OK, I want you to imagine you're asking the people at Twitter a question. It's a simple question, it goes like this: "When users of your platform - including huge ones like PewDiePie - are unhappy about something, would you prefer they talk about it and lodge complaints when necessary, or would you prefer them to immediately bail on the platform entirely because they 'can't do jack shit'?"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
OK well yes, let me be fair: I'm not saying I freak out every time anyone colloquially uses the term "stealing" in such a way. To a certain degree I think it's fine (and I do love the quote about how "great artists steal" after all). But, a couple of important caveats:
Firstly, I do think it's important to fight against the colloquial usage when it comes to lots of instances of copying. There has been a decades-long campaign to hammer the idea into people's heads that your rights in a creative work are no different from property, but that's by no means natural or the norm. For many people in human history, in fact, it would have been considered generally ridiculous to say someone "stole your idea" or "stole your song". And now in the internet era, I think it's more important than ever for our culture as a whole to start absorbing the idea that copying is its own unique thing, sometimes good and sometimes bad, but distinct and not just a form of stealing.
Secondly, however, the primary thing we are rebutting when we say "copying is not theft" is not just casual usage of the term stealing (and so perhaps I was a bit unfair when summarizing above) but firm, clear and unambiguous assertions that they are the same thing. We see those all the time. "Copying an artist's work is exactly like breaking into their house and robbing them"; "copyright infringement is like snatching someone's purse"; "copying is exactly the same as stealing, the fact that it happens online makes no difference, it's theft plain and simple"; etc. etc. etc.
Copying may not literally be theft, but it's still immoral. And in certain cases, it should be rightfully attacked as a crime (not "theft") in and of itself.
I strongly disagree with the idea that copying is in and of itself an immoral act - but yes, we are definitely not saying that all forms of copying are positive or that there should never be any remedy. However, even in those situations where copying is done in extreme bad faith such as your example, it remains true that it's not theft. While the small artist has my sympathy, and my support in turning the situation to their advantage if possible, and maybe even my support in seeking some sort of legal remedy (though this depends strongly on the details), they should not be saying "Hot Topic stole my artwork" any more than a record label should be saying "you stole our songs".
Unfortunately yes, the graphic doesn't translate well to small thumbnails at all - but that wasn't our primary concern. For the dotted outline to be clear at small sizes it would have to be made of huge blocky dots on the actual shirt, and that would look awful. And Teespring unfortunately doesn't give the option to upload custom thumbnails.