Originally Posted by HansTWN
My thoughts exactly. It is silly to turn it around and say "the creator hasn't lost anything" because the pirate would never have bought the item in question, anyway". The only angle one should look at this is "the pirate now has something that doesn't belong to him, obtained by illegal means", or "the pirate enriched himself". That is the bottom line.
I beg to differ.
I'm with you with the first part: everyone who worked on the book pruduction (not just the author) has been damaged by the one who get the content of the book without permission (*).
But you cannot say that the mere possession of a copy of a file, which did not belong to anyone, is enriching someone.
Let's make an example:
You write a book and sell it in DRM-free epub version.
I create a file on my disk with the exact same name and size. Am I robbing you? No. I'm just citing your book title ath the most.
Do the file I created belong to you? No.
Now, suppose that the file on my computer has also the same exact content as the file on your computer, but it's never been opened. Are you being damaged? I say no: the mere existence of this file, that you did not make, that you never saw, that nobody ever read, cannot damage you in any way. I defy everybody to demonstrate the contrary (**). Is someone getting profit or some kind of unearned advantage? Still, I say no (***): the occupation of some bytes of disk does not makes me richer in any way, nor am I using your work in any way.
So, until now, nobody has been damaged and nobody has taken profit.
Let's go a step further. Now, I open the file I created and read it. And it actually contains your novel. Now, I'm damaging you: I did not contribute in any way to your finances. And I'm actually enriching myself of your deep insight about life, without your permission, neither explicit nor implicit. Now I'm "pirating" your book, never before this very moment (****).
Of course you can assume that if I have the file on my disk, I accessed your content. But, like I said before, if last week I got somehow one big archive with 10.000 of books in it, are you assuming that I read them all?
Of course, when it comes to law and enforcement we have to be practical. And here is where we have to make a choice: the "downloaders-are-criminals" party is de facto stating that the law must assume that I'm able to collapse centuries of reading in one week, the "leave-downloaders-alone" supporters are not willing to make this assumption: to them, being practically impossibile to proove the access to the actual content and to discriminate what I really read from my 10k package, I should be acquitted for insufficient evidence (*****).
What is your choice?
(*) the permission is critical: book borrowers, library goers, present receivers, and lots of other people are reading the book without paying for it. I will never consider them "criminal" nor "pirates" by any means.
(**) in this case, physical goods analogy like counterfeiting are dismissed in advance as ridiculous and clearly out of context.
(***) the advantage for hard disk producers is negligible in the case of a single book. And we will never find some author go after Seagate because they produced the disk drive where alleged illicit material was stored...
(****) maybe, in some countries the Law may say that I was a criminal from the moment I gave the same name to a file, but I'm not talking Laws, by now. So, please, try to read it from an abstract point of view.
(*****) of course, if forensics can proove beyond any reasonable doubt that I read the content of the file, I've been proven guilty. But it can't.