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What is Digital Piracy?

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Digital piracy refers to the illegal act of duplicating, copying or sharing a digital work without the copyright holder’s permission, which violates copyright laws. The rise of easy access to the Internet, and cheap storage, along with the growth of digital content, has enabled digital piracy to grow around the world rapidly. Piracy enables the unauthorized distribution of music, movies, television programs, software, video games, books, photos, etc. Whether it’s from a mobile phone, tablet, or smart TV, online digital consumption is increasing and becoming the default choice for accessing the various digital content that is available. Usually, pirate sites will feature advertising to help make the site look legitimate but most importantly to the criminals behind them, it generates lucrative revenue. Pirate sites have been found to expose visitors to viruses, malware, fraud, and scams. There are many different types of websites that provide unlawful access to copyrighted content such as films, music, TV, games and software. Here are a few examples:

1. Streaming Sites – Illegal streaming allows users to view unauthorized copyrighted content without downloading the illegal file. These sites are often user-friendly and may stream directly or provide links to content hosted on another website. 

2. Peer-to-Peer – Is the distribution of digital media such as software, videos, music, and images through an informal network to upload and download files. Typically, P2P software allows users to select which files to share. These files are located on a central server, making them available for other users to find and download.

3. Torrent Sites – Torrenting doesn’t depend on a centralized server for storing files. Instead, bits of data from individual large files are saved in computers in a network to facilitate the file sharing process. While torrent sites have become a hub for digital pirates, they can be useful for syncing large files and sharing media you own the rights to.

Although the content industry has been able to shut down several illegal file-sharing services such as Openload and Streamango, digital piracy is still as prevalent as ever. Digital piracy affects the entire legitimate content distribution network—from the product creator to the distributor and all the way to the consumer. Digital piracy also impacts the security of those accessing illegal content online. Pirates use content to spread malware, trojans, and viruses. Pirated content and the website that sells or share it can look legitimate, but a few simple tips will help you spot the fake sites, avoid getting scammed and the malware that might come with it. 

1. Trust Your Instincts – Check the online seller’s price against the software’s estimated retail value. If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

2. Beware of Backups – Avoid sellers offering to make backup copies. This is a clear indication the software is illegal.

3. Get Seller’s Contact Information – If you cannot contact the seller after making a purchase, you may have no recourse if the product turns out to be pirated. Make sure to get the seller’s contact information and address if possible.

4. Ensure Secure Payment – Make sure that the internet connections you are using are secure. Try to avoid public WiFi.

5. Do Your Research – Before making a purchase, do as much research on the seller and vendor as you can. Check the seller’s rating or feedback comments if possible. 

Digital piracy negatively impacts the entire distribution network, from the product creator to the distributor, all the way to the consumer. Service providers and content owners have numerous solutions available that they can employ to mitigate and reduce the level of digital piracy. Because of this growing concern, it has become increasingly difficult to track down users who are illegally copying music or movie files. The use of commercial and individual digital piracy has evolved over the past two decades and it is inevitable for this evolution to continue with the growth of the Internet and technology.