The Corner

Theft

“60 Minutes” did a long segment last night on Hollywood’s efforts to stop file-sharing of movies before they run into Napster-like doo-doo. The piece didn’t really raise any new issues. People who download movies they didn’t pay for are stealing. Period. The rationalizations don’t change that. I think the studios have every right to sue and insist on the criminal prosecution of anybody who facilitates theft of their property. Whether that’s a good P.R. or political move is another issue.

However, the one group of people I have absolutely no sympathy for are the movie stars themselves. I’m sure the directors and executives are right that file-sharing would put a huge crimp in the profits from — and therefore the investment in — films. And, sadly, the movie stars would probably be the last to feel the pinch. Nevertheless, it is the actors — not the carpenters, the gaffers and make-up artists — who are the ones who say time and again — “I’m the luckiest person in the world, I’m getting paid to do something I’d be happy to do for free.” Indeed you are profoundly fortunate to make millions of dollars doing something you claim to be a “calling.” So, if file-sharing creates downward pressure on movie-star salaries well that’s the silver lining to a widespread, middle-class crime wave.

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Illegal leaks of classified information should be treated as a serious offense. But they would be easier to prevent if less information were classified.