Copyright Violation != Stealing

The music and movie industries are waging a propaganda war. They are trying to convince the American public, the legislature, and the courts that copyright violation is stealing, and that people who violate their copyrights are thieves. This simply isn’t true.

To steal, you have to take the property of another. Let’s say you photocopy a book at the library. What property are you taking? Of course, if you walk out of the library without checking out the book, you’re stealing from the library. None. You’re not even taking “intellectual property.” To do that you would have to convince the government that you own the copyrights to the book. That’s the only way you would actually be taking something that someone else owned. Copying isn’t the same thing as stealing.

There are lots of other violations of property rights that aren’t theft. Trespassing for example. Let’s say you take a shortcut though someone’s yard on your way to school. Nobody would say that that constitutes theft unless you took a souvenir with you. If 7-up came out with a new cola drink called Coke-Up, they would be in violation of Coca-Cola‘s trademark.

Next time you see one of those advertisements before a movie trying to convince you that downloading movies is stealing, keep the above in mind. Don’t be conned my the MPAA or the RIAA.