A interesting website that has popped up in the peer-to-peer file sharing debate is theThe Piracy Calculator.
It allows you to calculate how much money the RI/MPAA would accuse you of stealing. Not terribly accurate, but interesting, nonetheless. Particularly the two paragraphs at the bottom of the page.
The moral of this story
Many of you who actually used this thing will have come up with totals in four digits or higher. But do you actually HAVE that much money? Have you ever? And if you did have the money, would you have bought all that stuff legitimately? Even if it was a simple download? I doubt it.
The point I’m making is that only a small percentage of illegal downloads are in fact lost sales. Piracy isn’t theft. It’s piracy. There’s a big difference.
The logical approach
Ok, let’s slow down and think about this. Theft is stealing other people’s property. A thief’s current amount of money is completely irrelevant. He doesn’t leave a receipt for what he has stolen. He doesn’t need it to abscond with more stuff. Heck, in theory, a hobo on a street corner could steal an armored truck full of money, providing he has a really good plan.
Piracy is attacking random people and killing them unless they comply and hand over their goods.
But wait, that doesn’t match what this guy is saying.
The definition approach
So, what it looks like this guy is really trying to say is:
- Theft is stealing a physical object.
- Piracy is stealing something in infinite supply that you can’t afford to buy.
- I would not buy the stuff I steal anyway.
- My actions are therefore somehow justified.
Theft (also known as stealing) is, in general, the wrongful taking of someone else’s property without that person’s willful consent. In law, it is usually the broadest term for a crime against property. It is a general term that encompasses offences such as burglary, embezzlement, larceny, looting, robbery, trespassing, shoplifting, intrusion, fraud (theft by deception), and sometimes criminal conversion. Legally, theft is generally considered to be synonymous with larceny.
(Source: Wikipedia – Theft)
This is more copyright infringement then larceny, but whatever.
The problem is, digital media can be copied without actually stealing physical cds. Therefore, we are left with a rather abstract question: How much money did the copyright holder loose by the distribution of his music? Quite plainly, the author of the site wants us to believe that no money was lost, since he would not have bought the cd anyway.
Well, of course he has a point there. People are much more likely to grab something that’s free, even if they would not normally buy it, but the fact remains that he has music that he did not pay for and has no right to possess.
Just something to think about.