Internet Piracy

What Is Internet Piracy?

Internet piracy is the downloading or distribution of unauthorized copies of intellectual property such as movies, television, music, games and software programs via the Internet. Illegal downloads occur in many forms including via file sharing networks, pirate servers, websites and hacked computers. Each file posted on the Internet can result in millions of downloads. Posting movies on a peer-to-peer (P2P) network or unauthorized website can result in the transmission of these illegal files to millions of people.

Hard goods pirates, who distribute illegal copies of copyrighted material recorded onto DVDs, CDs and videotapes, use the Internet to extend their reach, selling these materials through auctions and websites.

Piracy is theft, and pirates are thieves, plain and simple. Downloading a movie or television program off the Internet and distributing it is the same as taking a DVD off a store shelf without paying for it.

In Hong Kong the importation, replication and illegal distribution of pirate DVDs is currently the most common form of movie theft, but the with the rapid penetration of broadband piracy of movies via the Internet is soon expected to become the dominant source.

The Global Avalanche of Internet Piracy

The primary source of newly released pirated movies is thieves who camcord films in theaters. Illegally recorded movies are then sold to individuals who distribute them around the world through an underground network of computer servers known as "topsites."

To view a short presentation on the Global Avalanche of Piracy, please select one of the following options:

The Pyramid of Internet Piracy (PDF)

What Are Peer-To-Peer (P2P) File-Sharing Services?

A peer-to-peer service enables computers to connect directly to each other in order to distribute and copy files. Software applications utilize these networks to search for and trade every kind of file. Examples of P2P services include BitTorrent, eDonkey, Kazaa, Limewire and DirectConnect.

When you download a file from a P2P network, besides putting yourself at risk of the legal consequences of illegally distributing movies, you're opening your computer up to potentially dangerous situations. As many individuals and businesses have found out the hard way, file-sharing applications can turn personal computers into directories and distributors of a variety of illegal material, viruses and worms.

By inviting complete strangers to access your hard drive, you also risk exposing private information such as bank records, tax file numbers and personal photographs, in addition to making yourself vulnerable to identity theft.

What Is HKISA Doing To Combat The Problem?

HKISA has a multi-pronged approach to fighting Internet piracy, which includes educating people about the consequences of piracy, taking action against Internet thieves and working with law enforcement authorities around the world to root out pirate operations. HKISA cooperates with the government, Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department, other copyright holders and trademark owners in a number of initiatives in Hong Kong, including the Youth Ambassadors Scheme and the e-Auction with Integrity scheme.

HKISA operates a "Target Auction Piracy" (TAP) enforcement program, taking legal action against people identified and tracked as selling pirated DVDs via online auction houses.

HKISA also has an alliance with copyright owners to share information regarding copyright infringement, and is a member of the Intellectual Property Rights Protection Alliance (IPRPA), Intellectual Property Society (IPS) and Hong Kong Digital Content Alliance (HKDCA) , which represents the interests of Hong Kong's major intellectual property stakeholders, including the music industry, sport, luxury goods, computer software and publishing.

For further information, see Education

Legal Alternatives

As a consumer, there are plenty of sites that offer alternatives to illegal downloading and there are various ways to buy or rent movies without having to leave your home.