What Does Piracy Mean?
Piracy refers to the unauthorized or illegal reproduction of copyrighted content which is then sold at very low prices in the ‘grey’ market. Over the years, as the ease of access to technology increased, piracy has become more frequent. For instance, a few years ago CD writers are very much available off the shelf at extremely low prices thus enabling the unauthorized duplication of music CDs very easily. Nowadays, the advent of the internet and digital files has made such duplication and sharing 100 times easier.
The IT and music industry has taken a strong interest in trying to stop or reduce this act. While several local and international laws have been created to stop this criminal act, these notwithstanding do not seem to be serving as a strong enough deterrent to the incidence of piracy. Not even the notable prosecution of owners of several well-known piracy websites seems to have had any effect on the overall scourge.
Piracy occurs in several different ways such as video piracy, cable piracy, CD piracy, online piracy and more. For instance, there is video piracy when a movie is produced in the form of a video cassette without authorization from the rights holder, i.e. the producer. Movie producers often sell video rights to another party (mostly after five weeks or more of release in theatres), which makes video cassettes for available selling, or lending.
Cable piracy, on the other hand, is the illegal transmission of movies through cable networks. Newly released movies are oftentimes shown through the cable without obtaining permission from the rights holder.
Types of Piracy
There are five major types of piracy namely:
This involves the illegal reproduction, distribution, and sales of copyright products with the intention of copying the copyrighted material. It is very rampant to find counterfeit copies of compact discs incorporating the software programs in the case of packaged software.
This type of piracy involves downloading various types of products from the Internet. These products can range from software, music, images, and much more. What is more, is that it can happen in many different forms such as:
- Websites that create the availability of software for free download
- Internet auction sites that give a platform for the distribution of counterfeit or out-of-channel software
- Social networks that enable unauthorized distribution of copyrighted programs
This involves the illegal reproduction of copies of software without authorization.
- Installation of a program on many computers
- Copying discs for installation or distribution
- Taking advantage of upgrade offers with no legal copy of the upgraded version
Overuse of Client-Server
This type occurs when there are many users on a network making use of a central copy of a program at the same moment. For you to install programs on the server for many people to use on your local-area network, you must ensure you have a license that entitles you to do so.
If there are more than the allowed number of users on your license, that’s an overuse
Hard Disk Loading
This type of piracy occurs when a business sells new computers with hard disks loaded with illegal copies of the software to make the buying more attractive
How Piracy Can Affect Your Business
Piracy has been at its peak since the advent of various technological advancements, the chief of which is the internet. Piracy has become less difficult and at the same time, more rampant. Tons of protected music can now be obtained on the internet without being bought. This illegal reproduction is also seen in how cheap workers illegally copy designs behind the original software. Many people do not fully understand the effect and impact of piracy although they have heard about it.
The Means of Distribution
There are two ways by which people distribute pirated materials. The first way involves distribution to ignorant consumers who are oblivious to the fact that they purchased or received pirated items. Another way is the distribution to those who buy pirated products knowing full well that they are pirated. According to the Business Software Alliance, software piracy costs the industry $51 billion in the year 2009.
This illegal reproduction and distribution creates a diversion of money from the producers and distributors of products such as audio recordings, making companies that invest in production and distribution receive less income for their work.
Evasion of Tax Revenues
Pirated materials are taxed only when they are sold through retail channels. If not, no tax revenue is gotten from pirated items. For instance, in the case when a video was downloaded with no tax charged when it ought to be, as dictated by standard tax laws, no revenue will be generated. Funds available by the taxing government to spend are reduced by loss in tax revenue.
Piracy and Intellectual Property
Electronic piracy involves a person downloading intellectual property from the Internet and then engaging in illegal redistributions to other individuals at zero cost to the downloading party.
This form of piracy reduces the value of the product by increasing the level of supply. Though the real value of the product has dropped, the absolute cost to the copyright isn’t altered. However, the relative cost has increased. This leads to lost revenue for the copyright holder, who might not have many resources to produce extra products.
Piracy And The Law
Piracy, of any form, is an intellectual property theft that is a crime. If a person is charged by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with one of the different forms of piracy at the request of the copyright holder, the indictment will be taken in a court of law.
If you notice an illegal reproduction of your products, you should speak to a business attorney who can help file take the necessary steps to stop the criminal act.
How Can Piracy Be Reduced?
Firstly, you can utilize methods to discourage software piracy, such as changes to how you distribute software to make it more difficult to download by cheap workers. Businesses need to develop techniques to discover and enforce intellectual property rights in the software.
Also, several law firms proffer services that include an effective analysis of infringements and assist establishments to enforce efficient enforcement strategies, which include litigation and raid.
Piracy is hard to prevent, but gladly there are often remedial actions one can take once it is discovered to have taken place. For instance, hiring a business lawyer that offers intellectual property-related services to either send a cease and desist letter or to altogether institute legal action against someone who has used your intellectual property with permission and trying to make such action widely known in public might go a long way in preventing other people from doing so.
Chris Deborow is a freelance writer who writes for various online blogs and publications. He has written this piece for Telligent Marketing LLC, a digital marketing company that offers law firm SEO services for law firms and other firms in the legal industry.