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Our 'Copying Is Not Theft' T-Shirt Seems To REALLY Upset Some People

from the slow-down-folks dept

So, last week we launched our new Copying is Not Theft t-shirts (and hoodies, and stickers and mugs). It's a nice shirt:
We thought the message was fairly straightforward, building of the wonderful song and animation done by Nina Paley: Copying Is Not Theft:
That doesn't necessarily mean that copying is always legal or morally correct. But it pretty clearly is not theft.

The shirt is selling fine (get yours soon, because it's only available for a few more days!), but what's been surprising is how much it has resulted in pure rage from some people who seem really, really pissed off that we'd dare suggest the simple fact that copying is not theft.

Earlier this week, we wrote about the head of the Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group promising to make counterfeit copies of our t-shirt (which seems a bit... odd, no?), but today I wanted to highlight some of the other responses we've received. The fact is, many people do understand the message and seem to appreciate it, but I'm somewhat surprised at those who disagree with it who feel the need to not just disagree, but to act as if merely stating a four word factual sentence is somehow offensive. It started in our comments where someone insisted that saying copying is not theft wasn't just wrong, but was "ignorant and irresponsible." Huh.
There have been a few similar comments to our posts, and a few angry remarks on Twitter, but the real action has definitely been on Facebook, where some people are just really, really angry. Here's just a sampling:



And, then, of course, you have that one person who always thinks they have the "gotcha" moment:
Then there's the guy who's so confused and angry that he's sure we've got our offices stacked high with infringing material, so he's "reported" us (to whom...? no idea...)
And then there are the people who get so frustrated that we're being accurate that they then need to mock us for using words as they're supposed to be used.
Anyway, if you'd like to join in the fun, our Facebook post seems to be the biggest magnet for attracting these kinds of comments. But, we'll just leave you with one last one: the guy who found a different kind of "gotcha" by confusing our "Copyright" topic icon for a copyright notice on Techdirt, which he found ironic. And then he just wouldn't let go when we explained that it wasn't a copyright notice.
We've been doing this long enough to recognize that it stirs a lot of passion and emotion, so it doesn't surprise us that some people don't like the message on the shirt (and certainly plenty of others seem to enjoy it). But, we're still fairly astounded at the level of brainwashing that seems to go on, such that people get so angry about trying to separate out the fairly fundamental differences between copying something and stealing it.

Either way, if you're looking for a t-shirt that is a... uh... proven conversation starter, check out our Copying Is Not Theft gear while it's still available...

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The First Word

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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 12:57pm

    Interesting priorities...

    'Drew Marks: IT IS THEFT Pay for what you consume or rot in prison'

    So copyright infringement is not only theft to that individual, it's a crime worthy of prison time?

    It's like watching someone get seriously upset by someone else jaywalking, and then having that same person cheering that the punishment for the act is time behind bars. A truly fascinating display of priorities and what they consider acceptable.

    Of course I just noticed that this was the same person who assumed that TD absolutely must be a pirate haven and claims to have 'reported it', so I suppose this is par for the course for that individual.

    Copyright infringement? Horrible crime!
    Prison? Had it coming!
    Making baseless accusations of illegal activity? No big deal!

    On a more general note I do have to wonder, do any of these people think copyright infringement should be legally treated as theft, or do they just like to call it that without wanting it to be treated accordingly, and what are their thoughts on stuff like retroactive copyright extensions, hollywood accounting, and the type of contracts that major labels like to push with 'loan' terms that would make the most greedy loan shark blanch and say 'That's going a little overboard isn't it?'

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:07pm

      Re: Interesting priorities...

      I don't imagine many of them are aware of any of the things you mentioned--wondering what their opinion would be.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Thad, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:25pm

        Re: Re: Interesting priorities...

        Judging by the many tiresome conversations I've had about creators' rights over the years, it invariably goes like this:

        "Jerry Siegel's heirs don't deserve an ownership stake in Superman, because Jerry Siegel signed away his rights, and they didn't do the work anyway, he did. If he didn't like it, then he shouldn't have taken the check, or should have negotiated a better contract. Quit asking for something for nothing."

        Okay, except that he accepted the check under pre-1976 copyright law, on the understanding that Action Comics #1 would enter the public domain after 56 years, ie in 1994. Modern copyright law explicitly allows creators and their statutory heirs to reclaim copyright law after that 56-year period is up, *explicitly because* the 1976 copyright extension changed the terms of the agreement.

        How is it that the Siegel heirs are asking for "something for nothing" and DC isn't, when DC has been allowed ownership of Superman for decades longer than the originally-agreed-upon copyright term?

        "Because DC put all that money into publishing and improving Superman for all those years!"

        And on and on it goes.

        (Adding: Joe Shuster was the co-creator of Superman, and it's not my intent to devalue his contribution or legacy, and I think he and his heirs got screwed. However, the bulk of the Superman/Superboy copyright litigation over the past couple of decades has been by the Siegel estate, hence why I used them, not the Shusters, in my example.)

        Since the OP spends a lot of time on the subject of "gotchas", it's amazing how many people think there's some sort of logical contradiction in believing that (1) Superman should be in the public domain but (2) given that he's not, his original creators' families should be compensated for his continued use.

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        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:59pm

          Re: Re: Re: Interesting priorities...

          By OP are you referring to me or the guy I quoted? Given your example I can't quite tell, as that doesn't really strike me as an argument I'd make myself.

          I tend to see copyright through the lens of public benefit, a deal between the public and creators but one with the ultimate goal of benefiting the public and furthering the growth of culture and creativity, with the means being the incentive of a temporary government granted monopoly granted to creators.

          Looked at that way I'd only agree with #1 in your last paragraph, as #2 basically turns what I see as an incentive system to create more works that the public can build off of into a welfare system, where not only does the public not get their half of the deal(potentially ever), undermining the justification for the temporary monopoly in the first place, but now you've got someone that wasn't involved in the original 'deal' profiting from it without adding anything of their own, getting all of the 'upsides'(control, profits) with none of the 'downsides'(having to make something for the public to build upon).

          I can understand why some might think that way and not see a contradiction, but it's not a viewpoint I'd share or agree with myself.

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          • identicon
            Thad, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:24pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Interesting priorities...

            By "OP" I meant the article.

            I support heirs' rights because, in legal principle, the heir is the creator. Say somebody dies young, like Philip K Dick or Stieg Larsson, but leaves a body of work that is worth a tremendous amount of money. If that creator had lived, he would have made that money, and would have willed it to his heirs. Ending copyright at a creator's death effectively means punishing people for dying young.

            Jerry Siegel was still alive in 1994, the year Action Comics #1 would originally have gone into the public domain. Joe Shuster just missed it, having died in 1992.

            Siegel and his family initiated a termination of copyright transfer. Which was their right, under the Copyright Act of 1976. And the reason that right was added was so that creators like Siegel and Shuster who sold their works, with the understanding that the new owner would only keep them for the duration of a 56-year copyright term, could revoke the sale at the end of the agreed-upon term.

            So, a couple of questions: one, given that Siegel had that right, should DC be able to just wait out the clock in court disputes until he dies, and then his heirs get nothing? And two, given that Siegel and his heirs could benefit from that right, should the Shuster heirs lose out based entirely on the luck of the draw that he died two years too early?

            I don't think copyright law should have ever been extended beyond 56 years in the first place, and if it hadn't, we wouldn't have this particular set of problems at all. That would be my preference. But given that those are the terms we live with, I support the heirs' rights.

            Course, when it turns into stuff like the Doyle and Burroughs estates using frivolous litigation to chill new creators' use of public domain works, then I have a real problem with that. Which brings us back to the issue of why copyright shouldn't last so damn long in the first place.

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            • identicon
              Vel the Enigmatic, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:31pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Interesting priorities...

              Now your version of the common refrain about heirs actually makes sense to me. It never did until now.

              I for one am one of those people who says copyright terms should be rolled back to the 14 year limit as before with only one extension.

              28 years is pretty much a generation, and in that time they can and probably will have made a substantial amount of money in that time frame.

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              • identicon
                Thad, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:35pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Interesting priorities...

                I'm inclined to agree, but I grant that I'm a programmer and my perception of the length a work is profitable will be much different from a photographer or novelist's. I'd love to go back to "14 years, renewable once to 28" standard, but I'd happily settle for reverting back to 56. Seeing as neither one's ever likely to happen it's something of a moot point.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:42pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Interesting priorities...

                Bug we're no longer talking "generation of people"... we're talking about corporations.

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                • identicon
                  Thad, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:57pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Interesting priorities...

                  Yes indeed, and that's another reason I'm inclined to side with heirs over corporations: because heirs are human beings.

                  At least, statutory heirs are, and those are the specific heirs covered by copyright reversion.

                  The "they didn't do the work, they shouldn't get the profits" argument always seemed so bizarre to me coming from someone who was, in the very same argument, claiming that the CEO of Warner Bros did deserve to turn a profit on Superman despite not having ever written or drawn a Superman comic, nor even engaged in the much-lauded decades of business and editorial decisions that kept the character vital and profitable.

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            • icon
              nasch (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 12:14pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Interesting priorities...

              Make copyright terms short, and then all those problems don't matter that much. If copyright is 5 years, or 20 years, something like that, then sure let it be inherited. Most of the time it will be expired before the creator dies anyway, so it really doesn't matter that much. Virtually all of copyright's problems can be mitigated to near irrelevance by just making the term short enough.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:17pm

      Re: Interesting priorities...

      I suspect if these people realized just how far down the copyright infringement path they walk every single day - they'd change their tune in a heartbeat.

      Most people don't even realize how often they commit copyright infringement - because they can't quantify in their head that any real damage was done as a result.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:47pm

        Re: Re: Interesting priorities...

        "because they can't quantify in their head that any real damage was done as a result."

        This is precisely because no real damage was done because copyright is not theft.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 9:47pm

          Re: Re: Re: Interesting priorities...

          You mean copying not being theft, do you.

          Copyright IS theft.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 1:06am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Interesting priorities...

            Then why permit the retroactive extensions of copyright? Under your logic, that is theft, too.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 5:40pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Interesting priorities...

              I meant the whole copyright scheme, and of course, that includes retroactive copyright extensions.

              Copyright is theft by itself, as it allows someone who wrote a book or sung a song to decide what you get to do with your hands, with your computer or even your brains.

              They claim you steal their money with a scheme that basically steals your will.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:18pm

      Re: Interesting priorities...

      ...it's a crime worthy of prison time?

      I'd dare disagree that there isn't a crime that isn't worthy of prison time.

      Because prison works.
      It's a success as far as rehabilitation.
      It's a success as far as reducing, if not eliminating recidivism.
      It acts as an effective deterrent to committing crime in the first place.
      It provides valuable skills to the individuals who go there.
      It's cost effective.
      It provides valuable jobs to those who work there, as they get experience mingling with all types of people from all walks of life.
      And having a large percentage of your country's population incarcerated certainly is a novel way of providing cheap, affordable labor.

      Including the /s tag, just in case some pro-prison person reads this and thinks "someone else DOES understand!!!"

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:19pm

        Re: Re: Interesting priorities...

        lol, you had me for a second - until I read "Because prison works", and then jumped to the end to make sure there was a /s :P

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 7:47pm

        Re: Re: Interesting priorities...

        /golf claps for days.

        Bravo sir. Well writ.

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    • identicon
      David, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:18pm

      Re: Interesting priorities...


      'Drew Marks: IT IS THEFT Pay for what you consume or rot in prison'

      So copyright infringement is not only theft to that individual, it's a crime worthy of prison time?

      Well, the insulting mandatory DVD admonishments would be pointless if they did not after all make contact with a few intellects not easily insulted, wouldn't they?

      The ad industry is just one of many based on the premise that nobody betting on people's stupidity will go broke.

      And even if indeed nobody swallowed that tripe, it would still be good business for the industry to pay a few people for coursing the media and pretending they did.

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    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:28pm

      Re: Interesting priorities...

      The same guy later said [emphasis mine]:

      "Fucking millennial entitlement double-speak. Work, pay for what you consume and shut the fuck up. Everything else is irrelevant noise."

      We sarcastically applauded his utopic vision - and he accused us of losing the argument by resorting to ad hominem, apparently.

      But man, what a worldview this guy has.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:41pm

        Re: Re: Interesting priorities...

        Obviously lives in a totalitarian country, a beat down, oppressed citizen who doesn't think anyone should question anything.

        I bet he was pissed when he found out we outlawed slavery.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      E. Zachary Knight (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 7:28pm

      Re: Interesting priorities...

      "do any of these people think copyright infringement should be legally treated as theft"

      If only. IN Oklahoma stealing anything that is worth less than $500 is a misdemeanor with a punishment of a $500 fine, up to a max of 1 yer in prison, or both. So if someone stole a cd from Walmart, I doubt they would be going to jail and might get off with a warning. But heaven forbid you copy that cd or you are looking at about a million dollar fine.

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    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 3 Sep 2016 @ 1:15am

      Re: Interesting priorities...

      Well, if there is no such thing as a civil violation, that would mean that when Drew made untrue accusations of criminal activity, he MUST have committed criminal defamation rather than civil!

      So we can comfortably ignore him. After all, who cares what a criminal thinks?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:10pm

    Trolling is not anger.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:13pm

      Re:

      Indeed! I know plenty of people who troll for the pure pleasure of getting a rise out of people :)

      However, if you're suggesting that a large number of the "angry" people responding to this T-shirt are purely trolling for fun, I suspect you're mistaken.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:18pm

      Re:

      They're not mutually exclusive and, invoking Poe's Law, how do you know which ones are sincere anger and which are not without a sarcasm tag or something else to indicate the truth?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:12pm

    The problem is...

    People assume the statement "Copying is not theft" is akin to saying: "Copying is not wrong".

    What they refuse to see or admit is that theft and copyright infringement are different things - the copyright-maximalist propaganda has done its job well.

    It's all rather sad, really... that people have come to assume that copying is somehow as bad (or worse?) than stealing. It's almost incomprehensible that we've reached this point.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:30pm

      Re: The problem is...

      Personally I blame the school system.

      "Now Jimmy, what do you say when someone asks if they can borrow your crayon?"

      "I say 'Buy your own you filthy thief!'"

      "Very good Jimmy. What about someone who sees one of your pictures and decides to make one that looks like it?"

      "I report them to you for stealing, and then laugh when they get expelled from school."

      "Absolutely right. Now then class our next lesson is how nothing at all was ever created before The Almighty Copyright was recognized as the natural right that it is, so open your trademark and copyright protected textbooks to page 34..."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Rapnel (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:31pm

        Re: Re: The problem is...

        One of my own clingons came home from school one day and saw my torrent app up and somehow, clearly not of his own accord, he believed that I was running an illegal application and told me as much.

        It's troubling that I had to say that what he was taught or told at school was dead wrong.

        How's that for copyright creep? Arts and sciences, indeed.

        Copyrights have become theft much more than copying could ever dream of being.

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        • identicon
          Thad, 1 Sep 2016 @ 9:52am

          Re: Re: Re: The problem is...

          It's troubling that I had to say that what he was taught or told at school was dead wrong.

          Troubling, perhaps, but common. Public schools teach some pretty terrible things when it comes to, off the top of my head, drugs and sex education.

          Tangentially related: It is alarming that so many people have a knee-jerk reaction to just naturally assume that creators don't want their work to be copied, that all copying is, by default, a violation of the creator's rights. I remember a post a couple of years back when R Stevens released the entirety of Diesel Sweeties as a DRM-free ebook; someone in the comments section made a snarky comment about how people were just going to pirate it and I responded by pointing out that the book was CC-licensed and copying it without paying for it wasn't piracy, it was explicitly encouraged by the creator.

          Similarly, I remember seeing an article on Cnet some years ago (right around the time I quit reading Cnet; these two things are not a coincidence) about VLC being removed from the iOS app store because a dev issued a takedown on the basis that Apple's DRM was a GPL violation. The author of the article took on this smug and baffled point of view, and said something like "Don't you know that's to keep people from illegally copying your software?" Like, he didn't understand that the software was published with the explicit purpose of being freely copied, and that authors who ask for software to be taken down for a GPL violation are exercising the exact same legal rights as authors who ask for software to be taken down for any other form of unauthorized redistribution.

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      • identicon
        MargeB, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:39pm

        Re: Re: The problem is...

        Unfortunately, we can only buy one per class, as each book costs $8,475.99. Gather round, everyone!

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        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 3:09pm

          Re: Re: Re: The problem is...

          'Gather round', that sounds like a public performance to me, sure hope you've paid the appropriate fees for that...

          Remember, reading to children is stealing, if the little criminals want to read they need to buy their own copy, one per pirate.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 3:37pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: The problem is...

            >Remember, reading to children is stealing, if the little criminals want to read they need to buy their own copy, one per pirate.

            And NEVER read to a child unless it's shown you its performance license: are you TRYING to raise lawbreakers, or does it just come natural to you?

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  • icon
    aethercowboy (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:13pm

    I wonder where all these people got the idea that copying was theft. Do you think they came up with that idea on their own?

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  • icon
    Norahc (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:15pm

    Reported to who?

    It's been a while since we've heard from or about either the SBA or City of London police department. I wonder if he reported Techdirt to them, or the super decoder ring (complete with built-in backdoor) secret Internet Police.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    BentFranklin (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:17pm

    I™©® would™©® have™©® more™©® sympathy™©® for™©® rights™©® holders™©® if™©® they™©® weren't™©® actively™©® stealing™©® from™©® America™©® by™©® persistently™©® attacking™©® fair™©® use™©®, public™©® domain™©®, and™©® prior™©® art™©®.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:21pm

    Well I was thinking...

    A = B
    C = B
    so: A = C

    or:
    Theft = Bad
    Copying = Bad
    so: Theft = Copying

    Now this is a fallacy I know that:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Association_fallacy

    But doesn't this say on some level that Copying could be theft? Honestly curious to what I'm missing here though.

    I guess technically lots of things can be considered theft on the deepest level (You're stealing my air!). So basically saying copying is not theft on some level is flawed, but is mostly true? Then again nobody in their right mind would complain about the air example I gave above so... at what point do people start to see something as something else.

    Ok, my head is spinning I need a break.

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    • icon
      Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:19pm

      Re:

      A = B
      C = B
      so: A = C

      or:
      Theft = Bad
      Copying = Bad
      so: Theft = Copying
      Your problem is your maths is off;
      Theft = Bad
      Copying = {Good,...,Bad}
      so: Theft <> Copying

      See?

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      • icon
        Wyrm (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 4:37pm

        Re: Re:

        If we go this way, "Theft = Bad" is also wrong.
        That would also mean "Bad = Theft" so the only Bad in the world is Theft. That's quite a statement there.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 8:39pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          To build on this, the closest you get is that:

          Bad is the set of things that are... well... bad.
          Bad = [Murder, Embezzlement, Theft, Lying, Political Promises, etc...]

          In their minds, Copying is also in that set. Though they are contained in the same set, they aren't equal or the same.

          Of course, with the math that they are espousing, then Copying = Murder is also legitimate.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Lord_Unseen (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 8:18am

      Re:

      There's a reason it's a fallacy. It doesn't say on any level that things are related.

      I'll give you an example.
      Penguins are black and white
      Zebras are black and white
      Therefore: Penguins are Zebras

      Clearly, that's wrong and that's why association fallacy is so bad. It can be used to relate any two completely unrelated things by simply taking a single quality that the two things happen to share and plugging it in to that formula. It's the same way that you could say:

      Theft = Bad
      Murder = Bad
      So: Theft = Murder

      Yeah, let's leave association fallacy out of this.

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  • icon
    crade (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:23pm

    Maybe they need a Venn Diagram.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:23pm

    I would love to get this shirt - my nerd hard shirt is my favorite. But I would spend everyday I wore it arguing with people like this and I don't have the energy or the debating talent to do that. But to those that do I salute you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:26pm

    You don't have to call people names (like silly) and you should also recognize that the meaning of a word comes from how it is used and where it is used.

    Facebook isn't a court of law nor are you speaking to legal scholars. *Copying is not theft* will be interpreted as *unauthorized reproduction* or *copyright infringement* or even *piracy* is not theft. Colloquially, all of those things *are* theft.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:29pm

      Re:

      Except, of course, that they aren't.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Thad, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:32pm

        Re: Re:

        Hey, if "literally" can colloquially mean "the opposite of literally"...

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:33pm

        Re: Re:

        If you are talking to a judge or a lawyer, they aren't the same at all. If you are talking to some random person on Facebook, they probably are. I'm guessing most of the people getting their jimmies rustled on Facebook aren't law students or judges.

        That's how words (in English) work. If theft isn't a synonym for unauthorized reproduction yet (I think it is), it's definitely heading that way.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:52pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Congratulations, you've missed the point.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Thad, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:58pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yes -- because people don't understand the law, don't understand computers, and have been fed a steady diet of propaganda by the content industries for decades.

          These same people who are reacting so angrily to the "copying is not theft" shirt have infringed copyright without even thinking about what they were doing. Guaranteed. 100% of them. Everybody has, at some point in the last decade, watched a video on YouTube that was not authorized by the copyright holder. Anybody who hasn't isn't on Facebook.

          People who think copying is theft do not have a working understanding of what copying and theft actually are.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:19pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            > People who think copying is theft do not have a working understanding of what copying and theft actually are.

            The meaning of the words is derived from how they are used. There aren't a whole lot of exceptions to that rule.

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            • identicon
              Thad, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:27pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:40pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Write for your audience. If you are writing in a personal journal words can mean whatever you want. If you are writing for a general audience on Facebook, then don't be surprised when your word choices with non-standard meanings communicate something other than what you intended.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:23pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "That's how words (in English) work. If theft isn't a synonym for unauthorized reproduction yet (I think it is), it's definitely heading that way."

          yeah that particular law hasn't been bought....yet

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        • identicon
          Ed Allen, 1 Sep 2016 @ 9:47am

          Re: Re: Re:

          All that says is that the propaganda is winning, not that fighting ignorance (accepting what somebody says without investigation) cannot eventually educate people.

          Using a T-shirt to provoke inquiry seems quite germane.

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    • identicon
      Thad, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:31pm

      Re:

      Yes, and the point that he is making is that this colloquial usage is false equivalence, and, through either ignorance or malice, obfuscates an important issue.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:37pm

        Re: Re:

        > obfuscates an important issue

        Techdirt is the one muddying the waters. They don't get to be the language police.

        If they want to be clear, why not make a t-shirt that says "copyright infringement isn't larceny".

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:57pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Thank you, language police police.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Thad, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:00pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Techdirt is the one muddying the waters. They don't get to be the language police.


          And yet they're not the ones comparing criticism to armed enforcement.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:17pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Maybe they will. But I don't see the muddying of the waters here except for "copying is theft" being used as a rallying cry for people lobbying for better IP-protections. If anything, they are being dishonest to incite people. Muddying the waters here are the people refusing to argue their point and belitling people ´saying "copyright is not theft". Ignorance is not bliss, you know?

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    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:37pm

      Re:

      The fact that those things are often colloquially referred to as theft - when in reality they are fundamentally different, and our digital culture badly needs people to begin thinking about the two in a more nuanced way - is precisely one of the reasons we made a shirt like this.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:39pm

        Re: Re:

        Does it also bother you that the word "gay" now means homosexual? Are you just against evolution in general?

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        • icon
          Leigh Beadon (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:44pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Uh, no. This is about more than linguistic drift - it's about the conflation of two concepts that, while they share certain surface similarities at a cursory glance, are actually marked by extremely relevant distinctions that are of concern to everyone in the age of digital media and information.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:49pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Good luck with that.

            Maybe you could take on "begs the question" next.

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            • icon
              Leigh Beadon (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:51pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Your attempts to make this sound analogous to linguistic purists who complain about things like the changing definition of "literally" are very weak indeed. This is an entirely different conversation about concepts not about the casual usage of words. It's also not about natural drift - the inception of terms like "piracy" and "theft" were driven by intentional campaigns by the copyright industries.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:02pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                If you aren't trying to fight language evolution, then take the ambiguity out of your shirt slogan.

                The core of what you are trying to communicate is basically "not all unauthorized reproductions are infringing", right? I happen to agree with that, I just think that isn't what you are communicating with your shirt.

                I would think that people who make their money writing would be better at communicating.

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                • icon
                  Mike Masnick (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:12pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  The core of what you are trying to communicate is basically "not all unauthorized reproductions are infringing", right? I happen to agree with that, I just think that isn't what you are communicating with your shirt.

                  But that's not what we're saying. It's true that not all unauthorized reproductions are infringing, but ALL copying IS NOT THEFT. Some of it is infringing. Some of it is not. And we can't have a reasoned debate on what makes sense and what doesn't when people continually claim that "copying is theft." It's not.

                  So, we're not saying that infringement is good or bad. We're saying that it's not theft.

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:21pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    What definition of the word "theft" are you working off of?

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:33pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      There is essentially only one.

                      Taking something so that the person it was taken from no longer has it, because you took it.

                      Making a copy of software is the same as making a copy of a slice of bread. The original owner of the first slice of bread still has their bread. You just made a copy of it.

                      Data technically physically exists.

                      Stolen is just being used as a terrible euphemism for IP Infringement.

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                    • icon
                      Rapnel (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:39pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      I just looked up three. I get the impression that none of them will be what you'd like them to be.

                      theft

                      n. the generic term for all crimes in which a person intentionally and fraudulently takes personal property of another without permission or consent and with the intent to convert it to the taker's use (including potential sale). In many states, if the value of the property taken is low (for example, less than $500) the crime is "petty theft," but it is "grand theft" for larger amounts, designated misdemeanor, or felony, respectively. Theft is synonymous with "larceny." Although robbery (taking by force), burglary (taken by entering unlawfully), and embezzlement (stealing from an employer) are all commonly thought of as theft, they are distinguished by the means and methods used, and are separately designated as those types of crimes in criminal charges and statutory punishments. (See: larceny, robbery, burglary, embezzlement)

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                      • identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:46pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        With your dictionary, "identity theft" doesn't parse. That's a pretty common phrase these days with well understood meaning.

                        Same goes for the phrase "theft of services". That's a pretty common concept as well.

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                        • icon
                          Rapnel (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:57pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          Yes, however, concepts are just that, concepts. Theft, by definition, which seems to include the legal one, tells us that theft is depriving someone of "a thing".

                          I have 'X'. Someone stole my 'X'. My 'X' is now gone. The taking of 'X' is theft.

                          The copying of 'X' can not be theft under the current legal standard. The state of copyright today is, on the other hand, theft, as the public does not have "the thing" nor will they ever have "the thing" as long as maximalists X-Z continue to get their way.

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                        • icon
                          Rapnel (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 3:08pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          Also, as someone mentioned here elsewhere, "identity theft" is fraud. So, no, identity theft is not "theft" of your identity because, shocker, you still have one. The perp is out committing fraud with your identifying datum and is probably stealing things from others with it.

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                    • icon
                      Ryunosuke (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 2:54am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      1 a : the act of stealing; specifically : the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it
                      b : an unlawful taking (as by embezzlement or burglary) of property

                      - Merriam-Webster


                      in English law, now defined in statutory terms as the dishonest appropriation of property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it. The law has, however, been complicated by semantic arguments, leading the Court of Appeal to say that the law is in urgent need of reform to make cases understandable to juries. Wheel-clamping is not theft in England (contrary to the position in Scotland) because there is not the intention to permanently deprive. - Collins Dictionary of Law, 2006

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 4:25pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Sounds like you and the person you replied to are arguing a distinction without a difference. You're unhappy with how the meaning of theft has changed and framing matters. The OP accepts the evolution, but otherwise agrees with you.

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 4:20am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      No, not at all.

                      The word theft still means the same thing even though the copyright industries have frame copyright infringement as theft the word still has the same meaning.

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                      • identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 8:33am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        The word theft does still has the old meanings, but it's gaining new meanings as well.

                        Somebody pointed out how literally now also means figuratively. In the same way, rights infringement is a type of theft.

                        It's not a terribly new idea. I think the first time I heard of theft being used in a legal way for non-physical goods was when cable modem modders and satellite card bootleggers were charged with theft of services.

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                        • identicon
                          Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 8:57am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          Fabulous smell muddled spade therapeutic crazy railway. Imagine start embarrassed scribble balance.

                          I redefined every one of those words above so that doesn't say what you may think it says and it is perfectly coherent.

                          /derp

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                        • identicon
                          Thad, 1 Sep 2016 @ 9:06am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          You seem to have misunderstood my analogy to the changing meaning of the word "literally", which was an intentionally absurd and ironic comparison. While I find the use of "literally" to mean "figuratively" obnoxious, it is qualitatively different from the use of "theft" to mean "copyright infringement". The former happened organically; the latter was intentionally steered by stakeholders for political reasons.

                          "Theft" (or "piracy") to mean "infringement" is not an example of the natural evolution of language, it's an example of language being intentionally manipulated to achieve political ends. I made a comparison to Orwell elsewhere in the thread (I seem to have accidentally posted it anonymously but it was me) and I stand by it.

                          The use of the word "theft" to mean "infringement" isn't comparable to the use of "literally" to mean "figuratively", except in the most superficial of ways. It's more akin to the use of "feminist" as a pejorative, or "socialist" to describe things that are undesirable but have very little to do with socialism, or that "liberal" and "conservative" have very different meanings in modern America than they have historically or internationally. It's not an accident, it's not random, and it's not natural; it's enemy action.

                          When you control language, you control ideas. Advertisers, lobbyists, and politicians spend a hell of a lot of time, money, and effort on controlling language.

                          When people thoughtlessly insist that copyright infringement is theft (or, even more absurdly, that all copying is theft), it's not their own idea. Someone in the advertising industry gave them that idea, just as surely as the guy posting a bacon meme was influenced by an astroturf campaign promoting the pork industry. Or that episode of The Simpsons where Homer responds to the idea of subliminal messaging by calling it "a load of rich creamery butter".

                          Techdirt's T-shirt is using language to question an existing narrative. It's a simple slogan, but to some people it's a thought-provoking one.

                          To others, well, it doesn't provoke thought or reflection, just knee-jerk anger. People really don't like having their beliefs questioned. And that's probably true for most people, no matter what side of which debate they're on.

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                          • identicon
                            Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 12:30pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                            Theft" (or "piracy") to mean "infringement" is not an example of the natural evolution of language, it's an example of language being intentionally manipulated to achieve political ends.


                            That's a good piece of trivia, but it doesn't change much when you are talking about what words mean. You may not like that our language is susceptible from influence by professionals, but nevertheless it is. It even happens accidentally (ie genericized trademarks). Go ahead use language in your own way, but if you are writing for the general public, you risk confusing your readers.

                            The commenters on Techdirt have a pretty good idea what the intended meaning of "copying isn't theft" is, but on more general forums like Facebook, it comes across as being clueless.

                            Mike et al may not like that the hoi polloi have readily accepted the idea that infringement is theft, but it's pretty clear that it has.

                            How often do you hear about an idea being stolen, or an artists design being stolen by some clothing store, or someone pirating a game?

                            To my ears, "copying is not theft" is as ignorant as saying "copying is theft".

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                            • identicon
                              Thad, 1 Sep 2016 @ 12:56pm

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              It's not trivia, you jackass, it's the entire point of the discussion.

                              Which you are purposely and repeatedly pretending not to understand.

                              I've wasted enough time on your "look over there!" trolling, and I'm much less impressed that you took a freshman linguistics course once than you are.

                              Go away, kid; you bother me.

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                              • identicon
                                Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 2:17pm

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                I understand the frustration. I was one of the people in the '90's getting upset when people used hacker rather than cracker. I thought to be called a hacker was a compliment. I argued around 'begs the question' too (although back then, it was less settled than it is today).

                                For this whole discussion, I've been narrowly focused on Mike pointing out:

                                the real action has definitely been on Facebook

                                and that it is Mike that is pretending to not understand.

                                So yeah, you're frustrated, I'm frustrated, the people on Facebook that think Techdirt sees nothing wrong with stealing an artists work are frustrated. All over some poorly worded slogan and a stubborn refusal to look at the issue from the other side.

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                            • icon
                              That One Guy (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 3:00pm

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              Mike et al may not like that the hoi polloi have readily accepted the idea that infringement is theft, but it's pretty clear that it has.

                              Except they don't. Ask around and I'm guessing very few people would agree that listening to an unlicensed song or sending a copy to a friend/family member, or watching an 'unofficial' video on YT or something along those lines would count as 'theft'. They're sharing a song they like, or enjoying a video they came across, they're not 'stealing' anything, and even if you did show them that what they are doing is technically copyright infringement you're not likely to be able to convince them that their actions are in any way theft.

                              People infringe on copyrights left and right, all the time and without even thinking about it, so even if you were right and the general consensus was that copyright infringement is theft most of the public still doesn't seem to particularly care.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:13pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  You are intellectually bankrupt!

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            • icon
              techflaws (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 10:09pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Or maybe they could just go on and don't give a damn about your pointless bickering?

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        • icon
          crade (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:47pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          No one is running a campaign to try to get people to refer to homosexuals as "gay" for the purpose of manipulating popular opinion and legislation. That makes a big difference too.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:56pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            But what doesn't make sense to me is that Techdirt and the readers aren't generally anti-copyright (although there is some of that here). The argument usually is around what uses of a copyrighted work are infringing uses.

            So maybe the shirt should say "copying isn't theft except when it is".

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            • identicon
              Thad, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:04pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              But it never is.

              Copying is never theft.

              It is sometimes illegal. And most people agree that it is sometimes immoral. But just because something is illegal or immoral does not mean it is the same thing as theft. That's stupid.

              I suppose you could put "copying is, in and of itself, neutral, and can be used for either legal or illegal, positive or negative, purposes, and even when it is illegal it is distinct from theft" on a T-shirt, but it would be kind of hard to read. If only there were some way of saying the exact same thing in fewer words.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:13pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Your definition of theft is different than most people's. For example, the term "identity theft" is very firmly entrenched even though legally it's a type of fraud. If you don't think identity theft is theft, then we are never going to be able to have a conversation.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:27pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  agreed, so you'll be leaving them?

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                • identicon
                  Thad, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:28pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  If you thought we were having a conversation, then you have a different definition of "conversation" than I do.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:29pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Identity is a concept. It can be used, given, and taken... therefore it can be stolen. You can create new identities or destroy them as well.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  Leigh Beadon (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:32pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Identity theft is considerably more analogous to traditional theft because, though there is some copying and fuzziness involved, ultimately the perpetrator is taking scarce things from the victim and leaving the victim without those things. "Identity" is a bit of a nebulous concept to say someone stole outright - but "identity theft" generally involves stealing money and other assets, and also making use of a person's identity in a way that ruins their life and makes it punishing and difficult for them to continue living under their identity. And so while "identity theft" is still a technically slightly imprecise use of the term theft, it's one that doesn't bother me because it isn't so starkly at odds with the fundamental nature and results of what is going on.

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:48pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Identity theft is fraud.

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                    • icon
                      Leigh Beadon (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 3:12pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Yes, I realize that. I was offering an explanation of why I don't consider the slight misnomer of "identity theft" as problematic as I do when the word "theft" is applied to copyright infringement.

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 2:59am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Yes and fraud is depriving someone of something. I believe that is the definition of theft.

                      Fraud is a legal distinction of theft.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • icon
                        Ryunosuke (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 8:46am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        err no

                        you have not inherently deprived someone of their identity, you are merely representing someone who you are not. That is Fraud, not theft.

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                        • identicon
                          Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 9:29am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          What is the purpose of that fraud? Use their credit, drain bank accounts? Deprive them or someone of something I suspect. Or is the goal just to become that person, sleep with the wife?

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                          • identicon
                            Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 9:45am

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                            Or post a funny on their twitter account... which deprives them of approximately nothing.

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                            • identicon
                              Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 2:07pm

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              Deprives them of their right to be judged by who they are.

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                              • identicon
                                Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 5:51pm

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                Deprives them of their right to be judged by who they are.

                                Is that really the road you want to go down? People very frequently don't get judged on the merits of who they are. Superiors, bosses, administrators, teachers, parents - people in a position to make a judgement call on another person will very often default to the status quo or their personal anecdotal evidence. If you want to classify this as "theft" then everyone's either a thief and/or a victim of theft.

                                Or we could just classify this under a sad, desperate attempt to justify a bastardized definition for your own manipulative purposes.

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                            • icon
                              PaulT (profile), 2 Sep 2016 @ 1:47am

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              That depends on what the "funny" is. If it's something racist, abusive, etc., it could cause anything from the loss of the Twitter account to damaged reputation. Especially if the account is verified and associated with business, there could be plenty to lose.

                              But, let's be realistic - most identity theft is used to fraudulently gain money and credit with major damage done to the original "owner" of the identity, not harmless pranks. That's why it's usually referred to as "theft" - it deprives the person who has that identity of its proper use.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:42pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  And yet you were?

                  Copyright infringement is to theft what theft is to robbery. Whether legally, logically or economically.

                  I would argue that "identity theft" as a misnomer could be valid to discuss. But the conservation of a clear destinct vocabular is not the real point as has been mentioned several times. It is not what, but how and why that qualifies the a discussion. Just pinning it as a what without hearing the direction of arguments is a bit narrow of a horizon.

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                  • identicon
                    Thad, 31 Aug 2016 @ 3:02pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Copyright infringement is to theft what theft is to robbery.

                    Exactly. If you infringe copyright but do it with the threat of force, then it's theft.

                    Wait, no. What?

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            • icon
              Leigh Beadon (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:28pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Even inasmuch as we think certain forms of copying are wrong, we don't think they are theft. And we think that distinction is important. In the ongoing cultural and legal conversation about how we structure our laws to do with digital content and information, and as we continue to analyze and try to understand the evolving economy of that content and information, it is vital that everyone remember the critical differences between copying and theft.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:42pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Can I buy a version of the shirt with this paragraph on the back?

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 8:44am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                I agree with you that interchanging 'theft' and 'fraud' in informal settings is fine. How do you decide when sloppy use of legal terms is okay and when it isn't okay?

                Does it still bother you when people use the word piracy in conjunction with copyright infringement? I'd say that's even more firmly entrenched than infringement / theft.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              crade (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 3:25pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Copyright isn't a black and white concept. It doesn't have to be either "we have it" or "we don't have it". The purpose of trying to get people to associate copyright with theft is to attach all the emotions that are attached to the concept of theft to the concept of copyright infringement. This helps with things like extending copyright law over and over (if it's "stealing" then it must "belong" to the copyright holder, and having copyright expire is taking something that "belongs" to them, right?) and it helps whenever they want people to make sacrifices of freedom (especially other people's freedom) in the name of controlling copyright infringement or when they want to put in levies to compensate them for all the money that is being stolen and such. It's basically propaganda.

              Techdirt and most readers aren't necessarily anti-copyright, but for the most part they will certainly not agree with the direction that those lobbyists are trying to take copyright, and their campaign to associate copyright with theft is part of that agenda.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Leigh Beadon (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 3:45pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                This helps with things like extending copyright law over and over (if it's "stealing" then it must "belong" to the copyright holder, and having copyright expire is taking something that "belongs" to them, right?) and it helps whenever they want people to make sacrifices of freedom (especially other people's freedom) in the name of controlling copyright infringement or when they want to put in levies to compensate them for all the money that is being stolen and such.

                Indeed. Consider, for example, Fair Use — an absolutely critical component of copyright that must be defended and in fact expanded. With a proper understanding of what copying is and why copyright exists, fair use only makes sense — but it sounds ludicrous to say "sometimes it's okay to steal people's property for the purposes of criticism, education, transformative works, etc". Every person who buys into the idea that "copying is no different from theft" is one less person who will stand up to defend fair use, or take advantage of fair use themselves to create something great.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Kalean, 1 Sep 2016 @ 8:52am

      Re:

      Well, no, no they are not. They are a separate category of illegal activity, both legally and practically distinct from theft.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Vic, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:28pm

    Well, what did you expect? I guess there is the whole generation that grew up on "Don't copy that floppy"!

    I still wonder how the command "Copy" still survived in Windows and other commercial SW.
    (I sure do not want to go to jail for writing computer code based on someone else's previous art or libraries...)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 5:07pm

      Re:

      Don't forget the current generation that is growing up with faux-ethics classes in colleges that morally equate copying to theft or the younger generation growing up with Copyright industry propaganda pushed to them in schools.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Thad, 31 Aug 2016 @ 5:33pm

        Re: Re:

        That wasn't my experience, but it's been about a dozen years since college for me.

        We did have an ethics class, and we did spend a couple of weeks on copyright/patent law. (I forget whether trademarks were included or not.) The professor kept it neutral and factual: here's what the law says; here's what you're legally allowed to do, here's what you're not, and here's what you need to look into if you're not sure.

        My recollection is that he got everything basically right, without any value judgements about whether or not the law is just, just "here's what the law is and professional ethics dictate that you should follow it."

        I thought it was fine. Not as good as the professor who told us about whistleblowing, but better than the one who inexplicably spent two weeks telling us how great Ayn Rand was.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Carlie Coats, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:30pm

    Supreme court says...

    Dowling v. United States (1985), 473 U.S. 207, pp. 217–218: copyright is not theft.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:47pm

      Re: Supreme court says...

      In a legal context, piracy is robbery at sea.

      Colloquially, it can mean unauthorized reproduction. That happened over many years.

      If enough people call copyright infringement "theft", then that's what it means. Techdirt is on a crusade to try to stop the language from changing in a way they don't like. Good luck with that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:00pm

        Re: Re: Supreme court says...

        The crusade is worthwhile, even if it fails.

        We only hard ourselves if we just accept the wrong things in life and detail. Words have a meaning and I sincerely hope you experience why this is important in a very direct way... like say jail.

        Yea you going to jail as a sex offender for pissing on a bush. After all words don't mean a fucking think and you should just have good luck with that and all!

        Either help set things right, or shut the fuck up and leave those trying to alone!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:11pm

        Re: Re: Supreme court says...

        Colloquially, it can mean unauthorized reproduction. That happened over many years.

        Driven by propagandists pushing an agenda.

        Techdirt is on a crusade to try to stop the language from changing in a way they don't like.

        And the content industries are on a crusade to try and manipulate the language into changing in a way they do like.

        This isn't a natural, grassroots linguistic evolution, dogg. It's deliberate obfuscation.

        Man, I bet you read 1984 and spent the whole book rolling your eyes at how Orwell could possibly object to people saying "unperson" and "thoughtcrime". Language evolves! If "war" colloquially means "peace", then colloquially, war is peace!

        Or are you more partial to ignorance is strength?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:14pm

        Re: Re: Supreme court says...

        Techdirt is on a crusade to try to stop the language from changing in a way they don't like.

        If TD is 'on a crusade' then it's to counter the 'crusade' by those pushing the idea that copying is theft and who are constantly conflating the two.

        People didn't just wake up one day and think, "You know what, that copyright infringement stuff, I think I'll call that 'theft' from now on, has a much better ring to it", that idea has been pushed out('You wouldn't steal a car') by the 'More copyright is always better' lot who recognize that their arguments are much more likely to be effective if they can use the emotional impact associated with the word 'theft' rather than 'copy'.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:32pm

          Re: Re: Re: Supreme court says...

          'More copyright is always better' lo how about 'welfare corporations' or 'copy welfare corporations'

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 12:35am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Supreme court says...

            I generally go with a simple 'Parasites' when it comes to referring to artists or more often companies that build off of what came before(or buy/con(tract) the rights for those works) and then turn around and declare that despite them taking what came before and building upon it that no-one else is allowed to build off of what they made because they're special little snowflakes.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 7:05am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Supreme court says...

              Too bad it's these sociopathic corporations that write the laws.

              It should be noted that these laws are written by corporations. They're not written by artists or content creators. They're not written by the public. They are written by corporations. and so it's only the corporations that they're intended to serve and it's almost only the corporations that they do serve as intended. The corporations wouldn't write laws in favor of artists, that would be antithetical to their selfish interests.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 6:11pm

        Re: Re: Supreme court says...

        So what you're saying is that you paid for a propaganda campaign to muddy the waters of definition to elicit an emotional response for your social manipulations, and are gloating when those without critical thinking ability voice their predictable, knee-jerk reactions.

        Okay then, if that's what it takes for you to get your e-peen aroused.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 7:40pm

        Re: Re: Supreme court says...

        Copyright infringement is RAPE! And Techdirt is just a breeding ground for rapists.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      anon, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:35pm

      Re: Supreme court says...

      Quoting a more recent case from Nevada:

      One of the leading Ninth Circuit copyright infringement cases refers to the copyright infringement defendant as an “ordinary thief.” Polar Bear, 384 F.3d at 709. Further, the Supreme Court has stated that “deliberate unlawful copying is no less an unlawful taking of property than garden-variety theft.” Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., 545 U.S. 913, 961, 125 S.Ct. 2764, 162 L.Ed.2d 781 (2005). Therefore, because the court has found that Rimini has engaged in copyright infringement, it is true that Rimini has engaged in theft of Oracle's intellectual property.

      Oracle USA, Inc. v. Rimini St., Inc., 6 F.Supp.3d 1108, 1131 (D. Nev. 2014)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 3:03pm

        Re: Re: Supreme court says...

        Those are dodgy examples, can you see how?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 3:17pm

        Re: Re: Supreme court says...

        So the charges brought were theft right, not copyright infringement? I mean if a judge is going to say that copyright infringement is theft then clearly the charges are going to be theft, otherwise the usage of the word is meaningless.

        Claiming on one hand that the action is theft, while not actually charging them with theft is a self-defeating argument. If the judge honestly did think it was theft then that's what the charges would have been. Doing otherwise is basically saying that no, the judge doesn't actually think the action qualifies as theft, despite claiming otherwise elsewhere.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Christenson, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:31pm

    Four Word Sentences...

    If we have four-letter words, can we have
    "Copying is not theft" as a four-word sentence???

    Seems to have all the same properties! (Darn!)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:45pm

    Everything Learned

    Is a Copy.

    Are we going to shutdown the education system?

    Do you pay royalties for the spoken word? No one alive created them, yet someone did start them!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 7:48pm

      Re: Everything Learned

      You joke, but have you SEEN what they do to people who copy academic white papers?

      Last guy got it so bad he offed himself.

      /:(

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jordan Chandler, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:03pm

    amazing

    Keep fighting the good fight. This article brought many smiles.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael Barclay, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:33pm

    Article wins its own "funniest of the week" award

    This is one of those rare articles where the article's content should win Techdirt's "Funniest Comment of the Week" award.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:47pm

    > But, we're still fairly astounded at the level of brainwashing that seems to go on

    I'm not. The TV industry spent decades giving their stuff away for free, and later selling copies of it. And now we can make infinite copies of something for free, and while they're too big to be able to adjust their business model, they have a huge advertising budget.

    What should actually surprise us is how effective the brainwashing is. People bend over backward to be "legal". They'll describe unauthorized downloading as illegal even when it isn't (in most of the world, it would be the uploading that's illegal, and it's still not criminal). But they'll set up an antenna to grab stuff for free, and a DVR so they keep the copies forever, and some software to strip all the ads out, and it's all OK because it's "legal" unlike downloading. Even though the copyright owners have no way to tell which of those things you did, and make the same amount of money either way. Buying used media instead of downloading it is a similar situation, though in that case there's a least a possibility of the primary market being affected.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:59pm

    The t-shirt, just by existing, makes its point. Anyone can see the difference between copying the t-shirt and stealing it.

    You COPY the t-shirt: its owner smiles; its designer smiles; and you can spot pure evil a hundred yards away by the way it's gnashing its teeth.

    You STEAL the t-shirt: its owner gets cold, and pure evil comes running to shake your hand.

    It's the same with music. You copy the music; fellow fans smile. You steal the music; RIAA wants you as a member.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    David Poole (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 3:15pm

    related t-shirt idea

    Regarding the latest silly statements from the US FBI chief (also on techdirt), can we get a "Math is not a Crime" shirt?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 3:40pm

    tortoises, turtles, toads and frogs are the SAME ANIMAL.

    EXACTLY THE SAME! they even look identical.....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dan, 31 Aug 2016 @ 4:24pm

    Copying is indeed not theft. It is copyright infringement, which is another kind of violation. But yeah, it should not be equated with theft.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 4:37pm

      Re:

      Copying isn't the same thing as copyright infringement. If the work is in the public domain, copying it won't be copyright infringement.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Thad, 31 Aug 2016 @ 5:24pm

        Re: Re:

        Or if it's CC-licensed, or if you're excerpting it for review purposes, or if you're copying a legally-purchased, DRM-free song from your PC to your phone, or making a backup, or syncing files on Dropbox. Or, y'know, copying a work whose copyright you yourself own, or got explicit permission from the copyright holder to copy. Or any number of other circumstances. Copying is not necessarily infringement, and infringement is not theft.

        That's without getting into the basic technical facts of how computers work. Viz, every time you watch/play/view/otherwise load something, you are copying it into memory. If you defrag your hard drive, you are copying files from one location to another one. The first time you load a webpage, you copy everything on it twice, into both memory and a cache on persistent storage. Computers do two things: they copy data, and they run processes. And the processes they run generally involve taking instructions from one set of copied data and performing them on another set of copied data, and then copying the result. If laypeople understood the sheer number of copy operations involved in every single thing they do on their computers, it would be a lot easier for them to understand that copying isn't theft.

        Course, as I've stated elsewhere, most people already understand that conceptually even if they don't understand it when it's phrased in those terms. Everybody's watched an infringing video on YouTube at some point; not only do most people not see that as theft, most people don't even realize that it's copyright infringement.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 6:59am

          Re: Re: Re:

          and remember blue ray players are just computers limited to specific task so : the player reads from the disk into memory AKA MAKING A COPY before it send it to the tv, which then has a copy in memory as it is about to be displayed. So

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 1:36am

      Re:

      "Copying is indeed not theft. It is copyright infringement"

      No it's not.

      A subset of copying relating directly to copying protected material without permission from the copyright owner is infringement. But there's a huge amount of copying that doesn't fit into that bracket or is exempted from it (copying under fair use terms, for example).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Alphonse Tomato, 31 Aug 2016 @ 5:10pm

    sleazy

    Is Techdirt stuck with a huge pile of unsold t-shirts? Is this article a sleazy attempt to get us to buy them?

    Ok, it worked for me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 5:33pm

    perhaps your next t-shirt should be an iteration on the current t-shirt with (front) "Copying is not theft... but" "civil asset forfeiture is"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael Jensen, 31 Aug 2016 @ 5:59pm

    It can be theft

    As much of a copyright minimalist/abolitionist as I am, I recognize copying can be theft in the idea of using/taking something that isn't yours.

    On the flip side, when something is public domain, re-copyrighting and trademarking it I also consider theft. Heck, I consider the Golan v. Holder case to be public domain infringement and possibly even theft.

    If I was President, I would try to pass a bill saying that trademarking public domain characters is illegal. For each trademark filed, there is a minimum of a $5000 fine to be paid. I would make sure that was enforced with an iron fist.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      TripMN, 31 Aug 2016 @ 9:21pm

      Re: It can be theft

      As much of a copyright minimalist/abolitionist as I am, I recognize copying can be theft in the idea of using/taking something that isn't yours.

      But it isn't. Let me give you some examples.

      I'll start simply. You have a note with someone's name and phone number on it. I want a copy, so I get a different piece of paper (one that I own just so no one claims I stole the paper) and I COPY the name and phone number. Now I have a copy and yours is still with you. Not theft.

      Slightly more complex - you have a book that I really like and want to read. You don't want to lend me it because you are still reading it, so instead I'll make a copy. I get paper and painstakingly copy the words and drawings from your book to mine. I now have a copy and you have one too. I also no longer need to read the book because I copied every last word of it. Still not theft.

      I like your car, you parked it in your driveway where I can see it and oh do I want to use it. I have a machine that can look at things from the outside and tell you all the parts you need and how to put them together. I use it and build a COPY right next to yours to make sure I got everything copied exactly. When I'm done, I use my new car to drive away, while you still have your car for when you want it. No one did any using/taking something that isn't [theirs].

      Last example. You have an amazing house, like I love every aspect of it and I want to buy it from you but you won't. So I hire all the guys who built your house to build me the exact same house on my property (I live far away so no worries, won't change your resale value). I tell them to make it exactly the same... if a board creaks in your house, I want it to creak in mine. When they are done, you still have a house, but I have a copy that is just like it, but in my possession, and no theft has ever occurred.

      All of this applies doubly to copying in the electronic realm where I'm paying for the electricity and mechanical pieces that are making exact duplicates of other bits and bytes so that we have exact copies but no one actually has anything removed from their belonging. It may be something else, but it is not theft.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        ALK, 1 Sep 2016 @ 4:02am

        Re: Re: It can be theft

        Let's make the car analogy a little simpler. Let's say that I order a new car equipped just the way I want it. My neighbor sees it, likes it and goes down and orders one equipped just like it. He copied my idea! Now, what do you think the police would say if I reported that my neighbor "stole" my car because he copied what I did?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 1:40am

      Re: It can be theft

      "I recognize copying can be theft in the idea of using/taking something that isn't yours."

      Except, that not really what theft means. Most importantly, theft always involves depriving the rightful owner of the original. Copying does not do this. That's why there's different words for the different concepts.

      "On the flip side, when something is public domain, re-copyrighting and trademarking it I also consider theft"

      That actually is theft. Something is being removed from the rightful owner.

      "If I was President, I would try to pass a bill saying that trademarking public domain characters is illegal. For each trademark filed, there is a minimum of a $5000 fine to be paid"

      So, a pittance to the corporations who are the ones usually trying to do this. They're too busy trying to buy laws to allow them to do this kind of thing to notice such a small penalty.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    BernardoVerda (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 6:36pm

    Suggestion -- just don't wear this shirt, when...

    ... you're taking a trip across the border.

    In fact, don't pack it in your luggage either.
    Really. Leave it at home (unless you enjoy getting your electronics and media copied {snerk} in its entirety (or even outright confiscated "for further investigation").

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 7:54pm

      Re: Suggestion -- just don't wear this shirt, when...

      I wonder when the TSA is going to have a list of travel recommendations that reads;

      - Wear bright, easily visible and uniform colours.
      - Avoid wearing any clothing which contains text that could be perceived as 'favourable' of any faction.
      - Keep your face and hands visible at all times.
      - Move in lines at a steady pace, keeping a reasonable distance between you and your fellow passengers.
      - Avoid making statements that might be perceived as offensive to staff or other passengers while waiting in line.
      - Refrain from direct eye contact with other passengers or staff.

      Something something, prison uniforms...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 7:54pm

      Re: Suggestion -- just don't wear this shirt, when...

      I wonder when the TSA is going to have a list of travel recommendations that reads;

      - Wear bright, easily visible and uniform colours.
      - Avoid wearing any clothing which contains text that could be perceived as 'favourable' of any faction.
      - Keep your face and hands visible at all times.
      - Move in lines at a steady pace, keeping a reasonable distance between you and your fellow passengers.
      - Avoid making statements that might be perceived as offensive to staff or other passengers while waiting in line.
      - Refrain from direct eye contact with other passengers or staff.

      Something something, prison uniforms...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 12:26am

        Forgot a few...

        - Make sure to bring the most expensive devices you can with you, and be prepared to unlock them and/or provide the password so that they can be 'checked'. Do not be alarmed if the screeners determine that your devices are suspicious and need to be screened more thoroughly, you will almost certainly receive them by the time you land at your destination. Remember, a good citizen is a compliant citizen, and the TSA knows better than you what could present a threat to the plane and your fellow passengers.
        - Carry lots of cash, oodles, really the more the better.
        - If you happen to be attractive, make sure to wear either highly revealing clothing, or highly obscuring clothing. You know why.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 6:51pm

    Techdirt looking to take their douchebaggery to a larger audience? I'm sure that will end well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Copyright is both morally reprehensible and destru, 31 Aug 2016 @ 7:47pm

    Everything you do is copying - everything

    There is no exceptions - none at all. So if copying is theft, then everyone everywhere is committing theft, no exceptions.

    For without copying in every aspect of our lives, we can do nothing production, no eating, no sleeping, nothing. We are dead.

    Just because a number of wealthy and influential persons over a long period of time have managed to corrupt the normal state of affairs, this does not mean that copying is theft.

    If anything, these people have become the greatest of thieves and have committed the greatest theft against the natural order and against all of the population by their actions in bringing about copyright in any form.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    mrtraver (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 8:20pm

    I literally made popcorn for reading those Facebook comments.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Whatever (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 1:37am

    I want to point out

    I want to point out that, any other site making pro-copyright posts like this would be branded here as "losing their shit". It's almost farcical to see what lengths you will go to in order to claim that copying (without permission) isn't theft.

    While pirating (aka copying without permission) does not deprive the artist of the original, it does take away certain rights that the artist had, namely the right to license it as they see fit (and to deny you a license if they so wish).

    It's clearly impossible to deny the idea that the end result of piracy is you having something, where before you had nothing. Morally, it's not hard to draw the conclusion that you have stolen something, even if it is just a copy. At best, your copy was fraudulently obtained.

    It should be noted that until 2006 or so, the UK legal system treated fraud as theft - obtaining something via deceptive practices.

    Now, let's apply some standard Techdirt logic to things here. If everyone copies the original instead of purchasing it (or not being able to have it because the artist / creator has decided only to give it to a few friends), then the value of that work is diminished greatly. Instead of being an exclusive work shared by only a few, it's a widely pirated piece available to everyone. What do you think the real value if the artists grants one more copy to someone at that point? Piracy has absolutely stolen the economic value out of the product. Infinite number of copies, market price zero. Having a copyright on something because meaningless, value is lost, therefore yes, something has been stolen. Perhaps each copy steals such a minute amount that nobody seems to notice, but there is a point where enough pirated copies would reduce the value of the artists work (economics wise).

    So there is theft, but the value of the theft is perhaps very small when calculated by itself.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 1:45am

      Re: I want to point out

      "I want to point out that, any other site making pro-copyright posts like this would be branded here as "losing their shit"."

      Yep, if you have nothing, just base everything on a prediction of what someone *might* do, according to your strawman construction of them. Much easier than addressing reality.

      "It should be noted that until 2006 or so, the UK legal system treated fraud as theft - obtaining something via deceptive practices."

      What does UK law have to do with this, and what is deceptive about copying something for personal use?

      "Now, let's apply some standard Techdirt logic to things here. If everyone copies the original instead of purchasing it"

      Techdirt logic requires an stupid reductio ad absurdum fallacy?

      "Infinite number of copies, market price zero"

      Yet, search Amazon and you'll find huge amounts of public domain content for sale that proves you to be a liar.

      Would you like to state your points again, this time based on objective reality?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        icon
        Whatever (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 2:59am

        Re: Re: I want to point out

        Hi Paul, nice to see you are an idiot troll as always.

        "Yep, if you have nothing, just base everything on a prediction of what someone *might* do, according to your strawman construction of them. Much easier than addressing reality."

        Actually I address reality and point out how Techdirt would treat anyone else in this situation. They would call it "losing their shit". You can almost here Mike ranting and getting worked up over this one.

        "What does UK law have to do with this, and what is deceptive about copying something for personal use?"

        I cite UK law only to show that the term theft has been used in many ways over the past - and well, the English language seems to have come from England, right?

        Copying for personal use, providing you are copying something that is already yours, generally is a non-issue. If you give that copy away, then it's a problem. If you copy someone else's stuff and keep it for yourself, problem. It's basic.

        "Techdirt logic requires an stupid reductio ad absurdum fallacy?"

        No, it just requires idiots like you to try to avoid the point.

        "yet, search Amazon and you'll find huge amounts of public domain content for sale that proves you to be a liar."

        Liar? Gee Paul, I know you are an idiot, but stop trying to prove it. When you buy something that is otherwise free, generally you are paying for the DELIVERY method used, and not the content itself.

        Would you care to cite some examples, or are you just talking off the top of your head again?

        "Would you like to state your points again, this time based on objective reality?"

        You wouldn't know objective reality from the hole in your ass. Seriously, stop making yourself look stupid. I know you desperately want to troll me, but how about dealing with the points instead of redirecting and avoiding? Mike isn't going to hire you to write here, they already have Karl doing the village idiot routine!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 3:23am

          Re: Re: Re: I want to point out

          Where do we start to deal with your complete and utter stupidity.

          Every word you wrote above has been copied, every concept you have tried to proclaim is copied so by your own definition you are a downright thief, a pirate, a lowlife corrupt individual.

          Think very carefully before continuing to dig the hole you are in.

          Sufficient to say that you copy others without their permission every day so by your own definition send yourself to prison for being the criminal you declare yourself to be.

          If you cannot see the utter ridiculousness of your own arguments then there is no help for you in this life.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 3:53am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I want to point out

            Every word you wrote above has been copied, every concept you have tried to proclaim is copied so by your own definition you are a downright thief, a pirate, a lowlife corrupt individual.

            Whatever is being a hypocrite, as usual.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Whatever (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 5:48am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I want to point out

            Techdirt use to have better trolls.

            "Every word you wrote above has been copied, every concept you have tried to proclaim is copied so by your own definition you are a downright thief, a pirate, a lowlife corrupt individual. "

            Show me the copyright on it. Until then, you are just a really horrible, stupid, wasteful troll.

            "If you cannot see the utter ridiculousness of your own arguments then there is no help for you in this life."

            At least I can put an argument together. You, well... not so much.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 6:27am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I want to point out

              "Techdirt use to have better trolls."

              Nah, the previous guys were actually worse than you, believe it or not. You haven't devolved into impressions of farmyard animals yet, so I'll give you that.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              AVI, 1 Sep 2016 @ 11:02am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I want to point out

              Show me the copyright on it.

              Copyright doesn't require registration, dumb ass.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 8:36pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I want to point out

              "Techdirt use to have better trolls"

              It's not the readerbase's responsibility to do anything when you can't up your game, bobmail.

              If you don't like it, do without.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 3:57am

          Re: Re: Re: I want to point out

          "Actually I address reality and point out how Techdirt would treat anyone else in this situation."

          No, you make up what TD's response would be in your head. Your grasp on reality is tenuous at best, so that really isn't something to base an argument upon.

          "No, it just requires idiots like you to try to avoid the point."

          You have stated no valid point. You started your little rant with a fantasy. True, people here like to avoid fantasies from proven liars when they can discuss reality instead, but otherwise you've said nothing.

          "When you buy something that is otherwise free, generally you are paying for the DELIVERY method used, and not the content itself"

          ...and this is a problem, because? Are you saying that all the people who upgraded from VHS to DVD weren't actually buying the movies and thus the studios weren't really selling the content?

          "Would you care to cite some examples, or are you just talking off the top of your head again?"

          No, I'm stating knowledge that any person genuinely discussing the subject would be aware of, and which has been pointed out here many times. You only have to do a search for any well-known public domain title to prove my assertion correct, be that Metropolis, Night Of The Living Dead, the original books of Sherlock Holmes and Frankenstein or the works of Shakespeare for sale in multiple versions from multiple sources. An intelligent person would already know this, an honest person would do a little research before ranting. Neither applies to you, it seems.

          "I know you desperately want to troll me"

          As stated to you regularly, "trolling" is not a word to describe "correct the lies spewed by an obsessive fool". It is, however, correctly applied to said fool.

          "how about dealing with the points"

          What are your points? You've stated nothing that isn't an easily provable lie, or a fantasy version of what you think a strawman version of someone might do. Offer facts, then we can discuss them instead of mocking you for the pathological liar you always prove yourself to be.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 2 Sep 2016 @ 5:12pm

          Re: Re: Re: I want to point out

          "Hi Paul, nice to see you are an idiot troll as always."

          Pot, kettle...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 3:43am

      Re: I want to point out

      "... because meaningless, value is lost..."

      Therefore, because meaningless value is lost, it isn't stealing.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 4:30am

      Re: I want to point out

      I want to point out that, any other site making pro-copyright posts like this would be branded here as "losing their shit".

      And they would, but not for the reason you think. Posts made by pro-copyright sites very often rely on emotional bluster and loaded language in order to rant. Comparisons to rape, terrorism and other completely irrelevant crimes are par for the course. Sites like Trichordist make John Legere look like Mr. Rogers.

      They are branded as "losing their shit" because the people often behave in a way that a normal person would describe as such, copyright or no.

      Also I like how a creator made a post in the previous thread about how copying isn't theft, but you chose not to address him. Because as always, Whatever doesn't think creators who don't think much of the present state of copyright deserve any notice.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 4:59am

      Re: I want to point out

      Thanks for arguing semi-congruently for an opposite view to TD.

      But:
      - The only right taken away is the right to deny. The right to license is still there.
      - Recieving end logic of piracy is mostly just padding. It is morally dubious to recieve, but it is not a question of it becoming theft because it is illegal.
      - As for the british obsolete law where fraud=theft: Maybe it was changed for a reason. And maybe you should too?
      - As for economic implication: Not much there. You calling it "stealing" doesn't make it so. The claim here of economic value deminished is distinctly different from 100 % of the value gone or damages=copiesxvalue. Thus it is different from physical theft.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 7:13am

      Re: I want to point out

      Pirates and Theft. LOL, Ha, ha, ha, Calling people pirates who aren't sailing the high seas kind of helps Techdirt make their point on this one.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      jameshogg (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 7:57am

      Re: I want to point out

      Copyright is a currency. It involves a party, in this case the copyright holder, having the legal authority to make copies of something and exclude others from doing so, for the purpose of adding artificial value to that something making it a tradeable commodity.

      That's what the dollar, pound and euro is. A fiat currency.

      Now tell me. Why is the forgery rate for pounds something like 3%, while for copyrighted material it's something like 25%? The reason being that the printers of pounds (and the dollar and euro) are not insane enough to make "MP3" a legal tender. It's notes and coins, nothing more and nothing less.

      And who's really going to say that "actually, the MP3 'tender' does get credit if 75% of them are still legit!", as if there's any real difficulty getting your hands on the forgery 25% without being caught in some way by lawyers or police? Whatever's causing people to act honestly and not make MP3 forgeries, it aint copyright law.

      We all know what would happen to a currency if it went JPEG. Hint: a lot of stock market crash, and a whole lot of irrational anger towards Google instead of the system that provided Google the means to cheat in the first place.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JMT (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 6:10pm

      Re: I want to point out

      "While pirating (aka copying without permission) does not deprive the artist of the original, it does take away certain rights that the artist had, namely the right to license it as they see fit (and to deny you a license if they so wish)."

      That would be hilarious if true, because the entire concept of copyright would cease to exist in an instant. Make one copy - poof! - copyright gone! Except that's obviously stupid and wrong. No rights have been taken from anyone, they still have them.

      "It's clearly impossible to deny the idea that the end result of piracy is you having something, where before you had nothing."

      Maybe that's why nobody here has claimed otherwise...

      "Morally, it's not hard to draw the conclusion that you have stolen something, even if it is just a copy. At best, your copy was fraudulently obtained."

      You know what fraud is right? Where's the fraud in copyright infringement? Nobody pretended to be or do something other than make copies. Who's being mislead or fooled?

      "It should be noted that until 2006 or so, the UK legal system treated fraud as theft - obtaining something via deceptive practices."

      And then they obviously decided that was wrong and changed it. You're not helping your argument with that one.

      "Piracy has absolutely stolen the economic value out of the product. Infinite number of copies, market price zero."

      You're going to stick with that old trope despite overwhelming proof that it's wrong? Seriously? Your reality denial is amazing.

      So there is theft, but the value of the theft is perhaps very small when calculated by itself."

      'Statutory minimum damages' would disagree with you on the "very small" part.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    scatman, 1 Sep 2016 @ 5:44am

    ...I point at Q-tip and he say "black is black"...

    Techdirt, we don't always agree, but when you're right, you're right.
    Copying is not theft

    "grits ain't groceries, eggs ain't poultry, and Mona Lisa was a man"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    OldMugwump (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 5:46am

    Fantastic sales pitch...congratulations TechDirt!

    What a great sales pitch for the T-shirt!

    I imagine they're flying off the shelves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Stephen Burch, 1 Sep 2016 @ 6:11am

    Copyright Infringement is Theft

    I understand what you are saying and I'm not upset or angry one way or the other, but, at least in Florida, you are wrong (cue Florida jokes).

    In Florida, theft is defined as someone who "knowingly ... uses the property of another with intent to ... appropriate the property to his own use." Fla. Stat. s. 812.014(1). Under this, the Court has held that copyright infringement constitutes theft. See CBS, Inc. v. Garrod, 622 F. Supp. 532, 536 (M.D. Fla. 1985), aff'd, 803 F.2d 1183 (11th Cir. 1986).

    I get that you don't think this should constitute theft, but it can and does.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 6:38am

      Re: Copyright Infringement is Theft

      That seems to hinge on the word "appropriate". How is that defined under Florida law? There's numerous ways that can be interpreted, and many ways in which that case might not be applicable to digital piracy. For one, if the court is using "appropriate" to indicate physical possession of an object or depriving the owner of the original, it's utterly irrelevant.

      Apologies for not having time to read the whole thing you linked to right now, but you should be able to shed light without me needing to, I hope.

      "I get that you don't think this should constitute theft, but it can and does."

      Can? Sure. Does? No.

      From what I can see, you liked to a single court interpretation from 30 years ago. Leaving aside that there's bound to be huge differences between the case in front of that court and the modern copying of a digital file, it's a huge leap to state that the judgement there means that copying = theft everywhere. Courts have been known to misinterpret things or change their interpretation based on changing environments, which has most definitely happens in the last 3 decades.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Stephen Burch, 1 Sep 2016 @ 6:55am

        Re: Re: Copyright Infringement is Theft

        I think you are focusing on the wrong word. "Property" is defined to include "tangible or intangible personal property, including rights, privileges, interests, and claims"

        Further, as to "appropriate," it is not specifically defined by statute, but there are two definitions for theft:
        (a) Deprive the other person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property.
        (b) Appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property.

        Between the definition of property, the separation of "appropriate" from "deprive", and case law support interpreting this exact language, I feel very confident that "theft" as defined by Florida Statues, includes copyright infringement.

        Again, I understand not wanting
        theft to include copyright infringement. But the reality is, as it stands now, it does.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Stephen Burch, 1 Sep 2016 @ 6:56am

          Re: Re: Re: Copyright Infringement is Theft

          I suck at closing tags too

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 7:16am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright Infringement is Theft

            Me too, which is why I try not to use them too much here!

            Well, I don't see anything problematic with the property definition, so it's the interpretation of "appropriate" that's at issue I think. That there apparently isn't one in statute makes the case a problem for me as I'd say it clearly hinges on that word and a 1986 court would not be interpreting it the same as a 2016 court without a concrete definition.

            Of those 2 definitions listed for theft, a) is the one that I'd expect to be most commonly used and is clearly not applicable to a digital file. b) is more obviously more applicable, but it does also hinge on that word and is open to interpretation of who is "entitled" to use the property. Multiple uses of a single word without a concrete legal definition is troublesome to use as precedent.

            I know where you're coming from here, but this seems like a poor example of how the two terms can conflate, when the court decision also seems to depend on unclear definitions of words.

            "Again, I understand not wanting theft to include copyright infringement. But the reality is, as it stands now, it does."

            Everywhere, or just in Florida? If the latter, I'm sure I can find many legal judgements that people disagree with and wouldn't apply in other jurisdictions. I have no issue with the idea that this means the two concepts *can* be conflated, I only take issue with the idea that they *do* conflate because of this one case.

            Can some people use the terms interchangeably? Yes. Does this mean that they mean the same thing? Absolutely not.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 11:20am

      Re: Copyright Infringement is Theft

      I understand what you are saying and I'm not upset or angry one way or the other, but, at least in Florida, you are wrong (cue Florida jokes).

      In Florida, theft is defined as someone who "knowingly ... uses the property of another with intent to ... appropriate the property to his own use." Fla. Stat. s. 812.014(1). Under this, the Court has held that copyright infringement constitutes theft. See CBS, Inc. v. Garrod, 622 F. Supp. 532, 536 (M.D. Fla. 1985), aff'd, 803 F.2d 1183 (11th Cir. 1986).


      It does seem worth pointing out here -- as that ruling does -- that under the 1976 Copyright Act, basically all state copyright laws are pre-empted by federal copyright law and no longer apply. This case notes that it's talking about actions prior to that taking place, but you can certainly point out that this is no longer considered current or good law, because it only refers to actions taking place before July of 1977.

      Either way, it is absolutely true that some people have been led to believe that copyright infringement equates to theft, and that means that every so often you get politicians writing "theft" into the law, or even courts coming out with questionable rulings, like the Bridgeport ruling saying "thous shalt not steal" in a sampling case.

      But that doesn't change the basic factual point that we're making that copying is not theft.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        not an anon, 2 Sep 2016 @ 8:38am

        Re: Re: Copyright Infringement is Theft

        Besides the issue that Garrod likely would not hold for a post-1972 phonorecord or equivalent due to preemption -- as soon as interstate commerce is involved, you get into the territory of the Federal laws prohibiting the transport of stolen goods across state lines (i.e. the National Stolen Property Act of 1934/18 USC 2314), which Dowling v. U.S., 473 US 207 (1985) held to not apply to infringement, no matter what a state theft statute might say:


        This basic element comports with the common-sense meaning of the statutory language: by requiring that the "goods, wares, [or] merchandise" be "the same" as those "stolen, converted or taken by fraud," the provision seems clearly to contemplate a physical identity between the items unlawfully obtained and those eventually transported, and hence some prior physical taking of the subject goods.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 6:47am

    Where the hell did they even all come from? Clearly, they're not regular TD readers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 7:19am

      Re:

      They are here to protect the 'investment' a lot of money has been spent to conflate/equate unauthorized copying and theft.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 7:57am

    Whenever I upgrade software packages on my GNU/Linux distro I'm stealing. Derp.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 10:58am

    Newthink: if enough people believe it, then its real.

    Hmmmm... ignorance in America appears to be a voluntary, self-inflicted condition these days.

    At least it shows that the old adage about hearing something repeated often enough and loud enough, is for a great many folks, literal proof of truth.

    Then again, these apparent fools could all be just paid Russian Trolls, helping the US in its continued efforts to become the laughing stock of earth.

    ---

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 11:09am

    Making up the crime, a big old evil dirty advertisment to buy and define our laws

    Copyright
    1 daY
    Is that a crime

    1 week
    I dont know, it seems like a crime

    1 month
    Yeah thats got to be a crime

    6 months
    Thats a bloody crime

    1 years
    Why the fk doesnt everyone see this


    Murder
    1 sec
    Yeah, thats a crime


    See the fucking difference......

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 11:14am

    Law one
    Protect the interests

    Law two
    Go to law one

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 11:22am

    I call for punishment for those that makeup crimes

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tim, 1 Sep 2016 @ 1:10pm

    Proof positive that, sadly, Hollywood's brainwashing schemes do work.

    So.. in your tiny little minds, if I create a file on my hard drive, and then I copy it to my Flash drive, I stole from myself?

    OMG!!!

    WTF!!!

    BBQ!!!

    Would it be ok with you boneheads if I moved it instead?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      I.T. Guy, 1 Sep 2016 @ 1:48pm

      Re:

      I make several copies of my music and movies. Technically I've committed copyright infringement. (aside from one archival copy... if that's even still allowed.)

      Worst part is I bet a good amount of the people that complained have had a CD/USB stick given to them with music on it and copied it elsewhere.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 1 Sep 2016 @ 1:45pm

    There is a reason counterfeiting is not considered theft. It is on the same level as people that copy money, watches, etc. It is no different in the e world except it's called copyright infringement.

    Theft
    1) a taking of someone else's property; and

    2) the requisite intent to deprive the victim of the property permanently.

    So... at the end of the day... no matter how many misguided individuals claim so... copying is not Theft.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 2 Sep 2016 @ 12:25pm

    One man's stupiudity, is another man's fortune.

    Maybe some simple math....

    Rights Owner; Singer Fartie Freddie, published a record single titled "Hear my Heart Bleat".

    Joey the Snake - a heinous infringer of copyrighted songs, grabs him self a copy of "Hear My Heart Bleat" from Dirty Evil P2P Downloads website.

    How many fewer copies of "Hear My Heart Bleat" does Freddie have now that Joey has a downloaded copy?

    That is, how many copies of the song has Freddie been deprived of by Joey?

    If Freddie has the same number of published copies on the market as before, then the deprivation is zero. No theft took place.

    And what happens to this whole equation if Joey happens to really like the song and buys a copy for his archives and a couple copies for friends, because he wants his friends to have clean, professially made copies, rather than burn a couple himself.

    And what if some of those friends buy other official copies for their friends...

    This is very similar to the marijuana conundrum, and is similarily due to the misinformation disseminated by commerce and enforced and reinforced by government.

    Like with copyright and the theft myth, the only people who are still adamantly against pot, are morons, those with injuries to the brain, those who are highly religious, and those who are making a fortune on the side from the blackmarket sales of cannabis, or from kickbacks from organized crime for looking the other way.

    ---

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    The Wanderer (profile), 3 Sep 2016 @ 9:48am

    Not the first time people have been confused by the "Copyright" topic icon

    The last image includes a statement that "in a decade of using these topic icons, no one has ever confused [the Copyright topic icon] for [a copyright notice]".

    That's not actually true. Sometime in the past two years, one of the usual trolls - I think it was out_of_the_blue - attempted to "gotcha" you by pointing out that a particular story was labeled as "Copyright by Mike Masnick", pointing to the topic label, which did include those words in that order; at least one person (who may or may not have been you) pointed out in response that this was the topic label, not a copyright notice, and (IIRC) the guy unsurprisingly never responded.

    Unfortunately, I haven't been able to track down the exact article for reference; however, in trying to do so, I did find a Reddit thread in which someone made the same mistake:
    https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/2w3wo5/dear_elon_musk_please_put_spacex_photos_in_t he/

    So it's happened at least twice in the past few years, prior to this current flap. Not terribly frequent, but still more often than "no one has ever".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2016 @ 12:11am

    Have you ever had a dream that you seemed so sure it was real? But if were unable to wake up from that dream, how would you tell the difference between the dream world & the real world?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Trump supporter, 7 Sep 2016 @ 8:20am

    You wouldn't copy Trump's hair! That's stealing!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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