Does The Punishment Fit The Crime? Is Manslaughter An Equivalent Crime To Copyright Infringement?

from the manslaughter-is-about-the-same dept

Via ZeroPaid, we learn of a fun article in the French publication Numerama, which tries to compare the length of time in jail one could get for file sharing in France to a few other crimes (Google translation from the original French). The results are telling, in terms of just how extreme current copyright laws really are. The article includes two lists. The first is of crimes that can get you about the same amount of time in jail. This list includes:
  • Manslaughter
  • Sending death threats
  • Doing biomedical experiments on a person without consent
  • Provoking someone to commit suicide.
  • Theft
  • Escaping prison
  • Forgery
Clearly, sharing a few songs in an unauthorized manner fits with that list. As for the list of crimes that will get you less punishment, there are some surprises:
  • Exposing yourself in public
  • Sexual harassment
  • Domestic violence
  • Identity fraud
  • Abandoning a family
  • Getting a minor drunk
  • Making sexual advances on someone less than 15 years old
  • Abuse and cruelty to animals
  • Destruction of property
Somehow, it's difficult to see how infringement belongs in that first list. But, that's what you get in this day and age.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 9:26am

    Isn't it odd that theft and forgery are on that top list?

    It would make you think, perhaps...

     

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  2.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 9:27am

    The MPAA and RIAA think that more draconian penalties are the solution to their business model problems. It is just part of the fantasy world that they live in.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 9:27am

    Re:

    Copying is not theft.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 9:28am

    You're right - it doesn't belong on that first list.

    Copyright infringement should in fact be on the list of capital crimes, and anyone who disagrees is a freetard!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Jay (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 9:34am

    Re:

    Well, forgery is because of the security placed on the dollar by central banks. We're supposed to be secure in our money that we borrow from the Feds for our high debt and...

    Oh, wait...

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    JaDe, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 9:34am

    Re:

    Perhaps what? Perhaps what?

    Oh no! I think AC's internet connection was cut halfway through his comment(probably HADOPI). Now we may never know what he perhaps thought.

     

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  7.  
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    Jay (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 9:35am

    Re:

    Before anyone else replies, yes, I think this AC is indeed missing the /s mark.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    PaulT (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 9:41am

    Re:

    Think about what? That the people making the laws still have no concept of the difference between those terms, despite them being completely different concepts? That those people are passing some extremely bad laws at the behest of those who believe they stand to benefit financially, whatever the cost to society?

    I suppose you're right, but it's not a positive thought...

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    MrWilson, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 9:43am

    From the RIAA website:

    "Itís commonly known as 'piracy,' but thatís too benign of a term to adequately describe the toll that music theft takes on the enormous cast of industry players working behind the scenes to bring music to your ears."

    So hijacking, rape, murder, assault, etc. on the high seas is "too benign" a comparison to make with file-sharing?

    Talk about a screwed up sense of ethics.

     

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  10.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 9:44am

    Re:

    "It would make you think, perhaps..."

    That the existence of those two independent crimes obviously proves that infringement is not theft, but a separate violation?

    YES! You GOT IT! I'm so proud of you! I would pat you on your head right now if I could, but my priest tells me that would be cheating....

     

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  11.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 9:44am

    Re:

    "Copyright infringement should in fact be on the list of capital crimes, and anyone who disagrees is a freetard!"

    I agree, we can then go after the guys at the newspapers for copyright theft for each image they have pilfered and have them executed. We can use DOJ to extradite the record label exec's in canada for their two decade long piracy spree of mbest of CD's. We can finally see and end to Lily Allen and her unauthorized mix tapes. We can go after politicians that use songs for their campains in an unauthorized way and put them to death.


    I love double edged swords ... :)

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 9:47am

    Re: Re:

    Yup, you got it. It may no be specifically theft, but forgery isn't specifically theft either (it's obtaining something through falsehoods / misrespresentation, which is why it is a seperate crime). I am guessing that copyright infringement falls somewhere in there.

    Now, that being said, just like there is petty theft, there could be petty infringement. Clearly, a kid stealing a piece of candy from the candy store doesn't get 20 years in prison.

    It sort of makes you think that this post is a bit of a strawman, comparing "trading a couple of files" with grand theft.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 9:52am

    Re: Re:

    "YES! You GOT IT! I'm so proud of you! I would pat you on your head right now if I could, but my priest tells me that would be cheating...."

    Careful now DH! you know what goes on inside that head!

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    AJ, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 10:03am

    Oh No's!

    "Doing biomedical experiments on a person without consent "

    Damn.... I didn't realize this was against the law. I'm guess I'm going to need a new hobby.... sigh

     

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  15.  
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    Jesse (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 10:06am

    Making sexual advances on a child is less serious than copyright infringement. Nice priorities.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Squirrel Brains (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 10:08am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Except for very exceptional cases, copyright infringement should be a civil matter and not a criminal one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    The eejit (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 10:08am

    Re: Re: Re:

    But attempted statutory rape has less than copyright infringement...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 10:08am

    It depends ...

    Mike, I think you are wrong here and that the punishment here does really fit the crime. It depends on a lot of factors, like what song you are sharing.

    For example, if you share a song like "Let's talk about sex" from Salt&Pepper with a 14 year old then it would fall into the category "Making sexual advances on someone less than 15 years old"
    But if you share any song from the Emo genre then you are "Provoking someone to commit suicide."

    Then there is the method of sharing. Un-encrypted bit-torrent is "Exposing yourself in public" but transmitting data according to RFC-1149 could be seen as "Abuse and cruelty to animals"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Atkray (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 10:12am

    Re: Re: Re:

    It isn't the post that makes the comparison it is you and your peers. See also Gene Simmons Et al.

    The post is pointing out how ridiculous the comparison is.

    It is promising that you see the difference between a kid stealing a piece of candy and armed bank robbery.

    The fact that you acknowledge there could be "petty infringement" tells me that either there is hope for you to actually comprehend the nature of sharing or (unfortunately) more likely you see that backlash against IP is growing and are trying to establish a middle ground before you loose even what you now have.

    I'll be an optimist and hope you are getting wiser.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Atkray (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 10:14am

    Re:

    Am I going mad or did the word think just escape your lips?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Ed Gray (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 10:26am

    is it worse...

    to copy a song or put someone in a cage for years?

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 10:30am

    Re: is it worse...

    Definitely worse to copy a song....

    If you put someone in a cage for years, they are going to have almost nothing to do, chances are they might 'sing a song' while in their cage, and the middlemen could claim the copyright on that and put the next person who copies it in the cage next to them..

    Am I doing this right? trolling can be difficult....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 10:35am

    Re: Oh No's!

    But only in France, you can still work freely in Lithuania Dr.Frankenstein

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 10:38am

    Re:

    well how else do you expect media executives to have orgies with underage hookers?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 10:47am

    Re: It depends ...

    LOL! So copyright infringement can be theft after all. If I steal a server containing copyrighted material it is theft after all. I think we should make it simpler and include all other crimes in copyright infringement. Sounds fair. And make it death penalty, our planet is overcrowded anyway so it's gonna be an environmentally friendly law while we are at it =)

    Holy sweet Mary Jesus... I am kidding but I'm astonished to find myself thinking I wouldn't be surprised if some coypright moron agreed with me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 10:47am

    Re: It depends ...

    LOL! So copyright infringement can be theft after all. If I steal a server containing copyrighted material it is theft after all. I think we should make it simpler and include all other crimes in copyright infringement. Sounds fair. And make it death penalty, our planet is overcrowded anyway so it's gonna be an environmentally friendly law while we are at it =)

    Holy sweet Mary Jesus... I am kidding but I'm astonished to find myself thinking I wouldn't be surprised if some coypright moron agreed with me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    AJ, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 10:47am

    Re: Re: Oh No's!

    Excellent! Care to drop by for Tea Mr. Coward? muhahahha

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 10:48am

    Re: Re:

    I agree about the double edged swords. However, unfortunately those who make the laws are not subject to them (see: healthcare).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Insider, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 10:59am

    Re: Troll

    And this concludes our trolling session of the day.
    Thank you very much for attending.
    We will continue offering quality trolling in the next coming days.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 10:59am

    Prisoner 01: "I've raped a 14 yr old."
    Other prisoners: "WOW MAN! We are jealous of you!"
    Prisoner 02: "I've killed 153 individuals. All after torturing them brutally."
    Other prisoners: "Holy crap, you are THE MAN!"
    Prisoner 03: "I infringed copyright."
    Other prisoners: "For God sake, have you no decency? You low life scum. Vermin. DEVIL. You should be ashamed of being alive!"

    Somehow I can't picture that scene. It's too much of an inversion of values.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 11:05am

    Re:

    we can always make our own prison gangs. The Shares, they'll make copies of cigarettes, cocaine and porn mags for the rest of the prison population.

    and we would take care of our own, if anybody messes with us, we'll leave soo many angry comments on his cell wall

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    Ron Rezendes (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 11:07am

    Re: Re: is it worse...

    "If you put someone in a cage for years, they are going to have almost nothing to do, chances are they might 'sing a song' while in their cage, and the middlemen could claim the copyright on that and put the next person who copies it in the cage next to them.."

    You left out the follow up...when the next person is put in the cage next to them, then, when the original captive sings the middle man can bust them for a public performance!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    Ikarushka (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 11:20am

    That's because infringers are the major threat to the very foundations of our society. We need good citizens like this one, not copy-terrorists.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    Jesse (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 11:35am

    Re: Re:

    Excellent point, I hadn't looked at it that way.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 11:43am

    Re: Re: It depends ...

    I think this AC was telling a joke. I found it funny at least.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    I-Blz, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 11:49am

    Re: It depends ...

    wooooow, this is ridiculous, especially the thing about the emo genre. The emo genre does not promote suicide, or pain. What ever you say, IT. JUST. DOESN'T. "Eposing yourself means streaking, and wtf is the abuse to animals? For the sake of my reliance in your sanity, you had better have forgotten your /sarc mark

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    Greevar (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 12:02pm

    Re: Re: Troll

    Trolling is a 24 hour job.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Freak, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 12:05pm

    Re: Re: It depends ...

    RFC-1149 is an internet protocol over messenger pigeons.
    So, yes.

    And yes, I did know that off the top of my head ;p

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Colin, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Re: It depends ...

    Wow.

    Just...wow.

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    DS, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 12:33pm

    If I copy Histoire de Melody Nelson, which tier of punishments would I fall under?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 12:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yup, I see the difference. I can also see what it looks like when an adult goes in and empties out the candy factory, or holds the candy factory owners business for ransom.

    However, if every kids in town comes in to take a piece of candy, sooner or later there will be calls to do something, to create a punishment that is enough of a deterrent to stop kids from taking candy. Clearly, the price of the candy alone isn't enough to stop anyone.

    Also, you have to remember that there is a huge difference between criminal copyright infringement, and the merely civil.

    It's sort of a wonderful strawman argument, seemingly the last refuge of the desperate anti-copyright campaigners.

    Hey Mike, how come no comment on hotfile getting ordered to turn over their stats and account information?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
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    Ben (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 12:48pm

    What about copycat killers?

    If they infringe the murder technique of another, they're just asking for a longer jail time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
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    The eejit (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Consider this:

    In France, as the law stands, you currently get less jail-time for attempted molestation of children than you can for copyright infringement.

    If that isn't a fuck-up sense of priorities, I don't know what is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
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    The eejit (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 1:02pm

    Re:

    DEATH!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 1:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    ... and if you read the original story, it's only up to 3 years (or a 300,000 Euro fine, but not both)

    Perhaps maybe the real story is that " attempted molestation of children " in France isn't treated as a serious crime.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    karel nielson, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 1:13pm

    Re: anonymous coward

    yes, because clearly copying a song or movie is just as bad as raping or murdering somebody... those poor starving artists obviously cry themselves to sleep at night if they sleep at all...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 1:30pm

    Re: Re: It depends ...

    I was going for the funny and end up being the biggest troll on techdirt :)
    Next time I will use /joke tags.

    For those who don't know what RFC-1149 is http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc1149.html

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    JP, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 1:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If every kid in town went in and took a piece of candy, the establishment (factory, store, whatever) would be missing a lot of candy...

    If someone goes in and "takes" a "piece" of music via an unauthorized digital download, remind me again what's missing and from where?

    Please don't go calling foul for other's strawman arguments, when you use a strawman yourself to refute the original response.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    johnkh, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 2:02pm

    how much for grand theft?

    How much time would one get in comparison for simply breaking into a store and stealing all of the CDs and DVDs one wanted? First offense, probably less than for file sharing but I'm actually curious to know.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
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    JMT (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 2:31pm

    Re: From the RIAA website:

    Wow, that statement is quite amazing.

    A couple of excerpts from the Wikipedia entry on Piracy in Somalia (since it's a topic most people are aware of):

    "Pirates' income from ransom has been estimated to be about 39 million euro (about $58 million) in 2009 and $238 million in 2010. However, indirect costs of piracy are much higher and estimated to be between $7 to 12 billion as they also include insurance, naval support, legal proceedings, re-routing of slower ships, and individual protective steps taken by ship-owners."

    "Somali piracy operations extol significant human cost. Thus in 2010, 4,185 seafarers had been attacked and 1,090 were held hostage, a third of these were abused. According to Reuters, 62 seafarers died out of over 3,500 captives during a four year period having been murdered, or from suicide or malnutrition."


    So dozens of lives and many billions of dollars lost to actual piracy, but this term is to "too benign of a term to adequately describe the toll that music theft takes on the enormous cast of industry players". That's a pretty bold thing to claim. I'd love to hear an RIAA supporter try to defend it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    JEDIDIAH, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 3:03pm

    Your blatant corporate feudalism

    It's not a strawman by any stretch of the imagination.

    It's a basic element of our Bill of Rights.

    These are the things that the original states wanted added to the Constitution before they would go along with it. They were afraid of the abuses of a large central government.

    They didn't want the feds to trample over rights that they held dear.

    The Bill of Rights isn't just a good idea. It's the law.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
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    The eejit (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 3:37pm

    Re: how much for grand theft?

    Probably about a week, unless you did it during a riopt, in which case, it's 2 years.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
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    BearGriz72 (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 4:33pm

    Re: It depends ...

    I would recommend RFC-6214 myself, as it uses the updated IPv6 protocol, but that's just me.
    ;-)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    I-Blz, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 6:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: It depends ...

    Pffffft, good job. I salute you, pseudo-troll.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 3:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "However, if every kids in town comes in to take a piece of candy, sooner or later there will be calls to do something, to create a punishment that is enough of a deterrent to stop kids from taking candy."

    If they aren't catching anyone, how will a bigger deterrent work?

    Will every candy store get its own designated cop?

    Or will store owner be told to police his store better or get more staff?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    identicon
    ac, Sep 4th, 2011 @ 2:19pm

    Re: Re:

    lool the AC is missing the mark. get it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    identicon
    Nos482, Oct 6th, 2011 @ 11:43pm

    heh

    in Germany you get 3 years for owning child pornography...
    and 5 years for infringements.
    Fair is fair -.-

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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