Cybercrime, copyrights law, and the post-scarcity economy

Copyrights is not always associated with crime but given the fuss about piracy by big companies controlling digital copies, it is worth looking at the issue a bit more closely.

First this article on Techdirt which highlights the craziness of copyrights law (whether with civil or criminal sanctions) http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20071119/015956.shtml “The Infringement Age: How Much Do You Infringe On A Daily Basis?”. The article, drawing on the results of an other article, asks the pertinent question of the legitimacy of copyrights laws as they stand. If we infringe so much, often without fully realising we do, is there not something amiss?
Which leads me to the concept of post-scarcity economy which the founder of Techdirt, Mike Masnick, is fully aware of as he followed the course of the professor who launched the idea. See http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2007/nov/01/blogging.interviews We live in a world where crime against property used to be defined against the idea of scarcity: what was scarce was valuable, the seriousness of the crime increasing with the value and the social perception of the criminal behaviour. The problem, notably for piracy, is that there is no scarcity and thus the perception that crime exists has disappeared. Do we need to readjust our concept of crime? How? I believe it is the challenge for the next 5 years of criminal lawyers.

An other line of thought is the possible explanations for the success of Silicon Valley: the noncompete model that never existed there seems to have largely contributed to the explosion of new ideas and IT impact on everyday life. In other words, information is valued for its ability to be shared and freely available, not for its confidentiality. Is that the clue of the problem?
see Techdirt on Wed. 5th December 2007 http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20071204/005038.shtml

obviously this is without wondering about the procedural aspect of some lawsuits, many civil, but why not one day criminal? “FSF Sets Up Fund To Pay For Experts Who Can Show How Flimsy RIAA Evidence Is” http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20071119/175102.shtml

In comparison, counterfeiting creates less challenges ” Dawn raids net three web-counterfeit suspects” http://news.zdnet.co.uk/internet/0,1000000097,39291018,00.htm (23 November 2007)

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About Audrey Guinchard

Senior Lecturer @ University of Essex (UK)
This entry was posted in Offences - Piracy. Bookmark the permalink.

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