Random rants

Digital piracy, is it theft?

, posted: 22-Dec-2007 02:41

Many people are of the strong belief these days, that music should be free, and there is nothing wrong with sharing what they own....'its not theft' they say, 'everybody does it'...but does that make it right?

'DRM' (Digital Rights Management), so many times I had read in blogs and forum posts, people stating their despise for this technology...

But let me state, here is the current reality:
- It is theft to pirate copyrighted material
- DRM is a fair technology designed to protect owner’s material/such copyrights

I should point out, just because many people do it (pirate), does not mean it ok.

The problem though, is this:
- Anything in digital format is open to be pirated, there is no preventing it...maybe for a while when new protection methods are implemented, but like everything digital, it will be cracked as new methods are created, new minds contribute....

Lets look at how history has created this problem, using music as an example:
- In the old days, if you shared your record, your mate who borrowed it could just listen to it...nothing else.
- In recent times, if you shared your tape or CD, your mate who borrowed it could copy it...and while that pattern could continue, it would still only go so far, only so many people would come in contact with the copy...
- Today, we can 'rip' music using computers, and with the Internet, this music can be easily distributed to a massive number of people, who then add to that piracy pattern.... this is the new dilemma.

The point being, with the introduction and maturity of certain technology, 'copyright' has become irrelevant.

Let me state again for the record, piracy is illegal, under current laws...but that’s not going to stop people doing it.... and with technology providing ever more means of pirating such copyrighted material, business will be forced one day to face reality and realise the old business model of selling copies protected with copyrights is no longer relevant in the technological age of today....

This applies to anything digital, as anything digital, can be pirated in some way.... music, movies, software, art, anything...

These business's need to find a new way to make money from their product, or they will not survive...

an example?, it has been proven advertising works, just how to go about it so not to irritate the consumer is the question.

In summary:
- Just because everyone does it, does not mean its OK
- Technology is to blame, making it to easy for people to not only pirate and get away with it, but distribute to massive numbers at such ease
- Business has to find new ways to make money from their product, as the old business model of selling copyrighted material is dead in today’s technically aware world.

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Comment by wyly, on 22-Dec-2007 07:19

Your argument doesn't hold up unders scrutiny. By your logic, murder should have been legalized when technology made it possible to do so without one's bare hands. Intellectual property is property that belongs to someone because they either purchased it or invested in creating it. To take it without fair compensation simply because technology allows one to do so is not right. Just because I can pick your lock, does that give mean I should be allowed to break into your house and steal your belongings? What's wrong is wrong. P2P file sharing is stealing.

Comment by TinyTim, on 22-Dec-2007 07:30

Actually, no it's not theft, it's copyright infringement. And copyright infingement is not a criminal offence, it's only a civil offence (unless it's for commercial gain), so it's not in the same league as theft. 

However this will is expected to change with the new copyright laws coming in.

Comment by paradoxsm, on 22-Dec-2007 10:21

DRM still totally sucks, It's made it much less hassle to spark up a P2P downloader to pirate an mp3 than it is to try and buy one legally.
(using a website that has heavy brower requirements, "downloader sofware" Windows media player 11 and all sorts of other system intensive CPU requirements. (my computer does not have such junk installed)

The other caveat is the terrible quality of the 128Kbps WMA files they launch upon us, Of course the pirated versions all sound stunning.

Solution, Buy a CD, I still purchase almost everything on CD.

Author's note by TheBartender, on 22-Dec-2007 10:26



Criminal offence, civil offence, its still wrong.

It is taking someones work/products and not paying for it.

Legally its a civil offence, morally in my mind, thats theft.

Comment by stevonz, on 23-Dec-2007 10:07

You profile states...

"I am a self confessed prolific downloader and internet junkie, my only problem being that I cannot get enough quota to serve my addiction. Downloading everything from the latest software, betas and ISO's, movies and music, streaming TV and radio, everything."

... does this mean that all of this content is not pirated material?  This is not a jab at you, I'm just trying to understand your actual point of view on this.

Author's note by TheBartender, on 24-Dec-2007 13:31


You have missed my point....

I am saying nothing about the logic of murder...just because technology has made it easier, it is not done any where near as frequently and with such little disregard of the consequences, as piracy.

My argument does state that piracy is theft, and I believe that, and no argument anyone tries makes supporting taking copyrighted material for free, will convince me otherwise.

But what my argument does state, that while it is illegal and effectively theft, its become so prevalent that criminalisation is no longer the solution, and that the old business model of selling copies protected under copyright, is dead.

I'm stating the owners of these intellectual property rights need to find new ways to make money from there products.

You can stop 1 or 2 from doing it, but if everyone is doing it, then the system is forced to accept it cannot be stopped and legalise it, and instead put controls on it to minimise its impact...obvious example being alcohol. 

Yes its stealing
Yes its wrong
No its not going to stop

Author's note by TheBartender, on 24-Dec-2007 13:56


It means that I download legal ISO's and beta's, stream legal music and films over mediums such as Joost and so on... But it also means

I admit what I do from time to time is wrong and theft under the current regime...

The statement I am making is that yes, piracy is wrong, but due to advances in technology and piracy being so prevalent, criminalising the issue while still trying to sell material under copyright is a doomed strategy.

Comment by Robert, on 3-Jan-2009 23:43

Good to see the RIA ad's are doing their job Piracy != theft. If I steal your car your left walking If I steal your software you might loose a sale but you have the original "property" namely the code at best you lost a sale and if I would have never purchased it then you really haven't even lost that. Dont tell me the likes of Adobe don't win when a student steals a copy of Photoshop they do so, as they keep market share that student gets a day job at some point and then requires a Creative Suite license if they couldn't pirate while they were a student just maybe they would be using The GIMP or something else which would start biting into Adobe's bottom line. Personally I hope the likes of Ubuntu, Open Office and all these other great software packages put nails in the coffin for some of these proprietary software. As for music I hope bands distribute more of their own music without a label and we see the end of the record labels as well.

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euanandrews's profile

Euan Andrews
Lower Hutt
New Zealand

I'm a 32yo male, living and working in the Wellington region.

I currently work as a manager for Interislander, having worked in the Hospitality industry for about the last decade.

I have interests in computers, gadgets and information, and love to be 'in the know', hence I read vasts amount of information online, anything from tech news, gadgets to current events and history.

Being a movie buff and having an interest in computers, I setup a wiki about Home Theatre PC's, and have recently built my own HTPC.

I was also heavily involved with the setup and design of the NZ Connections Wiki, having been invited by Cokemaster to help, as a result of my extensive and ongoing interest in ISP's. 

NZ Connections Wiki
My profile (TheBartender)

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