Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: [ebook-community] Re: "Why It's Wrong To Call Copyright Infringement 'Theft'"

Expand Messages
  • Bryce Anderson
    Joseph, Copyright infringement isn t the same as theft.  Identity theft isn t the same as real theft (regardless of whether people object to the term). 
    Message 1 of 8 , Apr 23, 2012
    • 0 Attachment
      Joseph,

      "Copyright infringement" isn't the same as theft.  "Identity theft" isn't the same as real theft (regardless of whether people object to the term).  That's the real issue here, and it's a pretty silly one.  You can't get "piracy is okay" from "piracy isn't the same as theft."  So I honestly don't see why people waste time arguing over it.

      Copyright is clearly a form of property, created by a government-granted monopoly on a specific work.  But saying that copyright infringement is theft is like saying that trespassing on a plot of land is theft.  If trespass occurs in conjunction with an actual theft, they're still two separate crimes.

      Identity "theft" is much the same.  When you use someone else's identity to, say, run up a credit card bill, two separate crimes get committed.  The first is the filing of a fraudulent credit card application (a "trespass" on your personal identity).  The second is the using of the card to get money, where a bunch of iPads disappear from a warehouse and a debt is levied against the identity owner.  That's the theft, and in this case it's a theft against the warehouse owner.

      Identity is a unique form of property, as you cannot legally sell or trade it.  It's certainly difficult to compare "my identity" to an ottoman or an SUV, just as it's difficult to compare ownership of your car to ownership of a piece of land, or to compare owning land to owning a copyright.  These discussions are futile if we can't accept that "property" means different things depending on the nature of the owned thing, and that the nature of the property dictates the collection of rights that come with "ownership."

      The whole argument here rests on the notion that, because "pirates" have not yet been seen objecting to the term "identity theft," and "identity" is intangible, intangible things can be owned and therefore copyright infringement is theft.  But in fact, the only reason the term hasn't been objected to before now is because the argument is novel; nobody's ever had a reason to object to it.

      Personally I don't care if the term "identity theft" stays in use, but a hard look at what actually happens in identity theft only shows that "identity theft" isn't theft; it doesn't prove that "copyright infringement" is.

      I did make a boneheaded mistake in declaring copyright "non-rivalrous."  While the copyrighted work is not rivalrous (my reading the work doesn't prevent you from reading it at the same time), the copyright itself is (you can't grant multiple publishers first publication rights, for example).  I still think that the rivalrousness of identity and non-rivalrousness of a copyrighted work is important in comparing identity to copyright.  But upon reflection, I don't see how comparing the two sheds any real light on the "copyright is theft" debate, a debate which I find rather silly in any case.

       
      It's pretty obvious from our last encounter that you've decided -- based on nothing more than an argument for a slightly more permissive copyright system -- that I'm an evil pirate and probably a communist and hence laughably wrong about everything.  It seems pretty futile for me to try and persuade you of... well... anything we don't already agree on.  Or to persuade you that there are things which we do agree on.  So here's what I'm going to do.  I'm going to unsubscribe, then I'm going to recommit myself to spending less time arguing with people on the Internet and more time writing nifty things.  Oh, and releasing it all under Creative Commons licenses. 


      Bryce Anderson


      http://neonderbycars.blogspot.com
      http://twitter.com/darth_schmoo


      May you live in exponential times.







      ________________________________
      From: joseph harris <smilepoet@...>
      To: ebook-community@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Sunday, April 22, 2012 12:28 PM
      Subject: Re: [ebook-community] Re: "Why It's Wrong To Call Copyright Infringement 'Theft'"



      On 22/04/2012 14:08, Bryce Anderson wrote:
      > Tangibility isn't the defining feature here.  Non-rivalrousness is.  Personal identity is by its nature a rivalrous good, where if you use mine it makes me responsible for the financial and legal consequences for your actions.  In a more abstract sense, the more people using an identity, the less value that identity has for its intended purpose: identifying a single person.
      >
      > So I would argue that the similarities here are only superficial.
      >

      > Bryce Anderson

      Hullo Bryce, Good to see you are still about to split hairs.

      I think you are confusing personal identity with the trappings of
      personal identity in the digital age. That is, of course, while- and
      perhaps why - you have moved the goal posts. :-)


      Tangibility and intangibility are facts rather than attributes. The
      normal argument is about ownership, and whether the same rules of
      ownership can apply to both as property. Non-rivalrousness needs
      definition; but I'll assume you are looking at something to do with
      adaptability by another. That would be merely fraudulent usage, and
      gives no liability to the real owner. Like all situations that can be
      argued, the issue of responsibility needs proof, and that is true for
      all instances of contest.





      The value of identity is not financial; goods and monies may accrue to a
      person, and they may be regarded as belonging to that individual. But
      whether those possessions exist or not has no effect on the personal
      identity. Otherwise you might say all the people named Joseph Harris
      [and there are many] share one personal identity. I trust that is an
      obvious nonsense.

      The original issue, the comparability of copyright with personal
      identity in the general context of property, is not touched by your
      objection.

      Joseph Harris

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • joseph harris
      Bryce, There is a division here that you are not seeing. That is between the moral issues and the laws of the community. In moral terms theft is taking what
      Message 2 of 8 , Apr 23, 2012
      • 0 Attachment
        Bryce,

        There is a division here that you are not seeing. That is between the
        moral issues and the laws of the community. In moral terms 'theft' is
        taking what does not belong to you, and it can include many things. In
        legal terms 'criminal theft' is taking that which, by the privilege of
        specific laws, belongs to another. In civil law we talk of breach;
        colloquially the moral tone is applied by calling it theft.

        In your last paragraph of Aunt Sallys (straw men) you accuse me of
        things I have not done, nor implied. Which is a shame because mostly you
        have argued quite clearly, showing little disagreement of the issues
        involving law. You have also in part chosen to respond to arguments I
        have not made; preferring some well worn arguments that are gone over
        frequently.

        There is also a use of t he terms 'rights' where laws of property are
        privileges granted by the community; in that sense physical property has
        no greater presence than copyright. In both cases there is a granting of
        ownership and control over the property, physical or IP. Physical
        property is protected by criminal law, and therefore backed by the
        community's law enforcement bodies. Copyright is civil, and so
        enforcement depends on the energy and funds of the owner.

        The other error that is constantly made is to assume the value of
        copyright is only financial. But people can have many reasons for
        guarding their IP creations. One is to prevent circulation of sensitive
        information; another of personal information, often emotionally
        sensitive. Diaries and letters will often be included in that.

        Only in legal terms is 'copyright infringement' not theft; the law of
        the land can change at any time, moving such things in and out of
        criminal or civil law, even out of protection altogether. The moral
        issue, the moral code, remains constant.

        Of course the law may or may not specify particular actions as criminal
        behaviour; thus the colloquial 'identity theft' may have no legal
        penalty if no financial cost or fraud or libel results. But the idea
        that identity is not owned by the person identified seems strange to me.
        Indeed 'personation' in elections is a crime under electoral law that
        outlaws use of another person's identity in voting.

        Use by another must morally be a theft. There might be tight
        circumstances i n which permission may be granted (such as a proxy in
        voting), but that also is an assertion of ownership. Identity is
        certainly intangible, as is copyright.

        While these argument may be involved in discussions of piracy, they
        stand outside that issue. That piracy is moral theft of another's
        copyright can hardly be disputed. That piracy is not currently legal
        theft under the copyright laws of most countries can also not be disputed.

        Let me make it clear that I did not, in my last post, call you a pirate
        or a communist, or say you are laughably wrong; so far as I can recall I
        have not done any of those things in the past. That I often disagree
        with your take on a point (as you do with mine) does not deny that I
        respect your arguments, and consider them worth thought and considered
        response.

        Joseph Harris

        On 23/04/2012 15:19, Bryce Anderson wrote:
        > Joseph,
        >
        > "Copyright infringement" isn't the same as theft. "Identity theft" isn't the same as real theft (regardless of whether people object to the term). That's the real issue here, and it's a pretty silly one. You can't get "piracy is okay" from "piracy isn't the same as theft." So I honestly don't see why people waste time arguing over it.
        >
        > Copyright is clearly a form of property, created by a government-granted monopoly on a specific work. But saying that copyright infringement is theft is like saying that trespassing on a plot of land is theft. If trespass occurs in conjunction with an actual theft, they're still two separate crimes.
        >
        > Identity "theft" is much the same. When you use someone else's identity to, say, run up a credit card bill, two separate crimes get committed. The first is the filing of a fraudulent credit card application (a "trespass" on your personal identity). The second is the using of the card to get money, where a bunch of iPads disappear from a warehouse and a debt is levied against the identity owner. That's the theft, and in this case it's a theft against the warehouse owner.
        >
        > Identity is a unique form of property, as you cannot legally sell or trade it. It's certainly difficult to compare "my identity" to an ottoman or an SUV, just as it's difficult to compare ownership of your car to ownership of a piece of land, or to compare owning land to owning a copyright. These discussions are futile if we can't accept that "property" means different things depending on the nature of the owned thing, and that the nature of the property dictates the collection of rights that come with "ownership."
        >
        > The whole argument here rests on the notion that, because "pirates" have not yet been seen objecting to the term "identity theft," and "identity" is intangible, intangible things can be owned and therefore copyright infringement is theft. But in fact, the only reason the term hasn't been objected to before now is because the argument is novel; nobody's ever had a reason to object to it.
        >
        > Personally I don't care if the term "identity theft" stays in use, but a hard look at what actually happens in identity theft only shows that "identity theft" isn't theft; it doesn't prove that "copyright infringement" is.
        >
        > I did make a boneheaded mistake in declaring copyright "non-rivalrous." While the copyrighted work is not rivalrous (my reading the work doesn't prevent you from reading it at the same time), the copyright itself is (you can't grant multiple publishers first publication rights, for example). I still think that the rivalrousness of identity and non-rivalrousness of a copyrighted work is important in comparing identity to copyright. But upon reflection, I don't see how comparing the two sheds any real light on the "copyright is theft" debate, a debate which I find rather silly in any case.
        >
        >
        > It's pretty obvious from our last encounter that you've decided -- based on nothing more than an argument for a slightly more permissive copyright system -- that I'm an evil pirate and probably a communist and hence laughably wrong about everything. It seems pretty futile for me to try and persuade you of... well... anything we don't already agree on. Or to persuade you that there are things which we do agree on. So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to unsubscribe, then I'm going to recommit myself to spending less time arguing with people on the Internet and more time writing nifty things. Oh, and releasing it all under Creative Commons licenses.
        >
        >
        > Bryce Anderson
        >
        >
        > http://neonderbycars.blogspot.com
        > http://twitter.com/darth_schmoo
        >
      • BD Lyons
        I agree with Joseph, almost without exception. I will add a few things here. Coming from a background in accounting, the idea of a “name/trademark/service
        Message 3 of 8 , Apr 24, 2012
        • 0 Attachment
          I agree with Joseph, almost without exception.

          I will add a few things here.

          Coming from a background in accounting, the idea of a “name/trademark/service mark/etc.” having an intangible value of “goodwill” is an accounting fact and is actually used in calculations. As is the idea of defamation of said character/mark being illegal law of the land. So yes...the idea of “assuming someone’s identity” and doing them harm under it is most decidedly a legal problem and a civil suit, at least. If you further defraud the individual or others (in the name of the individual) during your masquerade, it is a criminal matter. One of the main problems we deal with in piracy is the assuming of our names in the commission of illegal acts. The defrauding of others and us is also involved in some cases, such as the pirates claiming to be the copyright owners when illegally selling our works on eBay or iOffer.

          Being given permission to represent another is not illegal. Nor is it immoral. This can be handled with a proxy. It can be handled with a Power of Attorney. It can be handled with a Temporary Guardianship or a Medical POA. It can even occur in a publishing contract, when I give a publisher or certain distribution channels permission to further distribute for me, for a set period of time and with certain limitations and monetary considerations. But it always includes the permission of the individual to represent him/her in very specific situations. Since we have not offered any such permission to pirates, they are not covered by such protections.

          Brenna
          --
          http://brennalyons.com http://www.facebook.com/brenna.lyons
          "When twenty-six-year-old Joey Beirs is summoned to the emergency room one evening, the last thing he expects to find is that his twin brother and Jeremy’s wife have both been killed in a car accident, leaving him an UNEXPECTED DADDY to his newborn niece, Abby."

          But the idea
          that identity is not owned by the person identified seems strange to me.
          Indeed 'personation' in elections is a crime under electoral law that
          outlaws use of another person's identity in voting.

          Use by another must morally be a theft. There might be tight
          circumstances i n which permission may be granted (such as a proxy in
          voting), but that also is an assertion of ownership. Identity is
          certainly intangible, as is copyright.



          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.