Is online piracy theft?

You wouldn’t steal a car! You wouldn’t steal a movie! Piracy is stealing! Piracy is a crime! (But is it really?)

Piracy-crime

The debate on whether online piracy is theft took an interesting turn recently after Chris Dodd, the Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association (MPAA), said that the industry is “on the wrong track if we describe this [online piracy] as thievery”.

Dodd alluded to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the US during an interview, saying that Facebook and Twitter campaigned effectively against the legislation on grounds that the new laws would impede the free flow of information on the Internet.

“We’re in a transformative [sic] period with an explosion of technology that’s going to need content,” he said. “We’re going to have to be more subtle and consumer-oriented. We’re on the wrong track if we describe this as thievery,” Dodd said.

Piracy is not theft in South Africa

This debate in the US coincides with recent campaigns in South Africa which also describe piracy as theft.

Copyright expert and senior legal manager at PWC, Dr. Tobias Schonwetter, said that online piracy is not theft.

“Theft is defined in South Africa ‘as the unlawful and intentional appropriation of movable, corporeal property which belongs to or is in possession of another with the intention to permanently deprive the person entitled to the possession of the property of such property’,” explained Schonwetter.

“When copying copyright protected materials that belong to somebody else, the person owning the material is not deprived of ownership,” said Schonwetter.

Lance Michalson from Michalson’s Attorneys agrees, saying that piracy does not fall under the definition of theft. “It is the infringement of intellectual property rights,” said Michalson.

Schonwetter did however point out that an argument can be made that while the owner is not deprived of ownership, he or she is deprived of the benefits of ownership; i.e. the financial exploitation of the material. “This is why the result is very similar to theft,” said Schonwetter.

Piracy and theft

Piracy and theft

Related articles

DStv cracked and pirated by techies; numerous arrests

ISPs to stop you from pirating?

Why do you pirate?

Microsoft and software piracy in South Africa

Share your thoughts

Join the conversation

Connect with Us

androidappletwitterfacebookgoogleplusfeednewsletter

Poll

Do you buy new tech and gadgets as they launch, or wait for price cuts and sales?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

More News

Vodacom is not cheating you out of data

Vodacom logo on wall

After Vodacom changed the way it reports how much data you have on your account, subscribers were worried they were getting fewer megabytes.

How much Jacob Zuma must pay for his Nkandla Firepool

Zuma's firepool

A panel of six experts from two quantity surveyor firms helped the National Treasury determine how much Zuma had to pay for the upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.

Zuma must pay R7.8 million for Nkandla upgrades

Jacob Zuma

The National Treasury has submitted a report to the Constitutional Court on how much President Jacob Zuma must pay for non-security upgrades at his Nkandla home.

How strong South Africa’s army is

SA Army Helicopter

This is how South Africa’s army compares to the superpowers of the world.

X

Newsletter Subscription


Name
Email *
Enter the following to confirm your subscription *
Captcha image


Free MyBroadband Newsletter
Subscribe
×