Crosbie Fitch: Copyright is Theft – Infringement is Liberty
In 1709 Queen Anne annulled this natural right of individuals to make & sell copies of their possessions (relating to literary/graphic/printed works). The privilege of ‘copyright’ was thus created (annulling the people’s right to copy, for some arbitrary period, e.g. 14 years from publication).
To disobey this privilege of copyright is an infringement. It violates no right of the individual. On the contrary, it is a liberty and right that the individual is born with, but prohibited by law.
So, applying ‘steal’ or ‘theft’ to copyright infringement is to attempt to elevate the assertion of a natural liberty contrary to privilege into a crime. Similarly, when people claim copyright is a right (as if a natural or human right, as opposed to a legislatively granted quasi-right) this is to pretend a right is being violated, rather than a privilege being infringed.
By derogating from a person’s liberty to utilise their own property in certain ways (in private or in public), it is actually copyright that constitutes theft, not its infringement.
- Crosbie Fitch