It scares me slightly more than the DMCA itself that so many who should know better are totally ignorant of basic copyright law, and, even worse, benefiting from it in a way that most do not elicit.  Obviously, if the the thief charges for the content or uses it as spider-food on a network of spam sites, that is a problem.  Regardless, the author can claim an opportunity cost.  But there is another problem, and it usually involves totally lily-"white hat" sites.

Assume every link on the internet to another page has a certain value in and of itself — an equity.  It increases the ranking of the site that receives that link as a whole, for one thing.  Any link that links to an unlicensed  instance has arguably effected a theft of equity deserved by the original author.  I've seen many cases of this.  Sometimes I find news articles on random sites all over the internet.  Some of them have quite a few backlinks.

Now, this is a harder case to substantiate than most of the others — but if the internet has a currency, it's the link.  The term "link equity" makes this concept fairly transparent.

Spammers get away with this because it's simply not worth pursuing a phantom personality with a false or hidden whois record and several thousand disposable spam sites.  They'll just pop up again elsewhere.  But when companies do it, I get concerned.  I seriously doubt that several of the companies I've seen "syndicating" news content are paying the royalties.

Any benefit achieved as a result of copyright infringement directly or indirectly is undeserved regardless.  There are laws that dictate "fair use" to regulate how much content one can lift for proprietary use.  This is what the law is for.  This sort of unethical behavior is off-limits to me.  In excess it's plain old theft.

It's only a matter of time, in my opinion, before the lawsuits pile up.  Then again, I question the legitimacy of search engines caching content and certain very important judges didn't think that was a problem either :)

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