stealing present participle of steal (Verb)
Take (another person’s property) without permission or legal right and without intending to return it: “thieves stole her bicycle”.
Dishonestly pass off (another person’s ideas) as one’s own: “accusations that one group had stolen ideas from the other were soon flying”.
Imagine one day that you wake up in the morning, you check outside and your car is gone. I’ve stolen your car. For the rest of the day, you are pissed off and worrying. More importantly, you’re stranded at home. I’ve deprived you of your use of a car. You can’t get into your car. You can’t see your car. I’ve taken away a finite resource. You may have had two cars before, but now you only have one.
I’ve stolen your car.
Imagine that same day again, but this time, I’ve copied your car instead. It took me all night, but by 4 am in the morning I was able to get into this car and drive away. You wake up, and your car is in the driveway. Everything is normal. You’re able to hop into your car, use your resource and do whatever the hell you want with it.
I’ve pirated your car.
I’m not saying piracy is OK. Just like Jay-walking is not OK. Nor is making Mix-tapes. Nor is recording a boxing match. nor is making youtube videos with different clips. Or doing mash-ups like many of these DJs. All of these are technically “Illegal”. Everyone has a different level of wrong. Everyone has transgressed these laws.
Doing all these things are not “ok.”
The word “Theft” was invented way way way back in the day when every commerciable good was finite. Removing it from your possession and placing it my posession does one thing. It takes away your resources and adds to mine.
But now in the digital age, I believe the word “theft” is slowly becoming irrelevant. Piracy is not a crime of theft. It is a crime of circumvention.
I circumvented the normal, proper way in obtaning a resource. That is the crime I’ve committed.
When I copied your car, I broke the rules by obtaining your car for free while you had to pay for it.
The discrepancy between your method and my method is the crime.
And the act is a crime because the law that criminalizes it is BASED on a system where resources have finite values.
The digital age removes the finite value. Supply for a product is infinite. It is human nature to seek a product till exhaustion. That is what drives Demand in the balance between Supply and Demand. This ultimately gives the intrinsic value of the product.
The problem here is, if supply is infinite, the instrinsic real world price of an inifintely available product becomes ZERO.
How do people still make money in the digital age?
This is where Intelectual property comes in. What Intelectual property creates is “Artificial Scarcity”. Artificial scarcity puts an artificial price on a product. This way, people can artifcially make profit.
The market for these digital goods can be circumvented. The people who supply the goods can criminalize circumvention. In fact, they can lobby goverments and institutions to help them criminalize it.
But it can not prevent circumvention. “File-sharing is a bell that can not be un-ringed”. So the solution here is to adapt by finding a way to sell a virtually infinite resource by tying it a finite resource. No, we don’t have to wait for this buisiness model to arrive to save the face of the market as we know it. It’s already here.
Movies are the infinite resource
Convenience and time are the finite resource.
Worth 8 bucks a month?
iTunes (or any music site)
Music is the infinite resource
Convenience and features
worth the .99 cents?
Android App Market
Programs/entertainment is the ifinite resource
Convenience and Ad Advertisement is the finite resource.
Worth the ads or the few bucks for the features?
Escapism is the infinite resource
Having servers to host it on is the finite resource
Apparently, it’s worth it to 15 million people to pay 15 bucks for it a month.
Creative programs, like the adobe suite?
The program is the infinite resource
Making money of it turns it into a tool. Thus turning it a finite resource.
Worth the few hundred bucks when you’re making your years living off of it.
and so on and so forth.
The metaphor of theft in lieu of piracy is just that. A metaphor.
It’s suggested by the people who don’t get the economic nature of virtual space. In the future, this is the only way to make money. And eventually, the people who don’t get it will die off. The people who do, will prosper.