Chapter 9: The Historical Line
Footnote: What is Theft?
The wanderer's notion that things which are 'just there' are rightly for the taking is manifest in the modern world. This is particularly so as regards intellectual property.
I heard in a television documentary how a journalist lifted practically a whole chapter out a book and published it as her own article in a national newspaper. The publishers of the book discovered it. They challenged the newspaper. The newspaper paid compensation which the publisher and the author had to share between them. It was half what the journalist had received for the article. The journalist was never penalised, and still ended up with twice as much as the publishers and the original author put together.
Similar things have happened with computer software. So if society does not actively punish a businessman who steals a copy of my computer software to use for his own gainful purpose, why then is it not also OK for me to hot-wire his Mercedes and take possession of it to use for getting myself around so that I can find myself a job?
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© July 1996 Robert John Morton