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About Internet Piracy

How does Internet piracy work?

The Internet provides numerous channels through which pirate and counterfeit products can be sold or distributed. Peer-to-peer (P2P) networks and file-sharing sites are increasingly used to traffic digital content, while forums, blogs and Internet Relay Chat (IRC) help pirates communicate with their customers. Meanwhile, online auction sites are increasingly used to sell counterfeit products and branded merchandise, frequently to unsuspecting consumers.

Who is affected by Internet piracy?

  • Media rights-holders such as sports governing bodies, licensed broadcasters, programme distributors, film and music studios, photographical agencies, software and videogame developers, publishing houses, events organisers and website owners.
  • Brand owners and manufacturers, whose products and trademarks can be ambushed, abused or counterfeited and sold online.
  • Consumers, whose rights may be infringed by pirate merchandise, and whose experience may be spoiled by inferior products and services.

What is the likely scale of Internet piracy?

  • Experts estimate that worldwide usage of the Internet is likely to grow by a factor of 50 before 2015; by that time, video content will comprise 80 percent of Internet traffic (up from 30% in 2008).
  • It is not uncommon for newly released movies or major sporting events to be viewed by more than one million unauthorised viewers on one single illegal stream.
  • As bandwidth issues become less relevant and pirates start to base their pay models on advertising revenue, the numbers of viewers is likely to grow exponentially.
  • According to research by the International Criminal Court, companies are already losing $25 to $30 billion a year worldwide through brand and trademark abuse online.
  • According to the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition, 25 percent of all branded goods sold on the Internet are counterfeit.
  • Sophisticated digital pirates can operate for weeks and months, often avoiding the inconvenience of being “moved on” or closed down, until much of the damage has been done.

What is the legal landscape?

Although the law protects rights-holders well in some countries, formal legal enforcement can be slow and expensive. In other countries, the law is ambivalent or non-existent and enforcement can be problematical.

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