From: Kragen Sitaker (email@example.com)
Date: Mon Apr 24 2000 - 11:48:28 PDT
Tom Whore writes:
> On Mon, 24 Apr 2000, Kragen Sitaker wrote:
> --]Otherwise it's civil copyright infringement, not a crime.
> Crime is crime. Infractions of the legal code is crime. Jaywalking is a
Some infractions of the legal code are torts; others are crimes.
They're prosecuted differently, are tried in different courts, have
different standards of evidence, and different possible penalties
attach to them.
A tort is when you infringe on someone else's rights. That person can
then file suit against you (they're called a "plaintiff", because
they're complaining about you.) This is a "civil case", and is tried
in a civil court; civil cases can result in the court assessing damages
you must pay the plaintiff or enjoining you to do something (for
example, cut your damn tree so it doesn't shade their solar panel).
Civil cases are decided on the basis of the preponderance of the
evidence; you can win a civil case even if it's not certain you're in
the right (regardless of whether you're the plaintiff or the
If the person whose rights you have violated doesn't care, no civil
suit gets filed. If they do care, they file a suit.
A crime is when you commit an offense against all of society (possibly
hurting someone). Obviously jaywalking falls in this category; it's
not an offense against any person in particular. The state files suit
against you; the person whose job this is is called a "prosecutor".
If there are people your alleged crime has allegedly harmed, they may
or may not be involved in the trial at all. They can even be opposed
to the prosecution --- for example, in statutory-rape cases ---
although this is not the usual case. Conversely, simply because
someone thinks you've committed a crime against them doesn't mean they
can take you to court.
This is a "criminal case", and is tried in a criminal court. Losing a
criminal case as a defendant can result in being ordered to pay
restitution, but also can result in being jailed, committed to a mental
institution, fined (the money goes to the state), enslaved, or
Criminal cases are decided on the basis of "reasonable doubt" --- if
there is reasonable doubt, the verdict is supposed to be "not guilty".
Hope this elucidates the matter somewhat. Civil copyright infringement
is emphatically not a crime.
-- <firstname.lastname@example.org> Kragen Sitaker <http://www.pobox.com/~kragen/> The Internet stock bubble didn't burst on 1999-11-08. Hurrah! <URL:http://www.pobox.com/~kragen/bubble.html> The power didn't go out on 2000-01-01 either. :)
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