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Copying is not theft

Written By: - Date published: 8:33 am, April 19th, 2010 - 24 comments
Categories: humour, interweb, music, youtube - Tags: , , ,

Here’s a catchy tune for all you pirates out there.

Get your kids to sing along!


24 comments on “Copying is not theft”

  1. lprent 1

    I was wondering if you’d move that post forward.

  2. felix 2

    Cute but simplistic. Works well as a cartoon though.

    • yes wonderfully simplistic. and catchy.

      • felix 2.1.1

        I was thinking more along the lines of “misleadingly simplistic”.

        • the sprout

          I would like to think of it more as ‘discussion initiatingly’ simplistic šŸ™‚
          But yes… can’t deny it is very simplistic. Perhaps it’s aimed at pre-schoolers? Encourage them to think about what copyright is – can’t start these things too early, especially if they already have solid brand recognition of Macdonalds.
          The artwork reminds me of early Mickey Mouse.

          • Ted Appleby

            > can’t deny it is very simplistic.

            I expect it’s done to counter the typically equally simplistic (and factually incorrect) “copying is theft” (or words to that effect) propaganda packs being sent to your children’s schools. Okay maybe not your children’s schools in NZ as yet (I don’t know, not in NZ right now). In my experience today’s kids are quite cynical and intelligent enough to see straight through them, but still, not a bad video to show if they come home from school with one of the “educational” leaflets from the clearly-not-quite-dead-enough-yet-unfortunately record/movie industry.

  3. Misleadingly simplistic is right.

    “CopyĀ­ing is not theft,’ you say?

    Well, if you’re copying someone else’s creations without permission, yes it is.

    My ideas are my propĀ­erty. Steal the form in which my ideas are expressed or made conĀ­crete, and you’re a thief.

    Since creation is a livelihood for artists, writers and inventors, stealing the form in which their creations are made is theft of their intelĀ­lecĀ­tual propĀ­erty–which means a theft of their livelihood. And since intellectual property rightsare at the heart of all propĀ­erty rights, the popĀ­ulist attack on intelĀ­lecĀ­tual propĀ­erty rights is just the most funĀ­daĀ­menĀ­tal front in the attack on all propĀ­erty rights.

    AbolĀ­ishĀ­ing copyĀ­right proĀ­tecĀ­tion favours theft over thought.

    You say no-one is worse off if copyĀ­ing is allowed?

    Well yes, we all are. We are worse off by the lack of new ideas proĀ­duced and made conĀ­crete in the form of a book, or a CD, or a patentable invention.

    WithĀ­out copyĀ­right proĀ­tecĀ­tion, you load the cost of proĀ­ducĀ­tion onto musiĀ­cians, writĀ­ers, artists and invenĀ­tors, while all the benĀ­eĀ­fits that would have and should have accrued to these proĀ­ducĀ­ers go to instead to the thieves.

    Copy my new kind of bicyĀ­cle withĀ­out my perĀ­misĀ­sion, and you take away from me all the benĀ­eĀ­fits I’d hoped to derive from the invenĀ­tion of my new bicyĀ­cle. Take away all the benĀ­eĀ­fits that all the invenĀ­tors of new bicyĀ­cles hoped to derive from their invenĀ­tion, and pretty soon you have no new types of bicycleand, if the process conĀ­tinĀ­ues across all fields of endeavĀ­our, evenĀ­tuĀ­ally no new invenĀ­tion at all.

    Why would anyĀ­one conĀ­tinue to proĀ­duce new music, write new books or invent new things under such a set-up? Why would anyĀ­one supĀ­port such a set-upunless they wished themĀ­selves to steal?

    LudĀ­wig von Mises explained this point:

    [I]t is obviĀ­ous that handĀ­ing down knowlĀ­edge to the risĀ­ing genĀ­erĀ­aĀ­tion and familĀ­iarĀ­izĀ­ing the actĀ­ing indiĀ­vidĀ­uĀ­als with the amount of knowlĀ­edge they need for the realĀ­izaĀ­tion of their plans require textĀ­books, manĀ­uĀ­als, handĀ­books, and other nonĀ­ficĀ­tion works. It is unlikely that peoĀ­ple would underĀ­take the laboĀ­riĀ­ous task of writĀ­ing such pubĀ­liĀ­caĀ­tions if everyĀ­one were free to reproĀ­duce them. This is still more manĀ­iĀ­fest in the field of techĀ­noĀ­logĀ­iĀ­cal invenĀ­tion and disĀ­covĀ­ery. The extenĀ­sive experĀ­iĀ­menĀ­taĀ­tion necĀ­esĀ­sary for such achieveĀ­ments is often very expenĀ­sive. It is very probĀ­aĀ­ble that techĀ­noĀ­logĀ­iĀ­cal progress would be seriĀ­ously retarded if, for the invenĀ­tor and for those who defray the expenses incurred by his experĀ­iĀ­menĀ­taĀ­tion, the results obtained were nothĀ­ing but [gifting benefits to others while earning nothing oneself for one’s creations].’

    Make no misĀ­take, copyĀ­ing withĀ­out the perĀ­misĀ­sion of the owner is theftno matĀ­ter how many sappy sugar-coated ditĀ­ties you hear to the contrary.

    • I’m not saying saying that Peter, the video is.
      The points you make are valid and eloquently made.

      There are also the issues raised in lynn’s post next to this one.

      I also think some of the ACTA proposals cloaked in copyright protection rhetoric are trojan horses that aren’t really about small scale non-commercial copyright violation.

      • Hi Sprout,

        Yes, I understand it was the video, not you. Just thought opposition to it should be made explicit.

        That said, yes, you’re right that the way ACTA proposes protecting intellectual property–by going through people’s bags at airports; by holding ISPs responsible for what their customers do; etc.–is hardly in accordance with the principle of property rights they purport to be upholding.

        • Ted Appleby

          > is hardly in accordance with the principle of property rights they purport to be upholding.

          Shrug. Imaginary “property” monopolies are known to be fundamentally incompatible with actual property rights. They have been dressed up in pseudocapitalistic rhetoric, to make people think they’re similar when in fact they stand in direct opposition and amount to misappropriation of everyone’s physical property. Sadly, a lot of people still fall for it.

          See Stefan Kinsella or Boldrin and Levine

    • Draco T Bastard 3.2

      What if you still got all the benefits?

      Yes, this can be done. What you won’t have, though, is people able to benefit from others work and ideas while paying them SFA if anything.

      Why would anyĀ­one conĀ­tinue to proĀ­duce new music, write new books or invent new things under such a set-up?

      Because otherwise they’d be bored?

    • Jono 3.3

      It is unfortunate I read your post. Now my ideas have been copied to my brain without your express permission. I guess I’m a thief.

      Seriously though. You believe your ideas are your property?

      And Ludwig von Mises sounds like the kind of person who wouldn’t share a subway seat without getting paid to do it. Is she seriously not going to raise her children because it wouldn’t be cost effective? Is money the only motivation to create something new? Most creators, artists & scientists included, don’t do it for the money.

      Ideas are worthless. It is someones blood and effort in realising that idea which makes it valuable. If others also deem it valuable they will pay. I totally agree that people should be compensated for the effort they put into their work but anyone who says “copying is theft” is dead wrong. Copying is not theft. Copying is a natural human act (children do it all the time – it’s how they learn). Copying is how human knowledge is transmitted to our young. You seriously want to hinder that? You want to live in a world deprive of music, literature? All in the name of greed?


  4. Pundit X 4

    So let’s hear some coherent argument about about how creative professionals can live and work in a society that steals their ideas and work with impunity… A lot of them are not major corporations who overcharge for their products but people like you who make the world a better place with their music, art and photography. You have the floor…

    • Bill 4.1

      Creative professionals cannot live and work in a society that steals their ideas and work with impunity…if that society is wedded to a market economy.

      But if the market (ie the ‘beggar thy neighbour or starve’) economy is abolished and creative professionals get rewarded for their contributions to society rather than the market. if they do not have to, as is usually the case, prostitute their talent to the advertising ( or other) industry in an attempt to make a buck from it…or relegate the pursuit of their passion to that of a hobby…. or abandon their passion altogether, then maybe the blatant theft of ideas and creativity becomes a historic curiosity.

      Theft of ideas, of creativity only makes sense when the thief can profit from it in some way, say by saving on purchase price or by selling for profit under false pretences etc. But if the market economy is abandoned, then the seeking of competitive advantage…the desperate and endless doing in of all and sundry by all and sundry on an increasingly individualistic basis ceases.

      And that relief of pressure would also free up time for us all to be more creative and so less needy of others’ art and creativity. Perhaps.

      I’m working on the premise that most of our time spent in jobs is unnecessary as far as societies production needs are concerned and that our jobs are largely a waste of time geared to simply generate profit and power for others.

      • James 4.1.1

        Well that is a nice fantasy world that you have conjured up in your mind.

        Now how about answering the question that was posed, this time in the context of reality.

        • uke

          “…most of our time spent in jobs is unnecessary as far as societies production needs are concerned and… our jobs are largely a waste of time geared to simply generate profit and power for others.”

          Sounds like reality to me.

      • Jono 4.1.2

        Oh the dream. Wouldn’t it be wonderful it our society was set up in such a way as to reward somebody for what they loved doing, regardless of what it is they love doing? Rewards for intangible benefits to society, not just the tangible ones…

        This is typically called a service business. Hint, there’s something about technology that is quickly making what was once tangible goods into intangibles. Hmm…

    • Kerry Thomas 4.2

      This is actually not about protecting creative people, but large recording companies who have made me pay for the same piece of music many times in different formats. If you create a new design or idea you find the rights you have expire after a certain number of years. Not so with music. Now I am having to spend time hacking DRM on CD’s I own so I can make a compilation for my car of music I have paid for at least once. Some several times as it has come out in different formats from tape,records, CD’s and Mobile phone.
      I am not sure how we protect creatives as I have had a blatant rip off of one of my designs subject by another to a US patent.
      However increasing state surveillance on individuals to suit large American corporates whose business model is outdated is not the answer.

  5. Descendant Of Smith 5

    You could take advantage of internet models for payment.

    I have a mate who started putting up MP3 files of his hypnosis sessions on to the internet and selling them that way. He has recently released a small selection on iTunes and is making further sales using that model.

    He gleefully talks about working only a few hours per week now. He has however taken many years and much effort to reach that point and it isn’t a quick fix.

    We’ve seen artists release their music online in various ways and be quite successful. Sometimes cause it’s good, sometimes cause it’s clever marketing.

    With music it was pretty hard to get a recording contract anyway.

    There’s new opportunities with music such as music for games – course if you see this as a sell out then you’ll never make money from it but it’s an emerging source of income. Gaming now is bigger than the movie industry in terms of turnover.

    Music traditionally meant a lot of live work and that probably still hasn’t changed that much.

    Sell your music on MP3 sticks rather than on a CD.

    There are art opportunities in web-design or gaming as well.

    There’s the ability to sell over the internet from little towns in New Zealand.

    With writing there are new roles in supporting web design, in scripting for gaming – anyone who has recently played Mass Effect or Dragon Age Origins will tell you how great the scripting is in those games – a little corny at time but great story lines with drama and humour and plot twists.

    There’s the opportunity for added value art products – TShirts, playing cards, prints.

    I was in Sydney recently and came across a shop that had employed an artist to design limited runs of T-Shirts. The designs were great and they had no shortage of sales at very reasonable prices.

    You can argue that these opportunities are limited but they didn’t exist until recently. Some people take advantage of them to generate income – others do not and simply moan about how the Internet has ruined their traditional income streams.

    I’m not at all artistic but would love to be to take advantage of some of these new opportunities.

  6. Descendant Of Smith 6

    Couldn’t resist this creative opportunity:

    I’d be interested too in whether you consider corporate theft as larger or smaller than citizen theft.

    There’s plenty of stories of artists who made very little from their works and die in poverty while the corporates made and continue to make plenty.

  7. Pundit X 7

    Most of the evidence is anecdotal and speculative. The large music corporations claim falling sales which could just as easily be down to an overpriced product as to consumers file sharing. I do know of significant numbers of photographers who have been ripped of by corporations, SME’s and bloggers who simply want to liven up the page. By ripped of I mean having the work used without permission being sought when it was possible to contact the photographer. The UK government under pressure from publishers such as Rupert Murdoch came close to codifying corporate theft into law with Clause 43 the just passed Digital Economy Bill. It would have enabled the use of orphan works without payment to the photographer. An orphan work is a photograph that cannot be attributed to an author. For example any image uploaded to Facebook automatically becomes an orphan work because Facebook automatically stripped out any meta data identifying the author. Only a vigorous and concerted campaign by editorial photographers prevented that section of the bill becoming law. http://www.stop43.org.uk

    • James 7.1

      You have no idea what you are talking about.

      Please stop doling out such dangerously incorrect information.

  8. Song writers only have one form of income, artists may have varies ways of an income, but songwriters dont, they are the ones that miss out when people illegally copy cd’s, if your a fan or an artist you wouldnt copy their cds.

  9. Mike Simpson 9

    Rand was wrong on this one. You can rightly assume that what resides in your own brain is your property, whether or not you’re an inventor, composer, or authorĆ¢ā‚¬ā€just as the rest of your body is your property. Clearly, someone would have to trespass on your property and do a coercive brain scan in order to gather this decidedly private information. But only by keeping information to oneself, that is, in private form and shielded from the marketplace can one declare conceptual information to be one’s own.

    The notion of property of the intellect existing in the marketplace, however, is basically a contradiction in terms. Property is something that’s claimed, used, and possessed as an extension of self-ownership. Property rights ultimately mean the freedom of action to use and/or dispose of certain owned items and to do various things in relation to them. Property rights do not mean the freedom to prevent others from duplicating what you own, unless that duplication creates conflict of usage and possession of your property, as in identity theft.

    When intellectual information that’s manifested in tangible items and processes makes it to the marketplace, such as a story or song or even mining processes or the sequencing and use of particular genes, it’s quite obviously no longer for the creator’s eyes only, and no longer in the creator’s possession. Others are then exposed to this information via these items and their innumerable uses. One would have to initiate force to dictate to others what they can and cannot do with the intellectual information that’s now in their brains. In other words, because what’s claimed to be intellectual property is simply a pattern of information manifested in a tangible thingĆ¢ā‚¬ā€specifically information that can be reproduced by others without conflictĆ¢ā‚¬ā€one can’t enforce the terms of its replication and dissemination once it reaches the marketplace, that is, once information has been duplicated by other brains and transformed into tangible expression by them. That would essentially be trying to control the property of others.

    To put it another way, after a person exposes ideas, products, and services to the marketplace, he or she has no right to prevent others from reproducing or duplicating those same thingsĆ¢ā‚¬ā€even if that person was the one who truly created or discovered them. One only has the right to control one’s own particular products and services in which that information is embodied, that is, one’s own capital resources and inventory (rightful property).

    When other minds become aware of information, it basically goes from being private property (because trespass would be required to glean it) to being in the public domain, or marketplace. That’s the way a free market works. No force is initiated by either buyers or sellers. Both realize that property rights apply to all aspects of tangible items they own and the various uses they choose to employ with them.

    Patents, copyrights and trademarks only help to retard the course of progress and human flourishing. Are these needed in order for knowledge to be disseminated? Not in the least: type “wikipedia.org” in your address bar and then type “encyclopedia britannica” and see for yourself.

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