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Online Communication Essay

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The rise of the Internet era opened the whole new market for traditional media full of opportunities as well as threats. Online piracy being one of them because the music and film industry loses £5.4bn in a year and if it was reduced by 10% it could have created up to 13 thousand jobs in the UK. There are various attempts taken to fight with online piracy; a case study of Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement will be considered as well as other legislations attempting to regulate copyrights in the Internet.

This essay is also going to look at main motives and reasons for online piracy and suggest the solutions. Main obstacles in dealing with piracy are legislative issues, semiotic disputes, little awareness or different attitudes of the Internet users. For the old media to fully overcome the threat of online piracy is as likely as completely eradicating crime. Hoverer, there are means to limit the copyright infringement in the Internet. Suggested methods are improving the legislation, changing public’s mind-sets and making legal ways widely and easily accessible.

Firstly it is crucial to define the terms as especially in case of online piracy they are often misunderstood and are the or controversial. The definition of online piracy varies depending on the source, but the majority agrees that it refers to: “copyright violation, infringement, unauthorised copying, storage, reproduction, distribution, or sale of intellectual property—for example, music CDs, movie videocassettes. With regard to film and television, the term primarily relates to downloading, uploading, linking to, or otherwise providing access to unauthorized copies of movies, television shows or other copyrighted content on the Internet and making and/or selling unauthorized copies of DVDs and Blue Ray discs. Some sources refer to piracy as theft and according to the American legislation – 1992 federal law makes software piracy a felony.

Some sources distinguish different types of piracy and Krasilovsky and Shemel (2007) define them as follows: “Bootlegging – the unauthorised recording of a live or broadcast performance. Counterfeiting – the duplication or imitation of the packaging, document, product, and label as well as the sound recording that is made with the intent to deceptively represent the item as the genuine article.” The last form of piracy researched is file sharing, although the list might not be exhaustive. File sharing also known as P2P is a term that typically refers to a networking technology that normally uses a decentralized communication model. “What is meant by this is that there isn’t any central server involved and all computers in the network act as both server and client. An example of a pure decentralized P2P network is the BitTorrent protocol where files are shared between all peers independent of any central server.

The type of files that are shared can be audio, video, data etc. The big advantage of a decentralized P2P network is fault tolerance – if one peer disconnects from the network there are other computers that will have the same data available to share”. As listed above there are numerous illegal ways to avoid paying for the media content and the issues are so complex that the definitions although portray their common-sense understanding fail to serve their legal purpose Firstly it is difficult to stop piracy due to differences within legislations and legal definitions across the world. “Attempts to tackle piracy through international law are being hampered by the lack of a consistent definition.” States The Guardian in their article on piracy Since one of the reasons for a huge popularity of piracy is the easy access to free content and many people arguably download content just because they can the solution here would be in an absolute zero tolerance policy towards piracy as SOPA, Stop Online Piracy Act suggests and closure of websites such as the Pirate bay, etc.

Such policy seems to be working with plagiarism at e.g. Universities, but in term of intellectual property the intangible aspect of the product makes it more difficult to control. Therefore stopping online piracy is easier said than done, as it would require enormous human resources from a government to track down illegal websites and taking a legal action against them leading to the closure. One case study worth following regarding this issue was on the major streaming website TV SHACK.net has been seized many times by the US government and it kept changing the domain addresses to overseas addresses as .co or .bz. The owner, 23 year old student Richard O’Dwyer from Sheffield has been charged with copyright infringement and the US Justice Department has been seeking to extradite him from the UK since May 2011 – BBC reports. Streaming itself is a grey area in many countries, i.e. Germany, where it is not perceived as downloading but has been sourced using illegal means.

Compared with the legal issues and the fact that the content was stored on foreign servers the law enforcement was extremely difficult, but now it has been set an example worldwide of tackling with piracy. On entering the internet address now a video clip displays which in a humoristic educated people on what piracy is and how much a “free” movie really cost. Such attempt is one of the suggested ways in dealing with piracy through legal ways such is previously mentioned ACTA, which may make the process even simpler basing on the procedures it includes. ACTA means Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement crafted by Japan and United States and signed by Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea in October 2011. In January 2012 European Commission enter negotiations whether to sign the treaty, together with non-elected representatives from 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Luxemburg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom.

The European Commission says that ACTA is an international trade agreement aimed at ensuring the EU’s already high standard of protection for intellectual property rights can be enforced globally. ACTA proved to be very controversial especially while in early 2012 it was meant to be signed by i.e. Poland. On announcement that the government is going to sign ACTA on the 26th January major protests and hacker attack on governmental websites emerged. The antagonists say that it is going to be the end of free internet and the freedom of speech is going to be limited there. The Act allows for the websites suspected of infringement to be taken down without a legal procedure and notification to the owner. The protagonists say that it is the only way for the music and film industry to stand a chance in the fight for copyright, as the other methods fail.

Another reason is that the semiotic problem confuses the public and one part of them does not know that downloading pirated content is illegal, some of they do feel it’s not right but since there is no consequences millions get away with it and hence 95% of music downloaded is pirated Lack of understanding of the core issues often pushes people to piracy for example streaming is a grey area in some countries because although you are watching an illegal content you don’t download it or own it. That brings the subject back on semiotics and defining the legal issues regarding piracy, such as making a copy for individual, home-use.

Previously a grey area has been made legal through the process of legal debates. Collberg (2010) in “Surreptitious Software” says “There is an important lesson here: If you are going to us a copy protection scheme at all, you must not make it so inconvenient to users that they feel they have a right to break it” For this reason, on a basis on “the 1992 Audio Home Recording Act it is legal to convert CD tracks to mp3 files as long as you are the legitimate owner of the CD you want to copy” and “only when you use these copies for your personal use” There is al “Is it illegal to download a file from an Internet site if you have a legal right to create that file on your own through other means? The courts have not yet had an opportunity to rule on this issue.”

People commit a crime sometimes out of lack of knowledge and understanding of legislation, for example c There are many misunderstandings within this subject of what is legal and what constitutes an illegal action. -they are not the ones who stole it and they haven’t paid for it so it doesn’t feel like stealing -downloading just to test the product you are going to buy anyway is not wrong.

Solution: make people aware that what they do is wrong. make legal ways CLEAR 1. TOO EXPENSIVE TO BUY

Additionally the widely mentioned all across the internet reason for illegal downloading of music, movies and TV shows is that the records and movies are to expensive. The reason a fallacy in itself, because it basically says that if you cannot afford to buy a product you should get it in a different, usually illegal way. A suggested solution to this aspect would be to make legal ways affordable and easy like lovefilm streaming or Netfix Music industry attempts to tackle with the issue like the case study from 2008 when Radiohead and Nine-Inch-Nails launched their albums straight to internet and enabled the purchase by donation.


There is a controversial opinion that piracy could be used as a promotion tool for the music and film industry by the companies allowing people to download their products on internet “to try” Current online piracy activity requires a separate department of every company just to search for websites where their copyrighted contend is being illegally distributed. All in all people who support piracy will always attempt to go around the rules and legislations to get a free and unlimited content to media because (a) they can (b) get satisfaction from fooling the system


1. Baskerville D., (2010) Music Business handbook, 8th Edition, Sage, London 2. Collberg C., Nagra J.,(2010) Surreptitious Software, Addison-Wesley, New York 3. Dovey J, Kennedy H., (2006) Game Cultures, Open University Press, Glasgow 4. Gunasekaran A. (2008), Techniques and Tools for the Design and Implementation of Enterprise Information Systems, IGI Publishing, New York 5. Krasilovsky M. , Shemel S., (2007) This business of music, The definitive guide to the Business and Legal issues of the Music Industry, 10th Ediion, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York 6. Lehnert W., (2003) Web 101, Making the ‘Net Work for you, 2nd Edition, Addison Wesley, New York. 7. Tavani H., (2007) Ethics & Technology, Ethical Issues in Age of Information and Communication Technology, 2nd Edition, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., USA 8. Turban E., (2008) Information Technology for management, 6th Edition, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., USA Journals:

* Short, Greg. 1994.”Combatting Software Piracy: Can Felony Penalties for Copyright Infringement Curtail the Copying of Computer Software?” Santa Clara Computer and High Technology Law Journal 10 (June) Websites:

* http://www.go-gulf.com/blog/online-piracy [20.02.2012]
http://www.riaa.com/physicalpiracy.php?content_selector=piracy_details_online [20.02.2012] * http://gizmodo.com/5133065/95-of-music-downloads-are-pirated [20.02.2012] * http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/how-copyright-industries-con-congress/ [20.02.2012] * http://www.internetevolution.com/author.asp?section_id=568&doc_id=146002 [20.02.2012] * http://wololo.net/wagic/2012/01/21/the-megaupload-shutdown-wont-stop-piracy/ [20.02.2012] * http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/01/why-the-feds-smashed-megaupload.ars [20.02.2012] * http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16657800 [20.02.2012] * http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16642369 [20.02.2012] * http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/piracy [20.02.2012] * http://www.mpaa.org/contentprotection/faq [20.02.2012]

* http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/20/piracy-law-international-definition-commons [20.02.2012] * http://law.yourdictionary.com/infringement [20.02.2012] * http://mp3.about.com/od/glossary/g/P2P_def.htm [20.02.2012] * http://ec.europa.eu/trade/creating-opportunities/trade-topics/intellectual-property/anti-counterfeiting/ [20.02.2012] * http://www.stopacta.info/ [20.02.2012]

* http://internationalauthenticationassociation.org/content/glossary.php [20.02.2012] * http://portal.bsa.org/globalpiracy2010/ [20.02.2012]
* http://www.channelweb.co.uk/crn-uk/news/1881561/software-piracy-costs-uk-economy-gbp54bn [20.02.2012] * http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-16544335 [20.02.2012]

Appendix 1 – Online Piracy Statistics (http://www.go-gulf.com/blog/online-piracy 20.02.2012) Below are some facts-
* 70% of Online Users Find Nothing Wrong in Online Piracy * 67% of Digital piracy sites are hosted in North America and Western Europe * 22%
of all global Internet bandwidth is used for Online Piracy * 98.8% of Data transferred using P2P networks is copyrighted * 91.5% of filed available for download on Cyberlockers sites (Rapidshare, Megaupload,etc) are copyrighted material * Only 1 out of 10,000 pcs of the most popular content on the OpenBitTorrent tracker is non-copyrighted * Websites hosting pirated content receive more than 146 Million visitors per day. * $12.5 billion in economic losses each year due to Piracy in the music industry * 71,060 jobs lost in the United States every year due to Online Piracy * $2.7 billion in workers’ earnings are lost each year due to Online Piracy * 95% of music downloaded online is illegal

* An average iPod contains pirated music of $800
* 42% of Softwares running in World are illegally downloaded * $59 billion of Softwares were illegally downloaded in 2010 * More than 75% of computers have at least 1 downloaded illegal application * Two-Thirds of Torrents available online are illegal

* Pornography is the most pirated item on web with 35.8% followed by Movies with 35.2% * Hollywood Movie “Avatar” is the most pirated movie of 2010 and was downloaded more than 17,000,000 times * China has the Highest online piracy rate of 91% in world followed by Columbia with 90% and Russia with 80% online piracy rate.

Appendix 2 – Case Study (http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/10/01/uk-japan-trade-counterfeiting-idUKTRE79018620111001) Anti-counterfeiting agreement signed in Tokyo
TOKYO (Reuters) – Governments of eight nations including Japan and the United Stated signed an agreement on Saturday aiming to cut costly copyright and trademark theft. The signing is a step towards bringing into effect the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which is designed to strengthen the legal framework for intellectual property rights, said Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). “As with many of the challenges we face in today’s global economy, no government can single-handedly eliminate the problem of global counterfeiting and piracy,” Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro said at the ceremony, according to a copy of
her remarks released in Washington. “Signing this agreement is therefore an act of shared leadership and determination in the international fight against intellectual property (IP) theft,” Sapiro said. Mark Elliot, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Centre, called the pact “a big victory for the American business community, workers, and IP-intensive sectors across our economy.” “This accord raises the bar on enforcement by improving cooperation among partners, harmonizing how we confront IP theft, addressing IP theft online, and setting a positive example for nations that aspire to have strong IP enforcement regimes,” Elliott said. The signing took place a year after the final round of negotiations among 11 parties — Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States. The EU, Mexico and Switzerland have not signed the agreement but have until May 1, 2013, to do so, according to the METI.

The pact takes effect with the ratification of six parties and the METI expects an expansion of ACTA participants.

(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko in Tokyo and Doug Palmer in Washginton; Editing by Robert Birsel and Vicki Allen)

[ 1 ]. http://www.channelweb.co.uk/crn-uk/news/1881561/software-piracy-costs-uk-economy-gbp54bn [20.02.2012] [ 2 ]. http://portal.bsa.org/globalpiracy2010/ [20.02.2012]
[ 3 ]. Violation of copyright, trademark or patent. http://law.yourdictionary.com/infringement [20.02.2012] [ 4 ]. http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/piracy [20.02.2012] [ 5 ]. http://www.mpaa.org/contentprotection/faq [20.02.2012] [ 6 ]. Dovey J, Kennedy H., (2006) Game Cultures, Open University Press, Glasgow [ 7 ]. http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/piracy [20.022012] [ 8 ]. http://internationalauthenticationassociation.org/content/glossary.php [20.02.2012] [ 9 ]. Krasilovsky M. , Shemel S., (2007) This business of

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