Corporations are people, too

This was originally going to be a comment to this article by Dr. Bacchus but I could tell it was going to get too long. The root of the matter is that Fujitsu-Siemens now has to pay a per-machine levy on computers sold in Germany because they might - might, mind you - be used to violate copyright.

I'm going to leave the whole ridiculous thing about levying a fee because of possible misuse for another rant. That can be taken to such extremes that there could be fees, fines and levies imposed on just about everything. My focus for this post is another facet of this issue.

While Dr.B brings up some good points (which should be read and lauded by all), the thing that consistently amazes me in cases like this is that there is no outcry - rather there is cheering - from the citizenry of the country involved. The same thing has happened here in the States regarding lawsuits against manufacturers of various products. The difference is that those suits are usually brought because somebody did something really stupid, caused themselves some sort of harm and wanted (1) somebody else to blame, (2) a chance to get a lot of money quickly, or (3) all of the above. The similarity is that these individuals show indifference at best and rejoice at worst because some court is socking it to some big, faceless corporation.

That thinking is filled with inaccuracies but the most glaring is this. Corporations only appear to be faceless because most people don't see the faces that are really there. Corporations are fictitious entities that only exist for financial accounting purposes. They are operated by (sometimes thousands of) people with faces. They are owned by (sometimes millions of) people with faces. They provide goods and services to (sometimes hundreds of millions of) people with faces. Many of us work for faceless corporations and we are directly affected by everything that affects them - whether good or bad. The majority of us own stock in faceless corporations. Check your 401K. If you don't own specific stocks, you may want to look at what all those mutual funds are comprised of. Almost everybody buys things made by faceless corporations.

The bottom line (and I use that phrase purposefully) is that corporations don't bear the brunt of these suits - rather it falls to the people involved. (Did I mention that they have faces?) They can't just suck up the added expense and move on - they have to recoup that as best they can. The company may have to freeze hiring of new people, promoting existing employees to higher positions or even resort to layoffs to help defray the costs. They may have to forego issuing dividends. At the very least, the stock price would probably go down which reduces the value of our porfolios. And lastly, as will undoubtedly be the case in the Fujitsu-Siemens case, they will pass on the costs to the consumers of their products. The German court's decision has effectively raised the price of a computer by $16 plus whatever the added accounting and processing overhead adds up to.

Sadly, people don't seem to realize how much they are affected by overreaching governmental and court actions like these. If they were I would hope there would be more indignance on their part. I hope it's just that they don't realize it, anyway. The only alternative is that they just don't care - which is far worse.