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The Nature of Internet Piracy

            The mention of the word "pirate" can evoke powerful images of Somali criminals hijacking ships worth many millions of dollars. However, the alternate definition of the word-the illegal distribution or receipt of copyrighted materials-is the cornerstone of an economic and social phenomenon that encompasses a financial scope many times that of Captain Blackbeard. It is as such rather unfortunate that the public and the government share the same negative connotation of both concepts of piracy. Regulatory legislation regarding copyright infringement and person to person file-sharing negatively affects the entertainment industry and infringes on freedom of speech and information. There is a multitude of benefits to piracy, and arguments in support of curtailing the practice show various flaws.
             In recent years, the topic of copyright protection and anti-piracy measures has been a hot button issue inside the legislative forums of the United States. One product of this trend is the DCMA, or Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and it allows for easy takedown of content by way of claim-filing and investigations (Broes). Proponents of anti-piracy cite this precedent as an example of the non-destructive nature of regulation, but this short history of compliance does not refute the possibility of abuse. According to Intuit Research, a loss of $8.7 billion was recorded as a result of internet piracy. This alone cannot determine the net effect of piracy on industry since statistics detailing the gross income directly attributed to internet is unavailable. Another argument against piracy is the prevalence of virus threats amongst copyright infringing materials and sources. One caveat of this is view the cognitive fallacy of confusing causation and correlation. Rational thought on this matter reveals that non-pirated content distributors have the same access to infecting others than an illegal file-sharer.

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