Pirates of the web

As information technology constantly improves digital piracy or commonly known as internet piracy constantly spreads and expands between the perpetrators also known as “internet pirates” and their consumers, who sometimes are not aware that the films, music, eBooks, etc.… were pirated. The internet has become a haven for this type of crime to exist and thrive because it allows for the offenders to be anonymous and it allows them to send and duplicate files with the perception that they have immunity and won’t suffer from the repercussions from the law enforcement. In addition, there are many forms of piracy which include music, film, eBooks, video games, and other forms of entertainment that is disturbed in its entirety at a small price of for free if possible. Not to mention, copyright infringement and the illegal consumption of popular media are two issues that are difficult to resolve. However, this doesn’t mean that there are no deterrences or ways to limit the exchange of unauthorized files. This paper will explain and examine how these forms of entertainment are pirated, how the copyright holders react and take action against the “piraters”, the theories that correlate to this type of crime, and how society perceives internet piracy. 

So, one might ask why people might pirate files for consumption if they are fully aware that file sharing is a criminal act, and if caught will possibly face legal prosecution? For one thing, “pirates” usually don’t consider piracy a criminal act since it’s a norm through repeated acts. Researchers have studied the reasons and the contributing factors that lead “pirates” to commit this habitual act. First, researchers analyzed education and believe that a person who has a higher level of education is perceived to be more developed both ethically and morally, and would view piracy as an unethical behavior (Jackman, Lorde Page 806). In addition, since they are more educated and affluent, they are more informed with the intellectual property rights and since they have higher incomes can afford the material the legitimate way. Another variable is idealism and measures the individual’s attitude towards the person or persons they are harming (Jackman, Lorde Page 806). In this case, a “pirate” could care less if they are harming companies and therefore have a low idealism. They also feel that the harm is necessary so they can achieve their benefit. Even though there is a lot of piracy that occurs in the United States, it is very prevalent in developing countries, and this is because it’s not as enforced compared to developed countries. For example, Barbados a Caribbean country, was studied to see how much of the population pirated and at what rate. The country has a population of 300,000 and has an internet penetration rate of over 70% as of June 2012. Nevertheless, the study consisted of quantitative measures or simply scales of piracy patterns. The results yielded 207 (53.1 percent) females, and 183 (546.9 percent). The average age of the sample is 41 years. The highest level of education attained was secondary (32.3 percent); the smallest category for this demographic was primary education (3.3 percent). The majority of the sample (70.9 percent) was employed and the average monthly income of employed respondents was $ 2142.2or US$ 1071.25 (Jackman, Lorde Page 808).  

The reason why internet piracy will be explored and explained in this essay is that theft of any kind is a recurring crime that happens frequently in our society, and it sometimes goes unpunished when not properly witnessed, reported, and identified. On the subject of this, copyright holders of any music company/label, film studios, etc… place the blame on both the “pirates” and consumers. They view both parties as malevolent abusers of property who steal to look to make a profit (Cvetkovski, Page 247). Internet piracy itself has become a business and thrives by theft and deception to the companies it’s stealing from. In addition, consumers are perceived to be naïve enough to accept unauthorized entertainment, and completely ignore the copyright laws which angers the copyright governs. It has been documented according to the International Federation of Phonographic Industry that millions of people commit copyright daily (Cvetkovski, Page 248) Considering some law-abiding citizens have used applications such as Peer to Peer (P2P), Torrents, and Pirate Bay software because they couldn’t afford the product and these software’s would download and secure their downloads from detection. Furthermore, there is no doubt that the three aforementioned forms of entertainment are worth billions of dollars. The retail recorded music market is worth 23.4 million, films in DVDs generate 42 million, and video games generate 5 million (Cvetkovski, Page 248). Since internet piracy for these types of media is pirated at an exceptional rate all of them suffer from losses because they could be pirated simultaneously. There is not a known concrete amount of profit loss from these industries. All that is known is that “piracy is theft” according to the copyright holders and anybody that is trying to resale or trade unlicensed works will be held accountable in the several ways that will be explained in further depth.  

The consensus from Americans and Corporate industries is that Piracy is wrong and illegal. The opinions and arguments stated stay consistent to the articles reviewed. For example, it is unfair to the copyright holders if the product is given for free without being compensated for their effort. On the other hand, it is somewhat understood why people pirate these products. The reason being is that the product could be a type of software for the sake of argument and it cost $250. The consumer will look for alternatives and that’s where the torrent’s websites come in. For instance, before the popularization of music streaming applications like Spotify, Pandora, Lastfm, etc… people used torrent software such as LimeWire which would download music for free. This gave the consumer the music without any hassle and the amount of downloading was unlimited. In contrast, the recording industry was taking notice because CDs and iTunes album purchases were diminishing, and this was affecting their profit. Eventually, LimeWire had to pay a $105 million settlement to 13 music companies and was shut down in 2010. This did stop for Limewire because one of its programmers “resurrected” it with a new peer-to-peer file-sharing software called “Wireshare”. Not to mention, before LimeWire, the music application that was the catalyst for music piracy was Napster which was founded in 1999. After two years of its invention 60 million users changed the music industry forever. Furthermore, by the time Napster was discontinued the damage was already done, and the music revenue started to drop significantly. By 2012 the sales went up to 3 percent due to the revitalization of iTunes and Amazon music. Equally important, the music industry is not alone in this dilemma, the film and visual media have been common targets. As previously mentioned before, BitTorrent a file sharing and downloading once had films such as Avatar had 17 million copied pirates and HBO’s Game of Thrones had 4 million episodes illegally downloaded. Even though legal video and film distributors such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc… allow access for a fee it is estimated that piracy costs the U.S. $250 billion and year.      

Several theories can apply to the act of Internet Piracy and how the “pirates” determine how to strategize their approach so they would not trigger the attention of the authorities, and how they develop their introduction and commitment to internet piracy. To illustrate this, point the first theory to explain is Differential Association. According to the theory, a person can only commit a crime after being exposed to excess definitions that become favorable to violate the law (Gunter, Page 16 &17). In other words, the motives, attitudes, and techniques can help manifest an individual’s conception on how to support not just themselves, but their peers. Moreover, the most powerful definitions that contribute to the criminal influence come from intimate primary groups, such as family and friends (Gunter, Page 16). In addition, there are secondary groups which include school and government officials. In the case of piracy, the intimate primary groups have a significant impact on an induvial involvement and understanding the do’s and do not of piracy. Peers can especially persuade and teach a novice “pirater” how to download without any cost and will demonstrate numerous neutralizations for the theft. Digital “Pirarters” find solidarity with each other and share the same beliefs, behaviors, and ethics. Differential Association presents a strong explanation for internet piracy. For example, studies usually analyze and focus predominately on peer influence and collaboration, and this has a strong correlation to the influx of digital piracy. Alternatively, the way “Pirarters” react, behavior, and feel towards the companies and business their affecting can be best depicted from the Neutralization Techniques. There are five techniques which are denial of responsibility, denial of injury, denial of victim, condemnation of condemners, and justification of crime. First, the way “pirates” may claim denial of responsibility is that there is a wide amount of available unauthorized music online and that the laws that regulate it are vague. If the laws were made clearer, and if others did not make pirated music accessible then, possibly the legitimate way of purchasing music or any or media file may be pursued. Secondly, the denial of injury and denial of the victim go hand in hand and complement each other. For instance, “pirates” could assume that since the recording industry makes a sizable amount of profit they should have no problem recovering from the losses that are made from pirated files. Also, if law enforcement is perceived as unresponsive or less apathetic to detect or sanction offenders, “Pirates” will therefore become less cautious. Thirdly, “pirates” usually find the music industry to be “ripping” them off by overcharging for music, and feel that the blame is on the record industry justified. Lastly, the final technique is the appeal to higher loyalties. In other words, a study asked students if pirating music for school work to complete a project would be acceptable, and the overwhelming agreement was that if it fulfills a greater cause then it is okay. (Hinduja, Ingram, Page 344-347). 

When it comes to regulating internet pirates there seems to be a dead-end the government and copyright holders face. First and Foremost, the rate that pirates illegally download files is not easy to keep up with, and if sites were to be shut down by copyright holders they will be another one that will take its place, so it’s a never-ending cycle. However, one of the ways the government, and copyright holders try to combat piracy was by passing the Stop Online Piracy Act also known as SOPA. The bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) as well as copyright holders, to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. Furthermore, the bill was met with opposition by tech companies and Americans. For example, Wikipedia and Reddit blacked out their sites on January 18, 2012, while protesters expressed their disagreement in the cities of San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C. General and specific deterrence can be applied to media piracy to limit the abundance of piracy, however, “pirates” may not perceive or are completely neglected that their hurting companies, and feel that they can rank and weigh the probable consequences and sanctions (Cvetkovski, Page 251). Additionally, since they feel like there is no turning back they keep pursuing ways to pirates and the sheer volume of traffic indicates that people nevertheless persist in rather than desist from illegal activity. (Cvetkovski, Page 251)  

In conclusion, Internet Piracy is a unique taboo and was once seen as an offense that had significant penalties, however, now the crime has been less regulated and has a low deterrence level. Having said that, compared to other crimes there are always ways for “pirates” and pirating software to adapt and adjust so they won’t be detected and that’s why piracy is going to being an ongoing online crime that will thrive like a business and take pride in knowing that there are minimal deterrence that will stop them. If the opportunity for a pirate is available and if the software offers the same product either for a cheaper price or free then pirating will live on forever.  


Hinduja, Ingram, Jason, Sameer . 2008 “Neutralizing music piracy: An empirical examination.” Deviant Behavior 29:344-366. Ebscohost on Dec 10, 2015 

Cvetkovski, Trajce . 2014 “The farcical side to the war on media piracy: a popular case of divine comedy?” Media, Culture & Society 36(2):246-257. Ebscohost on Dec 10, 2015 

Whitney, Gunter D. 2009 “Internet Scallywags: A Comp arative Analysis of Multiple Forms and Measurements of Digital Piracy.” Western criminology review 10(1):15-28. Ebscohost on Dec 10, 2015 

Hinduja,Higgins, George, Sameer . 2011 “Trends and patterns among music pirates.” Deviant Behavior 32():563-588. Ebscohost on Dec 10, 2015  

Kigerl, Alex C. 2013 “Infringing Nations: Predicting Software Piracy Rates, BitTorrent Tracker Hosting, and P2P File Sharing Client Downloads Between Countries.” International Journal of Cyber Criminology 7(1):62-80. Retrieved from International Journal of Cyber Criminology on Dec 1, 2015 

Purewal, Sarah. 2014. RIAA Thinks LimeWire Owes $75 Trillion In Damages.” PCWorld. October 2015(http://www.pcworld.com/article/223431/riaa_thinks_limewire_owes_75_trillion_in_damages.html). 

Gunter, Whitney D. 2008 “Piracy on the High Speeds: A Test of Social Learning Theory on Digital Piracy among College Students.” International Journal of Criminal Justice Science 3(1):54-68. Ebscohost on Dec 10, 2015 

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