"Crime"

If one violates the letter of the law of my country did he commit a crime? Not necessarily. A crime is an action that is globally accepted to be unethical, according to well-defined, absolute Ethics.

People who hid saved Jews during the Nazi regime, violated the law that took place in their lands. But can you call them "criminals" with a honest face? Not at all - they were very noble people, who did something almost everyone would agree was an ethical action.

Now, were people who bought Alcoholic beverages during the time the U.S.A. had alcoholic prohibition criminals? Again no. The Law at this point was completely irrational, and so the American Government could not have prevented such violations, and it was a regulation that the public could not withstand. [1]

Similarly one cannot argue that people who violate laws that prohibit the non-commercial duplication of digital works are criminals. Just because the law is there does not necessarily make it a right law or a beneficial law. One can argue that these people are law-violators (or "Avaryanim" in Hebrew), but that's not the same thing as a criminal.

Many times in history, acts of civil disobedience proved to be beneficial in the long run. The classical example for it is the American Revolution, but there are many other examples.



[1] One correspondant to this article complained that I shouldn't have given these two examples, because one cannot compare downloading files to the highly moral acts of the people who hid Jews during the Nazi reign, and because the Prohibition on alcohol was a starting point to the American mafia.

However, this is the style over substance fallacy, where one criticises the style of a writing instead of what it says. My point was to bring two cases where people were acting illegally yet were acting either ethically or just morally, and that the Law was not on Ethics' side in this case.