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What are the Different Ways to Stop Piracy?

Dana Hinders
Updated May 16, 2024
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For the people who make their living creating and selling movies, songs, video games, and software programs, the effort to stop piracy is a constant battle. Protecting intellectual property rights requires using several different approaches while adjusting to a marketplace with a never ending appetite for new content. Even though the general public may think of piracy as a victimless crime, this form of copyright infringement damages the creative professional's ability to earn a living from his work.

Public education campaigns are typically considered the first line in the defense against piracy. To help stop piracy of DVD movies, for example, filmmakers started putting a short commercial at the beginning of each disc equating buying a pirated copy of a DVD to shoplifting. Individual artists, ranging from celebrity musical acts like Metallica to the stay-at-home mothers who sell digital scrapbooking kits in their free time, frequently speak out against piracy when talking to their fans. Grassroots organizations also work to educate the public about intellectual property rights through online marketing campaigns.

Technology has been a key component in helping to stop piracy. Music companies have been experimenting with ways to put anti-copying software onto the CDs they sell. Software programs can be created to require authorization codes or online registration forms that serve to make piracy more difficult because they are only given with legal copies. For downloadable content, digital rights management systems limit the number of devices that can play a particular movie or song in order to stop people from sharing unauthorized copies. On a similar note, some sites are selling downloadable files with a digital fingerprint that makes it possible to trace pirated copies back to the original source. Unfortunately, resourceful hackers and people in the piracy industry continue to find ways to get around these measures.

Lawsuits may seem like an obvious way to stop piracy, but legal action is typically a last resort. With the global nature of the Internet, it is time consuming and expensive to track down all the parties that would be involved in a lawsuit. Piracy laws also vary from country to country, making enforcement rather difficult. For large corporations, negative publicity is a factor as well. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) came under fire in 2000 for suing thousands of individuals accused of illegally downloading copyrighted songs through Napster®, including college students, stay-at-home parents, and retirees.

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Dana Hinders
By Dana Hinders
With a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Iowa, Dana Hinders brings a strong foundation to her work as a freelance writer. After discovering her passion for freelance writing following the birth of her son, Dana has been a vital part of the EasyTechJunkie team. She also showcases her versatility by creating sales copy and content for e-courses and blogs.
Discussion Comments
By anon988709 — On Feb 13, 2015

The problem I have with piracy is that many artists are not necessarily rich and this only makes It harder for them to provide food for their family. even If they are rich It's their music to sell. I come from the old school. If you can't afford It you go without until you can. And for the gen y kids who holler anti establishment. Well, the problem with that thinking is that when you pirate music and games you are supporting an establishment that is ripping off your favorite artist. That means you are not a true fan or friend to your artist, but a fake.

By anon930502 — On Feb 05, 2014

As a former content producer providing indie productions that had an international following in the early/mid/late 2000s, most of the arguments about 'stop piracy, make downloading easier/provide better service' is self-serving, ludicrous and just plain not true.

I didn't have Paramount or Universal or Warner Bros behind me and my small team; everything was paid for by me. We went from downloads to streaming, dropped our prices to the point we were barely making a modest profit. Our customer service was second to none and the theft simply continued. It finally got to a point where there was no point in continuing production and we shut our doors.

I'm sure our little band of producers aren't the only ones. It's too bad. We were pretty good at what we produced. Even at $1.99 a download, that price was apparently too steep to hold off pirating.

Small, indie producers deserve a chance to make a living. But no one is listening.

By anon355739 — On Nov 19, 2013

Game piracy stems from service, not product. If you want to stop people from pirating games, don't go about punishing everyone for the idea of it.

Instead, reward the loyal customers for buying the game legitimately. Positive incentive will always trump threats. Make them /want/ to buy their copies legally instead of downloading illegally. In other words, Provide. Better. Service.

By anon352842 — On Oct 25, 2013

The government needs to be much more forceful in pursuing and punishing pirates (both uploaders and downloaders). Reasonable fines should be assessed in each case, and most of the money generated from the fines should be apportioned to the content creators whose work was stolen.

By anon323269 — On Mar 04, 2013

Dear MPAA and RIAA: Your business model is dead. Stop fighting it. Move into the 21st century.

The way to stop piracy is make it easy to access content digitally. Destroy the reason that people turn to piracy: because they want access to digital copies of movies and music.

There are tons of people (including me) who would be willing to pay a monthly fee to be able to stream whatever I want whenever I want. Not only would that be cheaper and less complicated than all this tracking and suing, it also creates a new revenue stream.

By anon318264 — On Feb 06, 2013

In response to the post by Iluviaporos, the same goes for independent musicians. When a musician puts out a self funded, self released, professional recording, everything needed to get it to the point of release comes out of that musician's pocket. That musician is not getting paid up front. Instead, that musician is paying everyone else involved in making that record.

Selling that product is essential to being able to keep creating music, yet many people feel no remorse for illegally downloading music. Musicians and artists have bills to pay just like everyone else. I'm pretty sure that the people stealing music wouldn't be too pleased if they went to work day after day but never got a paycheck for it. Creative professionals deserve to be able to make a living too.

By anon264981 — On Apr 30, 2012

Executing people who use piracy sites isn't the way to go. Now locating and bankrupting the actual owners of piracy sites and such should be the ones to blame. Money is the only thing being altered due to piracy so the death penalty shouldn't be applied. Large sums of repayment though should and immediate shutdown of links/sites affiliated with them.

By anon257528 — On Mar 27, 2012

Automatic death penalty, with no free pass for being underage, because it's for the war on terror, so zero tolerance.

And not just for downloads but everybody who didn't report it. Also cops have to do surprise checks of all the computers in America and root it out.

By lluviaporos — On Jun 10, 2011

One of the forms of modern day piracy that I consider the absolute worst is the piracy of books.

Most authors are just scraping by, or are actually working another job while they write. And E-books are usually only $3-5. But people will still illegally download copies.

With films and video games, most of the people involved have already been paid regardless of whether the game is a hit. Buying it means they will get to make more games, so it makes sense to buy anyway.

But, with books it directly effects a real person if you illegally download the manuscript.

By pleonasm — On Jun 08, 2011

There are some hilarious anti-piracy measures that have been put into video games. In some of them the character slowly stops being effective, or all your ammo disappears, or your bases blow up.

In a couple you get quite far into the game and it suddenly dumps you back at the start, and wipes any saves you might have made. That's cruel as you might have spent hours getting to that point.

But I like that kind of subtlety that can lead to people just giving up and forking out the money they should have in the first place.

Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders
With a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Iowa, Dana Hinders brings a strong foundation to...
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