As a writer in the age of the Internet, I've learned not to get too excited about intellectual property abuse (as a victim - I don't mean to suggest that it's one of my own vices). My blogs are regularly scraped by all sorts of people from other bloggers sharing the content with due credit (though not necessarily with permission), to unsavoury characters using the content to legitimize or as a wrapper for unwholesome spam, scams, malicious binaries and so on. My books are plundered and redistributed in ways that save the recipients the need to reach into their pockets so that I or the publisher recoup the investment of time, creativity, and financial resources into the publication process. Even my personal data, my thoughts and photographs, are used as collateral in a million ways by social media providers, if I let them. C'est la vie, and to some extent it's inevitable when everyone is, in a very broad sense of the word, a published writer, every PC is a virtual photocopier, and anyone can be a revolutionary. If the shades of Proudhon and Marx really stand in support of the fight for freedom, trainers and flatscreen TVs, no doubt they're even more supportive of the misappropriation and abuse of ideas and expression, now that they are long past the need to collect royalties on their own works.
(Hat tip to Andrew Lee for the pointer to the TechThump spoof story.)
Society - let alone the law - has yet to adjust to the fact that while the Web makes abuse of IPR infinitely easy, that doesn't justify such abuse. In fact, in many cases (and I'm not talking about hacktivists coldly and intentionally equating their own self-interest with the well-being of the world at large), web-users are simply not realizing that the infinite availability of resources is not just about information wanting to be free. In fact, that availability (and the anonymity that often accompanies it) put a heavier burden of responsibility on the individual. Right now, many people are failing to extrapolate from norms of expected social behaviour in the real world to desirable ways of behaving in the real world: individuals who wouldn't dream of stealing from a shop or picking a pocket, shouting insults at a neighbour or slandering them in public, may not realize that some of their activities on the Internet is no different in principle.
Laws tend to adjust slowly to social and technological trends, especially trends that change with the dramatic speed that modern IT allows. Still, change does happen. I've been subscribed for quite a few years to a news/commentary service from international lawyers Pinsent Masons, hosted at http://out-law.com/. One of their bulletins led me to a nice summary of the IP Crime Group's 2010-2011 Report. The report itself is a fairly hefty 70 pages, but it's essential reading if you're interested in a UK-specific view of what's happening in IP crime (and crime management) pertaining to copyright and trademark infringement in particular. (In the UK, patent and design rights infringement is not considerered to be IP crime.)
I certainly expect to return to the topic in the near future. And no doubt my comments will be reproduced in all sorts of unexpected venues. :)