Something I find myself frequently annoyed at is copyright infringement.

I’m not talking about piracy in this case, I’m talking about people’s understanding of it as a legal concept.

I see things like this:

Bottom line is you're taking something without paying for it. that's stealing.

I don't know why people are so adamant about this. The charges for stealing are much less than infringement, so I would think apologists would want it to be considered stealing rather than copyright infringement.


It annoys me. A lot.

The first line tries to say that copyright infringement is theft. It isn’t. It’s copyright infringement.

The two can have a lot in common but their similarities are not sufficient for them to be one and the same, hence why they have separate legal definitions.

Arguably online piracy has become a major problem in the last ten years, possibly even less. Internet connection speeds have increased rapidly and technologies have developed allowing copyright infringement on an unprecedented level.

Copyright is essentially a state-mandated monopoly granted to the author of a work. One of the rights granted is distribution rights. Violating that is the crime.

Theft on the other hand is taking something from someone else.

Online piracy is somewhere in between it could be argued as it can result in undermining future works in the case of AAA videogame piracy. The developers were already paid by the publisher when they worked on the game. That money can’t be affected by piracy. Future projects may not receive funding though as the risk/reward balance may have been affected by piracy.

Essentially we don’t really have a legal concept to cover the specific ills created by modern digital piracy.

Similarly I would argue that we don’t have much in the way of economic theory when it comes to digital goods. They’re so young and it would seem traditional academia always lags half a decade behind reality. Lecturers at my university seemed entirely oblivious as to how to use Powerpoint presentations properly, I avoided taking a class on “Direct to Digital Marketing” because of how outdated it was.

I’m not on the cutting edge, far from it, but I seem to anticipate shifts fairly well. I love reading about what Valve are discovering about the nature of digital goods – they’re on the frontline of the digital revolution. Unfortunately politicians and lawmakers don’t seem to be able to take the idea of videogames seriously. Film makers have plenty of credibility for all their eccentricities, but videogames are some how not worth their attention unless a tabloid kicks up a fuss about them?

It’s a huge industry and yet both legal and economic disciplines don’t seem keen to get their teeth into the underlying things that are driving different aspects of development.

Ugh. I’m going to go shout at some people on the internet from my basement.

(Actually I’m going to drink a big mug of tea whilst reading a hand written letter that just arrived)

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