I love the varying answers with this question! It’s usually a good indication that you should seek legal advice from an attorney when numerous people disagree online because it’s hard to determine who is truly a legal expert on here. Anyways, I’ll jump on board with those that believe copyright infringement is theft in the practical sense. Yes one can make the argument that you cannot “steal” something that is intangible (as well as the civil vs criminal argument), but nowadays most valuable possessions are indeed intangible. Although I would submit that “infringing” is the most proper term – let’s call a square a square right? Here are some other points to strengthen my argument:
- Whenever an author is deprived of the right to approve and to be paid for the use of their work, the author’s property interest is diminished (in order words – future earnings are stolen from them).
- Importantly, the Federal statute for “Criminal infringement of a copyright” (18 U.S.C. § 2319) can be find in Chapter 113 of the United States Code. Chapter 113 governs “Stolen Property.”
- The Model Penal Code (MPC) defines property for purposes of theft super broadly. “‘Property’ means anything of value, including real estate, tangible and intangible personal property, contract rights…”
- From the FBI , “It’s an age-old crime: stealing. But it’s not about picking a pocket or holding up a bank. It’s robbing people of their ideas, inventions, and creative expressions—what’s called ‘intellectual property’—everything from trade secrets and proprietary products and parts to movies and music and software.”
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