Paul Ford's short science fiction story, "Nanolaw with Daughter" is a heartful, smart story about the future of bulk litigation and what it will mean for parenting.
My daughter was first sued in the womb. It was all very new then. I'd posted ultrasound scans online for friends and family. I didn't know the scans had steganographic thumbprints. A giant electronics company that made ultrasound machines acquired a speculative law firm for many tens of millions of dollars. The new legal division cut a deal with all five Big Socials to dig out contact information for anyone who'd posted pictures of their babies in-utero. It turns out the ultrasounds had no clear rights story; I didn't actually own mine. It sounds stupid now but we didn't know. The first backsuits named millions of people, and the Big Socials just caved, ripped up their privacy policies in exchange for a cut. So five months after I posted the ultrasounds, one month before my daughter was born, we received a letter (back then a paper letter) naming myself, my wife, and one or more unidentified fetal defendants in a suit. We faced, I learned, unspecified penalties for copyright violation and theft of trade secrets, and risked, it was implied, that my daughter would be born bankrupt.
Nanolaw with Daughter
But for $50.00 and processing fees the ultrasound shots I'd posted (copies attached) were mine forever, as long as I didn't republish without permission.
(Image: Ultrasound Week 21 09-2, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from abbybatchelder's photostream)
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