How Does The Penalty For 'Content Theft' Match Up With Similar 'Crimes'?

from the insanity-made-clear dept

We’ve discussed, for years, how copyright maximalists have continually played with and twisted the language to make infringement sound much, much worse. For years, of course, they liked to just call it “piracy,” though in the last few years, they’ve sometimes shied away from that word, complaining that it made it seem glamorous. More recently, it seems they’ve been focused on calling it “content theft,” somehow believing that that’s more likely to get a reaction.

Of course, as we’ve also pointed out time and time again copying is not theft, and the two are exceptionally different:

Of course, the second you start to go down this path, the copyright maximalists accuse you of playing semantics (which really means they don’t like it when you prove their analogy isn’t accurate at all). However, what if we accept their claim that copyright infringement is somehow “content theft”? Just as a thought experiment, let’s grant them their ridiculous premise… and compare the punishment to similar forms of “theft.” That’s exactly what copyright lawyer Andrew P. Bridges has done, noting that since copyright infringement isn’t anything like typical theft (since no product is missing), it could be described in similar terms to other “crimes” that involve someone failing to pay the required amount:

Under the “theft” conception of copyright law, what, exactly, is the deprivation when someone makes illegal copies? It really boils down to just one thing: money. Copyright infringement – renamed copyright theft — deprives the copyright holder of some of his or her expected profit from exploiting the copyright.

What are other, similar kinds of “theft” by depriving someone of expected money? Failure of a tenant to pay the agreed rent to a landlord is one. Parking in a parking space without putting money in the meter is another. Jumping the turnstile to ride on a subway without paying the fare is a third. (And, of course, failure of a studio or record label to pay artists or actors the promised contractual royalties for their work on a record or film is a fourth. But something tells me the studios and labels sponsoring the current bills won’t go near that topic. The bills don’t include rogue studios and labels in their scope.)

Okay, so if we grant them their premise, and then compare it to similar cases where people don’t pay the requested fee, but still get the “benefit,” then what is the punishment in those other cases? Bridges notices that there appears to be one… um… outlier in the group:

How do the civil damages or penalties for the different types of such “theft” compare? Failure to pay expected money under a contract doesn’t trigger a penalty: contract law usually says that a party can recover the money she expected but not punitive damages or attorneys fees (unless parties have specifically bargained to pay attorneys fees for a breach). Failure to pay rent usually requires payment of rent to cure the default. Failure to put money in the parking meter prompts a ticket for $60. In New York City, failure to pay the $2.50 subway fare results in a maximum fine of $100.

Copyright “theft” is a very different story. Copyright infringement statutory damages in civil litigation can be as high as $150,000 for infringement of a single work. Yes, a single work such as a single song with an iTunes download value of $1. A copyright holder can claim such statutory damages without needing to prove a single penny of damage or loss. Think such sky-high damages aren’t realistic? Think again. In the RIAA’s case against single mother Jammie Thomas, a jury awarded $1,500,000 for the download of 24 songs, with no proof that she had transmitted songs to others. The federal judge thought that was ridiculous and reduced the total award to $54,000 – and the RIAA and MPAA are now arguing strenuously on appeal that the jury verdict should return to the original figure, $62,500 per downloaded song.

What if we work backwards, and see how the law might punish those other, similar, infractions with a damages system similar to copyright:

If we take copyright law’s maximum-penalty-to-price ratio as applied to an illegal download, and apply that same penalty-to-price ratio to the New York subway, the maximum penalty for jumping that turnstile and avoiding the $2.50 fare would be $375,000 instead of $100. Copyright industries are on to a really good thing under current law. One could say it’s a steal.

And yet the industry claims that copyright laws are too weak currently? That seems difficult to square with reality.

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Comments on “How Does The Penalty For 'Content Theft' Match Up With Similar 'Crimes'?”

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Tim K (profile) says:

I wonder if expalined this way to a jury such as in the case of Jammie Thomas, if they would be smart enough to realize just how ridiculous their $1.5 million award actually is. Though I’m not sure it would make a difference, since they awarded that in the first place, and anyone who had half a brain could see that the damages could not possibly amount to anything close to that

Anonymous Coward says:

the law is only weak when it’s on their side. when the law sides against the copyright industries, they refuse to pay because the amounts are too big (then appeal) or they just dont pay. talk about politicians and law makers all being on the copyright industries side! i wonder how long those projected fines would be paid for illegal parking etc before uproar ensued?

Anonymous Coward says:

If I jump the turnstile at a train station, or stiff a cab driver, refuse to pay a plumber, sneak into a theater/concert etc… I have commited theft – it’s called theft of service. Just because some physical object isn’t taken doesn’t mean it isn’t theft. If you are consuming or using that to which you are not entitled it is theft of service. All this time you have spent on this subject and you still don’t get it.

gorehound (profile) says:


I can tell you this:
1987 I was arrested for selling Cocaine.I got charged with 1/8 ounce of Coke.
My sentencing for this crime was:
18 months at Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary
6 Years Of Supervised Release
$3600 Fine

Some of these cases with filesharing/copying amazes me !!! These Bigwig Frakkers go for outrageous Money/Jail Time that can be worse than the sentence I had to do.All for sharing a few files.
Down With The MAFIAA !!!

bshock (profile) says:

it takes one to know one

My ex-wife used to work a lot of retail, and she always insisted that the customers who complained the loudest were the thieves (such as people who would try returning items they shoplifted at other stores; some chains will actually allow returns without a receipt, particularly if the customer screams about it).

Copyright maximalists are the loudest screamers when it comes to “content theft,” even though we know they are not really talking about theft.

Human beings have always formed and shared culture, and culture is like a world of shared songs, stories, ideas, inventions, and imagination in general. The idea of intellectual property is like an army of conquistadors marching into that cultural world and seizing territory for themselves.

I probably wouldn’t go as far as Proudhon and claim that “Property is theft.” But I might suggest this bold claim seems much more appropriate when applied to so-called “intellectual property.”

Anonymous Coward says:


Really? You think jailtime and probation is a less severe penalty than a monetary punishment that will almost surely never be collected? The only reason the punishment was as high in the Jammie Thomas incident was because she appealed the case and sought a jury decision. Yes, a jury of her PEERS determined the fine levied against her, this wasn’t a judge, it wasn’t the record company – it was average citizens. The law provides guidelines, and the jury had the opportunity to levee a much smaller fine but chose otherwise.

Wiggs (profile) says:

A possible solution

You misunderstand. That $5 billion annual loss is “profit”, not “revenue”.

After paying all of the middle-men, contractors, politicians, lawyers, website designers, themselves, recording studios, themselves, massage ‘artists’, politicians, label designers, themselves, scabs, politicians, disenfranchised union workers, and themselves, that number would really need to be more like $100 a month – MINIMUM – to properly cover the costs involved and accurately replace their lost profits.

You clearly just don’t understand “accounting”. =)

Michael says:

A possible solution

Yeah, I get that they haven’t actually lost $5 billion but I’m using it as a comparative anyway to show that this possible solution would thus give big entertainment no further excuse to throw lawsuits at ‘copyright ifnringers’ and attempt to regulate and censor the internet since they’d be compensated beyond what they deserve.

silverscarcat says:


Ah, but you see, there’s a small difference with those things…

The fines that you get from those are, hmm, what’s the term?

Ah, yes.


A $100 fine for jumping the turnstile at the train station is reasonable and affordable to everyone.

A $375,000 fine for doing that is not.

Stiff a cab driver will screw you over later. Don’t pay a plumber? Well, the next time your pipes leak, don’t expect them to show up.

You have committed theft, this is true.

However, copyright infringement is quite different.

How is that?

Simple, you break copyright law all the time. Ever sing Happy Birthday? Guess what, you just broke the law and owe Time Warner money.

The point is, stuff like that is so stupid no one pays attention to it.

It’s like the laws that state if you see three or more Native Americans walking down the street, you are legally allowed to shoot them (it’s a real law in some states, look it up) because they are a war party.

Stupid laws get ignored because they’re just that…


Anonymous Coward says:

The current US copyright laws, statutory damages and all, were enacted at a time when only businesses could afford the necessary equipment to infringe. The business world is one where the word “million” is tossed around regularly, so damages of over $100k would have made sense at the time. As long as copyright infringement was all about companies, everything would be OK.

But now with computers and the Internet the game’s changed. Now it only costs around $500 (or so) for a decent desktop PC. All of a sudden anyone can infringe anyone’s copyright, at almost no cost.

And yet we have single moms being sued for 1.5 million dollars, for noncommercial infringement. That judge did the right thing; that amount would be pocket change for a large business, but for an individual that’s way over the top.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:


Let’s see…

18 months in jail plus 6 years of having to report to a probation officer vs having to pay more in fines than the average person makes in a lifetime? Yeah, the jail time is obviously worse. /s

If the fine sticks for Jaime, she will essentially be an indentured servant of the music industry for the rest of her life as she is forced to pay the fine.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:


Or we could have a constitutional review of the fines and determine what is actually fair. If all she did was download and “make available” 26 songs, what is the actual harm? Determine the actual harm done and triple it to get a decent fine.

What is unfortunate for Jaime is that the only people allowed to determine what the actual harms are are the labels and they are not very honest when it comes to those numbers.

surfer (profile) says:


‘The law provides guidelines,…’

the same law(s) that has been incessantly perverted by the MAFIAA for over 100 years?

how can you possibly justify such abuses of the system for imaginary ‘profit losses’? we are not talking about tangible, verifiable losses of potential sales here, yet you are. I could have potentially made 100k more last year, if I had done ‘x’. with your train of reasoning, there should be a law created to ensure I get 100k regardless if I do x or not.

regurgitating in perpetuity the same mind numbing garbage is a business model issue directly related to imaginary profit losses, not file sharing, or copyright infringement.

technology gave you the player piano, VCR, radio waves, the reel to reel, 8-track, cassette, CD, DVD, Blu-Ray and the internet. we already built the most effective distribution system known to exist in the form of bittorrent, use it, fix your business model and stop already with the ‘I want a pony!’ bullshit.

imaginary profit losses from copyright infringement does not give the MAFIAA any cause to infringe on my civil liberties, ever.

you woke the beast with SOPA/PIPA overreach, odds are that your education campaign about copyright just got a much bigger audience, however, I think it was not the outcome you were expecting..

Michael says:

A possible solution

Not if there was clear and concise legislation stating that once people paid for the license, the copyright holders couldn’t take any further action against them. As it stands, they’re giving people the tools to copy and distribute data and then turning around and incriminating them for doing so. In a similar manner, they could’ve restricted all automotive’s speed to 55MPH but then obviously they’d lose out on one of their biggest revenue streams. IOW, they intentionally give people the means to perform certain actions, then create laws in such a way as to profit from those actions when they inevitably occur. Taxation through citation.

Anonymous Coward says:

” A license to upload/download content spanning up to ten years to the date for $20 a month. Let’s say that 50 million people worldwide sign up within one year. That’s 12 billion dollars, offsetting their hypothetical $5 billion annual loss by $7 billion. They’d have no further right to complain. “

This has been brought up before. It’s essentially an internet ‘tax’ put into an imaginary black box that the LABELS decide who gets a piece of it. That’s actually only the first part of what’s wrong with the idea …

The LABELS decide who gets what.
We already know just how fairly that works out.
With the labels deciding, once again, the independent, non-label artists are completely left out, and, let’s face it, most smaller label acts will be lucky to see a dime of it, just like now.

Once we allow it for the labels, we’ll have to allow it for everyone else.

20.00 more a month for movies
10.00 more a month for ebooks
10.00 more a month for photos

I’m sure once the precedent is set, there will be many more ‘arts’ that will need to be included, and then …

As you see, it snowballs, it will NEVER stop, and never at any point can we ever be sure that any money goes to the artists WE want to support. It is simply the internet equivalent of what the labels do now ( Collective societies ASCAP, BMI, GEMO, MCPS .. etc. ). It preserves the middleman status quo and does nothing for any non affiliated artists, while collecting from EVERYONE who uses the net regardless of what art they seek, listen to. or watch. It also potentially prices internet access out of reach of the average person, and, again, potentially out of reach for aspiring artists … unless of course they can get a label to back them 😉

It is not acceptable.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:


If. in fact, she made them available for further sharing. There was no evidence that she did that. So the fine was just for downloading the songs. For all any of us know she only listened to the songs herself or with her children.

Even then, and now, there is no need to prove or establish damages in any form. That becomes worse under SOPA/PIPA and much worse under secret treaties like ACTA/TPP.

As noted in both Mike’s post the damages, if any at all, were inflicted (to use a very bad word for it) were for expected profits not for anything real. It’s like me trying to sue you for the pint of milk you never bought from my store thereby depriving me of that expected profit. It makes no sense.

Of course our trolling AC’s don’t see any of that all they do is regurgitate the RIAA and MPAA’s line over and over and over again.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

A possible solution

Not to be overly argumentative but taxation is the way in which governments pay for services such as roads, air and sea traffic control and expensive stuff like a military.

I have a real problem being taxed in any form to support private business, particularly when those businesses are still very profitable without the levy.

Nor is it that the entertainment/content industry have made their goods easily or reasonably available on line which is the sort of thing that gives rise to a black market in the first place.

People are copying and sharing which is something human beings have always done. it’s given rise to things like agriculture, civilization, trade, writing and other things we take so much for granted now. Given that people are finding ways of sharing “entertainment/content” that is not otherwise affordable or easily acquired.

Trails (profile) says:


So what’s the point? The verdict will ruin her life for downloading 24 songs.

To what end?

The only logical answer is to “make an example of her”. To ruin the credit of a single mother, to grossly impact the quality of life of her children, because she downloaded 24 songs.

It’s a gross abuse of power, beyond all reason. Pointing to a law drafted by corrupt politicians does not make it reasonable, or just.

Anonymous Coward says:

” The legacy players would have NO SAY over how it is distributed. The revenue would be dispersed evenly between the various content industries.

It’s just an idea, certainly an improvement over the way things currently work. If you have a better idea, feel free to share it.”

Then who would ?
Some entity would have to be created to decide who gets what, wouldn’t you agree ? Once again that simply becomes another version of current collection societies, which already can’t be trusted.

As for having a better idea, well, there are already a LOT of those going around, Louis CK did pretty well, to use one example. Many other ones have been talked about at this site alone. Why does there need to be only one idea that must apply to all ? Why must I or anyone else come up with a model to save the established legacy players ? AllofMP3 was an excellent model, prices people WANTED to pay, no DRM, trackable so an artist could know precisely how many times something was downloaded, thus how much he should get, and yet it was somehow unacceptable to the labels ( even though they paid all of the legally required payments to THEIR country’s collective society ).

The new crop of artists are finding their own ways, without interference from the labels or needing yet ANOTHER collective group. That’s the way things need to progress, ARE progressing, and that’s the ultimate nightmare for the legacy players.

No, a better idea is not my responsibility unless I choose to return to songwriting and/or performing. Ask Chris ( A user of this site ) about how his way is working for him. I found his music through a link posted here. Seems to me he is pretty happy about how things are going. What you present has the potential to make it too expensive for him and others like him to continue. How does that benefit anyone but the legacies ?

Anonymous Coward says:

Michael Moore's position...

This video seems a bit more nuanced…

What about the idea that copying for profit does deprive the owner (of earnings) but sharing does not? Sharing expands the owner’s potential market.

If the labels are so right, what the heck was all this payola stuff in the radio industry?

An Example Waiting to Happen says:


“To make an example of” is the perfect phrase, and outright admittance of excessiveness. It is a phrase which acknowledges, with no shame or guilt, that yes, this is an abuse of power, but by the gods they WILL respect me, or else they will suffer. ?To make an example of? a man walking his dogs off a leash, to put the fear that if you do not step in line, that you will be hurt. ?To make an example of? this woman shows us a disproportionate punishment; it has stripped her of her money, and all her money to come. (And imagine if they go for interest on top of it! She will live her life working for the privilege of paying the company, and her children too probably. And correct me if I am wrong, I am no lawyer, but court judgments cannot be dropped via bankruptcy?)

?To make an example of? is the tyrant?s tool. It is using injustice to force compliance, it is admitting to its own injustice. It proclaims loudly for all to hear; damn the people, we must force compliance! Look at these examples, and take away not the line of the government, of the dictators and power mad, but instead the deeper truths. Those who make examples of others need to be stopped.

Gwiz (profile) says:


To prevent others from doing the same thing.

How’s that working out for them?

This whole idea of scaring your customers into purchasing your product really seems stupid and not well thought out to me. Not only did this or the Tenenbaum case not even slow piracy one iota, they really did lose sales because they pissed off their customers who now vow to never buy another product from the labels, ever.

Michael Long (profile) says:


“A $100 fine for jumping the turnstile at the train station is reasonable and affordable to everyone.”

Where I live dumping trash is subject to a $1,000 fine. Is that reasonable? Is that affordable to everyone?

Why $1,000 and not $100? Because it’s hard to catch, hence the posted fine is letting someone know that if they do get caught, the penalty will be rather severe. Don’t want to risk a $1,000 fine? Don’t dump. This is known as deterrence.

Illicit file “sharing” falls into the same category. It’s currently hard to catch and expensive to prosecute and prove, hence the outsized “fine.”

Too much? Probably. Then again, there’s a really simple way to ensure you don’t hit the IP lawsuit jackpot…

Michael Long (profile) says:

A possible solution

“As it stands, they’re giving people the tools to copy and distribute data and then turning around and incriminating them for doing so.”

An amazing piece of logic. Tell me, who is is this mysterious “they” that gives the tools to copy and distribute “data”, and then incriminates you for doing so?

I mean, I didn’t realize that Time Warner distributed HandBrake and BitTorrent…

MrWilson says:


Yet another rationalization of injustice on the basis of, “it’s the law!” And yet copyright maxmimalists will insist that new laws are needed because current laws don’t go far enough. They think the safe harbor provision in the DMCA was a mistake. So, which is it? “It’s the law!” or “We need new, harsher laws!” And this is why we use the term “maximalist” – because it is never enough. And it never can be enough when you keep trying to legislate a different reality because you refuse to accept the actual one.

Michael Long (profile) says:


How about various streaming services? How about iTunes Match? Stream a song via iTunes Match, and they know THAT song was streamed, and that a royalty on that song is due that artist, to be paid out of your yearly subscription fee.

How about Spotify? $10 a month gets you unlimited streaming of music, no ads, and an offline mode for playlists. And as streams are tracked, artists earn a royalty when their music is played.

Point is, there are already inexpensive ways for people to do what you suggest.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:


Even if the jury agrees that that fine is crazy, the minimum statutory damages of $750 are still so far beyond reasonable that it wouldn’t really help. Even if reduced to the statutory minimum, she’d still owe $18,000 for 24 songs.

At that rate, the paying $2.50 vs. jumping the subway turnstile is a fine of $1875, instead of real world reasonable fine of $100.

Anonymous Coward says:

I disagree. It is theft. But in the total opposite direction from what they let on. Every work created by anyone ever is created for the public. If you just created something for yourself, then you don’t have to worry about it, no one will ever see it. But that’s not why people create. They create for the public whether to advance the sciences or to entertain or whatever. Therefore, everything belongs to the public. We just allow creators to have a limited monopoly on things so they will have incentive to make more content. That time should be the absolute minimum necessary to facilitate that creation. Every time copyright is extended beyond the absolute minimum time it steals from the public. So yes, it is theft, but not from the creators, its stealing what rightfully belongs to everyone.

Michael Long (profile) says:


“Look, they sell tape/disc recorders, scanners, printers…”

“They” again. Look, Time Warner is not Apple. 20th Century Fox is not HP. By and large, the technology guys are not the content production guys. Sony is the rather obvious exception, but even there, the consumer electronics division is separate and distinct from the studio.

One might mention that computers, recorders, scanners, and printers can all be used to create content, not just copy it. And even copying for personal use is a different scale altogether than distributing 10,000 copies to anyone and everyone.

Trickster Goddess says:

Nevermind the analogies

Never mind the turnstile or parking meter analogies.

Downloading a movie to watch is the direct equivalent of sneaking into the cineplex to watch the same movie. In each case the benefit gained by the violator is the same and the cost to the movie studio is the same (nil).

So what is the maximum penalty if you get caught sneaking into the theater? That should also be the same maximum penalty for downloading one movie.

DH's Love Child (profile) says:


True, but your beloved RIAA got pulled kicking and screaming into the 21st century with these services and if they (the *IAA’s) had their way, they (Spotify, et al) wouldn’t even exist.

And while they may have the ability to see what was streamed, I doubt very much that royalties have been paid properly by the collection societies due to their rather unique interpretation of mathematics.

John Jones says:

Stupidanalogy as usual. NO ONE has been chragedwith downloading music ora movie and given a huge fine.

To use that silly subway analogy better, you would have to compare it to someone who counterfeits a subway pass that allows hte person to give a free ride to hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people.

If someonedid that, theey would not only go to JAIL (which simply pirates have never done) they would also getfind much more than $10.

I can’t believe it is 2012 and a site (well..OK.a blog, so not very inteligentt or professional) still acts as if people are getting sued for downloading.

Michael says:

A possible solution

“An amazing piece of logic. Tell me, who is is this mysterious “they” that gives the tools to copy and distribute “data”, and then incriminates you for doing so?”

The government via tax revenue. They profit from both the production and sale of said products. The public purchases the tools to program/transfer data.

“”They” again. Look, Time Warner is not Apple. 20th Century Fox is not HP. By and large, the technology guys are not the content production guys. Sony is the rather obvious exception, but even there, the consumer electronics division is separate and distinct from the studio.”

Sony is Sony, period. They make money through various means, including sale of CD/DVD recorders, discs, etc. As for the other tech companies, I’m sorry — I didn’t know that it was magically everybody else’s responsibility to protect copyright using all means necessary.

“One might mention that computers, recorders, scanners, and printers can all be used to create content, not just copy it. And even copying for personal use is a different scale altogether than distributing 10,000 copies to anyone and everyone.”

Funny how you don’t mention how various corps have tried to prevent people from even making digital copies. How about when Sony included that rootkit virus in music CDs to intentionally sabotage/break people’s PCs? Funny also how you don’t mention that the internet isn’t *their* property to go around telling everybody what they’re allowed to do. Just who is paying the bills? Who invested in the infrastructure, equipment, storage space, etc.? If an mp3 is *their* property then technically each website is someone else’s and they’re taking it upon themselves to invade it and monitor what goes on. Question: When did private corps become the internet thought police?

MAJikMARCer (profile) says:


Thats funny. I have never signed a contract when buying a CD or DVD. Even software EULAs are questionable when it comes to being legally binding.

But if that’s what you want, go ahead, make us have to sign contracts for everything; every little iTunes purchase, every time we go to RedBox, every time we visit Best Buy. See if that helps you make more money.

sophisticatedjanedoe says:

People are sued for both downloading and uploading – yes. yet your analogy with a ticket counterfeiter won’t fly: it would be the case with a single uploader and thousands of downloaders, and in this case that single guy would go to jail, no doubt. Yet it’s not what’s happening.

In reality each file-sharer is personally responsible for thousands of tiny fractions he shared with each of the swarm participant, an equivalent of uploading to a single person, and downloading from a single person (on average).

In other words, it’s more like a guy using a pass to go through the gate and then throwing his pass to another person outside the gate. If one is caught, he shouldn’t be responsible for the actions of others, only to his own fair share of mischief.

Thus I agree that $100 file is not enough. It should be $200.

An Example Waiting to Happen says:


I think I know what you expect me to say, you want me to say “I never thought of it that way” and then “Yea, I was wrong, we should make an example of companies!” Except, I don’t believe that; I think making an example of a company for bad behavior does nothing for the greater good or betterment of the people.

If the behavior is wrong, and there is a punishment set in the law, apply the punishment fairly, with an even hand. Do not set someone aside, the first, the fifth, or whichever to punish more harshly than those which came before, and then drop the harshness for those that come after. As DH?s Love Child pointed out, you can drive people to become cynical and resentful of the law.

Worse, especially for your argument is when you make it known that ?this is a message? or ?they are an example? the statement is made, no matter how intentionally or not, that this is a sort of one off thing, you are telling the jury not to feel bad for sticking the thumb screws to the company because it will force others to fall in line, but the others who are listening are hearing that you will not apply the same thumb screws to them.

So, yes, when you are on a jury and are being told to punish a company just to send an example, I want you to hesitate jumping onto the bandwagon, look back on history, and ask if the examples ever really worked, even in the short term. Yes, it may make you feel better; it may ease your conscious or make you feel like you?re really making a difference, but setting an example is a step in the wrong direction.

Anonymous Coward says:


And monopolies have been found to be bad to economies.

Even John Locke assumed that a common resource when worked by someone should have the benefits of that work be owned by the guy who did the work, in the case of copycrap, anybody who sings a s song should be the one guy who rips all the benefits of it not somebody who did no work and want to claim ownership on something, specially when that thing doesn’t suffer from the “tragedy of the commons”.

Mercantilism is not a good way to make money.

MAJikMARCer (profile) says:


I wonder if it would be against the terms of service at Kick Starter? I know it’s not what that platform was designed for, but could you imagine the message it would send to Big Content? I’d contribute.

Even if she was sharing the files she downloaded on BT (kinda the point), the fine is a life destroyer and given the ‘crime’ it’s not fair.

JMT says:


Unfortunately, in most cases of a corporation being “sent a message” that “this sort of behavior” will not be tolerated, that message is a punishment that might be equivalent to, at best, a few percent of the corporation’s value. In examples of copyright infringers being made examples of, the punishment is often many, many times more than the person’s net financial worth.

JMT says:


“If I jump the turnstile at a train station, or stiff a cab driver, refuse to pay a plumber, sneak into a theater/concert etc… I have commited theft – it’s called theft of service. Just because some physical object isn’t taken doesn’t mean it isn’t theft.”

Once again you fail to understand the difference between scarce and non-scarce. Even though your examples are not physical objects, they all rely of the use of scarcities. Trains have limited capacity and every extra passenger adds a small amount to the running cost, plumbers have limited time and also do actually install physical objects, theatres also have limited capacity, etc. So no, copyright infringement and theft of service are not the same, or even similar.

“All this time you have spent on this subject and you still don’t get it.”

Irony’s a bitch…

G Thompson (profile) says:


What crime?

I think you mean to say “If you don’t want exorbitant and inequitable damages placed against you, don’t knowingly and unlawfully infringe upon a corporations copyright”

As for criminal (illegal) things, it is estimated that the average US citizen commits over 5 crimes per day. Seems you might need to pay some fines or do some time unless you are hypocritical.

G Thompson (profile) says:



It’s called fraud!

Under law theft is the intentional taking of real property with the intention to deprive the owner of that property.

Fraud on the other hand is the an intentional deception to DEFRAUD people, or entities in the case of govt, of money owed for personal gain.

Fraud can be both a civil wrong and a criminal wrong.

Refusing to pay for a service is never ever theft.

G Thompson (profile) says:


Thats because criminal cases are brought by the government/state and you technically have the right to counsel to confront your accusers.

Also in a criminal trial the prosecution has the onus to prove you did what they say. In Civil situations the onus is sometimes on the respondent (defendant) to prove they didn’t do what they are accused of.

Also lets not forget the other major differences of criminal prosecutions:
* Reasonable doubt has to be removed.
* Hearsay is not considered Evidence
* False statements by victims are themselves a criminal offence
* If the prosecution knowingly brings false charges qualified immunity can be revoked on the state officers and a counter claim of malicious prosecution could be done.
* Damages are fines payed to government and are equitable to offense/sentence.
* An acquittal with privilege can allow the defendant to counter sue the state.
* Any sentence ‘fits the crime’ [well in a perfect world ;)] and can be discretionary applied based on factors brought to the courts attention during sentencing (unless there is a mandatory regime)

The above major differences between a Criminal theft charge and a Civil infringement accusation are the major reasons why even the RIAA/MPAA mob do NOT want these infringements to become criminal situations.

I mean could you imagine if Jamie Thomas had been charged with “criminal” infringement (if there was such a crime) and then being found guilty (and that would of been a BIG if) and then been given most likely based on his age, maturity and community character/ties most likely a 18month good behaviour/probation. HA! The RIAA would of turned purple and exploded.

Anonymous Coward says:


So your reasoning is that lives should be ruined because the record companies won’t be receiving profits they can’t reliably prove they lost? “We’re not making any profit off this, therefore we should be able to do whatever we want!”

Actually, if this was the case, the same argument could be used for people who download stuff for personal use, like in Canada. They’re not profiting; they should be able to do whatever they want…

Michael says:


“Home copying of recipes is illegal and is killing the food industry!”

Every website dedicated to the theft of home cooking recipes should be closed down permanently!

Ironic that you can find any news story covered by the mass media somewhere on the internet and yet somehow they still survive… In similar fashion, the entertainment industries are still turning in huge profits, oftentimes breaking records, and yet they still claim to be suffering. If they want to see what suffering is, they should take a look at the homeless, starving and sick people in places like Ethiopia and the like. Or, take a look at the people in our own country who’ve had banks foreclose upon their homes and are left stranded in the streets. Meanwhile, the bankers who perpetrated fraud walk away scott-free.

From my observation of our legal system, “justice” occurs when the rich profit at the expense of the less fortunate. The rich are favored by default — they can afford all the legal expenses, super-slick lawyers and, if necessary, bribery. That would explain why the private corps are allowed to literally rewrite the laws of our land in secrecy, imposing new rules and regulations in a transparent attempt to control all content distribution. Suddenly, every other business and private entity operating in cyberspace is held responsible for the ‘intellectual property’ and business model of the big brother mega corps.

Anonymous Coward says:


I use the public library quite frequently. Our tax dollars support the library and the library purchases books, videos, audio, etc. A hard copy book can be read over and over by many different people without anyone thinking there is something wrong with that. However, to get an eBook from the library, only one person at a time can use it and they have to wait the whole 3 weeks even if the first person read it in a day and wants to return it. That is crazy.

Anonymous Coward says:


But created content ‘might’ infringe on existing content… so “They” are creating products that allow content infringement….


Seriously, use your ‘technology’ to create something totally new and I’ll show you at least 6 creative individuals you have ‘stolen’ from…. We’ll call this the Six degrees of Copyright Infringement….


GET OVER YOURSELVES AND GET ON WITH MAKING PROGRESS… Building wealth thru arbitrage or monopolistic practices is not creating societal progress, it’s dragging us back to the dark ages of feudal lord type mentality, and I thought we had come farther than that in the last 1000 years….

Michael Long (profile) says:


Cowards, cowards, and more cowards.

I was merely pointing out his use of “they” and “them,” where he blames all of the problems on “them” and if “they” didn’t want people to copy then “they” shouldn’t have put the figurative gun into his hand.

And I’m willing to bet that “they” even “made” him pull the trigger…

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