Core favorite We Make Money Not Art pointed the way recently, via an interview with artist Paolo Cirio, to a new "crime" reaching epidemic proportions in the shops and newsstands of Japan: Digital Shoplifting.
According to the BBC article describing it, young Japanese (mostly female) shoppers are getting quite comfortable integrating quick photos into their phone discussions. So comfortable, in fact, that it's a crime.
The Japanese Magazine Publishers Association is describing the common practice of shooting and sending snapshots of cute dress and hairstyle layouts in magazines as "information theft," and is spearheading an advertising campaign to discourage it. It's too early to say for sure whether it'll be effective, but our money is on "not a chance." The BBC article mentions the difficulty shop employees have distinguishing between chatting and taking snapshots, but there's the deeper issue of calling an action illegal when it is expressly encouraged by the introduction of a recent technology.Any attentive analysis of personal communications trends over the last decade or two would pick up on the tendency for correspondence to embrace an ever wider spectrum of media. Where phones were once just phones, and letters were typed on paper and transported by gas-burning vehicles, the definition of what constitutes correspondence has now gotten so broad that practically every subculture gets to have its own. Email includes video clips, radio comes with text, IM can do file transfer, phones send songs, and now Japanese girls are turning into criminals for taking an obvious next step.
While we at Core believe enthusiastically in the sanctity of creative property, we're also aware that the idea of publishing is different in a world with the above possibilities. If it is a violation of copyright to snap a picture of a magazine to illustrate to your friend what you're talking about, we're not too far from a time when that's tantamount to billing your brunch friends for discussing an article in the latest New Yorker.