The “Dark Side” Of Technology: The Serious Cases Of Piracy

As technology gets more advanced by the minute, it is without a doubt that technology is becoming a very big part of our lives, and we can even get to dependent on it sometimes. Technology is directed to giving us easier access, which means that we can use it to do many different things. We are all familiar with the benefits we can gain from it such as wide-ranged communication, the obtaining of various information, execution of businesses, and many more. There is, however, what we can call the “dark side” of technology, where instead of people using technology for beneficial purposes, they use it to commit cybercrimes that impact others negatively. This goes against the set standards of ethics in the usage of technology. Copyright infringement is only one of the many branches of cybercrimes. Copyright infringement can be defined as the act of violating a copyright owner’s rights by obtaining their work without permission. Copyright itself means the legal rights for owners of a certain creation to own their work. Anyone is entitled to their own creation, therefore they do not need to be granted copyright. Others, however, need to gain permission from the copyright owner in order to obtain a copyright of their own. Most of the time, the copyright owners. Unfortunately, there is a lot of people out there who refuse to go through the legal process to acquire copyrights the right way. There are different ways copyright infringement can be committed, and people have discovered plenty of different ways to do it. Piracy is one of the different types of copyright infringement and is very well-known throughout society. It is the unauthorized and illegal act of copying one’s work and selling it at a usually much lower price to a “grey” market. This is usually done for the purpose of earning profit. At times even without realizing, people have contributed to being accomplices to these “pirates” by purchasing the stolen work or even freebooting it. Freebooting is the act of downloading or purchasing forms of media and re-uploading them, claiming the works as their own creation. Digital piracy can be done with MP3 files (such as music and podcasts), MP4 files (such as videos and movies), images, documents, software, and other types of files. The development of technology is making it easier to commit piracy without getting caught or even detected by the legal authorities. The rise of social media also contributes to piracy as one of the platforms to access and upload stolen works easily. In fact, the rise of technology advancement is causing music piracy to increase worldwide, according to IFPI, with 40 percent accessing unlicensed music. Even though it is ethically incorrect to commit piracy, people still think there are excusable reasons to steal works without obtaining copyright.

The first reason is one of the most common among people involved in piracy, and that is refusing to pay the required fee. Another quite common reason people is because the country they are in do not have immediate access or no access at all to certain movies, software, music, and more. Some people believe that the creators have earned enough from their works, thus it is fine to take their work without paying. Unfortunately for the most part, plenty of people do not realize that they are pirating hard-earned products of someone else because they are not educated enough in how to properly obtain these digital products. There are various real, existing cases known to have been based on copyright infringement and piracy. Piracy rings are cases of piracy that involves quite a number of accomplices. Piracy rings make it easier to operate on a wide range because instead of only one head thinking, there are multiple brains working together. One of the examples of a piracy ring case is the massive movie piracy ring that was reported in 2015. On December of 2015, plenty of US news outlets, including the LA Times and Seattle Times, reported that five men have been accused of operating a massive piracy ring of illegally obtained movies and TV shows, more specifically targeted towards Hollywood productions. Although none of the offenders were based in the United States of America, the operation was so massive that it had caught the attention of US federal officers.

Investigators revealed that they discovered that this piracy ring has allegedly stolen over 25 thousand files including movies, TV show episodes, audio tracks, and movie trailers, some of which were even unreleased to the public yet at that time. These stolen files include productions that are commonly today, especially among movie fanatics, such as “The Walking Dead,” “Godzilla,” “Fifty Shades of Grey (2015),” “How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2015),” “The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro (2014),” “Horrible Bosses 2 (2014),” “X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014),” “The Expendables 3 (2014),” “Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014),” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2015). ” They also ran a website called BollyTNT, where they distributed a bunch of Bollywood movies that they pirated. These illegally obtained files were allegedly stored primarily in a server located in France. This operation has reportedly been going on since early 2013 to the spring of 2015. In 2015 the Los Angeles federal grand jury made the decision to indict the suspects who ran the operation. This case was handled by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and since this case is ranged internationally, it is investigated alongside the assistance of the City of London Police’s Police Intellectual Property Unit and also with the cooperation of local authorities from France and Canada. Prosecutors have pressed federal charges. The United States attorney’s office revealed that the suspects are facing seven counts that include copyright infringement, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to commit computer fraud, computer hacking, and unauthorized access to a computer. According to the United States Law Enforcement officials, copyright infringement, conspiracy, and computer hacking could lead up to a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison, whereas aggravated identity theft is strongly punishable by at least a sentence of 2 years in prison, and these 2 years can be extended according to the charges that are being pressed. The names of the suspects are revealed in reports as Aditya Raj, Jitesh Jadhav, Malik Luqman Farooq, Ghobhirajah Selvarajah, and Sam Nhance. These five men are reportedly located at different places, based at four countries to be exact. These four countries include the United Kingdom, Malaysia, India, and the United Arab Emirates. Being spread in different parts of the globe, this made it easier for them to operate internationally. Indictments alleged that Farooq, who was aged 30 at that time, was based in London, United Kingdom, and was the first to be arrested and trialed by the local police there. He allegedly sold dozens of the stolen movies. Raj released the pirated films on online platforms. Selvarajah was registered as the owner of and managed the group’s PayPal account where transactions happened. Nhance’s share of the job was maintaining the computer server that stored the stolen digital files to then be distributed. Jhadav used a camcorder to obtain the movies while the rest of the group contributed in selling them. Different methods were used in this illegal operation. The five male suspects were said to have managed to hack plenty of computer systems that Hollywood production companies owned and illegally accessed and stole their digital files through the entire process. It is unknown whether or not the five culprits targeted specific production companies, but with the proven success of this piracy crime ring, production companies everywhere became increasingly at risk.

Other that using the method of coding, the five suspects also allegedly went to screenings in movie theatres and recorded the movies being played there. As if that was not already bad enough, the five men also pirated copies of movies that were being sent to official representatives and professionals in the industry of movie and film. Official industry representatives not only from the movie industry, but from the music industry as well, have spoken up against this issue. If this crime ring was able to pull of this big, internationally scaled heist with the technology that exists today, there could possibly be much more profit movie and film production companies will lose if piracy continues to exist, especially in the future where technology will most likely be way more advanced than what exists today. This is only in the movie and film industry, and there is no telling how much loss will be experienced by other industries with digital files on their hands. There are plenty of undiscovered piracy operations that work under the shadows. They could strike at any time and cause more companies to lose profit. Because of this, there needs to be forms of prevention to stop the growth of piracy rates. There also needs to be more effective and efficient ways to handle already currently existing pirates in the digital world. A solution that could prevent piracy from happening both accidentally or on purpose is by promoting the proper steps on how to retrieve digital files that need copyrights to obtain. One way this can be done is through various large platforms such as on TV stations (such as FOX, HBO, Cartoon Network, etc. ), radio programs, movie theatres, record shops, and subscription movie websites (such as Netflix, Hulu, etc. ) so that a lot of people will view the message. Since children are already being exposed to the wonders of technology from a young age, the awareness to this topic and the issues that happen within it should also be appropriately explained to them from also an early age. This promotion could be in the form of commercials, public service announcements, and many more creative, eye-catching, interactive ways that could attract viewers and listeners to follow the message. Not only to explain why people shouldn’t do it, but also to teach people in the audience how not to do it and that there are better alternative options to obtain digital files instead of pirating. This will persuade people of how easy it is to not commit piracy. It is recommended that public figures and social influencers be involved in this process of promotion so that people will see the promotions as credible and will be more interested and convinced in doing the right thing. By spreading the message through platforms, more people will be educated on this topic / matter / issue. The platforms don’t have to be extremely commonly known, but the more platforms involved, definitely the better. With every person caught in the influence, more people will also be influenced, creating a domino effect. The solutions to stop copyright infringement is not limited to just this idea. In fact, we have to keep discovering more ways, new ways if possible, that can be effective and efficient in handling situations and cases of copyright violations or infringement, including piracy.

As a global citizen and a digital user living in this era of advancement, we must expose ourselves to more knowledge and education on proper ways we can utilize technology ethically. One way to do that is by learning how to obtain digital files legally without breaking the laws of copyright ethics. The writer of this essay is no exception to the rules of ethics in the usage of technology. Personally, the writer, like a lot of the world’s population, lacks knowledge on how to purchase digital files legally. This needs to change. Through raising awareness and increasing it, positive transformations could be seen in technology. If everyone does their part as a proper digital citizen, we could terminate the issues that are currently going on within the usage of technology, one of them being the violation of copyrights. By doing our part in society, we are not only assisting in the work of law enforces by preventing acts of crime that happen in the digital word, but we are also helping plenty creators, producers, and creative production companies maintain their profit.


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  2. Spangler, Todd. “International Piracy Ring Stole Over 25,000 Movie and TV Digital Files, U. S. Feds Say. ” Variety. 14 December 2018. https://variety. com/2018/digital/news/international-piracy-ring-movies-tv-indictment-1203090006/
  3. Fry, Hannah. “International movie piracy ring targeted Hollywood film companies, prosecutors say. ” Los Angeles Times. 13 December 2018. https://www. latimes. com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-piracy-indictment-20181213-story. html
  4. The Associated Press. “5 charged with running massive movie piracy ring. ” The Seattle Times. 13 December 2018. https://www. seattletimes. com/nation-world/5-charged-with-running-massive-movie-piracy-ring/
  5. Vorel, Jim. “Charges Brought as Massive Film Piracy Ring is Unveiled. ” Paste Magazine. 13 December 2018. https://www. pastemagazine. com/articles/2018/12/charges-brought-as-massive-film-piracy-ring-is-unv. html
  6. “Members of International Movie Piracy Ring Indicted in Scheme to Steal and Sell Pre-Release Hollywood Films and TV Shows. ” U. S. Department of Justice. 12 December 2018. https://www. justice. gov/usao-cdca/pr/members-international-movie-piracy-ring-indicted-scheme-steal-and-sell-pre-release
  7. McIntyre, Hugh. “The Piracy Site That Nearly Destroyed the Music Industry: What Happened To Napster. ” 21 March 2018. https://www. forbes. com/sites/hughmcintyre/2018/03/21/what-happened-to-the-piracy-sites-that-nearly-destroyed-the-music-industry-part-1-napster/#2af3831f2293
  8. Greenberg, Andy. “6 Men Admit to Running A Global $100M Software Piracy Ring. ” Wired. 17 December 2015. https://www. wired. com/2015/12/6-men-admit-to-running-a-giant-100m-software-piracy-ring/ Reuters.
  9. “Piracy ring stole software worth $100m. ” The Sydney Morning Herald. 9 January 2013. https://www. smh. com. au/business/piracy-ring-stole-software-worth-100m-20130109-2cfke. html Kenton, Will.
  10. Copyright Infringement. ” Investopedia. 25 June 2018. https://www. investopedia. com/terms/c/copyright-infringement. asp
10 December 2020
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