Taking a little is OK but a lot isn't
crossf at MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU
Mon Oct 29 15:32:40 PST 2001
Literally, I think eating one grape or taking one pen from office supplies
would be theft. It would never be prosecuted but still would be
technically illegal. I'm not sure it's a good analogy to taking one copy
of a free paper.
A closer analogy might be where the grocery store has a large pile of
samples explicitly free for the taking. Some college student comes by and
eats them all, making them his free dinner. Absent some clear proscription
on this behavior, I don't think it is theft.
OTOH, in Eugene's other analogies, where a party takes all the free samples
and markets them for money, my gut still says this action should be theft.
If the student piles the free samples in a bag, takes them outside the
store and sells them for a quarter apiece, that just seems like theft. Can
a crimlaw expert advise whether a crime could properly be based on this
sort of distinction in the use of a product?
Herbert D. Kelleher Centennial Professor of Business Law
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712
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