I took note of that line, because it occurred to me when he said it just how different intellectual property is from real property. As Wonka proved to Mike that he could indeed copy a chocolate bar and even Mike himself, Mr. Teavee proclaimed, "Don't you understand you have made the most important invention of our time? And you're wasting it on chocolate? You've got to tell people about this!" Then today I ran across the following quote:
"A crucial point is that fair use and free use are not the same thing," DeLong explained. "Consumers' interest is in having creative works readily available, in the same sense that consumers have a strong interest in having a good supply of decent food available in the supermarket. In neither case does this mean that the cost should be zero. '"
and I thought, but what if particles could be copied and transferred just as easily as waves? The grocery industry and farmers would surely be in an uproar. After all, they've made their living for years and years on the assumption that food is a unique good. You'd be silly to think that if you bought a cantelope once that you could make a copy for each time you were in the mood for cantelope. The food industry would probably fight to stop such an erosion of the corner they've held on the market for so many years. On the other hand, think of how many people would be fed. Starvation could be cured. Where food was plentiful anyway, people would never have to stand in a grocery line again; making food would finally be easy.
Still, the people who grew and distributed and sold the food would have hardships and they would want to be paid a cut of each copy of cantelope made. But in the end, I think most would agree that the ability to feed the world ad infinitum is a worthwhile use of the technology. As a believer in strong fair use interpretations, I have a hard time with DeLong's statements, but his point did certainly ruin a perfectly weird movie for me last night.