A couple of days ago, a US Court of Appeals judge issued a ruling that to my not-a-weasel eye makes, at least until the problem he’s created gets fixed, digital piracy legal here in the USA. Like, completely legal. Like, go out and start
stealing copying stuff all you like. LEGAL.
I almost feel as though I should just stop there without further comment and wait for the indignant legal feathers to fly. Of course it isn’t really legal to steal, or pirate, (or whatever you want to call it) movies, music, books, and other forms of digital computer code. But that’s my still-not-an-attorney interpretation of the ruling, and the scary thing is that the judge who issued it went so far as to state that new law needs to be written to overturn his own ruling.
The law, sadly, is often about nit-picky silliness, and rarely about common sense. If you take something that belongs to someone else and you know you were supposed to pay for it, that’s stealing. Just . . . not any more, unless there’s something physical and tangible being stolen. I wrote a couple of years ago about how selling used software might have become illegal, and one of the points I made then now seems to have come front and center: it’s the disc that matters; what’s on the disc has no value (assuming you can move it off to the cloud or . . . wherever . . . when you
steal copy it).
So Neil Young had it right: Piracy really is The New Radio. Please, feel free to do what Fred Wilson does. It’s all OK. Until a new law or three get passed and it isn’t. I sure hope those laws manage to capture and solve the problem.
So let’s add another question to the debate (now, clearly answered): Is Live Blogging Plagiarism?