Copyright Infringement and Theft – The Difference

Copyright Infringement and Theft – The Difference

The US Supreme Court has ruled that:

In 1985, the Court ruled in Dowling v United States that copyright infringement is not theft, even when dealing with physical objects, such as vinyl records.

And yet, despite that 1985 ruling so-called “intelligent people” – including VP Biden – have blatantly referred to Copyright Infringement as “theft, plain and simple”, in complete contradiction to law and precedent.

In reality the last thing the RIAA and MPAA want is for copyright infringement (a civil issue) to be prosecuted as theft (criminal).

Firstly, the standard of proof is “beyond reasonable doubt” and it’s very, very unlikely that the discovery process in copyright cases would pass muster. It’s never been proven to be reliable in any court anywhere in the world. An IP address does not identify an individual, no matter what the fantasies of the legacy industries in music and film distribution.

Secondly, the penalties are much more reasonable.

Regardless of your opinions on copyright infringement, in the USA, it’s not theft. Personally, I’d prefer “beyond reasonable doubt”. The article compares the Jammie Thomas case as it has proceeded under copyright infringement and how it would have proceeded had it been tried as theft: bottom line – a much smaller fine (with the potential for a short prison term, although unlikely for the very small amount of value “stolen”, as the criminal case works on actual real value: 99c a song!

Good push back against the ever-growing threat to civil liberties by the RIAA/MPAA and the disastrous PROTECT IP proposed legislation, which has the potential to “break” the Internet as we know it. And that’s exactly what they want, and we don’t.