Sunday, 4 December 2011

There's Stealing and Then There's Downloading

Question: What would happen to me if I was to get caught stealing an iPhone? Given my record and everything, I expect to have ended up with some community service time for stealing, or trying to steal, a device worth close to $1000.
Another question: What would happen to me I was to get caught pirating the music an average iPhone holds? In the USA, a woman who downloaded 24 songs (a fraction of the music on your typical iPhone) was sentenced to pay two million dollars for her alleged crime.
Note the disparity between the two cases. That imaginary iPhone that I stole contained tons of music yet I got slapped on the wrist; those two albums worth of songs pretty much ruined the life of the woman downloading them.
I don’t know about you, but my conclusion out of the above example is that piracy is NOT theft. If it was theft then the punishment incurred should have been in line with the market value of the stolen goods: the $30 worth of piracy in the above case would have ended up with nothing more than a warning.
Think about it the next time you hear the contents industry propaganda that piracy is theft. Think about it the next time you play a DVD you bought with your hard earned money and you're forced to watch a message telling you that downloading is stealing.
So let us be clear: piracy, or – to be more accurate – illegal downloading, is not theft. It is a copyright violation, nothing more and nothing less.

*The above post was conceived while reading how the music for an anti-piracy campaign was its own case of copyright violation.

Image by TorrentFreak, Creative Commons license

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