Austin Ziegler wrote:
 > On 5/16/06, Tim Becker <a2800276 / gmail.com> wrote:
 >> Pirating a pdf is not theft. Stealing something implies that the 
owner is no
 >> in possession of that object. I.e. I steal your car, you no longer 
have a car.
 >> Pirating is copyright infringement. There is a difference, even if
 >> some people in this thread are implying copyright infringement is
 >> tantamount to murder.
 >
 > When you unlawfully deprive someone of something that is rightfully
 > theirs, that is theft. The *act* which leads to that theft may be
 > copyright infringement, but the end result is that something *has*
 > been stolen from the publisher and, in turn, the author.

Actually, nope.  In Dowling v. United States, 473 U.S. 207 (1985) it was 
ruled in a case dealing with bootleg records that "18 U.S.C. 2314 
[transport of stolen property in interstate commerce] does not apply to 
this case because the rights of a copyright holder are 'different' from 
the rights of owners of other kinds of property."  It is still a 
criminal offense under the Copyright Act, but it is not theft in the 
same way that taking a physical object would be: primarily because you 
are depriving someone of purely hypothetical gain, what they would have 
made had you purchased the copyrighted work, rather than something they 
already owned.

[--- cut from other message ---]

 >> Life is not that black and white, and downloading a PDF to peruse, or
 >> to read in its entirety, is barely different from checking out a book
 >> from the library or borrowing from a friend.
 >
 > No, you're wrong. With the borrowed book, you must return it. With the
 > illegally copied PDF, there's no incentive for you to delete it -- or
 > even do the right thing and *buy* the book. Consider Baen's successful
 > experiment of Webscriptions. There are books that I have read from the
 > free site and not turned around and bought anything further from that
 > author, or have not bought the paperback or hardcover books. There are
 > others, though, that I have done exactly that (David Weber's books,
 > certainly).

First, I want to say that I understand and agree with you.  The moral 
thing is to purchase the book.  What I want to get across is that the 
value in a book is largely in the knowledge that it contains.  That 
knowledge can be ascertained just as well from a borrowed version as 
from a digitally copied one, and the fact that the lender doesn't have 
access to it temporarily has no effect on the copyright holder.  This is 
not only a gray area morally, in my opinion at least, but it is still a 
sticky point in common practice.  Apple's iTunes, for example, will only 
stream songs over the network to other computers 5 times per day.  That 
was arbitrarily put in the software to appease the record labels, and it 
is trying to come somewhere between music "piracy" and "sharing". 
(Well, I think in the EU you can copy an album up to 5 times total, or 
something like that, but this is 5 times per day, which is just a 
decision Apple made.)

This is definitely not black and white.

That being said, I don't envy the position of an author today.  DRM is 
virtually guaranteed to fail no matter what hair-brain scheme is 
created, and for the vast majority of consumers it is just a major pain 
in the ass.  This is why I think creators of copyrighted works that can 
be digitally copied are going to need to find new ways to add value, 
which compel people to purchase the work.  Computers, the internet and 
P2P are disruptive technologies to be sure, but the benefits far 
outweigh the harm.  (When farming became mechanized lots of people lost 
their jobs... Should we have stopped it?)  The thriving musicians are 
touring and sell directly to their fans, for example.  Oh wait, that's 
basically what Dave Thomas does too...

I'm currently teaching a course based on ruby and rails, and David's 
book looks like it could be a perfect fit for the next time it's taught. 
  Know where I can download it to check it out before buying 30? :-)

-Jeff