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What is Video Piracy?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Video piracy is the act of copying video images and sound that are protected by a copyright, without the permission or consent of the copyright owner. As technology improves and changes the ways in which video and audio media are stored and distributed, this type of piracy has changed as well. This form of copyright infringement is typically illegal, regardless of how the pirated content is going to be used. Piracy is often cited as a major factor in contributing to the expense of making films and television, and numerous efforts have been made to prevent this type of piracy.

In general, video piracy refers to any act of copying images and audio that is protected by copyright law without the permission of the copyright owner. This means if someone makes a copy of a movie and sells that copy, then he or she has pirated that video and has likely broken the law. Similarly, someone who copies a movie or television program and distributes that copy without financial gain is still typically guilty of piracy and may have still broken the law. This form of video piracy only applies to video and audio content protected by a valid copyright, however, so anything that is public domain cannot be pirated.

Such video piracy does not have to involve physical copies of a film or television program, such as copies made on a video cassette or disc media. Even copies from a media format onto a computer hard drive can constitute this type of piracy. This is why distribution of video and audio content that is protected by copyright over the Internet is considered a form of piracy. If someone gains permission from the owner of a copyright to make and distribute copies of a particular video, however, then such copies are not considered pirated.

Video piracy is often cited by those in entertainment industries such as film and television production as a major contributor to lost profits. As the Internet has expanded in popularity, and high speed or broadband Internet service has become increasingly available, distribution of pirated videos over the Internet has become a greater problem for copyright owners. There have been numerous attempts to fight video piracy, through security measures on media formats and prosecution of those responsible for such piracy, but the problem continues to grow in many countries. Some countries also do not have copyright laws that make such piracy illegal, which often serves to amplify the problem.

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Discussion Comments

By Ivan83 — On Mar 27, 2012

I had a friend who worked at a video store in the 80s and he started this novel program where he would encourage his customers to record messages at the end of the films. There was usually space at the end of a tape where more could be recorded.

People would reenact their favorite scenes or offer reviews or recommendations for other movies. The program was not widespread because it was kind of hard to do but some people really got into it. It was a cool way to encourage a dialogue about film.

By backdraft — On Mar 26, 2012

Is video piracy really an issue anymore? It seems like in the era of the internet and streaming media and Itunes people have accepted that they have to pay for content.

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