Piracy: how it affects people like you and me

By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

August 25, 2014

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Ten million dollars – this is how much Filipina Lenie Ashby and her husband Jeff may have to pay in damages after being slammed with a copyright and trademark infringement case by ABS-CBN before an Oregon Federal Court recently.

The Ashby’s have admitted to authorities that they own five websites with pirated material from ABS-CBN. The company, which produces Balitang America, sued the couple under seal resulting in the freeze of the couple’s ad sales revenue and bank accounts.

So what exactly is piracy?

Piracy is the act of reproducing movies, music, books or other copyrighted works without the permission from the copyright owner.

Piracy has gotten so bad it cost companies all over the world $512 billion dollars a year. Companies in the U.S. lose as much as $250 billion dollars annually because of this crime.

At the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department – one of the biggest policing agencies in the United States – combating piracy is a top priority.

“It’s not a victimless crime,” said Todd Rogers, LA County Assistant Sheriff. “There are plenty of victims and it’s not just about saving a buck for major corporations. It’s about real people like us.”

So how does piracy directly impact people like you and me?

It takes away jobs. Authorities said because of these crimes, people who have jobs in the industries affected will no longer have jobs because the demand for legitimate products have gone down.

It takes away services for the community. Authorities said the tax revenue that’s lost because of this underground economy means lesser budget for services that directly impact the community – like education and healthcare.

Also, authorities stated that not many people realize how piracy actually aids and abets organized crime. Gangs and even terrorist groups have reportedly entered the piracy market because the penalties are much lighter than traditional crimes such as drug dealing – and the profit could be much higher.

“That’s supporting their ability to buy drugs and guns and engaging in violence,” said Rogers. “And then, the support of global terrorism, which is a threat to everybody.”

Pirate sites also contain dangerous malware which cause substantial harm to people including identity theft of their financial information and phishing attacks on a person’s email contacts. Malware is short for malicious software and it’s described as any kind of unwanted software that’s installed without your adequate consent. Examples of malware like viruses, worms, Trojan horses — disrupt computer operation, gather sensitive information and access to private computer systems. A recent study from protection intelligence analyst firm Incopro shows that 97 percent of the most popular illegal film and TV pirate sites contain malware.

Authorities pointed out that knowing the negative impacts of piracy and counterfeiting, law enforcement agencies and the community should come together to put a stop to it.

Concerned citizens may anonymously report those who commit piracy and counterfeiting by calling Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 222-TIPS.

Rogers concluded, “To identify bad guys that we need to take out of the community so the rest of the folks can enjoy their neighborhood and their families.”

For part two of this special report, click here.

You may contact Henni Espinosa at henni_espinosa@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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