Re: When is an MP3 file like a lighthouse?

From: Lee Daniel Crocker (
Date: Fri Oct 26 2001 - 10:58:15 MDT

> > > >Nor does calling downloading of copyrighted material "theft".
> > >
> > > Actually being in possession of illegally copied material is
> > > defined in the criminal code as theft.
> >
> > That's completely false. Copyright infringement is defined in
> > Title 17 USC Chapter 5, as both a civil tort and criminal offense
> > called "copyright infringement". The word "theft" appears nowhere
> > in the statute, and existing laws and penalties for larceny do
> > not apply to any acts specified there.
> >
> > Not only are you arguing the law instead instead of substance,
> > you're arguing it incorrectly.
> 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. You can call it 'copyright infringement' as the specific
> charge, but any idiot can tell you that such falls under a general class
> of activities known generically as 'theft'. There are likely plenty of
> other statutes describing crimes that fit that general class that do not
> mention the word in them.

If the claim had been merely "I believe that copyright infringement is
tantamount to theft", then it would merely have been an opinion to which
one is perfectly entitled. But Brian specifically used the words "defined
in the criminal code", presumably to give his argument force of authority,
so it is completely fair to point out that his carefully-chosen words are
a testable statement of fact, and are false.

And you're the one being disingenous when you describe copyright
infringement as "taking what is offered for sale without paying for it."
You know very well that whether or not the information is available
for sale is irrelevant to copyright law. I also infringe, for example,
if I post on my website text from a book out of print, or a derivative
work of a book out of print, with a dead author (say, for example, I
make an obscene cartoon with the characters of Mickey and Minnie
mouse). Copyright law can serve to prevent useful works from being made
available to the public for sale or otherwise. It's also irrelevant
whether or not the party using the information knows whether or not it is
for sale. I could, for example, download a piece of software marked as
"public domain" from some site, not knowing that it was in fact a
copyrighted work that someone else sanitized, and I'd have no way of
knowing that. The kid who downloads a Sting song probably knows that he
is violating copyright law, so he may well feel that "theft" is an
appropriate term for him, but there are hundreds of other acts of
copyright infringement that don't deserve that label, even if one
generally agrees that some kind of copyrights are justified.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC

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