Aug 27

There’s an image making its rounds on the Web that says “Piracy is Not Theft” because it makes a copy and leaves the original intact:

PiracyIsNotTheft

The diagram itself is correct.  Piracy simply makes a copy of the song/video/software.  The original remains intact, and the owner doesn’t lose a copy when someone pirates it.

This is because stealing a digital work is not like stealing a tangible item.  Pirating a digital video off BitTorrent is not the same as shoplifting a DVD from BestBuy.  As the diagram above shows, when you shoplift a DVD from BestBuy, you are removing the original, which BestBuy can no longer sell and therefore loses money.  When you pirate the same movie from BitTorrent, the studio that released the movie does not lose a copy, and can continue to sell the movie to others.

But BestBuy and the movie studios are not in business to sell things.  They’re in business to make money.  (Gasp!  Making money?  Those capitalist pigs!)

A much better analogy for digital piracy is sneaking into a theater to watch a movie.  You are not stealing a copy of that movie, and the theater is free to show the movie to others.  But you are stealing revenue that the theater would have earned had you rightfully purchased a ticket.

So when you pirate music, video or software, you are stealing income from the seller.  You are receiving something of value without paying for it.  Here is another take on the diagram:

PiracyIsTheft

So if someone is a pirate, they are also a thief.  It doesn’t make them a bad person, but they are still stealing from someone else.

Let the flames begin.

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Article published on August 27, 2008




78 Responses to “No, Silly, Piracy is Theft”

  1. Jack Sparrow Says:

    Whoever made that original image is [incorrect]. I’m a pirate and dam proud of it! Yes, I’m stealing and getting away with it. I take pride that I can listen to music and watch movies as much as I want without paying a cent. And there’s nothing the RIAA can do to catch me, because I cover my tracks.

    To you, I say stop whining and embrace the future where everything digital is free. To the [person] who thinks that pirating is not stealing, I also have some swampland in Florida you can pirate!

    [Edited: No personal attacks, please!]

  2. Robo-Theif Says:

    Well, duh! Of course piracy is stealing. If I buy a song from itunes, it costs me 99 cents. If I download a song from torrent, it costs me nothing. I was never any good at math but even I realize that someone got screwed in this equation. But I still pirate music. It’s ridiculous to pay a buck to itunes and then have to deal with its stupid drm that forces me to use ituens software and ipods. But if I get my music from torrent, i can play it on any mp3 player or any PC I want and oh by the way did I mention it was free?

  3. Free future Says:

    It’s only stealing now because it’s illegal now. But so is weed, and yet everybody smokes it at one point in their lives. Someday we’ll come to a point where anything digital is free, and content producers will simply have to find other ways to make money or stop producing content. Of course, there will always be a market for paid premium content.

  4. John Doe Says:

    “Of course, there will always be a market for paid premium content.”

    …which we will pirate! 🙂

  5. Oliver Says:

    Although it would be difficult to prove in any specific situation, you could argue piracy of something you would never consider paying for (even if it was impossible to pirate) isn’t theft since the company you’re pirating from hasn’t lost any money…

  6. Mr Phelps Says:

    Oliver, very insightful points. I think you made two separate arguments.

    “you could argue piracy of something you would never consider paying for (even if it was impossible to pirate) isn’t theft”

    The customer’s intention to pay shouldn’t determine whether it’s theft. By this logic, I could argue that since I would never pay for a Rolls Royce, it’s OK for me to steal it.

    “the company you’re pirating from hasn’t lost any money”

    The company most likely spent considerable time, resources and money to develop, market, sell and/or support the item. Just because it doesn’t cost anything to reproduce a digital work once it’s created, doesn’t mean the digital work has no value. Of course it has value, which is why people want to steal it in the first place.

  7. Gabe Says:

    I agree with Oliver, if you never would have paid for it, you haven’t deprived the company of any income. Your point about the Rolls Royce is invalid, because in that scenario, again you’re depriving the original owner of a physical object.

    What if you pirate something and like it so much that you convince three other people (or 10 or 100) to go out and buy a copy of it. Then you’re creating income for the owner. By your logic, doesn’t the owner owe you some money at that point? After all, they’ve received something of value (marketing) without paying for it.

  8. Mr Phelps Says:

    “Your point about the Rolls Royce is invalid, because in that scenario, again you’re depriving the original owner of a physical object.”

    Oliver was not talking about depriving the owner of the physical object. His argument was that the customer’s intention to buy determined whether it was theft. He said, “even if it was impossible to pirate”, which of course is true with a Rolls Royce. So I used a Rolls Royce to prove his argument is wrong. The customer’s intention to buy does not determine whether they have to pay. The seller set the price, then the customer can either pay it, steal it, or go without.

    “Then you’re creating income for the owner. By your logic, doesn’t the owner owe you some money at that point? After all, they’ve received something of value (marketing) without paying for it.”

    The seller created a contractual offer by putting the item up for sale. “If you want this video, please pay me $24.99.” If you violate that contract by taking the video without paying, then you are stealing.

    However, you did not create a contractual offer by recommending the video to your friends. You never notified the seller about this offer, and so they had no opportunity to accept or decline. The fact that you went ahead and did it anyway means you donated your service to the seller. That was very nice of you. Most sellers will pay you for this service through an affiliate program.

  9. John Smith Says:

    no, no, no, thief is a physical object, when i steal your car, you don’t have it anymore

    but when i copy your music you still have it, YES it is illegal, because the works is copyright, the laws offer you protection for any creative work

  10. Gori Says:

    It’s funny to me that some people can’t understand that intangible items have value. What are they, Neandrethals? They can’t wait to download the latest Spiderman from the net, and yet they claim the movie has no value and therefore they should not pay.

    That said, there’s no way I’m paying itunes 99 cents for a restricted song. They can go kiss my AAC.

  11. timm Says:

    Great discussion, everyone. Thanks for commenting!

  12. Carl Says:

    People need to stop thinking of piracy as theft or not theft. It’s a digitally reproducible item which makes traditional concepts of property obsolete and it’s about time the law and the record industry started coming up with terms which match this status.

    Piracy does not take money away from sellers. It reduces how much they get. This is not the same thing.

    The best example I heard was this: say you’re a baker and you sell bread. One day it starts raining bread, and people pick up their bread from the street rather than pay for yours. It sucks for you that you aren’t getting money from your bread, but how can you blame people for what they’re doing?

    Price is dictated by supply and demand, and there’s now a supply which is infinite and therefore, by traditional economics, surely it should be free?

    I don’t agree that you should be able to get stuff from artists etc for free. I make a point of paying for the albums I download if I like them, and I pay for movies and TV I like. But it’s not a question of ethics, it’s a question of what exactly it is you’re paying or not paying for.

    Why exactly do so many newspapers publish content for free? Surely it’s the same idea – they’re publishers after all…?

  13. Fuch Heusen Says:

    I personally steal all the music my little hard drive can handle, just because [****] the RIAA.

    If you support artists, GO SEE THEM LIVE. Artists make [little] from album sales. The only people getting boned by piracy are the record labels, and they [****] the artists YOU love.

    [Edited: Language]

  14. CaptainMorgan Says:

    “Piracy does not take money away from sellers. It reduces how much they get. This is not the same thing.”

    Excellent point.

    So a select and growing few of the world know how to pirate content, not everyone is knowledgeable enough to perform such an action. So what if the capitalist company is losing out? They’re not going out of business and they’re still making profits – just not as much as they would *prefer*. [Removed]. Lowly content viewers should put a dent in these corporations, for these corps in a lot of instances deserve it, I don’t care how much *effort* they put into their production. The effort to price to buyer’s income to pay for it is usually a highly offset ratio, thus screw the corps.

    Pirates unite! ARgggghhh!

    [Edited: Language]

  15. MJK Says:

    THe only way I’m watching this last year’s Transformers movie is, maybe, if I get it for free.

  16. Guy Says:

    #1 You cannot claim income you never would have earned. Who do you think you are Enron? They sure did well! Just because someone copies something digital doesn’t mean they have or would have used it if they had to pay for it.

    #2 Squatters aren’t thieves (because they didn’t pay rent or buy the house), they are just squatters. Or maybe, take the Lamborghini rip offs as an example. A near-exact reproduction, but not stealing an actual Lamborghini: http://lamborghinireplica.com/ForSale/For%20Sale.htm . I guess its illegal to use the trademarked symbols, but whose stopping these guys?! Or: who really cares.

    #3 Its time to send all those with photographic memories to the gulags. Their brains have illegally made perfect reproductions of the images and sounds they have heard, including the latest top 40 hits. Please, don’t sing in public either!

    I would suggest that media-piracy is COUNTERFEITING and NOT THEFT at all. Do not mix up the simple definitions. – FOO

  17. mind Says:

    No, Silly, Comparison Shopping is Theft.

  18. gmlk Says:

    If it does not happen at sea and does not involves ships and guns then it can not be piracy. It’s that simple.

    Making a copy is not theft. Anyone who uses a computer is constantly making copies. Every http request is a copy action. When I pressed submit a copy of this text will be send to your server, which will then give a copy to anyone who requests one (like you, dear reader).

    The MPAA and RIAA have not and will not sue anyone for theft. They sue for infringement, which is not theft.

    The relevant law has been designed in a time where making copies was hard and expensive work, which would only be done to make a lot of money. This is the reason why the penalties are so high, it was never intended to punish “normal people”, but unauthorised publishers. The current law is not in anyway compatible with technology by which copies are so cheap that anyone can make them. Technology where we need to be able to make copies just to be able to work with the technology!

    What we have here is not piracy and not theft, instead to use the proper terms it’s infringement on a government granted, limited and transitory, monopoly.

  19. Matthew Says:

    This is slightly off-topic, but under the DMCA you actually *lose* protection if you edit people’s posts. By editing something you assume responsibility for its content. Either delete offending comments or let them stand.

    You cannot use DMCA’s safe harbor provisions unless you’re completely hands off. If someone freaks out and posts something totally obscene, but it’s standard practice for you to edit posts, then you’re in a world of hurt.

  20. Roberts, D. P. Says:

    And all this time I thought piracy was robbery at sea! I guess I’ve been doing it wrong.

    I do believe you’ve stolen my word.

  21. Björn Says:

    “Piracy” != “stealing”, since property rights and copyright are not defined in the same laws.

    So, sure, I get the line of argumentation, but we need to stop making the incorrect simplification that piracy is a kind of theft. Let us call things by their proper name (whatever that might be).

  22. No, silly Says:

    “you are stealing income from the seller. ”

    Ahhh.

    So deciding not to buy something is theft. I am grateful to you for that legal insight.

    Now all I have to do to be safe is not go anywhere near a store, so that I don’t decide not to buy something… but wait, if I decide not to go into any stores… uh-oh.

  23. Rafa Says:

    I don’t agree.

    Piracy is piracy and theft is theft. I would even go further to say that piracy involves selling the copied product. File sharing would be the name for copying without intention to sell.

    Now, if you want to make the argument that it’s as bad as theft, then you can, and I’d probably agree in most cases. To act as if they’re synonymous is not right.

  24. Attaboy Says:

    This is really quite simple. What the product is, whether it’s tangible or not, whether it’s produced by a megacorp or a starving artist, it doesn’t matter. It can be a DVD, digital song, Rolls Royce, tax preparation or a back alley blow job. Let’s just call it a “widget.”

    Now assume the seller wishes to sell the widget and sets a price of $10. The customer can: a) buy it for $10, b) attempt to renegotiate the price, or c) refuse to purchase the widget. But if the customer goes ahead and takes the widget without paying, that’s theft.

    Theft – noun – the act of stealing; the wrongful taking of the personal goods or property of another

  25. sha-1 Says:

    lmao @ No, silly

  26. arn Says:

    The people who claim they would not pay for it therefore it’s ok are just making themselves feel better.

    Here’s a clear example of the impact of piracy on a developer of a massively popular game for the Apple II
    http://www.dadgum.com/halcyon/BOOK/GOODMAN.HTM

    “The game seemed popular and received great reviews. Did it do well commercially?

    Nope. Datamost only sold around 5,000 copies of the game. I’ve gotten email from a lot of people and even met people who know and love the game and you know what? I’ve never met or talked to anyone who had an official copy.

    Pretty frequently I see the recurring threads on software piracy on various newsgroups. People really believe that there is no impact from their copying software. Well, there is an impact. I couldn’t support myself by writing computer games, so “The Bilestoad” was the last game I did.”

  27. Mark Bradley Says:

    I consider Internet Piracy as try before you buy. I download movies. I also go to cinemas. I download music. I also go to concerts and buy music online.

    However there is a better way than the current big corp controlled media.

    Advertising within pirated content could be sold (thus using file sharing as the distribution method). Thus giving content producers another funding stream and giving advertisers more exposure. Particularly if the content is highly popular.

    This works for software aswell, especially games where real life is depicted. E.g. the GTA series. However there are other ways to put advertising in, e.g. water marks.

    This doesn’t exactly work for music, but thats what internet and normal radio were invented for.

    This model supports internet piracy.

  28. jetako Says:

    Arn,

    I’m in complete agreement with you about the impact of piracy on software sales. Not to be harsh, but I played a pirated copy of “The Bilestoad” when I was a wee child, and despite the fine soundtrack and presentation the gameplay didn’t quite add up. I would have been disappointed had I actually purchased it. Not all sales failures are the result of piracy.

  29. Ryan Says:

    Your diagram is incorrect and the movie analogy only works if the cinema would otherwise have been FULL of paying customers.

    Each pirated copy of something does NOT represent lost $. SOME pirated copies represent a lost sale and SOME pirated copies represent consumption that would NEVER OTHERWISE HAVE HAPPENED.

    Two things happen in a normal transaction: Total Income increases AND Total Audience increases. In a piracy transaction only Total Audience increases. In some of those the piracy transaction replaces the normal transaction. In others the piracy transaction is a new transaction that would never have occurred as a normal transaction. Nothing was LOST, there was a net gain. Total Audience increased.

    A subtle but important difference. The exact balance of those two things is for someone with more access to raw piracy data.

    The challenge is to a) encourage normal transactions and b) find value in audience increases. Strategies and benefits of those things will depend entirely on what is being pirated.

  30. LKM Says:

    Potentially lost income is *not* theft.

    By your definition, lending your friend a book he would otherwise have bought would be theft. Inviting your pals for a DVD night is theft if they would have bought the movie, had they not seen it at your place. Drinking a glass of tap water instead of bottled water is theft, because you didn’t give money to the people who sell bottled water! And what if somebody downloads an mp3 and then buys the whole album because he liked the song? Now downloading the song deprived *him* of money, so effectively, the record company stole from him when he downloaded the song?

    It’s all semantic bullshit, anyways. As a programmer, I don’t care if people pirate my software. What I care about is how much money I get. If somebody pirates a game I wrote and then buys the next game from me because he liked the pirated game, more power to him! His piracy made me some money! If somebody pirates my game and likes it so much that he tells five of his friends, awesome! I fully support that, it’s word-of-mouth advertising I paid by opportunity costs, which means it’s effectively free!

  31. Toledo Says:

    I wonder how many of the “piracy is not theft” and “digital content should (or is already) free” gang are actual producers of digital content.

    My guess is that they are all “consumers”. Non paying ones, that is.

  32. LKM Says:

    @Toledo: Your guess is wrong. I’m a programmer. I sell programs. Also, I haven’t pirated anything in probably a decade, ever since I can actually afford to pay for stuff.

    That doesn’t change the fact that the “piracy == theft” “gang” (to use your word) are just plain wrong, and actually counterproductive. Antagonizing your potential customers doesn’t exactly help your bottom line.

  33. Toledo Says:

    @LKM: I agree with you. Although I’m a programmer, I work as a consultant and write “applies to this client only” software, so I’m not hurt in my earnings due to piracy. Still, I also don’t pirate anything, but I can’t afford all of the things I want. But I still don’t think I therefore have the right to use them for free.

    You have an excellent point about “Antagonizing your potential customers not helping your bottom line”. And I’m pretty sure there are other ways for monetizing digital content than just selling them directly. I subscribe to O’reilly’s safari bookshelf, for instance. The online music stores’ business model also show that you can pay to get value in return, and keep the equation balanced.

    But I don’t think the customers are doing a good job in trying to find a good balance between what works for the consumers and what works for the producers. When the topic is piracy, the consumers usually show a very selfish attitude towards the equation, even when they value very much the content that is produced (not all pirated content are of the “I hated it, but pirated it anyway” kind). And I strongly believe that this will hurt the producing of digital content in the future.

  34. LKM Says:

    >But I still don’t think I therefore have the
    >right to use them for free.

    I’m not making a moral argument. Piracy is wrong, no questions (regardless of whether it’s theft, which, as I said, is a pointless semantic distinction). I’m making the argument of somebody who is trying to look at the issue objectively, as somebody who is trying to make money selling software. As such, I don’t care whether my customers are nice people or not. I care about whether I make money, and I don’t think that piracy is unequivocally bad for me in that regard.

    My first and foremost problem isn’t piracy, it’s actually getting people to *want* to pirate my stuff 🙂

    My number one problem isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity, and piracy actually helps against obscurity.

    Do I want people to pay, rather than copy my stuff? Sure! Do I want people to copy my stuff rather than not play it at all? Hell yeah!

    >But I don’t think the customers are doing
    >a good job in trying to find a good balance
    >between what works for the consumers
    >and what works for the producers.

    True, but I don’t think it’s their job. It’s our job to get them to want to pay. There are several ways you can go about doing this.

    First of all, make them realize that you’re a human being. If they figure out that you’re not some faceless huge corporation, they’re more likely to actually consider the effects not paying for software might have on you. Note again that complaining about your customers is not going to make them want to give you money 🙂

    Second, make it easier to pay than not to pay. Apple has the right idea. It’s easier to just buy music on iTunes than to download it, and the music is typically cheap enough that the path of least resistance ends up being the paying path. Or look at the iPhone’s app store. It’s possible to pirate iPhone games, but piracy is an absolute non-issue on the iPhone, because it’s just so cheap and easy to pay for applications. Sitting in a train, bored, want a new game to waste some time? You can easily, quickly and cheaply buy a game right from your iPhone.

    O’Reilly’s Safari service is another good example of this. It’s actually easier to pay O’Reilly a bunch of bucks each month, rather than trying to find copies of their books.

    As an aside, this is a good argument against more stringent forms of DRM. DRM makes life harder for paying customers, which tilts the scales towards simply downloading a cracked version.

    It’s not your (potential) customers’ job to make your life easy. It’s your job to make theirs easy, and to make them realize that their money is going to a human being, and will be used to fund more of the type of stuff they love.

  35. SoftwareMan Says:

    I was in the WIndows commercial software business in the late 90’s and early 00’s. We were fairly successful for many years, but ultimately it became too difficult to sustain a sizeable software company that sold to consumers. We considered whether to change our model to focus on businesses, but ultimately decided it was time to find another profession.

    The debate about whether piracy is theft is truly beside the point. It’s just a matter of right vs. wrong. And I believe piracy is wrong.

    We could always tell when a new version of our software was cracked and posted on the major warez sites because our sales would literally drop in half within a week. When that would happen, we would work to release a new version with different protections. It became a cat-and-mouse game, and sadly, the pirate cats were getting better at eating our mouse every year.

    Piracy does hurt software because it kills the innovative small companies. The megacorps like Microsoft will survive piracy because they sell to millions and also to businesses who will indeed pay for software. And yes there will always be freeware and open source, which are nice, but you have to realize it’s a product created by part-time people who do this in their spare time. So except for a few great products that receive lots of attention (like Firefox, Linux) much free software gives you just what you pay for, and getting timely support and updates is a hit and miss matter. But all the great software by small companies, guys in a garage, mom & pop operations, well, those days are dead, and you can thank pirates for that. 🙁

  36. LKM Says:

    >But all the great software by small companies, guys in a
    >garage, mom & pop operations, well, those days are dead

    Try looking outside the Windows microcosmos 🙂

    I think the Windows marketplace is a truly bad place to be. There are only two viable third-party niches there: Games and anti-virus software. Both niches work because Microsoft doesn’t (yet) own them, and because you can lock customers into paying regularly for updates or subscriptions.

    The rest of the Windows software market is pretty much dead. Microsoft owns the Office segment, and 99% of all Windows owners simply don’t care about doing anything other than using the web, e-mail, writing letters, playing games and not getting viruses.

  37. Toledo Says:

    @LKM – You have some excellent arguments there, and there are definitely gray lines on the piracy subject, so it’s hard to agree or disagree with everything you say.

    I definitely agree that piracy helps take your product out of obscurity. Of course the real ratio between getting 100% of the income of an obscure product’s sales or 5% of a famous product’s sale is too full of conjectures to be used in any arguments, except the more general ones. In any ways, I believe things could go both ways, but it should be the producer’s choice whether he wants to fight obscurity by giving his product for free or not. And this doesn’t solve the problems for products which wouldn’t be obscure at all even without piracy.

    As for fighting piracy with ease of use, I can definitely take your point. It’s just that it’s hard for some products to compete with free counterparts, offering only the “easy of acquiring” as a differential. It would work for US$ 1,00 musics, but it doesn’t help Adobe with it’s photoshop product, or Microsoft with it’s windows product. There’s only so much people are willing to pay for ease of use, and again I believe it should be the producer’s choice about whether he wants a US$ 1.000,00 price tag to sell once each month, or a US$ 1,00 price tag to sell a thousand each month. Of course, most of the times selling to 1000 people might demand other costs by the part of the producer, so that’s why it should be his call.

    I’m happy to see that you agree that piracy is wrong, and you seem to be on the pragmatics side of things: “People already pirate stuff. How do we deal with it?”. That’s excellent, and those who want to survive the market have indeed to adapt to reality.

    Still, the title of the article is “Piracy is Stealing”, and although producers need to adapt, etc, I believe morally, In my point of view, it is stealing, yes. The exercise is really not about how to adapt to piracy and create a different market, but whether piracy is actually stealing or not.

    Just like you might argue that there are lots of muggers in some street, and you can say: “You shouldn’t go there with your wallet”, “Keep your money in a hidden bag”, “Avoid going there entirely” …those are all ways of dealing with the muggers. That doesn’t make mugging right, just like you said that piracy is wrong.

  38. Axl Idol Says:

    I’m a singer/songwriter, not a programmer, but I just had to comment after reading what this guy said:

    “If you support artists, GO SEE THEM LIVE. Artists make [little] from album sales. The only people getting boned by piracy are the record labels, and they [****] the artists YOU love.”

    Clearly he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I was the lead singer of an indy band that broke up about 2 years ago. We were your typical band: good friends get together, make music, gain a small following, give up our day jobs to pursue our dreams, only to be crushed by the reality of the music biz. Blah, blah, you don’t need to hear our sob story.

    But his comment that only the record labels get hurt by piracy is total BS. Actually, the artists (especially non-established ones) get screwed the most.

    At our height we were playing gigs to 1000+ people on Saturday nights, usually a couple hundred on other days. But we certainly weren’t making much money touring. The costs of transportation, hotel living, equipment and repairs, crew etc. ate away much of our touring revenue. What little we had left barely covered our lead guitarist’s booze and coke habit. 😉 So that whole “go see them live” bit is nice but it doesn’t pay all the bills.

    So naturally we tried to make money from CD and merchandizing sales. But nobody was buying our $10 self-published CDs. Why? Piracy! People would buy a T-shirt, but then when we’d try to push our CD, they’d always say something like, “Oh, I already got your CD from my buddy Joe, it’s on my ipod, it’s totally awesome!” And I’d be like, “Well, did you give your buddy 10 bucks, because I certainly didn’t see that money!” Most days we’d sell far more T-shirts than CDs. But if I wanted to make a living sell T-shirts, I would’ve kept my job at the mall!

    Look, I’m not naive. I realize had we been as good as Guns n’ Roses and had some luck, we would’ve landed a contract with a record label, and then they could worry about piracy and all that crap. Believe me, I’d much rather make a two bucks per CD for a mega-platinum CD, than $10 of a CD that sold a few hundred copies. But people were definitely LISTENING to our music, they just weren’t PAYING for it.

    One guy here said that it isn’t stealing if you never had the money in the first place. But let me tell you, whether you reach into my wallet and grab $10 or steal my music without paying, it’s all the same to me, that’s $10 I should have but won’t.

    So if you think that piracy is only hurting the nameless faceless corporations, think again.

  39. LKM Says:

    >It’s just that it’s hard for some products to compete with free
    >counterparts, offering only the “easy of acquiring” as a differential.

    Yes, it’s certainly not easy (and perhaps not every product has a right or reason to exist). And I can understand the need to complain about piracy. But complaining about it doesn’t make dealing with it easier 🙂

    I guess my main point is: It’s pointless to discuss whether piracy is stealing, as this is a meaningless semantic distinction. It’s also pointless to discuss whether piracy is wrong; it *is* wrong, regardless of whether we call it stealing or not, and even regardless of whether it helps or hurts a given developer.

    But coming to this conclusion does not solve anyone’s problem. Telling people that they are evil won’t stop them from pirating your stuff, it’ll just antagonize them and thus encourage them to not even give it a second thought.

    You can do something about a street with lots of muggers, but it’s probably not calling the police; they’ll just scare them away to the next street, or force them to carry guns so they can shoot back when the police shoots at them. The solution is making sure that they don’t end up as muggers in the first place. If it’s easier to get a job and buy stuff, they’ll do that instead.

    People will always be people, and complaining about it won’t help. It’s better to use human behaviour to your advantage than to vilify it.

    But I guess I’m starting to repeat myself 🙂

  40. Toledo Says:

    “I guess my main point is: It’s pointless to discuss whether piracy is stealing, as this is a meaningless semantic distinction. It’s also pointless to discuss whether piracy is wrong; it *is* wrong, regardless of whether we call it stealing or not, and even regardless of whether it helps or hurts a given developer.”

    I don’t think discussing this is pointless. If you ask a mugger: “What do you work at?” and he answers: “I don’t work at anything. I’m a mugger. I steal people.”, you can say.. “…err.. ok.”

    Now, if you ask the mugger: “What do you work at?” and he answers “I have 3 years experience as a mugger”.. you can say: “Excuse-me? That’s not a job! That’s stealing!” ..and he answers: “You don’t mean that! It’s a lot of work being a mugger!” ..and you answer: “But that’s still stealing!!!” … and he realizes he’s been mugging people mistakenly thinking it wasn’t stealing, he’ll go get another job, do something else.

    So, although maybe if there are people that think: “I pirate software/music/movies/etc. I don’t care if it’s stealing. I rob people. I don’t care about the producers of the content I consume, as long as I get a lot of stuff for free”. Well… ok then.

    But if there are some people that think: “I pirate software/music/movies/etc. I don’t think that’s stealing. I think it helps me, and doesn’t hurt anyone. It might even help some people”. And the discussions make him realize he is wrong about his assumptions, maybe rather than turning into a conscious thief, he decides to do something else.

    So, I think there’s merit in the discussion yes. Although most of the time it really doesn’t get anywhere, I believe it helps people think about what they are doing… even if they decide to continue pirating after thinking about it.

  41. LKM Says:

    I agree that it’s important to alert pirates to the effects of what they’re doing. I just don’t think that “you’re a tief!” is a constructive, useful way of achieving this 🙂

    I think a better way to engage pirates in a discussion would be what Cliff Harris has done, asking people why they pirate his software:
    http://positech.co.uk/cliffsblog/?p=76

    Another good way would be to talk about who you are, how the money people pay you helps you write more and better software, and how not paying you directly results in you being unable to dedicate more time to writing your software.

    Show people that you’re a human being.

  42. links for 2008-08-28 « that dismal science Says:

    […] No, Silly, Piracy is Theft This is because stealing a digital work is not like stealing a tangible item. Pirating a digital video off BitTorrent is not the same as shoplifting a DVD from BestBuy. (tags: piracy theft diagrams flame) […]

  43. I Play an Accountant on TV Says:

    The concept that digital works should be free because they cost nothing to reproduce is ludicrous. [Snip. Be nice!]

    Let’s consider a software program that costs $1 million to produce. The company may estimate that it can sell 50,000 copies, so they’ll charge $25 each and hope to make a little profit. Ignoring ongoing costs, this $1M is amortized over the number of copies sold to result in a value of $20 per copy. So even though the program is free to reproduce, it cost the company $20 to make it in the first place.

    Now if half of the customers pirate the program, then profit turns to loss, and the company loses real money. The fact that they already spent it doesn’t make the loss sting any less. The company was hoping in earnest to recover their initial investment.

    The same is true with tangible items like DVD. As anyone in the biz knows, DVDs are dirt cheap to produce, maybe 20 cents/disc with large runs. Given that it only costs them 20 cents, why should we pay $30 for a DVD? Shouldn’t we all just pirate the DVD and pay the 20 cents it costs the manufacturer to reproduce? See how stupid that argument is? Basing the value of something on its cost to reproduce it?

    That short-sighted thinking ignores the upfront cost of producing, marketing and selling the discs. Paying for employee salaries, insurance, taxes, etc.

    Whether piracy is stealing is irrelevant. It’s plain wrong, and it hurts legitimate business people and will ultimately damage innovation and the creative arts.

    [Edited: Language]

  44. Toledo Says:

    @LKM – Hah! Indeed.. calling them thieves is basically what the RIAA does, and everybody hates them. So, I agree it’s terrible tactics. 🙂

    I just happen to think that’s the truth, tho.

    Just the same, if you were kidnapped and were to be killed, you could show the kidnapper you are a human being (just like he is) and use many other tactics so that he could spare you. No use calling him a murderer. This is all absolutely valid and correct.

    It doesn’t make kidnapping right, though. Doesn’t make combating kidnapping useless/senseless either.

    Now, I believe the “you are a murderer!” argument wouldn’t stop the kidnapper. It might stop someone who hasn’t thought too much about the impact of his actions, though, like in some scenario where a seemingly harmless action might murder people indirectly.

    That’s how I view (forced analogies aside) the piracy industry. Most people don’t realize exactly what is the extent of their actions, and how it hurts the people making the work they consume. And they don’t really want to think about it too much afraid of what might come out of it, just like some people don’t want to know about how the meat they eat gets to their table, etc.

    Some people really don’t care about how the meat comes to their table. Maybe there’s nothing we can do about that, etc. Some, though, just really avoid the fact that it happens at all, so that they eat meat without a heavy consciousness. I believe thinking about the extension of their acts is really important for those.

  45. LKM Says:

    @I Play an Accountant on TV: DVDs cost that much because that is what the market will bear, not because they need to cost that much to amortize the movie’s cost (for popular movies, cinema tickets will pay the movie’s cost several times over; for unpopular movies, the initial costs will never be recouped anyways, these movies are paid with the profits of the successful movies). The studio has a monopoly on a movie, nobody else can sell that movie; it can ask whatever people are willing to pay to own it on DVD.

    Your “software program” example is simplistic and thus useless.

    @Toledo: Again, just to make this perfectly clear, I’m not arguing that piracy is right or justified or anything like this. I’m arguing that piracy is not necessarily bad for us, and that we should try to use piracy and human behaviour to our advantage, instead of alienating people.

    Here’s something else you can try: If you find pirated serial numbers, don’t disable them outright. Instead, give the user a guilt trip if he enters a pirated serial number; something like “Hey, my name is [your name]. I wrote this application during the span of two years. I quit my day job to write this application, at great personal financial risk. You probably found this serial number on the Internet instead of paying me for it (if you did pay, something went wrong; drop me a mail at [address]).

    “I’m not mad at you; I’m happy you’re interested in my application, but I would encourage you to pay the registration fee. The application only costs [x] bucks, and you can easily pay this using [explain how to pay]. Your money puts food on my table and helps me invest more time in this application, which eventually helps you, too.

    “Again, I’m happy you like my application, and I hope you’ll consider paying for it. Sincerely, [your name].”

    Add a smiling picture of you, possibly with a dog or some other cute animal. This could surely be fleshed out somewhat better, but I think something like this would be way more successful than simply scolding people for pirating your app.

    I agree that people would rather ignore the result of their behaviour; it’s our job to try and get them to see the light.

    I also agree that we will never be able to get everyone. Perhaps not even a majority, in some cases. But we don’t have to, we only have to get enough people to pay that we can sustain the development of our applications. If you’re doing everything right, you can probably get rich even if only a small percentage of your customers actually gives you money.

    Thinking about how much *more* money we could make if everyone would pay, and trying to turn every pirate into a paying customer is a fool’s errand; it’ll drive you insane eventually, so don’t do it 🙂

  46. Matt Langley Says:

    Yup, I pretty much agree with your version. And as a software developer I have strong views on this.

    However, there are other scenario which are not clear cut: what if you would never have wanted to see the film unless it was free. You would not have paid, so the theater missed out on no revenue. Or even, what if you paid but the film was rubbish (have you been robbed?), or what if you have paid to see the film, but it was rubbish, but then you go with friends for purely social reasons; is it reasonable for the theater to charge you for the enjoyment of the company of your friends? (Are they being robbed?)

    Also, if you have paid to own a copy and the copy breaks, surely you are entitled to have a new copy at no charge. If you buy a new copy the film makers make twice as much money than they have earned.

    And one more: what if you don’t want to see the film, you don’t see the film, but you have to pay anyway! This is the model proposed by the UK government at the moment and is clearly the worst scenario of all.

    There is a solution though, which is to make money by advertising alongside the film, or through physical merchandising, etc. After I found no-one will pay for software anymore, this is the model I adopted, and it works well. It is also well established for TV.

    Personally I still buy a film or CD if I want it; and if a film is really good I still go to the cinema.

    I would pay for download if they were priced more reasonably. The film makers could sell films on-line for $1 and still make a profit, especially if demand falls and fewer films are made, so actors are less in demand and therefore will work for less money.

  47. James Says:

    It’s now on a ebay tshirt.

    http://search.ebay.ca/search/search.dll?from=R40&_trksid=m37&satitle=piracy+vs+theft

  48. EDay Says:

    >It’s now on a ebay tshirt.

    Brilliant. So kids today will not pay $15 for a CD of songs that took unique talent and real effort to produce. But they will pay $15 for a T-shirt that any idiot can make in a few minutes.

    We had the Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen-X, then Gen-Y. Perhaps this next group of kids will be the Retard Generation.

  49. dude Says:

    I downloaded the latest Fast and the Furious movie the other day and watched it. As expected, it was just as funny as the first ones and if I never watch it again it will be too soon. I would never pay money for that shit and wouldn’t be caught dead with it in my possession. Please clarify for me how I have robbed anyone of income. My money was never up for their grabs. Not after I downloaded their content, and not before.

  50. Dudette Says:

    @Dude, maybe we should hookup! (jk)

    Your argument has already been debunked by other commenters above. Lack of intent to pay is not an excuse. e.g., If you walk into a BestBuy, stuff a bunch of DVDs in your shirt, then sneak out the store without paying. When the cops bust you for shoplifting, just tell them that “I would never pay money for that shit. My money was never up for their grabs” and see what happens. Think they’ll just let you go? I dare you to try your lame excuse!!

  51. d4m4s74 Says:

    I’ve downloaded the Adobe suite, but I’d never buy it (price is waaaaaaay to high) so they don’t lose a sale to me and I’m not a thief

  52. Stig Says:

    Someone on here said they bet none of these people are content producers on this site. You’re probably right. I AM a content producer, running a small business. I don’t have any major label or studio or corporate support behind me…I do it all. And my business is dying.

    5 years ago, I was able to squeak out a decent living at my work…but with all the rampant piracy (I’ve even had fans admit they steal my work regularly) I am now losing money badly and each new release, means more ‘fans’ (over 2 million now) but interestingly less money.

    That is the reality I deal with. I don’t need ‘word of mouth’…I need people to have honor and pay for my work that they have stolen.

    So while you guys are trying to justify stealing…and let’s call it what it is, STEALING…I am now trying to survive as an artist. I am seriously having to consider giving up my productions because I’m tired of slaving to create something that apparently people love…but just don’t want to pay for it.

  53. Stig Says:

    One other thing, so that you might get a different perspective (mine)…
    in 2005 I released a product that made a decent profit…this year, my latest production…more advanced, bigger better raved on by reviewers…made only 1/5 as much, yet cost twice as much as the 2005 effort.

    This is why eventually all professional creative content will eventually die…starting with the small producers like me.

  54. Travelsonic Says:

    “and let’s call it what it is, STEALING”

    Which begs the question… a lot of them, since legally you are wrong, and moralities are subjective.

    Get off your high horse, you know the phrase “correlation doesn’t equate causation”? You should. While piracy does impact businesses – you can never say it always harms sales, and that it is the sole reason for anybody going out of business – there are many other variables that impact this… quality, economics, etc.

  55. RocketMike Says:

    What does that even mean? “Stealing income”? An above poster got it right — by this logic, whenever you decide not to buy anything, you’re stealing potential income!

    Distributors of content, especially brick-and-mortar stores like Best Buy, invested in a certain business model. That model is this: it costs money to copy and distribute stuff, so let’s make copies of stuff and distribute it. Well, guess what? Technology has progressed enough to make that business plan obsolete, as copying music or movies is now virtually free (not completely, but pretty close). And this is a good thing — we should not try to prolong the death of old, outdated ideas.

    As for the artists themselves, I kind of resent the idea that people should be able to make a living doing nothing but playing music. The rest of us have to work, in unpleasant jobs, to earn our money, and I can’t really sympathize with those who complain “oh, I’m a starving artist, nobody wants to pay me money for my music”. Believe me, I’d jump at the chance to just play music all day instead of working. But if you can’t make a steady income making music, then it is my opinion that you should find another line of work, rather than complain to the government to protect you.

  56. Anon Says:

    @RocketMike

    “As for the artists themselves, I kind of resent the idea that people should be able to make a living doing nothing but playing music. The rest of us have to work, in unpleasant jobs, to earn our money, and I can’t really sympathize with those who complain “oh, I’m a starving artist, nobody wants to pay me money for my music”. Believe me, I’d jump at the chance to just play music all day instead of working. But if you can’t make a steady income making music, then it is my opinion that you should find another line of work, rather than complain to the government to protect you.”

    Seriously? Are you stupid or just ignorant? Do you then NOT listen to any song, NOT watch any movie/tv shows, NOT read and books and pictures? and do you really think singers/musicians do NOTHING but happily play music all day long? As i’m pretty certain you actualy do do these things, WHY do you resent people to WORK HARD (they do not just laze around all day and play music–it can be very, very fustrating) to bring you these things that you enjoy everyday.

    It’s not as easy as you seem to foolishly think. The REASON many aspiring musicians and artists and writers fail, is because the industry is so competitive and unfortunatly, it’s not htat the people dont have talent, but that other people are simply better, or they have better connections. So, if someone who STRUGGLED to get their music/ whatever published, and people like it, but then they DONT PAY for it, the artist gets near no profit, and ultimatly have to quit for another job ot support themselves.

  57. Doctor Bleed Says:

    So those this mean simply not watching the movie at all is theft too? since i’m not giving them money then either?

  58. Marcos Toledo Says:

    Nah, its only theft when you watch the movie and don’t give them any money. But saying “I would’ve never paid for watching it anyway” doesn’t count. You have to literally not watch it.

  59. Mafia II is "released" on certain sites - Page 6 - Overclock.net - Overclocking.net Says:

    […] Posted by Dopamin3 sigh http://www.devtopics.com/no-silly-piracy-is-theft/ Whether or not you agree with that and you "go out and buy the game after" doesn't […]

  60. superultra Says:

    I find it extremely sad that even some pirates are deluded into believing that they are stealing. Hopefully this will clear things up for everyone.

    Often times, people will mention that piracy is somehow the same thing as stealing and that it has a negative impact on the developer(s) that created the product that is being pirated. Soon, I will explain why both of those statements are incorrect.

    Before I do so, however, let me state a few things that may or may not be obvious already. I’m sure you’ve heard about and/or looked at those statistics that claim to know how many pirates pirated certain products, how many pirates there are, or how many sales were “lost” to pirates. Those are very likely incorrect. Why? It would be an impossible task to scour every torrent and website in existence in an attempt to count how many pirates there truly are. It’s simply not plausable due to the sheer amount of websites and torrents. I’m also sure that you’ve probably heard of and/or come across something known as DRM (digital rights management). You’re probably already aware that it was designed to stop (or at least reduce) piracy. What some fail to realize, however, is that it fails to do even that, and instead, it just causes harm to the actual customers themselves due to the fact that the DRM limits what the customers can do with their legally acquired product while the pirates crack or remove the DRM from the product, and, consequently, can use it restriction free. This makes DRM effectively useless against piracy, and ultimately only harms the buying customer.

    One very small reason that piracy doesn’t actually harm anyone is the fact that you can’t consider every instance where something is pirated as a lost sale. It’s simply not logical to do so, as you have no idea if the pirate would have bought the product if they had been unable to pirate it. It is more likely to assume that they would not have bought the product. Reasons for which include: the company which made the product has bad policies or treats its customers badly, the pirate lacks the money needed to buy the product, the product contains DRM, or the pirate simply felt that he/she would rather spend his/her money on more important things. Assuming that every instance of piracy is a lost sale (as many people seem to do) is simply illogical.

    Next, you have to ask yourself what it is that pirates are actually stealing. Are they stealing the product itself? That can’t be true, as they are simply making a copy of it. To steal something means to take something away, and the pirates aren’t doing that. So, what are they stealing, then? The next conclusion that would likely be drawn is that the pirates are stealing future/potential profit. However, logically, this holds no ground for a few reasons.

    First of all, if stealing future/potential profit was illegal, then competition in general would also be illegal. Why? If a customer decided to buy a product from one business instead of buying it from another business, under the “potential profit” rule, that would mean that the first business actually stole future/potential profit away from the second business.

    Secondly, if stealing future/potential profit was illegal, then warning people about a company/product would also be illegal. Why? The people who were informed not to buy the product/buy from the company might be scared away from future purchases, which, under the “potential profit” rule, would mean that the informant actually stole future/potential profit away from said company.

    Finally, there’s really not much difference between a person who pirated a product and a person who just didn’t buy the product at all (yet also didn’t pirate it), except for the fact that one is enjoying a product for free while the other is not. Neither of them granted the creator of the product any profit at all, so under the “potential profit” rule, that would mean that they actually somehow stole potential profit from the creator(s) of the product for not granting them their money. There are many, many more examples of how the “potential profit” argument is illogical and holds no actual ground. That was but a few.

    Despite there logically being no negative aspects to piracy, there are some positive aspects to it. The pirate could eventually grant the author(s) money if they liked the product, they could inform people who are not pirates of the product if it is good (resulting in free word of mouth advertising), and, though it doesn’t directly benefit the author, it will save the pirate money for use on more important things (food, water, and shelter).

    “But, what about the artists? If everyone pirated everything, there would be no one to create anything good!”

    If you read the above with an open mind, you will see that this is not actually the fault of the pirate itself, but the fault of the capitalistic ways of our society. The flaws of which are becoming more and more apparent as each day passes. It is highly unfortunate that many good artists will likely have to suffer due to our capitalistic practices until they are changed. It is not the fault of piracy.

  61. Kevin Bacon Says:

    Let’s say I find an apple tree on public land, pick an apple and eat it. Is that wrong? Did I steal any revenue from my local supermarket because I picked an apple from the tree rather than buying an apple from them? If the apple tree did not exist, would I have necessarily gone to the local supermarket and bought an apple? If one or two people pick apples from the tree probably no one will notice, but if everyone starts doing it, the supermarket will complain to the city and the city will remove the tree; but by then, some people will have saved their apple seeds and will grow new apple trees on private land for everyone to share. Trying to stop piracy is like trying to stop people from doing anything else; It just isn’t going to happen. Once people know they are able to do something, it is impossible to get them to stop.

  62. Software Developers are Doomed Says:

    […] you write code for a living, your career is in the crosshairs of the Web’s demand that everything digital be cheap or free.  A whole generation is growing up believing that if you cannot touch it, then it has no […]

  63. Rob Says:

    I see a lot of things going back and forth here, but I still come back to the place that (most) people will pay for what they like if it’s at a decent price.

    Examples:
    Amarok
    Ubuntu (plus the other scads of *nix distros which take donations)
    iTunes
    Simon Klose just funded a movie about the pirate bay in 3 days ($25,000) from volunteered donations

    Now I don’t pirate (I used to), but I also don’t pay for something unless I actually like it. Would I buy a cd? Heck no… most of the songs on cds are worthless except for a title track. I did, however, buy a windows license (which I’ve never done) when they had a student sale for 7 @ $40. I figured it was worth it, so I bought it. I could have pirated it, but the cost was within what I thought it was worth.

    FYI the record labels have lost ALL my purchases simply because they keep pushing out worthless music (my preference). I used to just pirate what I liked, but now since I don’t pirate and the labels get a huge chunk of whatever I pay, I don’t listen to any of it.

  64. hasen Says:

    So what if people stop paying for music? What’s the worst that will happen? No one will make new music. Is that so bad for society? There will always be people who will still make music. Music is not a new invention, it existed for a long time, and it never needed copyrights to protect it.

    So let’s ask again, what happens when small garage bands can’t make money due to file sharing? Most of them will stop and go back to their day jobs. Most of them. Except for the most determined ones; they will find ways to monetize the value they’re creating.

    Maybe this is not so bad, maybe it’s just an indication that the market is too saturated with singer-wannabes, and/or maybe that the economy cannot sustain everyone and his dog becoming full time singers instead of doing other kind of work that creates value to society.

  65. Brendan Says:

    “The best example I heard was this: say you’re a baker and you sell bread. One day it starts raining bread, and people pick up their bread from the street rather than pay for yours. It sucks for you that you aren’t getting money from your bread, but how can you blame people for what they’re doing?” – Carl

    I liked this a lot but the major flaw when comparing to piracy I noticed is that this isn’t saying the rain-bread and baker’s bread are the necessarily same. IF the rain-bread that was made by, lets say it was god, is an exact clone of the bakers bread then god has pirated the bakers bake/design/mix/blueprint/what ever you want to call it. However if the bread is unique (cooked by god and not identical to the bakers bread) then this is simply charity as far as I’ve thought into it (briefly). This then reminds me of another quote I read from a French anarchist, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, from 1840: “property is theft” which asks what right does the baker have to that particular loaf of bread? If I invented the colour red I don’t believe I have the right to keep it from anybody but If I made a complex painting featuring red I think I would due to it being so unique but I have no idea how to identify the point at which something becomes complex enough to be property…. Just thoughts…. I’ll stop there so I don’t bore anyone to death.

  66. Akro Says:

    MTV cribs

    ‘nuf said

  67. Brad Anderson Says:

    Put it this way: if you CAN’T CATCH SOMEONE FOR IT, then it doesn’t MATTER what you CALL it!

    There is NO WAY you can catch or prosecute the individual downloader! NO WAY!
    Maybe some rare cases got convicted, but they were obviously going out of their way to break the law– NOT simply to download files!

    So just stop whining, you’re making a fool of yourself– file-sharing is here to STAY:…..
    AND THERE’S NOT A DAMNED THING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT!
    BWAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAA!

  68. Brad Anderson Says:

    P.S. As for saying “piracy is theft,” you might want to get your facts straight.
    Legally, “theft” is defined as “acting with intent to permanently deprive the owner of their property.”
    Obviously, this doesn’t work with INTELLECTUAL property, since you can’t deprive a person of that; you can only cause them to LOSE INCOME.
    So it’s NOT “theft” in the legal sense– it’s copyright-infringement, intellectual-property violations, lost expectation-damages, or something else– but it’s NOT “theft.”

    If you want to make up your own laws, fine– but don’t make claims about EXISTING laws.

  69. Brad Anderson Says:

    If people stop paying for RECORDED music, then obviously people will pay more for LIVE music, and the wanna-be bands can get work.
    That’s good for everyone, since there will be more live music– the way it USED to be– rather than a few pop-stars living high on the hog, while everyone had to listen to their recordings instead of live bands.

    Corporations exist to DESTROY the little guy, so they can live large and control the market; but now the tables have clearly turned, as the internet has destroyed Big Music Inc.– just like it destroyed Big Media; and for the simple reason that EVERYONE has access to it, it can’t be controlled by some fat-cat.
    FIGHT THE POWER!

  70. timmy Says:

    My dream is that piracy will destroy the music industry and no one will be able to make a fuck ton of money selling crap music. Just think if an actual artist made some music, then was only able to make any money by performing their music live and possibly selling a few CDs or T-shirts at the show. We would be left with only talented artist that create music because that is what they enjoy doing, not because they can sell cookie cutter crap to the mindless sheep that still buy music

  71. Blount Says:

    Let’s say I find an apple tree on public land, pick an apple and eat it. Is that wrong? Did I steal any revenue from my local supermarket because I picked an apple from the tree rather than buying an apple from them? If the apple tree did not exist, would I have necessarily gone to the local supermarket and bought an apple? If one or two people pick apples from the tree probably no one will notice, but if everyone starts doing it, the supermarket will complain to the city and the city will remove the tree; but by then, some people will have saved their apple seeds and will grow new apple trees on private land for everyone to share. Trying to stop piracy is like trying to stop people from doing anything else; It just isn’t going to happen. Once people know they are able to do something, it is impossible to get them to stop.

  72. JustOneVoice Says:

    Three major objections:
    1. Copyright, in it’s original form (and today, although with reinterpretation) does not allow numbers or mathematical operations to be copyrighted. This makes sense. Even if you were the first man to discover pi, it’s still not your property. Everything in digital format is reducible to numbers, hence should be outside the scope of copyright.
    2. The numbers on loss are not discernible. Studies have found positive revenue generation via filesharing, revenue loss via filesharing, or no effect. And since 1 pirated copy != 1 lost sale, even counting copies wouldn’t tell the story. Even assuming that there is a loss, and that said loss should be subject to renumeration, a “loss” that vague shouldn’t be prosecuted under any condition.
    3. Property is stuff. Information, shy of a physical expression, is not stuff. Copying information in it’s rawest form can hardly be deemed theft.
    4. Copyright is a privilege, not a right. It is a governmental exception to anti-monopoly policies, designed to foster development of culture and science for the public good. Eventual entry of said work into the public domain is the goal, as is the creation of derivative works. It is easy to argue that the benefit to society of unmitigated access easily trumps the comparatively minor issue of loss of revenue to a small segment.
    5. In addition, the lack of copyright prior to 1700 did not, seemingly, prevent the Renaissance, so one can hardly argue that lack of copyright prevents artistic innovation. In fact, it’s fairly plain to see that at this point, with multi-generation copyright, the innovation of many artists and designers has been harmed by copyright: a documentary about MLK Jr was delayed a decade due to copyright concerns, most notably a scene in which “Happy Birthday to You” was sung (Copyright owned by Warner).
    In addition, laws such as the DMCA have resulted in weakening of fair use, and subsequently of the benefit that creative works have to society in general.
    6. Even presuming the above were not the case, the laws and “rights” of digital copyright are not enforcible today. At best, they result in selective enforcement, a comically random bad luck lottery. “Nothing promotes disrespect of the law more than passing laws which can not and should not be enforced.” -Albert Einstein

    Due to the above, and the degree to which modern copyright law has strayed from and abused it’s original purpose, it would seem that infringement has become a form of de facto widespread civil disobedience.

  73. JustOneVoice Says:

    edit: Three kept expanding. “A few points” perhaps.

  74. John Says:

    Sorry, you’re wrong. Downloads don’t equate to sales; no “profit” is lost/taken/’stolen’.

  75. Bob Says:

    I find it ironic that many record companies and movie studios are reporting record profits, but in the next breath they say they are losing billions because of downloading. People have been using vcr’s and dvd players to record content for years, and tape decks used to dub tapes and record music off the radio. People are still buying the physical product, and in many cases people who might not have bought the product in the first place end up getting exposed to it. For every artist that is against downloading, there are many artists who see it as another medium to expose their work to more and diverse audiences.

  76. Texas shredding Says:

    Claiming that you own something that is not truly yours, or using someone else’s identity for your own benefit is indeed an act of piracy. Without permission, you are stealing something – song, movie, data, etc. – to those who truly owns it. Others might consider it a light misconduct because there is not physical injury committed but a little wrongdoing can go a long way if it is not stopped. This is why it is important to safeguard one’s information or intellectual property rights.

  77. Rob Says:

    I wouldn’t say pirates say they ‘own’ what they steal. I don’t claim I made a movie or game, but my frustration comes in when I buy a game and a software company claims I didn’t actually buy the game, just a license to use the game. At any point, then, a game company can ‘revoke’ my ‘license’ to something I paid money for.

    Piracy, on the other hand, gives me a game or movie and says “do what you want, how you want”. I can still give my money to the company that made it by going to see the movie in the theaters or buying a legit key from the game company, but I still have a copy I can use however I want.

    Fighting freedom of information will always be a losing battle.

  78. Me Says:

    It’s not theft, its copyright infringement. Not even the copyright statutes call it theft. The dishonest use of the word theft is purely to try and justify punitive actions for infringing a right that has been artificially created by statutes. Theft has existed for thousands of generations and in most societies is part of the natural law. Criminal sanctions exist to reflect societal the norms about theft. In stark contrast, copyright has never existed in any society as a natural law and has recently been created by statutes with punitive remedies made available to combat societal norms NOT to reflect them (i.e. the societal norm is that copyright infringement not generally a wrong that requires the criminal intervention of the State). Only in your bizarro world is copyright infringement “theft”.

    Copyright laws may have public policy justifications (i.e. to encourage investment in works by creating an exploitable and exclusive right for the author). Regardless of the public policy reasons, copyright infringment is not theft, it is copyright infringement.

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