Deliberate, Principled, Self-Interested Lawbreaking: The Ethics of Digital ‘Piracy’
Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Forthcoming
37 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2018
Date Written: December 16, 2017
Is digital piracy – understood as illegally accessing or using copyrighted works, such as through a file-sharing platform – morally wrong? Such piracy typically falls into the intriguing category of self-interested lawbreaking, performed deliberately and in the context of a principled disagreement with the law. Existing treatments of the ethics of piracy fail to consider the full sweep of moral considerations implicated by such lawbreaking, collapsing the question into deceptively narrow enquiries. I argue there are many reasons, some stemming from quite surprising sources, for respecting copyright law, even for those who: think the law is unjust; are skeptical of the law’s democratic legitimacy; and are frustrated at the immoral behavior of large corporate content-providers.
Keywords: Copyright, Lawbreaking, Piracy, Intellectual Property, Rule of Law, Principle of Fairness
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