Proponents of ever stronger and longer copyrights, supported by ever more draconian enforcement mechanisms, like to throw around terms like “piracy” and “theft” for the emotional reactions they provoke. This is not, as Matt Yglesias notes, an aid to clear thinking: Copyright infringement and theft are both illegal—along with jaywalking, murder, and speeding—but they’re otherwise quite different acts, which are quite properly treated very differently as a matter of law, and prioritized differently as a matter of enforcement practice. The most obvious reason the analogy fails is that “theft” centrally involves depriving the owner of the thing that’s stolen. Copying a CD or DVD for a friend—or letting them borrow your copy, for that matter—may occasionally displace a legitimate purchase, but it doesn’t leave the artist or rightsholder with any fewer copies than they had before. That’s not to say copyright infringement isn’t also problematic, or something the government needn’t worry about deterring. Copyright maximalists insist on “theft” instead of “copyright infringement,” however, mostly because they don’t want people thinking too hard about the myriad ways these offenses are different, and how they might therefore call for different policy responses.