Decriminalization of Piracy

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April 15, 2013 by Ozgur Ozden

Before we discuss decriminalization of piracy, I think  we should define what piracy is. Indian Music İndustry (IMI) describes as “Piracy is the unauthorized duplication of an original recording for commercial gain without the consent of the rights owner.”

Rise of internet combined with human desire (or one may call deficiency) to have everything without paying intensified this piracy. Napster was the first example. A popular group Metallica discovered that one of his song was distributed on Napster before the release and filed a lawsuit against Napster and others followed. Napster shut down at 2001. But immediately similar sites and systems developed to feed this hunger such as peer-to-peer i.e. P2P file sharing, different torrents and various mechanisms to hide the identity of users such as Tor Project or VPN systems. Software, music, movies, art crafts, websites, any kind of intellectual property are now pirated literally instantly today.

Content creators and copyright owners started look for a solution to this problem from a broader perspective rather than filling out lawsuits. Some countries decided to apply “copyright levies”, extra tax on MP3’s, blank CD and DVD’s, External Hard Drives i.e any recordable media. This solution might protect the content & copyright owners but brings extra tax on good people who don’t even use pirated materials. There are some advantages and of course disadvantages of this tax system.
Advantages: İf we take a look at from the content creator point of view, they will get paid for the items they created. This might motivate new people to create new for the public good. Consumer in this case receives his favourite materials with a very low cost or none.

Disadvantages: Content creator may not get the full benefit of its work compare to the copyrighted system. Creations may be altered or reused by another name.

On the other hand people started to discuss another interesting topic, decriminalization of Piracy. Decriminalization of Piracy means removing all kinds of ban around piracy and free the use of these intellectual materials and legalize to everyone. Decriminalization of piracy may solve the problem but brings other problems such as how are we going to decide about how much do we need to pay to the content owners? How this payment will increase or decrease in time?     

Current copyright infringement practices that we use today were actually established around 1850 (Bentley & Sherman 1999). All these laws and practices should be reshaped depend upon todays world. Content creators and copyright owners must create new business models to sell and protect their intellectual properties in today’s connected world. Of course there is no need to mention that this solution must be globally viable.


1- Dorrell, P. (2005). The Copyright Levy AKA Piracy Tax. Available: Last Accessed [ 26 March 2013]

2- Adams, A.A. & McCrindle, R.J. (2008) Pandora’s box: Social and professional issues of the information age. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. P. 401-412

3- Bently, L. and Sherman, B. (1999). The making of modern intellectual property law: The British experience. Available at: [Accessed: 27 March 2013]


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