Novel.
The Fink was in on this meeting. It was about company time, and how to use it and not use it. Suddenly, he thought something was wrong.
He first walked over to Wally. Wally was lazy, and preferred to take coffee breaks. "Hey," he said to Wally, "those could be priceless works of art."
"They're just doodles," Dilbert said in the seat next to him.
"You obviously have no appreciation of art! These circles represent timelessness, they represent the circle of life, they represent...well, roundness."
Alice, another co-worker, had a peek. "When my nephew started to draw like that his parents knew he could control his muscles well enough to be potty trained."
"Ah ha! Your nephew is obviously a child prodigy, or else you would not brag about him!"
"I'm only proud that he's potty trained now," Alice said with indignation.
"Don't steal my thunder. I will take these doodles to the Pointy- Haired Boss [PHB] and have them copyrighted and sold at auction. They will be considered company property since they were made on company time."
He strolled up toward the podium, but not before stopping at the seat of Dwayne Vain, an employee who was working on his masterpiece, and had been for years. His employers had been suspicious, of course, when he had 400 pages of documentation with him in his cubicle.
The Fink picked the book up - as he did so, Dwayne started crying out, "My masterpiece! You can't take that!" He turned to Dilbert. "Dilbert, tell him he can't do that!"
An employee nicknamed The Hack for his skill with computers - a perfect hire, they thought, for the engineering division - was also on The Fink's list. "All right," he told the Hack, "I'm confiscating this and all your files. I see what you're doing, you're writing music. Our company will be rich, rich I tell you!" He laughed as he walked to PHB, and they walked to PHB's office.
Dilbert walked into PHB's office after the meeting. He was concerned over Dwayne Vain's masterpiece. He didn't think it was fair that the company confiscate so much work. Besides, Dwayne's bawling was making it hard for Dilbert to concentrate.
Before he could say anything, though, PHB looked up and said, "Glad you're here, Dilbert. The company is going to publish the Great American Novel. I thought you might like to have a listen to the book that will make us millions." He began to read. "'Lake Omy rests snugly in the midst of an island Paradise, where the lions, tigers, and bears roam along peacefully, nuzzling up to visitors in a setting quite unexpected to the unexpecting, for lions, tigers, and bears aren't normally found on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. But, then the puzzled visitor learns that these are only natives dressing up for a very strange custom repeated every 5th of the month at precisely 10:32 AM. But, our story takes place in the mountains of Nebraska as well, and Nebraska is very real.'" PHB sighed. "They don't write literature like that every day."
Dilbert was momentarily taken aback. Then, he began counting on his fingers. "Number one, that first is a long, convoluted, run-on sentence. A story should have a beginning that draws attention, not one that puts readers to sleep. Number two, 'unexpected to the unexpecting' is repetitive - especially for the same sentence! Number three, there are no mountains in Nebraska."
"Ah, but there's where you're wrong. The next paragraph says 'You say there are no mountains in Nebraska? Adam Mountain would surely disagree.'"
"He uses second person when writing?'
"I don't know who this second person is, but while I'm not well- versed in literature, I know that your entire argument is therefore flawed, as there is at least one mountain in Nebraska."
Dilbert flailed his arms now as he ranted, "My argument is not flawed. The author is resorting to trickery. Besides, I don't know much about literature, but I remember enough of seventh grade English to know you never use second person in a story!"
PHB said, "That's ridiculous, Dilbert. You can't go right from the first person to the third. The next person after Adam in this book must be the second." Dilbert slapped his forehead. "But, that's not important. This music, I've been listening to it. It sounds vaguely familiar. But, then again, there are only eighty-eight keys on a piano, so by now all the combinations must have been used up. We're going to put this record out." He showed him a file on his computer.
Dilbert's eyes flew open. "That's 'Hound Dog.' It was copyrighted years ago!"
"Exactly. This gives us the right to copy it."
Dilbert gazed at the other files on the screen. He exclaimed, "Whoever you got that from has been copying files off of the Internet."
"Even better. You can copyright a copy, right?" Dilbert was speechless. "Thought so. Now, as for these drawings, the company is going to have them appraised, and sold at auction. This will let us diversify our investments."
"About the other two, aren't you sure you shouldn't run them by company lawyers?"
"Nonsense, they were done on company time, and that's the policy. We are clearly in the right here." He bade Dilbert good day.
The next day, Dilbert saw Wally by the water cooler. "Any news on Dwayne Vain?"
"He's been on his knees pleading with every management person in this company to give him back his masterpiece."
"Well it's no masterpiece," Alice explained. "The reader doesn't find out till page 21 that Lake Omy is a product of Adam's imagination; in fact the entire first twenty pages were a dream."
"And that's supposed to give Dwayne solace?"
"Well, it did help a little when I told him our pointy-haired boss never got that far. Instead, he's been calling all sorts of travel agencies, trying to book a vacation for whatever island it's on; he's obsessed with that ritual and the history behind it."
At that moment, Dwayne came running up to them and begging for help. "Wow, that's one good grovel," Wally said.
"Look, your book...I read part of it and..."
"Oh, thank you, thank you, Alice. Wasn't it great!"
"Let me ask you, do you know how to spell hippopotamus? Because you spelled it five different ways, and that's just in the parts I looked at," Dilbert complained.
"I want my readers to be unoffended. If I only spelled it one way, anyone who thought it was spelled the other way might get his or her feelings hurt," Dwayne explained. "I've spoken with a reader, and he advised me that it was best to avoid offending anyone."
Wally said that Dwayne had a point.
"I think it needs a massive rewrite..."
"Oh, but I can't rewrite it, I don't have that good of a memory. And, that was my only manuscript. It was to be sent to publishers when I left work yesterday."
Dilbert was interrupted by PHB. "Dilbert, my secretary says there's someone screaming and yelling on the phone. What should I do?"
"Find out why they're screaming and yelling," came the obvious suggestion.
"I did; the man would not calm down. My secretary said the only thing she was able to gather was that he was from RCA Records."
"Probably has something to do with the music the company said they were going to record and sell," Dilbert speculated
Alice was unconcerned about that part for the moment. "Hmmmpf, who care about that," she remarked nonchalantly. "As long as we find help for Dwayne Vain."
PHB added, "He did say something about our song 'My Heart Will Go On'..."
Alice grabbed him by the collar and screamed. "You mean you pirated the best love song in the history of the world?!"
"Calm down, Alice," Dilbert advised.
Hacking and coughing, PHB said, "Yes, besides,w hatever you think of it, it was company property. I suggest if you like it that much you purchase a copy from the company."
"That is the theme song from the movie Titanic!"
"It must have been a different one, Alice," PHB remarked. "The Titanic sank in 1912, this song was only written within the last few weeks."
Several weeks later, Alice approached Dilbert as he was getting ready to sit in his cubicle. "Guess what? Nobody has bid on Wally's stuff yet on eBay. They took it off. It's about time, that stuff was just pure scribbling."
"Wally is right behind you."
Wally then broke into the conversation by saying, "I heard they contacted Southerby's in London."
"What?!" Dilbert and Alice exclaimed.
"Southerby's. You know, that auction house that sells all the famous names? I've decided that that's what I should devote my time to - I told our boss I was quitting."
"What did he say?"
"He asked who I was," Wally told Alice.
"Well, have a good life doing that," Dilbert told him as Wally walked out the door. He and Alice turned to see lettuce rolling past them like a tumbleweed. "What was that?"
"A head. My guess is, it belonged to someone from Legal."
PHB walked up to them. "Who was that man jumping up and down so happily?"
"That was Dwayne; he must have seen some other heads rolling from Legal," Alice remarked.
"I thought I smelled cabbage on the way in," Dilbert added.
Suddenly, Dwayne came running up to them. "I knew it, I knew it; I knew Legal would see my side and restore my masterpiece to me!"
PHB said, "Well, maybe you'd have better luck. They haven't returned it to you, but they have gotten 27 rejection letters, complete with 19 insults and 2 notes of sympathy over your learning disorder."
"I don't have a learning disorder."
"We didn't thik you did either, Dwayne; I must say, though, whatever you have, you've overcome it with the most incredible fortitude of any man I've seen, to be able to achieve what you have in our company," PHB said proudly.
"Wait," Alice said to Dilbert as the others left. "Why did he think Dwayne had a learning disorder?"
"I read more of the manuscript last weekend. It may stem from the fact he seemed clueless as to the proper use of pronouns at times. In fact, he doesn't use one pronoun in his entire book when referring to people!"
"I see. I talked to The Bleeding Heart, he's the one who helped Dwayne with ideas. Apparently, he felt tht Dwayne might confuse people too much if he used any pronouns."
Before Dilbert could respond, PHB came back. "Oh, there was something I wanted to tell you. Our company is now a member of a class- action suit, I think." He rubbed his chin. "Or is it only when the number of plaintiffs is over fifty that it can be a class action. The Legal department fellows tried to explain it to me, but I got confused."
"You certainly did. We're not in a class if we're the only one. The class is the people suing us, and they're doing it because they hate us. My guess is that every record company and recording artist in histtory is suing us over the music we're selling."
"Now, that's not true, 'New Kids on the Block' has not yet sued us. However, the folks in Legal still insist that it's part of the company- owned items, and we are continuing to try to sell our records." Another head of lettuce rolled down the aisle between cubicles. An attorney went running after it. "Hmmmm. I wonder what's going on."
"I'll tell you waht's going on! Heads will roll!" Alice exploded.
"I can see that heads are rolling, I just don't get the context."
The lawyer, now carrying his head of lettuce, turned to PHB as he walked back and said, "Southerby's just called and said we were nuts. And they won't give us back our $10,000 deposit."
"I hope Wally doesn't try that on his own," Dilbert said.
The boss, meanwhile, was still thinking about Lake Omy. "That could have paid for our trip to Lake Omy. Oh, well, I'll tell our travel division and maybe they can book us a seminar there."
A couple weeks later, Wally was back at work when Dilbert walked into the office. "Wally, what happened?"
"Well, Dilbert, it seemed nobody would buy my stuff. I hope the company made out better."
"Actually, it flopped with them, too."
"Hmmmm. Well, maybe I'd be better at writing." He looked at Dwayne. "Could you give me some tips?"
"Not now, sorry. I'm going to try to sell my manuscript; the company gave it back to me after all."
Alice explained further. "It seems our bosses got tired of the threats of harrassment charges if they kept filing the book with different publishers. And, the literary agents throwing rotten tomatoes didn't help."
"That's right, Dilbert. Our pointy-haired boss went so far in pushing the company manuscript that he went to a literary agent's convention, and managed to speak to them during a break. When he read the part about the butler named Butler who committed the murder, and one other part, they went ballistic."
Dwayne nodded. As he read from his manuscript, Dilbert realized why the agents had gone ballistic over that part. "Yes," Dwayne remarked, "a masterpiece of alliteration, more than anyone has ever done. It goes, 'Mountain merely made Mountain's many modes of manufacturing metal moot, much to Melanie McMullin's merriment, for Melanie McMullin was mightily miffed at Mountain for frolicking forthright from 1414 Firefly, flailing five flutes and flaunting Mountain's fun-filled festivals of furniture foreseen for the future."
After a moment of staring, Dilbert said, "I'm never going to want to speak using the same letter to begin two consecutive words again."
"Me neither," Alice said bitterly.
PHB walked out to them, and said, "Guess what, they've dropped the lawsuit provided we try to sell no more records."
"What prompted us to stop... to not sell those records?"
"The company could have gone bankrupt if it lost the suit."
"If we weren't already driven insane by all that alliteration," Dilbert warned.
PHB shook his head in frustration. "I've told people in this department about littering. There's even been an official memo. Oh, speaking of official memos, we've decided to drop the company policy regarding things produced on company time."
"That's good to hear."
"Yes, from now on, anything earned from such items will simply be docked from the employee's payacheck."
Wally spoke, having overheard. "In that case, the company owes me two dollars; I paid someone to buy a drawing of mine last week."
"All right, I'll make a note of it. The company has decided that we're an engineering group, and we just don't know enough about marketing literature or other works of art." He looked at Wally again and said, "Which kind of surprises me."
"Why is that?"
"I really liked your work. In fact, I'd like to buy one and have it hung above my fireplace at home."
"Great." He looked down. "Oh, dear," Wally said, "there's a crack in my coffe cup."
"AAUGH!" Alice began chasing Wally all over the room after his allieratin attempt.