Lack of economic harm from rights infringement not whole story

The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS), a scientific institute of the European Commission, released a report with a familiar message: illegal music downloads aren't a substitute for legal music downloads. While I believe this type of research is critical to debunk the outrageous claims about the economic harm abused to justify backward policy choices, I don't think economic impact alone is the entire story.

If someone broke into our home and did not take anything, only rummaged through our belongings (possibly taking pictures, etc), we would still feel violated. Integral to home ownership is the right to decide who can enter our homes, and our privacy and property rights are violated even if nothing was taken or damaged, and there was no economic impact.

Given the growth in how much of our intimate lives are stored and communicated through digital technology, the same should be understood of technology property. Given computers simply follow instructions given to them in the form of software, the right to decide what software is installed is equivalent to the right to decide who can enter our homes. Even when there is no economic impact our rights are violated when unauthorized software intrudes on our digital homes.

This is why what is proposed by pro-infringement copyright holders who seek legal protection for infringements of technology property rights is so offensive. They use false claims of economic harm to justify direct and contributory infringements of our technology property rights, all the while claiming that there is no harm. It is clear that they are offended when people infringe their rights in scenarios where there isn't economic harm, and yet claim to plead ignorance to the far more harmful infringements of other peoples rights they promote.

(Discussion on G+)