Why file-sharing is not theft

I really hate the anti-piracy trailer at the beginning of DVD’s, such as those that I rent from Lovefilm in Sweden. The last person you want to irritate with a nasty accusation of stealing is the person who has lawfully obtained your DVD.

This excellent op-ed by Rutgers Law Professor Stuart Green in today’s “International Herald Tribune” (from the “New York Times”) references that annoying trailer and explains why the whole concept of calling the copying of digital material theft is wrong and defies the zero-sum origin of the term. What’s particularly disturbing about the entertainment industry’s wackoo demands for damages from file-sharers is the idiotic idea that every download represents a lost sale (usually at an inflated price).

They are not, as it is very likely that many downloaders would never buy the material in question (certainly not at the prices demanded). And according to reports, in many cases downloaders later actually go and buy the material they have sampled:

When Stealing Isn’t Stealing
Published: March 28, 2012
What we choose to call a given type of crime ultimately determines how it’s formulated and classified and, perhaps most important, how it will be punished.


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