Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 31st Aug 2010 22:09 UTC
Legal Despite doing what I think are some great things for the American people, the Obama administration has a dark side. Joe Biden and many others on staff come straight from the RIAA camp, and it shows. Today, the Obama administration disregarded every US law relating to theft and copyright by stating that piracy is "flat, unadulterated theft".
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james_gnz
Member since:
2006-02-16

Since you're not dealing with legal definitions, but with man-on-the-street definitions, I'll counter you.

Maybe "theft" is limited to your definition, but "stealing" certainly is not.

Yes, copyright infringement is colloquially referred to as stealing. This is not a very profound statement, though. To say that copyright infringement is theft sounds like it is presenting a moral argument against copying per se, but in reality fails to do so, IMHO.

To go through your list:
* Plagiarism is misleading, or essentially lying. It is essentially claiming authorship when this is not the case.
* Espionage generally involves tactics such as becoming an employee and then breaching confidentially, or trespassing.
* Obtaining test answers in advance, much like plagiarism, is misleading, or essentially lying.
* "Stealing a kiss" might refer to unwanted physical contact.
* Copying test answers, again, much like plagiarism, is misleading, or essentially lying.

Copyright infringement might prevent the copyright holder from receiving potential income, if the copyright holder would have received income had the copyright infringement not taken place. However such income is only expected in the first place because copyright law grants the copyright holder the legal right to it. Had there been no such law, there would have been no such expectation of income. Justifying copyright law on the basis of lost income, then, is a circular argument.

Copyright law was originally justified:
for the Encouragement of Learning
(UK Statute of Anne / Copyright Act 1709)
or
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts
(USA Constitution)

And this remains the only coherent (non-circular) argument for it, IMHO. As such, copyright infringement is wrong because it is a violation of democratically agreed law. This is an important distinction because it means we have a right to democratically change it. If we didn't, then it wouldn't be a democratically agreed law, and there would be no moral justification for it at all.

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