Piracy in Digital Media

Authored by: Stephanie Walker

Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, Fourth Edition

Print publication date:  November  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781466552593
eBook ISBN: 9781315116143
Adobe ISBN:


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Piracy of digital media refers to the unauthorized copying, usage, and sale or distribution of copyrighted materials in digital form, excluding materials which have been created or are distributed either specifically as fully “open access” materials, or those which have been licensed under some form of “open access” license (such as, for example, that offered by Creative Commons—see http://creativecommons.org/). These materials may include software, audio files, music, video files, movies or TV shows (in their entirety or in part), or electronic versions of books, journal articles, or databases. The term “piracy” itself remains somewhat controversial, as it carries a pejorative connotation, and not all copying for which authorization is not specifically obtained constitutes any form of theft; many forms of copying are legal, including copying of fully open access materials or materials licensed under Creative Commons or similar organizations. Also, there are ongoing and long-standing debates on what constitutes “fair use”; however, these issues are complex and are, in many cases, still before the courts and the legislators. However, for simplicity's sake, we will use the term “piracy,” as described above, with the noted exceptions, throughout this entry.

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