SIIA's Sequel To Don't Copy That Floppy Lies About Criminality Of Copying

from the which-is-more-unethical? dept

So here's a question? Which is more unethical? Making an unauthorized copy of a piece of software or music for personal use... or outright lying in a commercial? I'm pondering this as a bunch of folks have sent in variations on the news that the SIIA is (bizarrely) resurrecting its old discredited "Don't Copy That Floppy" educational campaign:
The original campaign is widely seen as a total joke that did nothing to slow down the pace of copying, and it simply showed how out of touch the Software Publishers Association was with the market. The campaign did nothing to cut down on copying, but it did an amazing job informing the market how easy it was to copy software. It also was in the middle of the software industry's long and fruitless struggle with DRM, which was later mostly abandoned as a failure that did more harm than good for legitimate consumers.

So it's difficult to fathom who could possibly think it's a good idea to bring back the campaign... but that appears to be what's happening. Still, the "chorus" of the song claims that copying is a crime. I would argue that this is false advertising. Copying may be a crime, but the scenarios shown in the film don't appear to involve criminal activity, but civil torts. For it to be criminal copyright infringement it needs to involve being done "willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain." So the ad is falsely promoting the idea that personal copying is a criminal matter -- in fact it falsely suggests that simply downloading software or music will put you in jail.

So which is more ethical? Getting a personal copy of a song you wanted to hear? Or flat out lying about the criminality of that action to the widespread public?
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Filed Under: civil, copyright, criminality, don't copy that floppy, torts
Companies: siia


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  1. identicon
    Doctor Strange, 7 Jul 2009 @ 7:31pm

    It is a quite silly video.

    By at least three dictionaries I checked, colloquially any sort of lawbreaking is a crime. I'd venture that the video is intended colloquially: most Americans, let alone children, probably could not explain to you what the difference is between a crime and a tort.

    But on Techdirt we are all much more cautious about the distinction, correct? Well, not always. Here is an article that mentions that a new bill would "make it a crime to induce copyright infringement." The bill amends 17 USC 501 dealing with infringement and liability in general, not 17 USC 506, which deals with criminal copyright infringement. By using the term "liable" rather than "guilty," it's doubly clear that this is bill is talking about making induced infringement a tort.

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