Piracy at Home
Piracy refers to the illegal copying, distribution, or use of software, music, movies or any other media that can be digitally stored and transferred. In 1998, revenue losses from software piracy were estimated at $11 billion worldwide (1998 Global Software Piracy Report, May 1999). The Recording Industry Association of America reported a loss of $4.2 billion in 2001 and the Motion Picture Association of America projects a loss of $3 billion annually due to piracy. Illegal piracy causes significant lost revenue for publishers, which in turn results in higher prices for the consumer.
Users may create backups of CDs, DVDs, and computer programs in case the original fails. Distributing these backups, however, is illegal.
On the surface, piracy doesn’t seem to harm anyone. Expensive software applications are sometimes “loaned” between users to avoid licensing costs. In much the same way, digital music formats have made trading songs commonplace.
Most of the piracy on the Internet is carried out using Peer-to-Peer (P2P) network applications such as Kazaa, Bearshare, and Gnutella. These programs facilitate the sharing of copyrighted files quickly, seamlessly, and virtually anonymously. Unfortunately, these programs can cause many problems, including slower Internet speeds and the possibility of inadvertently downloading a virus.
If misconfigured, “Peer-to-Peer” file sharing programs can share personal information, such as banking records with anonymous users online.
There are four specific categories of piracy:
In the United States, software pirates can be punished with statutory damages of up to $100,000. If you are convicted of a felony charge of software piracy, you can get up to a five-year prison sentence plus fines of up to $250,000 for each work that is infringed.
How to Fight Piracy
The first step in fighting piracy is to make sure you don't contribute to it knowingly or unknowingly. Buy media only from authorized dealers. If you discover that you might have a counterfeit copy of a software application, movie, or CD, contact the dealer you bought it from. Keep in mind that they may have been fooled, too.
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