Arnt Gulbrandsen
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2010-05-19

A beautiful strawman

Back in 2008, the Bundestag passed a law which may make network owners responsible for certain acts performed using their network, and does limit their responsibility to €100 or the plaintiff's legal costs, whichever is lower. A year or two later, the music industry sued a network owner, and the court decided that yes, the network owner was responsible, and the damages should be the full €100.

David P. Reed thought that was wrong, and put forward a classic strawman argument:

This sounds like if somebody discovers your keys in the car, takes the car, and commits multiple murders, you will be prosecuted with the likelihood of capital punishment, therefore leaving your keys in the car should be grounds for prosecuting you for intent to commit multiple murder. (source)

Civil law turns into criminal, a torrented song turns into multiple murder, ≤€100 turns into capital punishment, and it still sounds like.

A fond wish: I should like to see an actual useful, helpful strawman before I die. Surely strawmen, like most rhetorical techniques, can be used well, not always badly?