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- Subject: bbs bs
- From: BURT ROGER
- Date: 10 Jul 1991 11:08:00
Software publishers should get some help from the authorities in chasing
thieves, but the reports I've gotten on what this particular bunch has
been doing are ludicrous. Tons of money are being spent to chase
fairly minor infractions and (according to my cop friend) the agencies
involved are getting desparate for a splashy big-bucks bust.
It may be that I do apply a slightly different standard to software
publishers than retail merchants. I think our legal system has created
a problem by treating intellectual property exactly as if it were
material property. There is a difference: if someone rips off the
corner grocer, whatever the thief took is gone. Software isn't quite
the same because it isn't zero-sum; if someone steals a program by
copying it the original is still there to be sold. Is it still wrong?
Yes. But is it the same as theft of material property? Not really,
and as long as we continue to try to behave as if the two are identical
we're going to have problems.
Sidebar: another aspect of actions against sysops. (This next bit is
from memory and I may have a detail or two wrong but the general story
is correct.) A person who WAS hauled into court by law enforcement
agencies had posted a two-page internal document from Southern Bell.
Bell said the document was worth $77,000 and made a big deal about how
it could be used to mess up 911 service. The case against the accused
evaporated when one of his lawyers cross-examined an employee of
Southern Bell and it came out that the document's contents could not be
used to disrupt 911 service and the document was available to the public
for a charge of $13.
Seems to me that tax dollars could find better use.