From: Brussels, Belgium
ORIGINAL: Erik Rutins
piracy, which is simply theft.
[puts his ADA hat]
It "simply" isn't the same. I'm litterally fed up with that analogy that is being promoted by the media industry. Theft and piracy (or rather copyright infringement, to use the right word) are not the same thing.
Theft is illegally taking away someone else's property from its rightful owner without (prior or concurrent) consent of said owner. Do read "taking" & "from" : it really is the fact of depriving someone of his property that constitutes the offense, and I should add "with fraudulent intent". The actual definition varies from country to country, but this is a generalization that is valid in most of Europe and North America (South America too I guess, although I've never studied their penal laws thoroughly).
As such, this is an offense that does not lend itself "simply" to materials that can be duplicated at infinitum, like music, software, videos, etc. Hell, the simple act of "downloading without due legitimacy" is not an offense in a lot of countries : copyright infringement applies mostly to the act of publishing something without authorization. This is not to say that P2P is "safe" : you need to "publish" something to be able to download, so if you happen to upload a restricted material, you're going too far.
You might see an example of this in the problems that our countries have in closing websites that release music, videos, software, etc, outside of P2P - that is, "pure" download. In this case, the host country has to agree to close the website when its law is not as restrictive as ours (eg the case of Russia).
Besides, some countries are planning to extend the definition of copyright infringement to such "pure" downloading. But again, this is no theft, and they need to link this to the copyright infringement. By the way, some governments claim (like in UK) that this behaviour is already illegal, when it's not.
So, say that people should not download, that file sharing might be copyright infringement, etc, but stop equating those to "theft". This is profundly irksome for all lawyers and law-related profesionnals.
In short, just because theft and copyright infringement both are criminal offenses does not equate one with the other. Just like saying USS Essex is similar to USS Iowa is utterly wrong, even if both are warships. There's a world of difference in both cases.
[puts his ADA hat off]