An interesting thing is happening in Hollywood. They are complaining about the piracy of their movies and their intellectual property. Oh, by the way, these same people believe everything in life, particularly other’s intellectual property, should be free. However, not their intellectual property.
Here is a message for Hollywood and everyone else who thinks intellectual property should be free.
Authors, photographers, artists, musicians, poets, software engineers, instructional designers, in short, everyone who develops an idea and sells that idea, is entitled to payment for their efforts. It is, after all, how many make their living.
Unfortunately, there are those who believe they have the right to use other peoples’ work as their own, to take it without paying for it; they are, in a word, thieves. A robber is another good description for their personalities. Crooks.
When someone steals another’s work, it is the same as walking into the artist’s home or place of business and taking something that does not belong to him or her. The only difference between that and robbing a bank is that the intellectual thief does not use a weapon. This is probably why many get a pass on the crime.
However, depending on the severity of the transgression, one may not get a pass. More often, those who have their intellectual property stolen from them are taking action.
Case in point: a University of South Florida student believed $15 was too much for anyone to pay for a guide for a chemistry test. He took it upon himself to photocopy the entire guide, convert it into a PDF file, and then made it available to his classmates. (To read the entire story as reported by the Tampa Tribune, click here.)
The American Chemical Society is now in the process of pursuing legal action against the student. From the facts, the student may have some real concerns regarding his professional reputation in the future, as well as financial concerns if the court finds for the plaintiff. He may have to pay a substantial amount of money to the Society for his actions.
Many younger students do not realize the seriousness of stealing intellectual property. This includes text, photos, music, art, software code, and more. Some who have had their work stolen from them will roll their eyes and curse under their breath.
Others, however, may take action.
© 2011 J. Clark