Film and music piracy

Piracy isn't just limited to fake 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.


Piracy is the illegal copying and selling of DVDs and CDs. Money generated by piracy is used by criminal gangs to fund the sale of drugs and guns.

If you buy an illegal copy, the quality of the recording may be poor. If it's a DVD, the picture may be grainy or change to black and white, while the sound quality can often be muffled and very quiet. You may not be given a receipt so if it doesn't work, there is a chance you won't be able to get a refund or an exchange.


You may come across pirate copies of DVDs or CDs in markets, car boot sales or online auction sites. These will be cheaper than those on sale in shops. Pirate copies are usually recorded on a camcorder in a cinema or downloaded illegally from the internet.

Sometimes they are easy to spot but there are things you should look out for including:

  • the cover not being good quality
  • if the film has just been released at the cinema
  • 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 a 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

Downloading music

Downloading music directly to your computer or an MP3 player is now as popular as buying CDs in a shop. It's cheaper and you can choose to pay for each download or a standard fee every month for a certain number of tracks.

There are 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 copyright music.

File-sharing or peer to peer (P2P) networks can be used legally to share your photographs or music and video files that you made and own. But you shouldn't use file-sharing networks to download other artists' songs.

If you're caught illegally downloading music or films from the internet, you could get a fine for thousands of pounds.

Copying CDs

If you buy  a CD, you can lend it to your friends if they want to listen to it. It's illegal to make copies of CDs and give them to your friends or to sell pirate copies of CDs.

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