Piracy Online

Explained by Common Craft
Piracy online can seem easy and anonymous, but there is a lot more to it. This video explains what online piracy is, why it is illegal and how it impacts the creative people who make the things we love.
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Video Transcript:

We’re all familiar with pirates. Most often, these are criminals known for raiding merchant ships and stealing the goods the ship is carrying. This kind of piracy obviously breaks the law.

But piracy is not just limited to bands of criminals on the open ocean. Today piracy happens via computers on the open Internet. Instead of boarding ships, people use computers to pirate software, music, movies or other digital goods. This means they access, download, copy and distribute files without payment or the owner’s permission.

And unlike piracy on the seven seas, this kind of piracy might seem less risky, more anonymous, and maybe even justifiable to the pirate.

Whatever you believe about online piracy, the fact remains that it breaks the law and by understanding why, piracy may start to look a little bit different.

Think about it this way… in order for creators to keep making the products you love, they need a system that helps them earn a living from their talents. In most countries, that system is based on copyright law.

When someone creates something like a song, computer program or photograph, that creator automatically owns the copyright and has the right to control how it is used and by whom.

Online piracy is illegal because it breaks copyright law and prevents the creator from having control over what they create. But it’s not simply a matter of rights and laws.  

Let’s consider the music industry. It may seem like piracy only hurts big corporations, but in reality, it also hurts the artists who make the music. For example, a song may have a songwriter, producer and performer. Often, the sales of a song or album are directly linked to the income of the artist who created it. When music is pirated, sales often suffer and with it, the incomes that support the artists’ work. Without income, your favorite artists may not make music in the future.  

Software is another target of piracy. Like music, piracy threatens the software industry, but the biggest risk is using software that’s made by pirates. Here, criminal organizations copy and sell counterfeit software often at a huge discount. It may seem real, but pirated software may work poorly or not work at all. Further, compared to authentic software, it may lack support systems that keep it up-to-date and protected from viruses and criminals. If something goes wrong, support may not be an option.

To avoid pirated software, buy from trusted stores and websites and look for official packaging.

The bottom line is that piracy on the internet is illegal and could have serious consequences. But there’s more to it. Piracy is also a threat to the systems that help creators earn a living and keep our computers safe, supported and secure.


What it teaches:

Piracy, on the open ocean or online, is illegal because it is a kind of theft. By understanding different types of online piracy and why it’s illegal, we can start to see how piracy impacts the artists we love and represents a risk to us as individuals. It teaches:

  • What piracy is online

  • Why artists often depend on copyright laws for income
  • How piracy breaks copyright laws and impacts artists

  • Why pirated software is a risk

  • How to avoid pirated software

Video Info:

  • Duration:  03m 12s
  • Captions Available:  YES
  • Lesson Plan:  YES
  • Category:  Technology, Net Safety
  • ISTE Standard:  Digital Citizen, Indicator 2c
  • ACRL Info Literacy Frame:  Information Has Value

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