Paul Phillips (extempore) wrote,

I love you kinkos, I mean fedex-kinkos

This morning I went by kinkos to print some apple documentation. I've done this a few times before - some of the key docs are 100-400 pages long and I like hard copies. Each visit, before I go in, somewhere a cosmic die is rolled to determine how much hassle I'm going to receive from the kinko person. Here are the rules as I have deduced them:

1-3: Completely ignore copyright issues
4-5: Half-heartedly bring up copyright, but quickly drop the subject when I point out what the document says on the subject
6: Require some kind of copyright-related forms to be signed and be impervious to logic

Today was a 6. I brought in three PDFs to print, plus a previously printed sample to streamline the laborious and improbably error-prone process of specifying what to do. She looked at the PDFs and told me I'd have to provide signed copyright releases. I pointed to the first page, which says:

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Apple Inc., with the following exceptions: Any person is hereby authorized to store documentation on a single computer for personal use only and to print copies of documentation for personal use provided that the documentation contains Apple’s copyright notice.

(Emphasis mine.) They could have worded this better - and in a larger font - but I guess they didn't expect to developers to receive the spanish inquisition at kinko's. I should file a bug report.

Anyway, she won't look at my printed copy and spends several minutes trying to comprehend the PDF while I became increasingly agitated. Human DRM at work - all the inconvenience with a fraction of the speed! Fortunately a guy with whom I had previously hashed this out walked in and I sicced him on her to speed things up. Then I read the relevant section out loud. She heard "single computer" and "personal use" and decided this meant I could only have a single copy of each document. So she said - I am not making this up - "OK, I can print these, but only if none of them is the same document as the one you have with you."

There are hundreds of documents it might have been, but it turns out it WAS the same document as one of the three I was having printed, because my printed version dated from 12/06 and I needed the version that was recently updated for leopard. I told her this in my best please-come-over-here-and-choke-on-my-fist voice, and she decided that as long as they were different revisions of the same document then it was OK. I didn't inquire as to whether she wanted to come over to my house and examine the other couple dozen documents they had already printed.

Now I can understand employees doing whatever they have to do to comply with the letter of the law. If I come in with a harry potter novel and ask for five hundred copies on their cheapest paper, I can see why they might have to refuse me. I don't know what the legal standard is for contributory negligence - but whatever it is, either most kinko's employees are regularly negligent, or volunteer copyright nazis like the one from this morning have no cause to plumb my orifices looking for evidence of wrongdoing. Hey lady, I'm printing three documents at a cost of sixty bucks. The gas to drive in there twice would erase any profit margin I might have had in my garage-based piracy enterprise. So just print the fucking documents, OK?

People cut in this mold are the good little citizen soldiers of the police state of the (near-and-nearer) future. Without the huge numbers of people who get a charge out of enforcing their idea of the law extra-diligently, it'd be close to impossible to keep the machinery of oppression in place. So she disgusted me to a degree far beyond that warranted by this one incident. I see her as today's philosophical standard bearer for tomorrow's secret police volunteer corps. "One copy to a person, comrades!"

Side note: the first time I went to fedex-kinko's after the unwieldy name made its debut, I asked the guy filling my order "Hmm... finko's, or kink-ex?" I didn't consider this to be especially witty but I'll tell you what reaction I didn't expect: the blankest look ever conceived. He had no idea why I said that. Are there people who treat the entire english language as a rote memorization exercise? Stop confusing me with your fancy made-up words! I have my hands full with all the regular words!
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