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Top 10 Most Common Digital Piracy Myths Busted: Who’s Pirating What And Why?

5 January 2016, 6:21 am EST By Vincent Lanaria Tech Times
Piracy has been surrounded by myths for years now, where some say that there are legal ways to do it and that it doesn't affect sales. Of course, not all of them are true.  ( Henry Guttmann | Getty Images )

Since online piracy started, it has always been a contentious issue. Pirates seem to get more clever and elusive by the day, whereas laws to prevent the activity appear to be gradually getting harsher.

One of the most well-known cases of piracy sites having a brush with the law involves torrent-sharing website Pirate Bay, whose co-founder Peter Sunde created the ultimate piracy tool to prove a point.

"I want to show the absurdity on the process of putting a value to a copy. The machine is made to be very blunt and open about the fact that it's not a danger to any industry at all," Sunde tells TorrentFreak.

Back in 2012, New York Times writer Nick Bilton said that "Internet pirates will always win," suggesting that they develop evasive techniques at a faster rate than the measures to stop them, which isn't necessarily true.

As everyone can imagine, the topic is controversial and intense. With that said, claims of how the entire process works have been popping up here and there, but not all of them are exactly accurate.

Myth # 1: No Seeding Means No Tracking

Seeding is when pirates continue to share a completed file. To put it differently, the torrent client will change a file's status from "Downloading" to "Seeding" after it hits the 100 percent mark.

Apparently, some users believe that stopping a file before it begins to seed means that anti-piracy companies won't be able to track them down. Of course, that's not the case at all. When a file starts to download, it's already being shared. 

What's more, companies are out to catch pirates and sees anyone who participate in the activity as guilty, regardless of how much a user has downloaded or shared.

Myth # 2: People Pirate Everything

Pirates can be picky too, but aside from that, they do have limited storage capacities. The point is that not everyone is willing to download terabytes of various shows and movies only to leave them untouched for years to come.

Myth # 3: VPN Alone Can Stop Traces

Sure, a virtual private network can guarantee online privacy, but it can only do so up to a certain degree. In other words, it's not foolproof.

Even some of the best VPN services can't assure subscribers total anonymity when piracy is in the mix, not to mention that flaws can go under the radar of the providers themselves.

Myth # 4: People Pirate Because Of Tight Budgets

While the $0 price tag is more than enough to tempt most people into pirating, most of them don't jump into the fray for that reason.

The Sydney Morning Herald provides some neat statistics regarding this matter, saying that the more people earn, the more they are likely to pirate. Surprisingly, more pirates pay for content compared with general consumers.

Why do they pirate? Well, it's apparently for an earlier access to content, where money is not the issue.

Myth # 5: Old People Don't Pirate

Yes, there's no age restriction when it comes to pirating. It's not like there's a fast rule on who can pirate.

Myth # 6: Having The Original CD Or DVD Means It's Okay To Pirate Copies

No, there's no legal way to pirate. It doesn't matter if the pirate bought the complete collection of "The Simpsons" or all the movies in the world. Anti-piracy companies will consider anyone who participates in the act as an offender.

Myth # 7: Anti-Piracy Laws Have No Effect

On the surface, this seems true, but anyone who keeps tabs on the matter would probably say otherwise.

"To do this, we obtained a panel of iTunes sales data from the four major music labels (Universal Music, Warner Music, EMI Music and Sony Music) across a broad set of countries. We then applied a difference-in-difference approach, using sales trends in a control group of European countries to simulate the counterfactual of what music sales in France would have been if HADOPI had not been passed. Our results suggest that increased consumer awareness of HADOPI caused iTunes song and album sales to increase by 22.5% and 25% respectively relative to changes in the control group," researchers say.

Based on the evidence provided in the HADOPI, or the French Creation and Internet Law study, people turn to legal alternatives in light of anti-piracy initiatives.

Myth # 8: ISP Spies On Subscribers

Did ISPs take a page out of NSA's playbook? No, they didn't. As a matter of fact, ISPs prefer not to monitor their subscribers because it could cause a lot of complicated legal matters.

This is an easy mistake to make, though, as ISPs send customers emails and letters that warn them about sharing copyrighted content without permission.

Myth # 9: Piracy Doesn't Affect Sales

This is arguably the biggest issue that creative industries have with piracy. The story goes as people who pirate wouldn't buy the content they copied to begin with, saying that they wouldn't exactly have an impact on the sales.

However, Carnegie Mellon economist Michael Smith brought a good example to the table. According to him, when NBC took down shows from Hulu, piracy shot up, and no one bought an original copy of the shows that were removed.

Myth # 10: Free Content Is Unbeatable

Content markets beg to differ. The very fact that they are still alive and growing is more than enough evidence to indicate that free content cannot take them out of the picture altogether.

While some people would prefer to pay nothing at all, there are still some who do, which is likely for quality and reliability of the content. What's more, the number of people paying for content isn't really dwindling.

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