Federal Prosecutor Claims That Copyright Infringement 'Discourages Smart People From Doing Innovative Things'

from the that's-the-well-thought-out-quote? dept

Just about two years ago, we wrote about the DOJ seizing three websites that were allegedly set up to let people download cracked versions of fee-based Android apps. As in the past, we were somewhat troubled by the government’s willingness to seize websites without any form of adversarial hearing. As far as we can tell, such actions clearly violate the First Amendment as per the ruling in Fort Wayne Books v. Indiana. Either way, two years later, the government has finally gotten around to indicting some of the folks behind the three sites: Appbucket, Applanet and SnappzMarket. It’s entirely possible that those indicted did break the law, though the fact that in all three cases the feds first got some of the other participants to take a plea deal in which they supply evidence against the others and that most of them were only charged with one or two counts on things like “conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement” suggests a fairly weak case. This is a DOJ that we’re used to seeing pile on dozens of charges.

But, what caught my attention is the ridiculous rhetoric from the DOJ in announcing these indictments. The most bizarre and stupid line has to go to US Attorney Sally Quillian Yates of the Northern District of Georgia:

?Copyright infringement discourages smart people from doing innovative things,? said U.S. Attorney Yates. ?This problem is especially acute when it comes to rapidly developing technologies, like apps for smart phones, and these defendants are now being held accountable for the intellectual property they stole.?

Note that this isn’t just a random quote in an interview. This is the quote that Yates put in the press announcement, meaning that multiple people vetted this and thought it was appropriate. First off, I’m curious: which “smart people” have been “discouraged” from “doing innovative things” because of copyright infringement? Does Yates honestly believe that some brilliant app developer out there had an idea for an app and said… “nah, if I make that, people will just infringe, so screw it.” There may be a reasonable argument that some developers may not make as much money as they otherwise might have — and that leads to fewer resources to focus on development. But the idea that it scares people off from actually doing work is… simply not true.

And even if the statement were true, is that really the yardstick we want to measure things by? Because I can also show plenty of cases where copyright infringement has actually encouraged smart people to do innovative things. The creation of important peer to peer technology was built on the back of the desire of some to infringe. The amount of creative and innovative work based on infringement is pretty damn high. If we’re going to get into a pissing contest over whether infringement inspires or discourages innovation, US Attorney Yates is going to lose badly. Very badly.

Also, what “intellectual property” did they “steal?” This is a US attorney, and as far as I can tell, none of the indictments involve anything relating to any statutes on theft. Furthermore, nothing seems to involve them taking the copyrights away from original owners. At most, it appears that these individuals set up sites for the sharing of infringing copies of apps. If you’re talking about “theft” of “intellectual property” you kinda have to be talking about someone taking someone else’s copyright (or patent or trademark), otherwise you’re saying things that are simply inaccurate.

Next up, we have “Special Agent in Charge J. Britt Johnson of the FBI?s Atlanta Field Office.”

?Today?s federal indictments are the direct result of an extensive and thorough federal investigation into three groups of individuals aggressively engaged in and profiting from the theft of intellectual property,? said Special Agent in Charge Johnson. ?While copyright infringement is the direct theft of the hard work of others in the form of research and development expended, it can also negatively impact incentives for further or future development of those ideas or applications. The FBI will continue to provide significant investigative resources toward such groups engaged in such wholesale pirating or copyright violations as seen here.?

Copyright infringement is “the direct theft of the hard work of others.” How do you “steal” the hard work of others? And where in the indictment is anything having to do with actual theft, rather than copyright infringement?

It’s troubling that the DOJ seems to have taken the copyright industry’s bogus language of “theft” and “stealing” and falsely applied it to issues related to infringement. Even if these individuals broke the law, you’d hope that the DOJ would at least accurately portray the indictment and charges against the individuals, rather than making plainly ridiculous claims. The problem, though, is that this is what happens after a generation of entertainment industry execs spew misleading garbage about how infringement is “theft.” A bunch of DOJ folks who don’t understand intellectual property just act as if this is the same thing, even though it isn’t even close.

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Companies: appbucket, applanet, snappzmarket

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Comments on “Federal Prosecutor Claims That Copyright Infringement 'Discourages Smart People From Doing Innovative Things'”

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Violynne (profile) says:

“Copyright discourages smart people from doing innovative things.” – Yates

Fixed that for accuracy, you idiot Yates.

As a software developer myself, I’m more goddamned terrified of copyright and patent laws forcing my works off the market than I am of someone sharing them, even if it means no revenue for me (until I can do my best to fix it).

So shut your damn mouth, Yates. You clearly have no idea what the hell you’re talking about.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re:

yes, ’cause once we inform the stupidheads they are doing something -like- wrong, they will stop doing it ! ! !
easy peasy japanesy ! ! !

…or, could it be they absolutely are aware they are going against the greatest good for the greatest number in order to fulfill the wishes of their puppetmasters ? ? ?

let’s summarize, shall we ?

one worldview has the gummint and ultra-successful bidness leaders being the stupidest people in the world who don’t realize the simplest and most basic of facts, and all we 99% have to do is simply inform them of these facts, and they will about-face and ‘do the right thing’…


the other worldview has the gummint and ultra-successful bidness leaders playing a game where they PWETEND to be mindful of the wants/needs of the 99%, all the while gutting us in the backroom deals we have no clue about …

gee, i wonder which scenario is more likely…

wise-up, mallomar…

SolkeshNaranek (profile) says:

Sally Quillian Yates seems to have no email contact point

I was going to send her a link to this article via email. Sadly, I can’t locate an email address by which to do so.

I momentarily had the thought to print out and snail mail her this article, but fear of excessive prison time for violating copyright laws has stopped me from acting on this desire.

Perhaps the copyright maximalists are winning after all? /s

Anonymous Coward says:

Wrong wrong wrong!

Copyright does NOT discourage artists. It does encourage artists. It is PATENT that discourages things!

The problem with copyright is that it NOT EQUAL in its application, and way too fucking long!

As a private artist no one believes me when I claim copyright.
If I was say… BMI then guess what? I can claim copyright on any damn thing (whether they own it or not) to get it removed and its FUCKING LEGAL! Not to mention that I am automagically trusted with my claim of undetermined veracity!

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Copyright DOES discourage artists

Copyright does NOT discourage artists.

Copyright does discourage artists. Well meaning, sincere artists have to be extremely careful to not even have the faintest hint of resemblance to anything that has come before. Or they need to be prepared to defend a nuisance lawsuit intended merely to extort money from their success.

Copyright does discourage artists. Artists who use certain innovative techniques that didn’t exist long ago are discouraged. Specifically re-mixers. Some re-mixes are extremely novel, innovative and sometimes just plain ingeniously clever. But the fact that they completely transform very short samples of other works, having no negative, and maybe even positive effects on the other works market value, means that re-mixes and the artists who produce them are discouraged.

Copyright does discourage artists. Artists once created for the act of creation and the art. But copyright has created an environment where musical artists must go it alone, or sign themselves into virtual eternal slavery with a major label. And then, the artist is often dictated what works they shall thenceforth produce, how often, or whether they will ever even be published again.

Is that enough examples?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Copyright DOES discourage artists

You like so many others are not getting it.

Faintest hint huh? Nothing new is under the sun, all stories are told in near the same format and have shockingly similar characteristics all over the damn place. And nuisance lawsuits… these are the problem of society, not something unique to copyright (strawman).

Innovative Techniques… these are not copyrightable, possibly patentable, but not copyright… (see my original post about patent being the real enemy here not copyright) this is apples and oranges in comparison.

Copyright created no environment… thugs and people selling their soul did this! You sound more like a crybaby not getting their way, so create a river for me. I do not feel one iota of sadness for artists that have sold their souls!

And while the judge is just as wrong as you, the real problems with Copyright are thus.

Abuse laden DMCA, corrupt court system purchased by big business to twist ‘trans-formative works’ into something they are not. Trans-formative works are a huge subject that can get into the weeds and the only possible legit part of your argument, but only because of corruption not copyright specifically.
and the largest problem with copyright… life… its way to damn long.

there are problems, but the discouragement argument is squarely on the patent side, not the copyright side.


Re: Re: Re: Copyright DOES discourage artists

Expansive copyright most certainly discourages new art. The best example of this is a hack like Harlan Ellison trying to shake down James Cameron over an embarrassing old TV show.

Corporations very much attempt to use copyright in the same manner as Patents. Others just try to own short “patterns”. There was a recent case like this involving 30+ old rock songs.

Copyright directly interferes with the publishing of old and new works alike.

The fact that copyrights no longer last a sane amount of time is the primary driver of this. It increases the size of the minefield.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Wrong wrong wrong!

as a private artist no one believes me when I claim copyright.

Be sure to register your copyright. Be sure to publish the registration somewhere publicly visible on the web. Then you can link to the registration and/or provide copies of the registration whenever you need to assert your ownership rights.

Anonymous Coward says:

the act of ‘theft’ and ‘stealing’ which isn’t possible in these instances (or any similar ones) just makes those being held sound as if they have physically taken something. it makes their acts sound so much worse and that what they are being held accountable for, so much more worth while. and, of course, it makes it sound as if the prosecutors and agents involved are definitely worth their salaries!
copyright theft has been allowed to be blown up out of all proportion and made out to be something it isn’t. i hope the lawyers representing these people can make that abundantly clear so the judge accepts that, although what they have done is wrong, the charges are nowhere near what they have been smeared to be!

DannyB (profile) says:

Could he have been misquoted?

> “Copyright infringement discourages smart people from doing innovative things,”

Maybe he really meant:

“Copyright enforcement discourages smart people from doing innovative things,”

The list is long.

Copyright Enforcement like DMCA. SOPA. Shutting down websites due to an act of one user in a million. Seizing domain names. Conducting military-like police raids on private homes and seizing servers in a foreign country. Extraditing a college age kid for running a website that was perfectly legal in his own country. Going after useful tools merely because they have the potential to be misused. Suing the maker of one of the early mp3 player devices, yes, just an mp3 player device manufacturer … because copyright. Trying to stop the VCR. Trying to stop home taping. Trying to stop radio. And on and on and on.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

the age of the most copyright infringement happening in history is also the age of more works being created than ever before.

It is more a case that people can self publish, rather than fail to find a publisher. The traditional publishers have more people vying for an opportunity to put their work in front of an audience than their can, and are willing to handle.This change makes more of the creative output of people visible.

Ja Rule says:

You're out of your element, Mike

Mike, you ignorant slut.

There are legitimate questions re: the degree to which copyright/copyleft approaches encourage innovation, so why do numbskulls like you feel the need to push strawman arguments aimed at the lowest common denominator rather than actually wading with arguments based on facts? Especially when your article is an attack on the other side for making…unsupported statements?!

I’m not sure if you are stupid, intentionally misleading your readers, or just trying to show your 6th grade English teacher that you WILL make something of yourself despite your ignorance of basic grammar, but this is both a crappy sentence AND evidence that you probably don’t know a whole lot about how copyright works: “Furthermore, nothing seems to involve them taking the copyrights away from original owners.”

If you read the indictments, you’d know that the defendants actively distributed cracked copies of apps, and those apps (which are protected by copyright) were created by people who did not authorize them to do that. The indictments are straightforward. These people weren’t creating fan fiction, or derivative works, or engaging in any other legally protected activities, but you’ve read them and know that, right? That’s why you called it out in your article…oh wait…your reaction to the news wasn’t thoughtful, it was a knee-jerk.

The “it’s not theft” argument is at best an honest mistake about the meaning of theft and at worst is an excuse based on some Robin Hood-fueled delusion about correcting a perceived injustice. Since you’d rather waste time with a semantic argument about what “theft” is in order to (I’m guessing) defend any act of infringement, let’s talk about theft.

Theft is the wrongful taking of someone else’s property. In other words, if the owner of the property has not given you permission to have/use the property, you are wrongfully taking it. This is a concept that 3 year old children understand, and regardless of whether the property at issue is your neighbor’s bike or a copy of something that has been recorded in a digital medium, it is wrong to take someone else’s property if the owner hasn’t given you permission to do so. On the contrary, if the owner has authorized others to take the property (by freely licensing it for any use, for example) then taking it is not theft because you have their permission. Harm does not appear in the definition of the word “theft,” and there is also no requirement that the taking be permanent. Accordingly, because copyright infringement – by definition – involves an act of “wrongful taking” of someone else’s intellectual property, it is 100% accurate to call it “theft.”

You’ve never been a prosecutor, so you really aren’t in a position to evaluate the relative strength of a criminal case. To paraphrase your own article, even if you did know a little bit about the law, one would hope that the you would at least accurately portray the acts of wrongfully taking that formed the basis of these indictments rather than making plainly ridiculous claims about what is and isn’t theft. The problem, though, is that this is what happens after a generation of consumers have gotten comfortable with taking digital content without paying for it spew misleading, self-serving, delusional garbage about how copyright infringement is not “theft.” With sentence construction skills like this, it’s no wonder the WSJ and Wired hold you in such high regard!

Again, copyright law can be extremely complex and there is plenty of gray area…but in situations like this, where people in the US are breaking US law and wrongfully appropriating the property of others, the case against them is going to be pretty black and white. Regardless of whether you call it “theft” or “infringement,” it’s illegal, and defending it with a semantic argument about what is and isn’t “theft” is the basest form of pandering.

I’m going back to TorrentFreak now. I might disagree with them on the issues, but at least those guys know how to compose a sentence.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You're out of your element, Mike

Um, nice try, but you might want to check out Dowling v. United States (1985):

“The phonorecords in question were not “stolen, converted or taken by fraud” for purposes of [section] 2314. The section’s language clearly contemplates a physical identity between the items unlawfully obtained and those eventually transported, and hence some prior physical taking of the subject goods. Since the statutorily defined property rights of a copyright holder have a character distinct from the possessory interest of the owner of simple “goods, wares, [or] merchandise,” interference with copyright does not easily equate with theft, conversion, or fraud. The infringer of a copyright does not assume physical control over the copyright nor wholly deprive its owner of its use. Infringement implicates a more complex set of property interests than does run-of-the-mill theft, conversion, or fraud.”

LAB (profile) says:

Re: Re: You're out of your element, Mike

Ja Rule makes, although insultingly so to say the least, valid points. Theft vs Infringement is a somewhat semantic debate relegated to discussions between the copyleft and the copyright. Both are illegal under U.S. law and the debate as to what to call breaking the law seems pedantic at best when a statute specifically outlawing such behavior exists. The debate obfuscates the real issue here. Obscenity/ 1st amendment issues and piracy are not handled the same under U.S. law and citing Fort Wayne Books v. Indiana trying to draw correlations is doing readers a disservice. Civil state lawsuits and Federal criminal cases will never be handled in the same fashion nor should they be.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 You're out of your element, Mike

And the best part is, those that are trying to equate copyright infringement with theft would likely throw a fit if they were both treated as theft.

Download a CD’s worth of songs? Alright, pay double or so the market price($40ish) as punishment and you’re free to go. No more million dollar lawsuits to threaten people with, instead they’d be looking at a couple hundred at most in most cases.

LAB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 You're out of your element, Mike

Well….what does the average person call acquiring something without paying for it, without permission? If it is not a gift and I know other people have to pay for it and I’m not, my Mom would call it stealing. Is it right or wrong? Not emotionally charged, no victim, not “serious” by your very admonition when called “copyright infringement.” Semantics, the very definition of the word.
As I stated earlier, what to call it is not the real issue. Here, websites that were involved in distributing paid apps, for free, were confiscated by the government. The author takes issue with this citing Fort Wayne Books v. Indiana, a 1st amendment/obscenity case filed in civil court. It was found the government should not have confiscated property. Here, an investigation of criminal copyright infringement and the government CAN confiscate property because it is a criminal investigation of a business enterprise involved in illegal activity.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 You're out of your element, Mike

If it’s digital content it’s a copyright infringement. Or to be more precise an infringement on a Government stated monopoly. I’m fairly sure that nobody would be doing it if the original thing was removed from the creator. In fact if the original was removed then you wouldn’t have rampant infringement at all. But if you want to go moral about it there are plenty of very real misdeeds from the MAFIAA that are downright evil even with monetary robbery from the creators.

As for the confiscation they COULD maybe, perhaps seize the property if there was full due process and if civil law allowed it. But seriously, if you are talking about people following the law, start by making the Govt follow them too. Then make them sane and sensible. Then we can talk about morals.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 You're out of your element, Mike

Words matter. The use of the word theft for infringement is a disingenuous attempt to associate negative attributes of one act with another that the latter does not inherently possess. It is a conflation of terms meant to manipulate people through the misuse of language. There is a reason millions of people who would never consider stealing something from someone else, have no problem with file sharing. They are not the same thing. The copyright holder is not deprived of their content and neither is the person sharing the file which would happen in the case of an actual theft.

LAB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 You're out of your element, Mike

This logic assumes there is nothing negative with breaking the law or getting something others are paying for free or not monetarily supporting art you enjoy. In addition, it ignores the fact, if it had no value you would not watch, listen, or read it. There is a reason millions of people would never consider stealing something from someone fileshare, they see it as a crime that has no victim and often they are screwing over “the man.” These are personal philosophies. There many things millions of people do and believe and have done throughout history, that I would not and regardless of how they rationalize it, know it is not right. However, when they are prosecuted for breaking a known law they cry foul and state it is not fair. The copyright holder is being deprived of the rights associated with their content and if one cannot understand why it is illegal, nor the money expended in creation and production, then they are making a concerted effort not to understand.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 You're out of your element, Mike

“This logic assumes there is nothing negative with breaking the law”

No, it doesn’t. It’s merely properly identifying the law that was broken. Legally, and ethically, there’s a pretty huge difference between theft and copyright infringement. Attempts to conflate the two are attempts at elevating copyright infringement to a level beyond what it actually is.

To point this out isn’t to imply that there’s no problem with copyright infringement. We don’t live in a world where all crimes are considered, legally or ethically, as equally bad. That’s a good thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 You're out of your element, Mike

I never said infringement didn’t have negative attributes. My assertion was that it didn’t have the same negative attributes that theft does and that the use of the word theft in place of the word infringement is a deliberate attempt to associate the negative aspects of theft with infringement when they aren’t there. Not all illegal behavior is the same. There are degrees and for good reason. Murder is much worse than shoplifting for an extreme example. The MPAA and RIAA calling infringement theft would be similar to stores calling shoplifters murderers in an attempt to stir up public a public outcry against shoplifters and call for harsher penalties that do not fit the crime.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 You're out of your element, Mike

“Words matter.”

And they matter a LOT.

Case in point: copyright was specifically and overtly not intended to be a kind of property right. However, when a certain group of people started using the term “intellectual property,” it shifted the mindset for far too many people such that they now start with the baseline assumption that we’re talking about property rights.

Wars are won and lost based on words. Reality is dictated by language. Words matter.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 You're out of your element, Mike

Exactly. Copyright would be more aptly labeled as an “Intellectual Privilege” than “Intellectual Property” as it much more closely resembles a privilege than it does property. Yet through this sort of misuse of language in an attempt to manipulate the public, we get the confusing mess we have today.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 You're out of your element, Mike

“If it is not a gift and I know other people have to pay for it and I’m not, my Mom would call it stealing.”

I live in the city and have to pay for water. My Mother lives in the country and has a well. She does not consider getting water for free stealing nor infringing. It is a gift. If you wish to pump some water, you may have some too!

Wait! Aren’t Musicians gifted? Therefore, if we wish to pump the handle, can’t we drink from that well too? Or are you just greedy and selfish?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You're out of your element, Mike

“Theft is the wrongful taking of someone else’s property.”

Speaking of strawman arguments, a classic debate tactic is to narrow the scope of the debate by jumping past the contentious points by making assumptions. No one disagrees with that definition of theft.

It’s your definition of property that is the problem. Words, sounds, and colors are not property. The only property involved is the copyright, which is a government granted limited monopoly. No one is stealing the copyright, they are violating the government granted monopoly, and that is called infringement.

Anonymous Coward says:

Man, what I wouldn’t give for these idiots to suddenly wake up and realize how incredibly stupid they sound every time they make big grandstanding speeches on topics they know absolutely nothing about. Really, the only way it could be more obvious that they’re just reciting talking points handed to them by their corporate paymasters would be if they accidentally read the stage directions out loud.
Speaking of which, Microsoft or whoever paid for these guys’ elections is clearly not getting their money’s worth. With open-source software (Firefox, Android, etc.) occupying a significant chunk of the digital landscape now, you can’t have your hired help going around making ludicrous remarks like “copying ideas is bad for innovation”. Next time, bankroll someone who knows how to use (and spell) subtlety.

Anonymous Coward says:

“But the idea that it scares people off from actually doing work is… simply not true.”

No, it is provably true.

Look at any field of work – of production, specifically – in which persons with the requisite skills and creativity sell their creative works to others, and in which the seller is more highly rewarded the “better” the work is done.

If the price society is willing to pay goes higher and higher, more people enter into this field, as there are more abundant dollars on the table to make it worth being even only the #217th-highest-paid producer.

Conversely, if you take away the total dollars available in society for this type of work, the perception of too many people chasing too few butterflies causes people to leave that field of production.

Causing all producers to incur significantly higher costs for business “friction” – the overhead – the kind that arises in the face of over-regulation – yields the same result as decreasing the money available to be spent on the works, because its ultimate effect is a diminution in the amount of money the producers receive.

So, marginally speaking, each dollar of cost imposed upon producers by our regulatory wallahs and their neat-o systems ends up reducing the amount of works available from them at any one time.

JP Jones (profile) says:

Re: Re:

No, it is provably true.

This makes sense if you’re making chairs. It doesn’t make sense for making art. There is a fundamental difference between a physical good and an intellectual good.

Physical goods are scarce by nature. If I make 50 chairs, I have 50 objects to sell. If someone takes 25 of my chairs away from me, now I only have 25 to sell, and have lost up to 1/2 of my potential profit. I say “up to” because this assumes I would have sold all 50 of my chairs…if I was only ever going to sell 25 of them then I’ve literally lost nothing.

Intellectual goods are not scarce. In modern society, with the internet, they are effectively infinite. It costs me the same (essentially, ignoring bandwidth) to produce a video that is viewed once online as one that is viewed a hundred million times online. Supply for the “individual” good is infinite once released; therefore the value of that good, if you use traditional economics and treat it the same way as a physical good, is effectively zero. Shockingly, that’s all many individuals are willing to pay.

Therefore, the only NATURAL way to earn money on an intellectual good is by offering to sell your ability to create the goods. In ancient times we called this “patronage” and in modern times we call it “work-for-hire” or “crowdsourcing” depending on the source of the earnings. Someone pays you to create a product, you create the product, you get paid, and you need to create another product if you want to make more.

From the artists’ perspective, they already do this, with or without copyright. The only difference is that their work is either purchased by their fans, via crowdsourcing, donations, advertisements, and other forms of sponsorship, or the work is purchased by signing on with a publisher. In the latter case, it’s the publisher that gains all the benefit of copyright, NOT the artist. Publishers have become very good at lying to artists and explaining how a diminished copyright hurts the artist, but ultimately the artist themself is only helped by lack of copyright protection. This is because the more individuals that are exposed to their product the more likely others are to sponsor them…the biggest risk to an artist is not being copied but being unknown. The only person losing any significant amount of money (and even that is debatable) is the publisher, an entity that creates nothing on its own.

Your argument is fundamentally flawed because it only takes into account certain facts while ignoring the system as a whole. For your idea to be true, first you MUST assume that lack of copyright causes producers to incur higher costs, when the opposite is much more likely. Without copyright, all the money being spent on lawyers and royalties would be virtually non-existent. Second, you assume that without copyright, fewer people would pay for intellectual works (why pay if you can get it for free?) which is also not true; all content can be easily gained for free, regardless of the “protections,” yet the intellectual works industries are reporting higher profits every year. Third, you assume that more profits means more people entering the field, when the actual history indicates that stronger copyright creates more exclusivity in intellectual markets; those chosen by the publishers get richer, but those without publisher support make little to nothing.

Humans are amazingly skilled at ignoring facts that disagree with the reality they want to exist, rather that looking at all the facts and accepting what reality IS. You can’t just take two things with fundamentally different natures, apply the same math, and then say “See? They’re the same!” You also can’t just ignore factors that don’t fit your analogy.


Jim Burger (profile) says:

Copyright "Theft"

Good luck Mike trying to change the language of the debate. I have been trying for years – but they keep on using “theft” and “stealing.” You simply can’t “steal” under the Copyright Act. Moreover, the consequences for infringement are often much more serious than simple “theft.”

In the Commonwealth of VA if you shoplift 12 CDs it is a Class C misdemeanor – maximum fine of $500, no jail time. If there are ten titles on each CDs statutory copyright damages are $24,000 to $18 million plus potentially court and attorneys’ fees. I thought the argument was well put in Weird Al’s “Don’t Download this Song.” http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=don%27t+download+this+song+weird+al&FORM=VIRE2#view=detail&mid=2DF28B39732E0232B5752DF28B39732E0232B575.

I could rant on about the word “piracy” as well. But I’ll leave that for another time.

Keep up the good work, but don’t expect a change in the language any time soon.

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