Piracy is robbery with violence, often segueing into murder, rape and kidnapping. It is one of the most frightening crimes in the world. Using the same term to describe a twelve-year-old swapping music with friends, even thousands of songs, is evidence of a loss of perspective so astounding that it invites and deserves the derision it receives.
Intellectual property, more than ever, is a line drawn around information, which asserts that despite having been set loose in the world - and having, inevitably, been created out of an individual's relationship with the world - that information retains some connection with its author that allows that person some control over how it is replicated and used.In other words, the claim that lies beneath the notion of intellectual property is similar or identical to the one that underpins notions of privacy. It seems to me that the two are inseparable, because they are fundamentally aspects of the same issue, the need we have to be able to do something by convention that is impossible by force: the need to ringfence certain information. I believe that the most important unexamined notion - for policymakers and agitators both - in these debates is that they are one: you can't persuade people on the one hand to abandon intellectual property (a decision which, incidentally, would mean an even more massive upheaval in the way the world runs than we've seen so far since 1990) and hope to keep them interested in privacy. You can't trash privacy and hope to retain a sense of respect for IP.