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.

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Comments on “Does The Punishment Fit The Crime? Is Manslaughter An Equivalent Crime To Copyright Infringement?”

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56 Comments
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: 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…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Atkray (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 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?

JP says:

Re: Re: Re:3 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.

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Re: Re:3 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.

btrussell (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 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?

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: 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 … ๐Ÿ™‚

MrWilson says:

From the RIAA website:

“It?s commonly known as ‘piracy,’ but that?s 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.

JMT says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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”

Ninja (profile) says:

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.

I-Blz says:

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

Anonymous Coward says:

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….

Ron Rezendes (profile) says:

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!

Ninja (profile) says:

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.

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