Pirates Steal Ships, Not Songs

If you copy this post and pass it off as your own, that’s called plagiarism. If you illegally download a Freakonomics e-book for yourself, that’s downlifting (or, more traditionally, bootlegging). If you want to be a pirate, downloading a bootleg of Hook isn’t going to get you there — you’re going to have to actually go out onto the high seas and commit yourself some illegal acts of violence or depredation. Confusing piracy at sea with “piracy” on the internet, according to Copycense, is misleading “public relations blather.” K. Matthew Dames furthers the case in this paper, investigating the etymology of piracy and finding just how far the word has strayed from its original meaning. [%comments]


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  1. Traciatim says:

    Downlifting sounds really bad, and doesn’t make much sense in the context. It’s copyright infringement, that’s all.

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  2. Dave says:

    This explains the situation perfectly, pass it on. I printed this cartoon and posted it on my fridge last summer before all the real piracy started, I thought it was clever but had no idea it would become a real issue. http://aureamediocritas.blogs.sapo.pt/129055.html

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  3. sblair says:

    Richard Stallman on software piracy:

    And when they say that “if you share [software], you’re a pirate”, they’re twisting up morality because they’re trying to equate helping your neighbour with attacking ships.

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  4. Laserlight says:

    Okay, you’ve referred to “downlifting”, you can stop now. Nobody’s going to understand that word without an explanation, and it’s no more accurate that “piracy” is.

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  5. Ryan Grant says:

    The piracy argument aside,can you please stop using the phrase ‘downlifting’. The comments showed most disagreed with it last time, and its perhaps even more confusing as a term.

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  6. trader n says:

    Thanks. I was confused about the different kinds of piracy.

    Though the guy I bought my copy of Freakonomics from had a parrot on his shoulder.

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  7. English Clergyman says:

    I like the term “downlifting”. I also imagine there are quite a few people more than happy with the term who aren’t expressing it, but are scared off by the vocals who dislike it.

    It seems to me that it’s in ways similar to shoplifting, if not identical, and thus using language to express that similarlity while not suggesting that they are identical isn’t out of place. Yes, it is also copyright infringement; lots of things are copyright infringement, so creating more specific terminology is useful.

    Furthermore, no one is requiring that you use the term. If the word really is confusing (not sure how it could be, but let’s say it is), it will fall out of use on its own. Don’t sweat it.

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  8. ObiJan says:

    Can we please just stop adding to the confusion.

    It’s called “copyright infringement” or “IP violation”. Period.

    Not “bootlegging”, not “piracy”, not “downlifting”.
    Not “theft”.

    No matter what side of the fence you are on, at least lets be accurate.

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