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BOFH: Protecting bodily waste in the public domain

Counting the cost of excrement

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Episode 8

BOFH 2004: Episode 8

"You’re looking pretty cheerful," the PFY observes, as the Boss rolls into mission control.

“Mmmf!” he responds, between mouthfuls of a large apple.

“Mmm?”

“It’s this fruit, it’s delicious!” he burbles.

“What, the cafeteria’s run out of fried lavatory paper?” I ask. “Someone’s going to have to update the menu on their webpage!”

“Funny you should say lavatory,” the Boss continues, “as that’s just where this item came from.”

“You nicked an apple from the bog?!” the PFY responds. “That’s hardly hygienic!”

“No, this apple is a direct product of our toilet system!” he snorts.

“You nicked an apple from out of the toilet?” the PFY gasps, wrinkling his nose.

“NO! No, the company signed up to a sustainability and reduced ecological impact initiative a couple of years back, and this is one of the outcomes!”

“How?”

“Simple. For the past two years we’ve been sending our effluent to one of those biodome things as a raw product for their planting system.”

“We’ve been giving them crap?” the PFY asks.

“For want of better wording, yes.”

“So does that mean we’re giving our clients a break?” I ask, rhetorically.

“AND THE OUTCOME OF THIS,” the Boss continues, ignoring me, “is fruit and veg, free for the taking, in the cafeteria!”

“So let me get this straight,” I ask “You’ve been giving my excrement away to people.”

“It’s crap!” the boss responds.

“It’s MY crap, and I work long and hard choosing the products to eat to make it high yield fertiliser.”

“It would’ve got sent to the bloody sewer system anyway,” the Boss replies.

“If I so choose to release my products to the public domain, so be it. However, if you take something which is mine, which I created, and give it to another – well that’s theft!”

“Yeah, sure,” the Boss snaps wearily.

“I thought about it, and created it, it’s my intellectual property!”

“I doubt it!”

. . . three days later . . .

“What the hell is this?” the Head of IT snaps, crashing into mission control, waving a piece of paper.

“A ... piece of paper?” the PFY suggests.

“Well?” he asks, ignoring the PFY and addressing me directly.

“I can’t see from here.”

“It’s a letter from your solicitors, saying they’re going to take legal action against the company – and all the staff in the company who took any of the free fruit and veg earlier in the week!”

“Oh that!” I said. “Yes, about the company stealing my IP.”

“They stole your excrement!” he snaps.

“So you agree they stole it?” I ask.

“No, I didn’t mean that, I meant it was just ... shit.”

“It may be shit, but it was incorporated into a better product without my permission.”

“And so if we don’t…. purchase a licence to your excrement… you’re going to sue us.”

“Yes.”

“But we don’t want your excrement – it’s smelly and worthless.”

“That may be the case, but parts of my excrement made up the fruit and veg you took, without my permission. And as I don’t license components of my excrement, just the excrement, you’d need a license for my excrement to own the fruit and veg.”

“It’s SHIT!” he snaps.

“There would be few people in the world who would disagree with you. However, my thought went into its construction, and it’s my intellectual property.”

“It’s SHIT!”

“I’m not arguing with you.”

“OK, how much is the licence?”

“50 quid.”

“FIFTY BLOODY QUID!”

“Yes, now. Course if you wait till after the court case, the price might go up.”

“That’s extortion!”

“I’m not going to argue with you about that either.”

“But what good is an excrement license to me?”

“Well, should you want to use my excrement for something – in the future – you have a license for it. And you can keep eating the free fruit and veg!”

“So what PART of your excrement contributed to this carrot?”

“I’m afraid I’m not at liberty to disclose that.”

“We’ll I’ll tell the biodome to stop using your crap.”

“It would mean a complete cleanup, start from scratch, to remove all the vestages of my IP from the ground substrate… Very costly. And it wouldn’t help all you people who still have the fruit and veg.”

“So let me get this straight – I buy a poo license from you for 50 quid.”

“At today’s prices, yes.”

“And you allow me to keep eating free fruit and veg.”

“Yes.”

“And if it transpires that you used a toilet that didn’t empty into the storage container, but into the sewer instead would you refund me?”

“Well no, because you bought a licence to use my poo. Contained in that license is the option to use things made from my poo. But you can still use my poo.”

“So if there was none of your poo in the biodome, I’d have paid you 50 quid.”

“At today's prices.”

“Yes, at today’s prices, for nothing.”

“No, for the license to use my poo.”

“Right, well I’m not paying.”

“Well, I guess I’ll see you in court.”

. . .

“Are you really going to take them to court?”

“Depends on how much money I get outside of court. If I get a lot, I’ve lined up a private investor who’ll buy all the rights and then charge an annual support fee.”

“If not?”

“Dunno, I might settle for a couple of pints and a pickled egg at the pub. So, was that a pear you were eating yesterday?”

“You bastard.”

“I don’t think Bastard goes anywhere near to describing the unmitigated scum sucking, bottom feeding toerag that is me. But hey – who knew shit could be worth so much…” ®

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