This site is devoted to copyright and issues of 'intellectual property,' particularly the issue's analytical aspects. It also concerns itself with the gap between public perception and the true facts, and with the significant lag time between the coverage on more technical sites and the mainstream press. For site feed, see: To see the list of sites monitored to create this site, see:

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Public versus private crimes

So now that criminal sentences seem to be coming into political reality (at least when slipped into the tail end of the legislative cause du jour), I am thinking more about the curious nature of society's view of filesharing. Basically everyone knows it's illegal. Basically everyone does it. It's a highly social crime. The prevalence is very high, the moral stigma is extraordinarily low. The very name betrays its social nature: 'sharing.' Much of the piracy amounts to what used to be tape-trading: swapping collections of MP3s. What's curious, however, is that it is the private aspect that is punished. I'm willing to bet that any carefully designed study would show something on the order of 90+% of iPods containing 'pirated' music. Yet the same white earphones that make the iPod a target of thieves fail to make it the target of police officers. Why not? My gut instinct tells me that, on some level, Hollywood understands just how far they can push, and that the 'pirates' of new technology ferreted away in their bedrooms downloading, Neo-style, are much easier political targets than the iPod users walking around on the streets. Everyone knows an iPod owner or is one themselves. Picture the face of a friend being arrested for something you don't think is morally wrong, and the opposition to criminalization rises really quickly.



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