[d@DCC] What is "intellectual property"?
jyoung at lexinformatica.org
Thu Sep 26 21:26:15 EDT 2002
> >The problem with the term
>>piracy is not that it could not be accurate, in some circumstances,
>>but that it ignores the distinction between economically substantial
>>theft and de minimus trading.
>Okaaaay. This goes over my head. I think I see what you mean, but I'd
>appreciate it if you could put it into more laymanish terms for me.
>I wouldn't ask, but it does seem pertinent.
My apologies. What I was trying to say was that piracy is a very
broad and blunt term. For example, you set up a factory, press ten
thousand copyright-infringing CDs and sell them in the black market;
you are considered a pirate. In a second example, you trade a couple
mp3's online with your friend and, in the eyes of the RIAA/MPAA, you
are also a pirate (even though in Canada if you did the same thing
via CD, you would have no problem). The first has obvious and
substantial economic impact for the owner of the infringed copyright.
There is reason to use the term piracy in this context and it may be
appropriate to do so.
The second activity has no substantial economic impact for the owner
of the copyright. In fact, it may be that such activity actually
benefits the copyright holder economically. De minimis non curat lex
is a fancy latin term meaning "the law does not concern itself with
trivial things". There has been a tradition, in copyright as in other
law, that de minimis applies to situations like the one described in
the second example, but no longer under the DMCA and no longer in the
eyes of the RIAA/MPAA.
My contention is that the term "piracy" - as applied to copyright -
is not necessarily inaccurate, but it is blunt. Insofar as the term
"piracy" encourages people to view all kinds of infringing activity
as the same thing, it also sets the stage for the adoption of
criminal sanctions for de minimis activity. In sum, I think we
shouldn't be afraid to apply the term, but recognize that it is
appropriate only in a narrowly construed context.
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