Mike Lorrey writes:
> Lee, Lee, Lee, it is rather obvious to anybody who isn't being purposely
> disengenuous that taking something offered for sale without paying for
> it is theft.
I think it is necessary in addition for there to be a general social
recognition that the seller have a legitimate property right in that
which is offered for sale. You might put a sign on your front yard
saying "Breathe my air! Only $1 per lungful!" and I may take what is
offered for sale without paying for it, but few would agree that I
have committed theft.
In the case of intellectual property, then, the question is whether there
is recognition of a property right in that which is offered for sale.
When someone takes your property, that is theft. But ownership of
intellectual property differs from that of regular property, which is why
additional statutes were needed to cover it. Copying your data doesn't
match the common understanding of theft because there is no recognition of
a conventional property right as there is with ordinary physical objects.
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