Have any noteworthy philosophers written about the ethics/morality of file-sharing (bittorrent and what-not)? If so, what are some of their positions?

Related but distinct: Is it immoral to download music illegally? Is unauthorized downloading of music stealing?

  • Wark's Hacker Manifesto might be worth a look
    – Joseph Weissman
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 12:12
  • From a theoretical computer science perspective, copyrighting songs and moves is tantamount to copyrighting a very large integer. From this perspective, it is a very strange and vexed notion. Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 14:39
  • But from that perspective, a child porn movie is also tantamount to a very large integer. Should there then also be free and open distribution of this very large integer?
    – user8677
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 4:42

1 Answer 1


Ayn Rand was in favour of copyrights and patents


Some of her admirers, such as Adam Mossoff have argued for her position and said that inetellectual property is not protected well enough on the net:


The basic idea is that an idea is the product of its creator's mind, just as a physical item is a product of its maker's work. Just as the latter should be protected from having the product of his work expropriated so should the former.

Some other commentators disagree with Rand, see



I will list some of the problems. First, the fact that I download a copy of an intellectual product does not deprive the maker of the use of his copies. Second, a person can independently create the same idea and if he does so why should he not be ale to use it? Third, there is no hard and fast line between ripping off intellectual property and producing an original contribution. The attempt to solve this problem through fair use doesn't work very well. There are many examples of a person posting a reply to a video on YouTube only to have it taken down with the excuse of copyright violation because the person who posted the original video doesn't appreciate criticism.

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