The Idea of Decriminalising Piracy


The term piracy is used to describe the deliberate violation of the Copyrights Acts on commercial products such as software and music. Music piracy is the act of distribution of copies of sound recordings without the permission of the creator. The same concept is applied to the software piracy. By using software without a licence or making a copy of software and distributing it without the creator’s permission is a true piracy that violates the Copyright Acts. Reproducing copyrighted work, without the permission of the copyright holders is a violation of the Copyrights laws, and against all the rules that prevent piracy.

Copyright and Piracy

Copyright Acts promote the anti-piracy legislations that protect the author and force both the criminal and the civil punishment for any violation of these acts. It’s important for example to enforce such acts on the software piracy for the following reasons:

  • To compensate the losses caused by piracy to the author of the software.
  • To prevent the spread of viruses by producing illegal copies of the software from unknown source.
  • To eliminate the fact that the value of the product is diminished and also encourage the innovations which is reduced tremendously because of the fear of the illegal duplication.

Delahuntry (2005) raised a great point about how the entertainment industry is engaged in a huge battle over the online file-sharing via P2P networks that violate the Copyright Acts in every aspect. There have been many cases in court issued by the entertainment industry in attempt to discourage people from creating these online networks and distributing the piracy music online. He also pointed out that the French government has begun to promote the idea of decriminalising the file-sharing violations. The French government attempt to such act to protect the young people to be a target of the entrainment industry campaign against copyrights violations and the music piracy. Also, he argued that the entertainment industry needs to shift their battle against the large scale piracy behaviours that exist everywhere instead of pursuing a war against young people piracy acts.

The Problem

Bigwhale (2009) explained that once the author created something such as music or software, the Copyright acts grants the author a certain period of time (30 years – 70 years) and if the creator is a corporation then that period will be 120 years once the work is created or 95 years once the work is published. 

Bigwhale (2009) argued that there are two parts of the story, authors who wish to be compensated for their work or if others are willing to use their work, and there are users who wish to use this work with as little compensation as they can. Copyright Acts has to find the way to balance between the two parties. The piracy problem exists, because the Copyright Acts care mostly of the authors by putting all the restrictions around their intellectual property such as activations policy and validation process that all users have to go through. Also, the long period of time such 120 years for a copyright protection of such work is really a long period of time that users can make a backup copy of a CD or DVD and has to go through processes to be able to use the created work. All of the above created the piracy activities over the created work of others.

The Solution

Bigwhale (2009) argued that the solution for piracy problem will never be perfect. Authors and publishers are always looking for maximum profit that they can gain, and the users are always looking for $0 (Zero dollars) value for anything to buy. We can’t deny the fact that the author of any work has the right to decide what to do with their work, and who can use it for publication, and who can distribute the work, and also decide the terms and conditions around the publication, and the distributions process. It’s unfair for any author that the work is distributed via P2P over the network for free, and without any compensation to the author.

Bigwhale (2009) suggested the following solution to be implemented that might actually work in solving the problem with piracy:

  • Implement a plan to limit or reduce the number of years of the copyrights protection to be maximum 25 years.
  •  Implement a plan to reduce the copyrights for any software to be 10 years only. If there is no security batches, fixes or updates for more than 5 years the copyrights has to be terminated.
  • Implement a plan to make it cheaper for users to be able to use the intellectual properties with less money over the internet such as listening to music or download software.

The war on the Internet piracy has failed to stop the illegal P2P file sharing, and put the fears into the individuals who’re trying to get things for free. Ever since this war started, the P2P has nearly tripled from 2003 until now. It is about time to put a plan that works, and be fair for everyone (Kravets, 2007). International policies toward protecting intellectual property rights (IPRs) had a lot of changes over the past two decades. Rules that protect patents, copyrights, trademarks and other forms of IPRs, have become a standard agreement that govern the international trade agreements. However, the advanced technologies of the Internet have created new challenges to such agreements, and new rules have to be invested to maintain the current status with such technologies (Fink and Maskus, 2004).


Companies and authors will try to protect their product based on the Copyright Acts, however when all the protection methods that were developed being exhausted and being defeated by the piracy acts, most of these entities may turn to  the Federal Bureau to investigate and press the Copyright Acts against the entity of such piracy. For example, software piracy is considered to be an organized crime and is a federal offence (Honick and Craig, 2005).

Finally, economics reports shows loss of revenue amounts in billions over the piracy acts and something has to be done to solve the problem (Honick and Craig, 2005). One of the solution could be reducing the copyrights protections period, and also have the intellectual properties available for less prices.


Bigwhale E. (2009) Copyrights, intellectually property and piracy [Online]. Available from: (Accessed: 24 October 2009).

Delahunty J. (2005) Decriminalise file sharing for personal use [Online]. Available from: (Accessed: 24 October 2009).

Fink C. & Maskus K. (2004) Intellectual Property Protection: Effects on Market Structure, Trade and Foreign Direct Investment, World Bank Publications [Online]. Available from: (Accessed: 24 October 2009).

Honick R. & Craig P. (2005) Software Piracy Exposed, Syngress Publishing [Online]. Available from: (Accessed: 24 October 2009).

Kravets D. (2007) Piracy Milestones Converge; Illegal Downloading Goes Unabated [Online]. Available from: (Accessed: 24 October 2009).










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