An Overview of Digital Piracy

Digital piracy is the illegal distribution of copyrighted materials. Legal issues involving companies like Napster have raised questions about the legality of peer-to-peer sharing, which is often how digital piracy occurs, and the European Union has attempted to pass sweeping legislation which they claim will crack down on the issues of digital piracy and copyright infringement. Here, the digital forensic experts at Atlantic Data Forensics discuss digital piracy and how you can recover your pirated content.

What is Digital Piracy?
Digital piracy is the infringement of online materials including movies, music, e-books or software. Digital piracy includes both downloading and sharing copyrighted materials. Intellectual property stolen by a former employee for the purposes of illegally sharing or distributing the material is also an example of digital piracy, and this type of piracy can have a direct effect on the business from which the material was stolen.

How Does Digital Piracy Cause Harm?
It can often be difficult for individuals to perceive the harm of illegally downloading or sharing music, movies or software online, but the cost of digital piracy can be astronomical. It is estimated that, by the year 2022, the cost of digital piracy will reach $52 billion, and $11.6 billion in the United States alone. Digital piracy is a huge barrier to market growth for companies, and it negatively affects individuals working within a wide variety of industries and those within their supply chains.

Pirated content also brings harm to the user. Digital piracy does not only have potential legal consequences, but pirated content often has malware or other viruses attached to the files you are downloading. This can lead to disruptive issues on the device where you made the download.

Because of the harm digital piracy can do, the European Parliament passed legislation, known as The European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, that is meant to crack down on digital piracy and help protect copyright and trademark owners. One of the most controversial parts of the law, titled Article 13, will force online entities such as YouTube or Facebook to remove copyrighted content from their platforms. While the law has been criticized, and it is still uncertain how it will impact smaller creators and copyright owners, it indicates the general shift toward stronger approaches to combat digital piracy.

How Can You Determine Whether Your Content Has Been Pirated?
There are a number of online tools and platforms you can utilize to determine whether your copyrighted or trademarked material is being pirated online, such as Copyscape. Companies can also set up Google Alerts that will alert them of the use of their brand imagery, logo, website content or other copyrighted material online.

How Do I Recover My Pirated  Content?
It can be difficult to recover pirated content, but there are several strategies companies can utilize. After determining who hosts the site where the pirated content​has been found, companies can contact the host of the site and request the content be removed. If stronger tactics are found to be necessary, a Digital Millennium Copyright Act​complaint, or DMCA complaint, can be filed. A DMCA complaint is a legal notice requesting pirated content be removed from an online platform. While there is no official DMCA complaint form, a DMCA complaint must include contact information for the copyright holder and a list of the copyrighted content that is being pirated. DMCA complaints must also be made in good faith, and the originator of the complaint must have the right to act on behalf of the individual with the exclusive right to the content.

However, it is important to remember that, due to the digital nature of content, digital piracy can have devastating consequences in a short period of time. It may be advisable to consult a team of digital forensic experts to ensure the damage is minimized and your content is recovered. The digital forensic team at Atlantic Data Forensics has years of experience helping their clients recover pirated content, and they can help your company recover invaluable data and material quickly and effectively. To learn more, contact Atlantic Data Forensics​ today.

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