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The Digital-Piracy Dilemma

research paper about internet piracy

Do buzz and publicity outweigh the lost sales?

New research suggests that piracy can help promote films and other digital products. But the authors warn against reading too much into that research: In most cases, they say, the costs of piracy still outweigh the benefits, and consumers therefore still deserve protections from piracy.

In the world of film, one of the most important things copyright owners can do is market their content online to increase awareness and revenue. At the same time, they have to protect their content from internet piracy, which chips away at sales. This is an often-discussed dilemma — but two recent peer-reviewed papers ( here  and  here ) suggest that these two goals may not always be in tension. Piracy, the papers suggest, can actually boost sales of some digital products by increasing word-of-mouth and overall market awareness. This has led some industry observers to argue that efforts by firms and governments to combat digital piracy may be wasted.

We disagree with that assessment. We’ve been at the forefront of research on this topic for years, and we worry that this line of thought oversimplifies matters in ways that may mislead managers and policymakers.

We’ve come to this conclusion on the basis of four simple facts.

First, for the vast majority of products, piracy does exactly what you’d expect it to do: It reduces legal sales.  That’s the conclusion of our  recent review  of the academic literature, which found that 29 of the 33 peer-reviewed papers studying this question found that digital piracy causes statistically and economically significant harm to creators by cannibalizing sales in legal channels, and other papers found that piracy can harm consumers by reducing the economic incentives creators have to invest in high-quality entertainment projects.

Second, there is an emerging  consensus in the peer-reviewed academic literature that anti-piracy regulations can reduce piracy consumption and increase legal sales. They make pirated content riskier to consume, harder to discover, or more difficult to supply.

Third, situations where the benefits of piracy outweigh the harms of piracy only apply at specific times, in a limited number of channels, and to a small fraction of products. With regard to times:  The first study  cited above finds that piracy that appears before a movie’s theatrical premiere decreases box office revenue by 11%, even though piracy that appears after a movie’s premiere can generate word-of-mouth gains that increase a movie’s box office revenues by 3%. With regard to channels: Neither finding accounts for the fact that piracy in the theatrical window can hurt sales in later home-video release channels, a result we have seen  in some of our own work . And with regard to products: Although  the second study  cited above found that piracy may have increased sales of the least popular decile of movies, it also found that piracy hurts sales of the most popular decile of movies. In interpreting this result, it is important to recognize that although the number of movies in the top and bottom decile of popularity is the same, their economic impact is radically different. According to data provided by the trade publication The Numbers, in 2019 the 56 movies in top decile of sales (those hurt by piracy) grossed over $9.2 billion while the 56 movies in the bottom decile of sales (those helped by piracy) grossed only $310,000. It makes perfect economic sense for rights holders and policymakers to try to protect sales of movies that gross on average $165 million each, even if this protection might have the unintended consequence of hurting sales of movies that gross on average $5,500 each.

Fourth, piracy isn’t the only way to increase word-of-mouth online.  Although free availability may increase awareness and sales of some less well-known products, piracy isn’t the only way to give products away for free. For example, rights holders can use platforms like IMDB, YouTube, or TubiTV to make their content available for free — and unlike piracy, legal platforms allow rights holders to retain their legal rights to decide whether to make their content available for free, and when to remove it from free availability (for example, once awareness reaches the point where free availability is no longer beneficial).

In light of these four facts, it would be a mistake for managers or policymakers to interpret the recent findings about how piracy can provide word-of-mouth benefits in some circumstances as a general argument against anti-piracy enforcement. Instead, these findings should provide a roadmap for rights holders to identify circumstances where their products may benefit from free distribution. The bottom line: policymakers should continue to protect creators and consumers by enforcing copyrights online, leaving rights holders with the sole discretion over whether, when, how long to make their content freely available.

research paper about internet piracy

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On January 18, 2012, the online information trove, Wikipedia was forced to go dark for 24 hours, which thus posed greatest effect on the college students who panicked because of the deadlines. The message from Wikipedia was patent: no individual should undermine the transparency and openness that has developed the Web to be such a global –changing resource. The Wikipedia and other internet firms were worried that the internet was facing a severe risk from probable government control (Black 33). Under extreme pressure from film studios and huger music and media firms, Congress has been focusing on developing new lawful powers to eliminate the websites that undertake illegal streaming and downloading films, music and other copyright material from internet sources. The bill in Congress, the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the other in Senate, Protect Intellectual Property Act, aims at empowering the legal systems to make firms such as Google prevent supposed copyright violators from their websites and compel advertisers to minimize payments to offending websites. Consequently, this has sparked the latest conflict in the long-running battle between Hollywood and Silicon Valley on how balance copyright aspects in respect to internet freedom. The debate in the Congress pits both the recording and film industries well-linked activisms, versus the dotcoms’ collective power of the popular Internet opinion and their own equally well-coordinated activism (Goodale 16).

According to the proponents of the bills, online piracy is a disaster that robs money not only on the internet industry, but also the music and movie industries. It has been estimated in the US that industries are losing as much as $ 58 billion annually from the US economy and risks millions of employment opportunities. The existing laws on piracy, particularly on regard to the internet are limited not to provide comprehensive actions on the perpetrators of the criminal act, but eliminating on the overseas sites that might be beyond the provisions of the U.S. laws. Thus, there is the need for enacting laws that will end the internet piracy. They argue that the bill will affect the home-based websites, but will affect the foreign sites that engage themselves with website “theft” (Crowley 12).

On the other hand, critics of the two bills perceive the bills as too broad and have devastating outcomes if passed. They believe that the bills would negatively impact on small sites that have never done any wrong on piracy issues (Goodale 16). The bigger sites such as Facebook and You Tube will encounter more expenses by embracing new strategies on monitoring their users’ actions or face legal action. The bills on piracy, according to the critics lead the governments and firms like Google to loss considerable amount of money because introducing new regulations in the internet industry would mean extra costs.

Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a bill that is aimed at expounding the U.S law enforcement to eliminate online piracy and copyright intellectual property. The provisions in the bill allows the court systems to stop advertising firms and available payment structures from undertaking businesses with infringing websites and search engines from connecting to these illegal sites. The court system provides directions on ways on requiring legal internet providers to block links to these sites (Crowley 12).

As a result of limitations observed on SOPA provisions, the legislators have backed the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act. Although the SOPA Act is principally aimed at eliminating copyright violation by overseas websites, several critics has challenged the enforcement approaches outlined in the bill, which could pose devastating impacts. Butler Brandon took issues with provision SOPA Section 201 of the bill and argued that the Act upon approval will expound the definition of “willful” copyright infraction to probably include instances, where an individual or a firm which believed in good faith, which its infringing conducts, was legal. According to Butler, this “innocent” infringement has small probability for financial penalties than the aspect willful infringement (Crowley 12).

Other provisions within the SOPA Act would permit an act of felony rather than transgression penalties for some illegalized public offenses of copyrighted functions. The OPEN Act does not comprise these or identical provisions, which Butler described as certainly an aspect considered by the Congress on support of the bill. The OPEN Act ignored the aspect of the ‘willful ‘streaming that was being concern on some individuals. The OPEN Act does not include in its provision s the aspect of “flittering or blocking websites.” The proponents of the OPEN Act has adopted the public opinion aspect whereby the relevant representative of the bill has set up a website , , where several individuals contribute positively regarding the bill through interactive sessions while one visits the website (Rapp 16). The OPEN Act, as compared to SOPA Act, permits a considerable time for public participation at each early stage in building the legislation. Butler suggested that there was the need for other bills to follow the same structure of OPEN ACT (Crowley 12).

The repercussion against SOPA Act has prompted the bill proponents that include media companies and other interested parties on the Act to call for strict regulations that will protect their intellectual property. The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee faces a lot of challenges in trying to build and pass the bill. The critics of the SOPA Act demanded that there was the need to delete controversial provisions awaiting further deliberations. Both the two bills, PIPA and SOPA, focus on websites outside United States, which has pirated material. The American authorities has no legal permission to directly access such websites, SOPA would permit copyright holders to request American sites to undertake links to them in order to stop transacting business with them via process known as DNS filtering. This strategy can be implemented by music and film executives, who aim at safeguarding their intellectual property from pirates, which are threats from foreign firms.

In the view of large companies such as Google and other start-up firms, the regulations will negatively impact on smaller American internet firms. According to critics, the regulation would suppress innovation and permit element of piracy on these smaller internet firms. The DNS filtering technology would interrupt the internet’s addressing system, leading to security issues. The SOPA bill has received financial back-up from interested groups, which it amounted to $ 85m to legislators and $ 45m to senators against the anti-SOPA activists who have donated $17 and $ 27 respectively. The two bills have been affected by politics where the support or criticism entirely depends on party politics and the media has benefited from this debate on the bills. The SOPA bill has led party politics has become an election issue where supporters in states look at the aspect of the bill.

The critics have furthered the argument and said that the anti-piracy bills would not only conflict First Amendment free-speech liberties, however, it could “break” the internet by interrupting the internal addressing system if the bill is approved. Strong proponents of the bill who include legislators, music and film industries have registered their optimism that the bill will succeed in eliminating online piracy upon its approval by the Congress. On the other hand, the proponents of the two bills have not relented on their criticism whereby they continue spreading the message of doom to the bills. They claim that the PIPA and SOPA bills would not stop piracy, but instead it will promote it.

The websites such as Wikipedia, Google, Reddit, Twitter, and Mozilla have opposed the two bills highlighting the negative consequences of the bill and it effects on small internet providers. They argue the regulations ad provisions of the bill are meant to perpetuate censorship. The other opponents of the bill are White House advisers who recognize the menace associated with online piracy, which poses serious problems thus need for severe legislative reaction. They argue that the SOPA and PIPA bills has some shortcomings associated to them ,which include the aspects of the bills will thwart freedom expression ,promotes cyber security or undermines the element of flexibility ,innovates world internet. The attention has changed to alternative bills that promote freedom of expression and reduces drawbacks that are aimed at blocking the use of global “rogue websites “that allows pirated music, films and software which is to be downloaded (Goodale 16).

Under the troubled PIPA and SOPA bills, search engines might have to disable their links to oversee websites undermining on the US intellectual property regulation; advertising services might be thwarted as well as regulations that disrupt payment processing. In the face of an internet insurgence, both the legislators and senators are backing away from both SOPA and PIPA bills currently passing to the Congress. The protests seen being undertaken by the internet giants such as Google and Wikipedia, which at some time they shut down for at least one day, goes past the two bills. The witnessed protests are a wake-up call for Congress to revisit their positions and provide lasting solutions to the problem of internet piracy. The critics argue that the Congress has not addressed the issue of internet piracy in a conclusive manner and they need to provide modern solutions to address the modern piracy challenges (Goodale 16).

The main objectives of both PIPA and SOPA bills is to cut off the links that supply copyrighted content illegally. However, the critic has termed this as heavy –handed solution, which would not be able to solve this challenge and might invalidate the sharing and partnership that evoke the element of innovation on the internet. The greatest challenge suggested by the critics, is the failure of music and film industries to adapt rapidly to the new online challenges in the global arena, and they say that these people want to use Congress to rubberstamp their outdated practices (Rapp 17).

The GoDaddy Company, which is a major registrar of website names, faces a probably worry of consumer defection occasioned by politics. The protests witnessed can be linked to the support the company gave to the proponents of SOPA bill, was focused at eliminating infringement aspects on copyright (Black 33). There has been global outcry from individuals, Google and Facebook that the proposed SOPA bill is draconian, which will lead to closing down websites that are looked upon to provide information. The GoDaddy Company has managed to quench the planned boycott by reversing its support on the bill (Rapp 17).

The strikes witnessed and other forms of strikes that culminated the web, was undertaken to act as a wake-up call to the legislators on the bills thus stifling freedom of expression. The integrity of the protest was questioned, on whether the protest was suitable for websites that were more often seen as arbitrators of free speech online. Proponents of the SOPA bill disputed not only the basis of the internet firms concerns, but also the decision to openly strike, and in some instance s of self-censor (Black 33).

Works Cited

Black, John. Stopping SOPA . Economist, 2012, Vol. 401 Issue 8768, p33-33, 1p. Retrieved from <>

Clayton,Mark. Would SOPA and PIPA bills ‘break Internet?’ Anti-piracy measure being revised. Christian Science Monitor , 2012, pN.PAG, 1p. Retrieved from: <>

Crowley, Michael. Battlefield SOPA. By: Crowley, Michael. Time, 2012, Vol. 179 Issue 4, p12-12.Retrived from: <>

Goodale, Gloria. SOPA and PIPA bills: old answers to 21st-century problems, critics say. Christian Science Monitor, 2012, pN.PAG, 1p.Retrieved from: <>

Josh ,Smith. SOPA Blackouts: Free Speech or ‘Abuse of Power’? By: Smith, Josh. Congress Daily , 2012,PN.PAG.1p.Retrieved from: <>

Keny ,Bernard . SOPA and PIPA Issues in the Internet Society .New York, NY :Cambridge University Press,2012,print.

Rapp David. Library Copyright Alliance Supports SOPA Alternative. Library Journal , 2012, Vol. 137 Issue 2, p16-18, 2p.Retrieved from: <>

Trumbull, Mark. Boycott of GoDaddy over SOPA bill a barometer of Internet politics. Christian Science Monitor, 2011, pN.PAG, 1p: Retrieved from: <>

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Internet Research Paper

View sample internet research paper. Browse research paper examples for more inspiration. If you need a thorough research paper written according to all the academic standards, you can always turn to our experienced writers for help. This is how your paper can get an A! Feel free to contact our writing service for professional assistance. We offer high-quality assignments for reasonable rates.

The Internet is a vast global system of interconnected technical networks made up of heterogeneous information and communication technologies. It is also a social and economic assemblage that allows diverse forms of communication, creativity, and cultural exchange at a scope and scale unknown before the late twentieth century.

The terms Internet and net are often used when discussing the social implications of new information technologies, such as the creation of new communal bonds across great distances or new forms of wealth and inequality. Such a usage is imprecise: The Internet is distinct from the applications and technologies that are built upon it, such as e-mail, the World Wide Web, online gaming, filesharing networks, and e-commerce and e-governance initiatives. There are also many networks that are or were once distinct from the Internet, such as mobile telephone networks and electronic financial networks.

Stated more precisely, the Internet is an infrastructural substrate that possesses innovative social, cultural, and economic features allowing creativity (or innovation) based on openness and a particular standardization process. It is a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition for many of the social and cultural implications often attributed to it. Understanding the particularity of the Internet can be key to differentiating its implications and potential impact on society from the impacts of “information technology” and computers more generally.

History and Structure of the Internet

The Internet developed through military, university, corporate, and amateur user innovations occurring more or less constantly beginning in the late 1960s. Despite its complexity, it is unlike familiar complex technical objects—for example, a jumbo jetliner—that are designed, tested, and refined by a strict hierarchy of experts who attempt to possess a complete overview of the object and its final state. By contrast, the Internet has been subject to innovation, experimentation, and refinement by a much less well-defined collective of diverse users with wide-ranging goals and interests.

In 1968 the Internet was known as the ARPAnet, named for its principal funding agency, the U.S. Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). It was a small but extensive research project organized by the Information Processing Techniques Office at ARPA that focused on advanced concepts in computing, specifically graphics, time-sharing, and networking. The primary goal of the network was to allow separate administratively bounded resources (computers and software at particular geographical sites) to be shared across those boundaries, without forcing standardization across all of them. The participants were primarily university researchers in computer and engineering departments. Separate experiments in networking, both corporate and academic, were also under way during this period, such as the creation of “Ethernet” by Robert Metcalfe at Xerox PARC and the X.25 network protocols standardized by the International Telecommunications Union.

By 1978 the ARPAnet had grown to encompass dozens of universities and military research sites in the United States. At this point the project leaders at ARPA recognized a need for a specific kind of standardization to keep the network feasible, namely a common operating system and networking software that could run on all of the diverse hardware connected to the network. Based on its widespread adoption in the 1970s, the UNIX operating system was chosen by ARPA as one official platform for the Internet. UNIX was known for its portability (ability to be installed on different kinds of hardware) and extensibility (ease with which new components could be added to the core system). Bill Joy (who later cofounded Sun Microsystems) is credited with the first widespread implementation of the Internet Protocol (IP) software in a UNIX operating system, a version known as Berkeley Systems Distribution (BSD).

The Internet officially began (in name and in practice) in 1983, the date set by an ad hoc group of engineers known as the Network Working Group (NWG) as the deadline for all connected computers to begin using the Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) protocols. These protocols were originally designed in 1973 and consistently improved over the ensuing ten years, but only in 1983 did they become the protocols that would define the Internet. At roughly the same time, ARPA and the Department of Defense split the existing ARPAnet in two, keeping “Milnet” for sensitive military use and leaving ARPAnet for research purposes and for civilian uses.

From 1983 to 1993, in addition to being a research network, the Internet became an underground, subcultural phenomenon, familiar to amateur computer enthusiasts, university students and faculty, and “hackers.” The Internet’s glamour was largely associated with the arcane nature of interaction it demanded—largely text-based, and demanding access to and knowledge of the UNIX operating system. Thus, owners of the more widespread personal computers made by IBM and Apple were largely excluded from the Internet (though a number of other similar networks such as Bulletin Board Services, BITNet, and FidoNET existed for PC users).

A very large number of amateur computer enthusiasts discovered the Internet during this period, either through university courses or through friends, and there are many user-initiated innovations that date to this period, ranging from games (e.g., MUDs, or Multi-User Dungeons) to programming and scripting languages (e.g., Perl, created by Larry Wall) to precursors of the World Wide Web (e.g., WAIS, Archie, and Gopher). During this period, the network was overseen and funded by the National Science Foundation, which invested heavily in improving the basic infrastructure of fiberoptic “backbones” in the United States in 1988. The oversight and management of the Internet was commercialized in 1995, with the backing of the presidential administration of Bill Clinton.

In 1993 the World Wide Web (originally designed by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN in Switzerland) and the graphical Mosaic Web Browser (created by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois) brought the Internet to a much larger audience. Between 1993 and 2000 the “dot-com” boom drove the transformation of the Internet from an underground research phenomena to a nearly ubiquitous and essential technology with far-reaching effects. Commercial investment in infrastructure and in “web presence” saw explosive growth; new modes of interaction and communication (e.g., e-mail, Internet messaging, and mailing lists) proliferated; Uniform Resource Locators (URLs, such as became a common (and highly valued) feature of advertisements and corporate identity; and artists, scientists, citizens, and others took up the challenge of both using and understanding the new medium.

Protocols and the Internet Standards Process

The core technical components of the Internet are standardized protocols, not hardware or software, strictly speaking—though obviously it would not have spread so extensively without the innovations in microelectronics, the continual enhancement of telecommunications infrastructures around the globe, and the growth in ownership and use of personal computers over the last twenty years. Protocols make the “inter” in the Internet possible by allowing a huge number of nonoverlapping and incompatible networks to become compatible and to route data across all of them.

The key protocols, known as TCP/IP, were designed in 1973 by Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn. Other key protocols, such as the Domain Name System (DNS) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP), came later. These protocols have to be implemented in software (such as in the UNIX operating system described above) to allow computers to interconnect. They are essentially standards with which hardware and software implementations must comply in order for any type of hardware or software to connect to the Internet and communicate with any other hardware and software that does the same. They can best be understood as a kind of technical Esperanto.

The Internet protocols differ from traditional standards because of the unconventional social process by which they are developed, validated, and improved. The Internet protocols are elaborated in a set of openly available documents known as Requests for Comments (RFCs), which are maintained by a loose federation of engineers called the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF, the successor to the Network Working Group). The IETF is an organization open to individuals (unlike large standards organizations that typically accept only national or corporate representatives) that distributes RFCs free of charge and encourages members to implement protocols and to improve them based on their experiences and users’ responses. The improved protocol then may be released for further implementation.

This “positive feedback loop” differs from most “consensus-oriented” standardization processes (e.g., those of international organizations such as ISO, the International Organization for Standardization) that seek to achieve a final and complete state before encouraging implementations. The relative ease with which one piece of software can be replaced with another is a key reason for this difference. During the 1970s and 1980s this system served the Internet well, allowing it to develop quickly, according to the needs of its users. By the 1990s, however, the scale of the Internet made innovation a slower and more difficult procedure—a fact that is most clearly demonstrated by the comparatively glacial speed with which the next generation of the Internet protocol (known as IP Version 6) has been implemented.

Ultimately, the IETF style of standardization process has become a common cultural reference point of engineers and expert users of the Internet, and has been applied not only to the Internet, but also to the production of applications and tools that rely on the Internet. The result is a starkly different mode of innovation and sharing that is best exemplified by the growth and success of so-called “free software” or “open-source software.” Many of the core applications that are widely used on the Internet are developed in this fashion (famous examples include the Linux operating system kernel and the Apache Web Server).

Cultural, Social, and Economic Implications of the Internet

As a result of the unusual development process and the nature of the protocols, it has been relatively easy for the Internet to advance around the globe and to connect heterogeneous equipment in diverse settings, wherever there are willing and enthusiastic users with sufficient technical know-how. The major impediment to doing so is the reliability (or mere existence) of preexisting infrastructural components such as working energy and telecommunications infrastructures. Between 1968 and 1993 this expansion was not conducted at a national or state level, but by individuals and organizations who saw local benefit in expanding access to the global network. If a university computer science department could afford to devote some resources to computers dedicated to routing traffic and connections, then all the researchers in a department could join the network without needing permission from any centralized state authority. It was not until the late 1990s that Internet governance became an issue that concerned governments and citizens around the world. In particular, the creation of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has been the locus of fractious dispute, especially in international arenas. ICANN’s narrow role is to assign IP numbers (e.g., and the names they map to (e.g.,, but it has been perceived, rightly or wrongly, as an instrument of U.S. control over the Internet.

With each expansion of the Internet, issues of privacy, security, and organizational (or national) authority have become more pressing. At its outset the Internet protocols sought to prioritize control within administrative boundaries, leaving rules governing use to the local network owners. Such a scheme obviated the need for a central authority that determined global rules about access, public/private boundaries, and priority of use. With the advent of widespread commercial access, however, such local control has been severely diluted, and the possibility for individual mischief (e.g., identity theft, spam, and other privacy violations) has increased with increasing accessibility.

On the one hand, increased commercial access means a decline in local organized authority over parts of the Internet in favor of control of large segments by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and telecommunications/cable corporations. On the other hand, as the basic infrastructure of the Internet has spread, so have the practices and norms that were developed in concert with the technology—including everything from the proper way to configure a router, to norms of proper etiquette on mailing lists and for e-mail. Applications built on top of the Internet have often adopted such norms and modes of use, and promoted a culture of innovation, of “hacking” (someone who creates new software by employing a series of modifications that exploit or extend existing code or resources, with good or bad connotations depending on the context), and of communal sharing of software, protocols, and tools.

It is thus important to realize that although most users do not experience the Internet directly, the development of the particular forms of innovation and openness that characterize the Internet also characterize the more familiar applications built on top of it, due to the propagation of these norms and modes of engineering. There is often, therefore, a significant difference between innovations that owe their genesis to the Internet and those developed in the personal computer industry, the so-called “proprietary” software industry, and in distinct commercial network infrastructures (e.g., the SABRE system for airline reservations, or the MOST network for credit card transactions). The particularity of the Internet leads to different implications and potential impact on society than the impacts of “information technology” or computers more generally.

Digital Music, Film, and Intellectual Property

One of the most widely discussed and experienced implications of the Internet is the effect on the culture industries, especially music and film. As with previous media (e.g., video and audio cassette recorders), it is the intersection of technology and intellectual property that is responsible for the controversy. Largely due to its “openness,” the Internet creates the possibility for low-cost and extremely broad and fast distribution of cultural materials, from online books to digital music and film. At the same time, it also creates the possibility for broad and fast violation of intellectual property rights—rights that have been strengthened considerably by the copyright act of 1976 and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998).

The result is a cultural battle over the meaning of “sharing” music and movies, and the degree to which such sharing is criminal. The debates have been polarized between a “war on piracy” on the one hand (with widely varying figures concerning the economic losses), and “consumer freedom” on the other—rights to copy, share, and trade purchased music. The cultural implication of this war is a tension among the entertainment industry, the artists and musicians, and the consumers of music and film. Because the openness of the Internet makes it easier than ever for artists to distribute their work, many see a potential for direct remuneration, and cheaper and more immediate access for consumers. The entertainment industry, by contrast, argues that it provides more services and quality—not to mention more funding and capital—and that it creates jobs and contributes to a growing economy. In both cases, the investments are protected primarily by the mechanism of intellectual property law, and are easily diluted by illicit copying and distribution. And yet, it is unclear where to draw a line between legitimate sharing (which might also be a form of marketing) and illegitimate sharing (“piracy,” according to the industry).

The Digital Divide

A key question about the Internet is that of social equity and access. The term digital divide has been used primarily to indicate the differential in individual access to the Internet, or in computer literacy, between rich and poor, or between developed and developing nations. A great deal of research has gone into understanding inequality of access to the Internet, and estimates of both differential access and the rate of the spread of access have varied extremely widely, depending on methodology. It is, however, clear from the statistics that between 1996 and 2005 the rate of growth in usage has been consistently greater than 100 percent in almost all regions of the globe at some times, and in some places it has reached annual growth rates of 500 percent or more. Aside from the conclusion that the growth in access to the Internet has been fantastically rapid, there are few sure facts about differential access.

There are, however, a number of more refined questions that researchers have begun investigating: Is the quantity or rate of growth in access to the Internet larger or smaller than in the case of other media (e.g., television, print, and radio)? Are there significant differences within groups with access (e.g., class, race, or national differences in quality of access)? Does access actually enhance or change a person’s life chances or opportunities?

The implication of a digital divide (whether between nations and regions, or within them) primarily concerns the quality of information and the ability of individuals to use it to better their life chances. In local terms, this can affect development issues broadly (e.g., access to markets and government, democratic deliberation and participation, and access to education and employment opportunities); in global terms, differential access can affect the subjective understandings of issues ranging from religious intolerance to global warming and environmental issues to global geopolitics. Digital divides might also differ based on the political situation—such as in the case of the Chinese government’s attempt to censor access to politicized information, which in turn can affect the fate of cross-border investment and trade.



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The Internet Piracy

The Pirate Bay -Case Study 1. How does The Pirate Bay business make money? What is its business model? - The Pirate business makes their money by advertising using the “advertising revenue” as a business model. It’s a website works as a forum to advertise and receives fees from the advertiser. The more browsers the website has, the higher rates of the websites will charge and that’s what lead them to increase their revenue. 2. How do new “cloud-based” media sites and services make money? What is their business model? * It works through subscription fees by using the “subscription revenue” as business model.

By this the website provides all content or services to their users to exchange for a subscription fee. The users will pay a fee based on what kind of service they want and for how long. 3. Is the record industry justified in attempting to shut down P2P file-sharing sites that make it possible to download copyrighted media? Why or why not? * Yes it is, since there are millions of dollars spent by record labels to produce albums and not to include the artist’s time and effort into creating music’s and movies for the audience.

In my opinion, CD’s, DVD’s can be bit pricy during such difficult economic times, but it will not give people the right to steal. 4. Why might consumers prefer to pay for music from cloud-based sites rather than simply download music from P2P sites? * Because, they get benefits if having instant access of high quality track and videos without the hassle of P2P software download. The consumers don’t have to wait for hours for downloads or clutter their hard drives with file.

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Internet Piracy and SOPA Act Research Paper


Some people claim that internet piracy is a crime without a victim. They argue that users do not take tangible products, so no one gets hurt. Some people see this as a platform for sampling what they will eventually buy. Alternatively, some people claim that they only pirate content that they would not purchase.

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These arguments fail to recognize the unethical side of the practice. Pirating digital products, they abuse the rights (copyright) of the concerned entity. They prevent artists, writers, producers, and other copyright holders from reaping the full rewards of their efforts. Furthermore, users rarely purchase physical copies of a product after using its digital copy.

Several laws and policies have been put up to curb piracy. One law that focuses on internet piracy is SOPA or Stop Online Piracy Act. This law eliminates the trafficking of counterfeits or copyrighted material. It has assisted stakeholders in knowing the measures to take to slow down piracy or eliminate it.

Internet piracy

Internet piracy refers to the process of sharing copyrighted works through P2P (peer to peer) networks. This material may include video games, movies, music, software and digital books. This habit began in the 1990s when MP3s came into the scene. Individuals realized that they could compress material and still retain the original quality in these file formats.

They started sharing their material using Napster, which was a peer to peer application (Ramayah, Ahmad, Chin & Lo, 2009). When the invention of CD burner came up, more people continued to download free material from the internet and duplicating them into multiple copies. Hacking has increased as seen through several high profile cases concerning the internet.

Some people participate in internet piracy for commercial purposes, and these are the main targets of antipiracy legislations. They cause enormous losses to the companies responsible for making original material (Singer, 2012). Other parties may engage in internet piracy for their reasons. Such parties may not benefit economically from their file sharing or downloading.

However, they still cause enormous economic damages to copyright owners. Eventually, whole industries may end up lacking the financial backing required to make future products. Copyright owners argue that single copyright infringement may appear harmless, but over a long time, this process robs them off their rightfully-earned returns (Hohn, Muftic & Wolf, 2006).

The only way to take charge of internet piracy is to implement this law; hence, legitimate businesses will benefit. Small companies are the worst hit because even the slightest alterations in returns will affect their bottom line. These organizations go through so much pressure, and even at times they end up closing down.

Therefore, internet piracy kills creativity and prevents the entrance of new parties since the habit makes a business environment hostile. At the end of it all, internet piracy will hurt the same people who are profiting from it because they will have fewer materials to sell or distribute in the future.

Infringing on copyrighted content on the internet is particularly appealing to users because they can maintain their anonymity while carrying out their activities. Besides this, technologies are becoming more sophisticated. Internet speeds have increased tremendously such that distribution of digital material can be done faster. Additionally, the process involves parties from different geographical locations. It has become easy to do this without worrying about the people involved (Losey & Meinrath, 2011).

Hohn, D., Muftic, L. & Wolf, K. (2006) Swashbuckling students: An exploratory study of Internet piracy. Security Journal 19(10), 110-127.

Losey, J. & Meinrath, S. (2011 December 8). The Internet’s Intolerable Acts. Slate magazine , p. 15.

Ramayah, T., Ahmad, N., Chin, L. & Lo, M. (2009) Testing a causal model of internet piracy behavior among university students. European Journal of Scientific Research 2(29), 206-214.

Singer P. (2012). The Ethics of Internet Piracy . Project and Syndicate.

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IvyPanda. (2020, April 23). Internet Piracy and SOPA Act.

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Piracy Landscape Study: Analysis of Existing and Emerging Research Relevant to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Enforcement of Commercial-Scale Piracy

USPTO Economic Working Paper No. 2020-02

59 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2020

Brett Danaher

Chapman University - The George L. Argyros School of Business & Economics

Michael D. Smith

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management

Rahul Telang

Date Written: April 2020

This report provides an overview of the actors involved in the generation and distribution of pirated content, how these actors are organized, and their financial motivations. It further reviews the peer-reviewed academic literature analyzing the harm caused by digital piracy, both to revenue in legal channels and to creative output in the entertainment sector. Finally, it reviews the peer-reviewed academic literature analyzing the effectiveness of both industry- and government-initiated anti-piracy efforts.

Keywords: digital piracy, enforcement, intellectual property right (IPR), enforcement, piracy

JEL Classification: 034

Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation

Chapman University - The George L. Argyros School of Business & Economics ( email )

333 N. Glassell Orange, CA 92866 United States

Michael D. Smith (Contact Author)

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Pirate research-paper sites play hide-and-seek with publishers

Nature ( 2015 ) Cite this article

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Millions of scientific articles remain freely accessible despite copyright violations.

Operators of Internet repositories that provide illicit free access to millions of research papers seem determined to keep up their services, despite being barred by an injunction.

A New York district court ruled on 28 October that online services such as Sci-Hub and the Library Genesis Project (Libgen) violate US copyright law. The court ruled in favour of academic publisher Elsevier, which in June filed a complaint against the main operators of the sites for unlawfully accessing and distributing its copyrighted papers.

Sci-Hub downloads articles by aping university IP addresses and stores them in a repository that now contains more than 46 million papers.

Access to the site’s web domain was suspended following the injunction. But Sci-Hub, which is advertised as a service “to remove all barriers in the way of science”, has since moved to a different domain. Its revamped site continues to provide unauthorized free access to millions of papers.

Other pirate services, including Libgen, which also allows users to freely download audiobooks, and BookFi, a free repository of more than 2 million books, have also resurfaced on different Internet domains.

Hide and seek

Sci-Hub had an average of 80,000 visitors per day before its previous domain was blocked, says Alexandra Elbakyan, a former neuroscientist who started the site in 2011. The number of users has since dropped to about 30,000 per day, she says. 

It is just a matter of time until Sci-Hub’s new domain name, which is administered by a UK-based Internet company, will be suspended, thinks Eli Dourado, who researches Internet governance and intellectual property at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center in Arlington, Virginia.

But the site also has an alternative anonymous address that can be reached by users of the Tor network, a group of servers that encrypts Internet traffic and disguises its origins. “I could see the site staying up quite a long time through the use of Tor,” Dourado says.

Elbakyan, who was born and educated in Kazakhstan and is now based in Russia, says she doesn’t think that reviving her site violates the New York court ruling, because Sci-Hub is not a US-based company, and she is not a US citizen or resident of New York. That is incorrect, as Sci-Hub infringes US copyright law simply by serving its content to US citizens, says Toby Butterfield, a lawyer with the firm Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz in New York.

In principle, foreigners can be fined by US courts, Dourado adds — but if they do not have any assets in the United States, there is no simple way for the government to collect the fines.

Copyright clash

“We are definitely not going to stop spreading the knowledge,” says Elbakyan, who believes that any limitation on the free distribution of scientific knowledge is unacceptable. She says she hopes that the case will raise awareness of a lack of access to relevant literature faced by many scientists.

In his October ruling, New York district judge Robert Sweet argued that “Elbakyan's solution to the problems she identifies, simply making copyrighted content available for free via a foreign website, disserves the public interest”.

In a statement on the case made before the court ruling, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) in Washington DC said: “Sci-Hub’s and Libgen’s scheme to reproduce and distribute copyrighted works poses a significant threat to book and journal publishing and to authors and scholarly societies reliant on the royalties derived from sales and subscription income.” On concerns about lack of access for less privileged researchers, the AAP added that scientific publishers, including Elsevier, grant academic institutions in more than 100 developing countries free or very cheap access to scientific literature.

Sci-Hub’s approach has parallels with people who set up sites to illegally distribute music, notes Butterfield. “Scientific publishers are finding themselves in the same spot that record companies faced a few years ago,” he says. “It was only when iTunes and other services made it swift, easy and cheap to buy individual songs that people began turning away from infringement to get their music. So publishers, like record companies before them, have little choice but to get redress from blatant infringers in whatever ways the courts will allow."

Asked for comment, an Elsevier spokesperson said that the lawsuit was supported by the wider publishing industry and referred Nature ’s news team to the AAP.

Tom Allen, president of the AAP, says that his organization will use all available legal means to block access to pirated papers and that the group will continue to support Elsevier’s New York lawsuit. “We will continue to make domain administrators aware of the Sci-Hub enterprise, and urge all service providers to refrain from supporting the sites, which both the operator has admitted and the court found to be illegal,” Allen says.

Elsevier is not the only publisher whose copyrighted papers are available on Sci-Hub. Nature’s parent company – Springer Nature – is another; it says it does not wish to comment on the case. ( Nature’ s news team is editorially independent of Nature’ s research editorial team.)

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The Palgrave Handbook of International Cybercrime and Cyberdeviance pp 1025–1045 Cite as

Digital Piracy

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Digital piracy is the unauthorized digital reproduction of intellectual property. Digital piracy is a frequently committed cybercrime, especially by youth and young adults. The prevalence and costs associated with digital piracy are staggering. After briefly discussing the costs and prevalence of digital piracy, as well as different methods of how it is committed, this chapter explores research into the demographics of digital pirates and characteristics of the digital piracy subculture. It then discusses how criminological theories, particularly social learning theory, the general theory of crime, and deterrence theory, have been applied to those who commit digital piracy. In addition, the chapter discusses the creation and enforcement of digital piracy legislation and their effectiveness. Finally, the chapter discusses efforts by corporations and organizations to deter piracy through civil remedies and extralegal means.

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Jennings, K., Bossler, A.M. (2020). Digital Piracy. In: Holt, T., Bossler, A. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of International Cybercrime and Cyberdeviance. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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Internet piracy and book sales: a field experiment


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