Copying Is Theft And Other Legal Myths

from the nothing-is-clear dept

For years, I’ve argued that the entertainment industry is being incredibly misleading when it says that downloading is “theft” and no different than stealing a CD from a story. It’s not. It’s copyright infringement, which is a different issue altogether. Mark Rasch, who once ran the Justice Department’s computer crime unit has written up a nice article explaining the legal issues behind copying music, pointing out that the Supreme Court has clearly said it’s infringement, and not theft. Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t go to jail for it. The article also describes what the law is, and what it takes to go to jail under the current system – though, it’s not as clear cut as you might think. For all the talk that goes on here about file sharing, the legal issues are the least interesting to me. The important issue isn’t whether or not file sharing is illegal (it clearly is in some cases and isn’t in others), but whether or not copyright owners should learn how to use file sharing (whether illegal or not) to their advantage. My argument has always been that, even if it is illegal, companies are better off realizing there are more opportunities in allowing file sharing, than in pissing off their customers.

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