Here’s the first essay I wrote for this semester. It is about how piracy and copyright infringement is stealing.
Piracy – Is it Thievery?
Piracy is thievery. Many people disagree with this statement for two simple reasons, either they don’t understand what piracy is, or what is actually legal. Many teenagers and college aged students are oblivious to what copyright laws truly state. It is a lot easier to break the law than people think. Some people just feel that piracy isn’t as serious as others crimes. People fail to realize the seriousness of violating copyright laws.
One of the most common forms of piracy among college students in stealing music. Stealing music isn’t simply illegally downloading music from peer to peer programs, but it consists of many copyright violations. People are expected to understand copyright laws and won’t be cut any slack from persecution because of ignorance (Criminal). Many people think that peer to peer programs are legal. In many high schools students talk about programs such as FrostWire and LimeWire and their conversations give the impression that these programs are legal because everyone has them. In all reality peer to peer programs are legal, as well as file sharing. What people overlook is that file sharing is only legal on files that are not copyrighted. For the most part movies and music are copyrighted (LimeWire).
Some small bands are not copyrighted. Sharing their mp3’s would not violate any copyright laws. Copyright laws on music state that it is illegal to redistribute copyrighted material. By default most peer to peer file sharing programs automatically share any files that are downloaded. This constitutes as redistributing copyrighted material. There sharing options can be disabled, yet though that may stop the redistributing, the user is still downloading illegal material (BSA).
Burning a compact disc may violate copyright law depending on how the copied disc is used. It is legal to burn a copy of a disc for personal use as long as the owner of the copied disc also owns a copy of the original disc. Burning a CD for a friend is considered piracy and is actually stealing. Blank compact discs are created to make legal back up’s of media that people own, they are not intended to be used as devices of piracy. They are also made for burning and or distributing homemade media, such as personal recordings and home movies. Many technological tools can be manipulated to conduct illegal operations. These operations not only violate copyright laws, but often violate the user terms of the equipment being used (U.S. Copyright Law).
Torrents are another way of easily pirating music, movies, or software. They are files that download with great speed because they place a small part of the file on each downloader’s computer. This is known as seeding, as if the file took root in each computer it was attached to. When another person downloads the file it pulls pieces from many different sources, allowing it download in a fraction of the time it would have taken if it had been downloaded from one source. By having the torrent downloaded from a lot of sources, it also constitutes as redistributing copyrighted software. Everyone who has downloaded the torrent is unknowingly redistributing the torrent to others (Norton).
Software is often pirated in the form of a torrent. Many claim that they are unaware that what they are doing is illegal, but in reading the user agreement upon installing the software they would realize that installing a copy of software with a key generator is not legal (Criminal). Most people install software without fully reading the user agreement. A user agreement is a legally binding contract and is enough to convict someone of piracy or breaking the law in any related way. These agreements fully explain that the user is responsible for anything that may result from using the software. Despite the fact that the user may have not read the agreement, by clicking ok, they agree to everything in the agreement, even though they are unaware of what they have agreed to (U.S. Copyright Law).
Key generators, or keygen’s generate a serial key that will activate a program without activating it. This means that the program will run to its full capacity as if it had been legally registered. Illegally registering software is no different than doing anything else illegal. It is often argued that because piracy does not take any physical thing from programmers or artists, that no actual stealing has occurred. Yet piracy can be punished just like any other crime (BSA).
Punishment for piracy can range anywhere from fines to jail time. Minors cannot be persecuted for acts of piracy, but their parents or legal guardians will be persecuted. It is a common misconception that no one knows when people pirate or install peer to peer software on their computer. Although keygens allow a user to install a program without anyone’s knowledge, many companies know when the program is actually downloaded. Some torrents will contain trackers, allowing whoever uploaded the file to track it (Norton).
Not all torrents are uploaded by other people who pirate software. Sometimes torrents are uploaded by corporations to be used as bait. Piracy is dangerous when it comes to legality and it is also very dangerous for your computer. Pirated files are much more likely to function improperly and cause things to fail. They may cause glitches or conflict with other programs on your computer. Many files that appear to be keygens have Trojan viruses in them (Lo).
Another form of file that is often pirated is an ISO file. It is a standard disc image. It is the equivalent of having the disc without actually having any material thing. It is a file that can be read with a virtual disc drive which can be legally downloaded from many sites, however, it can be easily used to do illegal things. ISO files can be modified to contain things that the original disc didn’t contain, such as a keygen. Not every ISO files is illegal, however, what many people forget is it that it is only illegal to copy and redistribute copyrighted materials (Petri).
Many sites that contain this kind of material are also tracked. Some of the sites themselves are dangerous and can download viruses to your computer simply by visiting the site. Piracy is being cracked down on more and more as the amount of pirates continues to grow. Programs like LimeWire or BearShare have many viruses in them disguised as programs or files and many people download these without knowing what they have just done (Lo).
Punishment for thievery is intense, but over the last few year the punishments for piracy have severally increased. In the past the punishments were hardly enough to scare people out of pirating, but now they extreme.
“Defendants who have previously been convicted of criminal copyright infringement under 18 U.S.C. § 2319(b)(1) may be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, or both. Finally, a defendant is guilty of a misdemeanor violation if he violated rights other than those of reproduction or distribution, or has reproduced or distributed less than the requisite number of copies, or if the retail value of the copies reproduced or distributed did not meet the statutory minimum, or if other elements of 17 U.S.C. § 506(a) are not satisfied. Misdemeanants can be sentenced a maximum of one year and can be fined a maximum of $100,000 (Criminal).”
These threats are enough to terrify most computer users, however, most people are completely unaware that these threats exist. Piracy is illegal for the simple fact that it is stealing. It is copyright infringement, whether the world wants to acknowledge it or not. Now the persecutions are real, this problem cannot be ignored until it is too late.
“1852 Copyright Infringement — Penalties — 17 U.S.C. § 506(a) and 18 U.S.C § 2319.” Criminal Resource Manual. 4 Feb. 2008 <http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/eousa/foia_reading_room/usam/title9/crm01852.htm>.
“Copyright Information.” LimeWire. 30 Jan. 2008 <http://www.limewire.com/about/copyright.php>.
“Copyright Law of the United States of America.” Copyright.Gov. U.S. Copyright Office. 28 Jan. 2008 <http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap3.html>.
“Know the Law.” Business Software Alliance. 3 Feb. 2008 <http://www.bsa.org/country/Anti-Piracy/Know%20the%20Law.aspx>.
Lo, Joseph. “Trojan Horse Attacks.” IRCPHelp. 6 Feb. 2006. <http://www.irchelp.org/irchelp/security/trojan.html>.
Norton, Patrick. “Torrents.” PCMag. 18 Jan. 2006. 31 Jan. 2008 <http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1913683,00.asp>.
Petri, Daniel. “How Can I Write (Burn) ISO Files to CD?” 2 Feb. 2008 <http://www.petri.co.il/how_to_write_iso_files_to_cd.htm>.