Media merchant media atrocities and their parody

One of the most remarkable features of the German language is that it makes it very easy to create words that are generally understood and come with clear connotations to people who speak the language. One such word that has been going around is the word "Raubkopierer", which combines the words "Raub", meaning robbery, and "Kopierer", meaning a person that copies. So the most literal English translation would be "Copy-Robber."

While the German term sounds much less ridiculous, it isn’t: In German law, the term "Raub" is a combination of stealing with coercion, generally physical violence or threat thereof. That is why many people correctly point out that by the meaning of the word, a "Raubkopierer" would be someone who points a gun at people asking for copies of their CDs. Here is one of them.

But this does not stop the reproduction rights merchants to run campaigns like "Hart aber Gerecht: Raubkopierer sind Verbrecher" ("Tough but fair: Copyright thieves are criminals") which launched spots in cinema and tv to threaten young people with jail-rape as a consequence of making copies. More recently, they offered visitors of the IFA exhibition in Berlin the chance to test life in a real prison cell. While all these activities are generally labelled as "information", that "information" generally ignores "details" such as the German right to make private copies.

There are various reasons that people are rightly upset about this behaviour. This is mainly a campaign to protect the interests of the merchants, which are too often not those of artists, authors, from which the merchants try to buy as cheap as possible, often at ridiculously bad conditions, as has been pointed out repeatedly over the years. These interests are generally also not equivalent to that of society at large, to which media merchants try to sell as expensive as possible by increasing artificial scarcity beyond the socially accepted levels, creating the need for such overdone campaigns.

So it comes as little surprise that people create counter-campaigns to represent the interests of society at large against the aggressive campaigns of the media merchants, such as: Raubkopierer sind keine Verbrecher, which explains some of the background, and the difference between legal and illegal copies. Another initiative is Rettet die Privatkopie! ("Save Private Copying!")

Besides these more serious campaigns, there is also quite a bit of parody about such copyright merchant monstrosities, such as the "Raubkopierer sind Verbrecher" posters by Here are some of my favorites for a good Sunday evening laugh:


Crappy movies stay crappy movies!

Nobody outside Germany knows this guy.
I wish I also didn’t.


I see dead "Copy-Robbers"

"Copy-Robbers" are being haunted by ghosts



Cinema seats are more comfortable.

Who says only the British know dark humor?



Warning: German language hack!

For non-German speakers: Pun on the similarity between "Raupe" ("Caterpillar") and "Raub" ("Robbery"), changing "Raubkopien" in "Raupkopien." I guess this closes the circle.


If you want to see more, including some more borderline-funny posters, check out the web site.

About Georg Greve

Georg Greve is a technologist and entrepreneur. Background as a software developer and physicist. Head of product development and Chairman at Vereign AG. Founding president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE). Previously president and CEO at Kolab Systems AG, a Swiss Open Source ISV. In 2009 Georg was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon by the Federal Republic of Germany for his contributions to Open Source and Open Standards.
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