copyright infringement is a crime, but it is not theft

By Hal Canary, 2004-08-04 13:17:55 (link)

From a slashdot post:

Copying bits that are arranged in a deliberate order against the stated wishes of the material's creator is theft. So is "borrowing" it.

Incorrect. Those actions are copyright infringement, not theft. Theft involves taking something from its owner, with the intent to deprive them of it. When you make infringing copies you are taking something, but not depriving anyone else of it.

If it's worth owning, wait for it and pay for it.

Agreed. Just don't apply labels that don't fit. "Theft" has legal and moral meanings that don't apply to copyright infringement. Copyright infringement is a crime, and although it doesn't deprive anyone of anything, it does violate an important social contract, so what it is is enough, without calling it something else.

If you don't "wanna pay for it", and the creator hasn't told you it's free for the taking, you have no right to possess a copy of it.

More precisely, we as a society have decided that to give up that right, mostly, for a time, in order to promote the publication of more works. We as individuals should understand and honor this choice, because it's a good one. Again, though, don't make the mistake of assuming that the author of a work has some natural right to control the work. The only natural right the author has is to decide whether or not to create it, and whether or not to publish it. Everything after that is a legal fiction (for a good reason).

---swillden (source)