Many publishers often refer to copying they don’t approve of as “piracy.” In this way, they imply that it is ethically equivalent to attacking ships on the high seas, kidnapping and murdering the people on them. Based on such propaganda, they have procured laws in most of the world to forbid copying in most (or sometimes all) circumstances. (They are still pressuring to make these prohibitions more complete.)

The supporters of a too-strict, repressive form of copyright often use words like “stolen” and “theft” to refer to copyright infringement. This is spin, but they would like you to take it for objective truth.

Unauthorized copying is forbidden by copyright law in many circumstances (not all!), but being forbidden doesn’t make it wrong. In general, laws don’t define right and wrong. Laws, at their best, attempt to implement justice. If the laws (the implementation) don’t fit our ideas of right and wrong (the spec), the laws are what should change.

People should have right to copy and share what they own. When you purchase something you should be able to do whatever you want with it and that means you should be able to copy it, share it, keep it secret, use it as you wish, burn or destroy it, or even throw it away without using it. If it’s yours, it should work as you wish, not as someone else says.

Many refer to copying as piracy or theft to manipulate you so you think you’re doing something ethically wrong but copying is not theft. In theft, you take something from somewhere or someone but with copying you’re just creating a new piece of that thing.

Imagine your car gets stolen but it’s still there!

If you don’t believe that copying not approved by the publisher is just like kidnapping and murder, you might prefer not to use the word “piracy” to describe it. Neutral terms such as “unauthorized copying” (or “prohibited copying” for the situation where it is illegal) are available for use instead. Some of us might even prefer to use a positive term such as “sharing information with your neighbor.”

A US judge, presiding over a trial for copyright infringement, recognized that “piracy” and “theft” are smear-words.


Part of this post is taken from GNU.org web site.