Digital Piracy:What is It and How to Protect From it?

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What is Digital Piracy?

As the internet has grown and more and more people are using various software, there has also been a growth in the stealing of this property. So what is digital piracy? Digital piracy refers to the illegal distribution of copyrighted materials online, ranging from the copying of videos and music to unauthorized videos and even software. The content that is stolen is often streamed on online platforms or sold to other users, meaning that the copyright holder no longer has control of his or her content. 

As the internet has grown and more and more businesses and individuals upload different forms of content online to be purchased, it has left a gap for digital piracy to grow. Those who take part in the practice of distributing this content online are known as digital pirates and they can often earn a lot of money through the selling of illegal and unauthorized content. If they are not looking to sell the data that they steal, they often post it for free and earn through advertising profits thanks to the tons of people who come to their website to gain access to the content. 

Over the last few years, the concept of digital piracy has been examined with many digital pirates themselves advocating that this illegal practice is not stealing, since the original still exists. Though this argument is sustained by many digital pirates, this practice is definitely still illegal and it can cause great harm to businesses. The effects of digital piracy can have far-reaching implications as businesses lose out on potential profits due to the fact that digital pirates sell the content for much lower prices, or even for free, leading internet users to rather download the digital pirate's content. Without effective protection tactics being put in place, digital piracy has the ability to run software businesses into the ground. 

What are The Types of What is Digital Piracy?

As digital piracy is such a broad concept, including all kinds of content that can be stolen and distributed, certain types have been created to better understand the implications of this practice. The types of digital piracy range in how they distribute stolen content and what they are most known to sell. The following is a look at these different types and a brief description of each one. 


Counterfeiting is a form of digital piracy that looks to distribute stolen content with the intention of imitating copyright products. The term counterfeit describes ‘fake’ products that have the intention of looking and seeming like the original content, but they are not. They may even have the same security manuals and information, but if you are not purchasing an item directly from a company, you may be purchasing counterfeit products. 

Most counterfeiting products in digital piracy come in the form of software that is loaded onto a computer, and due to the fact that this is not from the right holder, you may be prone to bugs and other malfunctions. Counterfeiting is a common form of digital piracy as it hides in plain sight, more often than not those who have bought the product may not even know if it is counterfeited. By purchasing directly from copyright holders, you can be sure that you are not infringing on the rights of copyright owners or buying any fraudulent software. 

End-User Piracy

End-user piracy refers to when infractions are done by the person who has brought a specific digital software. While many types of software have security systems in place that prevent it from being copied or distributed, this has not stopped end users from hacking the program with the intention of repurposing or distributing it. 

End-user piracy has dire consequences for businesses selling software, and due to this, many security upgrades have had to be developed to ensure that content and software cannot be copied and then given to another person. Companies like Microsoft have developed technologies within their software that make it extremely hard to hack, and other businesses have had to follow suit as end-user piracy has grown. 

Client-Server Overuse

Software often comes with a limited number of copies that can be distributed on a network, and once this limit has been reached, you can no longer share it with others. When the end user decides to share this software over networks after this limit has been reached, it is known as client-server overuse. 

A person who purchases software to share across a network will have to get special permission, or a special kind of software license, to be able to distribute. If you add more people than specified to the network and share the software with more people than agreed upon in your license, you would be responsible for client-server overuse of digital piracy, so be sure to check how many users are able to share the software. 

Hard-Disk Loading

When you get a new computer and purchase software to use on that device, you are only able to do so as long as the device is owned by you. If you sell the hardware to another person, you are legally not allowed to leave the software on the device. Hard-disk loading is a form of digital piracy where a business sells a computer or digital hardware with its old software still loaded on it. 

Many people do this to increase the price and inclusions offered when selling a specific piece of hardware. To avoid this form of digital piracy, avoid selling any digital device with software loaded onto it, rather remove it before handing it over to the new owners. 

How To Protect From Online Piracy?

While digital piracy statistics have determined that this illegal practice is on the rise, there are ways that you can protect yourself from the effects of this practice. The following is a brief look at just a few ways that you can protect yourself from this practice. 

Inform Your Audience

When it comes to digital piracy cases, very often, a user may not even know that what they are doing is illegal. They may not be aware of digital piracy laws or that they are using software without knowing it has been distributed illegally, and informing them of these issues can help reduce the number of times it happens. By putting systems in place on your website that informs your audience about what digital piracy is and what they can do to avoid it, you are reducing the number of cases that you may have of copying illegal digital property. 


DMCA laws help to ensure that when your content is stolen and distributed online, actions will be taken against the person or website who has illegally copied your software. DMCA takedowns send messages to those who have illegally spread your content and let them know that the information has been copied and will need to be removed immediately. 

Secure A Copyright

While you do not need copyright to be protected by copyright laws, it does help to ensure that when you do have copyright infringement issues that come up, your case can be quickly handled. Having a copyright on information, especially on software, is extremely important as it can also ensure that replicas are not able to be created and distributed! 

Use Anti-Piracy Software

When it comes to digital piracy and security, it is important to consider that the internet is a vast network of information and tracking when your information is copied can be difficult. By using anti-piracy software, you can use technology to help in the fight against digital piracy as these systems scour the internet for potential copies or replicas of the information or content that you have released. This is probably one of the best ways to protect your information online as it automates the process, meaning that things happen quicker than opposed to manual processes. 

What are The Effects of Digital Piracy?

When looking at the negative effects of digital piracy, it is possible to view them in two ways. The first is the impact that this form of piracy has on a business. When a product becomes free or less expensive through purchasing content from digital pirates, more and more people look to these different avenues to purchase software, meaning that the business actually creating this data loses revenue. 

If enough revenue is lost, it will ultimately lead to the company going under. Though the causes of digital piracy are often that these kinds of technologies are expensive, a ton of money and effort goes into creating them. If a business that does this is no longer able to, we will see a huge loss in progress within the digital sector. Though the ethics of digital piracy often tend to lead to exorbitant prices, it is important to remember that these costs are often warranted as creating this software is expensive. 

Another thing to think about when looking at the effects of digital piracy is the government of a country. Digital pirates are often involved in underground syndicates that go under the radar and are not taxed. An example of digital piracy and how it can impact the government and country as a whole is to look at how this tax can impact how a country works. Tax within the software and technology sector is massive, with a large amount of government revenue coming from this sector. Taking it away could be disastrous for the economy of a country, leading to long-lasting social and financial implications. 

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