Some people claim that internet piracy is a crime without a victim. They argue that users do not take tangible products, so no one gets hurt. Some people see this as a platform for sampling what they will eventually buy. Alternatively, some people claim that they only pirate content that they would not purchase.
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These arguments fail to recognize the unethical side of the practice. Pirating digital products, they abuse the rights (copyright) of the concerned entity. They prevent artists, writers, producers, and other copyright holders from reaping the full rewards of their efforts. Furthermore, users rarely purchase physical copies of a product after using its digital copy.
Several laws and policies have been put up to curb piracy. One law that focuses on internet piracy is SOPA or Stop Online Piracy Act. This law eliminates the trafficking of counterfeits or copyrighted material. It has assisted stakeholders in knowing the measures to take to slow down piracy or eliminate it.
Internet piracy refers to the process of sharing copyrighted works through P2P (peer to peer) networks. This material may include video games, movies, music, software and digital books. This habit began in the 1990s when MP3s came into the scene. Individuals realized that they could compress material and still retain the original quality in these file formats.
They started sharing their material using Napster, which was a peer to peer application (Ramayah, Ahmad, Chin & Lo, 2009). When the invention of CD burner came up, more people continued to download free material from the internet and duplicating them into multiple copies. Hacking has increased as seen through several high profile cases concerning the internet.
Some people participate in internet piracy for commercial purposes, and these are the main targets of antipiracy legislations. They cause enormous losses to the companies responsible for making original material (Singer, 2012). Other parties may engage in internet piracy for their reasons. Such parties may not benefit economically from their file sharing or downloading.
However, they still cause enormous economic damages to copyright owners. Eventually, whole industries may end up lacking the financial backing required to make future products. Copyright owners argue that single copyright infringement may appear harmless, but over a long time, this process robs them off their rightfully-earned returns (Hohn, Muftic & Wolf, 2006).
The only way to take charge of internet piracy is to implement this law; hence, legitimate businesses will benefit. Small companies are the worst hit because even the slightest alterations in returns will affect their bottom line. These organizations go through so much pressure, and even at times they end up closing down.
Therefore, internet piracy kills creativity and prevents the entrance of new parties since the habit makes a business environment hostile. At the end of it all, internet piracy will hurt the same people who are profiting from it because they will have fewer materials to sell or distribute in the future.
Infringing on copyrighted content on the internet is particularly appealing to users because they can maintain their anonymity while carrying out their activities. Besides this, technologies are becoming more sophisticated. Internet speeds have increased tremendously such that distribution of digital material can be done faster. Additionally, the process involves parties from different geographical locations. It has become easy to do this without worrying about the people involved (Losey & Meinrath, 2011).
Hohn, D., Muftic, L. & Wolf, K. (2006) Swashbuckling students: An exploratory study of Internet piracy. Security Journal 19(10), 110-127.
Losey, J. & Meinrath, S. (2011 December 8). The Internet’s Intolerable Acts. Slate magazine, p. 15.
Ramayah, T., Ahmad, N., Chin, L. & Lo, M. (2009) Testing a causal model of internet piracy behavior among university students. European Journal of Scientific Research 2(29), 206-214.
Singer P. (2012). The Ethics of Internet Piracy. Project and Syndicate.