Film and music piracy
Piracy isn't just limited to dodgy DVDs. Even though downloading tunes from the internet may be a great way to get your music, if you're getting music for free that you'd usually have to pay for, you're committing a crime.
What is piracy?
Piracy is the name given to the illegal copying and selling of DVDs and CDs. Many people see it as a crime that doesn't really matter because no-one is getting hurt, but this is not the case. Money generated by piracy is used by gangs of criminals to fund the sale of drugs and guns.
If you do buy an illegal copy, the quality of the recording is usually really bad. If it's a DVD, the picture will be grainy or change to black and white at some points, while the sound quality will often be muffled and very quiet. You won't be given a receipt so if it doesn't work, you won't be able to get a refund or an exchange.
You may come across illegal pirate copies of DVDs or CDs in markets, car boot sales or online auction sites. They will be cheaper than they are on the high street, but they'll probably have been recorded on a camcorder at the back of a cinema or downloaded illegally from the internet.
Sometimes they are easy to spot, as they're not sold in a plastic case. But other things you should look out for include:
- if the film has just been released at the cinema, any DVD of it will definitely be illegal
- if the DVD packaging has any foreign languages on it, or if the description or cast list doesn't match the film you're buying, it's probably been produced on someone's home computer
- if the cover of the DVD doesn't have a film certificate on it that you recognise, such as 'PG', '15' or '18', it's likely to be a pirate copy
- Learn more about piracy and copyright - The Industry Trust website
- More information about film copyright - Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) website
Illegal music downloads
Downloading music directly to your computer or an MP3 player is now as popular as buying CDs over the counter. It's cheaper and you can choose to pay per download or a standard fee every month for a certain number of tracks.
There are lots of different sites that allow you to buy music online or get some legal downloads for free, but there are users of other sites that are breaking the law by using file-sharing networks to share copyrighted music.
Although file sharing or peer to peer (P2P) networks can be used legally to share photos that you've taken, or music and video files that you've produced yourself, you should not use them to download songs by your favourite artists for free, as they'll be copyrighted.
If you're caught illegally downloading copyrighted music or video from the internet, you may be faced with a fine that costs you thousands of pounds.
If you've bought a CD, you can lend it to your friends if they want to listen to it. However, it's illegal to make copies of CDs and give them to your friends or to sell pirate copies of CDs for a profit.