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Piracy is known by a variety of names, including internet piracy, online piracy, and digital piracy, to name a few, but regardless of the name, piracy is the illegal copying of protected property that violates the owner’s copyright. Making unlawful copies of copyrighted music, games, software, electronic books, and movies, as well as streaming that content without authorization, are all examples of piracy.
What do you need to know about piracy?
Piracy has various conceptual bases and core causes, and there is no single motivation for it. It’s a typical pirate mantra that producing a digital copy isn’t actually theft. No one is hurt since the original exists. Of fact, that’s a flimsy argument, because any unlawful reproduction is a possible missed sale for the copyright owner. Doing so on a large scale can harm the owner and undermine the motivation to develop new content.
Other pirates have agreed that all digital content should be free, and that piracy is assisting in this goal. This concept ignores the fact that content creation isn’t free, and there’s no motivation to produce more if one can’t recoup their investment and earn a profit.
Theft and unlawful copying of copyrighted content is illegal, regardless of motivation, and copyright owners are protected by various laws. United States Code Title 17 Sections 501 and 506 are federal statutes that authorise substantial civil and criminal penalties for the unauthorised reproduction, distribution, rental, or digital transmission of copyrighted sound recordings in the area of music and sound recording, for example. Other types of digital content are also protected by the law. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it illegal to circumvent digital rights management (DRM) software.
The most popular online piracy sources
There are many different sorts of digital content that are pirated, and thus many different types of piracy. Some of the more common examples are shown below.
Sites that provide live streaming
Pirates are known for cracking movies and setting up streaming sites where customers may watch copyrighted content for free. These sites are easy to find on the internet, but using them is inconvenient and dangerous. Watching pirated movies on streaming sites is frequently riddled with pop-up adverts that interrupt the viewing experience, as well as a major source of malware (such as viruses and ransomware) that may be loaded without your knowledge when you visit the site.
It’s hard to discuss piracy without mentioning the site that epitomised widespread piracy at the time. Napster, a music sharing site that launched in the late 1990s, allowed users to post, exchange, and download music recordings in the then-new MP3 format. Napster was sued and eventually went bankrupt because its concept was a breach of copyright law, but the music business also notoriously sued many ordinary users (including children) for using the service.
Peer-to-peer piracy is still going strong today. Sites like BitTorrent allow users to share and download copyrighted content without fear of legal repercussions, and anybody who uses the site is liable because peer-to-peer networks keep portions of files on individual user computers, hence the name “peer-to-peer.”
Cyberlockers and Cloud Services
Rather than using peer-to-peer networks to transmit files to all users’ computers, some pirates just store pirated content in the cloud, on services such as Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive. Although cloud service providers work hard to eliminate so-called cyberlockers, pirates can quickly create new accounts once they’ve been detected and removed.
Sites for online auctions
Software rental companies had a thin veneer of legitimacy in the days before the internet, allowing you to trial commercial software by “renting” it. You’d get discs and a user guide in the mail, and you’d have to return the programme after a certain period of time – but in actuality, it was a haven for pirates who would duplicate the software (and photocopy the user guide) and then share it with their pals. To prevent piracy, one early type of DRM was to create user instructions that were difficult to photocopy. Pirates regularly utilise auction platforms like eBay to unlawfully sell copies of software applications in modern times. If you acquire software from a site like that, you should be extremely cautious to ensure that you’re obtaining unused, factory-fresh software.
How to Stay Away From Piracy
Because the nature of digital media makes it difficult to tell when anything has been stolen or pirated, you must be cautious in avoiding supporting piracy if you want to avoid breaking the law and injuring producers by limiting their revenue.
What can be done to stop the spread of pirated software?
If you’re worried about your family or yourself accessing pirated content, there are a few things you can take to be sure you’re not downloading or sharing it. If you have children, utilise the parental controls on their computers and mobile devices to restrict which websites they can access.
Even if you don’t upload or download pirated material, you are materially assisting pirates due to the underlying technology in peer-to-peer services like BitTorrent – parts of pirated software can be stored on your PC without your knowledge due to the underlying technology in peer-to-peer services like BitTorrent. It’s advisable to stay away from these websites totally.
Stick to major sites and applications for services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and Disney Plus to watch TV series and movies instead of apparently free streaming sites.
For that matter, don’t stream from ad-free streaming sites; instead, utilise well-known sites and apps for services like Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, SoundCloud, and Tidal.
In general, trust your gut. You should be able to discern the difference between a trustworthy commercial site and a shady source of pirated data. When in doubt, conduct a search to learn more about a website or avoid it totally.
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