Internet Piracy

Internet piracy occurs when copyrighted digital files are unlawfully reproduced and/or distributed on the Internet. Piracy can be done with music, movies, e-books, software, and other files. Many people see internet piracy as a worldwide crime problem because it is relatively easy to commit and difficult to catch. Among the first types of files to be pirated were music files known as mp3s. In the 1990s, many file sharing programs were developed which provided an easy way to share these types of files. The incredible popularity of these programs has resulted in a backlash from the artistic community, which see the increase in pirated music as a loss of profits. Different countries have different laws regarding mp3 sharing. In Canada and Europe, it is legal to have copied music files for personal use, whereas in the United States it is illegal. In most Western countries, it is illegal to have pirated movie files.

New technologies like the computer and the Internet create a problem for copyright law. They make sharing information easier and faster over long distances, but the traditional copyright system relies on the ability of copyright holders to control who has the ability to access and copy their work. Copyright owners and producers lose billions of dollars per year due to internet piracy. Several pieces of legislation have been proposed to combat internet piracy. In the United States, the two main bills are the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), and the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA). These bills would allow copyright holders to forbid online advertising networks to work with foreign websites involved in pirating. It would also forbid search engines from linking to such sites. A larger effort against internet piracy is the multinational treaty Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). If passed, the agreement would establish an international legal framework for targeting internet piracy, and create a new international governing body (similar to the World Trade Organization).

Those in favor of the legislation cite statistics showing that over the next five years, over a million jobs and up to 240 billion Euros will be lost in the European Union due to internet piracy. This huge lost in profit not only harms the job market, but it limits the amount of research and development funds available for creating new products. The rate of innovation and the quality of products on the market could decrease. Furthermore, pirated material can be sold at lesser quality or connected to viruses and hacking programs.

Opponents of the proposed legislation claim that it infringes on fundamental rights including freedom of expression and privacy. Many fear that if companies or governments have the power to cut off access to websites that have connections with piracy, even unknowingly, this could limit internet innovations in the future. The next YouTube, Wikipedia, or Facebook might not be possible if such laws are passed. The Internet has fundamentally changed the way people access information (including intellectual property, such as music, movies, and books). Many people believe copyright laws need to change as well.

What do you think? Is internet piracy a problem? What is the solution?

Background Resources

Internet Piracy – Printable worksheet with discussion questions

Maturita Oral Requirements – Science and Technology

Vocabulary List – Science and Technology

BBC News – Different viewpoints on Anti-piracy efforts 

Forbes – How the Entertainment Industry can beat internet piracy


Posted on February 27, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Do you ever download pirated files?
    Yep. I am poor. I pirate movies, books, games and music. I am not proud of it but I do not consider it a crime/theft. It’s copyright infringement, nobody is deprived of ownership of anything. It’s morally wrong, but moral standards differ on the basis of economic circumstances. Paying 50 euros for a book/videogame is not an option for me. My shoes cost 10 bucks, ok? 😀 But I could just live without any of that, right? Well… no. I like culture, and doing that would be like putting myself in a sensory deprivation tank. So… no… sorry 😀

    What can the entertainment and fashion industries do to better protect their copyrighted material (movies, songs, etc.)?
    Buger all. Or rather… on a technical/legislation level – very little. People will always find a new way. What they CAN do is produce content so good that even pirates wont mind throwing money at them. Many indie companies use Free-to-play/Pay-what-you want models – not an option everywhere, but worth mentioning. In time, an atmosphere in which it is morally unacceptable to pirate content will eventually form. Not yet.

    If no one pays for music, games and movies, people won’t make them, or won’t make them as good. What do you think of this?
    But that’s not going to happen, is it? People will always be willing to pay, at least some. But you have a point. Piracy does hurt the entertainment industry. But how much? Nobody knows. Pirated copy DOESN’T EQUAL lost sale. All the numbers about about millions of copies pirated and billions of dollars stolen are meaningless and offer no precise indication of any actual loss. And the best stuff always makes a killing. I haven’t heard about a brilliant videogame that failed because of piracy. Because it was badly marketed? Sure. Because it wasn’t very good? Yeah. But it’s never just piracy.

    Would a bill protecting intellectual copyright lead to greater censorship?
    Hell yes. Piracy is on the surface virtually indistinguishable from file sharing. To fight piracy with brute force (which is what they are trying to do) you have to give an enormous amount of power to the government. Too much power. It would be 1984 all over again.

    Do you think ACTA is a good solution? Why or why not? What might be a better solution?
    Do I think an international treaty, affecting the Internet, negotiated and signed in secret, by 60 year old men who haven’t even BOTHERED TO READ THE SODDING THING is a good solution? No. You are not going to stop piracy by banging your head against the wall. Better service > punishment. Suing teenagers for downloading music doesn’t work. Innovation works. Steam works. iTunes works. Netflix works.

    Would the proposed legislation hurt economic growth and damage possibilities for innovation?
    Are you kidding? Internet is the best invention of our time. It is part of our lives. It drives economies. It creates jobs. It gives people chances to express their creativity and show their creations to the world. Information flowing free makes our societies less corrupt, more transparent, more… democratic. That’s why politicians and Intellectual property owners teamed up to cripple it. Politicians are afraid of the sunlight and record labels/production companies are afraid of competition – because Internet is their competition, by giving everyone a chance to become successful, it RENDERS THEIR OUTDATED BUSINESS MODELS OBSOLETE. These days you don’t need to sign a contract with anyone. Nobody has to green-light your idea. And that fact drives them mad. Thats why they are trying to create a climate where VCs and angel investors don’t want to put their money behind starting internet businesses. Because such sites could get shut down on the MERE SUSPICION of piracy – without hard evidence, without proper trial, on the slightest whim of the authorities that are miles away from independent.

    What do you think of the closure of the site
    It sucks. Not because I can’t watch The Community on Megavideo anymore, but for the tens of thousands of legitimate users who lost their files – files that had nothing to do with pirated content. Think about THAT for a second. Collective responsibility is rarely a good thing. What ACTA/PIPA/SOPA would do is make a company responsible for actions of it’s users/customers. With this kind of legislation they could take down Youtube. You-F**king-Tube! That’s like if somebody put something stolen in a bank deposit and the police would come and SHUT DOWN AN ENTIRE BANK… Scary thing is… They didn’t even need any of this to shut down MegaUpload. That’s a proof that the government has more than enough power as it is.

    Well that sure was fun. The rant is over.
    My work here is done.
    – J.U.

    P.S: Love your work btw. 🙂

  2. Megaupload was the best, not only for the American but also for whole Europe at least. I couldn´t believe when i first heard about this law. For me it´s unreal to lose my files and when the internet will be controlled, everything could be more abused by some people and we can´t have mind freedom not even on the internet, we would be only machines without own opinions and we couldn´t hear another opinion, that´s why the censorhip too is not good way to improve the internet.

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