> You're drawing a correspondence here that does not exist. Copying is not the same as stealing.
You are playing with words and with concepts.
Just because digital goods can be copied at no cost doesn't mean that illegally copying is vastly different from stealing, even from a philosophical point of view. Of course, I'm playing the devil advocate here : I have to, because the issue is a bit ambivalent.
The fact that copyright infringement has a different set of laws than theft has nothing to do with the fact that obtaining illegally a particular digital good is, in essence, a theft. You can oppose laws as much as you want - that will not change what is the essence of stealing. The course of action you need to take is different, but the result is the same: you deprive someone from its property. The virtual good may still be in the hand of its owner, but the money you would have paid is not - and this money is also his property if the contract you would have (implicitely or not) signed says so.
I chose the word "property" very carrefully, knowing that it will make some people uncomfortable. Can we say that non physical goods can be the property of someone? Well, it's not up to me to assert this. The laws say so, and if I don't abide this one then I agree that I don't own what I create. But then, the copyleft license terms seems to agree that the creator (or a specific right holder) owns its creation (in this particuliar case, the right owner grants specific rights to anybody who wants to use its creation, but AFAIK, the GPL do not grant you ownership of other's work).
> Theft deprives someone of what was stolen by transferring it to the thief;
Yes. We agree on this one.
> copyright infringement merely reduces the scarcity of what someone possesses.
Merely reduce? But then, if I steal a single bottle of water, I also only merely reduce the scarcity of what the water bottle productor possesses: after all, our world is covered by water, and we are shaping plastic bottles in millions each day.
> These are very different things economically, ethically, and legally.
In your head. I can understand that you don't want to see the truth, because the truth is a bit disturbing for many of us: why should we pay for something that cost nearly nothing to reproduce? Bits are evasive, and given the cost of a gigabyte, then clearly this MP3 title should be free. But it's not. The MP3 is the property of someone, and this person said that it has a price. If you don't agree with this person, tell him, and maybe he will give you the MP3 for free. If he doesn't, you still have the choice to not listen this particular MP3 - after all, it's not like it was necessary to live.
Theft deals with property; you own something and another guy take this something. What did you lost? Economically, you lost a valuable good - thus, you lost money. If you want to replace it, you'll have to buy it again or to build it again (which takes time, and time's not free). Ethically, you are subject to an unfair situation: the stealer had made no effort to get your something, while you did. Legally, you are a victim. Now, if the stealer gives you the money you want for your something, you are no longer subject to any prejudice. I believe that our world is mostly based on the exchange of goods. You see ? The prejudice exists only because there is no exchange. That's the difference between stealing and aquiring something properly.
Digital piracy deals with property too; you own a digital something which has a value, and a someone else just copied your something without transfering you the corresponding value. Economically, you lost money. Ethically, you are subject to an unfair situation, because the copier made no effort to get your something, while you did. Legally, you are a victim. Now, if the someone else pays you the corresponding value, there is no more prejudice. You see ? The prejudice exists only because there is no exchange. That's the difference between digital piracy and aquiring something properly.
Or did I say something like that a few lines ago?
Yes, you might not agree with the fact that someone tells you to pay to get this MP3. But if he's the owner of the MP3, then has has the right to give it a value and you have no right to say the contrary.
> What people call "digital piracy" is just the application of a particular technological mechanism for copyright infringement. If because "digital piracy" is a strict subset of copyright infringement, any statement that can be categorically made about copyright infringement also applies to "digital piracy" -- which means that the fact copyright infringement is not theft implies that "digital piracy" is not theft.
No offense, but nonsense again. The premise of your argument is not logically connected to your conclusion. First, nothing says that every single general statement you can make about CI is valid (by inference) for all forms of CI. If it was true, then you would have a single law about CI and a list of CI subset. But it seems you have laws about CI and more specific laws about CI subsets.
> Maybe they won't laugh. Like I said, they might just stare at you blankly. It's not their job to arrest someone and look for evidence that someone infringed copyright. They enforce criminal law -- not civil law. Copyright is civil law. Copyright issues are resolved with civil suits, and not criminal trials.
I would love that to be the truth in every single country of the world. But I live in France, where a good part of copyright issues are handled at a level which is far above civil laws.
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