A Comment By Ehud Tokatly

Thou Shalt Not Steal

Now, isn't it obvious? The prohibition to steal is probably the most universal moral principle after the ban on murder. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I know of no civilisation that permits theft. So how is it that stealing has become almost legitimate if it is done through modern technology?

I refer to the rapid spread of using materials that are legally protected by copyright, without the owners' permission. You know what I am talking about. Can any of us swear that s/he has never copied illegally any text, image, song, video or computer software? Today's tools make it so easy to take things and use them, ignoring all copyright warnings. We do it in private, using our home computers or video and audio recorders. We do it regularly and almost everyone we know does the same. It doesn't feel illegal or unethical. We would never dream of stealing any physical object, but when it comes to intellectual property, we have lost all shame. The fact is that we are thieves. Some-one worked on what we take and s/he expected us to pay for it.

So we make up excuses: "I don't use it for business, only for my private use".

Really? Did the author allow this?

Or: "Come on, everyone does it."

So what?

Or: "Don't ask me to feel sorry for Bill Gates."

Indeed, modern Robin Hoods!

The technology may be new but our weaknesses are as old as humankind is. If we want creative people to go on making spledid things for us, we must respect their rights and stop stealing their work!

Ehud Tokatly, 7/April/2005

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