Over a hundred of years ago, the advent of democracy granted citizens of the Western world access to art and information earlier reserved to the elite. However, geographic borders and economic status still hindered the commoners from viewing cultural heritage and developing intellectually. A large portion of these impediments was erased as the Internet became widely available. Nowadays, any individual with an Internet-compatible device and access to the Web can search for and consume more information than their lifetime would allow. Not all information is freely available though. Understandably, the types of data that are of a private of financial nature should be released only at the discretion of the owners. However, copyright protects a lot of the newest and most sought-after data specifically made for public consumption, such as art, entertainment, and information contained in books. Copyright holders’ priority is making profit out of their product, but they are inhibited by complicated business models and industry agreements. Alternatively, many consumers consider the access to digital videos and texts a right rather than a privilege. The discrepancy between these views is bridged by digital pirates, who provide the masses with illegal access to the copyrighted online content.
Copyright in the Digital Era
Although the notions of intellectual property and its protection are not novel, they have received new meaning and relevance lately. Before the Internet, the information product always had a physical representation – a book, painting, device based on a diagram, etc. Thus, copyright infringement usually implied an illegal copying and dissemination of art as the pirate’s own or manufacturing and selling of patented innovations. In any case, the pirate’s initiative required resources and considerable effort. Digital product, on the other hand, is characterised by nonrivalness, as it can be consumed by an infinite number of people requiring no additional expenses per capita (Belleflamme and Peitz 2). This means that both copyright holders and pirates incur virtually no costs when they disseminate the product online. As a result, producers of the content can, in theory, make any amount of profit if they successfully sell the product. On the other hand, they find it rather difficult to enforce their rights as an exclusive owner when any copy can be illegally multiplied and shared many times outside of their control. Easy availability of such illegal copies creates an additional competition on an already competitive market.
Illegal sharing of content costs music- and film-production companies significant economic losses, which can have negative results on the creative industries unless they can adjust. In their study of literature, Danaher et al. found that piracy is responsible for at least 7 to 30% reduction in global music sales and causes significant losses in the box office returns of popular movies (42). Notably, most studies of the movie piracy is based on the data on major studio releases, most of which are blockbusters with spectacular special effects. The audience may actually be more inclined to watch them in theatres for better …