Wednesday, March 16, 2005

You're Downloading Al-Qaeda!

Furdlog points to a string of raids here in Holland during which the police uncovered 140,000 pirated Bollywood CDs and DVDs. That is really pirated, as in commercial counterfeiting, not copyright infringement at best. To put some background to the real piracy, this press release offers some February figures on what's popular to pirate, which brands are targeted, where piracy activity takes place etc:
Intellectual property theft (brands, trademarks and copyrights) surged to 36% of global counterfeiting during the month of February. More than 95% of all counterfeit items seized by customs, law enforcement and brand enforcement agents related to IP theft, accounting for $55 Million USD.
Note in the full text that the words terrorists and criminalsare used interchangeable and frequently for the pirates. The sad thing is that this same interconnection has been suggested for file-sharing. Whether you think that activity is a copyright infringement or legitimate private copying, the equation of these "private pirates" with "commercial pirates" and thus with terrorists and criminals, brings a massive criminalisation of a large segment of the population. You're a criminal for sharing! Your downloads support Al-Qaeda!

Many people may not see, or want to see, the legal (and political) differences in what tends to be morphed into the single term piracy. But while people are accused of lacking the ethics to comply with the law, to suggest a relation with terrorists and criminals may be called unethical in itself. File-sharers may be indifferent to the subtleties of copyright law, but the content industry should not be indifferent to these subtleties if it not wants to estrange its customers, as it does.


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