Media piracy is a type of copyright infringement, particularly on audio-visual property. Also known as warez it stands for producing unauthorized copies of all kinds of media, such as video, audio, software, photos. The number of such cases has been growing significantly since the late 1970s, as at that time the opportunity of producing unauthorized duplications of copyrighted items arose. Copies of original discs, such as CD or DVD and other data carriers are nowadays sold all around the world, usually at sufficiently lower prices, than the copyrighted originals.
Media piracy rocketed first in the recreation industry, when the first video equipment, namely VHS, was introduced. First unauthorized copies were produced by private video cameras, usually hand-held, recording films and videos being shown at cinemas. Nowadays, such means of producing piracy items are only used for copying premiere movies, which are not available on DVD, thus the piracy DVDs come up earlier than the official ones.
Unauthorized copying of CDs containing music started to be observed as a worldwide phenomenon particularly in such regions as Asia and Latin America. According to researchers, the estimated total number of unauthorized CDs, produced over the period 1990-2000 alone was more than 100 million. It is especially difficult to prevent copyright infringement in the music sphere, since the illegal CDs are usually not observed in established retail stores or special shops, while this merchandise is sold through on-street retail outlets and different personal selling points at very low prices, which makes it practically impossible to control the turnover.
As for the means of prevention of media piracy, it should be outlined that it is not clearly stipulated in the laws of different countries, how to classify this type of crime, especially considering sales of illegal copies of media works over the Internet. Most countries accuse each other of inefficient preventive measures, but do not consolidate in the struggle against illegal copying (Strauss, “Film piracy heads north of border”).
In most cases the guilty parties are fined at certain percentage of the damage caused to the copyrighters, however, in some situations criminals are sentenced to jail. Such means are imposed mostly on those people, who manufacture illegal CD or DVD products in large quantities for further sales. In certain countries, media piracy is rarely or absolutely not prohibited, because of either privacy laws, which do not clearly guarantee rights on intellectual property and safeguard the copyright interests, or the fact that it is simply allowed to handle a niche of grey merchandise as it is not prohibited legally.
However, not all people see media piracy as a problem. For some it is a natural way of social evolution, which is inseparable with the rising influence of the Internet, which has changed the social values over the last decades. The supporters of this point of view claim that although media piracy damages the companies, operating on the media distribution market, it still benefits the authors, copyrighters and artists, as it increases the awareness of the public of their newly introduced products at a speed many times higher than classic means of promotion. It is claimed that those members of the audience who have downloaded the music or movies from the Internet are usually keen on buying official CDs and DVDs, since otherwise they would not have discovered them. These accounts for the fact, that media piracy may not only have negative influence on the sales of media, but, on the contrary, facilitate purchases.
Strauss, Bob. “Film piracy heads north of border”, Daily News, 7 April 2009. Web. 13 March 2011.