Piracy != Theft

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piracy love
This is a guest post by Nikhil Somaru. Nikhil is tech-head open-source junkie with a spiritual edge. He left South Africa in search of Truth (if any 🙂 and is currently imbibing a system of philosophy known as Vedanta in India. In his spare time, he listens to Wagner and wonders just what he’s gotten himself in to. He can be contacted on twitter or facebook.

That means piracy is not equal to theft in programmer-speak.

It speaks of our society that we have made copying something into an act of theft. Theft and copying something are not the same thing. Theft is a criminal act in which property belonging to another is taken without that person’s consent (source). In other words, if I have stolen something from you, I have deprived you of your property. If deprive you of your bread, you must go and buy some rice to make up for it, or go hungry.
Now, when I copy something, you still have what you originally had, and now I have something too. This is not an act of deprivation.

I can already feel you saying “but how am I going to get paid for what I make?” and “then where is the incentive for people to create stuff?” I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, that when you’re an artist, your incentive is the creation itself. If your incentive is money, then you’re not an artist, you are a businessman, and there are many ways to make money that do not involve creation. Go do that. Sure, many artists do support themselves by their creations. But even then, the argument that piracy reduces income just doesn’t hold any water (sorry, I had to). Ask Paulo Coelho.

People pay for things they perceive value in. They also value their own time and convenience. For many, it used to be just easier to download a single mp3 track from a website than going to the store to buy an album. However, those who perceived a greater value in receiving album art, lyrics and a nice box would go through that effort to buy the album from the store. I’m sure those people still do.
That the intention was not “something for free” is proved by the popularity of online music distribution systems such as iTunes that have been crafted for the Web AddiCT(s); of today. The majority people would rather not go through the effort of searching around the web for a song. Instead, they have one place where they can click, be charged, and get the music that they want. It’s all about accessibility, getting people what they want, when they want it.

How do you feel about copying something?

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