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June 09, 2008

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Phil

> Taking a physical object that is the property of someone else and calling it your own is "bad" and usually illegal. I think this holds true even when the property is digital.

Ugh. Please don't call copyright or patent infringement "theft". Theft involves actual (not just potential) deprivation of the original owner, which does not happen with copyright infringement.

These are totally separate concepts; using one word for them really just muddies the issue. I'm so tired of this, and I really expect better from someone who has done so much research on the topic.

(Apart from that point I agree with the post.)

Josh Goebel

I think this post is directed more towards copyright (I specifically refer to stealing music and pirating software in bold)... and I think that in so far as copyright deals with "copy"... that taking someone else's copy and calling it my own is theft of that copy... or the credit due them because of their work.

It's not the same as stealing their bike, or their wallet, true... but I still think of it as stealing in the sense of taking something that the law has assigned to someone else exclusively. From wikiPedia:

In the criminal law, theft (also known as stealing) is the illegal taking of another person's property without that person's freely-given consent.

If you think as copyrights or patents as intellectual property then it would be theft in this sense of the word to infringe on either.

In any case I think it's splitting hairs.

Josh Goebel

The only reason I can think to try and separate the meaning is if you do not believe that copyright or patent infringement is actually wrong in any moral sense. Then of course you wouldn't want the labels of "theft" or "thief" to be associated with infringement...

But really your beef then really isn't with whether it should be labeled "theft" or not but whether such things are entitled to legal protection in the first place. Because as soon as they are defined as property, then taking them without consent is defined as theft as I see it.

Phil

> that taking someone else's copy and calling it my own is theft of that copy...

So you're taking something away from them that you created yourself in the first place? The point is that you didn't have the legal right to create that new copy. *Nothing* has been taken away from the copyright holder. If you hadn't made the copy that you took, it would never have existed at all.

> If you think as copyrights or patents as intellectual property then it would be theft in this sense of the word to infringe on either.

Yes, but if you really understand the laws behind this, you would realize that the term "Intellectual Property" is at best a metaphor, and at worst horribly confusing. (http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/not-ipr.html)

> The only reason I can think to try and separate the meaning is if you do not believe that copyright or patent infringement is actually wrong in any moral sense.

So logically it follows that since I believe vandalism and murder are separate things then I don't believe vandalism is immoral, right?

Not at all. I believe copyright infringement is wrong. I just believe it should be treated differently from theft since its effects on the victim are vastly different. (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/07/28/copying_is_theft_and_other/) To equate the two is really just to play into the hands of the MPAA/RIAA--they want the same protection on their so-called goods that real physical goods have, even though they are affected by lawbreakers in a totally different way.

I think you're right that it's serious and that it needs to stop. You're just not doing anyone favours by using incorrect and confusing terminology.

Kevin Milden

"Good artist copy, great artists steal." — Pablo Picasso . Couldn't be more right. I have spent a long part of my career in and around action sports, software and fashion industry. These are more evolved industries. If you don't borrow from the right people at the right moment you're dead. Plain and simple. Does Google Docs not work like Microsoft Word? You bet you ass it does. Does Apple Keynote not have similar features to Powerpoint. Absolutely.

Web apps industry reminds me of when I was just a little boy hanging out with my Dad at his cool software start-up. For him everything was going to be reinvented on the computer — design, accounting, inventory, everything... They too were idealistic fools. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs included. Then it happened. Bill decided that everyone was acting like hippies and he was gonna get rich on all this non-sense. One after another companies fell or bent to Microsoft's will. I don't know if this player in web apps has risen. It looks to be maybe facebook, possibly Google.

The point is, that in their ever quest to capture our attention at both work and play the little guys will be bought, sold, killed off or turned into mega-brands. That is it. It is next to impossible for any of us to compete at a certain point. So have fun while you still can, make sure you enjoy the people you work with and try to forget about getting rich. Throw caution to the wind, borrow from whatever the hell gets you excited and see what happens. I guarantee it won't be a lawsuit over design.

One day you might wake up as the market leader because you were so busy just making the stuff you thought was cool you really didn't care where it originated from. Neither do other people.

moose

Most downloaders are like kids watching a ballgame through a hole in the fence. They don't get to sit and the view is obstructed, but they couldn't afford to pay to get in.

That is why the old ballfields didn't patch those holes. It's better to have kids thrilled to get a glimpse of a ballgame and ready to pay to get in when they get the money then to have to have those kids feel excluded and dismissed by heavy handed fat cats.

Copyright is about distributing and selling copies. Those guys on the street selling bootleg discs are crooks because they are taking money for someone else's work. But there is no reason to think a downloader would pay for something they could not download.

I always tell my customers not to worry about copy protection. It is better to have someone use and enjoy your product than not. Someday when they are ready to buy they will remember the product they enjoyed and they you get paid.

Ideas, jokes, slang, song, and other elements of culture have, until recent history, always flowed freely among people. Owning an thought is unnatural, and impossible to enforce without unacceptably intrusive and tyrannical measures.

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