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I have to agree with Vincent on the principle that copying is not the same as stealing. The common understanding of the word "steal" means that that means you are taking something away from another person. That's the definition everyone knows. Somehow the software industry convinced people that copying is the same as stealing, because you are robbing someone of hypothetical money they would have earned from selling the product. That sounds like unauthorized reproduction, not stealing.
That doesn't mean I agree that copying proprietary software is OK. Even though I believe in the Free software principles and licenses, I understand that not everyone wants to give their work away for free, and that's their choice. I do buy games, especially from companies like 2Dboy who trust the user enough to have access to more than one binary (for example).
I don't know where i'm even going with the post so i'll stop. But illegally reproducing software is not "stealing", and least not in common sense world. This is something that needs a better definition in the legal world.
But illegally reproducing software is not "stealing", and least not in common sense world. This is something that needs a better definition in the legal world.
It's called "infringement" in the legal world. It's codified in a separate body of the laws that covers Copyrights and Patents.
Infringement != Theft.
It can have nasty, nasty consequences, as some of the people being tried by the RIAA crowd can attest to, as can Actiontec and Verizon. But, in the end, it's not theft, only breaching the right to control the production of copies or derivative works and the distribution thereof- theft means you took something and the party you took it from was deprived of the something. Profits aren't guaranteed and "lost profits" aren't claimed to have been money stolen from the infringed- lost profits are only used to assess damages for the infringement, or else you'd have people up on theft charges instead.
Agreed. A few of us (including myself) have been using the terms interchangeably, but if we are talking about legal details then we shouldn't be doing that since the two activities are normally covered by different laws.
Its really a very complicated isssue.
But there are some states in which only downloading copyright material isnt a infringe to a copyright, and of course violating a license or copyright only for personal use isnt a crime at all and "only" regards civil law, in the most western countrys.
So imho its not comparable to "real" stealing,robbery or piracy.
We should be careful not to go too far the other way in our thinking either. The two activities are not that far apart and there are a lot of different efforts underway to harmonize the relevent laws.
If I steal a book from a bookstore that is theft. If I photocopy the same book it's a copyright violation.
If I steal a music CD from a record store that is theft, but if I borrow and duplicate the same CD it is just a copyright violation.
If I steal a boxed copy of MS Office from the local computer store that is theft, but if I duplicate the disk that is just a copyright violation.
Two different activities with the same result, covered by different laws. You can argue that one is a "victimless crime" but the only real difference is that with theft there is usually an intermediary who gets hurt.
Let's say you go to the Microsoft Store (pretend there is one), owned by Microsoft, and steal a boxed copy of MS Office. Production cost is probably under a dollar but the package sells for a few hundred. Explain again why stealing the boxed copy is theft and duplicating the disk is not ?
I think your example is not really a good one as MS usually does not sue home users. There are same bad examples in this area where really home users got sued but basically when a company does that the reputation is really runined.
Also the calculeted loss due to piracy is usually much more than it would be in reality when it would be so heavyly protected that it would be impossible to copy it. When a game title is a hit in retail marked it is clear that it will be heavyly downloaded as well. Many just collect it (do you buy games just to collect/not play em?), see it as demo and or have got no intent to buy it at all because in first place they are too expensive. A year later the price is usally more acceptable.
In your example when you especially think of ms office (best in the time before the relatively cheap home versions have been available) then you can be 99% sure that no home user would have payed the high price to use it when another possiblity was there. Only reducing the price was the only way got get at least some money from those users (also the home version allows 3 installs, as you can be sure no home user would have paid for every pc).
One other thing are corporates which use unlicenced software. Other competitors (those who paid) - or even laid off people will certainly not like this and will report this if it gets known. In that case i would see it as fair to offically have to pay for the used stuff.
The music/movie industriy however has gone too far. The money they want from "catched" uploaders is pure imagination. They want that 1 uploader pays for the "complete" loss they have got when the song/album is available for free. Some court should restrict that. I somebody would share 1000 songs the loss must be some millions already in their logic. Also when you know the right tools you can convert very youtube video to mp3 - so by forcing a company like google to pay is much more interesting as google has got the money at least. When you send a 1 mio $ bill to a home user you get certainly not that much.
One is an actual loss, while the other is a theoretical future loss.
Would those pirates who have 10,000 movies actually have ever bought all of them? Of course not, they don't even have the ability to buy that much, so the theoretical 10,000 movie loss is in reality much smaller for the rights holders.
I think this is an interesting discussion, but one that can't really be answered with any pure certainty. Software is a bit of an anomoly in the business world. I think that honestly, the whole idea of software as a "product" doesn't really work. I'm not saying that it can't be sold, but rather that it shouldn't really use the same business model as a traditional product. Data can be reproduced a hundred times or a billion times with no difference in effort. Where do the laws of economics figure into this? Supply and demand? Economics of scale? (Disregarding cd duplication costs. Think of online distribution).