All you want to know about Piracy Laws & Regulations

Since the advent of the internet, piracy and illegal file-sharing have been a headache for copyright holders in the music, film, television, software, and book publishing industries. According to a report published by the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center and NERA Economic Consulting, global piracy of movies and TV shows alone costs the US economy at least $29.2 billion in revenue each year. The research goes further and states that that is a conservative estimate, and the actual losses could be as high as $71 billion a year.

Given the economic impact of piracy, Governments across the world have understandably taken several measures to curb piracy. These measures vary from country to country, and they have prompted netizens to look for ways to stream content from platforms such as 123Movies safely.

Existing and Proposed Legislation on Piracy

Piracy is a form of copyright infringement, and it can be defined as making copies of a work or making it available to the public in various ways without permission, or without this being allowed according to a provision or limitation.

The act has been included in various regulations.

Civil Law

Civil law in the US involves the violation of the exclusive rights of the owner. This may include reproduction, illegal distribution, public performance/ display, etc. Piracy lies under illegal distribution, and it’s therefore illegal under civil law. For example, MGM Studios famously sued P2P file-sharing services Grokster and Streamcast in 2005, and the Supreme Court ruled in favor of MGM.

Criminal Law

When it comes to copyright infringement, various countries have different laws and regulations on piracy. Most countries have put laws in place that make the vice a crime, but then the implementation of these laws varies across countries.

Below are some countries that have legislation against piracy and enforce them:

  • Belgium
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • New Zealand
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Other countries have legislation against piracy, but they don’t really enforce them. They include:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Egypt
  • Greece
  • Iran
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Mexico
  • The Netherlands
  • Philippines
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa
  • Uruguay

Nevertheless, despite the outcry by copyright holders against piracy, many countries do not have any form of legislation, and others even allow downloading such pirated content for personal use. These include Poland, Spain, and Switzerland.

The DMCA Act

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was established by the US in 1998, and it implements two 1996 treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). This law criminalizes the creation and dissemination of technology while circumventing copyright-protecting measures. It then puts in place harsh punishments for people who violate copyrights.

Thousands of people have received DMCA and other copyright infringement notices after torrenting, downloading, or distributing content illegally.

The NET Act

The United States No Electronic Theft (NET) Act is a federal law that was passed in 1997, and it is aimed at providing prosecution for copyright infringement under various circumstances, even when there’s no monetary gain or commercial benefit involved. It, therefore, makes it a federal crime to reproduce, distribute, or share copies of movies, music, games, or software programs.

Piracy Fines and Imprisonments

Copyright legislation fines vary from country to country. Upon conviction, fines generally depend on the nature of the charges and could go up to about $1 million or more. In the UK, upon conviction in the Crown Court, the maximum term of incarceration is 10 years and/or an “unlimited” fine.

However, it’s also important to note that authorities usually target illegal distributors rather than consumers. This is because it wouldn’t make financial sense to go after everybody streaming pirated content for personal use. A huge number of facilitators have however been charged in court and paid high fees, and others even incarcerated.

This though doesn’t mean that you can stream copyrighted content as it is illegal in most countries, and you can easily get a copyright infringement notice forwarded by your ISP. Before you, torrent or stream on unofficial platforms, ensure that you crosscheck the copyright regulations in your country or region. And even more importantly, use a VPN to protect yourself with a layer of anonymity.