On the language of piracy

There's another article in The Guardian today on piracy, and it inspired me to finally wrtie a post I've been sitting on. This post doesn't discuss the ethics of piracy; I'm going to try to show you a flaw in the way that some try to fight piracy.

A campaign is needed to educate the new wave of ereader owners that downloading illegal ebooks from torrent sites is theft, amid signs that the piracy of books is increasing, authors claim.Crime writer David Hewson, author of the Italy-set Nic Costa novels, said a campaign along the lines of "People Who Love Books Don't Steal Books" was urgently required – because readers who consider themselves his fans are downloading pirated copies of his ebooks and audiobooks.

I don't want to talk about whether it's good or bad, right or wrong. I just want to look at the language used in this debate. It's causing a short circuit because not everyone is using it the same.

A lot of people are using the word theft as a synonym for copyright infringement, and that's a problem. I understand why and how they're using this word, but I'm not sure they do. In this case, it's used for the emotional connotation, not the dictionary definition.

The 2 words do not have the same dictionary definition, which is why some people protest that theft isn't infringement. From their viewpoint, it's not. If you want to stop piracy, you need to learn to speak their language.  I'm not saying your position is right or wrong, just that you are failing to communicate.

Everyone who agrees with how you use the words already agrees with your position (or they are amoral jerks who aren't worth your time). You need to reach out to people who use the dictionary definitions. Until you speak the same language, you will not be able to change their mind.

About Nate Hoffelder (11578 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

1 Comment on On the language of piracy

  1. You put it very well.I have thought this myself. Separately each claim alone has many flaws and downsides in proving. Yet inappropriately used together it forms this mythical snake oil medicine that cures what ails the industries.

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