Stop Thief!

James Murdoch says that “illegal downloading no different from stealing a handbag

Sorry Mr. Murdoch, but you’re wrong.

We’ve all heard the tired old “downloading is stealing” argument. It is wrong on several counts:

First, theft carries with it the idea of loss; if I take your car, you are down one car. If I download a file from your computer, you have not actually lost anything. When you sue someone for theft, you have to prove that you sustained a loss.

Second, no-one who has illegally shared files has ever been prosecuted for theft; they have been prosecuted for Copyright Infringement. If downloading truly was theft, we would not need copyright laws.

Third, Mr. Murdoch needs to be reminded that copyrighted works are not property. In spite of the industry’s incessant blathering to the contrary, “intellectual Property” is not property at all – copyrights and patents are – at least in theory – temporary. Remember: “Loaned, not owned”.

Finally, Copyright law has been getting more and more one-sided. The DMCA and ACTA are truly draconian constructs that make consumers guilty until proven innocent and turn everyone else (DoJ, ISPs, USTR, TSA etc) into the content industry’s errand-boys.

But… let’s return to the point: Mr Murdoch is the scion of a family whos fortune revolves around controlling news and access to it. This is a family who have accused Google of “stealing from them”, but does not seem to have a problem with borrowing information from others. On closer inspection, it appears that Google’s “crime” is actually directing people to Fox’s website – a situation that Fox can easily fix, but chooses not to.

Robert’s Daddy, Rupert, seems to think that internet users will pay for content, saying they would be happy to shell out for “information they need to rise in society“. Close but no cigar; while is is perfectly right, he is talking about education, not news.

Mr. Murdoch seems to be in need of a dictionary.

He states “To aggregate stories is not fair use. To be impolite, it is theft.”, while conveniently forgetting that his business model is based on aggregation of information collected elsewhere.

This is not about information. It is about money and control.

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