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Educational Software Thread, Licenses & Law in Technical; I agree with your sentiment Grumbledook but I disagree with your understanding of the word Theft. By your own statement, ...
  1. #16
    metalmonkey
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    Re: Licenses & Law

    I agree with your sentiment Grumbledook but I disagree with your understanding of the word Theft.

    By your own statement, does that mean I can take your car for 9 weeks, without your permission, as long as I leave a note to say I will return it?

    Theft is taking something without permission, no matter who or what it's taken from.

    However, I agree that stealing software is a grey area. How can something be stolen that is virtual. It has no physical existance.

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    webman's Avatar
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    Re: Licenses & Law

    Quote Originally Posted by metalmonkey
    By your own statement, does that mean I can take your car for 9 weeks, without your permission, as long as I leave a note to say I will return it?
    With that car - there is only one of - he will not be able to use it while you are. But with software and/or code - the original code can, in a technical sense, still be used no matter how many other "copies" there are of it.

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    Re: Licenses & Law

    The definition of theft is the legal definition. This I know ... and the 50 press ups I had to do every time I got a definition even one word wrong during the police training sort of helps to drill it into your head.

    This is why the term "software theft" is difficult to pin down.

    Even FAST, the Federation Against Software Theft, actually talk about software copyright and piracy rather than theft. They use the word "theft" as a colloquial term rather than legal, ie it is something that is easier for Joe Public to understand than copyright.

    Infringement of copyright or intellectual property is a bit of a mouthful and "steal" or "theft" can be grasped a lot quicker as "naughty" or "illegal". THe problem this causes is that when people other than the general public get involved, ie people like us who have to work within this area, it causes confusion because of a lack of clarity about what the use of code (either in individual line or completed apps) that you do not have a right to use actually entails. This includes the transfer of ownership of the right to run the code, use the code in other apps or pass off the code as your own.

    The Theft Act 1968, Theft Act 1978 (and subsequent amendment in 1996) do not cover this and until a legal defintion is change, either through case law or through acts of parliament, then we should be careful about what we call theft (especially as Theft is an arrestable offence under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, section 24, in particualr sections 24(4) and 24(5) which allows for arrests to be made made by those without Constables' Powers or other authority). If ripping of a copy of a CD was legally theft I could go out and arrest any child I found in school doing it. Or any of my friends who made me a copy of a CD they have, or anyone who downloads Vista when they do not have the right to it.

    And as mentioned above, it doesn't help that the group meant to assist with this uses the incorrect legal term themselves.

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