Deliberate, Principled, Self-Interested Law Breaking: The Ethics of Digital 'Piracy'

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Breakey, Hugh
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2018
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Abstract

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 law breaking, 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 law breaking, collapsing the question into deceptively narrow enquiries. I argue that there are many reasons, some stemming from quite surprising sources, for respecting copyright law, even for those who think the law is unjust, are sceptical of the law’s democratic legitimacy, and are frustrated at the immoral behaviour of large corporate content providers.

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Oxford Journal of Legal Studies

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38

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4

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© 2018 Oxford University Press. This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Oxford Journal of Legal Studies following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Deliberate, Principled, Self-Interested Law Breaking: The Ethics of Digital 'Piracy', Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Volume 38, Issue 4, Winter 2018, Pages 676–705, is available online at: 10.1093/ojls/gqy020

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Political science

Law in context

Applied ethics

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