What is Internet Piracy?
Internet piracy is the downloading or distribution of unauthorized copies of intellectual property such as movies, television, music, games, and software programs via the Internet. Illegal downloads occur in many forms including file sharing networks, pirate servers, websites, and hacked computers. Each file posted on the Internet can result in millions of downloads. Hard goods pirates also use the Internet to sell illegally duplicated DVDs through auctions and websites.
Piracy is theft, and pirates are thieves, plain and simple. Downloading a movie off of the Internet is the same as taking a DVD off a store shelf without paying for it. In 2005, MPAA studios lost $2.3 billion worldwide to Internet piracy alone. Posting movies on a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) service or an unauthorized website is akin to giving illegal copies to millions of people.
What are Peer-to-Peer (P2P) File-Sharing Services?
A peer-to-peer service is a network that enables computers to connect directly to each other in order to distribute and copy files. Software programs utilize these networks to search for and trade every kind of file. Examples of P2P services include eDonkey, KazaA, LimeWire, and DirectConnect. These programs can turn your computer into a directory and distributor of an unlimited variety of illegal material, viruses, and worms.
When you download a file from the P2P services, you're not just receiving stolen goods. You're now a dealer, responsible for all the violations that others are enabled to commit as a result. Besides putting yourself at risk of the legal consequences of illegally distributing movies, you're opening your computer up to potentially dangerous situations. By inviting complete strangers to access your hard drive, you risk exposing your private information such as bank records, social security numbers, and personal pictures. You also make yourself vulnerable to identity theft and possibly a whole lot more. In addition, you are exposing your computer to harmful viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and annoying pop-ups.
What is the MPAA Doing to Combat the Problem?
The MPAA has a multi-pronged approach to fighting Internet piracy, which includes educating people about the consequences of piracy, taking action against Internet thieves, working with law enforcement authorities around the world to root out pirate operations, and working to ensure that advanced technologies will allow the legal distribution of movies over the Internet. Since November of 2004, individuals who have infringed copyrights in motion pictures and television programs over the Internet have been sued for those infringements in lawsuits in the smallest of towns and the biggest of cities. Damages for copyright infringement range from $30,000 to $150,000 per work, and if there is criminal prosecution, could include up to five years in jail.