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Author Topic: Piracy more serious than burglary, fraud, bank robbery  (Read 2325 times)

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For the more than nine years that Ars Technica has been publishing online, we've been outspoken when it comes to the lack of balance between the threat of piracy (which is always overstated) and the "solutions" to piracy (which are often draconian) that some copyright holders demand. Whether it's laws that would turn the possession of software into a crime, completely baked piracy reports, or yet another law meant to criminalize civil infractions, we've cast a critical eye on an industry that defines solipsism.
And, everyone once and while, we're accused of hyperbole—of exaggerating our objections. That's why it's with both a grin and a lonely tear that I report to you the latest ridiculous claim from the copyright-trumps-all brigade.

NBC/Universal general counsel Rick Cotton suggests that society wastes entirely too much money policing crimes like burglary, fraud, and bank-robbing when it should be doing something about piracy instead.

"Our law enforcement resources are seriously misaligned," Cotton said. "If you add up all the various kinds of property crimes in this country, everything from theft, to fraud, to burglary, bank-robbing, all of it, it costs the country $16 billion a year. But intellectual property crime runs to hundreds of billions [of dollars] a year." Cotton's comments come in Paul Stweeting's report on Hollywood's latest shenanigans on Capitol Hill.

There are two obvious rejoinders to such a ridiculous statement. The first is that "hundreds of billions of dollars a year" is a myth. The MPAA's own cherry-picked study from Smith Barney in 2005 put their annual loss at less than $6 billion, and while the music and software industries also like to publish trumped-up claims, the figures are nowhere near hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

The second objection, of course, is that the traditional crimes Cotton describes often involve the destruction of people's lives along with property. Burglaries can result in homicide, as can fraud (ask the preacher's wife), while bank robbery is, without a doubt, a dangerous game. Those crimes also typically involve real property. For better or for worse, real property should not be confused with intellectual property, which is not subject to the same rules of scarcity. Stopping a bank heist is, without a doubt, a far more important matter than stopping the bootlegging of Gigli or Spider-Man 3.  Chances are you would prefer that the cops spend their efforts protecting people from rampant home burglaries than chasing down kids with pirated music on their iPods.

Regardless, Cotton and his Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy are seeking to change federal law enforcement emphasis so that intellectual property crimes are given priority over other kinds of crime... a realignment, to play off Cotton's statement. Battling organized crime is hardly objectionable, and we hope the coalition sees success in taking down the profiteers of piracy. Offending the public with yet more lies and hyperbole isn't going to curry much favor, however.

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Re: Piracy more serious than burglary, fraud, bank robbery
« Reply #1 on: 10. July 2007., 15:32:55 »
I love the term "draconian". Perhaps the a.K.a Card, which devalues the information stolen by piracy, is above this term however.  Although piracy will always continue, at least we can rest easy knowing that the pirates stole false information that is of little or no value to the original user of the information.


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Re: Piracy more serious than burglary, fraud, bank robbery
« Reply #2 on: 10. July 2007., 19:52:57 »
Hi Emma,

I partly agree with Your comment about piracy in the future, but in my opinion You don't have a right with this "at least we can rest easy knowing that the pirates stole false information that is of little or no value to the original user of the information."

Just check this topic:,5.0.html

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Re: Piracy more serious than burglary, fraud, bank robbery
« Reply #3 on: 27. July 2007., 22:20:23 »
I simply love Piracy!, I don't even know why MPAA is stillin business!, we all love piracy, & we'll never stop!


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