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Beyond that, the answer to "is copying equivalent to stealing?" is "no", because stealing involves depriving a person of their property and thus preventing them from selling it to a party that would pay.

If I steal a snickers bar from a shelf, the store owner has one less snickers bar regardless of whether I might have paid for it were I not able to steal it.

But copying doesn't deprive the owner of their property at all. It simply creates a new copy of it. If I copy an mp3, the record label and artist aren't deprived of anything.

And, thus, the law makes a distinction.




This is, legally, the correct interpretation of the difference between "stealing" and "infringement", at least in the US.

However, the copyright owner is being deprived of their exclusive right to the content. They have the right to control who uses the content and for what (exclusive of fair use).


Sure. And that's why civil and criminal law provide remedies for wronged content owners.

But no-one's arguing that copying isn't wrong or a civil and possibly even criminal act. I'm explaining the distinction between infringement and theft, as it's far more relevant than the ultimately unknowable "whether or not the unjustly enriched party may have bought a license".


> If I copy an mp3, the record label and artist aren't deprived of anything.

Was the point I was disagreeing with. (Especially as we're being pedantic about the legal issues).


Sure. In stealing a snickers and caught, im probably not even arrested. If I am, it's a small charge, maybe a few hundred dollars with the night in lockup.

Copying a single song has punishments up to $150,000 with possible federal jailtime at that?!

One hell of a distinction.




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