Some people claim that internet piracy is a victimless crime. They argue that users do not take tangible products, so no one gets hurt. Others believe that the concept is a platform for sampling what they will eventually buy. Alternatively, some people claim that they only pirate content that they would not purchase. All these arguments fail to acknowledge the unethical nature of the practice.
When people pirate 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.
In response to these problems, lawmakers have responded using a series of laws. One law that focuses on internet piracy is SOPA or Stop Online Piracy Act. Legislators passed the Act in order to eliminate the trafficking of counterfeits or copyrighted material. It has a number of adverse effects on legitimate internet sites. One may thus question the plausibility of such as an Act. Stakeholders need to know whether the Act can slow down piracy, eliminate it, cause no change, or increase economic losses.
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). Once people invented the CD burner, then more people continued to download free material from the internet. Hacking has increased as seen through the 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. Other parties may engage in internet piracy in for their personal reasons. Such parties may not benefit economically from their file sharing or downloading, but 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 motivations behind internet piracy do not count as long as an act can take a toll upon legitimate businesses.
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 that they eventually have to close. 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, because the process involves parties from divergent geographical locations, then it is easy to do it 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). 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.