An easy-to-use guide to being a bit less stupid.

No.1 - "Piracy/copyright infringement is the same as stealing!"

Every time a debate on piracy or file-sharing or anything of a similar nature arises, some whiny-voiced illiterate will pop up posing the boneheadedly facile rhetorical question, "But you wouldn't just walk into a cake shop and run out with a cake without paying for it, would you?" This is, of course, an excellent point. If you're a fucking idiot.

Whether you're talking in legal, moral or grammatical terms, copyright infringement and stealing are NOT the same thing. For a start, legally it simply isn't possible to "steal" someone's copyright. When someone owns copyright in something - which they do automatically the instant they create it, whether they attach a copyright symbol to it or not - there is no possible way that that copyright can ever be owned by someone else, unless the original owner deliberately and willingly signs it over.

The words on this page are my copyright. If you copy the page and put it up somewhere else as your own work, it's still my copyright. You haven't stolen the copyright from me, because it still belongs to me. You CAN'T steal it from me - in legal terms, it simply isn't possible. Copyright cannot be "stolen". What you've done if you copy the words is infringe my copyright, for which I can take action against you in a civil court. It's not a matter of law (in the commonly-understood sense of the word). If I tell a policeman, he won't be interested, because it's not a crime, it's a civil offence. (Or technically, a "civil wrong".)

Stealing, on the other hand, IS a criminal offence. If I see you walking out of the cake shop with a stolen cake and I tell a policeman, he WILL be interested, because you're committing a crime. He'll run over to you, whomp you with his truncheon and read you your rights on the spot, because you're a thief and that's his job. Theft is taking away someone else's property and hence depriving them of the ownership and use of it. If you copy my article, it doesn't suddenly disappear from this page. It's still mine. I still own it. It's still here. It hasn't been stolen.

The only way you can turn your infringement of my copyright into a criminal offence is if you start selling this article to people for money. But then you're not guilty of the crime of theft, you're guilty of trading standards offences, and it's the trading standards people who will come after you.

Copyright infringement/piracy is wrong, but it's not theft.
Buy yourself a dictionary and get over it.


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