With all of yesterday’s hoopla about SOPA, it’s maybe time to pose this topic for discussion: What constitutes piracy? How and when is it committed? What role does the owner of a copyrighted product have in preventing/promoting the piracy of their product?

Follow up questions: Was using my cassette player to make a grainy and bad-sounding duplication of a radio station broadcast of Pearl Jam’s “Alive” an act of piracy? Was making a “mix tape” for my friends in high school an act of piracy? What do I do if I want a copy of an out-of-print album that is not available in mp3 format?

Additional talking point: iTunes used to have a barrier (protective code) on their mp3 downloads, which the record labels that used iTunes insisted upon, fearing that they would lose money if users were allowed to freely transfer their mp3s to one another. Now the labels have changed their minds, realizing that they will actually SELL MORE mp3s if they don’t have the protective code. How does this decision affect the piracy discussion?

These are questions I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, and it’s been difficult to find a solid framework on which to build conclusions, despite each side of the argument acting as if the answer is obvious. Let’s get some conversation going here…

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