My Fantasy Future of 2+2: a Copyright Nightmare

I had a dream that sometime in the future I am babysitting my two-year old granddaughter-to-be Inna.

Me: Here is one apple; here is another apple. How many apples will you get when we put them together?
Inna: Two.
Me: So, 1+1 is… ?
Inna: Two.
Me: Good girl.
Inna: How much is 2+2?
Me: Shhh. We can’t talk about that.
Inna: Why? Will a big bad wolf come and eat us?
Me: Sort of. It is copyrighted and I do not have enough money for the private use license.
Inna: Did you spend all your money on a 1+1 license?
Me: No, honey. Google owns the rights and they released it for public use.
Inna: What about 3+3?
Me: We might be able to talk about it in a couple of years. The government is discussing the purchase of the rights, though it would be half of their annual education budget.
Inna: What about 4+4?
Me: 4+4 is approximately 8.
Inna: Don’t you know if it is 8? Do you think it could be 7?
Me: No, I know exactly how much it is. But the copyright has a loophole. You can’t say the exact sentence, but it doesn’t forbid variations. Have you heard that Stephen Colbert is being sued for saying how much 4+4 is on his show? Colbert argues that his grimace constitutes a complete reverse in meaning.
Inna: What about 5+5?
Me: Your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate is a lawyer and he says that the 5+5 license doesn’t permit the answer to be in the same sentence as the statement. So, to be on the safe side, you should always go like this: “5+5 is a number. I like ice cream. My favorite flavor is chocolate. The number I’ve mentioned several sentences ago is 10.”
Inna: Can this lawyer find a loophole in the 2+2 license?
Me: The copyright agreement itself is copyrighted and too expensive for him.

Later my son, Alexey, comes to pick up his daughter. I continue the conversation with him.

Me: Your daughter is gifted in math. Is there any chance that her public school can teach her how to add 10+10?
Alexey: I know that our public school bought a limited license. They can discuss additions only in a designated room on Mondays from 11:00am to noon and only after 8th grade.
Me: Why the heck wait until 8th grade?
Alexey: They are required to study copyright laws first and pass the state exams.
Me: Have you considered private schools? Inna is so gifted — she might even get a scholarship.
Alexey: Our private school was able to copyright only three questions for their scholarship evaluations. And everyone knows that the answers are A, D and D.
Me: I have an idea. I am subscribed to Russian TV. They have a channel that broadcasts an educational math show in English.
Alexey: How could that be? The U.S. blocks all foreign non-copyrighted broadcasts in English.
Me: Their English is so bad, everyone thinks it is French.
Alexey: Ah, I was wondering where my boss’s son got his new horrifying accent.

At Inna’s next visit, Inna came up with some ideas.

Inna (in a low voice): I think I know how much 2+2 is.
Me: You can’t tell me that. But maybe you have a new favorite number. You can tell me your favorite number.
Inna: My favorite number is 4.
Me: Do you know how much 3+3 is?
Inna: I changed my mind. My new favorite number is 6 now.
Me: Good girl.
Inna: How come we are talking about addition and you never told me what the number after 10 is?
Me: Shhh. We can’t talk about that… —



  1. Aaditya:

    Great post! 🙂 Hilarious! I’ve been following your blog and finished all the latest posts, so I went back to some early ones!

  2. Davy:

    Great story, superb blog. Greetings from the Netherlands!

Leave a comment