In a series of articles here at Falkvinge on Infopolicy, I’ll be giving examples of talking back to the most disturbingly false bullshit repeated by pro-copyright-monopoly pundits. The reason for this is that I see tons of this kind of bullshit in discussion threads, and it stands unchallenged, which is dangerous. As I describe in Swarmwise, it is of immense importance for our long-term liberties that false assertions are countered immediately and in numbers whenever they appear.
Today, we’re going to discuss the assertion that “copying is stealing”, that amazingly still lives on. It should be dead and buried at least fifteen years ago, but isn’t. Here are three examples how to counter it. Adapt to your own language and use when discussions threads like this one on Reddit pop up.
Don’t be content with one person already having countered a false assertion, and count on people thinking logically. A false statement must be hammered with opposition for liberties to win; it’s not a logic game but a numbers game. It’s about looking like the winning team, as I describe in Swarmwise – that’s what shapes the reality and the future.
Today, we’ll deal with the “copying is stealing” nonsense. Don’t let it stand unchallenged at any time.
Here are three sample responses you can use. Copy, remix and adapt to your own language.
False statement: “Copying is stealing.”
Sample response 1: No. Absolutely not. If copying were stealing, we would have no need for copyright monopoly laws in the first place, as ordinary property laws would suffice. Those define stealing. But we have separate laws for the copyright monopoly, and stealing isn’t defined there. Therefore, obviously, it is not stealing. Neither legally, nor morally, nor economically, nor logically. However, it is an infringement of the copyright monopoly – but that’s something completely different. It is a violation of a governmentally-sanctioned private monopoly. You are trying to redefine words in a very dishonest way to frame the debate in a factually incorrect light.
Sample response 2: No. Absolutely not. Nobody is stealing anything. They are manufacturing their own copies using their own property. The difference is very important and if we’re supposed to have a constructive debate, you should call things for what they are. This is manufacturing without a license from legal monopolies, so-called “exclusive rights” (the copyright monopoly). Nobody is losing any object, which is what defines stealing. An object is copied. You are trying to redefine words in a very dishonest way to frame the debate in a factually incorrect light.
Sample response 3: No. Absolutely not. Manufacturing your own copy of something using your own property – your computer, storage, and network equipment – is not stealing logically, legally, morally, economically, or philosophically. The debate moved past this silly argument 15 years ago, and trying to bring it up again just makes you look like you’re talking of horseless carriages. If you really want confirmation of this simple fact, you should look in the nearest lawbook: in no book of laws on this entire planet are property laws (where stealing is defined) and copyright monopoly laws defined in the same section. Hint: only violations of property laws, the former, are defined as stealing.
Follow-up false statement: “But they are causing X to lose money, therefore it is stealing.”
Sample response: Whether they are losing money is debatable, but it doesn’t matter in the slightest. People are causing other people to lose money all the time and everywhere with every action. Stealing is narrowly defined as when you break property laws in order to deny somebody their property, and the copyright monopoly is not a property law, it is defined elsewhere in the books. There is no other legal, moral, or popular definition of stealing. Instead, you are using the loaded word “stealing” to say “what they are doing is wrong”. In doing so, you are not only lying and slandering as they are not stealing, you are also factually wrong with what you intended to say, as sharing culture and knowledge is a good deed to society and to your fellow human being.
Take these responses. Use them. More to come next Saturday for the foreseeable future.