Rickard Falkvinge: Copyright Infringement is Not Theft

Commercial Intelligence
Rickard Falkvinge
Rickard Falkvinge

Reminder 1: Copyright Monopoly Infringement Isn’t Stealing (Says The US Supreme Court)

Copyright Monopoly:  Over the Yule holidays, I’ll be running a series of reminders of some of the most useful talkbacks. We open with one of the more common ones: copyright industry lawyers tend to insist that violation of the copyright monopoly is “stealing”. But in the judicial field, lawyers always go by what the courts say, and the US Supreme Court says it isn’t.

Lawyers defending the copyright monopoly love to throw false analogies around, even when those analogies have been explicitly rejected by Supreme Courts. It would be an understatement to call this practice dishonest.

In the U.S. Supreme Court case Dowling vs United States, the Supreme Court explicitly valued whether copies could be regarded as stolen goods under the law, and held that they could not.

Instead, “interference with copyright does not easily equate with theft, conversion, or fraud. The Copyright Act even employs a separate term of art to define one who misappropriates a copyright: ‘[…] an infringer of the copyright.’”

There is absolutely no reason to accept this fallacy, especially not from a copyright industry lawyer, who should know better (and deserves getting that pointed out).

Now, even if the US Supreme Court had said something differently, it would still not be stealing from a philosophical, political, economical, or moral angle. The US Supreme Court adds the judicial angle to this, which is useful against lawyers and corporations, specifically.

UPDATE: As Mikael Nilsson points out in the comments, courts have even grown so tired of this false and dishonest rhetoric from the copyright industry that courts have explicitly banned the copyright industry from using “stealing” and similar words in their argumentation. While that wasn’t the Supreme Court, it still bears mentioning.

Next: Copyright monopoly enforcement in typical online cases violates fundamental human rights.