Okay, so I've been tooling around with story ideas for the last couple
of days, and I find they all revolve around time travel. The one that
has me most excited right now—mostly because it is both timely and
snarky—is the notion of a corporation copyrighting the entire universe.
Somewhere, Steve Ballmer is smiling.
Basically, the high concept goes like this: There's an interesting
theory about time travel that says the only way to avoid a paradox by
traveling backwards in time is to travel to a parallel universe.
Basically, any changes you make to history spawn a new, parallel
timeline separate from our own, so that you aren't actually affecting
your own past, avoiding all the "what if I killed my own grandfather at
birth—how could I be born to go back and kill him?" conundrums. Well,
if this technology becomes feasible, and it becomes possible to observe
and travel between the timelines, then an altered timeline could become
a "product"—intellectual property—meaning that a legal entity could
attempt to copyright an entire spacetime continuum. That's pretty
straightforward. Now here's the kicker...
Someone tries to copyright the "original" timeline. Basically, a
company wants intellectual property rights to the entire universe. And
all the subsidiary rights.
The argument would be that any spacetime experiments require a
"control" universe against which to measure variance. If this company
did an exhaustive analysis of our baseline universe, and licensed that
model as an experimental control, then that company has a "prior art"
claim on the entirety of our plane of existence.
It would make for a fun little SF courtroom drama, especially when you
consider the iterative consequences of the claim. I'll start
skeletoning out the story this weekend, I hope.