While folks like Vice President Biden continue to repeat the myth that infringement is no different than theft
, and pretend that we're just one good education campaign away from having "the kids" all realize this, it's time to recognize this just isn't true. Infringement and theft are inherently different in many different ways, and no "education campaign" can make kids deny this reality. The massive SSRC study we've spoken about a few times made this point
, and now Copycense
points us to yet another study (and this is not the first one like this that we've seen) showing that students recognize that shoplifting a CD and downloading a song are simply not the same thing
Why? The very nature of music piracy is likely the largest obstacle to curbing it, the authors say. There is no risk of physical harm to a victim and no physical object as a target -- making it easier to deduce that digital music theft is harming no one at all. Also, there is widespread social support for the behavior within the internet community and on college campuses.
As much as the industry wants to believe that if they keep repeating that it's the same as theft, people will believe it, kids are smart enough to recognize that making a copy of something is quite different than depriving someone of a physical object. In the initial case, no one is missing anything. That doesn't make it legal
, but it certainly makes it clear that arguments around "educating" students that it's the same thing as "theft" aren't going to work. The kids know it's not true.