From some comments in Seinfeld’s Elaine is Anti-IP:
Jay Lakner July 26, 2010 at 11:24 pm
Ok let’s try this again, but with a different approach.
An author, let’s called him Adam, wishes to sell his book but he only wants official copies to be in circulation.
His intent is to prevent people from duplicating his book.
The means by which he tries to achieve this intent is by selling each copy with a contract whereby the buyer is prohibited from performing actions that duplicate the book.
A careful study of cause and effect demonstrates that if nobody violates the contract, then his intented aim will be fulfilled.
One of the buyers of the book violates the contract and spreads copies out to others.
A third party, who I’ll refer to as Patrick, finds one of these copies in his possession.
Patrick knows that the only reason this copy exists is because of a previous violation of contract.
Patrick knows that Adam’s intent in forming the contract was to prevent free copies from circulating.
Patrick knows, through cause and effect, that had no violation of the contract originally occurred then Adam’s intent would have been realised.
Patrick knows, through cause and effect, that if he were to further duplicate this copy, the result would be in violation of Adam’s intent.
With all this knowledge of the situation, is Patrick allowed to duplicate his copy?
An otherwise peaceful action can be illegal if the actor has knowledge of certain criminal actions that preceded it. The intent to copy is not illegal. However the intent to copy, in knowledge of the contract violations that preceded it, could very well be considered illegal.